State Fines Three Doctors, Disciplines Two Others

The state Medical Examining Board disciplined two physicians with $5,000 fines for failing to adequately inform and monitor patients while prescribing opioids or anti-anxiety medications. Dr. Michael Kelly, of Salisbury, was issued a $5,000 fine and a year of probation Tuesday for failing to consistently adhere to a safe opioid prescribing system that included checking the medical history of patients and documenting justification for chronic opioid treatment, according to a consent order, approved today (Tuesday). A state Department of Public Health (DPH) consultant looking into a referral made by the state Department of Consumer Protection, Drug Control Division, found that Kelly also failed to monitor chronic opioid patients and didn’t check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program every 90 days for some patients. As a result of the investigation, Kelley, a primary care physician with a private practice in Salisbury, agreed to pay the fine and have 20% of his patients’ records reviewed during a one-year period of probation. Kelly voluntarily surrendered his registration to prescribe controlled substances and would need to be monitored for a year if he sought the registration back, DPH documents said.

Fear Grips Health Workers Caring For The Elderly

For the past month or so, Leikish Nails has engaged in an elaborate ritual the minute she gets home from her shift at Touchpoints at Manchester, a skilled nursing facility that has seen four deaths and more than two dozen illnesses caused by COVID-19. She kicks her shoes off before she walks in, sprays them and leaves them on the deck before disrobing in potentially full view of the neighbors. Her clothes immediately go in the washing machine seconds before she jumps in the shower. “I don’t hug my kids as much as I used to,” the 38-year-old Willimantic resident said. “I’m afraid to hug my kids,” she said while crying during a recent phone call.

COVID-19 Risks Could Speed Transitions To At-Home Dialysis

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in a “huge paradigm shift” toward in-home dialysis treatments in the future, experts predict. Home “is the safest place for them to be,” said Dr. Holly Kramer, president of the National Kidney Foundation and a practicing nephrologist. In times like this, immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of becoming ill. Roughly 85% of dialysis patients get their treatments in centers—often three days a week, and typically for several hours at a time—where other dialysis patients also are being treated, she said. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, nephrologists nationwide were urging a growing number of patients to consider at-home care, she said, and the pandemic “will push things much, much faster” in that direction.

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).