The state Medical Examining Board agreed Friday to temporarily suspend the medical license of a Durham physician who is accused of giving out exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks without examining – or even knowing – the patients requesting the documents, state records show. Dr. Sue McIntosh is accused of allowing people to mail her Durham practice a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive signed exemptions, state Department of Public Health (DPH) documents said. Her license to practice medicine and surgery is suspended until a hearing can be held on Oct. 5, officials said. The exemption paperwork that McIntosh mailed to people included explanations of what various exemptions would be, such as cancers, autism disorders, autoimmune disorders and others, and how to fill out the exemption paperwork, documents said.
Earlier this year, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) examination of death certificates in the U.S. showed a sharp rise in alcohol-related deaths between 1999 and 2017. Connecticut mirrored those numbers, and addiction organizations stepped up their efforts to reach those in need. Then came the pandemic. Treatment centers, support groups and the state were suddenly ordered to shut down. “We like to say the opposite of addiction is connection,” said Thomas Russo, spokesman for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).
A total of 1,665 Connecticut children under age 6 had lead poisoning in 2017, a drop of almost 17% from the year before and the largest one-year decrease in five years, according to a just-released report from the state Department of Public Health (DPH). But more children showed higher levels of the toxin in their blood than in 2016, the report says. In 2016, there were 105 children whose blood lead level was 20 micrograms per deciliter of blood or higher, at least four times the measure at which they’re considered poisoned. In 2017, the number had risen to 120 children. DPH epidemiologist Tsui-Min Hung said the improved overall numbers were at least partially due to the department’s more aggressive prevention activities, which 42 local health departments took advantage of, as well a social media campaign.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday disciplined two physicians with fines of $10,000 or more, including a Stamford doctor for a lack of documentation while prescribing to employees. The board also agreed to withdraw charges against two other physicians who either voluntarily relinquished their medical license or agreed to allow their license to lapse. Dr. Laurence Kirwan of Stamford, was fined $12,500 for a lack of adequate documentation while prescribing medication to three of his employees who were also patients from 2009 to 2017, according to a consent order. It was Kirwan’s second reprimand and fine before the board, according to state records. In 2017, he was fined $2,500 for failing to maintain adequate treatment records and documentation for a surgical patient from March to July 2014.
The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has fined three nursing homes for various violations, including a New Haven facility that was cited for cocaine use by residents. RegalCare at New Haven was fined $1,680 after four residents tested positive for cocaine. On April 30, 2018, a resident tested positive for cocaine after being seen handing a dollar bill with white powder on it to another resident, according to DPH. A physician’s order dated May 3 implemented several interventions, including room searches every day for three days, but the resident’s room was only searched May 4 and May 5. The resident who was handed the dollar bill with white powder on it, who had opioid dependence, tested positive for cocaine on May 1.
Five nursing homes have been fined at least $1,000 each by the state Department of Public Health in connection with lapses in care, residents who fell and broke bones and two residents who died. On Dec. 2, Water’s Edge Center of Health & Rehabilitation in Middletown was fined $1,160 in connection with a resident who died within days of falling out of bed at the home on Nov. 16. Though a care plan called for two staffers to turn the resident in bed, only one nurse’s aide was turning the resident when the fall occurred, DPH’s citation said.
The growing number of children and teens exposed to traumatic events in everyday life has forced the state’s crisis intervention teams to respond to a broader range of behavioral and mental health issues, and those teams often serve as a bridge until at-risk youth find appropriate outpatient or inpatient services. Sixty-four percent of Connecticut’s youth who use Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS), the state’s mobile crisis intervention team, have experienced one or more traumatic incidents, such as domestic violence, cyber-bullying, physical assaults, or gang warfare, experts report. Research shows childhood exposure to violence, physical or sexual abuse, and other traumatic events can cause chronic health and behavioral health problems, and such exposure is associated with increased involvement with the child welfare and criminal justice systems.
“The number of children who have been exposed to trauma is a significant concern. It’s a common occurrence among young people,” said Jeffrey Vanderploeg, vice president for mental health initiatives for the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI). He is director of the EMPS Performance Improvement Center, which is housed at CHDI.
Candid online posts describing the challenges of breastfeeding fill the Facebook page of Breastfeeding USA’s Connecticut chapter. The daily stream of anecdotes, questions and comments alternate in tone from exasperated to celebratory. “Small victory for today. I actually breastfed in the open with my husband and day care provider in the same room (with a nursing cover, of course), but I haven’t done that yet, so I feel good about it. “
Seven Connecticut nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health in connection with lapses in care, including one sexual assault of a resident by another resident and two cases in which residents died. Other cases involved residents who developed pressure sores, one who sustained a cut on the forehead during a fall and another who left a home and wandered across the street. The Kent Ltd. of Kent, which is owned by Apple Rehab, was fined $1,195 on April 4 in connection with two residents for whom CPR was delayed or stopped without a doctor’s order, records show. On May 5, 2013, there was a delay of nine minutes in starting CPR on an 88-year-old resident while a supervisor was notified and while equipment was gathered, records show.
Three Connecticut nursing homes have been fined more than $1,000 each by the state Department of Public Health in connection with incidents in which residents broke a leg, developed pressure sores or were injured during a fall. On April 8, Touchpoints at Farmington was fined $1,300 in connection with a dementia patient who broke a leg after getting agitated, DPH records show. On Aug. 14, the resident had been found in a hallway in the early morning, with one nurse’s aide reporting that the resident had struck another resident, records show. Two nurse’s aides put the resident back in bed and he or she became combative, kicking a wall, bed and table for five to 10 minutes until the aides reported hearing a “pop” or “snap,” records show.