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.

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The co-chair of Maine’s Health and Human Services Committee says the state has provided a vague and unsatisfactory response to a federal audit about its failure to adequately protect people with developmental disabilities.

Democratic state Rep. Patty Hymanson says she’s concerned about whether Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services is resolving issues identified in the audit that was released this summer.

Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

As Florida residents grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, several American Red Cross volunteers from Maine have traveled to the state to help.

The number of Maine households that experience food insecurity has increased, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this week. Maine now ranks 7th worst in the country for food insecurity, falling from its previous position as 9th worst.

More than 16 percent of households have limited access to adequate food. That’s higher than the national average of 12 percent, which has been on a downward trend.

As the U.S. Senate holds hearings this week to work toward a possible bipartisan compromise on health care, Maine consumers have some ideas. Not surprisingly, they don’t want to be without insurance, and they don’t want it to be beyond their price range either.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Mainers for Health Care officially launched their campaign to expand Medicaid though a ballot initiative this November.

Dr. Elizabeth Rothe, a family medicine physician at Central Maine Medical Center, says expanding the insurance program will not only help an estimated 70,000 Mainers, it will also help hospitals.

"Caring for patients who cannot pay their bills puts hospital budgets in the red," Rothe says. "It jeopardizes jobs, departments, and even entire hospitals. Maine needs to expand Medicaid."

The future of the first Atlantic marine national monument will likely be decided in court. A lawsuit that challenges the designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument remains on hold, as fishermen’s groups wait to hear specific recommendations from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Two more cases of Jamestown Canyon virus have been identified in Maine. This is the first year that the mosquito-borne disease has been detected in the state, bringing the total number of cases to three. But state epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says it’s unclear whether the virus is more common, or it’s been detected through better testing.

“We just have to be really cautious when there are mosquitoes are around,” says Bennett. “Use the inspect repellant. Cover up. Make sure you are aware of what you can do to prevent bites.”

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will receive more than $600,000 in grant funding to help low-income, first-generation students attend college. 

Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced Wednesday night that the U.S. Department of Education awarded the Upward Bound program funding, after initially rejecting the university's application due to a formatting error.

Over the past several months Collins and the rest of the Maine congressional delegation urged the Department of Education to reconsider its decision. 

Wednesday’s jackpot for the Powerball lottery is the second largest it’s ever been. At 700 million dollars, the hopes are high for players. But Maine lottery officials are encouraging ‘responsible’ play.

With the prospect of such a large jackpot, it may be tempting to load up on tickets. But Michael Boardman, the director of the Lottery Division of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations, is urging players to avoid buyer’s remorse.

This image was taken at 2:43 pm pm in Lewiston. The peak of the Maine viewing portion of the eclipse was approx. 2:45pm with 60% coverage of the sun by the moon.
Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public

Maine was not in the path of the full solar eclipse this time around, but plenty of people in Portland turned out to catch a peek of a partial eclipse this afternoon. Hundreds took a brief pause in their day to watch the moon gradually cover a little more than half the sun. Though observers here were not in the path of totality, for many, the experience was worth a look.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Imagine this scenario: You work in a store, and you overhear your boss instruct another employee to keep an eye on some customers who just came in because, according to the boss, “those kinds of people” steal. What do you do?

It’s a question that was raised as part of a training this week in Lewiston-Auburn on how to intervene safely in cases of public harassment or violence.

One participant at the training suggests a couple of options.

The Maine-based Environmental Health Strategy Center has joined two lawsuits that challenge the Trump administration’s rule changes to how toxic chemicals are regulated.

Center Deputy Director Patrick MacRoy says the changes allow the Environmental Protection Agency to pick and choose how extensively — or not — to evaluate toxic chemicals.

For the second year in a row, average premiums in Maine’s Affordable Care Act marketplace will see double-digit increases. Maine’s insurance superintendent has approved rate hikes for 2018 plans that range from 18 to 27 percent.

Despite the increase, health policy analysts say the market is not imploding, as President Donald Trump has predicted — but they do say that Congress must take immediate action when it reconvenes in September to stabilize the market.

Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General

The state of Maine is failing to adequately protect people with developmental disabilities, according to a federal report released Thursday.

The U.S. Office of the Inspector General finds that both state and community-based providers do not properly report and investigate critical incidents involving the nearly 3,000 individuals in community based care.

Maine’s insurance superintendent has approved double-digit rate increases for 2018 marketplace health insurance plans.

Average rates will increase between about 18 and 27 percent for plans offered by Community Health Options, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. Steve Butterfield of Consumers for Affordable Health Care says higher health care costs as well the uncertainty the Trump administration has created about the future of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace are to blame.