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Today, you’re gonna hear from three people who had close encounters with wild animals - and have the scars to prove it.

You’ll hear how - and if - any of these people felt defined by their experiences, and what sense they’ve made out of their encounters. Plus, you’ll hear from a wildlife expert about what animals you should be careful to keep away from here in New England.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Johan Lee Thompson has been a registered nurse for three years at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, a member of Trinity Health of New England.

She was working in the radiology department but was prepared for the possibility of getting redeployed to another area of the hospital because of the pandemic.

“I was ready because I knew COVID was just starting off, and if anything, we thought that our job would be more secure because of it,” she said. “But it was the complete opposite.” 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

What began as some gastric issues last year has now progressed into painful gallstones and chronic problems for Hannah Gebhard, who lives in Naugatuck.

“It was really just a ramping up of the symptoms until I one day landed myself in the emergency room at 2 a.m. because I was in so much pain,” she said. 

A sign outside of Hartford Hospital
Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

Connecticut hospitals, stung by the widespread cancellation of elective procedures, a steep drop in emergency room visits and the need for additional staffing and protective gear to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, stand to lose $1.5 billion this fiscal year.

healthcare workers
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

These past few weeks have brought unprecedented strain for front-line medical workers in Connecticut’s hospitals and nursing homes. It’s also been a period of innovation in the health care industry, as facilities both try to support their staff -- and stretch them far beyond their previous clinical experience.

Branimir Balogović / Pexels.com

You remember what the mother of Mr. Rogers said: Always look for the helpers.

Turns out, they're everywhere. Sometimes they're livestreaming themselves doing great work on social media, sometimes they're in a photo, smiling behind a mask as part of a group of volunteers (spaced six feet apart, of course), and sometimes you never even know they're there.

COVID-19 testing
Kathy Willens / AP Photo

On an average day before the pandemic, the emergency department at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford would be busy with people coming in for heart attacks, strokes, trauma, injuries, common illnesses like the flu and bronchitis, and other less acute problems.

But Dr. Steven Wolf, chairman of emergency medicine at Saint Francis, said it’s been weeks since the emergency room has had that level of activity outside of COVID-19 cases. 

yale new haven; nurse; sara newman;
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

As the number of critically ill coronavirus patients began to rise in New Haven, several floors of Smilow Cancer Hospital were converted into intensive care wards. Sara Newman has been a nurse for 39 years and is the nurse manager overseeing the vast majority of Yale New Haven Hospital’s sickest COVID-19 patients. 

coronavirus
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

A local health official believes the peak of coronavirus infections in Connecticut will happen later this month into early May -- later than the doctor’s network initially predicted.

gloves
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

A national shortage of personal protective equipment has left states and individual providers scrambling to find new supplies as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Meanwhile, Connecticut health care workers are coming into direct contact with infected patients, and not just at the hospitals. Nurses and home health aides said rationing and reusing respirator masks, gloves, gowns and other equipment has been distressing. 

As New York City's hospitals begin to buckle under the weight of the coronavirus crisis, two public spaces that are popular recreation spots in better times are being turned into field hospitals.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Connecticut hospitals are receiving more patients ill with COVID-19 as the new coronavirus continues to spread rapidly.

Public health experts predict that hospitalization rates will get worse in the coming weeks, putting a burden on health care professionals who are also trying to protect themselves and other patients from becoming infected. 

expecting parents
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

One Hartford woman looks at the COVID-19 pandemic as the “icing on the cake” for her challenging pregnancy.

Lauren Perrault, 33, is used to husband Gabe Peterson, 35, being by her side at the doctor’s office. 

Personal protective equipment
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

Personal protective equipment -- or PPE -- for health care workers combatting COVID-19 is in short supply.

Despite a run on this type of gear, doctors and nurses have to move forward with treatment.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The essential duties of a hospital chaplain happen on-site where patients are treated, so it’s hard to work from home at a time when employers are encouraging social distancing to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Joe Amon/Connecticut Public/NENC

It was 7 a.m. and cold on a recent Wednesday in Hartford. Despite the early hour, workers from Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center were outside in a nearby parking lot, unloading medical equipment and workstation carts from a mobile unit.

