Jackie Farwell

Jackie Farwell

Health Editor

Jackie Farwell of Gorham is the health care editor for the Bangor Daily News. Farwell began her career with the newspaper after graduating from the University of Maine's journalism program in 2004. She left in 2006 for a job with The Associated Press in New York, later returning to Maine to become a senior writer at business magazine Mainebiz. Farwell rejoined the Bangor Daily News in 2011 and works from the Portland area. She covers health issues that directly affect Maine residents.

Robin Williams’ death highlights sharp rise in suicides among baby boomers

on Aug. 12, 2014, at 12:01 p.m.
Robin Williams’ death from an apparent suicide has the nation talking about a public health problem we often avoid. Suicide now claims more American lives each year than car crashes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 100 people die from suicide every day in …
Mikeal Van Mierlo, 11, (from top) Danika Hluska, 10, Anneke Van Mierlo, 7, and Matheo Van Mierlo, 11, perform an areal stunt at a Circus Atlantic class in Yarmouth on Thursday. Circus Atlantic is the recreational arm of the Circus Conservatory of America.

Come one, come all: Harvard-trained former mime researches health benefits of circus arts

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 11, 2014, at 1:33 p.m.
YARMOUTH, Maine — Mikeal Van Mierlo grasps two sticks, one in each hand, connected by a long string. In the middle, the 11-year-old balances an hourglass-shaped rubber “diabolo,” a pair of cups joined at the base by a narrow spool. He furiously pumps his hands, spinning the diabolo back and …

Maine medical malpractice insurer records big drop in claims, but attorney says system is stacked against patients

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 08, 2014, at 12:32 p.m.
The company that insures most Maine doctors and hospitals against malpractice has seen claims drop by more than half over the past decade, citing improved care and communication with patients among the many reasons. But one of the state’s most experienced medical malpractice lawyers argues that Maine law favors doctors …

Vital Signs: EMHS in talks to add Ellsworth hospital

on Aug. 07, 2014, at 10:04 a.m.
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is again expanding its footprint, less than a year after adding Portland’s Mercy Health System of Maine to its collection of hospitals. Now, the Brewer-based health system is in talks to bring Maine Coast Memorial Hospital into the fold, a move that would mark the end of the …
Curt Spalding, New England regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, talks about clean air and global warming in Portland.

‘The air is bad’: Mainers support new limits on power plant emissions

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 06, 2014, at 4:14 p.m.
PORTLAND, Maine — Dr. Tony Owens stood before a federal environmental regulator Wednesday and described his most recent shift in the emergency department at Maine Medical Center. “I worked my shift in the ED yesterday and admitted three people with respiratory problems: an asthmatic, a COPD patient and a young …

EMHS in talks to add Ellsworth hospital to system

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 05, 2014, at 2:03 p.m.
ELLSWORTH, Maine — Maine Coast Memorial Hospital is considering joining Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, a move that would mark the end of the Ellsworth hospital’s nearly 60 years as an independent organization. Maine Coast Memorial and Brewer-based EMHS, the state’s second-largest health system, signed a letter of intent Monday, according …

Don’t panic about Ebola patients stopping in Bangor

on Aug. 05, 2014, at 9:06 a.m.
A second American aid worker who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa landed at Bangor International Airport this morning, aboard a medical transport plane stopping to refuel.  Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, the expected passenger, was on her way from Liberia to be treated by infectious disease specialists in a special isolation …

Is your antibacterial soap safe? UMaine researchers study common ingredient

on Aug. 01, 2014, at 12:21 p.m.
Examine the label on one of the many antibacterial products in your home, and you’ll likely find “triclosan” listed as an ingredient. The antimicrobial chemical was once used only in hospitals, but in the 1990s manufacturers began adding it to soaps, body washes, toothpaste, deodorants, facial cleansers, and countless other personal …

How much, Doc? New laws aim to help Maine consumers understand medical bills

By Jackie Farwell on July 31, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.
Sashie Misner of Harrison took her 16-year-old son to the local hospital last fall for an inflamed appendix. With no health insurance, she knew she’d get hit with a bill. She asked what their options were and how much to expect. Her son was in stable condition, so Misner inquired …

