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Health and Fitness

Health and Fitness

Friday, May 06, 2016

Agency Head: Mosquito-control Funding Cut

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Pending cuts to state funding for mosquito control could pose a problem for the agency that monitors the insects for the Zika virus and other diseases, the director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said today.

“It’s really not adequate for us to do what we want to do,” Theodore G. Andreadis said after a press conference with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on the Zika virus.

But Malloy said money necessary for screening and testing mosquitos would be made available, whether in the budget or not.

The budget deal reached this week by the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders would cut funding for mosquito control at Andreadis’ agency from $507,516 to $446,779 for the upcoming fiscal year – a 12 percent decrease. Legislators are expected to vote on the budget during a special session next week.

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Fourth Zika Virus Case in CT

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that a fourth Connecticut patient, a non-pregnant woman in her 30s, has tested positive for the Zika virus.

The patient traveled from the Caribbean to Connecticut on April 25 and became ill on April 29, the DPH said. Her symptoms included fever, rash and conjunctivitis. 

The patient and her physician have been informed of the test result.

The State Laboratory confirmed the patient’s test result using PCR testing. This level of testing is used for patients who are actively experiencing symptoms of the virus.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

CT Pregnant Woman Tests Positive for Zika Virus

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that a pregnant Connecticut woman has tested positive for Zika virus.

According to DPH, the patient became ill with a fever and rash while traveling in Central America. It was during this trip that the patient conceived.

The patient has since returned to Central America, a news release said.

DPH officials contacted the patient’s Connecticut physician today with the positive result and are working to get in touch with the patient or her family to ensure that she seeks medical care while she is out of the country, DPH said.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

House Passes ‘Comprehensive’ Opioid Bill

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

After a floor debate laced with stories of the toll drug addiction has taken across Connecticut, the House today unanimously passed what legislators described as a comprehensive measure aimed at curbing the epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse.

WestportNow.com Image
Sue Kruczek, wearing her son Nick’s memorial hockey jersey, speaks earlier this year in favor of a bill to cap the supply of opioid prescriptions. Nick died at age 20 of a heroin overdose after initially taking prescription opioids. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Arielle Levin Becker for ctmirror.org

The proposal, approved 144-0, would require first responders to carry overdose-reversing drugs, limit initial opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies in most cases involving acute pain, make changes to a prescription monitoring program aimed at helping prescribers identify patients who could be misusing drugs, and charge the state’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Council with developing a plan to reduce the number of opioid-induced deaths in the state.

Drug overdoses now kill an average of two people in Connecticut each day – more than car accidents. Last year, 723 people died from accidental drug overdoses in the state, and more than 60 percent involved opioids.

“They’re digging graves in every town in Connecticut,” Public Health Committee Co-Chair Rep. Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said. He noted that more than 50 bills on the topic were submitted to the committee at the start of the session – a sign of the level of concern among lawmakers across the state.

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04/25/16 10:26 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, March 21, 2016

Westport Lauded as Clean Energy Leader

By James Lomuscio

Connecticut’s clean energy future seems bright, according to a Town Hall forum tonight that drew about 25 persons. 

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Tonight’s clean energy forum praised Westport’s clean energy efforts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

And leading the way is Westport, cited as “a great example” of a community taking the reins.

The auditorium forum was orchestrated by state Rep. Johnathan Steinberg, who had invited Acadia Center, a nonprofit clean energy advocacy group, to discuss alternative energy advancements over the past decade, plus future efforts.

At the last minute, Steinberg, who had been scheduled to give a legislative perspective on state efforts, was unable to attend due to a family emergency.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

First Confirmed CT Case of Zika Virus

The State Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that the first case of Zika virus in Connecticut has been detected by its state laboratory. 

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An Aedes species mosquito that transmits the Zika virus. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) CDC photo

According to DPH, the patient, 60-69 years of age, traveled to a Zika-affected area and had onset of illness on the day of return in early March. 

The patient’s illness was characterized by skin rash, conjunctivitis, fatigue, chills, headache, and muscle aches, an announcement said. The patient has been seen by a physician and is recovering.

