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

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Students of theater, music, and art at the University of Southern Maine may share similar areas of creative interest, but they tend to focus on their own media. In the past few months, that’s changed.

PORTLAND, Maine - Infant mortality is on the rise in Maine, according to the Maine Children's Alliance Annual Kids Count data released Monday. 

Executive Director Claire Berkowitz says from 2005 to 2015, the rate of infant deaths per thousand births rose from 5.6 to 6.7, "a troubling indicator that isn't just about the well-being of babies, but it's about the well-being of a community."

Berkowitz says the increased rate likely signals larger problems, such as lack of access to health care for women, as well as issues with education and poverty.

Maine’s child and teen suicide rate increased 30 percent from 2012 to 2014, according to the Maine Children’s Alliance’s annual Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday.

Executive Director Claire Berkowitz says the current rate is nearly 7 suicides per 100,000 deaths for kids ages 10-19.

“And the national rate is 5.4, so we’re significantly higher than the national rate,” she says.

Berkowitz says it’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the increase, but the suicide rate highlights the need to strengthen Maine’s mental health system.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, chronic disease is one of the leading causes of death and disability in this country — and it’s also the most preventable.

A New Jersey physician who saw a dramatic improvement in her own chronic illness after changing her personal habits is now practicing what’s called “lifestyle medicine,” and a big part of her switch was adapting a plant-based diet. She shared her personal experience at the Maine Nutrition Council’s annual conference.

All four members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation say President Donald Trump’s air strikes against Syria were a proportional response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians. But they say before Trump takes any further action, he must consult with Congress.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District says technically, President Trump should have asked Congress for authorization to carry out Thursday’s air strikes.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Lewiston and Auburn residents who support a proposed merger of the two cities officially kicked off their campaign Thursday.

The group One LA says the two communities would save money and be stronger with one identity. But opponents say a merger is unnecessary and would actually cost money.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Protesters in Lewiston and Portland Wednesday called on Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to reject Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the so-called “nuclear option.”

Standing outside Collins’ office in Lewiston, Renee Cote of Auburn says she hopes the senator will oppose that option, which would change Senate rules to allow Republicans to push Gorsuch’s nomination through with a simple majority vote.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Editor's note: Since being interviewed for this story, the Maine Medical Association has updated its position as neither for nor against the Death with Dignity bills.

This week Maine lawmakers will consider two similar bills that pose the same question: Should terminally ill patients have the right to end their lives?

After the death last week of the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan declared that the ACA was the law of the land for the foreseeable future. But that future is murky, with more reform attempts expected.

You never know if or when love might strike. As Americans’ life expectancy grows, there’s more time — and potentially more opportunities — to find a romantic partner.

The lack of support for the GOP health care bill has Maine consumer advocacy groups and health care providers breathing sighs of relief — for now.

Consumer and provider groups across the U.S., including many in Maine, opposed the Republican bill.

“I’m feeling relief for all of the people who would have lost their health insurance coverage if this bill had moved forward,” says Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is urging local sheriffs and chiefs of police to resist pressure from the Trump administration to participate in immigration enforcement. And the ACLU is warning law enforcement that if they do participate, they’ll face legal liability.

Under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, local towns and cities are expected to provide direct support to U.S. immigration policy. If they don’t, the order threatens to strip them of federal grant funding.

LEWISTON, Maine - The Maine affiliate of Susan G. Komen, an organization dedicated to combating breast cancer, is closing after 20 years. 

Former director Victoria Abbott says declining participation in Komen's largest fundraisers - its races - forced the branch in Bangor to close.

"This year we had 1,700 participants, which was down 1,100 from last year - it was 2,800," Abbott says. "And then we were down about a thousand from the year before."

Abbott says the Bangor branch will close at the end of the month.  

PORTLAND, Maine - A coalition of Maine individuals and organizations Wednesday launched a "Together for Medicaid" campaign to urge Congress to vote against the American Health Care Act. 

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree spoke on the U.S. House floor Wednesday in opposition to the Republican replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act. 

Pingree shared the story of Maine resident Ed Saxby, who has stage 4 cancer, and says he won't be able to afford health insurance without the ACA's tax credits. 

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