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.

COVID-19 Cases Rise In Nursing Homes Despite Strengthened Infection-Control Practices

Despite strengthened care protocols and improved infection-control practices in Connecticut and throughout the country, nursing homes have been unable to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases. The two Connecticut nursing homes with reported cases of COVID-19 – Evergreen Health Center in Stafford Springs and Sharon Health Care Center – are operated by Farmington-based Athena Health Care Systems, which also owns facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Two residents at Evergreen Health Center have died from the infection; and the number of residents with the COVID-19 rose to eight this week. At Sharon Health Care Center, one resident contracted the virus and is quarantined along with the resident’s roommate, as of mid-week. About once a year, nursing facilities are inspected and rated on staffing levels and the quality of care provided to residents, including how well they prevent infections.

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.

Nursing Homes Fined Following Resident Elopements, Injuries

Four nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for various violations that jeopardized residents’ safety or caused injuries. Western Rehabilitation Care Center in Danbury was fined $10,000 following several incidents. On Nov. 15, 2019, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) mistakenly discharged a resident with another resident’s medications. The error was realized on Nov.

State Board Fines, Disciplines Nurses

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing last week disciplined three nurses, including issuing a total of $1,500 in fines and placing two nurses’ licenses on probation. The advanced practical registered nurse (APRN) license of Jane M. Buckley of Wallingford was placed on probation for a year and she was fined $500 by the board for inappropriately prescribing controlled substances from January-July 2018 to a patient despite evidence of addiction, according to her signed consent order. Buckley also failed to provide requested medical records in a timely manner, failed to maintain adequate treatment documents, and failed to appropriately assess, manage and/or treat addiction and/or mental health issues, according to the consent order. Buckley’s license had previously been reprimanded and placed on probation in June 2018 for prescribing a controlled substance to a family member without adequate treatment records in 2015 and 2016, according to the consent order. Buckley successfully completed that probation on Dec.

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.