In January, Gov. Dannel p. Malloy directed DPH to test for Zika virus. The tests were conducted at the DPH Laboratory, which was approved for and began testing for Zika virus on Feb. 29, the DPH said.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Staples Hosts Brain Talk

The connection between the mind and body is the subject of a Staples High School talk next week by a best-selling author, which is open to the public.

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John Medina: to discuss brain and body connection. Contributed photo

John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and founding director of two brain research institutes, will speak at the school on Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m, the school district announced today.

He is the author of The New York Times best-selling book “Brain Rules.”

Among his topics—how people learn, the effects of stress on the brain and how physical activity benefits cognition, an announcement said.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Comings & Goings: Concussion Center Opening

Heads Up Westport - Concussion Center will soon open at 25 Imperial Ave. in Westport.

WestportNow.com Image
Audrey Paul (l) and Deborah Mogelof: specializing in youngster concussions. Contributed photos

Co-owners are Westport physicians and residents Deborah Mogelof and Audrey Paul.

In addition to her work at the new business, Mogelof said she will remain associated with Westport Urgent Care, 1045 Post Road East, where she has served as a director for the past three years.  Paul is a pediatric emergency medicine physician.

“Our practice will provide baseline ImPact (concussion) testing for children 10 and over,” said Mogelof. She said this is something the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Heroin Scourge Affects Westport, Too

By James Lomuscio

Westport has not escaped the surge in heroin and other opiate overdoses in Connecticut.

WestportNow.com Image
Heroin overdose deaths have soared in Connecticut and nationally. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed graphic

While no deaths have been reported in Westport, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said this week the number of people in Connecticut dying from drug overdoses continued to skyrocket in 2015.

More than 720 people overdosed, with heroin-related deaths climbing at alarming rates, the office said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, of the nationwide 47,055 drug-overdose deaths in 2014 — an all-time high, and more people than died of liver disease or renal failure, of suicide, or in car accidents — heroin was responsible for over one-fifth.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Westport Psychologist: Retirement May Cause Stress

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A Westport psychologist, Stephen Temlock, told a Westport Library audience tonight that retirement can often be a stressful event. “Retiring is one of life’s major events,” said the adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “For some, retiring is a good thing, but for others, particularly for those who have been in high level positions, it may cause stress, anxiety and a sense of loss.” He added: “Life is about getting things done, but retirement is not about achievement so there’s often much stress in retirement created by the sudden void.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/02/16 08:39 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blumenthal Bill Would Speed Generic Drug OK

By Kyle Constable

www.ctmirror.org

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., plans to introduce legislation intended to speed up FDA approval of generic prescription drugs and combat the “astronomic rise” in the cost of health care, he said today.

The bill, titled the “Fast Generics Act,” will be sponsored by Blumenthal and a number of other legislators. He announced the proposal and called for more federal action to combat high prescription drug prices during a panel discussion at Hartford Hospital.

“The astronomic rise in health care costs is due to lax enforcement, broken markets and, unfortunately, unvarnished greed,” Blumenthal said during the event. “There are more fundamental problems that need to be addressed. Many of the companies are too big – and are monopolies – and have misused their monopolistic power.”

Blumenthal called for stronger enforcement of federal antitrust laws and more transparency in drug costs, saying that claims of research and development necessitating the cost increases need to be verifiable.

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01/19/16 05:22 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, October 25, 2015

NYT Columnist Jane Brody: Exercise Daily

WestportNow.com Image
There was a full house today at the Westport Center for Senior Activities for a talk by New York Times personal health columnist Jane Brody. In the event sponsored by AT&T and the Friends of the Senior Center, Brody urged her audience to be careful with what they eat and to exercise every day. “I don’t make a daily decision to exercise. I just do it,” she said. Brody, 74, will mark her 50th anniversary of writing her column in November. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

10/25/15 05:13 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Anthem Individual Rates to Rise 2.4%, ConnectiCare’s 8.5%

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Premiums for the 55,000 people who buy Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans through the state’s individual market will rise by an average of 2.4 percent next year, while ConnectiCare Insurance Company’s 34,400 customers will see an average rate hike of 8.5 percent.