The carts were rolled into a heated white tent, and boxes of hospital gloves, paperwork files and test kits were set up on a nearby table. More doctors, nurses and hospital workers started to arrive, and by 8 a.m., cars were forming a line at the hospital’s drive-through coronavirus testing site.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Hartford HealthCare has set up a COVID-19 command center in Newington for workers to answer questions from Connecticut residents who want to know more about the disease.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
NIAID-RML

A Wilton man has become Connecticut’s first presumptive positive coronavirus case, state officials announced Sunday afternoon.

Gov. Ned Lamont said in a news release that the patient is between 40 and 50 years old and is being treated at Danbury Hospital. Officials said this person likely became infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 illness during a recent trip to California. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

State officials in Hartford Friday said they want to expand coronavirus testing “dramatically” in the next couple days and weeks.  

Gov. Ned Lamont said this will cover more people who need to be tested or treated quickly. 

us surgeon general
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in the United States amid a global outbreak of a novel coronavirus, both federal and state health officials urge communities to prepare for the spread of disease.

U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams met with state leaders and health officials Monday at the Connecticut Department of Public Health Laboratory in Rocky Hill. 

14 Hospitals Penalized For High Infection Rates, Injuries

Feb 7, 2020
CT Mirror

Fourteen Connecticut hospitals are being penalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), losing 1% of their Medicare reimbursements this fiscal year for having high rates of hospital-acquired infections and injuries, new data show.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Debra Trueax knew she was struggling with an acute substance use disorder, but she wanted to hide it from family and friends. So when she went to a hospital in 2018, she had a plan.

“I went to the emergency room looking to get a bed and for mental health and addiction services,” she said. “I knew where I could get a bed where I could also sort of on the sly get treatment for substance abuse without anyone knowing.”

SLAWOMIR FAJER / ISTOCK / THINKSTOCK

Even when patients go to a hospital within their insurance coverage network, they still risk being seen by individual physicians who don’t take their insurance. Later, patients may get billed for the amount their insurance company doesn’t cover for out-of-network services.

new study by researchers at Yale University found that some of these out-of-network charges can be significant among certain specialties.

Connecticut Legislature Approves Hospital Settlement And Restaurant Law

Dec 18, 2019
Chion Wolf / WNPR

The General Assembly unanimously voted in special session Wednesday to accept the settlement of a high-stakes lawsuit in which the hospital industry claimed billions in damages from a complex taxing scheme that increased federal Medicaid reimbursements for the state without producing new revenue for the hospitals.

Conn. General Assembly Special Session On Hospital Settlement Is Dec. 18

Dec 11, 2019
Chion Wolf / WNPR

The General Assembly is convening a one-day special session next week to vote on the acceptance of a $1.8 billion settlement of a tax fight with the hospital industry and a revised version of a restaurant tip-credit bill vetoed in July, legislative leaders said Tuesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said in separate interviews that the House and Senate are ready to take up those two non-partisan issues on Dec. 18.

Hospitals To Receive $1.8 B To Settle Provider Tax Lawsuit Against Conn.

Dec 6, 2019
CT Mirror

Connecticut hospitals will receive $1.8 billion in state and federal funds between now and 2026 to resolve a lawsuit that could have cost the state as much as $4 billion, according to details released Thursday by Gov. Ned Lamont.

The agreement includes a one-time payment of $79 million to the industry, along with steadily declining taxes on hospitals — and increasing state payments to facilities — between now and 2026.

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.

26 Connecticut Hospitals Penalized By Medicare For High Readmission Rates

Oct 9, 2019
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services penalized Bridgeport Hospital 2.66 percent, the highest penalty among Conn. hospitals.
Bridgeport Hospital

Most Connecticut hospitals will lose a percentage of their Medicare reimbursement payments over the next year as penalties for having high rates of readmitted patients, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Philippe Put / CreativeCommons.org

Women in America die more frequently from complications of childbirth than in any other industrialized nation in the world. In addition, women of color are three to four times more likely to die than white women. And over the last 25 years that the maternal mortality was rising in America, other countries were decreasing their rate. 

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.

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