The nation’s largest pharmacy chain has been given the green light to open seven retail health care clinics in Rhode Island. CVS pharmacies’ MinuteClinics would see patients for minor illnesses and perform some routine health screenings. But state health officials' approval comes with several conditions.
A statewide electronic health records program must be more transparent and offer patients more privacy protections. That’s the result of a suit brought by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The state’s health department is considering updates to its immunization policy for school kids from preschool through college. The proposals would require flu shots for kids up to age five and the HPV vaccine for kids entering ninth grade.
That means there are outbreaks of the flu in more than half the state. It also kicks into effect a state requirement that health care professionals who have NOT been vaccinated wear surgical masks whenever they’re in contact with patients. The health department reports that flu-related hospitalizations are up as well.
While the flu is now widespread in Massachusetts, it’s still sporadic in Rhode Island. But 16 Rhode Islanders have already been hospitalized, and officials expect the number of cases to spike.
Health department officials say so far there have been no flu deaths, but in past years flu has killed well over a hundred people in Rhode Island. They say one of this year’s dominant strains in Rhode Island and nationally is H1N1, but that’s also one of the strains this year’s vaccine protects against.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Health Department director Michael Fine have sent a letter to the CEO of United Healthcare New England expressing their concern over the insurer’s dropping of dozens of doctors from its managed Medicare plan in the state. They want United to reinstate doctors until they submit a plan to handle the transition.
California-based Prime Healthcare Services won approval earlier this week to buy Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center. But the approval came with conditions. One is that the company keep Rhode Island regulators abreast of a federal investigation it’s under for allegedly over-billing Medicare. Another is that Prime invest in primary care and in preventing hospital re-admissions. The Department of Health expressed some concern about Prime’s practices at other hospitals, but department head Michael Fine said the terms of the deal to acquire Landmark should allay those concerns.