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.

Ted Eytan / Creative Commons

Ten years ago around this time, U.S. legislators were in the middle of hashing out one of the biggest ever pieces of health care reform legislation. Democrats narrowly passed it, and President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March of 2010.

Looking back on the last decade, Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, health policy expert and professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University, said the ACA has accomplished a lot, but it’s also left a fragmented health system divided by private and public sectors.

Vaping306 / Creative Commons

A Connecticut resident has died from lung illness related to vaping, state officials announced Thursday. It’s the first fatality of its kind in the state and among a growing number of people who are dying in a nationwide outbreak of cases.

The patient was between 30 and 39 years old and died last week while being hospitalized for multiple medical conditions, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Chris Fifield-Smith / Creative Commons

A third Connecticut resident has died from EEE, and another person has been diagnosed with the illness, state officials announced Tuesday.

Dr. Matthew Cartter, state epidemiologist of the Department of Public Health, said in a statement that a person from East Haddam between 60 and 69 years old died during the third week of September from the mosquito-borne illness.

RYAN CARON KING / Connecticut Public Radio

A Superior Court judge has dismissed a parents’ lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Public Health over the release of school-level vaccination data.

Brian and Kristen Festa, of Bristol, challenged DPH’s decision to release school-by-school vaccination data in May. The report also included the percentage of kids with religious and medical exemptions at each school.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

 

Gov. Ned Lamont held a private meeting at his residence in Hartford Wednesday with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss policy and plans around transportation, cybersecurity, economic ventures, marijuana regulation and more.

High up on the list of concerns shared by the two governors is the nationwide outbreak of serious lung illnesses that may be related to vaping.

Stephen Ausmus / U.S. Department of Agriculture

A second person in Connecticut has died from Eastern equine encephalitis, a virus passed on from mosquitos, said state officials Tuesday.

According to the state Department of Public Health, the victim was an adult resident of Old Lyme who became ill during the second week of September and later tested positive for the rare mosquito-borne illness.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

 

Veteran radio reporter and editor John Dankosky is leaving Connecticut Public, the organization announced Monday. 

Dankosky, who has worked at the company for 25 years and is the executive editor of the New England News Collaborative, has taken a voluntary separation option offered to longtime employees.

Vaping360 / Creative Commons


The number of people becoming ill with lung injuries possibly linked to vaping continues to climb as states like Connecticut report more hospitalizations.

Two more cases of serious lung illness have been reported in the state, bringing the total to 13 people. That’s according to the Department of Public Health. That news follows an increase in cases nationwide.

UConn Health

Dr. Natalie Moore was keeping an eye on the news leading up to Labor Day weekend — experts were tracking Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that was headed for the Caribbean and the Florida coast.

Shona Na / Creative Commons

Connecticut has confirmed the first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis in the state since 2013, health officials announced Monday.

State Department of Public Health experts said that an adult from East Lyme tested positive for the virus, which is usually transmitted from infected mosquitoes. The resident became ill during the last week of August and remains hospitalized.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont and other state leaders promised Monday they would back efforts to eliminate the state’s religious exemption for mandatory childhood vaccinations in order to preserve immunization levels and prevent disease outbreaks.

Naturegirl 78 / Creative Commons

Public health officials are warning Connecticut residents that they should take extra precautions to avoid the risk of contracting the eastern equine encephalitis virus from a mosquito bite.

The state Department of Public Health issued an advisory Wednesday urging people to limit their time outside between sunset and sunrise while the virus, also known as EEE, continues to pose a threat in the Northeast region of the country.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Brian and Kristen Festa, of Bristol, sat beside their attorney in Hartford Superior Court Monday as they fought to advance their lawsuit against the state Department of Public Health over the release of school vaccination data.

Monday’s hearing centered around the state’s motion to dismiss the entire case. 

TBEC Review / Wikimedia Commons

Three more Connecticut residents were hospitalized for severe lung disease that is possibly related to vaping.

The announcement Friday by the state Department of Public Health brings the total number of cases to five people. State officials are working with federal agencies including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate a surge of severe respiratory illnesses across the country.

