2020 In Photos

Front-line health care workers pushed to the limit, extraordinary lines for food, surging demand for shelter  – these were some of the scenes as the pandemic swept through the state during this unprecedented year. Our photographers captured these moments and more as they illustrated a year’s worth of compelling stories. Scroll through the gallery to see C-HIT’s outstanding photography in 2020 by photographers Melanie Stengel, Steve Hamm, Carl Jordan Castro, Carol Leonetti Dannhauser and Cloe Poisson. And a shout-out to those who shared their photos of the moments our photographers couldn’t get to.

Connecticut’s Halfhearted Battle: Response To Lead Poisoning Epidemic Lacks Urgency

It wasn’t until Bridgeport lead inspector Charles Tate stepped outside the house on Wood Avenue that he saw, immediately, where 2-year-old Rocio Valladares was being poisoned. The paint around a window at the back of the house was deteriorating. Beneath the window was Rocio’s favorite play area, a sloping basement door that was the perfect ramp for an energetic toddler. Next to the basement door was a patch of dirt where she loved to scratch with sticks. White chips of paint were visible in the dirt.

State To Change ‘Problematic’ Health Care Pay Model

For decades, Connecticut and other states have used a fee-for-service model to pay for health care: the provider bills for each service, every consult, every procedure, every test, every pill. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and many others have come to view that system as seriously flawed. It not only contributes to skyrocketing medical costs but also fails to deliver optimum care, Lembo said. “The incentives in that model are problematic,” Assistant Comptroller Josh Wojcik said. “It incentivizes volume.

Medical Board Disciplines Two Doctors

The state Medical Examining Board agreed Tuesday to discipline two doctors including a physician awaiting sentencing in a federal health care fraud case. Dr. Fawad Hameedi, of New York, has been working periodically at urgent care centers in Connecticut while awaiting sentencing for his role in a health care fraud ring operating in New York, according to documents. He has not worked as a physician in Connecticut since March, officials said. The board voted to place Hameedi on probation for two years with several stipulations and reprimand his Connecticut license to practice medicine. Under the terms of the discipline, Hameedi cannot operate a solo practice during the probation period and he must have his employer submit reports to the state Department of Public Health (DPH) every two months that he is working safely and using accurate billing practices.

CT Veterans Suicide Rate Rises; VA Monitoring COVID-19’s Impact

In Connecticut, 47 veterans died by suicide in 2018, an increase of 10 from the previous year, newly released statistics show. The increase reflected a higher suicide rate than in the overall state population. The Connecticut veteran suicide rate was 25.1 per 100,000 compared with 14.6 in the overall state population. The state’s veteran suicide rate was 20.3 in 2017. The 2018 rate rose even though the state veterans population dropped by about 1,000 to 187,000.

Medicare Penalizes Hospitals For High Readmission Rates

Most Connecticut hospitals will lose some of their Medicare reimbursement payments over the next year as penalties for having too many readmitted patients, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Statewide, 25 of the hospitals evaluated – or 89% – will have reimbursements reduced, to varying degrees, in the 2021 fiscal year that started Oct. 1, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of CMS data. Nationwide, almost half of hospitals, or 2,545 of them, will have their Medicare reimbursements cut, according to Kaiser Health News. The latest penalties were calculated using data from June 2016 through June 2019, meaning the influx of patients to hospitals seen amid the pandemic didn’t factor in.

Obamacare: What’s At Stake If The High Court Strikes Down The Law

Vyanne Dinh, 21, a senior at New York University, will be paying close attention next month when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Thanks to the ACA, the law known as Obamacare, a provision allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26. Dinh, of South Windsor, is covered on her mother’s policy. “If I lost coverage under my parents, I would not know what to do,” Dinh said. “Chances are I would have to handle medical expenses out of pocket, which would definitely cause a financial strain and make me hesitant to go to the doctor’s unless it is a dire emergency.”

“I am also worried about COVID because the risks are too high under current circumstances to be uninsured,” said Dinh.

State Disciplines Nurses For Drug Abuse, Photographing A Young Patient Without Consent

Four nurses were recently disciplined by the state Board of Examiners for Nursing for drug and alcohol abuse and for photographing a patient without consent. The state placed Sara Scobie’s practical nurse license on probation for one year and fined her $500 for photographing a juvenile patient and sharing details of the patient’s personal and clinical information without parental consent, according to her signed order. Scobie was also reprimanded by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). Scobie of Milford, who was providing home care for a medically compromised child through All Pointe HomeCare of Cheshire, photographed the patient and then shared those photos without permission, according to the signed order. During the probation period Scobie cannot be employed as a nurse by any personnel provider service, home health agency, or assisted living agency, according to the order.

As Pandemic Grinds On, Domestic Violence Shelters Grapple With Budget Gaps And Growing Needs

Katherine Verano is wrestling with an 830% increase in costs compared with last year for hoteling victims of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. After a quiet period during the first months of the pandemic, when much of the state was locked down, domestic violence shelters started running at about 150% capacity during the summer months. When providers ran out of room for social distancing, clients had to be placed in hotels and fed. It’s been a complex time, said Verano, the executive director of Safe Futures, a New London-based nonprofit dedicated to providing counseling, services and shelter to victims of domestic violence in 21 southeastern towns. Safe Futures’ budget for hoteling clients has increased steadily this year.