rhode island department of health

Megan Hall / RIPR

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 critically-acclaimed documentary “Shored Up” will be playing at Brown University this evening.

The school’s Center for Environmental Studies and the Rhode Island Department of Health are sponsoring the movie screening and a panel discussion after the movie.

The documentary looks at how different coastal communities along the eastern seaboard are trying to deal with rising sea levels.

Policy and environmental science experts will sit on the panel, including the town planner of Westerly, where four natural disasters have hit in the past four years.

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.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

It was only a matter of time…

The flu is now widespread in Rhode Island.

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.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

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. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Health has a new report out on how many Rhode Islanders smoke. While the number of adult smokers has declined, nearly one in five Rhode Islanders still smokes.

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.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

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.

Ryan T. Conaty

Last night I attended one of what could be the first of 39 more public forums, put on by the state's health department, around Rhode Island. And it wasn't what I thought it would be.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Block Island Health Service officials say the state Department of Health has agreed to meet with them about the steep increase in Lyme disease on the island. Island officials want the state to take a more active role in fighting the disease.

Block Island Health Services officials say they’ve seen 68 cases of Lyme disease through August of this year. That’s up from 48 for all of the previous year. Health service head Barbara Baldwin says she decided it was time to ask for some help.

An Exeter man has been treated for the first human case of West Nile in Rhode Island this year.

The Rhode Island Department of Health said the 33-year-old Exeter man first started developing symptoms on September 11.  Two days later he was at South County Hospital, diagnosed with viral meningitis caused by West Nile Virus. He was released a few days later and is recovering at home.

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The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has announced the first finding of West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in the state this year.

The department routinely checks mosquitoes for both West Nile Virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis starting in the late spring.

Alan Getman of the DEM said West Nile Virus has been in Rhode Island for twelve years, and today’s reappearance was not unexpected.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Rhode Island Department of Health says a bacteria called shigella is responsible for sickening 92 people with bloody diarrhea, sending many to the emergency room and hospitalizing 16, including children. All had been swimming in a lake in Burrillville. 

Town of Burrillville

New reports of illness are still coming in as Rhode Island Department of Health officials look into an outbreak of bloody diarrhea among people who swam in Spring Lake in Burrillville on July 4th. So far, 85 people have been reported ill, and nine admitted to the hospital, according to the department. But so far, there's no clue about what specifically made them sick. Water test results have not found any bacteria but the department is re-testing. Results from those tests and from patients' stool samples could provide more answers tomorrow.