Army veteran Carlos Correa dreams of starting a business growing lettuce and tomatoes in greenhouses. But the traumatic injuries he suffered as a result of serving in Afghanistan prevent him from working. His wife now cares for him at home.
Correa had thought he left Afghanistan unscathed because he was alive and uninjured. But over time, survivor’s guilt, sadness about the problems of veterans he counseled at work, deep-seated anger at an Army superior, and uncontrollable emotions overwhelmed him. He suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His lowest point was the day he set out to kill someone with a gun.
When the pandemic began, LaVita King of Bridgeport worried about how she would continue to see her behavioral health therapist and primary care physician at Southwest Community Health Center.
She lives close enough to walk to the federally qualified health center but didn’t feel comfortable leaving her home in those early days, let alone venturing into a medical office. But she’s been able to access care through phone and video chats.
The fallout from the pandemic has run the gamut from an unstable economy to an uptick in social-emotional problems. Experts suggest the pandemic may also be responsible for a continued upward trajectory in sexually transmitted diseases among Connecticut’s youngest sexually active residents.
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.”
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.
Dr. Khuram Ghumman took the unusual route of working in a hospital system first, then going into private primary care practice because he objects to the “corporatization” of health care. He said conflicts of interest can arise if an owner and its employed physicians have different objectives. “I wanted to be responsible to my patients,” Ghumman said.
Nationally and in Connecticut, hospital systems and private businesses are increasingly buying private medical practices and taking over their business operations. American Medical Association statistics show just 46% of physicians owned their own practices in 2018, down from 75% in 1983.
New Haven Community Health Worker (CHW) Katia Astudillo helps dozens of her clients navigate the logistics of getting vaccinated and connects them with other health services. She even helps them find rental assistance.
Jennifer Lortie is accustomed to facing obstacles to health care.
The 37-year-old assistive technology specialist for United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern Connecticut has cerebral palsy. As she describes it, her condition, which resulted in quadriplegia, means “pretty decent use of my left arm, very limited [use] of right arm, and no use of my legs.”