Patty Wight

News Producer

Patty Wight joined MPBN after working as a freelance radio reporter. She has produced pieces for National Public Radio programs such as All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She produced a 5-part documentary series on Maine’s gubernatorial campaign for Maine Things Considered in 2010. Patty also taught at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, where she first got hooked on radio as a student herself in 2000. After graduating, she immediately sought an internship with MPBN. She’s very happy to return as a reporter.

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The smoking rate among American adults is declining, according to a report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control.

In 2015, 15 percent of U.S. adults were smokers, a 2 percent reduction from the previous year. Lance Boucher of the American Lung Association of the Northeast says Maine’s adult smoking rate is also declining, but trends higher than the national average.

“We’ve been stuck in the 19 or 20 percent range for the last couple of years, through 2014 data,” he says.

Maine Governor Paul LePage (R)
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Governor Paul LePage has signed onto a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s guidance around bathroom rights for trangender students.

Patty Wight / MPBN

The Oxford Casino is expanding.

Casino owners, lawmakers and Gov. Paul LePage broke ground Tuesday on a new hotel due to open in 2017. The project will include more than 100 new guest rooms and an expansion of the gaming floor.

“We are honored to continue investing in this community, to create new jobs, and generate economic development, both for Oxford and surrounding communities,” says Bill Mudd, chief operating officer of Churchill Downs, the company that owns the Oxford Casino.

LePage praised Churchill Downs for bringing jobs to Maine.

A new study finds that people of French-Canadian descent are more likely to have a genetic disease called Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome, or FCS. This disease puts them at greater risk for acute pancreatitis – a painful, sometimes fatal condition. Researchers say the study shows the need for more and better screening – and effective treatment.

Yasmeen / Flickr/Creative Commons

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved an overhaul on food nutrition labels. Among the changes is a requirement to include the amount of added sugar in products.

Dr. Tory Rogers of Let’s Go, a childhood obesity prevention program, says that information will be a huge help for consumers.

“The added sugar is one of the biggest issues people have right now when consuming food, and that has a lot of negative health consequences,” she says.

Caroline Losneck / MPBN

The city-run India Street Health Center in Portland will be managed by a private, nonprofit health center by July of next year. Portland city councilors approved a city budget Monday night that draws to a close a contentious debate about the fate of the longstanding clinic.

LEWISTON, Maine - A Massachusetts man died last Saturday while on a commercial rafting trip on the Dead River.

Michael Arena, 52, was chaperoning a Boy Scout trip when he fell out of a raft carrying seven people, including his son. Corporal John MacDonald, of the Maine Warden Service, says the cause of death has yet to be determined.

"Fatal accidents related to rafting is very, very rare," MacDonald says. "We haven't had one in several years."

As Maine voters consider legalizing recreational marijuana through a ballot initiative this fall, highway safety officials are concerned about drug-impaired driving. AAA of Northern New England and the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety hosted a summit on the issue in Portland today. Researchers and experts say policy makers and law enforcement don't have the tools they need to address drug-impaired driving.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Saturday is graduation day for the Maine Law School in Portland. Among those crossing the stage to receive a diploma will be Chris Poulos. It’s a big moment for the 33-year-old Poulos, a former substance abuser with a felony conviction.

Patty Wight / MPBN

In April, families across the U.S. traveled to Maryland to urge a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee to support a landmark drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Insurance carriers that offer health plans on Maine’s online marketplace are proposing double digit rate increases for 2017.

About 84,000 Mainers bought plans on the marketplace last year. But the news is not necessarily all bad for consumers.

Four carriers: Anthem, Aetna, Harvard Pilgrim and Community Health Options want premium increases that range from about 14 to 22 percent. Mike Gendreau of Community Health Options says the proposed rates are a change for the insurance co-op.

Mainers who planned ahead and bought insurance to cover the cost of end-of-life care are seeing premiums that held steady for years suddenly skyrocket.

Now some policyholders of long-term care insurance are reducing their benefits to afford the cost of their plans or forfeiting them altogether. Maine’s insurance superintendent is looking for ways to offer plans that are affordable for both insurance companies and consumers.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services is on the cusp of expanding efforts to respond to the problem of lead poisoning.

It’s a welcome development for some who criticized DHHS earlier this year for failing to act more quickly in connection with a new state law that tightened lead poisoning standards and allocated $1 million toward implementation. There are also concerns about lead in drinking fountains in Bangor Schools.

For the first time, manufacturers who use hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates in their products have reported their use to the state of Maine. A new report released Thursday by the Environmental Health Strategy Center reveals that phthalates are in more household items than previously thought.

A new study indicates that medical errors are believed to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are calling for more transparency to get a better handle on how to respond to the problem.

The problem of medical errors isn’t new. But at an estimated quarter of a million deaths per year, it’s just much bigger than what was previously thought.

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