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The Connecticut State Capitol Building
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

From 24-hour-long zoom public hearings to a Capitol closed to the public, 2021’s legislative session was like no other.

This hour, we recap what happened in the Connecticut General Assembly, and find out what legislation passed and what didn’t.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Debra and Paul McAlenney were at their home in Simsbury on a recent Tuesday morning watching their 5-year-old grandson, Hudson, while his parents worked.

Hudson spends a couple of days during the week with his grandparents, or as he refers to them, Nana and Bacon.

Photo taken by PepBear at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Creative Commons

We don't do grief very well in this country. We don't talk about, we get uncomfortable around it, and in some mind-twisting way, we hope grief will leave us alone if we pretend it doesn't exist. But that's not how grief works.

Even professionals trained in grief tend to pathologize it when the grieving don't 'get over it' or 'recover ' from it fast enough. 

Today, a hard look at what is grief, including how to survive it and how we can all better support those who are living in it.

Freepik.com

When you have Cystic Fibrosis - a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections - a lung transplant can be a life-saving surgery. But what if you’re not sure you want it? And if you do get it, what new challenges will they present to your newly-extended life? 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Union strikes at more than 200 group home locations across Connecticut have been called off in a late-hour funding deal between workers and state officials.

Representatives at SEIU District 1199 New England said in a statement that union members reached a two-year, $184 million funding agreement with state leaders, effectively ending a scheduled strike by more than 2,100 workers that was to begin 6 a.m. Friday. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Unionized group home workers, and operators, are appealing to state leaders to set aside more funding for the industry as a strike scheduled for Friday looms.

Their demands follow closely behind a funding deal last month between the state and union nursing home workers to reach a $20 minimum wage and better benefits. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Up until last year, 22-year-old Yenimar Cortez spent her whole life growing up without health insurance.

“In high school, I started realizing my mom, when she was struggling to pay to take us to checkups,” she said. “We would go to free clinics when we were younger as well. We had to wake up really early and make sure we got in line, because if they had no spaces, you couldn’t go.”

Pereru, Wikipedia

What happens when you do a DNA test from a company like Ancestry.com or 23andme, and you get some life-shattering information, like your sibling is really your half-sibling, or that you may have a life-altering medical condition, or that you thought you were half Black, but the test says you’re barely Black at all.

Before you spit in that tube, hear from people who’ve been stunned and spun around by DNA tests.

For Third Year In A Row, Public Option Bill Won't Move Forward In Connecticut

May 22, 2021
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Proponents of a measure that would create a public option insurance plan for small businesses and nonprofits said Friday that the proposal will be shelved for a third consecutive year because Gov. Ned Lamont threatened not to sign the bill if it passed the General Assembly.

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

It took just a couple of seconds for a nurse to administer the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into Sadie Sindland’s arm.

Getting vaccinated has been a hot topic lately with 14-year-old Sindland and her friends. 

Lamont Announces Tentative Deal To Avert Nursing Home Strike

May 13, 2021
Gov. Ned Lamont gets his temperature checked at The Reservoir nursing home in West Hartford before watching staff and residents get vaccinated against COVID-19. Lamont made another offer to the health care workers’ union on Thursday.
AP Photo

{updated at 4:35 p.m.}

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a tentative deal between the state’s largest health care workers union and the nursing home industry late Thursday afternoon that would avert a strike Friday at 26 facilities.

The agreement came two hours after the administration sweetened its offer to fund the industry in the next state budget.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

A health care workers union is delaying strike plans at seven nursing homes while it continues to negotiate for more state funding for the long-term care industry and its workforce.

Thousands of members of New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, SEIU are still threatening to walk off the job Friday if their demands for better wages and benefits are not met -- union leaders say there’s been some progress with state leaders, but not enough to meet their goals. 

Lamont To Nursing Home Union: You Have CT's Last And Best Offer

May 11, 2021
Gov. Ned Lamont and members of the Connecticut National Guard.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont put the state’s largest health care workers’ union on notice Tuesday evening that he’d made his last and best financial offer to avert a strike threatened for Friday.

The governor’s chief of staff, Paul Mounds Jr., also used a virtual news conference to challenge SEIU District 1199 New England and more than three dozen congregate care facilities to remain at the bargaining table and hammer out a deal.

Tim Rasmussen / Connecticut Public

A labor union representing Connecticut health care workers notified six group home agencies Friday evening that more than 2,000 employees are prepared to walk off the job later this month.

Union workers are demanding wage increases, better benefits and solutions to staffing shortages in contract negotiations with agency owners and operators. 

CHION WOLF / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

This hour, we speak with Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo on his public option proposal to give more people the chance to join a health insurance program overseen by the state.

The Connecticut Partnership Plan is already offered to municipal workers and school employees. 

But how would he pay for it?

And how would he avoid frightening away insurance companies that are big employers in the state?

OnCall team / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger or rush into traffic to save a stranger's life.

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about nursing and the nature of altruism.

