Karen Lombardi, a school instructional coach, had just taken an unruly child out of a classroom when she felt severe chest pains. She drove to Yale New Haven Hospital, sweating profusely and hyperventilating, and was diagnosed with a heart attack. Five weeks later, she was back in the hospital with more chest pains. It was another four months before Lombardi, 61, learned the cause of her pain, received effective treatment and returned to active exercise. She considers herself lucky because many women with heart disease never get an accurate diagnosis.
Carolina Serna’s job as a care coordinator for the Clifford Beers, a behavioral health care provider based in New Haven, puts her in the middle of today’s mental health crisis for kids, teenagers and their families. When Clifford Beers gets referrals for cases, Serna and other care coordinators become the face of the organization, helping children and families get the clinical care they need. But Serna and her colleagues do much more than that. In a sense, they’re the bridge between troubled families and the rest of society. Take one of the many tough situations Serna handled during the COVID-19 crisis: A young Hispanic mother in New Haven had just lost her job.
Joshalyn Mills of Branford and Nancy Witz of Kensington had the best possible results after being treated in clinical trials with immunotherapy drugs for aggressive breast cancer: Their tumors were eliminated. But while there are dramatic successes with immunotherapy drugs, there are also many failures, and researchers are trying to find out why in hopes of expanding the drugs’ effectiveness. Cutting-edge immunotherapy drugs use a person’s own immune system to fight disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the drugs in 2011 for cancer treatment. Success has occurred in about 15% to 20% of patients with cancers such as melanoma, lung, kidney and bladder, according to a report by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
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.
Requests for free breast binders by transgender youths in 2022 have outnumbered supplies at Health Care Advocates International (HCAI) in Stratford, which serves LGBTQ and HIV communities. HCAI received 126 binder requests in the first three weeks of January alone, crushing last year’s numbers and temporarily wiping out inventory. The group sent out 190 binders in all of 2021. A quarter of them went to Connecticut youths, with the rest shipped nationwide and beyond. “The numbers are jumping because there is such a need,” says Tony Ferraiolo, the Youth & Family Program director at HCAI.
Migraines have baffled humankind at least as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who blamed the excruciating headaches, and their often-accompanying visual auras and nausea, on the supernatural. Now, in a development doctors are calling revolutionary, an international group of neurologists has deciphered the mystery of why people get migraines and, in doing so, has determined how to greatly reduce their frequency and severity. The discovery “has revolutionized our treatment of migraine,” said Dr. P. Christopher H. Gottschalk, a neurologist at Yale Medicine and a professor of neurology at the Yale School of Medicine. “I’m witnessing a change in the landscape,” said Dr. Sandhya Mehla, a headache specialist and vascular neurologist with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. “I would say this is a milestone.”
The discovery, the fruit of 40 years of research, won four scientists in Sweden, Denmark and the United States the 2021 Brain Prize, the world’s most prestigious award in neurology.
When three 13-year-old boys were sickened by the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl at a Hartford middle school on Jan. 13, it was a shocking reminder of the human toll of the opioid crisis. One of the boys later died and a sweep of the school surfaced 40 small plastic bags of the drug. Later that same day, dozens of people spoke out against a proposal to locate a methadone clinic on a commercial street on the New Haven-Hamden border. During the ongoing battle with COVID-19, there seems to be less attention being paid to opioid addiction, advocates say.
The state Medical Examining Board agreed Tuesday to withdraw the charges filed against a Durham physician accused of providing fraudulent exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks after she voluntarily relinquished her medical license while it was suspended. Sue McIntosh, a retired former physician, will not face any discipline and will not be able to practice medicine unless she seeks a formal reinstatement before the board, state Department of Public Health (DPH) officials said. The board’s vote was unanimous. The board did not discuss the case before the vote other than a comment by Chair Kathryn Emmett who said since McIntosh had voluntarily surrendered her license, “there was no license to reprimand.”
McIntosh was accused of deviating from the standard of care by failing to properly diagnose or examine people who she issued signed exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks. The state said that McIntosh failed to build a patient and physician relationship with those who requested the exemptions, failed to obtain their medical history and failed to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines by providing advice that was harmful to the public. The board suspended McIntosh’s medical license on Sept.
When Amanda, 28, found out that she was pregnant with her second child, she was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling with opioid use disorder. “I was pretty heavy into my drug use,” said Amanda, whose last name is being withheld due to patient confidentiality. “I had given up hope and was figuring out a way to use drugs and get away with the consequences. But it doesn’t work like that.”
Now, however, Amanda is feeling “really good.” That’s because she is in a clinical trial for pregnant women run by the Yale School of Medicine, through which she receives medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for her opioid use disorder (OUD). Amanda’s OB-GYN is among a group of physicians at 12 clinics in Connecticut and Massachusetts who are training with Yale to offer OB-GYN care and treatment for substance use disorder under one roof to pregnant patients.
On a recent Friday evening, 30 men and women of color in and around New Haven converged on Zoom to share their thoughts about the flu vaccine. Most were apprehensive. Participants said they worried about contracting the flu from the vaccine, that the danger from the flu vaccine is far greater than catching the flu, and that people of color are again being experimented upon by the medical community. “Our trust levels are really low,” one woman at the online event said. “We think it’s just another way of getting to harm us even further.”
During the 2019-20 flu season in New Haven, more people of color than whites were hospitalized due to the flu: 35% of Black and 31% of Hispanic residents compared to 22% of white people, according to data from the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE).