Jack Rodolico

Health & Science Reporter

As NHPR's Health and Science Reporter, Jack covers a far-ranging beat: public health, private insurance, hospitals, scientific research, drug addiction, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare, mental illness and developmental disabilities. Before joining NHPR in August 2014, Jack was a freelance  reporter. His work aired on NPR, BBC, Marketplace and 99% Invisible, and he wrote for the Christian Science Monitor and Northern Woodlands.

Jack comes from a rowdy family of Italians who wave their hands in the air while talking, and he competed for attention as a child by telling the loudest story. 

Follow Jack tweets about health and science news, and everything else he's tracking.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Eric Fleming

One of New Hampshire’s largest landlords, Brady Sullivan Properties, is under scrutiny from city, state and federal regulators for lead contamination in one of its buildings in Manchester. 

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham is telling employees it plans to close as early as August 1. This comes amid new reports of a sexual assault at the facility.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

In recent months, tenants of Manchester's Mill West complex have been complaining of construction-related lead dust in their apartments. The building's developer, Brady Sullivan Properties, has faced scrutiny from state and municipal health agencies over the issue. Compiled from news reports, interviews with regulators, and tenant correspondence, the timeline below tracks the developments in this ongoing story.

Flicker/M&R Glasgow

As of July 1, all babies born in New Hampshire will be screened for a rare genetic disorder.

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder, or SCID, is often called “the bubble boy disease.” Trish Tilley with the Department of Health and Human Services explains why.  

"This is when babies just really can’t fight off any infection," says Tilley. "It’s a very rare, inherited disorder."

Liz West via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8DoUxw

More than one-third of New Hampshire children experience one of the most preventable childhood diseases: tooth decay.

Jack Rodolico

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action against Brady Sullivan Properties because of lead contamination.

The order demands Brady Sullivan clean up a mixed commercial and luxury apartment building in Manchester by July 15, and lays the groundwork for EPA to potentially fine or sue the landlord.

In May, Brady Sullivan hired a contractor to do sandblasting in Mill West, a converted mill. The contractor didn’t have the proper permits, and spread lead dust into more than three-quarters of the apartments above.

Jack Rodolico

As the next state budget takes shape, Gov. Maggie Hassan and legislative leaders have been debating how to fund New Hampshire's mental health system. The state spends more than $100 million each year providing these services, and one word sums up the sentiment in the mental health community right now: uncertainty.

  Case in point, a construction site at New Hampshire Hospital.

Brady-Sullivan Properties

Twenty Manchester residents are suing one of New Hampshire’s largest landlords for lead contamination in their apartments.

The state has announced which companies will be allowed to move forward with plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

Last November, our newsroom got an email from a guy in Manchester who said he wanted to share his story of spice addiction. He said: “It was not long for the culture of Spice within the city to suck my soul into the black hole.”

Jack Rodolico

The state is giving a first look at insurance networks for 2016 under the Affordable Care Act.

Every hospital in the state will be covered by at least two of the insurance plans that will be sold on Healthcare.gov in 2016. There will also be an uptick in the total number of plans over this year.

Two of the smallest insurers on New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange are drafting big rate increases for plans they’ll offer in 2016.

To be clear, it’s just a draft. But Maine Community Health Options is considering raising premiums about 20 percent over this year, and Minuteman Health is in the 40 to 50 percent range.

Aaron P. Bernstein Getty Images

Anthem is partnering with Southern New Hampshire University to offer a free college education to all its employees.

Two years ago, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire started a pilot program with SNHU’s College for America, which helps working adults complete a bachelor’s or associates degree for $2,500 per year or less. Now Anthem New Hampshire’s parent company, which operates in 14 states, will expand the program to any employee working more than 20 hours per week.

Jack Rodolico

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center will close its doors. This follows months of scrutiny after documented cases of abuse and neglect.

Lakeview CEO Chris Slover says if the state won’t allow the facility’s special education school to remain open, then he will not be able to keep the entire facility open – that includes an 88-bed treatment facility for people with brain injuries and other disabilities.

"I don’t have a choice. What they’re asking us to do is unrealistic," Slover says.

David Wilson/Imelda via Flickr CC

As with other health markers, N.H. consistently ranks high in measures of youth dental health and, overall, the state of children's teeth in New Hampshire is strong.

But in some of the state's least affluent areas, health outcomes are generally poor, and dental health is no exception. 

