Physicians Accused Of Spreading COVID-19 Misinformation Will Be Investigated, State Says

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) will investigate physicians accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines designed to combat the virus if a complaint is filed, officials said. Christopher Boyle, DPH spokesman, said that if the agency receives a complaint that a physician was spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, the Practitioner Investigation Unit will investigate. In July, the Federation of State Medical Boards warned physicians that they could face disciplinary action by a state medical board for spreading disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. DPH said that there is no mechanism for monitoring social media or other forms of media for doctors who are spreading misinformation. By state law, the public has no way of knowing if a physician is under investigation until a resolution to the complaint comes before the state Medical Examining Board months, or possibly years, from the filing of the complaint.

Targeting Disparities In Colorectal Cancer Screening

Wilfredo Estrada, a 71-year-old New Haven resident and native of Peru, says getting colonoscopies is “muy necesario.” His father died from colon cancer at age 65, and he knows family history plays a role in cancer risk. Estrada described his odyssey fighting polyps detected by preventive colonoscopy screenings, which he has been getting since 2018. During the most recent procedure, Estrada says, the doctor found and extracted 29 polyps, all noncancerous. When asked if he tells people he knows how important it is to get screened, Estrada responded through his interpreter, “No. It’s not something I like to share with others.”

By staying current with colonoscopies, Estrada is doing his part to avoid becoming a cancer statistic.

Access Health Special Enrollment Period Extended To Oct. 31

The state has extended the deadline to apply for health insurance plans through the American Rescue Plan Act Special Enrollment Period to October 31. Also, as of July 1, some Connecticut residents that meet specific eligibility requirements can pay $0 for their health insurance coverage through Access Health CT, thanks to the new Covered Connecticut Program created by the state. To qualify for the Covered Connecticut Program, you must:

Have a household annual income that is greater than 160%, and up to
and including 175% of the federal poverty level.  Have at least one dependent child in the household under age 19; children age 18 must be a full-time student in secondary school. Be eligible for advance premium tax credits (APTCs) and cost-sharing
reductions (CSRs).

Financially Challenged But Fierce, Griffin Hospital Innovates Its Way Through Pandemic

Sweating in his black jacket under a brilliant spring sun, Keith J. DuPerry, 40, waited in line on the New Haven Green. Destination: FEMA’s first-in-the-nation COVID-19 mass vaccination trailer, administered by Griffin Hospital of Derby. Earlier that morning, DuPerry had taken a bus from the sober house where he lives to an addiction treatment center downtown. The buzz of activity on the Green—party tents and comfortable seating, trailers custom shrink-wrapped with photos of smiling, diverse, shot-giving caregivers and grateful patients—got him thinking. He returned to the Green after lunch.

Hill Health Center Nurses Make Steep Climb To Vaccinate Seafarers

When she became a nurse 10 years ago, Sara Keiling never expected that she’d be wearing a pink hard hat and a life jacket and climbing a steep, 30-foot ladder to vaccinate her patients in a global pandemic. But that’s what she and other nurses from the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in New Haven have been doing since May to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 90 crew members on oil tankers that regularly arrive in the port. The nurses provide the shots on board the ships because many of the crew members lack valid visas. The crew members are among 200,000 merchant seafarers worldwide who have been unable to leave their ships in many ports due to strict COVID-19 restrictions. Some have been at sea for more than 18 months, and getting vaccinated means they can finally take shore leave or go home, David Heindel, chairman of the seafarers section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said.

Failed Flavored-Tobacco Ban May Produce A Silver Lining For Teen Prevention Efforts

The state’s failure to pass a ban on flavored tobacco products may have put it in a better strategic position to prevent and combat teen tobacco use. Legislators could not agree on the ban in June, but a new—albeit small—study by Abigail Friedman, assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health, found that after San Francisco banned flavored tobacco products in 2018, including flavored e-cigarettes, cigarette smoking increased among the city’s high school students. In comparatively similar school districts across the country with no flavor ban, cigarette smoking continued to decline, according to Friedman’s study, published in May in JAMA Pediatrics. “This raises concerns that reducing access to flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems may motivate youths who would otherwise vape to substitute smoking,” Friedman wrote. The results of the Yale study may be a case of correlation rather than causation.

Yale Study Links Housing Instability And Risky Sexual Behaviors

With federal and state eviction moratoriums ending soon, a team of researchers from Yale University and two other universities has found an apparent link between landlord-related forced housing moves and risky sexual behavior. In a study of 360 New Haven residents between 2017 and 2018, the researchers from Yale, American University and Drexel University found that such forced moves made some people sexually vulnerable and less likely or able to negotiate the use of condoms in a relationship. Seventy-seven New Haven residents in the study reported having been evicted or forced to move in the last two years because a landlord raised the rent or went into foreclosure, or for other reasons such as illegal drug use or sales. The study consistently found that those participants were more likely to report having unprotected sex or multiple sex partners than others in the study. Four percent of the residents who reported a forced move also reported providing sex for a place to live, and 8% reported having sex in exchange for money or drugs, said one of the researchers, Allison K. Groves, an assistant professor of community health and prevention at Drexel.

Med Board Fines Two Doctors, Orders Newington Woman To Stop Practicing Medicine Without A License

The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians with fines and ordered a Newington woman to stop providing injections for a fee without a medical license. In the first case, Dr. Richard Kravitz, who works at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven and a private office in Hamden, came under scrutiny in August of 2018 after a female patient in his private practice reported that he had failed to inform her about side effects from the medication he prescribed, according to a consent order approved by the board. The woman contended in a letter to the board that Kravitz prescribed toxic levels of Lithium for three years but never sought blood tests, even though she complained of neurological symptoms. He also prescribed a “cocktail” of five other drugs, leaving the woman with side effects that changed her personality and appearance, she said. An investigation into the allegations revealed that Kravitz had failed to order laboratory testing for the woman and failed to document her treatments for three years, beginning in December 2015, documents said. Under a consent order, Kravitz must pay a $10,000 fine and follow the stipulations of an 18-month probation period including attending classes in proper documentation and laboratory monitoring of prescriptions.

Telemedicine A Blessing For Some, Inaccessible For Others

When the pandemic began, LaVita King of Bridgeport worried about how she would continue to see her behavioral health therapist and primary care physician at Southwest Community Health Center. She lives close enough to walk to the federally qualified health center but didn’t feel comfortable leaving her home in those early days, let alone venturing into a medical office. But she’s been able to access care through phone and video chats. “For me, it’s been such a lifesaver, such a blessing,” said King, 69. “Otherwise, I would not have been able to talk to my behavioral health therapist for this whole entire time.