Yale Study On Opioid Misuse, OB-GYN Care Offers Hope To Pregnant Women Struggling With Addiction

May 3, 2021
Dr. Heather Lipkind (left) and Dr. Ariadna Forray (right) discuss the ProjectSMART trial at Yale School of Medicine, an initiative to provide OB-GYN care and management of opioid use disorder for pregnant women.
Anthony DeCarlo / Yale School of Medicine

When Amanda, 28, found out that she was pregnant with her second child, she was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling with opioid use disorder.

“I was pretty heavy into my drug use,” said Amanda, whose last name is being withheld due to patient confidentiality. “I had given up hope and was figuring out a way to use drugs and get away with the consequences. But it doesn’t work like that.”

DAVE WURTZEL / Connecticut Public

Thirty-three Connecticut nursing homes received notifications on Friday that their unionized workers are ready to strike on May 14 if demands aren’t met for better wages, benefits and staffing ratios.

More than 3,400 workers are employed at the affected homes, which are owned by the chains Genesis Healthcare, iCare Health Network, RegalCare and Autumn Lake Healthcare. A total of 51 nursing home contracts have expired in Connecticut as of March 15, and workers at the remaining facilities could issue strike notices as well in the coming days.

Blink!

Apr 30, 2021
Designed by macrovector_official at Freepik.com

When I say BLINK! What do you think? 

Of that American POW who blinked the word “TORTURE” in Morse code live on Vietnamese television? 

Or do you think of someone with locked-in syndrome who can only communicate by blinking? 

Access Health CT, the state’s insurance exchange, will open a special enrollment period on May 1.
CTMirror.org

Starting May 1, the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, will open a special enrollment period for residents who want to take advantage of additional subsidies that will help make coverage more affordable for many.

The subsidies are backed by funding included in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, authorized in March. The aid runs through the end of 2022, and state officials are hoping it will be extended.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Pharrell Bright sat in a plastic folding chair in the middle of a gym auditorium at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

The Capital Preparatory Magnet School senior had just received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I saw a lot of the commercials that the hospital has been posting on TV and through the news and it’s saying, 'get vaccinated, it could save some lives,'" he said. "And I felt like I just heard it enough times that I was like, you know what, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to do." 

Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

Alexander Amado started working with Community Health Center Inc. nearly a year ago. He took a job at the health center’s Hartford COVID-19 testing sites when they were newly constructed last spring.

It was a slow start, he said, but everything quickly escalated.

“People would come like four to six people in a car, and people would wait like three hours to get tested. It was pretty insane,” Amado said. “It was a little rough, but we got the rhythm going. And there were two lanes, because that was the volume of cars, and that would wrap around the building.”

Brenda Leon / Connecticut Public Radio

 

Immigrants’ rights groups and advocates gathered in Hartford this week to rally in support of Senate Bill 956, legislation that would provide HUSKY health benefits to certain Connecticut residents regardless of immigration status. 

 

Tim Rasmussen / Connecticut Public

Twice this week, unionized workers have shut down streets around the capitol in protest of Gov. Ned Lamont’s state budget plans.

Most recently, long-term care workers and members of New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, SEIU staged a picket Thursday afternoon outside the state Office of Policy and Management in Hartford. 

Mason Masteka/flickr creative commons

If you feel like you might have tipped the scale a bit during this pandemic, you’re not alone. A recent study by the American Psychological Association says more than 61% of U.S. adults reported an undesired weight change in the pandemic.

According to the CDC, 42% of adults in the United States are obese and that number is still climbing. 

Chris Rakoczy / Hartford Hospital

Cliff O’Connell’s future was once pretty murky. By 2019, he’d had kidney disease for 14 years.

Dr. Khuram Ghumman asks patient Tully Zorick, 5, to hop on one foot during a checkup at East Granby Family Practice, LLC where he is in private practice. Dr. Ghumman takes care of the entire Zorick family.
Cloe Poisson

Every day, Dr. Leslie Miller of Fairfield thinks about selling her practice to a hospital health system.

“Everybody who is in this environment thinks every day of throwing in the towel and joining a hospital,” said Miller, a sole practitioner in primary care for 20 years. “The business side is the problem,” she said, referring to expensive and time-consuming requirements of medical insurance and government regulations.

RN Jenni Eckstrom draws 0.5 ml of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as the City of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services hosted a vaccine clinic for Hartford residents 75 and over at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford on February 06, 2021
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Connecticut has been among the states leading the pack nationally on vaccinating its residents overall, but deep disparities remain. This hour, we get the latest from Connecticut Public Radio reporters about what’s driving the state’s racial inequities in vaccination rates.

ThinkStock.com

10% of Americans are living with diabetes. Are you one of them? Managing a chronic illness can already be difficult, but managing it during a pandemic can be nearly impossible.

Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

Connecticut became the first state in the country Monday to open a COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

The new state-federal partnership is part of a nationwide effort to broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially in vulnerable communities and for residents who may face barriers to getting a shot. 

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