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.
 
POLL QUESTION
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 …
MAINE FOCUS (blog)

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 …
MAINE FOCUS

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 …
MAINE FOCUS

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 (blog)

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 …
CAMPAIGN 2014

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 …
POLL QUESTION
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 …

Fort Kent hospital cited for altering medical records of patient who reported domestic abuse

By Jackie Farwell on July 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m.
FORT KENT, Maine — Northern Maine Medical Center violated federal standards when its chief executive ordered the alteration of a patient’s medical records, according to an investigation by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. NMMC CEO Peter Sirois ordered changes to the records of a patient who visited …
VITAL SIGNS (blog)

Vital Signs: Political battle heats up over nursing home funds

on July 17, 2014, at 11:06 a.m.
Since the legislative session ended, Gov. Paul LePage and Republicans have attacked Democrats for refusing to call a special session to hammer out a deal to provide more funds for Maine’s nursing homes. In the meantime, two rural nursing homes have closed, citing untenable finances and a lack of patients. Now, …

Pittsfield nursing home to close, citing financial pressures

By Jackie Farwell on July 10, 2014, at 5:27 p.m.
PITTSFIELD, Maine — After nearly three decades, a Pittsfield nursing home plans to close its doors in early September, citing financial pressures faced by many other rural nursing facilities throughout the state. The family-owned Pittsfield Rehab & Nursing announced Thursday it will cease operations effective Sept. 5. The 57-bed home …

Mechanical issues cause CAT scan machines at Maine Medical Center to malfunction

By Jackie Farwell on July 10, 2014, at 4:59 p.m.
PORTLAND, Maine — Both CAT scan machines at Maine Medical Center’s Bramhall Street campus malfunctioned Thursday, leading some patients to visit another hospital for medical imaging. The machines went down Thursday morning because of mechanical issues, said Maine Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Pierter. The hospital anticipated the equipment would come …
VITAL SIGNS (blog)

Vital Signs: Anti-abortion group still suing despite repeal of buffer zone

on July 10, 2014, at 11:41 a.m.
Portland’s repeal of the 39-foot no-protest zone around the city’s only abortion clinic won’t likely end the legal drama over restriction of anti-abortion demonstrators in the area. Erin Kuenzig, attorney for the Thomas More Law Center representing a group of anti-abortion demonstrators who sued the city over the buffer zone, said …
VITAL SIGNS (blog)

No ticks allowed: Maine kids take on Lyme awareness

on July 09, 2014, at 11:55 a.m.
Grace VanBuskirk may only be in third grade, but the Owls Head student has a wish many of us share: A world free of ticks. Impossible? Sure. But Grace knows how to at least keep herself free of ticks. She’s one of three winners of the Maine Center for Disease Control and …
VITAL SIGNS (blog)

Vital Signs newsletter: Rare infection claims 2 Maine lives in 6 months

on July 03, 2014, at 11:13 a.m.
When a rare bacterial infection claimed the life of 18-year-old Benjamin LaMontagne in February, barely six months had passed since a Bangor mother died from the disease just shy of age 30. Both LaMontagne and Heather Nichols were young. Both appeared otherwise healthy. Both developed the rare, sudden infection, necrotizing fasciitis, just days after routine medical …
INFOGRAPHIC & POLL QUESTION

CDC: Maine tops nation in rate of long-term opiate prescriptions

By Jackie Farwell on July 03, 2014, at 9:31 a.m.
Health care providers in Maine wrote prescriptions for a commonly abused type of painkiller at the highest rate in the nation in 2012, according to a new federal report that found wide variations in prescribing patterns across the U.S. State officials noted that since then, the number of Mainers in …
Benjamin E. LaMontagne

‘Flesh-eating’ infection claims 2 Maine lives in 6 months, advocacy group calls treatment ‘tragically inadequate’

By Jackie Farwell on July 02, 2014, at 4:55 p.m.
When a rare bacterial infection claimed the life of 18-year-old Benjamin LaMontagne in February, barely six months had passed since a Bangor mother died from the disease just shy of age 30. Both LaMontagne and Heather Nichols were young. Both appeared otherwise healthy. Both developed the rare, sudden infection, necrotizing …

How to spot necrotizing fasciitis

By Jackie Farwell on July 02, 2014, at 4:54 p.m.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a severe bacterial infection that spreads rapidly and destroys the body’s soft tissue, such as skin and muscle. The infection can strike randomly. But individuals with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly and those with chronic diseases, are at higher risk. Symptoms may start hours after …

Lewiston insurance agent allegedly persuaded ill man to cash in life insurance policy

By Jackie Farwell on June 26, 2014, at 4:26 p.m.
The family of a chronically ill Auburn man who was unscrupulously persuaded into cashing in his life insurance policy will be repaid more than $160,000, the state insurance bureau announced Thursday. Paul E. Richard, a Lewiston insurance agent who represented American Equity, allegedly advised the man to surrender a $100,000 …
 
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