Health

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.

Follow them on Twitter for the latest health and Vermont health industry news.

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below

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

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U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert Wilkie - pictured here on Feb. 26 providing testimony to a House Appropriations subcommittee
Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

Robert Wilkie, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, visited the VA hospital in White River Junction on Friday. Wilkie spoke to VPR by phone about a number of issues affecting the state's veteran population.

Coyotes infected with rabies are rare in Vermont. But two cases of rabid coyotes were recently reported in Addison County.
Bill_Dally / iStock

Live call-in discussion: Since 2005, just over 800 animals in Vermont have tested positive for rabies. But no coyotes. Until recently, when two coyotes in Addison County were found to be rabid. We'll take a full look at rabies in Vermont and the threat it poses to humans.

We're talking about the science of fentanyl and its effects on the body.
Rick Bowmer / AP

The synthetic opioid fentanyl is causing deadly overdoses to spike across the country. But while concerns have been raised about accidental exposure, it is incredibly unlikely that chance contact with the substance through skin or inhalation can be toxic. We're talking about the science behind fentanyl and how it acts on the body, plus which dangers are real and which are overblown.

A replica Statue of Liberty, painted by art students at Lake Region Union High School, stands on the ice of Lake Parker, in West Glover. The hill in the background is where locals surmise the statue might have gone, had it been erected in Glover.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

There’s a wooden replica of the Statue of Liberty, complete with a light-up torch, standing on the ice of Lake Parker, in the Northeast Kingdom village of West Glover. It’s there to publicize a new ice out contest to benefit the Glover Ambulance Squad, but it’s a story that goes back 135 years.

As Democratic candidates for president try to walk a political tightrope between the party's progressive wing and its center-left, they are facing increasing pressure to outline the details of their health care overhaul proposals.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running in Democratic primaries, reaffirmed his stance on health care by reintroducing a "Medicare-for-all" bill, the idea that fueled his 2016 presidential run.

A July 23, 2018 file photo from Greenfield, Mass.
Elise Amendola / Associated Press

A bill under consideration by the Vermont Legislature would decriminalize the possession of unprescribed buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorder. Proponents say the bill would save lives; critics say it would send a dangerous message.

What does your life in Vermont look like in the year 2050? We're imagining Vermont at the mid-century and asking you to share what has - and hasn't - changed.
hanibaram / iStock

We're jumping ahead to the year 2050 to imagine what life will be like in Vermont by mid-century, and looking back from an imagined future to talk about how Vermont can address climate change and other challenges. 

A wood baby crip with pink wallpaper and a teddy bear.
zclobes / iStock

Family and friends of 6-month-old Harper Rose Briar will hold a fundraiser in Rutland Monday to offset funeral and legal bills.

The Pittsford infant’s death in January was ruled a homicide. Stacey Vaillancourt, the baby’s daycare provider, faces felony manslaughter charges for allegedly administering unprescribed allergy medicine. She pleaded not guilty.

While experts say this tragedy may be a first in Vermont, infant deaths from drugs like Benadryl are not uncommon.

aydinynr / iStock

My mother was politically engaged and her driving issue was abortion. Before Roe v. Wade was passed, she’d had friends who’d desperately sought illegal abortions in the tenements of Harlem, sometimes with tragic results.

From tobacco to opioid use, a just-launched study will get a timely snapshot of what substances Vermont's youths and young adults are using.
Master1305 / iStock

Getting an accurate snapshot of what "drugs of choice" young people are using can be extremely difficult. We'll hear about a study just launched in Vermont that aims to provide that information more quickly than in the past.

Greg Tatro holds a picture of his daughter, Jenna, who died of an opioid overdose in February. In the foreground are piles of sympathy cards he and his wife have received.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

For six years, Greg and Dawn Tatro watched their daughter struggle with an opioid addiction. Then in February, Jenna Tatro died at age 26 in their home in Johnson. Now her parents hope to create a community-based recovery center to help others fight addiction.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The town of Springfield has struggled with declining jobs and population loss since long before news broke that one of its largest employers, the local hospital, is losing money. If Springfield Hospital closes, it would be a blow to a community that’s been trying to reinvent itself.

Phoebe Rotter / Planned Parenthood Vermont

One of the most important women in Vermont history is not known by her full name. A year before the national Roe v. Wade decision, “Jacqueline R,” was part of a landmark court case in Vermont that provided abortion access here.

A stethoscope on a table with paperwork in the background.
SteveColeImages / iStock

A new report from the Office of Professional Regulation says that Vermont would benefit in a number of ways from joining a multi-state nursing compact, but acknowledges such a change would also have financial impact.

A picture of narcotics seized by police. Some Vermont lawmakers want to decriminalize possession of buprenorphine, an opioid that's often used to treat substance use disorder.
AP/Toby Talbot

The House Judiciary Committee has approved legislation decriminalizing possession of buprenorphine. But some law enforcement officials say non-prescribed use of the drug, which is used to treat opioid use disorder, should remain a crime.

Men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women in the United States. Overdose deaths are increasing faster among black and Latino Americans than among whites. And there's an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl.

A sign that says Welcome to the Childbirth Center and the Springfield Hospital logo, next to a black and white photo of an adult hand making a heart around baby feet.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The Springfield Hospital board of trustees voted Tuesday to close the hospital's child-birthing unit, as it tries to shave $6.5 million off this year’s budget.

Failure to recognize faces - even of those familiar to a person - is called prosopagnosia or face blindness and it affects about two percent of the population.
Missbobbit / iStock

Most of us take for granted the ability to recognize the faces of our friends and loved ones. But for about two percent of individuals, it isn't that easy. They have a condition called prosopagnosia or face blindness. Brad Duchaine, Dartmouth College professor of psychological and brain sciences, joins us to discuss the latest research in this field.

Psychiatric patients in crisis can wait days in emergency departments due to a lack on inpatient beds.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

VPR's investigative reporter Emily Corwin has been looking into the care received by young psychiatric patients in crisis. As with adults, children and adolescents can spend days in hospital emergency departments. And some parents and doctors have complained about the quality and amount of care they receive from psychiatrists while in the ER.

America's big drugmakers and pharmacy chains are scrambling to respond to hundreds of lawsuits tied to the deadly opioid epidemic. Billions of dollars are at stake if the companies are found liable for fueling the crisis.

Even before judgments are rendered, companies like Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and CVS are already suffering damage to their reputations as evidence in civil suits reveals more about their internal workings.

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