After Doc Surrenders License, State Drops Charges For Issuing False COVID Vaccine Exemptions

The state Medical Examining Board agreed Tuesday to withdraw the charges filed against a Durham physician accused of providing fraudulent exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks after she voluntarily relinquished her medical license while it was suspended. Sue McIntosh, a retired former physician, will not face any discipline and will not be able to practice medicine unless she seeks a formal reinstatement before the board, state Department of Public Health (DPH) officials said. The board’s vote was unanimous. The board did not discuss the case before the vote other than a comment by Chair Kathryn Emmett who said since McIntosh had voluntarily surrendered her license, “there was no license to reprimand.”

McIntosh was accused of deviating from the standard of care by failing to properly diagnose or examine people who she issued signed exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks.  The state said that McIntosh failed to build a patient and physician relationship with those who requested the exemptions, failed to obtain their medical history and failed to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines by providing advice that was harmful to the public. The board suspended McIntosh’s medical license on Sept.

Doctor Under Investigation For Giving COVID Vaccine Exemptions Surrenders License

The Durham doctor whose license was temporarily suspended for giving out exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks without examining the patients surrendered her medical license Friday, according to the state Department of Public Health. Dr. Susan McIntosh was being investigated by the DPH after she was accused of allowing people to mail her Durham practice a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive signed exemptions, the DPH said. Her license to practice medicine and surgery was suspended by the state Medical Examining Board until a hearing scheduled for Oct. 5, officials said. It’s uncertain whether that hearing will go forward.

Physicians Accused Of Spreading COVID-19 Misinformation Will Be Investigated, State Says

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) will investigate physicians accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines designed to combat the virus if a complaint is filed, officials said. Christopher Boyle, DPH spokesman, said that if the agency receives a complaint that a physician was spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, the Practitioner Investigation Unit will investigate. In July, the Federation of State Medical Boards warned physicians that they could face disciplinary action by a state medical board for spreading disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. DPH said that there is no mechanism for monitoring social media or other forms of media for doctors who are spreading misinformation. By state law, the public has no way of knowing if a physician is under investigation until a resolution to the complaint comes before the state Medical Examining Board months, or possibly years, from the filing of the complaint.

Communication, Trust Needed To Reassure The Vaccine-Resistant

The Community Health Center Inc. set up shop inside the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Waterbury on a Friday in mid-July. Armed with 24 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the team of six staff and volunteers sat ready for patients from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Not one person showed up. The turnout was not surprising, according to the vaccination site leader and nurses at the mobile clinic. Last month, new vaccinations across Connecticut fell to the lowest numbers since January, a predictable outcome when nearly 65% of the total state population has received at least one vaccine dose. But in Waterbury, only 46% of residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Financially Challenged But Fierce, Griffin Hospital Innovates Its Way Through Pandemic

Sweating in his black jacket under a brilliant spring sun, Keith J. DuPerry, 40, waited in line on the New Haven Green. Destination: FEMA’s first-in-the-nation COVID-19 mass vaccination trailer, administered by Griffin Hospital of Derby. Earlier that morning, DuPerry had taken a bus from the sober house where he lives to an addiction treatment center downtown. The buzz of activity on the Green—party tents and comfortable seating, trailers custom shrink-wrapped with photos of smiling, diverse, shot-giving caregivers and grateful patients—got him thinking. He returned to the Green after lunch.

Hill Health Center Nurses Make Steep Climb To Vaccinate Seafarers

When she became a nurse 10 years ago, Sara Keiling never expected that she’d be wearing a pink hard hat and a life jacket and climbing a steep, 30-foot ladder to vaccinate her patients in a global pandemic. But that’s what she and other nurses from the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in New Haven have been doing since May to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 90 crew members on oil tankers that regularly arrive in the port. The nurses provide the shots on board the ships because many of the crew members lack valid visas. The crew members are among 200,000 merchant seafarers worldwide who have been unable to leave their ships in many ports due to strict COVID-19 restrictions. Some have been at sea for more than 18 months, and getting vaccinated means they can finally take shore leave or go home, David Heindel, chairman of the seafarers section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said.

Telemedicine A Blessing For Some, Inaccessible For Others

When the pandemic began, LaVita King of Bridgeport worried about how she would continue to see her behavioral health therapist and primary care physician at Southwest Community Health Center. She lives close enough to walk to the federally qualified health center but didn’t feel comfortable leaving her home in those early days, let alone venturing into a medical office. But she’s been able to access care through phone and video chats. “For me, it’s been such a lifesaver, such a blessing,” said King, 69. “Otherwise, I would not have been able to talk to my behavioral health therapist for this whole entire time.

Medical Practices Become Another Pandemic Casualty

After 35 years as an oral surgeon, Dr. Arthur Wilk closed his practice in Clinton following “daunting challenges” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Darien, Dr. Cecile Windels sold her pediatric practice to a hospital health system after enduring significant income losses. They are among thousands of physicians and other health care professionals across the country who have made coronavirus-prompted career changes such as closing practices, joining larger health systems and retiring early.  The reasons for the moves vary from declines in income due to fewer inpatient visits to increased operational costs for personal protective equipment (PPE) and fears of contracting the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. Health care advocates say the changes will exacerbate physician shortages, further erode the existence of private practices, decrease patient choice of doctors and obstruct continuity of patient care. A January report in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal of health policy research, said: “Consolidation tends to lead to higher prices without strong evidence of quality improvements.”

“The national trends are definitely happening in Connecticut,” said Dr. Gregory Shangold, president of the Connecticut State Medical Society.

Beyond COVID-19: Waste Testing A Vast Public Health Frontier

As scientists measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the sludge flowing from New Haven sewage treatment plants, they’re also finding that our biological waste can tell them much more about our collective pathologies. Between March 19 and June 30, a group of scientists tested waste that had previously been used to detect COVID-19, looking for drugs and chemicals. The researchers found significant increases in three opioids, four antidepressants, and other chemicals in sludge from New Haven. The analysis, by scientists from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and Yale University, offered the first glimpses of how the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders affected people’s behavior. It also underscored how important human waste can be as a resource for understanding public health and society’s habits.