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.
As soon as he heard that President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act would include more than $4 billion to replace lead water pipes in the country, Joseph Lanzafame, New London’s public utilities director, knew two things:
First, no matter how much money Washington spent on the undertaking, it wouldn’t be enough. And second, Lanzafame knew he wanted New London to be first on the state’s priority list for funding. “If we get out ahead of it,” he said, “we’re more likely to get additional subsidies … and we’re going to help set the standard for the state.”
Over the past two years, New London has been aggressively inventorying its pipes, the first step in the replacement process. Lanzafame has pored over historical records, hired engineers to do predictive modeling, and arranged for exploratory “test pits” to be drilled throughout the city to determine how many of its public water lines are made of lead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More than 1,000 Connecticut children under age 6 were reported poisoned by lead in 2020, according to a report released this week by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). Of the children tested that year, 649 were new cases. As has been the case for many years, nearly half of the 1,024 lead-poisoned children lived in the state’s cities. New Haven had the highest number of lead-poisoned children, with 171, followed by Bridgeport, 148; Waterbury, 81; Hartford, 71; and Meriden, 35. These five cities had 49% of all lead-poisoned children in Connecticut in 2020.
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.
The state Medical Examining Board issued a $5,000 fine and a reprimand to an orthopedic surgeon who operated on the wrong knee of a patient in 2018 and temporarily suspended the medical license of a Colchester physician assistant who is accused of falsifying documents and excessively using alcohol and marijuana. Dr. Christopher Betz, who works at Starling Physicians, failed to follow the pre-incision protocol and failed to independently verify which knee was the site of the operation prior a procedure that took place at Bristol Hospital on Sept. 14, 2018, according to state Department of Public Health (DPH) documents. The error wasn’t reported by DPH’s Facility Licensing and Investigations Section (FLIS) to its Practitioner Licensing and Investigations Unit, which investigates complaints against physicians, for the board until July 19, 2019 after Bristol Hospital was the subject of an unannounced inspection by federal health authorities, documents said. Bristol Health reported the medical error as an adverse event on Sept.
Infant injuries, wrong-site surgeries, objects left in patients following procedures, and a health care worker hitting an “unruly” patient were among the incidents cited in hospital inspections conducted by the state Department of Public Health. The new reports, which can be found in C-HIT’s Data Mine Section, cover state inspections that were completed in 2021 with approved hospital corrective action plans. (You can find the new reports here.)
At William Backus Hospital, a pregnant woman suffering from drug abuse disorder delivered a baby who tested positive for fentanyl and buprenorphine. During the time that the baby was under observation for neonatal abstinence syndrome (drug withdrawal), a parent holding the infant fell and reported “that the infant’s head may have touched the ground a little,” the report said. Following the incident, staff determined that the baby suffered a head injury and was transferred to a higher-level hospital. The state inspector said that the hospital “failed to develop a safe plan of care for the infant to prevent a fall with injury.”
The Hospital for Central Connecticut was cited for failing to identify that an infant was assessed when forceps were used in labor and delivery, which resulted in head injuries to the infant.