The state’s weekly COVID summary: 1,027,729 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with 3,827 testing positive over the last 7 days; the 7-day positivity rate is 15.56%, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) reported. The state reported 16,026,603 PCR/NAAT tests, with 24,598 residents testing positive over the last 7 days. Hospitalizations total 714. The state reported 37 deaths, bringing the death total to 11,770. DPH is releasing weekly COVID reports on Thursdays.
An East Hartford pediatrician who served a federal sentence for illegally prescribing oxycodone and failing to pay more than $177,000 in employee withholding taxes to the IRS has voluntarily surrendered his medical license. Since Dr. Sheikh Ahmed of Orange, who operated the East Hartford Medical Center, has turned in his license, the state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday agreed to drop its charges against him. If he tries to reinstate his license in the future, the charges will be deemed true, according to an affidavit from Ahmed. State Department of Public Health records accuse Ahmed of engaging in illegal and negligent conduct by prescribing oxycodone, an opioid painkiller, to people in exchange for money without examining them in 2017 and 2018. He also increased their dosage of the drug without justification, DPH records show.
The Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the first treatment that would delay the onset of type 1 diabetes ignited joy and hope among families impacted by the chronic, incurable disease. A clinical study found immunotherapy treatment with the drug teplizumab postponed the onset of type 1 diabetes (T1D) among at-risk children and adults for an average of two years, and for one patient, 11 years and counting. “Half the people in the study are way beyond two years,” says Yale University’s Dr. Kevan Herold, who has been working on a cure for T1D for 30 years. People with T1D have to manage the disease 24/7 or risk dangerously low or high blood sugar levels and long-term complications, said Herold, the clinical trial’s principal investigator. Before participating in a clinical trial at age 9, Claire Wirt, now 16, had antibodies that put her at risk of developing T1D within two years.
A coalition of mental health providers who treat transgender people in Connecticut has complained for months that the state Department of Social Services (DSS) has imposed what they call unnecessary and overly restrictive requirements on patients seeking gender-affirming surgery. The changes affect low-income patients on the state’s Husky health insurance. Before covering genital surgery to treat gender dysphoria – the psychological distress that can result from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and their gender identity – DSS now requires proof that the person has lived for at least a year in the new gender and has come out to family and friends. DSS accepts a legal name change as proof. In March, DSS imposed a blanket denial of gender-affirming surgery for anyone under 18 and began requiring two letters from mental health professionals assessing transgender patients before some surgeries would be covered, Alexandra Solomon, a clinical social worker with a therapy practice in Glastonbury and one of the leaders of the coalition, said.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday reprimanded two doctors, including fining a Waterbury doctor $10,000 for inappropriately prescribing high doses of narcotics to a patient. In addition to the fine and reprimand, the board also placed the medical license of the Waterbury physician, Dr. Philip A. Mongelluzzo Jr., on probation for two years, state records show. Mongelluzzo failed to meet the standard of care for a patient between 2014 and 2018 when he did not appropriately treat the patient’s chronic pain and prescribed the narcotics without documenting the therapeutic reasons for the drugs, according to a consent order that Mongelluzzo signed. The order said Mongelluzzo, the owner of Care Beyond Medicine in Waterbury, also prescribed sedatives to the patient without limits and without an adequate medical purpose for doing so. While not admitting to wrongdoing, Mongelluzzo chose not to contest the allegations, the consent order said.
The REACH Fund of Connecticut, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding abortion care, has begun making grants to abortion providers. “People think that because abortion is legal here and Connecticut has a lot of wealthy areas that there isn’t a need, but there is,” said co-founder Jessica Puk. Medicaid covers abortion in Connecticut, but Puk says the fund will address a need among many marginalized groups, including undocumented women, low-income people who earn too much to be covered by Medicaid, and those who have private insurance with a high deductible or copay costs. “These are real people who need to access real health care and are hitting real barriers to it,” she said. Puk and three other women began organizing the fund in the summer of 2021.
Twenty-five Connecticut hospitals will lose some of their Medicare reimbursement payments starting this month as penalties for having too many readmitted patients. Still, in most cases, the fines are much lower than in previous years, new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show. In this year’s evaluation, CMS considered the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on hospitals, excluding data for the first half of 2020 and Medicare patients readmitted with pneumonia, according to a report in Kaiser Health News. Nationally, Medicare is penalizing 2,273 hospitals, the fewest since 2014, with an average payment reduction of 0.43%, Kaiser reported. In Connecticut, 69% of all hospitals in the program face fines, but most are under 1%.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday suspended the medical license of a Woodbridge pulmonologist for conducting sexually inappropriate examinations of two female patients and fined a West Hartford ophthalmologist $40,000 for failing to ensure that four patients received the correct implant during cataract surgery. State Department of Public Health (DPH) records show that the pulmonologist, Dr. Sushil K. Gupta, conducted the inappropriate exams between 2019 and 2022. In suspending his license, the board said Gupta poses a “clear and immediate danger to the public.”
DPH records show that Gupta also violated a 2013 decision of the board that required that he have a female chaperone in the room with him when examining or treating female patients. This is the second time that Gupta has been accused of sexually inappropriate exams of female patients. The board revoked his license in 2006 after finding that the testimony of two women was credible when they described Gupta touching them in inappropriate ways during pulmonary exams, state records show.
The state Medical Examining Board imposed disciplinary action against four doctors Tuesday, including fining a West Hartford ophthalmologist $15,000 for operating on the wrong eye and fining a Bridgeport radiologist $5,000 in connection with a delayed cancer diagnosis. The board also reprimanded the medical license of the ophthalmologist, Dr. Patrick F. Albergo, for failing to comply with his Connecticut Eye Center’s “time-out” procedures and failing to maintain adequate medical records, according to a consent order he signed. Albergo, who chose not to contest the allegations, has completed courses in medical recordkeeping and changed protocols at the center to make sure that surgeons mark the correct eye before operating, the order said. The patient needed surgery on both eyes, and both procedures were done on separate days but in the wrong order, state Department of Public Health records (DPH) show. Board member Dr. Robert A. Green said the excuse that the patient needed surgery on both eyes is not acceptable.
Doctor Stacy J. Taylor routinely asks her patients about safe gun storage at home. “I had someone say they put it in their bedside table and it is loaded,” said Taylor, a family practitioner with Trinity Health New England. “So, I said, ‘Maybe that’s not a great idea. If you don’t have a safe, at least keep the gun in one place and the bullets in another.’” Her patient promised to consider making a change. Questions about safe gun storage don’t pop up at every annual physical or well visit.