With no Wi-Fi or reliable internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic, Susana Encarnacion of New London had some trouble during doctors’ appointments for her 9-year-old son, Jeremiah, who has asthma and attention deficit disorder. The stay-at-home mother, who moved to New London from the Dominican Republic 16 years ago, said she and her husband used to have Wi-Fi, but it became too expensive. Phone appointments worked fine, but video doctor visits with only a phone hotspot often weren’t reliable. “There were issues with losing a connection in the middle of appointments,’’ she said in Spanish through an interpreter from the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut. This summer, Gov. Ned Lamont and philanthropists have focused attention on Connecticut’s digital divide in access to online education.
Vape manufacturers have long been accused of marketing to teens with flavors like mango and cotton candy. Now vaping opponents say vape manufacturers are exploiting the coronavirus with face mask and hand sanitizer giveaways and #COVID-19 discounts. One maker of disposable vapes, Bidi Vapor, declared on Instagram: “A Bidi Stick a day keeps the pulmonologist away.”
The national Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says the tactics are hypocritical. Its president, Matthew L. Myers, said it’s imperative that young people quit vaping to avoid being susceptible to COVID-19. “Never before in our history has it been more important for young people to have healthy lungs,’’ Myers said.
Soon after Minerva Cuapio, a 48-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in New Haven, was laid off from her job at a dry cleaner in March, she developed a headache, an itchy throat and a dry cough. Then came the shortness of breath that really worried her daughter, Izarelli Mendieta, 29, of New Haven. While trying to get her mother care, she said, they were bounced from a doctor to the state’s COVID-19 hotline to a telemedicine visit back to the hotline and then to a drive-through testing center and an emergency room visit. The family waited nine days for Cuapio’s positive test results. Izarelli’s father, Pedro Mendieta, 55, who lost a foot to diabetes, tested positive, too, but had mild symptoms.
Minerva Cuapio and Pedro Mendieta have recovered, but their daughter, who translates for her parents because they only speak Spanish, said if she could meet Gov. Ned Lamont, she would ask him to make the process easier for families like hers.
In West Haven, 24% of white residents reported their health as fair or poor, a rate worse than whites statewide and in New Haven. Fifty miles east, 19% of white New London residents reported feeling depressed or hopeless, higher numbers than statewide and in Bridgeport. And 39% of white New Britain residents reported that financially, they were just getting by or were worse off. That’s higher than in Hartford and statewide. A C-HIT analysis of the results from the recent DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey found that residents in a number of midsize, blue-collar cities reported lower health ratings than residents of the state’s largest cities.
The state Medical Examining Board has disciplined three doctors and fined them a total of $25,500 for lapses in the care of patients. The board, meeting in Hartford on July 16, reprimanded Dr. William Guinan of South Windsor and fined him $10,000 for failing to perform PAP smears on one of his patients for six years after having diagnosed her with cancer in 2009, state records show. Guinan surgically removed the woman’s uterus and one ovary to treat the cancer, a consent order he agreed to said. In 2015, she was diagnosed with Stage III metastatic vaginal cancer. The order said Guinan had failed to adequately document a treatment plan for her in 2009, failed to instruct the patient about her long-term cancer risks and failed to review her medical history during exams over the next six years.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday disciplined five doctors, including fining a West Hartford psychiatrist $7,500 for prescribing excessive doses of Xanax and fining a Hamden ophthalmologist $7,500 for having a consensual relationship with an adult patient. The board also reprimanded the medical license of the psychiatrist, Dr. Dale Wallington, for performing an inadequate diagnosis of the patient and for failing to implement strategies between 2008 and 2017 to prevent the patient’s abuse of Xanax and Vyvanse, a consent order Wallington agreed to said. Vyvanse is used to treat attention deficit disorder. The board also placed Wallington’s license on probation for 18 months, during which he must take a course in prescribing practices and hire a physician to review a portion of his medical records, the order said. In a letter to the state Department of Public Health, the patient’s parents complained about Wallington’s care of their son and objected to the consent order.
The Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined 10 nurses, including revoking the licenses of three nurses and imposing fines on two others. The board revoked the licensed practical nurse license of Laurie Davidson of Bolton after finding that she failed to properly document medical records while working in 2015 as a nurse at Walnut Hill Care Center in New Britain. Davidson has an 18-year history of substance abuse and was suspected of taking “excessive” amounts of drugs from Walnut Hill, the board’s memorandum of decision said. The board revoked the registered nurse license of Amanda Alarcon of Shelton for failing to attend therapy sessions or submit to drug tests, its memorandum of decision said. Those were violations of a four-year probation that the board imposed in 2017 because she had abused heroin between 2011 and 2014, state records show.
The Board of Examiners for Nursing this month disciplined five nurses, including two registered nurses who stole drugs meant for patients and took them for their own use. Meeting in Hartford on April 17, the board imposed a four-year probation on the registered nurse license of Kerry Donlon of the Oakville section of Watertown, who stole the opioid painkiller Hydromorphone for her own use while working as a nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital in 2016, a consent order she agreed to said. Donlon also took allergy medicine and medicine for muscle spasms for her own use while working as a nurse at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport in 2018, the order said. She used all three drugs to excess, the order said.
The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday suspended the license of a Shelton doctor for two years and placed his license on probation for four years after accepting a hearing panel’s finding that his paranoid behavior is affecting his ability to safely practice medicine. The first two years of the probation runs at the same time as the suspension, which will be followed by two years of probation, the board’s memorandum of decision states. During the probation, Dr. Nami Bayan must see a therapist. After the suspension ends, Bayan will not be allowed to have a solo practice and must practice medicine in a setting with other physicians during the probation, the order said. In July, the state Department of Public Health had ordered Bayan to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after he had sent emails to the department alleging “corruption and organized crime” in the U.S. medical system, law enforcement and DPH, the memo said.
State investigations of elder abuse, ranging from neglect to emotional abuse to physical abuse, more than doubled in Connecticut between 2011 and 2017, from 3,529 to 7,196. In 2017 alone, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) received 11,123 reports of elder abuse and decided that 7,196 warranted an investigation. That year, self-neglect—when adults are unable to provide for their own basic care—was the most common type of elder abuse reported to DSS, at 30 percent, followed by neglect by others, financial exploitation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and abandonment. “It’s all trending up,” Dorian Long, DSS director of social work services, said. Some of the recent cases investigated by DSS Protective Services for the Elderly are chilling.