Patty Wight

News Producer

Patty is a graduate of the University of Vermont and a multiple award-winning reporter for Maine Public Radio. Her specialty is health coverage: from policy stories to patient stories, physical health to mental health and anything in between. Patty joined Maine Public Radio in 2012 after producing stories as a freelancer for NPR programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She got hooked on radio at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, and hasn’t looked back ever since.

Ways to Connect

Portland landlord Gregory Nisbet has been acquitted of manslaughter in the deaths of six people who died in a fire at his Noyes Street property two years ago.

BENTON, Maine - State toxicologists are investigating high lead levels in the water at Benton Elementary School. The school shut off water used for drinking and cooking after lead was found.

One test found lead levels more than 40 times the federal standard. The general manager of the Kennebec Water District Jeff LaCasse says the source is likely within the school.

“Most of the time, the solution to this, or the mitigation, is to replace the problem areas, whether it’s pipes or fixtures or both,” LaCasse said.

Cullen Ryan Speaks Out Against Proposed DHHS Rules Changes
Patty Wight/MPBN

Families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are urging Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services to abandon a proposed rule change that they say would impinge on services for their loved ones.

Pat Wellenbach / The Associated Press

LEWISTON, Maine -- Maine’s assistant Senate majority leader, Republican Andre Cushing, is being sued by his sister.

PORTLAND, Maine - Over the weekend, York police responded to a 24-year-old man who overdosed on elephant tranquilizer.

Sgt. John Lizanecz says carfentanil is the lastest synthetic opioid that's being mixed with heroin, and it's 10,000 more times powerful than morphine. 

"If you touch skin-to-skin on this, even a couple of grains - they liken it to granules of salt - can kill you, if it touches your skin, or if you inhale it," Lizanecz says.

Tadin Brown serves customers at Coffee by Design in Portland.
Patty Wight / Maine Public Radio

This November, Maine voters will decide whether to raise the state’s minimum wage, now at $7.50 an hour, to $12 an hour by 2020. Supporters and opponents are divided over whether such a boost would stimulate the economy or stall it.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Today in Portland, a coalition of health advocates launched a citizen initiative campaign to expand access to health care. Supporters say it’s time to put the issue of Medicaid expansion directly to Maine voters, after several measures in the legislature have been vetoed by Governor Paul LePage.

Maine is one of 19 states that has opted not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. For Kathleen Phelps of Waterville, who can’t afford health insurance it has created a coverage gap.

As Mainers get ready to cast their votes for five citizen initiatives this November, a group of health advocates are already preparing for future ballot measures. Maine Equal Justice Partners will launch a signature drive Thursday aimed at putting expanded access to health care before voters in 2018.

Six previous attempts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have appeared before the Maine Legislature, but were vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage. Now health advocates will launch an effort to take the issue directly to the voters.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

You won’t typically find cracked tomatoes, curved cucumbers or two-legged carrots at the grocery store. Imperfect produce is a tough sell for consumers, so it’s often abandoned in farm fields.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Maine’s textile industry had its heyday a century ago, but one company in Portland sees a bright future in textile manufacturing and is producing garments stitched from 100 percent American-made materials. As they did a 100 years ago, immigrants are the workforce that’s helping to fuel this new textile industry into the future.

A longstanding mail carrier for Swan’s Island and Frenchboro has been restored to his position after he lost the contract over a dispute with the U.S. Postal Service.

For nearly three decades, LJ Hopkins delivered both mail and freight items to island residents. But last spring, USPS told him he could not combine the deliveries.

After Hopkins filed suit, the postal service amended the contract. But Hopkins’ attorney Keith Harriton says the ultimate victory was when Hopkins was awarded the position last Thursday.

A former state health director says Maine’s rising infant mortality rate is likely due to a lack of public health nurses.

Dr. Lani Graham told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee Thursday that there are more than 40 positions, but at most, 25-30 are filled. Graham says that’s not enough to do home visits to new mothers and babies to assess and support their health.

“We used to have the lowest infant mortality in the country, and we now have 13th highest from the worst,” she says.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The Maine Heritage Policy Center released a report Wednesday that says a ballot measure that would raise the minimum wage in Maine would eliminate jobs and drive up the cost of goods and services.

The Policy Center is joined in its opposition by some Maine businesses that don’t support a statewide mandate, despite the fact that they already pay above the minimum wage.

Maine is one of 18 states that defended the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Supporters of the plan say it’s a landmark move to impose limits on carbon pollution and help address climate change.

If the Clean Power Plan holds up in court, it would require power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says upholding that standard is critical.

LEWISTON, Maine - Crime in Maine has decreased for the fourth consecutive year, according to the state Department of Public Safety. 

Overall, crime dropped by 7 percent in 2015, though some categories of crime increased, such as rape, which jumped by nearly 5 percent. 

But Cara Courchesne of the Maine Coalition on Sexual Assault says that jump is likely due to better reporting. "We definitely, in terms of people calling our crisis support line, see jumps when there are high-profile cases."