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Health & Fitness

Health & Fitness

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Senate Votes to Expand Role of Nurse Practitioners

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

The Connecticut state Senate voted 25 to 11 tonight to allow nurse practitioners to practice independent of physicians, a controversial concept that has gained traction amid growing concerns about the availability of primary care providers in the state.

The proposal, which now goes to the House, originated in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, which pitched it as a way to increase access to primary care at lower costs as thousands more state residents gain insurance as part of the federal health law.

But critics have raised concerns about the effects the change could have on patient care and primary care physicians.

The ability of nurse practitioners to work independent of doctors has long been a contentious matter between the two professions. Connecticut law required nurse practitioners to be supervised by doctors until 1999, when legislators loosened the requirement, calling instead for nurse practitioners to work “in collaboration” with a physician.

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Posted 08:54 PM
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

CT Shows Mixed Results in Emergency Care Survey

Connecticut’s performance in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians’ state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment released today shows mixed results, with grades in categories ranging from a B+ to a D.

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“Our low rates of fatal injuries and the general good health of our residents are to be commended,” said Jorge Otero, president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians. “However, people are waiting almost six hours for emergency care. The best medicine in the world doesn’t help you if you can’t get to it in a timely manner.”

The state’s strongest grade, a B+ in the Public Health and Injury Prevention category, results from low rates of accidental firearm-related deaths, accidental poisoning deaths, fatal occupational injuries, homicides, suicides, smoking and obesity.

In the category of Access to Emergency Care, Connecticut earned a C-. It has one of the highest rates of Level I or II trauma centers in the country, but hospitals have one of the highest occupancy rates in the nation. Waits in the ER are the sixth longest in the country, which is due in part to having a relatively small number of emergency departments, the report said.

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Posted 11:01 AM
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CT Regulators Losing Patience With Anthem Coverage Delays

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

David Gilbert says he sent his $825 check to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in early December. It was supposed to ensure that the Voluntown man would have health insurance by the start of this year.

But two weeks into 2014, Gilbert, 63, is still waiting for proof that he has insurance. An Anthem representative told him his check had been received, but as of Monday it hadn’t been cashed. That means Gilbert has been unable to get an insurance ID card, which he needs for a referral to an orthopedist.

He’s starting to wonder if he’ll ever get the coverage he thought he bought.

Gilbert is one of many Connecticut residents who signed up for Anthem plans through the state’s health insurance exchange but are still struggling to get their coverage set up.

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Posted 03:34 PM
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Monday, December 09, 2013

CT, 7 Other States Seek Midwest Pollution Crackdown

By Mark Pazniokas and Jan Ellen Spiegel

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut and seven other eastern states, all with Democratic governors and all under longstanding orders to reduce air pollution, said today they are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to force stricter air standards on nine upwind states from the Rust Belt and Appalachia that rely on coal-fired power plants.

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This CT DEEP map shows pollution flows from the south (yellow) and west (red) that travels hundreds of miles at high altitudes. Green shows local, lower-level flows. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) DEEP illustration

The governors said their states have largely exhausted ways to mitigate local ozone pollution and now must act decisively to force upwind states to reduce pollution at the source. Efforts at negotiation have failed, leaving the eastern governors with no choice but to seek federal intervention.

“They have been warned. They know this action is coming,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, one of four governors who addressed the media today, either by conference call or in a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Malloy said the eight states are seeking federal action to lower unhealthful ozone levels that plague places like Connecticut’s Fairfield County on many summer days and produce acid rain across Vermont and New Hampshire, degrading lakes and forests that are key to tourism.

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Posted 05:35 PM
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Friday, November 01, 2013

CT Exchange’s First Month Enrollment Figures Released

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

In its first month, Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, enrolled 7,615 people in health care coverage, according to figures released today.

Of those, 53 percent—4,065—have signed up for private insurance plans. The other 47 percent are signed up for Medicaid.

In addition, 55 small businesses have signed up for coverage through Access Health’s small business exchange. Altogether they have 306 employees.

Created by the health law commonly known as Obamacare, the exchange sells insurance offered by private companies and enrolls people in Medicaid. The health law aims to reduce the number of uninsured people in the country by expanding Medicaid to cover people at higher income levels and providing federal subsidies to reduce the cost of premiums for private coverage.

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Posted 06:12 PM
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Westporters Urged to Check on Arsenic in Wells

By James Lomuscio

High levels of naturally occurring arsenic in well waters in Weston today prompted a call from the director of the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) for Westporters living near the Weston line to have their wells checked too. WestportNow.com Image
Mark A. R. Cooper: urges testing of wells north of Merritt Parkway. File photo

A deadly poison in high doses, arsenic is relatively harmless in minute, acceptable levels as it appears almost everywhere: soil, air, vegetables, rocks and well water.

But in recent months, some wells in Weston tested at 40 times the acceptable level, said Mark A. R. Cooper, WWHD director.

As a result, Cooper said he is urging Westport residents north of the Merritt Parkway to have their wells tested, too.

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Posted 09:27 PM
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New Website Promotes Long-Term Care Options, Jobs

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

The state has launched a website and media campaign to increase awareness about the choices Connecticut residents have for receiving long-term care and the career options for caregivers.

The campaign, called My Place CT, is part of an effort to expand the ability of seniors and people with disabilities to live in communities, rather than institutional settings like nursing homes. The move to reshape the state’s long-term care system also includes trying to help the nursing home industry broaden its business model to serve the needs of people living outside their facilities.

One of the major challenges in expanding the use of home and community-based long-term care options is a shortage of workers, and the My Place CT campaign is aimed in part at promoting the home care field.

