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.

Connecticut Acts To Help Its Lead-Poisoned Children

After decades of inertia, Connecticut is finally moving to help its thousands of lead-poisoned children and prevent thousands of other young children from being damaged by the widespread neurotoxin. The state will direct most of its efforts — and most of $30 million in federal money — toward its cities, whose children have borne the brunt of this epidemic. In announcing the allocation recently, Gov. Ned Lamont pointed to lead’s “catastrophic” effects on children’s health and development, noting that lead poisoning is “a problem that impacts most deeply minority and disadvantaged communities of our state.” Nearly half of the 1,024 children reported as lead poisoned in 2020 lived in New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Hartford, or other cities, according to state Department of Public Health numbers. The more enduring thrust of the state’s new actions, however, is the strengthening of its outdated lead laws, starting in 2023.

Interpreter Shortage Challenges Appropriate Medical Care For Deaf Patients

Deaf residents report frequent issues with sign language interpretation at Connecticut hospitals and health care facilities, hindering their ability to understand medical care fully. And though video remote interpreting (VRI) services are widely available at Connecticut hospitals, patients have reported mixed experiences with the technology. The issues persist more than 30 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires interpretation for patients and family members under the “effective communication” section of the law. In the last three years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has negotiated four settlements with medical facilities in Connecticut for complaints related to communication with deaf patients. “At one point, ADA and accessibility seemed to be very good,” said Marissa Rivera, an advocate with Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT).

70-Hour Work Weeks, Sleeping In A Car: Personal Care Assistants Struggle To Care For Themselves

Dilliner Jordan works 62 hours a week taking care of two people who are too medically fragile to take care of themselves. But she has no health insurance and often sleeps in her car because she can’t afford rent and a security deposit, even though she has been saving for months. She is fearful of staying at a shelter, which she believes will increase her chances of contracting COVID-19 for a second time. “It does bother me,” the 63-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native said. “It bothers me a lot.

Churches And Health Care Align To Offer Trusted Space For Addiction Treatment

In the basement of Madry Temple Church in New London, Margaret Lancaster, a health program coordinator at Ledge Light Health District, shows the pastor how to administer Narcan, the opioid overdose reversal treatment. In New Haven, at the Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ, the Rev. Jerry Streets and local clinical staff are offering substance use disorder treatment. These alliances of frontline health care workers with trusted community leaders are addressing the alarming rise of substance use disorders by leveraging the cultural power of churches to reach people in need of help. Overdose mortality rates have risen among all races in Connecticut over the past three years. But the rise has been particularly marked among the Black population.

Dancing Again: COVID-19 Battle Gives Survivor A New Appreciation For Life

Michael Kelly is still fighting. After waging—and winning—an epic battle with COVID-19 in spring 2020, Kelly is now focused on his recovery and preventing a second infection. But getting back on his feet has been challenging. Once intimidated by what he described as wealthy, better-educated clients of his carpeting business, Kelly, 64, says he feels he’s on equal footing with the world today. During his recovery from COVID, he said, he realized that regardless of wealth, education or status, everyone has the same allotted 24 hours to live each day.

A Survival Tool In Transgender Community, Breast Binders Are In High Demand

Requests for free breast binders by transgender youths in 2022 have outnumbered supplies at Health Care Advocates International (HCAI) in Stratford, which serves LGBTQ and HIV communities. HCAI received 126 binder requests in the first three weeks of January alone, crushing last year’s numbers and temporarily wiping out inventory. The group sent out 190 binders in all of 2021. A quarter of them went to Connecticut youths, with the rest shipped nationwide and beyond. “The numbers are jumping because there is such a need,” says Tony Ferraiolo, the Youth & Family Program director at HCAI.

The Migraine Breakthrough

Migraines have baffled humankind at least as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who blamed the excruciating headaches, and their often-accompanying visual auras and nausea, on the supernatural. Now, in a development doctors are calling revolutionary, an international group of neurologists has deciphered the mystery of why people get migraines and, in doing so, has determined how to greatly reduce their frequency and severity. The discovery “has revolutionized our treatment of migraine,” said Dr. P. Christopher H. Gottschalk, a neurologist at Yale Medicine and a professor of neurology at the Yale School of Medicine. “I’m witnessing a change in the landscape,” said Dr. Sandhya Mehla, a headache specialist and vascular neurologist with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. “I would say this is a milestone.”

The discovery, the fruit of 40 years of research, won four scientists in Sweden, Denmark and the United States the 2021 Brain Prize, the world’s most prestigious award in neurology.

Surging Behavioral Health Care Needs For Children Put Strain On School Social Workers

On paper, the social worker’s role at public K-12 schools is straightforward: to support a caseload of students with special needs to thrive in often-challenging academic setting. But ask a social worker employed in a public school these days, and they’re likely to tell a much different story. For social worker Jara Rijs, who works at Windham Center School, where more than half of its pre-K through fifth-grade students qualify for subsidized lunch, the job responsibilities bleed well beyond the job description, particularly since the pandemic hit. As many in her school community face trauma either induced or exacerbated by the pandemic, Rijs says she considers every one of the estimated 250 students at her elementary school part of her caseload. Beyond providing clinical support to students with individual education plans, in a given day, Rijs might also meet with a student struggling with a family loss or divorce, connect to a community health agency to check availability, lead a staff discussion on self-care, or even don the school’s “froggy” mascot costume—a symbol of the school’s “Froggy Four” character development program.