Nursing Homes Prove To Be Ideal Breeding Ground For The Coronavirus Pandemic

As cases of COVID-19 surged throughout Connecticut and the nation, “a perfect storm” of circumstances rendered nursing homes unable to handle the crisis, hastening the virus’ spread and deaths, experts say. “It’s just kind of this perfect storm. It’s just the nature of the beast. This is the worst situation for a virus like this,” said Dr. David Hill, professor of medical science and director of global public health at Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine. Indeed, nursing homes care for an extremely frail population, many with underlying health conditions.

Pandemic Exposes Stark Health Disparities Generations In The Making

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.

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.

Coronavirus Stresses Nursing Home Infection-Control Practices

As coronavirus cases increase, posing heightened risks to the elderly, nursing homes will face growing scrutiny from state health inspectors. In Connecticut and nationally, complying with federal infection-control requirements is a challenge for some nursing homes. Between 2017 and 2019, 145 of Connecticut’s 217 nursing homes – or about 67 percent – were cited for infection-control violations, according to a Conn. Health I-Team analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). (View list of nursing homes cited below).

Sowing Healthy Habits: Urban Agriculture Tackles Food Insecurity

In cities throughout Connecticut, urban farms and community gardens are sprouting up to address a significant health challenge: Many people don’t have access to enough food or access to healthy food. About 13% of Connecticut residents said they did not have enough money to pay for food at least once in the previous year, according to the most recent Community Wellbeing Survey conducted by DataHaven in 2018. Black and Hispanic residents were more likely to struggle, with 23% and 28%, respectively, reporting food insecurity. In several cities, about a quarter of all residents struggle to pay for food. Urban residents are also less likely to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the survey.

Purdue Pharma Payouts Decline As Fewer Clinicians Report Taking Money

Purdue Pharma, in bankruptcy and embroiled in thousands of lawsuits for its role in the opioid crisis, paid Connecticut doctors and nurse practitioners $394,662 in 2018, a slight drop of 9% from $433,246 the prior year, federal data show. But more significantly, the number of doctors and nurse practitioners who reported receiving payments shrunk by 51%, from 204 to 99. “I would assume it was the stigma,” said Dr. Arthur Gale, contributing editor at Missouri Medicine. “You can’t pick up a newspaper and not read about Purdue. Even the greatest promoter of OxyContin and narcotics, Dr. Russell Portenoy, is now saying he was exposed to false information.”

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that a small group of doctors in Connecticut received the bulk of payments during the two years.

Preventable Cancer Death Rate Falls In Litchfield And Windham Counties; Comprehensive, Accessible Care Cited

“Potentially preventable” cancer deaths plunged in Connecticut over the last decade, according to a federal study, with two rural counties, Litchfield and Windham, experiencing a nearly 49 percent decrease, the best in the nation. Though cancer deaths fell overall in the United States, the trend in rural areas was not universal. In neighboring Massachusetts, for example, preventable cancer deaths rose in non-metropolitan areas. “The disparities were quite stark,” said Dr. Macarena Garcia, a senior health scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and lead author of the study. In general, cancer patients in rural areas, where residents tend to be older, sicker and poorer, die sooner than urban dwellers, Garcia noted.

Cases Of Lead-Poisoned Children Drop 17%

A total of 1,665 Connecticut children under age 6 had lead poisoning in 2017, a drop of almost 17% from the year before and the largest one-year decrease in five years, according to a just-released report from the state Department of Public Health (DPH). But more children showed higher levels of the toxin in their blood than in 2016, the report says. In 2016, there were 105 children whose blood lead level was 20 micrograms per deciliter of blood or higher, at least four times the measure at which they’re considered poisoned. In 2017, the number had risen to 120 children. DPH epidemiologist Tsui-Min Hung said the improved overall numbers were at least partially due to the department’s more aggressive prevention activities, which 42 local health departments took advantage of, as well a social media campaign.

Homelessness Can Traumatize A Young Child For Life; Collaborative Seeks To End The Costly Consequences

The repercussions of being homeless as a child younger than 6 can be lifelong, and the strain often shows in their speech, behavior, development and health, according to child-care workers and experts. They may be nonverbal, or act out. They’re often sick, but may not have a pediatrician. They may not even know how to brush their teeth. “The impact on these young children is gigantic,” said Darcy Lowell, chief executive of Child First.