Community Health Centers Face Uncertain Financial Future

Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) in Connecticut have expanded services, upped their staffing and renovated their facilities mostly due to increased revenue streams from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Connecticut and the 30 other states that opted for the ACA Medicaid expansion program have benefitted from billions of dollars in additional core grant funding, with Connecticut receiving $150.7 million from 2011 to 2016, according to a January report by the Congressional Research Service. Health centers in Connecticut used some of that funding to hire professionals to enroll thousands of residents in health insurance—residents who were previously uninsured and used the centers for their health care. Now the centers are serving about 70,000 more insured patients, mostly covered by Husky Health plans. The cost of treating uninsured patients has declined by about $10 million since 2012, according to Deb Polun, director of government affairs and media relations at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut.

State Disciplines Seven Nurses

The Board of Examiners for Nursing today disciplined seven nurses, including five for abusing drugs or alcohol. The board members also recommended that the state Department of Public Health hold a hearing in the case of Mary Howe of Griswold, a registered nurse who has been accused of inappropriate care of an inmate at York Correctional Institution in Niantic. DPH records show that on Nov. 1, 2014, the inmate bumped her head against a wall and fell out of a wheelchair and suffered a serious brain injury while in the prison medical unit. The inmate was hospitalized in critical care until February 2015 and remains in a long-term care facility, records show.

Med Board Fines Yale Doctor $10,000, Cites Five Others

The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday fined a Yale New Haven Hospital doctor $10,000 for abandoning a patient who was detoxing and reached an agreement with a Norwalk doctor to stop practicing medicine because his lapse in care contributed to the death of a patient. Dr. Martin Perlin of Norwalk admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to stop practicing medicine on Aug. 31. The consent order the board approved Tuesday also reprimands him and places his license on probation. It said that Perlin’s lapses in care contributed to a patient death and serious injury to another patient.

Number Of Lead-Poisoned Children Drops, But More Showed Higher Levels

Nearly 1,400 new cases of lead-poisoned children under age 6 were reported in Connecticut in 2015, a slight drop from the year before, but more children showed higher levels of poisoning. A child whose blood test shows 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter or higher is considered poisoned. The 2015 numbers show 98 new cases of children with lead levels of 20 micrograms or higher, four times the threshold number and a 32 percent jump from 2014. “We cannot, with any certainty, explain why this is the case,” said Krista M. Veneziano, coordinator of the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s (DPH’s) Lead, Radon, and Healthy Homes Program, about the disproportionately larger numbers of higher toxicity. Exposure to lead can damage cognitive ability, including a measurable and irreversible loss in IQ points.

Three Nursing Homes Fined Following Resident’s Death, Care Lapses

State health officials have fined three Connecticut nursing homes for various incidents, including one in which a resident died last year. Apple Rehab Farmington Valley in Plainville was fined $2,140 for three violations that occurred in 2016. In one case, a resident died Oct. 23 after choking during dinner. The resident, who had dementia, was found by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) choking in bed.

Independent Living Facility Fined After Resident Was Found Dead In Pond

State health officials have fined a Willington independent living facility $1,500 after a resident left the facility last fall and was found dead in a nearby pond several days later. In addition to the fine, High Chase LLC agreed in a consent order with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement new policies and procedures for staff to follow when a resident goes missing. The facility’s licensee denied the DPH’s allegations, but signed the order without any formal challenge of the allegations. Officials at High Chase did not return calls seeking comment this week. The fine and consent order stem from an incident discovered during a December 2016 inspection.

Nurse Gets Probation Following Baby’s Death, Three Other Nurses Disciplined

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing Wednesday placed an East Hartford nurse’s license on probation for two years in connection with the death of a 13-month-old girl she was caring for in Manchester in 2014. A 2016 investigative report found that Shirley A. Powell, a licensed practical nurse, had failed to provide rescue breathing and CPR when the girl’s tracheotomy tube became dislodged. Under a consent order approved by the board Wednesday, Powell is permanently barred from caring for a patient with an artificial airway in a home health care setting or in any setting without the presence of other licensed nurses. The order does allow her to continue caring for one adult with an artificial airway who she has been caring for since 2008. Her employer will have to regularly report to DPH on the quality of Powell’s care of that patient.

Four Nursing Homes Fined

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has cited and fined four Connecticut nursing homes for various lapses of care. Bridgeport Manor was fined $1,940 for two instances earlier this year. In a Jan. 14 incident, a nurse aide found a resident slumped in a wheelchair with the wheelchair safety belt around the neck. According to the citation, the resident’s head and neck were on the seat of the wheelchair, the wheelchair’s seatbelt was choking the resident and the resident’s lips were turning blue.

Medicaid Offers Birth Control Right After Delivery

Low-income women in Connecticut who have just given birth and know they don’t want to get pregnant again anytime soon are now offered a long-acting birth control option postpartum. Medical providers say the policy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, as well as lead to better maternal health outcomes by ensuring pregnancies are spaced a healthy length of time apart. Connecticut’s HUSKY program is one of 26 state Medicaid programs nationwide that reimburses hospitals for administering long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—namely, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants—to Medicaid patients. HUSKY started reimbursing for the devices last year. “It’s a great thing,” said Dr. Elizabeth Purcell, an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Hartford.

Women At Higher Risk For Opioid Addiction, Face Treatment Barriers

Stephanie Almada’s journey to opioid addiction began with a prescription to relieve her premenstrual symptoms and accelerated after she had a cesarean section. “The pain pills came, you know, very quickly and I had bottles at home anyway,” she said. “And then it became energy for me. It became the way I coped with life.” Today Almada, 44, is a peer recovery specialist at Wheeler Clinic in Plainville, where she helps women get off opioids. Americans are using opioids at record rates.