State Fines Three Doctors, Disciplines Two Others

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.

Fear Grips Health Workers Caring For The Elderly

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.

So Far, Colebrook Residents Elude COVID-19

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.

Pushed To The Limit: Community Health Centers Ramp Up Telemedicine While Juggling Declines In Patient Visits, Furloughs And Sick Care Providers

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 Coronavirus Spreads, Church Leaders Weigh The Needs Of Congregants

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.

Med Board Disciplines Two Doctors; Fines Weston Doc $7,500

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.

Parents’ Erratic Work Schedules Put Children At Risk

Jesus Manuel Gomez quit his restaurant dishwashing job when he saw the effect his long work days had on his 10-year-old son with special needs. Although he was scheduled to work from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the Honduran native said through a Spanish-speaking interpreter that he would get out between midnight and 1 a.m. and then still be asleep when his son left for school the next morning. “He takes medication so he can concentrate and gets treatment at school,” Gomez said of his son. “But when I saw what was happening with my schedule, that it was impacting his ability to focus even though he was getting treatment, I only worked there a couple of weeks.” More than one-fourth of the state’s 885,000 hourly employees who potentially face wide swings in work schedules are parents of children under the age of 18, putting their kids at risk for behavioral issues, a newly released report by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth concluded.

Med Board Fines Two Doctors A Total Of $22,500

The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday disciplined two physicians with fines of $10,000 or more, including a Stamford doctor for a lack of documentation while prescribing to employees. The board also agreed to withdraw charges against two other physicians who either voluntarily relinquished their medical license or agreed to allow their license to lapse. Dr. Laurence Kirwan of Stamford, was fined $12,500 for a lack of adequate documentation while prescribing medication to three of his employees who were also patients from 2009 to 2017, according to a consent order. It was Kirwan’s second reprimand and fine before the board, according to state records. In 2017, he was fined $2,500 for failing to maintain adequate treatment records and documentation for a surgical patient from March to July 2014.

Med Board Places Two Doctors On Probation

The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to place two doctors on probation, including a pediatrician accused of excessive alcohol use. Dr. Christine Cornachio of Simsbury, the pediatrician, is required to submit to random urine testing and individual therapy with a licensed professional as part of a consent order approved by the board that will allow her to continue practicing at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center during the five-year probationary period. Cornachio came under investigation by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) in June after the agency was notified by the Health Assistance Intervention Network, known as HAVEN, in accordance with state law. HAVEN helps medical professionals with mental health, medical and substance abuse problems. State statute requires HAVEN to report any licensed medical practitioner who did or could pose a harm to patients or declines services after being referred due to a mental health, medical or substance abuse problem. An investigation determined Cornachio utilized alcohol to excess on at least four occasions from 2014 to March 2019, the consent order said.

Blacks, Poor At Higher Risk Of Heart Disease; Overall Death Rate Falls

The death rate from heart disease plummeted nationally over several decades for all racial and ethnic groups, but the rate of decline has slowed slightly and African Americans and low-income individuals are still at a higher risk of developing the disease and dying from it, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The report isn’t surprising to Dr. Edward Schuster, medical director, Stamford Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.  “In the United States, there’s a lot of talk about income disparity, which is a political hotcake,” Schuster said. “But what we are seeing is a life expectancy disparity. According to a recent Journal of American Medical Association, if you’re a man in the top 1 percent of income, you can expect to live 13 years longer than someone in the 1 percent at the bottom.”

Heart disease is largely preventable by maintaining a balanced diet, a healthy weight and moderate exercise, with only 20 percent of cases involving genetics, said Dr. David L. Katz, who heads the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, which works with communities to develop programs to control chronic diseases. But significant groups in lower income and urban areas don’t—or can’t—act on the message, Katz said.