Nicole Leonard | Connecticut Public Radio
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Nicole Leonard

Nicole Leonard joined Connecticut Public Radio to cover health care after several years of reporting for newspapers. In her native state of New Jersey, she covered medical and behavioral health care, as well as arts and culture, for The Press of Atlantic City. Her work on stories about domestic violence and childhood food insecurity won awards from the New Jersey Press Association.

While an undergraduate journalism student at Boston University, Nicole was a reporter for The Daily Free Press and a radio host at WTBU. As an intern, her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe and Boston.com. In her downtime, she watches way too many movies and television shows, which complicates her goal to become a better runner.

TYLER RUSSELL / Connecticut Public

Beginning Monday, Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks will add a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site open to travelers and all other community members.

The Connecticut Airport Authority is partnering with Hartford HealthCare to run the site in parking Lot 3 off Schoephoester Road. This will be the health organization’s ninth permanent testing location in the state. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

A statewide coalition of lawmakers, activists and health experts Thursday announced that health care reform will be a top priority heading into the next legislative session.

Coalition leaders at a news conference at the Capitol building said the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent election have become driving factors in reintroducing a plan for a public option health insurance program for Connecticut residents, small businesses and nonprofits. 

Wikimedia Commons

Typically, the foot traffic in and out of the Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center on Woodland Avenue in Hartford would be pretty steady.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Keturah Kinch said in-person activity has been a bit quieter. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Even in a deep blue state like Connecticut, Saturday’s announcement of Joe Biden’s win in the U.S. presidential election was met with a mixture of caution, elation, disappointment and disapproval.

Two opposing camps of people outside the Capitol building in Hartford made that well known as they shouted at each other from opposite sides of Capitol Avenue -- President Donald Trump supporters in front of the gold-domed building and Biden supporters in front of the state Supreme Court. 

Courtesy of Access Health CT

The first week in November marks a busy time as COVID-19 cases climb in Connecticut and the nation faces a contentious presidential election.  

But health advocates want people to remember that it’s also the first week of open enrollment in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Health care workers stood along Route 195 out in front of Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield Thursday afternoon as they waved signs and used megaphones to demand better workplace protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

When Debra O’Neall gets home from her overnight shift at a nursing home in Danbury, she removes her scrubs and jumps in the shower before she does anything else.

Later, she settles in on the sofa, turns on the news, picks up a sketchbook from the coffee table and begins to draw.  

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

The timeline on a COVID-19 vaccine is generally unknown, but whether one is approved this year or the next, Wizdom Powell said it won’t help much if Black residents lack confidence in its safety and effectiveness.

“There’s so many stories of Black folks surrendering their bodies to medical institutions and coming out worse after,” said Powell, who is director of the Health Disparities Institute at UConn Health. 

Sipa via AP Images

With few answers on how and when a COVID-19 vaccine will actually be available, Connecticut has submitted a draft plan to the federal government on how it will execute statewide mass vaccination.

The 77-page document, submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the Oct. 16 deadline, outlines potential groups of people who would receive priority status for getting doses early on and how the state will coordinate vaccine administration by medical providers. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

In raincoats, plastic ponchos and masks, Backus Hospital workers and their families Tuesday lined both sides of Washington Street in Norwich near the facility’s entrance. They held signs, waved to oncoming traffic and chanted.

“Nurses united will never be divided!” 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Small increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in northeastern cities and states like Connecticut have White House health officials concerned about “troubling signs” of the pandemic’s spread this fall and winter. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

A large group of people in red and yellow reflective vests huddled together on the Wolcott Town Green at around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Some of them work for the Chesprocott Health District, and others were volunteers with the region’s Medical Reserve Corps.

The day began with overcast skies. It looked like it might rain, again. The grass was still wet. 

Cloe Poisson / CT Mirror

Health experts around the world recognized early in the COVID-19 pandemic that older people were most at risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from the new coronavirus.

But despite those early findings, thousands of Connecticut residents in long-term care facilities have died. 

ELLA'S DAD / Creative Commons

A new statewide mandate that requires children 3 years and older to wear a mask while attending child care and preschools took effect last week.

Child care providers and educators will have a grace period to adjust, but Carly Adames said the kids at her center in Greenwich probably won’t need it. 

DAVE WURTZEL / Connecticut Public

Friends and families of Connecticut’s nursing home residents are now allowed to make indoor, in-person visits under new guidelines from state officials. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Less than a week after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, her vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court has set up what is sure to be a contentious battle among legislators on how to proceed.

However uncertain that process may be, the court is still set to hear arguments beginning a week after the presidential election for a case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. 

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. 

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. 

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.  

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. 

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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. 

Jeremy L. Grisham /

At least two Connecticut studies and a federal report show that the percentage of health care workers and residents in the overall population who have been previously infected with COVID-19 remains small, despite ongoing cases and hospitalizations.

And the numbers don’t come close to achieving herd immunity, when disease transmission is minimal because most people in a community are protected after vaccination or previous infection. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

A young man with his girlfriend stood in the shade under an awning at the side of an RV truck parked near Barnard Park in Hartford on a recent Tuesday morning. Holding a bag in one hand and reaching through an opening in a screened door with the other, he dropped empty, used syringes into a medical waste bucket.

“Eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety,” he counted, each needle making a thunk as it disappeared into bright red plastic. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

The former commissioner of the state Department of Public Health is firing back over her May termination ahead of an impending report this month on Connecticut’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two months after Gov. Ned Lamont announced her dismissal, Renée Coleman-Mitchell said in a written statement released late Monday night by the law office of Eric R. Brown that she was going to “set the record straight in my own words.” 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

It’s been more than four months since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her home by Louisville Metro Police as they executed a no-knock search warrant. She was a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency medical technician and aspired to become a nurse.

And while rallies, protests and much of the media attention has been fixed on the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Connecticut activists continue to bring attention to violence committed against Black women and girls through policing and from systemic racism. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Early in the pandemic, Dr. Kathryn Nagel was working in a medical ICU in New Haven when a patient in his 30s was admitted with diabetic ketoacidosis, a deadly condition that occurs when there’s not enough insulin in the body.

The man had diabetes and needed insulin medication to manage it properly, but he had been rationing the supply he had left. 

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