Both companies sought higher increases, but the Connecticut Insurance Department deemed their proposed rates excessive and required the companies to revise their proposals.

Similarly, Golden Rule, which covers 3,414 people, sought an 18.5 percent rate hike but, after revising it based on the regulator’s findings, will instead raise rates by 1.1 percent.

The requests by Anthem, ConnectiCare and Golden Rule were subject to a July public hearing.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

West Nile in Norwalk, ‘Matter of Time’ Here

By James Lomuscio

Although no mosquitoes in Westport of Weston have tested positive for West Nile Virus, “it is only a matter of time” since the virus has shown up in Norwalk and 14 other parts of the state, Mark A.R. Cooper, director of health for the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD), said today. WestportNow.com Image
Mark A. R. Cooper: take precautions. File photo

“It is only a matter of time before mosquitoes become positive for the virus in Westport,” said Cooper. “It happens every year around this time.

“Therefore, it is time to start advising citizens to take precautions against mosquito bites,” he added.

According to recent reports from the New Haven-based Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, “which has traps set up all over the state, including Westport,” said Cooper, 15 towns have trapped mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Westporter Who Led U.N. Ebola Effort: We Are Better Prepared Now

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Anthony B. Banbury, a Westporrter who led the United Nations effort to fight the Ebola outbreak, told the Westport Rotary Club today the World Health Organization (WHO) is now better prepared to handle such epidemic outbreaks. The assistant secretary general, Department of Field Support said the WHO initially was slow to respond to the Ebola outbreak but has now developed crisis management expertise. Banbury, who moved to Westport six years ago, said the focus now must be on early detection of disease outbreaks and getting local people to report them. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/18/15 03:29 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Health District Ticks Off Tick Dangers

By James Lomuscio

While the wet summer has caused a proliferation of hungry mosquitoes at dusk and dawn, the West Nile virus is not yet a worry.

WestportNow.com Image
Ticks come in all sizes.  Cdc.gov photo

The big concern right now is deer ticks, and it’s not just Lyme disease, but illnesses far more frightening, according to Mark Cooper, director of the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD).

Just back from a workshop at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, WWHD Director of Community Health Monica Wheeler said deer ticks can carry several other organisms and viruses that make Lyme pale in comparison.

One is babesiosis, which can cause malaria-like symptoms of cyclical fevers. Unlike Lyme, for which treatment requires a regimen of the heavy-duty antibiotic doxycycline, babeseosis requires anti-malaria drugs and quinine, as well as antibiotics, Wheeler said.

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Monday, June 08, 2015

For First Report Card, Sound Gets A to F Grades

By James Lomuscio

See full report here

Scientists today issued what they said was the first Long Island Sound health report card, giving the estuary an F in the area of New York’s East River and an A 110 miles away where it stretches to eastern Long Island and Block Island. 

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U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal addresses today’s Long Island Sound report card news conference at Sherwood Island State Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Westport waters were not specifically graded but local officials speculated they were in the B to B-minus range.

The results from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) were announced at a news conference at the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport with federal, state, and local politicians on hand.

The report card assessment of the 1 million-acre open and coastal waters sea was conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

House Votes to Tighten Religious Exemptions on Vaccines

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Inspired by the California measles outbreak, the Connecticut House voted 86 to 56 today to require parents to annually declare if they are refusing to vaccinate their children on religious grounds.

Legislators debated whether the requirement was a small step toward boosting Connecticut’s already high childhood immunization rate of 98.5 percent — or the bullying of a parental minority.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Comings & Goings: SoulCycle Officially Opens

WestportNow.com Image
SoulCycle opened for customers on Thursday at its new Westport location, 374 Post Road East in the Compo Acres Shopping Center, but today was the official opening and ribbon cutting. The popular exercise studio is in the former Jos. A. Bank clothiers location, which moved to Colonial Green. The SoulCycle website describes its activities this way: “SoulCycle doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

04/25/15 01:25 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Cutting the Ribbon