SLAWOMIR FAJER / ISTOCK / THINKSTOCK

Open enrollment for health insurance plans on Access Health CT — the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange — begins in November, but before that happens, the state Insurance Department needs to approve new premium prices.

Anthem and ConnectiCare are both seeking increases, and insurance representatives answered to state officials at a public information hearing Wednesday on the reasons why.

Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Lucinda Canty is a researcher who focuses on maternal mortality. As part of her Ph.D. program at UConn, she interviewed several women who had severe complications in childbirth.

And while the specific details of their stories varied, they all pointed to a similar conclusion.

“With pregnancy, women are so vulnerable, and then you add labor on top of that, you need someone to be there to advocate and encourage you,” Canty said, “and we have a health care system that, even myself as an educated women, I still feel intimidated by it.”

Government of Prince Edward Island / Creative Commons

Fewer Connecticut kindergarteners are getting vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella, and more students are getting religious exemptions for mandatory vaccines, new data shows.

Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are seen at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., Wednesday, March 27, 2019.
Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Governor Ned Lamont is pushing back on his own Department of Public Health’s recent decision to withhold further data on school vaccination rates. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Executives and labor leaders at a group of skilled nursing homes in Connecticut that are set to lose Medicaid funding plan to challenge the state’s decision — they said otherwise, their nursing homes face severe financial cuts. 

Nicholas King/SmokeTastic / Creative Commons

State officials are investigating two cases of severe respiratory symptoms that health experts say may be related to vaping or e-cigarette use.

The Department of Public Health said in a statement Wednesday that two Connecticut residents have been hospitalized with respiratory issues including shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.

Officials say both patients admitted to vaping and e-cigarette use with both nicotine and marijuana products.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

At 8:30 a.m. on a Friday morning in Torrington, a group of counselors in lime green shirts gathered around the flag pole at Camp MOE for a quick game of WAH.

It was the last day of camp for the season — they were waiting for director Katherine Marchand-Beyer to make the morning announcements before children arrive. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Marion Bradley always knew that getting breast cancer was a possibility. After all, she had a family history of the disease, so she wasn’t shocked when she was diagnosed with an early stage of the cancer about five years ago.

But that didn’t make it any less scary.

SCANTAUR / Istock/Thinkstock

Plaintiffs in a nationwide class-action lawsuit are challenging how Medicare pays out for health coverage of hospitalizations and related rehabilitative services.

Gary Graves / Creative Commons

At first glance, it looks like Connecticut is one of the best states for the well-being of children.  

The state is ranked eighth in the country by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s most recent Kids Count report, which measures how children and families do in education, community and family, health, and economic well-being.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

A group of Connecticut residents, advocates and state leaders in Hartford are demanding systematic change in public housing assistance, in the wake of several scandals over shocking conditions at public housing complexes. Many say the help available to tenants from the federal government is inadequate.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

For more than six years, Connecticut legislators and advocates have been trying to pass legislation that expands workers compensation benefits for first responders, particularly for those who develop job-related post-traumatic stress.

And when they finally succeeded this year and Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill into law earlier this month, advocates and workers cheered in victory. But for emergency medical service professionals, who are not included in the new law, it was a different story.

SAM COX / Creative Commons

One person has died and another is sick at a physical rehabilitation and senior wellness center in Rocky Hill after contracting Legionnaire’s disease.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Lisa Kwesell started getting emails and notices mailed to her home last year about her employer’s new wellness program, which was marketed as voluntary and an opportunity to help workers manage or improve their health.

She’d worked for Yale University as a part-time unionized employee for 14 years, and this was the first time she was being offered the opportunity to join a wellness program.

Michael Hamann / Creative Commons

Jim Webb has been drinking the tap water in his Glastonbury home for 15 years. When he first bought the house, he got the water tested, because it comes from a private well.

Frankie Graziano / WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio

The AARP Foundation and a New Haven law firm have filed a class action lawsuit against Yale University over how the college implements its employee wellness program.

The lawsuit claims that Yale’s wellness program, which is marketed as a resource to help employees and their spouses improve their health, violates several discrimination and health privacy laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

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