As Pandemic Grinds On, Domestic Violence Shelters Grapple With Budget Gaps And Growing Needs

Katherine Verano is wrestling with an 830% increase in costs compared with last year for hoteling victims of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. After a quiet period during the first months of the pandemic, when much of the state was locked down, domestic violence shelters started running at about 150% capacity during the summer months. When providers ran out of room for social distancing, clients had to be placed in hotels and fed. It’s been a complex time, said Verano, the executive director of Safe Futures, a New London-based nonprofit dedicated to providing counseling, services and shelter to victims of domestic violence in 21 southeastern towns. Safe Futures’ budget for hoteling clients has increased steadily this year.

Survivors Struggle With Lingering COVID-19 Symptoms

In April, Rhonda Eigabroadt, 53, showed up at the ER at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, struggling to breathe. Doctors did not expect her to survive the night, she recalled. Ten days earlier, she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was recovering at home in Bristol before taking a turn for the worse. An occupational therapist at the Litchfield Woods Health Care Center in Torrington, she, along with scores of staff and residents, had contracted the virus during an outbreak. Eigabroadt beat the odds, though.

Wildfire Smoke Likely To Have Increasing Impact On Health Of Those Already At Risk

Connecticut’s weather on May 25, 2016, was hotter than usual for that time of year, reaching a high of 91 degrees. The winds were out of the northwest at about 10.5 mph and state air pollution officials weren’t expecting anything unusual. Then the state’s air pollution monitoring network went ballistic. Ozone sensors across Connecticut began recording “off-the-chart readings,” Paul Farrell, the director of air planning at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, recalled. State experts were shocked.

Pandemic Deals Another Blow To Nursing Homes: Plummeting Occupancy

While the deadly coronavirus seems to be subsiding in Connecticut for now, its impact on nursing homes has not. More than 6,700 beds are empty, and it may take many months of financial struggle before occupancy climbs back to pre-pandemic levels. Of the approximately 200 nursing homes in Connecticut that receive payments from Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income people, only 15 were 70% or less occupied in January, according to the Connecticut Health Investigative Team’s analysis of state data. By August, almost five times as many facilities saw occupancy drop to that level or less. While the statewide average decline was 15%, the number of residents in 19 nursing homes has plummeted to 55% and below since January.

Medical Board Fines Two Doctors $5,000 Each

The state Medical Examining Board agreed Tuesday to fine two doctors $5,000 each and issued a cease and desist order to a woman without a Connecticut medical license who performed a procedure that led to an infection. Dr. Bryan Boffi, of Avon, a psychiatrist at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, was fined $5,000 and his license was reprimanded after he issued a patient a prescription for Ativan, a sedative, without consulting with the person’s regular mental health clinician, documents said. Boffi cared for the patient while the person was admitted to HOCC’s psychiatric ward in May of 2016, but failed to talk to the person’s out-patient psychiatrist about the patient’s history or inpatient treatment strategy before prescribing the medication, a consent order said. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) began investigating Boffi after receiving a complaint from the patient’s family, papers said. Boffi has since completed 150 hours of continuing education in the treatment of depression, addiction and the use of Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, DPH officials said.

State Disciplines Two Physicians, Fines A Bolton Doctor

The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians including issuing a $4,000 fine and one-year probation to a Bolton doctor who prescribed opioids to at least two patients but failed to provide adequate drug screening and documentation. The board also agreed to modify the terms of discipline for two physicians including a Fairfield County doctor who had done federal prison time as part of a compound medication cream scheme. The Department of Public Health (DPH) began looking into the practice of Dr. Ronald Buckman, of Bolton, in 2018 after receiving a complaint from an employee, according to a consent order. While the agency didn’t substantiate any issues with the way Buckman’s family-based practice was being managed, investigators did find that he had “deviated from the standard of care” for at least two patients for whom he had prescribed opioids, DPH papers said. Buckman failed to adequately document and examine one patient to whom he had prescribed painkillers while the patient was also taking muscle relaxers, an anti-seizure drug and possibly an antidepressant, prescribed by other physicians, the DPH said.

Nurses Disciplined For Drug Abuse, Care Lapses, Falling Asleep At Work

Over the past several months, the state Board of Examiners for Nursing has disciplined the following nurses for improper patient care, drug abuse and falsifying license paperwork, among other violations. • The registered nurse (RN) license of Sashni C. Popp of Norwalk was recently reprimanded and placed on probation for one year for failing to properly care for a patient’s wound and for not meeting the standard of care for wound treatment, according to her signed consent order. • The Connecticut RN license of Amy Slepica, of Lakeville, Minn., was revoked because she made false statements on her application for a CT nursing license in December 2017 and again on her license renewal in November 2018. Slepica, whose Minnesota RN license was disciplined in 2017 and 2018 for failure to provide adequate patient care and to maintain adequate patient records, indicated on her CT applications that her RN license had not been the subject of disciplinary action in any other state. • The RN license of Nicolette Strizzi of Windsor has been suspended indefinitely while the board investigates allegations of substance against her, according to her signed interim consent order.

Yale: Medicaid Expansion Tied To Early Breast Cancer Detection

In states where Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), women are more likely to receive breast cancer diagnoses at an early stage, compared with women in other states, new research shows. Among women younger than 50, the average rate of diagnosis at advanced stages lowered from 23% to 21% between 2012-13 (before most states expanded Medicaid) and 2015-16 (after expansion), according to a Yale Cancer Center study published today in JAMA Surgery.  In states where Medicaid wasn’t expanded, the average rate of advanced-stage diagnoses stayed constant at 26% during those years. “It’s a small percentage change [in expansion states] but it was statistically significant,” said Dr. Tristen Park, senior author of the study and a breast cancer surgeon at the Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, especially since the drop was evident over just a few years. “It’s quite exciting.