Jack Rodolico

You probably never would have guessed it, but one of the front lines of public health in New Hampshire is on the second floor of an elementary school in Claremont - in a storage closet. Here a dental hygienist meets with a second grade girl to talk teeth.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tick season is back, and so is another year of mostly preventable cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

While blacklegged ticks – also called deer ticks – will be active until the fall, from now until July is when the nymphs, or young ones, are most active. Nymphs are tiny and hard to find, which makes the risk to contract Lyme, babesiosis and anaplasmosis highest starting right now.

But more dangerous than the diseases themselves, says Alan Eaton, an entomologist with UNH, is the lack of public awareness about these illnesses.

loveiswritten via Flickr Creative Commons

State officials say New Hampshire faces a critical shortage of foster families for a growing number of children.

About 1,000 kids will enter the public system this year, yet there are only 600 licensed foster homes, and many of those are not prepared to take in a child at this time.

Michelle Galligan with Child and Family Services in Manchester says the state is particularly struggling to find homes for sibling groups, sometimes with up to four children at a time. And the problem has gotten worse in recent years.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham is appealing the state’s decision to revoke its special education license. The facility is currently under heavy scrutiny by state regulators for abuse and neglect of people with disabilities and brain injuries.

Lakeview has also hired a new executive director, who was formerly an employee for New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services. And Lakeview has hired a new director of special education as it appeals the state’s decision to revoke its license.

Jack Rodolico

Healthcare reform has brought lots of changes, but here’s what hasn’t changed: healthcare is still expensive, and the price tag is still rising.

Mark Galvin founded of a string of tech companies on the Seacoast. And he says one thing has dampened all their prospects: the crushing cost of healthcare.

"Every time I went to start a new company, it went from being kind of a nonissue, to a little bit of an issue, to a bigger issue, to a giant issue," says Galvin.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

A study out of Dartmouth suggests New Hampshire is making good progress in the fight against prostate cancer.

New Hampshire doctors are increasingly doing what the medical community recommends: treating high-risk prostate cancer with surgery and radiation, but leaving low-risk cancer alone, and simply monitoring it.

DavidWilson1949 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Senate Finance Committee will consider funding for the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

The Senate will take up the House budget, which ends funding for the state’s expanded Medicaid program, suspends ServiceLink - which connects elderly and disabled residents with funding and services - and delays a 10-bed mental health crisis unit at New Hampshire Hospital by one year.

While the House budget increased the Health and Human Services budget $110 million over the previous year, it fell $200 million short of Governor Hassan’s proposed budget.

Jack Rodolico

There’s an upside and a downside to being an independent massage therapist.

Upside: no boss. You work for yourself. Downside: no boss. There’s no employer to provide health insurance.

"So then the Affordable Care Act was coming around," says Rachelle Lowe, a masseuse in Concord, "what I found was it wasn’t as affordable as I thought. And the deductibles are outrageous, so at this time I’m still not insured."

Courtesy the Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

New reports commissioned by Governor Maggie Hassan have found state regulators failed to protect residents from abuse and neglect at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham.

The reports come as the Department of Education - after repeated attempts to push Lakeview into compliance with state regulations - announces it will shut down the Lakeview School. 

The state will now reevaluate how it regulates the facility’s residential program.

Thomas Fearon

The Manchester VA Hospital must pay $21 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

According to the federal judge who heard the case, a 60-year-old veteran in Bennington suffered a horrific ordeal that left him trapped inside his own body – and the event was entirely preventable.

After Michael Farley suffered a stroke in 2010, VA doctors failed to give him the proper medications to prevent a second stroke.  Medical staff also poorly coordinated Farley's care.

U.S. Attorney's Office, District of N.H.

Two New Hampshire men have pleaded guilty to trafficking a huge amount of synthetic cannabis, also called spice, valued at about $4 million.

One year ago, undercover officers traced spice being sold in convenience stores in Hooksett and Londonderry back to two men producing the stuff at three locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Officers found 3,000 pounds of spice, scales, boxes of empty packages, and residue of a controlled substance called AB-FUBINACA.

After pleading guilty, defendants Kyle Hurley, 32, and Robert Costello, 71, could face decades in prison.

Twitter

Hackers took credit for briefly taking down government-run websites in New Hampshire and Maine today.

An attack on the third-party server that hosts Visit N-H.gov and Maine.gov brought the websites down for about an hour this morning. A self-described “hacking crew” called Vikingdom2015 took credit for it on Twitter.

Child and Family Services

As the temperature dips below freezing tonight, activists and business leaders will sleep outside in Manchester’s Stanton Park to raise money and awareness for youth homelessness.

The timing is no coincidence. Manchester’s daytime homeless shelter recently slashed its hours due to lack of funding. The city is also considering a panhandling ban.

Cathy Schmidt, CEO of McLane Law Firm, says her headlamp and sleeping bag are packed.

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