A genetic test that helps doctors determine how best to treat breast cancer—and whether chemotherapy is likely to help—is significantly more likely to be administered to white women than blacks or Hispanics, a Yale study has found. The test, called Oncotype Dx (ODx), uses gene expression to gauge how early-stage breast cancer is affecting patients’ gene activity. It uses the information to determine how likely cancer recurrence would be, and physicians and their patients can use that knowledge to decide how to proceed with treatment. Yale researchers retrospectively analyzed a group of more than 8,000 Connecticut women who were diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer between 2011 and 2013, and found “significant racial and ethnic disparities in use of this new gene test,” said study leader Dr. Cary Gross, a member of Yale Cancer Center and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. “It reinforces that, at the same time we are investing in developing new treatments and new testing strategies and we’re promoting them with great excitement, we really need to double-down our efforts to eliminate disparity,” Gross said.
Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) in Connecticut have expanded services, upped their staffing and renovated their facilities mostly due to increased revenue streams from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Connecticut and the 30 other states that opted for the ACA Medicaid expansion program have benefitted from billions of dollars in additional core grant funding, with Connecticut receiving $150.7 million from 2011 to 2016, according to a January report by the Congressional Research Service. Health centers in Connecticut used some of that funding to hire professionals to enroll thousands of residents in health insurance—residents who were previously uninsured and used the centers for their health care. Now the centers are serving about 70,000 more insured patients, mostly covered by Husky Health plans. The cost of treating uninsured patients has declined by about $10 million since 2012, according to Deb Polun, director of government affairs and media relations at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut.
State health officials have fined three Connecticut nursing homes for various incidents, including one in which a resident died last year. Apple Rehab Farmington Valley in Plainville was fined $2,140 for three violations that occurred in 2016. In one case, a resident died Oct. 23 after choking during dinner. The resident, who had dementia, was found by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) choking in bed.
State health officials have fined a Willington independent living facility $1,500 after a resident left the facility last fall and was found dead in a nearby pond several days later. In addition to the fine, High Chase LLC agreed in a consent order with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement new policies and procedures for staff to follow when a resident goes missing. The facility’s licensee denied the DPH’s allegations, but signed the order without any formal challenge of the allegations. Officials at High Chase did not return calls seeking comment this week. The fine and consent order stem from an incident discovered during a December 2016 inspection.
The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has cited and fined four Connecticut nursing homes for various lapses of care. Bridgeport Manor was fined $1,940 for two instances earlier this year. In a Jan. 14 incident, a nurse aide found a resident slumped in a wheelchair with the wheelchair safety belt around the neck. According to the citation, the resident’s head and neck were on the seat of the wheelchair, the wheelchair’s seatbelt was choking the resident and the resident’s lips were turning blue.
Low-income women in Connecticut who have just given birth and know they don’t want to get pregnant again anytime soon are now offered a long-acting birth control option postpartum. Medical providers say the policy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, as well as lead to better maternal health outcomes by ensuring pregnancies are spaced a healthy length of time apart. Connecticut’s HUSKY program is one of 26 state Medicaid programs nationwide that reimburses hospitals for administering long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—namely, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants—to Medicaid patients. HUSKY started reimbursing for the devices last year. “It’s a great thing,” said Dr. Elizabeth Purcell, an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Hartford.
Connecticut has seen a continued rise in opioid-related addiction among women, with more than 420 women dying of drug overdoses in 2015 and 2016. To address the crisis and stir community discussion about prevention, intervention and treatment, the Conn. Health I-Team, in collaboration with Wheeler Clinic, will host a free community forum, “Working Women: The New Face of Addiction,” from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on April 6 at the New Britain Museum of American Art, 56 Lexington St., New Britain. The event is open to the public. Register here.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy on minors, a practice designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Medical and mental health experts have widely denounced conversion therapy, which also is known as sexual reorientation therapy, as being ineffective and detrimental. Critics of conversion therapy say it is based on the flawed assumption that homosexuality and bisexuality are sicknesses. “It’s disgraceful,” said state Rep. Jeffrey Currey, a Democrat representing the 11th House District. Currey introduced the bill along with Democratic Fifth District Sen. Beth Bye.
The state has cited and fined three nursing homes for various violations, including mismanagement of medication. The state Department of Public Health fined Apple Rehab Rocky Hill $3,000 for seven incidents. One incident on Oct. 27, 2016, involved a resident’s hospitalization for an uncontrolled nosebleed. DPH found staff had mismanaged the resident’s anticoagulant medication prescriptions.
A growing number of women are getting hurt by falling, and they are much more likely to suffer fall-related injuries than men, data show. From 2011 to 2014, 51 women per 1,000 population were hurt in falls, up from 47 per 1,000 from 2005 to 2008, according to recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls were the most common cause of nonfatal injuries to women, the report found, and significantly outpaced injuries from overexertion, the second leading cause of injury that afflicted just 14 per 1,000.
Hormone-related changes associated with menopause are the main reasons women are so prone to falling, especially as they age, said Dr. Karen Sutton, an orthopaedic surgeon, director of Women’s Sports Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital, and associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the Yale School of Medicine. “Their muscles are weaker, their bones are weaker,” she said, since hormone changes lead to reduced bone mass and the onset of osteoporosis in many women.