An impossible situation: Managing Connecticut Valley Hospital

At the November 13 public hearing on the issue of patient abuse at Whiting Forensic Institute, I sat and listened with great interest, and sadness, to the questions that the Public Health Committee posed to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the department’s responses. As the Public Health Committee continues the process of reviewing the events that occurred at Whiting, it must expand its focus on what the committee and the General Assembly will do to drive the type of change necessary to restore the public’s confidence in Connecticut Valley Hospital and Whiting Forensic Institute.

The dangers and potential of ‘natural’ opioid kratom

Given the opioid addiction crisis, it would seem preposterous that an opioid is legal for use in the United States and can be purchased at tea stores, convenience stores, over the internet and, yes, even from vending machines. However, kratom is not your average opioid. The Drug Enforcement Agency found this out when it tried to ban the herb in 2016.

Everyone should be entitled to health insurance, even the middle class

The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is a perverse twist on the Robin Hood tale. Rather than steal from the rich, Obamacare has taken from the middle class. Prior to ACA, the self-employed middle class had many options for comprehensive insurance. They were largely able to afford their premiums and deductibles, and out of pocket costs were manageable. Most importantly, they were free to choose their own doctors and hospitals from a nationwide provider network.

Acknowledging childhood trauma — a growing movement in Connecticut

Imagine sitting in a room with 360 other people. Now imagine that 95 percent of these people are women. Indeed, the room is filled with chatter, laughter, and anticipation. The room is in a downtown Waterbury hotel and occupied by pre-school and kindergarten teachers, home daycare providers, and administrators. The women, and the handful of men, have come to kick off an important movement in Waterbury: to make early childhood care more aware of and informed about the prevalence and impact of trauma. Specifically, how traumatic experiences influences the lives of the young children they work with.

People with intellectual disabilities deserve a chance to build a life

This year’s complicated and difficult process to develop a state budget has inflicted disproportionate injury on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. While the protracted negotiations continue, young graduates from our public schools have been forced to sit at home in state-imposed isolation, as there is no funding for the critical and longstanding Employment and Day Services program. As difficult as this has been, there is some reason for hope.

Early school start times can harm Connecticut’s students

There is a serious public health issue that is harming many high school students across our state.  It may be causing them to be ill, have higher rates of depression and substance abuse, obesity, car accidents and sports injuries.  It is reducing their academic performance in the classroom and on standardized tests.  What is causing this crisis?  Schools that start too early in the morning.

Dangerous waters: Connecticut’s worsening overdose epidemic

I recently spent a week at the outer Cape and saw large schools of seals close to the beach. When I mention this, the invariable response is “sharks.” Where there are seals, there will be sharks. It’s the nature of predators and prey. Which brings me to our worsening opioid-overdose epidemic, why it’s getting worse, and why it will deteriorate further if we don’t change our approach. The sharks are here. They want your children.

Larson, Courtney: Fix ACA by letting 50 to 64-year-olds join Medicare

After passing the eight-year mark since passing the Affordable Care Act, nonpartisan data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau have confirmed the real-life benefits the ACA has brought to the state of Connecticut. As the Bureau reported, the uninsured rate in our state has fallen from 9.2 to 3.8 percent, patients can no longer be cut off from medical treatment due to lifetime limits on coverage, and Americans have the peace of mind in knowing that a childhood illness or chronic disease will not prohibit them from purchasing health insurance later in life. However, in the seven years since its passage, the ACA has not solved every problem in the healthcare system and serious challenges remain even today.

CDC budget cuts threaten the fight against ‘superbugs’

Why are President Trump’s proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) such a bad idea? One big reason is that they are on the forefront of what Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC Director, rightly called “one of our most serious health threats” — killer antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Connecticut must lead the way on universal healthcare

Affordable, quality health care can’t become a luxury: it’s a fundamental need, and access to it must become a fundamental right. Creating a single-payer system is the most effective way to guarantee access to healthcare for every person. … It’s time for Congress to advance a public healthcare system that provides every American — and all 3.6 million Connecticut residents — with affordable, quality healthcare. If Congress refuses to do it in Washington, it’s up to us to do it here in Connecticut.

Protect your family from Meningitis B

As a public health advocate, I work each day to educate families and health care providers about the importance and availability of vaccines. As a parent, my top priority is the health and safety of my children. So, it was surprising to me when I recently encountered a potential issue in getting my son immunized against a deadly, yet vaccine-preventable disease — Meningitis B.