For more than 40 years, Erik Drewniak has been plagued by high fevers and chills and never knew why. Whenever he got a 104 or 105-degree fever that would linger for a day or two, he and his family always figured that was just “how he got sick.” He still was able to excel at school, play sports and live a normal life, but the fevers would strike intermittently. It wasn’t until late 2012 into early 2013, following the death of his newborn son, that Drewniak learned what has been causing his fevers. He has an extremely rare gene mutation that Yale School of Medicine researchers uncovered through DNA sequencing. “I’m definitely grateful,” said Drewniak, 45 of Fairfield.
As one of the wealthiest towns in the state, Darien has few residents who routinely go hungry. It’s also ranked in the bottom quartile of Connecticut when it comes to services for residents who may forgo a meal, according to a recent food accessibility survey. With a median household income of $181,521, it ranked second in the state for “food security” – defined as ready access to affordable, nutritious food. It does not take part in the national school lunch or breakfast programs because town officials don’t see a need. But there are 145 residents enrolled in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
A preliminary review by the Office of the Child Advocate of conditions at the state’s controversial locked treatment program for troubled girls in Middletown raises concerns about the improper use of restraints, inadequate access to mental health services, and inconsistent reporting of abuse and neglect. The report, which was distributed to members of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS) Advisory Committee and obtained by the Connecticut Health I-Team, cites concerns that youths in both the 12-bed girls’ Pueblo Unit and the larger CJTS facility for boys have been subjected to inappropriate or unsafe restraint, including the use of “prone restraint” on youths with respiratory problems. Prone restraint means that a person is laid in a facedown position. “I know that DCF (the Department of Children and Families) shares our concern regarding the use of potentially dangerous restraint for children with contraindicated medical conditions,” Child Advocate Sarah Eagan wrote. “Our review of these incident reports raises questions regarding the adequacy of staff training on the use of restraint (and de-escalation strategies), and the effective dissemination of critical information regarding children’s special health care needs.”
The report echoes concerns about the CJTS’ use of restraint that were cited in a report a decade ago by the former child advocate and attorney general’s office. The new review comes just six months after the girls’ facility opened — and as state agencies seek to reduce the unnecessary use of restraint among children.
Doug Crocker knows a thing or two about driving. The 74-year-old former Hartford police officer and his wife have navigated the continental U.S. three times in their motor home. Even experienced drivers feel the effects of aging when behind the wheel. “It’s harder to turn around now to look for blind spots,” he said. “Backing up is a real issue too,” especially when he drives the Jeep they tow along for in-town use.
Connecticut outperforms most states in addressing elder long-term care, but needs to improve support for family caregivers, transitions between hospitals and other settings and affordability of nursing homes, according to a national report card. The state ranks 12th overall among all 50 states and the District of Columbia in meeting 26 indicators across five key dimensions of care. It scored high in offering choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care. And while it ranks high for access to care, it needs to substantially improve affordability. The state fares poorly in care transitions (39th) – the process of shifting care from one setting to another – and in support for family caregivers (30th).
Parking and admission fees for Connecticut’s 107 state parks have been waived for the weekend of July 26 to celebrate the state parks centennial. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced “Free State Parks Weekend” Wednesday during a visit to Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden. “This coming weekend, all parking and museum fees will be waived,” said Malloy, who added that camping fees will not be waived. As park rangers and volunteers looked on, Malloy, wearing a casual shirt and jeans, fondly shared his experience of visiting Silver Sands State Park in Milford as a child. The state of Connecticut is currently investing $60 million in infrastructure, which includes the state parks, said Commissioner Robert Klee of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The use of nationally certified medical homes to coordinate the care of Connecticut’s Medicaid patients has led to improved quality, a 2 percent cut in per person costs, and a 32 percent increase in the number of participating providers during an 18-month period. The news comes as the state moves forward with plans to jumpstart the medical home movement in Connecticut with an expanded “Glide Path” program that would assist all practices – not just those that accept Medicaid patients – working to become medical homes. The program, still under development, would require practices to meet national standards. The state initiative has shed light on the challenges facing Connecticut’s medical homes, including the costs of implementing an electronic medical record and care coordination strategies. Experts say medical homes can improve quality, cut costs and reduce health inequities among all patients, not only those in the state’s Medicaid program.
What if an aspirin a day could keep cancer away? A growing body of scientific research suggests that aspirin can prevent some cancers of the digestive system, and maybe even breast and prostate, too. In the latest study, published today in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Yale University researchers found that patients from 30 hospitals across the state were less likely to develop pancreatic cancer if they took a small, daily dose of aspirin. Researchers are stopping short of recommending aspirin as a broad cancer prevention tool, because of its possible side effects, including stomach pain and gastrointestinal bleeding. “Aspirin is not a risk-free substance,” said Dr. Harvey Risch, a professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, who led the research.
It didn’t look like it was going to happen, but a bill that would make it easier for private, for-profit hospitals to take over nonprofit hospitals was on its way to the governor’s desk late Wednesday. The so-called hospital conversion bill would help for-profit hospitals, like Texas-based Tenet Healthcare Corporation, come into Connecticut and acquire physician practices without being in violation of current law. Continue reading the story by ctnewsjunkie here.
When Velma Williams-Estes became a widow three years ago, it really hit her that she had to plan for permanent care for her daughter Deborah Ann Williams, 46, who has Down syndrome. “I am scared,” Williams-Estes, 66, of Meriden, said. “Every day, every day, I pray to God that I’ll be here, that he will give me the strength and the stamina to be here for her entire life.”
To speak out for more residential placements for people like her daughter, Williams-Estes has joined Our Families Can’t Wait, an advocacy group formed last fall by Connecticut families who are waiting for homes and apartments to open for their children and grandchildren with intellectual disabilities. The advocacy group has been lobbying at the state Capitol to gain support for a $149 million proposal that would dramatically increase funding for new state-funded group homes, home support and community companion homes – licensed family homes for three or fewer people with intellectual disabilities. The group is receiving organizational help from the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199.