Health | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Health

It has been five years, but the memory still haunts construction superintendent Michelle Brown.

A co-worker ended his workday by giving away his personal cache of hand tools to his colleagues. It was a generous but odd gesture; no one intending to return to work would do such a thing.

The man went home and killed himself. He was found shortly afterward by co-workers who belatedly realized the significance of his gifts.

"It's a huge sign, but we didn't know that then," Brown says. "We know it now."

Kayana Szymczak / ProPublica

In the world of emergency medicine, an unrecognized esophageal intubation is a “never event,” meaning that it shouldn't happen under any circumstances. In Rhode Island, it's occurred 12 times in the last three years. In each case, the patient died.

Five people moved in tandem down a trail, connected by a wheelchair unlike any other.

This hiking trail, popular with Bend, Ore., families, is a testing ground for inventor Geoff Babb. One miscalculation about how to navigate a tight squeeze of boulders, and he could topple over the edge toward an ice-cold river below. But that's not what worried Babb, who hasn't walked since a stroke 14 years ago.

"I don't feel scared on the trail. I trust these guys to figure it out," Babb said, adding that he feels more vulnerable crossing a city street.

wsilver / Flickr Creative Commons

For some kids, the playground is a place of fun and friendship. For others, it is a source of anxiety and fear. The fear of being left out.

Why do some kids struggle to make friends while others do not? And what can grown ups do to help?

We take an in-depth look with Why Will No One Play With Me? author Caroline Maguire. We also talk about the realities of adult friendships with NPR's Julia Furlan. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

On a typical day at East Shore Middle School in Milford, the library is where students spend time using the computers, working on projects and checking out books.

But on a recent Monday morning, about a dozen students sat at tables, each with a virtual reality headset strapped onto their faces and a controller in one hand. Instead of seeing each other, Tino Pavlat and his friends interacted with people at a virtual high school and played Space Cats, a shooter minigame.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Deborah Bigelow walked into the Lyceum Conference Center in Hartford on a recent Thursday night prepared with a stack of folders and documents.

She hoped that by the time she left the Access Health Connecticut enrollment fair after speaking with a specialist, her health insurance plan for 2020 would be set, because not having coverage wasn’t an option.

Facebook

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group and staff from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to announce the 2019 “Trouble in Toyland” report this week. The annual list focuses on toys that pose a danger to children -- things like choking hazards, toxins, toys that are so loud they could damage a child’s hearing and recalled toys still on the market.

This is the 34th annual report. Petra Favorite, a campus organizer for ConnPIRG, says that over the years the report has made children safer.

Rebecca Reindel / AFL-CIO

Advocates for workplace protections for health care and social services employees celebrated outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Thursday after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would require national protection standards against workplace violence.

“Sadly, in America today, nurses, doctors, social workers, EMTs and nursing assistants are more likely to be the victims of on-the-job violence than any sector of our nation’s workforce,” said Democrat Rep. Joe Courtney, sponsor of the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.

Ublester Rodriguez could not have anticipated that his life would be profoundly changed by kitchen and bathroom countertops.

He says that he grew up poor, in a small Mexican town, and came to the United States when he was 14. He spoke no English, but he immediately got a job.

"In the beginning I was working in a Chinese restaurant, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It was all day, so I never had time to go to school," he recalls. "I was a dishwasher."

Images Money / Creative Commons

Major health care bills died in the Connecticut legislature earlier this year, including proposals for a public option insurance program, prescription drug pricing, and spending.

With health care policy shaping up to take prominence in both local and national politics next year, state lawmakers hope to get a jump-start on ways to lower health care costs and spending in Connecticut.

Nearly one year since the first legal, adult-use cannabis sale was made, there are now 33 retail stores open around Massachusetts.

So far, state regulators have issued 227 provisional and final licenses to retail, cultivation, cannabis manufacturing facilities and independent testing laboratories. Before — and even after — licenses are issued, those facilities must be inspected by the state.

‘Keeps Everyone On Their Toes’

Opioids Backlash Leaves Some Struggling With Chronic Pain

Nov 17, 2019
Carl Jordan Castro / Conn. Health I-Team

Unable to obtain morphine, Heather Weise, 50, lay balled up in pain at her home in Milford earlier this year. It took nine days to refill her narcotic painkiller and she blamed the clampdown on opioid prescriptions for her woes.

Courtesy: COHC

Federal funding for community health centers is nearing expiration this year. And both health professionals and politicians warn that if funding isn’t extended, it could impact Connecticut centers and patients. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Patricia Banach just wanted her annual flu shot.

As the weather got colder, she and her husband, both in their 70s, knew that the chances of falling ill were higher, so they set out to a local pharmacy near their home in Somers to get vaccinated.

But it didn’t turn out to be that simple.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A groundbreaking study in Connecticut is set to focus on the effects of medical marijuana.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has given the Yale School of Medicine and medical marijuana supplier CT Pharma approval to begin a human drug trial that will study the effectiveness of marijuana-based medicine. 