“Making choices about long-term care and support just got easier,” Social Services Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby said in a statement. “In fact, the online resources and campaign are based on the theme of personal choice across the full spectrum of care—from the many options for staying healthy at home to receiving skilled nursing facility care.”

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Posted 09:42 AM
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Friday, February 01, 2013

Rarely Used Screenings Can Identify Depression in Teens

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org
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Screening tools are relatively simple. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo

When his office began using a questionnaire to screen adolescents for depression, Dr. Robert Dudley was skeptical.

“What’s the chance these nine silly questions are going to pick something up?” he wondered. “I’ve known this kid forever. I’ll know if they’re having troubles or not.”

Then he started using the questionnaire.

The number of patients identified as having mental health issues skyrocketed.

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Posted 04:08 PM
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Friday, December 07, 2012

Westport Urgent Care to Debut Monday

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A medical care facility, Westport Urgent Care, a division of MedExcel, opens on Monday at 1045 Post Road East, according to Linda DiLorenzo, executive director. She said the walk-in facility is not an emergency room but will treat any nonlife threatening condition including performing physicals, administering vaccines and tending to acute health conditions. Its three physicians include Deborah Mogelof, Scott Herman, and Tabitha Fortt. Office manager Jackie Demeter has been associated with Westport Family Health for 14 years.  Open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the office can be reached at (203)557-8200. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 06:53 PM
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Film About Concussions Draws Crowd of Parents

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About 75 persons tonight attended a Westport Public Library screening of the film “Head Games” that describes the increasing awareness of the concussion crisis in American sports. Westporter Ann Sherwood, whose child suffered a concussion, gets a show of hands after asking the audience, “How many of you here tonight are parents?” Pippa Bell Ader, an organizer of the evening’s event, said her 16-year-old son, a high school sophomore, suffered a concussion playing touch football. She said the purpose of the screening was “to improve concussion awareness, to understand the dangers of repetitive concussions and the need for safety practices.” Ader said the film can be acquired on iTunes for $6.99. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 10:24 PM
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Library Tonight Features ‘Head Games’ Concussion Film

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Thanks to the hard work of several parents, Westport tonight will be one of the first communities to view “Head Games,” which organizers describe as a “revealing documentary about the silent concussion crisis in American sports.” It will be shown at 7 p.m at the McManus Room of the Westport Public Library.

It is directed by Steve James, an Academy Award-nominee for “Hoop Dreams” and “The Interrupters.”

In the film, athletes from the professional to the youth levels share their personal struggles in dealing with the devastating and long-term effects of concussions, an epidemic fueled by the “leave everything on the field” culture so prominent in American sports, a news release said.

Released on Sept. 21, the film is currently showing in select major cities across the country. It lasts 90 minutes and there will be a short discussion following.

Posted 03:22 PM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Comings and Goings: Medical Facility to PRE

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UPDATE A medical care facility, Westport Urgent Care run by MedExcel, will open at 1045 Post Road East, between Oct. 15 and Nov. 1, a company spokeswoman said today. She said the facility is not an emergency room but will treat any nonlife threatening condition including performing physicals, administering vaccines and tending to acute health conditions. The hours will be Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Privately-owned MedExcel was founded by Dr. Anthony Ruvo who “hand-selected Westport as the first MedExcel Urgent Care location in Connecticut,” the spokeswoman said. The company currently has urgent care facilities in New York and New Jersey. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 01:39 PM
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bridgeport Coal Plant Under Scrutiny

By Neena Satija

www.ctmirror.org

More than 150 people crowded into a room in the Bridgeport City Hall Annex Monday night to weigh in on Bridgeport Harbor Station’s request to renew its five-year operating permit, which expired earlier this year.

Environmentalists have been trying for years to shut down the coal operations at the station, which is owned by the Newark-based Public Service Electric & Gas. This may be their best chance, said John Calandrelli, program director for the Sierra Club’s local chapter.

“This is the first, big, major step in what we believe will be, hopefully, a short fight to convince them to not only retire this plant but to revitalize Bridgeport,” Calandrelli said.

PSE&G insists that the plant’s coal operations are among the cleanest in the nation.

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Posted 10:05 AM
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Large Turnout for ‘Farmageddon’

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More than 200 persons turned out Friday night to view the documentary film “Farmageddon” at Westport’s Christ and Holy Trinity Church followed by a question and answer session. The screening of the film which tells the story of small family farms battling the bureaucracy to provide fresh, healthy foods to their communities was presented jointly by the Westport Cinema Initiative (WCI) and the Westport Farmers’ Market and sponsored by Whole Foods Market. “The highlight of the evening was a community of all ages coming together to share in their passion for their support of the independent farmer and their concerns for the food that we eat,” said Sandy Lefkowitz, executive director of WCI. Contributed photo

Posted 09:32 AM
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Monday, October 03, 2011

Westporter Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine After Death

UPDATE A Westport man who died three days ago today shared in winning the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries about the immune system that led to new ways to treat and prevent infectious illnesses and cancer.

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Ralph Steinman: Westporter honored for 1973 discovery. Contributed photo

Canadian-born Ralph M. Steinman, 68, whose death was disclosed after the Nobel announcement, shared the 10 million-kronor ($1.5 million) award prize with American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann. Steinman has been affiliated with Rockefeller University in New York since 1970. The university disclosed his death hours after the Nobel announcement.

The Nobel committee had been unaware of Steinman’s death. But after an emergency meeting, the Nobel Foundation said the award would stand, likening it to a death between announcement of the award and the award ceremony—which its rules permit.

Steinman died Friday of pancreatic cancer, according to Rockefeller University, which said he had been treated with immunotherapy based on his discovery of dendritic cells two decades earlier.

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Posted 07:19 AM
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