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Pandemic Deals Another Blow To Nursing Homes: Plummeting Occupancy

2 hours ago
An employee at nursing facility Kimberly Hall South in Windsor visits with a resident through her window in May.
DAVE WURTZEL / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC / DAVE WURTZEL / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC

While the deadly coronavirus seems to be subsiding in Connecticut for now, its impact on nursing homes has not. More than 6,700 beds are empty, and it may take many months of financial struggle before occupancy climbs back to pre-pandemic levels.

coronavirus testing
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Some COVID-19 patients recover from the virus relatively quickly, but others have to deal with lingering or even new symptoms months after battling the virus. Ellie Stevenson of Norwalk says she is what’s called a long hauler.

Updated on Sept. 18 at 2:15 p.m. ET

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there were lots of stories about scrappy manufacturers promising to revamp their factories to start making personal protective equipment in the U.S.

Back in the spring, fuel-cell maker Adaptive Energy retooled part of its factory in Ann Arbor, Mich., to make plastic face shields. Now, 100,000 finished shields are piling up in cardboard boxes on the factory floor — unsold.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Weeks of state investigations, monitoring and intervention at Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich following a COVID-19 outbreak has culminated in the imminent relocation of all residents.

In a rare and unprecedented move, the Department of Public Health's acting commissioner Deidre Gifford signed an emergency order Wednesday requiring the facility to discharge its 53 residents to other long-term care facilities. 

The vast majority of children dying from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers analyzed the number of coronavirus cases and deaths among people under the age of 21 that were reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31 of this year. They found more than 390,000 cases and 121 deaths.

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

This story has been updated.

Rev. Elvin Clayton has been the pastor at Walter’s Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Bridgeport for the past six years.

And in the COVID-19 era, Sunday mornings look a little different -- Clayton speaks at the pulpit from behind glass partitions, keeps services to an hour and broadcasts it all live on Facebook. 

“We’ve had great success thus far with it,” he said. 

jwblinn/iStock / Thinkstock

After reviewing requests by Connecticut insurers to increase health insurance premiums, and considering public testimony, the state Insurance Department has approved next year’s rates at significantly lower levels than requested. 

Efforts To Reduce COVID-19’s Spread Could Impact Health Outcomes For New Mothers And Infants

Sep 14, 2020
Felicia Tombascio and her daughter, Anastasia Marie Cordero.
handout photo / Connecticut Health I-Team

Felicia Tambascio’s first pregnancy was going fairly smoothly. But on July 20, at week 38, the 20-year-old Brookfield resident woke with horrible upper abdominal cramps, a searing headache, and vomiting. Her boyfriend took her to the hospital, but Tambascio was left to wait in a hallway alone. Per COVID-19 restrictions, no visitors were allowed unless the patient was admitted to labor and delivery. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

As the weather gets colder and more students go back to school, what do the next steps in reopening Connecticut look like? Will Connecticut need to even scale back reopening? This hour, Governor Lamont calls into the show to answer our questions and yours.  

The National Sepember 11th Memorial in Manhattan. The fountains mark the footprints of the towers, which were destroyed in the attack.
Saschaporsche / Wikimedia Commons

Today, we reflect back on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 19 years ago. Nearly 3000 people died when hijacked passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Another would crash into a field in Pennsylvania.

We hear about the health impacts first responders continue to face and the long fight to secure funding for their medical treatments.

Later, we look at the legacy of 9/11 on American foreign policy. Almost two decades after the attacks, how does that day shape our country’s foreign policy today? We talk to two international relations experts.

Pfizer's Groton Site Helped Develop A COVID-19 Vaccine. Will It Work?

Sep 9, 2020
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Pfizer’s facility in Groton has a history of developing some of the most popular drugs ingested by Americans, including Zoloft, which treats anxiety, and Zithromax, able to kill the toughest bacteria.

But the pharmaceutical company’s work on a COVID-19 vaccine may give the Connecticut facility its greatest fame — birthplace of a drug to shield humanity from a lethal virus that has so far taken the lives of more than 189,000 Americans and 894,000 people worldwide.

Thousands Wait Months For Unemployment Compensation During COVID

Sep 8, 2020
Jamie Kelo visits Avery Point Beach in Groton nearly every day as a way of managing stress. “When I come here, I feel like my problems go away. I can really focus,” Kelo said. “Because it’s just too much.”
YEHYUN KIM / CTMirror.org

When Jamie Kelo lost her $20,000-a-year job as a receptionist at a hair salon in New London after COVID-19 touched down in Connecticut, she thought she could rely on unemployment benefits to help cover some of her bills.

She was wrong.

