Katherine Verano is wrestling with an 830% increase in costs compared with last year for hoteling victims of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. After a quiet period during the first months of the pandemic, when much of the state was locked down, domestic violence shelters started running at about 150% capacity during the summer months. When providers ran out of room for social distancing, clients had to be placed in hotels and fed. It’s been a complex time, said Verano, the executive director of Safe Futures, a New London-based nonprofit dedicated to providing counseling, services and shelter to victims of domestic violence in 21 southeastern towns. Safe Futures’ budget for hoteling clients has increased steadily this year.
The state Medical Examining Board agreed Tuesday to fine two doctors $5,000 each and issued a cease and desist order to a woman without a Connecticut medical license who performed a procedure that led to an infection. Dr. Bryan Boffi, of Avon, a psychiatrist at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, was fined $5,000 and his license was reprimanded after he issued a patient a prescription for Ativan, a sedative, without consulting with the person’s regular mental health clinician, documents said. Boffi cared for the patient while the person was admitted to HOCC’s psychiatric ward in May of 2016, but failed to talk to the person’s out-patient psychiatrist about the patient’s history or inpatient treatment strategy before prescribing the medication, a consent order said. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) began investigating Boffi after receiving a complaint from the patient’s family, papers said. Boffi has since completed 150 hours of continuing education in the treatment of depression, addiction and the use of Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, DPH officials said.
Ruben Ortiz admitted he was concerned the first time he picked up takeout from the New Haven restaurant where he worked until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state in mid-March. “I walked in and thought, I can’t do this,” the New Haven resident said of his concerns about transmission of the virus that has killed more than 4,400 residents statewide. “I was inside, and it was making me uncomfortable.”
Like millions of employees throughout the country, particularly those working low-wage restaurant, hospitality, retail or cleaning jobs, Ortiz has no idea what the future will bring. He was out of work for 13 weeks. Then the Cast Iron Chop House began to see enough customers to schedule four waiters a night, compared with the eight to 10 who worked nightly before the pandemic.
The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians including issuing a $4,000 fine and one-year probation to a Bolton doctor who prescribed opioids to at least two patients but failed to provide adequate drug screening and documentation. The board also agreed to modify the terms of discipline for two physicians including a Fairfield County doctor who had done federal prison time as part of a compound medication cream scheme. The Department of Public Health (DPH) began looking into the practice of Dr. Ronald Buckman, of Bolton, in 2018 after receiving a complaint from an employee, according to a consent order. While the agency didn’t substantiate any issues with the way Buckman’s family-based practice was being managed, investigators did find that he had “deviated from the standard of care” for at least two patients for whom he had prescribed opioids, DPH papers said. Buckman failed to adequately document and examine one patient to whom he had prescribed painkillers while the patient was also taking muscle relaxers, an anti-seizure drug and possibly an antidepressant, prescribed by other physicians, the DPH said.
The state Medical Examining Board disciplined two physicians with $5,000 fines for failing to adequately inform and monitor patients while prescribing opioids or anti-anxiety medications. Dr. Michael Kelly, of Salisbury, was issued a $5,000 fine and a year of probation Tuesday for failing to consistently adhere to a safe opioid prescribing system that included checking the medical history of patients and documenting justification for chronic opioid treatment, according to a consent order, approved today (Tuesday). A state Department of Public Health (DPH) consultant looking into a referral made by the state Department of Consumer Protection, Drug Control Division, found that Kelly also failed to monitor chronic opioid patients and didn’t check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program every 90 days for some patients. As a result of the investigation, Kelley, a primary care physician with a private practice in Salisbury, agreed to pay the fine and have 20% of his patients’ records reviewed during a one-year period of probation. Kelly voluntarily surrendered his registration to prescribe controlled substances and would need to be monitored for a year if he sought the registration back, DPH documents said.
For the past month or so, Leikish Nails has engaged in an elaborate ritual the minute she gets home from her shift at Touchpoints at Manchester, a skilled nursing facility that has seen four deaths and more than two dozen illnesses caused by COVID-19. She kicks her shoes off before she walks in, sprays them and leaves them on the deck before disrobing in potentially full view of the neighbors. Her clothes immediately go in the washing machine seconds before she jumps in the shower. “I don’t hug my kids as much as I used to,” the 38-year-old Willimantic resident said. “I’m afraid to hug my kids,” she said while crying during a recent phone call.
The sleepy town of Colebrook has no traffic lights, no police department, no public sewer or water system and no confirmed cases of COVID-19. “Knock on wood,” said Colebrook Board of Finance Chair James Millar. “I think we’re lucky. I wouldn’t say that we are doing anything that’s not being done by the rest of the state.”
On the Massachusetts border in Litchfield County, Colebrook is among eight small towns in the western and eastern portions of Connecticut that so far have not had a resident test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands worldwide. Litchfield County had 446 confirmed cases and 24 deaths as of Monday afternoon.
Community health centers that provide medical care to 400,000 low-income patients throughout the state are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic by shifting to telemedicine and reconfiguring the way the staff is offering in-person health services. But like many hospitals and businesses throughout the state, they are also facing deep financial losses during the public health emergency. Nevertheless, they continue to provide frontline medical services—from essential wellness checks such as childhood immunizations to COVID-19 screenings, officials said. “They are the frontline helping patients get to the right place at the right time during this very difficult circumstance,” said Ken Lalime, chief executive officer of the Cheshire-based Community Health Center Association of Connecticut. “It’s what they do all the time, but during this crisis, it becomes incredibly important.”
A network of community health centers throughout the state provides health care for about 11% of the state’s population by offering services on a sliding scale for those who don’t have insurance and by accepting Medicaid, Lalime said.
As an ordained pastor, the Rev. Robyn Anderson will preach via the web Sunday, sharing a message of hope and healing with members of Blackwell AME Zion Church as her parishioners deal with the economic and personal toll brought on by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. “We don’t want to panic. We want to be in prayer,” Anderson said this week as she prepared with a consortium of other African American and Latino ministers to bring web-based church services to their flocks—in some cases for the first time. “It’s a scary time for everyone. But it’s something that we know we will get through.”
As a licensed therapist and social worker and the director of the Ministerial Health Fellowship, Anderson will also be brainstorming ways to deal with the potential loss of health care due to lay-offs of congregants who are already at higher risk for diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and other chronic medical issues that make them more likely to have complications if they contract the coronavirus.
The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians including issuing a $7,500 fine and one-year probation to a Weston doctor who prescribed opioids to six people without discussing pain management treatment goals or informing the patients of the risks in taking the drugs. The board also agreed to discipline a physician assistant who had told a patient suffering from a pulmonary blood clot to “lose weight.”
While working at the PCA Pain Care Center in Wallingford from 2014–2016, Dr. David Marks, of Weston, primarily prescribed opioids and no other pain care treatment to six people, according to a consent order. Marks failed to obtain patient histories pertaining to their injuries or previous pain management treatment, failed to discuss treatment goals, or warn people of the risks associated with opioids, the consent order said. He also failed to consult the state’s Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System to see if the patients were receiving prescriptions from other practitioners and failed to assess the patients’ mental status for depression or suicidality or document his findings, the consent order he signed said. The board fined Marks $7,500 and placed him probation for one year during which he’ll be required to have supervision when prescribing Schedule II or III controlled substances.