Up To 10,000 CT Veterans Could Be Eligible For VA Benefits From Burn Pit Exposure

Up to 10,000 Connecticut veterans who haven’t been eligible for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits will now qualify for them if they have medical conditions resulting from exposure to burn pits or toxic contaminants, U. S. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Wednesday. He was speaking at a news conference after meeting with staff, veterans and their caregivers at VA Connecticut Healthcare in West Haven. The added eligibility is the result of a new federal law, called the PACT Act, which provides an easier path to compensation and care for illnesses that occur after exposure to burn pits and other environmental toxins.  It expands the number of veterans eligible nationally for such help by about 300,000, according to the VA. There are now about 56,000 Connecticut veterans enrolled at the VA, according to Pamela Redmond, spokesperson. On Nov.

The Unknown Puts Offspring At Risk Of Sickle Cell Disease

Most Connecticut residents who carry a trait for sickle cell disease don’t know it, resulting in thousands of people unwittingly risking having a child born with the debilitating illness, according to sickle cell disease specialists. The reasons for this vary: there’s a lack of knowledge about results of newborn testing for the trait, parents don’t always convey test results to their children, gaps in state record keeping, and state records that identify people with the disease or trait only go back to 2012. Also, doctors typically only test for the trait when a patient requests it. And people often don’t know they can have the trait even when sickle cell disease isn’t in their family. Dr. Biree Andemariam, director of the New England Sickle Cell Institute at UConn Health, said physicians should include trait testing in routine exams. “It should be standard care,” she said.

Yale-Led Study Seeks To Transform Heart Disease Diagnoses In Women

Karen Lombardi, a school instructional coach, had just taken an unruly child out of a classroom when she felt severe chest pains. She drove to Yale New Haven Hospital, sweating profusely and hyperventilating, and was diagnosed with a heart attack. Five weeks later, she was back in the hospital with more chest pains. It was another four months before Lombardi, 61, learned the cause of her pain, received effective treatment and returned to active exercise. She considers herself lucky because many women with heart disease never get an accurate diagnosis.

Clinical Trials With Immunotherapy Drugs Are Source Of Hope And Challenges In Treating Aggressive Breast Cancer

Joshalyn Mills of Branford and Nancy Witz of Kensington had the best possible results after being treated in clinical trials with immunotherapy drugs for aggressive breast cancer: Their tumors were eliminated. But while there are dramatic successes with immunotherapy drugs, there are also many failures, and researchers are trying to find out why in hopes of expanding the drugs’ effectiveness. Cutting-edge immunotherapy drugs use a person’s own immune system to fight disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the drugs in 2011 for cancer treatment. Success has occurred in about 15% to 20% of patients with cancers such as melanoma, lung, kidney and bladder, according to a report by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Can Independent Primary Care Doctors Survive Dominance of Hospital Health Systems?

Every day, Dr. Leslie Miller of Fairfield thinks about selling her practice to a hospital health system. “Everybody who is in this environment thinks every day of throwing in the towel and joining a hospital,” said Miller, a sole practitioner in primary care for 20 years. “The business side is the problem,” she said, referring to expensive and time-consuming requirements of medical insurance and government regulations. Dr. Khuram Ghumman took the unusual route of working in a hospital system first, then going into private primary care practice because he objects to the “corporatization” of health care. He said conflicts of interest can arise if an owner and its employed physicians have different objectives.

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.