Industrial Farming Outweighs Willpower In Obesity Crisis, Experts Say

Sep 8, 2020
Sandy Flores of City Seed puts away a bag of $1 tokens at the close of the Wooster Farmers Market. Snap recipients can scan their EBT cards and receive two dollars in tokens for each dollar to spend at the market.
Melanie Stengel / C-HIT

Industrial-scale farming and food processing are greater factors in rising obesity numbers in Connecticut and worldwide than individual behavior, scientists say.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

When Connecticut officials approved more than $34 million in contracts with private vendors to test for coronavirus at nursing homes, the contracts shared a common clause: The Department of Public Health wanted quick results, ideally, within one day.  But interviews with health officials, contracted vendors and state documents show that hasn’t always been the case.

Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public Radio

The state Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among staff at Backus Hospital in Norwich, where employees say as many as 11 people have so far tested positive. 

Alabama Extension / Flickr/Creative Commons

Connecticut residents are struggling to afford health care costs and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the burden -- that’s according to results from a new statewide survey released Tuesday.

“The job loss and the resulting lack of wages that we’re seeing because of COVID-19 increases the likelihood that people are going to struggle to afford needed care,” said Amanda Hunt, co-deputy director of the Healthcare Value Hub at Altarum. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

State flags flew at half-staff Monday to honor the thousands of people in Connecticut who have died from a drug overdose over the years.

That includes Tony Morrissey’s son, Brian Cody Waldron, who died at 20 years old last August.  

The Placebo Effect

Aug 31, 2020
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight after doctors had given up on a medical cure. 

Doctors often dismiss the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments - even when studies show that placebos can reduce the pain of arthritic knees as well as in some surgical procedures like arthroscopy

A health care worker prepares to administer a nasal swab for a COVID-19 drive-by testing site
JOE AMON / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC/NENC

While most of Connecticut has seen a low rate of positive COVID-19 cases, the city of Danbury has become a concerning exception.

This hour, we talk to the city’s Mayor, Mark Boughton, to hear more about this local outbreak.

And later, contact tracing is a critical public health tool for containing the spread of COVID-19. But who are the people actually running Connecticut’s tracing efforts?

We hear from one of the state’s regional health directors.

And we check in across the Atlantic with a reporter in Germany, a place many point to as a model for public health response to the pandemic.

Kristina Gregory Donates Her Plasma After Testing Positive for Covid Anitbodies
Courtesy: Kristina Gregory

Fresh out of an Infinity Fitness gym class, you would never know the battle Kristina Gregory fought just a few months ago. 

Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

State public health officials said they’ll work to more aggressively test staff at nursing homes for COVID-19. But officials in the eldercare industry said Friday they’re still waiting for formal guidance on those changes from the state Department of Public Health. 

An inpatient treatment facility for substance abuse is the site of one recent COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury, according to the state Department of Public Health. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut legislators and health experts in Hartford Tuesday stressed that the number of opioid overdose deaths is up statewide. Evidence, they say, that the pandemic is interfering with addiction treatment and recovery.

“When we were doing our work in preparation for the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on children, on seniors, and on our individuals who are experiencing homelessness,” said Liany Arroyo, director of health for the city of Hartford. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says they getting ahead of recent Covid spike
Ali Warshavsky / WNPR

Danbury officials said Tuesday that contact tracing shows COVID-19 has spiked in the city due to residents traveling elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas, and now it’s now spreading within the community through sporting events and gatherings at religious institutions.

A diagram of the kidneys from Henry Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body" (1918)
Henry Gray / Wikimedia Commons

State Representative Jeff Currey is a longtime public servant. Now he’s asking the public to help him. The East Hartford lawmaker is in kidney failure, and he needs a transplant.

This hour, he joins us to talk about kidney donation. We often think of organ donation as something considered after someone’s death, but living donors can give a kidney to a person in need.

Coming up we hear from patients, donors, and medical professionals about this lifesaving transplant.

And we learn about a revolutionary system that pairs matching donors and patients--that allows for multiple kidney transplants. 

Have you considered becoming a kidney donor?

A health care worker prepares to administer a nasal swab for a COVID-19 drive-by testing site
JOE AMON / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC/NENC

Connecticut public health officials have issued an alert to Danbury residents after what the state called a “significant spike” in new coronavirus cases.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

As state officials continue to investigate a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in Norwich that killed one resident this month and hospitalized several more, one outstanding question is whether workers tested for COVID-19 were properly notified of their results.

Airman 1st Class Daniel Hambor / U.S. Air Force

Businesses have reopened and most schools have come up with plans to see students again, but it’s increasingly clear life won’t truly get back to “normal” until we have a vaccine.

But when will that be? This hour, we get the latest from New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer on the race to develop a COVID vaccine. We hear the status of ongoing vaccine trials and learn more about the research process that ensures a vaccine will be safe and effective.

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State officials are investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich, where one resident has died and several have been hospitalized.

The Department of Public Health has so far identified 13 residents and two staff members infected with the virus -- it’s the largest outbreak at a single nursing facility in about a month, according to state data. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The pandemic is raising questions about what’s best for children as they head into a new school year, as many schools continue to finalize plans for this fall and parents make individual decisions for their families.

Megan Goslin, a clinical psychologist and research scientist at Yale’s Child Study Center, said it’s a difficult time for everyone. 

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