Vital Signs: 10 years of tracking prescription pills

on July 31, 2014, at 12:12 p.m.
Maine’s prescription monitoring program turns 10 years old this month. Upon its founding in July 2004, Maine envisioned the potential to identify patients who “doctor shop” — visiting multiple medical practices to score narcotics and other drugs — and prevent the diversion and abuse of painkillers. After a decade of monitoring in …

Two Mainers who recently visited Caribbean sickened by chikungunya virus

By Jackie Farwell on July 30, 2014, at 5:43 p.m.
Two Maine residents who recently traveled to the Caribbean returned home with the chikungunya virus, marking the state’s first cases of the mosquito-borne infection in 2014. The individuals — a man from Kennebec County and a woman from Oxford County —- had traveled separately to the Dominican Republic, according to …
These household products, among many others, contain chemicals call phthalates, which are potentially toxic.

Dozens call on Maine to regulate chemicals found in plastic household products

By Jackie Farwell on July 29, 2014, at 3:08 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine — More than 70 people called on the LePage administration Tuesday to require disclosure of potentially dangerous chemicals commonly found in consumer products. At a hearing before the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, parents, doctors, business owners and public health experts asked the agency to step up regulation …

Pain as the fifth vital sign: VA initiative reshaped treatment approaches

on July 29, 2014, at 8:33 a.m.
In the practice of medicine, four measurements have long served as indicators of the body’s basic functions: pulse, breathing, temperature, and blood pressure. In 1999, the Veterans Health Administration — the country’s largest government-run health care system — proposed a fifth vital sign: pain. The concept was initially promoted by the …

Prescription tracking at 10: Maine police, doctors, lawmakers disagree on more stringent monitoring, even as drug abuse picture improves

By Jackie Farwell on July 27, 2014, at 6:01 a.m.
Part 2 of a 2-part series Brent Gallant will never forget the moment that launched his 15 years of prescription drug addiction. “I remember the first day I took a Vicodin, to a tee,” says the 44-year-old lobsterman from Brunswick. It was nearly two decades ago. Gallant worked for a …

Prescription tracking at 10: Why it still has much to prove, but could be Maine’s best weapon against drug abuse

By Jackie Farwell on July 25, 2014, at 2:13 p.m.
Part 1 of a 2-part series Anne Perry offered her longtime patient a choice. The patient was prescribed painkillers for chronic pain. She also complained of anxiety and asked for benzodiazepines, an addictive class of medications that includes Xanax and Valium, which opiate abusers often take to enhance their high. …

Long absence of veteran data from prescription monitoring program to end

By Jackie Farwell on July 25, 2014, at 2:11 p.m.
In 2004, Maine’s prescription monitoring program was launched in response to drug abuse taking hold in the state’s rural counties. Kurt Johnston, then a staff pharmacist at the VA Maine Health Care System in Togus, saw an opportunity to address the growing problem of opiate addiction among patients. He and …

The basics of Maine’s prescription monitoring program

By Jackie Farwell on July 25, 2014, at 2:10 p.m.
Maine’s prescription monitoring program was implemented in July 2004, after the passage of establishing legislation in 2003. How it works Registered users can look up their patients online by name and birth date. Pharmacies, both in and out of state, submit data weekly, and are expected to begin updating the …

Vital Signs: Dueling rulings over Obamacare subsidies

on July 24, 2014, at 11:15 a.m.
The Affordable Care Act is no stranger to the court room. First came the U.S. Supreme Court challenge over the constitutionality of its key requirement that all Americans get health insurance or pay a penalty. More recently, the country’s highest court ruled that owners of some private companies can object on …

Maine gubernatorial candidates react to split ACA verdicts

By Jackie Farwell on July 22, 2014, at 6:16 p.m.
Dueling court verdicts issued Tuesday over the legality of financial subsidies provided to Americans under the Affordable Care Act elicited quick response from Maine’s gubernatorial candidates. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the federal government can’t legally administer health insurance subsidies in Maine …
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday threw out a federal regulation that implements key subsidies that are vital to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Federal courts disagree over Obamacare, creating uncertainty about Mainers’ health insurance subsidies

By Jackie Farwell on July 22, 2014, at 11:12 a.m.
Tens of thousands of Mainers could pay much more for health insurance if a legal blow dealt Tuesday to Obamacare by a federal appeals court is upheld. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the federal government can’t legally administer health insurance subsidies in …
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