Survivors Struggle With Lingering COVID-19 Symptoms

In April, Rhonda Eigabroadt, 53, showed up at the ER at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, struggling to breathe. Doctors did not expect her to survive the night, she recalled. Ten days earlier, she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was recovering at home in Bristol before taking a turn for the worse. An occupational therapist at the Litchfield Woods Health Care Center in Torrington, she, along with scores of staff and residents, had contracted the virus during an outbreak. Eigabroadt beat the odds, though.

VA Connecticut Hiring Practices Under Investigation

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating allegations of illegal employment practices at VA Connecticut Healthcare System connected to the hiring of seven employees­­—some in top management positions­—who are all former co-workers of the system’s director. A separate complaint filed by a whistleblower to the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs alleges “gross misconduct” in the hiring of staff from the Manchester (New Hampshire) VA Medical Center. It says that “all management positions were pre-selected.”

“VA Connecticut is in turmoil,” wrote the whistleblower in an anonymous complaint filed in August and obtained by C-HIT. The complaints have put a spotlight on the management of Alfred A. Montoya Jr., who has been head of the West Haven VA for almost a year. Montoya was brought in from the Manchester (New Hampshire) VA Medical Center after years of upheaval in the delivery of health care at the West Haven VA, where surgeries were outsourced to Yale New Haven Hospital after deficiencies were found in sterile procedures.

Wildfire Smoke Likely To Have Increasing Impact On Health Of Those Already At Risk

Connecticut’s weather on May 25, 2016, was hotter than usual for that time of year, reaching a high of 91 degrees. The winds were out of the northwest at about 10.5 mph and state air pollution officials weren’t expecting anything unusual. Then the state’s air pollution monitoring network went ballistic. Ozone sensors across Connecticut began recording “off-the-chart readings,” Paul Farrell, the director of air planning at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, recalled. State experts were shocked.

Pandemic Deals Another Blow To Nursing Homes: Plummeting Occupancy

While the deadly coronavirus seems to be subsiding in Connecticut for now, its impact on nursing homes has not. More than 6,700 beds are empty, and it may take many months of financial struggle before occupancy climbs back to pre-pandemic levels. Of the approximately 200 nursing homes in Connecticut that receive payments from Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income people, only 15 were 70% or less occupied in January, according to the Connecticut Health Investigative Team’s analysis of state data. By August, almost five times as many facilities saw occupancy drop to that level or less. While the statewide average decline was 15%, the number of residents in 19 nursing homes has plummeted to 55% and below since January.

Efforts To Reduce COVID-19’s Spread Could Impact Health Outcomes For New Mothers And Infants

Felicia Tambascio’s first pregnancy was going fairly smoothly. But on July 20, at week 38, the 20-year-old Brookfield resident woke with horrible upper abdominal cramps, a searing headache, and vomiting. Her boyfriend took her to the hospital, but Tambascio was left to wait in a hallway alone. Per COVID-19 restrictions, no visitors were allowed unless the patient was admitted to labor and delivery. After it was discovered that Tambascio was suffering from the life-threatening condition preeclampsia, she was escorted to the labor and delivery ward and induced.

Low-Wage Workers See No Relief From Uncertainty Of Pandemic

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.

Pandemic Worsens ‘Already Fragile’ Situation For Homeless Youth And Young Adults

Johanna Vasquez, 19, and her 4-month-old baby ended up at Malta House in Norwalk as a result of an abusive relationship. Vasquez’s boyfriend hit her, she said, because he was home without a job and “was stressed.”

In Hartford, Bridget Puntiel, a youth, mostly rides the buses day and night to stay safe. “I’m on the street [because] the shelters are flooded,” she said. Samiah Nikole, 16, thought she had a place to live – until she had to find another due to her boyfriend’s mother’s asthma. Although their circumstances are varied, these three young women have one common denominator – the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Care And Education Suffer When There’s No Internet Access

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.

As Veteran Suicide Grows, National Guard Highest In Active Military

Sergeant William Davidson had been struggling with mental health problems since his deployment to Afghanistan. When he didn’t attend at least one of his Connecticut National Guard drill weekends, the Guard declared him AWOL (absent without leave) and discharged him with a “bad paper” separation. Four months after his discharge, Davidson, 24, fatally shot himself. Davidson, who had two younger sisters, is one among thousands of veterans who die by suicide each year. Despite national goals to prevent veteran suicides, they occur at disproportionately higher rates than in the general population.