Category Archives: Health

Monster rats in West Hartford?!?

“Lots and lots of rats” are invading the Charter Oak neighborhood in Elmwood, according to today’s Hartford Courant.

“A rat problem that resulted in occasional complaints to health officials has spread over the past 18 months, leading officials to step up efforts to contain the rodents, which Mayor Scott Slifka called a public health risk,” the story said.

“As many as 400 homes in the Charter Oak neighborhood in the South End of town are facing a rodent invasion and residents, running out of solutions, are pleading with the town for help,” the story continued.

Some residents told town officials last night “they were afraid to walk out at night because of the rats. Others said their pets were growing afraid of the rodents – largely brown Norway rats that can measure up to 18 inches from head to tail,” the story said.

Health officials cited 88 “serious offenders” whose failure to keep their garbage secure has helped draw the rats to town, a number that’s frighteningly high. I mean, do you really need inspectors to tell you to keep your trash contained when there are monster rats about?

“To help eradicate the rats, the town is looking to stage a ‘mass-kill’ in mid-September. Town Manager James Francis said the project could cost the town roughly $250,000 and residents may have to pay between $100 and $200 – which could be reimbursed – as part of neighborhood-wide project. Specific costs, dates and details of the mass-kill plan are pending,” the story said.

You have to love it. We have no money for Middle School Quest but we’re devoting a quarter million to killing rats. So much for our image, eh?



Filed under Charter Oak, Elmwood, Health, News, Public safety, rats

‘Plan B’ should pass soon

It appears that state legislators are ready to pass a bill that wouild require any hospital in Connecticut to provide the so-called Plan B emergency contraceptive to rape victims.

“We’ve been patient,” state Sen. Jonathan Harris of West Hartford told the Associated Press today.

The measure has been held up by four Catholic hospitals, including St. Francis, who claim it might infringe on their religious beliefs. Whether that’s true or not, I leave to the theologists. But hospitals are for providing medical treatment, not promoting anyone’s religion. They should not have a choice about whether to offer contraceptives to rape victims. In fact, they should not be able to deny any legitimate medical service solely for religious reasons. They are hospitals, not churches.

I’m proud of Sen. Harris for standing up for what’s right, as he usually does.

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Filed under Catholic Church, General Assembly, Health, hospitals, Jonathan Harris, medicine, News, Plan B, rape

Stop & Shop strike

If the workers at Stop & Shop go out on strike, I’ll shop elsewhere. I’m sure many others will, too.

But it’s distressing to hear from some of the workers that this fight is not quite what it seems. Stop & Shop’s management wants to require that its union workers pay at least a little bit toward their health care costs. The workers don’t want to do that.

What isn’t said, though, is their health care sucks — and they  get it through their union. They have a crap policy. If they had a better one, most would gladly pay a share of it, but that’ll never happen because if they had a good policy, it would cost too much for Stop & Shop, take money out of union coffers and sock low-paid workers too badly for them to have any coverage at all.

What this strike talk really shows, once again, is how badly we need national health care. Companies can’t afford to offer health insurance with costs soaring year after year, and workers who are struggling as it is can’t keep paying higher shares of the tab. We’ll all go broke.

Can the country as a whole pull it off without going broke, too? Maybe, maybe not. But at least we can make intelligent policy decisions that apply across the board, instead of this awful mishmash of great care existing side by side with no care.

I hope the strike doesn’t happen. These workers can’t afford to stand idle. And Stop & Shop at least has unions. It seems kind of counterproductive to avoid its stores during a strike by shopping someplace else where workers have no say at all.

Ugh. I hate this kind of thing.


Filed under Health, Insurance, News, Stop & Shop, unions

Screwing patients, doctors on lab tests

From the Associated Press today, I learn that my own health care provider, United HealthCare, is turning the screws on doctors who don’t steer patients who have this insurance to use lab tests at centers run by Lab, Inc.

Most everyone around here uses Quest Diagnosis for the simple reason there are about 50 Quest clinics within 30 miles of West Hartford. There are just four Lab clinics, the closest on Woodland Street in Hartford.

Now I have nothing for or against either clinic, and I hate all health insurance companies because they are all greedy and mean, but this is terrible. Sick people should be able to go to the nearest mainstream clinic and use its services without suffering financial harm. And to threaten to fine doctors, too, is just one more ridiculous measure from an industry that abuses people at every turn.

The one good thing about this idiocy is that it will do its little part toward pushing the whole system toward a cheaper, better national health care plan that everyone would have.

This insane patchwork of competing insurance companies raking off billions from an already overly expensive system has got to come to an end. And cheating sick people and doctors is a great way to speed its demise.

But, come on, United HealthCare, do the right thing. Treat your customers and providers with dignity and respect.

Meanwhile, I hope the state insurance regulators or camera-happy Dick Blumenthal will step in.


Filed under Health, Insurance, Medical care, News, Politics