WestportNow.com Image
Cutting the ribbon at today’s grand opening of SoulCycle, 374 Post Road East, were ((l-r) Ben Simpson, asssistant manager, First Selectman Jim Marpe, Ronnie Bencosme, studio manager, and Alyssa Wintergrass, assistant manager. According to Chase Delano, SoulCycle regional marketing manager, the Westport studio is its 41st location in the country and the second site in the state, having opened in Greenwich two years ago. She said there are no memberships—“it’s pay as you go but packages are available.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Comings & Goings: SoulCycle to Compo Acres

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SoulCycle, a salon for physical fitness spinning, will open at 372 Post Road East in the Compo Acres Shopping Center sometime in 2015, according to an employee in SoulCycle’s Greenwich salon.The New York-based business, founded in 2006 by Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, now has 30 salons around the country including 13 in New York City and others in New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester, Massachusetts, California and Washington, D.C. The Westport salon, located between Patriot National Bank and Choice Pet Supply is “months off from opening,” according to a worker for KBE Construction, contractors for New York-based Equity One, owners and property managers of the shopping center. It will open in the space previously occupied by Joseph A. Bank, which has moved to 260 Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CT to Handle Quarantines on Case-by-Case Basis

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut will require all travelers from the West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus to be actively monitored, require those who meet certain risk factors to be quarantined, and will decide each case individually, according to a statement released by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office Monday night.

The stated policy appears less stringent than one the Malloy administration issued Oct. 16, which said all asymptomatic people who come to Connecticut from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, or who have been in contact with someone with Ebola, would be quarantined. But an administration spokesman said the procedures outlined Monday are in line with what the state has implemented in the past week. Public health officials said last week that they could use discretion in handling individual cases.

State policies for addressing people possibly exposed to the deadly virus have received significant scrutiny in recent days following the diagnosis of Ebola in a New York City physician who had recently returned from volunteering in Guinea with the group Doctors Without Borders.

Soon after, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced mandatory quarantine policies for returning medical workers last week, triggering a backlash from public health experts.They warned that mandatory quarantines for medical providers showing no symptoms were not scientifically justified and could reduce the willingness of health care workers to volunteer to fight the outbreak in West Africa.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Access Health CT Chief Leaving for Fed Job

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org
WestportNow.com Image
Kevin Counihan: led Access Health CT through a relatively smooth launch. Ctmirror.org photo

Kevin Counihan is resigning as the chief executive of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange to lead the once-troubled federal Obamacare marketplace, officials announced today.

As CEO of the federal exchange, Counihan will assume responsibility for the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace, a crucial piece of the Affordable Care Act that is used to enroll people in coverage in nearly three dozen states.

The federal exchange’s launch last fall was considered disastrous, and Counihan’s appointment comes less than three months before the Nov. 15 start of the second open enrollment period for private insurance.

Counihan will also run the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, a part of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that plays a key role in implementing the health law.

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Connecticut and Climate Change: ‘We Get it Here’

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut met an initial goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and is on track to meet the next goal of going 10-percent those levels by 2020, according to a progress report issued today.

“We know that greenhouse gases are in fact affecting our environment, at least we believe that in this part of the country, and have precious little debate about it, I might add,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released the report at Crest, a heating-and-cooling company in Hartford that spent $145,000 to install rooftop solar energy panels that are saving the firm $22,000 annually.

Solar energy is growing in Connecticut, but the biggest reduction in carbon pollution came from the state’s shift from coal to natural gas to produce electricity. Emissions in the power sector have dropped 31 percent since 1990 and 22 percent since 2005.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Local Hoarders the Focus of Task Force

By James Lomuscio

It’s the stuff of reality television that always seems to occur elsewhere and often appears more staged than real—hoarding.

WestportNow.com Image
A special Westport task force is studying the hoarding and clutter issue in area homes. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

But to hear local officials tell it, hoarding is a local reality with at least 10 known cases in Westport and two in Weston, enough for the Westport-Weston Health District (WWHD) to recently announce the formation of the Safer Homes Task Force, a 10-member group comprising social workers and first responders.

According to Loren Pace, WWHD public health nurse and task force coordinator, the group of Westport and Weston town department representatives began to address the problem informally in June 2012. They have been meeting monthly and have just recently has gone public. Their next monthly meeting is set Tuesday, May 27 at 1:30 p.m. at WWHD offices at 180 Bayberry Lane.

