The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

VPR reporters Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel cover health issues from the Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

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Aging Well | Homelessness & Housing | Opioid Addiction | UVM Medical Center

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Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Attorneys for local governments across the country unveiled a plan Friday that they say would move the nation closer to a global settlement of lawsuits stemming from the deadly opioid crisis.

Final payouts could rival the massive tobacco settlements of the 1990s. Such a deal, if reached, could funnel tens of billions of dollars to communities struggling with the opioid addiction crisis, while restoring stability to one of the country's biggest industries.

The exterior of the closed St. John the Apostle Church, in Johnson, Vt.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File

A former Catholic church in Johnson has been sold to a new nonprofit aiming to fight opioid addiction.

On the streets of Boston, the potholed path to treatment often starts with a sandwich. Egg salad is the favorite. Today it’s ham. Phil Ribeiro tucks one into the bag of a man who is breathing, but either so sedated or deeply asleep that he’s difficult to rouse.

“Hopefully he doesn’t wake up next to a flock of Norway rats,” says Ribeiro, a public health advocate with AHOPE, the needle exchange program run by the Boston Public Health Commission.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, 480 children under six years old were poisoned by lead in Vermont in 2017. The state is about to roll out a program to test drinking water for lead in all Vermont schools and child care facilities.
Quin Stevenson / Unsplash

A bill passed by the Legislature would require the state to test all schools and child care centers in Vermont for lead levels in the water. The legislation focuses on the cohort most susceptible to neurological damage caused by lead: children up to age six. We'll hear about the effects of lead on children and the logistics of the program being set up to test these facilities.

Transparent skull model of brain and blood vessels.
Jesse Orrico / Unsplash

Most scientists are not seeking glory or honors for the research they do. But when a prestigious award or nomination comes along, it is gratifying to know that your peers are paying attention. On April 30, Mark Nelson, the chair of the pharmacology department at UVM, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He spoke with Vermont Edition about his election and the research that got him there. 

Hundreds of Vermonters turned out for a public hearing in February on an abortion-rights bill introduced in Montpelier. The Vermont House preliminarily approved the legislation by a vote of 104-40.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

Governor Phil Scott has said that he will allow H.57 – a bill protecting abortion rights – to become law. And lawmakers are also moving forward in the multi-step process of amending the state constitution to enshrine the right to an abortion. We're talking about Vermont's legislation on reproductive rights and how it fits into the national debate and legal landscape.

A woman stands against a wall mural.
Elodie Reed / VPR

In her yearlong series, "Hooked: Stories and Solutions from Vermont's Opioid Crisis," Seven Days writer Kate O'Neill investigates the reality of opioid addiction in Vermont. O'Neill's June 5 article, "Between a 'Hub' and a Hard Place," shares three stories about the challenges of living with opioid addiction in rural areas.

Illustration of woman in front of instruments
Spencer Imbrock / Unsplash

How do you focus your mind on the task at hand? For many, music is at least part of the answer. The right music can help you prepare for the day, concentrate on something you want to learn, or simply provide a pleasant background while at work. It can even be used as a form of therapy for kids and adults struggling to focus.

Major depressive disorder is a complex illness and different people respond to treatments in varying ways. We're talking about approaches to addressing treatment-resistant depression.
teddybearpicnic / iStock

Major depression can have devastating effects on a sufferer's life – and can be deadly. There are many treatments – different kinds of drugs, therapies, and other interventions – but what happens when someone can't find one that works? We're talking about treatment-resistant depression and how it's dealt with by patients and care providers. 

Researchers in Vermont are working on a new way to diagnose anxiety and depression in young children.
DrAfter123 / iStock

As children grow up, they reach a point where they can start to articulate their feelings in some detail. But before the age of eight, that's extremely difficult for them to do. So how can doctors and medical professionals detect anxiety and depression in young children? Two local researchers have been working on ways to screen and understand these mental health conditions in children.

When the first HIV drug, AZT, came to market in 1987, it cost $10,000 a year.

That price makes Peter Staley laugh today. "It sounds quaint and cheap now, but $10,000 a year at that time was the highest price ever set for any drug in history," he says.

As a child, Molly Easterlin loved playing sports. She started soccer at age 4, and then in high school, she played tennis and ran track. Sports, Easterlin believes, underlie most of her greatest successes. They taught her discipline and teamwork, helped her make friends and enabled her to navigate the many challenges of growing up.

Vermont has 45 species of mosquitoes and all of them are pretty pesky.
CHBD / iStock

They're annoying and they're headed our way. At any moment, you'll be outside and will hear the fateful buzzing of mosquitoes. Vermont Edition will get you prepared for the onslaught of this annoying insect. And maybe even find a reason to appreciate them.

More than 130 people in the U.S. die of an opioid overdose every day. One of the most effective ways to save lives is to get those struggling with addiction treated with medication to stop their cravings. But a loophole in federal law might block at least one new opioid-addiction drug from coming to market for years.

Many patients have to try several medications before finding one that works for them and that they can stick with.

Mark Tenally / AP

In 11 years of reporting for CNN, I did my share of stories on abortion. And when the day-after abortion pill became available, I remember thinking that because early stage pregnancies could be ended with just a pill, the dynamics of the abortion debate would change. And they did – just not in the way I expected.

Even a generic, blank form is considered confidential by Vermont’s Agency of Human Services.

When VPR requested a blank “Critical Incident Review Form” from the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, or DAIL earlier this month, we received the blank form — redacted.   

A room in the Miller building at UVM Medical Center, with a bed and a dummy patient laying in it.
Emily Corwin / VPR

The University of Vermont Medical Center unveiled its new Robert E. and Holly D. Miller Building to reporters on Friday. The building has 128 rooms, serving specialty surgery, cardiology, oncology and orthopedic patients.

We're talking about the Dr. Dynasaur health care program and how it has evolved over the years.
Julianna Funk / iStock

The "Dr. Dynasaur" program has been providing healthcare for children and pregnant women for thirty years, and it's gone through a number of expansions and iterations. We're talking about how Dr. Dynasaur works, who is covered, how the program has changed since its introduction and how it might evolve going forward.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has a skin condition called rosacea, and he says he takes the antibiotic doxycycline once a day for it.

In 2013, the average market price of doxycycline rose from $20 to $1,829 a year later. That's an increase of over 8,000%.

5G networks would require new antennas on existing telecommunication towers.
Emanuele D'Amico / iStock

A bill designed to boost broadband internet in Vermont has raised concerns that it will also speed the expansion of allegedly hazardous wireless technology.