Sanofi Pasteur / Creative Commons

Last weekend’s cold snap has ended the threat of Eastern equine encephalitis for this year. That’s according to Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

“The weather is certainly cold enough now that the mosquito numbers have declined dramatically, and the risk of anyone being bitten by an infected mosquito is virtually zero at this point,” said Andreadis. “And we haven’t detected any further virus activity, in fact we stopped our surveillance program last week.”

ronb359 / Creative Commons

A recent report that showed the presence of varying amounts of toxic heavy metals in baby foods has caused Connecticut lawmakers and public health experts to call for better safety standards from federal agencies in order to limit long-term risks to children.

Researchers at Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a national nonprofit alliance, tested 168 baby foods from 61 brands. They found that 95% of tested products contained chemicals and metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium -- elements that can affect brain development.

Open Enrollment Has Begun: Here's What You Need To Know

Nov 1, 2019
Courtesy of Access Health CT

Open enrollment for 2020 health plans on Connecticut’s insurance exchange is now underway. It’s the seventh enrollment period for the state’s marketplace, and despite a recent drop in the number of uninsured people, health officials are still trying to reach the nearly 187,000 residents who lack coverage.

Mark Mirko / The Hartford Courant

Connecticut Supreme Court justices ruled Wednesday that remaining frozen human embryos belonging to a divorced couple can be destroyed, as previously stipulated in a contract agreement.

The court avoided making a judgement in an argument about affording embryos human rights, but its decision did set a legal precedent for future possession disputes by clarifying how contract agreements should be followed.

BRIANAJACKSON / ISTOCK / THINKSTOCK

Senior physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital were in the middle of presentations during a recent meeting of the graduate medical education committee when a group of interns, residents and fellows interrupted.

At the front of the room, they unfurled a banner painted with the words “Doctors Are Humans Too.”

The group of training doctors then presented staff with what they called a Resident and Fellow Bill of Rights.

Wonderlane / Creative Commons

When Kyle Zimmer started working in the construction industry 40 years ago, he said health and safety standards focused on reducing injuries and fatalities from electrical hazards, falls and a lack of protective gear.  

But today, he said the focus needs to be on addiction, suicide prevention and behavioral health.

If you often hit that midafternoon slump and feel drowsy at your desk, you're not alone. The number of working Americans who get less than seven hours of sleep a night is on the rise.

And the people hardest hit when it comes to sleep deprivation are those we depend on the most for our health and safety: police and health care workers, along with those in the transportation field, such as truck drivers.

Seth Wenig / Associated Press

A child in Fairfield County has contracted measles, public health officials announced Friday.

This is the fourth reported case of measles in Connecticut this year, and the first in a school-aged child, Department of Public Health officials said. This case is not connected to three previous cases in adults reported between January and April.

It all started at the mall when a friend offered her a puff from a JUUL e-cigarette.

"It was kind of peer pressure," says Beth, a Denver-area 15-year-old who started vaping in middle school. "Then I started inhaling it," she says. "I suddenly was, like, wow, I really think that I need this — even though I don't."

Mecklenburg County / Creative Commons

Michael Manson isn’t shy about sharing his past of criminal charges, mental illness and problems with alcohol and substance abuse, because lately, he’s been focused on improving relationships with his family, staying sober and managing his mental health.

“I had therapy yesterday. I’m having therapy Friday. Some weeks I have two days — it depends on the week I’m having, because I know every day is a struggle,” he said. “Every day, I’m trying not to re-offend.”

wsilver / Creative Commons

For some kids, the playground is a place of fun and friendship. For others, it is a source of anxiety and fear. The fear of being left out.

Why do some kids struggle to make friends while others do not? And what can grown ups do to help?

We take an in-depth look with Why Will No One Play With Me? author Caroline Maguire. We also talk about the realities of adult friendships with NPR's Julia Furlan. 

SETH WENIG / Associated Press

New state data show that vaccination rates among some of the youngest schoolchildren in Connecticut fall below federally recommended levels.

The Department of Public Health Monday released school-by-school immunization data from the 2018/2019 year, which showed there were 134 schools where less than 95% percent of kindergartners got vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.

Atascadero High School Hilltop News / Facebook

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban vaping products that are concealed as everyday items like smart watches, backpacks and phone cases. Blumenthal said these products are aimed at teenagers who are trying to "conceal and camouflage their addiction" from their teachers and parents.

Pan American Health Organization / Creative Commons

The state is expected to release new school-by-school vaccination and exemption data Monday after a Hartford Superior Court judge denied a Bristol couple’s attempt to temporarily block the release.

Attorney Cara Pavalock-D’Amato argued in court on behalf of her clients Brian and Kristen Festa that the release of a second report detailing percentages of religious and medical vaccine exemptions at each Connecticut school would continue to cause “irreparable harm” to the Festas, who have a son with a religious exemption.

Shattered: Finding Life In A Wheelchair After Being Shot

Oct 20, 2019
Kwame Dew, a single father of three, sits in his electric wheelchair during a meeting of the Urban Re-Entry Group.
Tyrone Turner / WAMU

Once a week, in the basement auditorium of the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., a group of men gather to discuss the various struggles and triumphs of life in a wheelchair.

Pages