“Our main objective is to protect the public health and safety of the client, the first responders, and the community,” Pace said.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CT Measles Cases: 3 in Past Decade, 3 More in 2014

Connecticut has had three confirmed cases of measles this year—the same number of cases as in the previous 10 years combined, according to public health officials.

All three people have recovered, and none of the three cases appear linked, according to the state Department of Public Health. The third case, announced today, occurred in an adult in New Haven County. The first two occurred in Fairfield County in February. One patient was a child and one was an adult.

DPH is urging people who are not sure if they’ve been vaccinated for measles to check with their doctors. People who had the disease in the past are considered to be immune.

According to the health department, people who are not immune to measles and are showing symptoms of the illness should call their health care providers rather than going to a health care facility to avoid exposing others.

—Ctmirror.org

04/29/14 02:23 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CT Senate Votes to Ban sales of Genetically Engineered Grass Seed

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

The state Senate voted 25 to 11 tonight for legislation that would ban grass seed that is genetically engineered to resist pesticides and herbicides, a step that the Senate’s top leader calls necessary to protect the environment against the overuse of lawn chemicals. Opponents call the bill an overreaction to a product not yet on the market.

For the second time in two years, Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, has taken the lead on legislation addressing genetically modified organisms. Also for the second time, House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, is looking skeptically at a pet issue of his Senate counterpart.

It was unclear tonight if Sharkey would call a vote in the House before the session ends May 7, especially with House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, promising strenuous opposition, which likely means delaying actions.

Cafero said Republicans object to the substance of the bill and the method by which it was passed: Williams amended a pesticide bill to include the ban on genetically engineered seed. The ban never was subjected to a public hearing.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Internal Medicine Group Links Up With Norwalk Hospital

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Internal Medicine Associates of Westport (IMAW) has joined Norwalk Hospital Physicians and Surgeons, the employed physician group of Norwalk Hospital, it was announced today. Explaining the move, Jay Horn, IMAW president, said: “Our doctors can concentrate on the day-to-day care of patients and let a larger organization deal with the administrative tasks that frequently distract doctors from patient care tasks.” Pictured are the IMAW physicians (back row, l-r) Robert Teltser, Jay Horn, Nina Karol, and Robert Altbaum; (front row) David Baum, Jill Denowitz, and Robert Dresdner. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

02/19/14 06:02 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cutting Connecticut’s Trees Sparks Disagreement

By Jan Ellen Spiegel

www.ctmirror.org

Eric Hammerling has a bumper sticker on his car that says: “don’t blame the trees.” It refers to power outages   -– like the massive ones since 2011 after the tropical-style storms Irene and Sandy, and a variety of blizzards and nor’easters.

WestportNow.com Image
Last week’s removal of trees at Westport’s Longshore Club Park did not involve potential power line issues but was highly controversial nevertheless. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

Falling trees and limbs that took out power lines are most often cited for the outages, and the upshot has been a rush by utilities, the state Department of Transportation, municipalities and individuals to cut trees back and down.

“We can blame the trees,” said Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. “But it’s mostly on us for failure to manage our roadside trees for many, many years.”

The management of trees –- what, where and how much to cut -– has become contentious in Connecticut. It pits those who are most concerned about keeping the lights on against those who believe we are verging on literal overkill in taking down trees.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

CT Exchange’s Private Insurance Customers Skew Older, Male

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Sixty percent of the people who signed up for private health plans through Connecticut’s health insurance exchange are 45 and older, according to figures released today by the federal government.

That’s more than twice the share of people in the coveted under-35 age brackets. Twenty-one percent of enrollees are age 18 to 34.

The figures also show that Connecticut stands out as one of just two states with more men than women signing up for private plans through the exchanges. In Connecticut, 54 percent of enrollees are men and 46 percent are women. Nationally, the opposite is true: 54 percent are women and 46 percent are men.

The numbers, released today, cover the first three months of enrollment—Oct. 1 to Dec. 28—in public health insurance exchanges created by the federal health law commonly known as Obamacare.

Click here for more of story

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