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

LEWISTON, Maine - Crime in Maine has decreased for the fourth consecutive year, according to the state Department of Public Safety. 

Overall, crime dropped by 7 percent in 2015, though some categories of crime increased, such as rape, which jumped by nearly 5 percent. 

But Cara Courchesne of the Maine Coalition on Sexual Assault says that jump is likely due to better reporting. "We definitely, in terms of people calling our crisis support line, see jumps when there are high-profile cases."

Patty Wight / MPBN

For some, the debate over whether to legalize recreational marijuana in Maine hangs on concerns related to criminal justice or economics. But for others, the central issue is public health.

Patty Wight / MPBN/file

PORTLAND, Maine - For the first time, the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  

Brian Denger, of Biddeford, says he's ecstatic that the drug eteplirsen might soon be available for his 22-year-old son, Patrick, who has the rare genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness.

Joan Seidel / AP file

An Arizona-based company has purchased Fairchild Semiconductor for $2.4 billion. The merger is expected to provide millions in cost savings for ON Semiconductor, but the fate of the Fairchild’s South Portland facility is unclear.

Patty Wight / MPBN

LEWISTON, Maine - Maine business leaders say a ballot question that would increase education funding is flawed.  Question 2 would add a 3 percent tax on incomes greater than $200,000 to support schools. 

But at a press conference in Portland today, Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors said that under the state funding formula many communities would not receive any extra funding.

Maine Medical Center

Maine Medical Center announced Wednesday it’s planning a $512 million renovation and expansion. The project would modernize the facility and add more single-patient rooms, which hospital officials say are becoming the standard for care of patients with increasingly complex health issues.

When Dr. Joel Botler began practicing at Maine Medical Center 37 years ago, the patients who came through the hospital’s doors typically had just a single health problem that needed to be treated.

“Those days are over,” he says.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services is preparing to shift some responsibility for a welfare-to-work program to a private company. New York-based Fedcap Rehabilitation Services has been awarded the $63 million contract, but advocates for those on welfare say the company’s proposal raises red flags.

Patty Wight / MPBN

A recent study shows that medical errors are likely the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The findings by researchers at Johns Hopkins were controversial, but one of the takeaways has been that the health care system should take lessons from aviation.

A federal judge has dismissed federal claims by nurse Kaci Hickox that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and state health officials violated her constitutional rights when they quarantined her after she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa in 2014.

But one of Hickox’s attorneys, Steve Hyman, says two state claims in the lawsuit can move forward for false imprisonment and defamation.

“Against Gov. Christie, who called her sick and that she was ill and therefore was properly detained, when in fact she was not ill,” he says.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Open up a refrigerator and the chances of finding limp lettuce or soggy squash are pretty high. Here in the U.S., it’s likely that this food will find its way into the garbage — according to the USDA, at least 30 percent of the nation’s food supply is wasted.

A new program launched Wednesday by ecomaine aims to get that food out of the trash and give it a second life as compost or energy.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's only insurance co-op will leave the New Hampshire market in 2017, two years after it first entered. 

Community Health Options CEO Kevin Lewis says exiting New Hampshire will help the co-op recover after losing more than $30 million in 2015 due to higher-than-expected claims costs.

"We're leaving New Hampshire as of 2017 to concentrate our capital in Maine, and to continue our effort to strengthen our position here," Lewis says.

LEWISTON, Maine - Amid calls by Democratic lawmakers for Gov. Paul LePage to resign, Maine State Chamber of Commerce CEO Dana Connors says whether or not LePage can effectively govern for the rest of his term depends on his response to the continued fallout over an obscenity-laced voicemail he recently left for a Democratic lawmaker. 

AUBURN, Maine - Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin and the CEO of a Maine textile company say they've scored a victory against unfair trade agreements. 

At a press conference today at Auburn Manufacturing, CEO Kathie Leonard said her company has lost 30 percent of market share over the last three years and 20 percent of her workforce due to China illegally subsidizing silica textiles. 

But last week, the Department of Commerce announced it's imposing a 162 percent duty on those Chinese textiles.

The U.S. attorney's office says the Northern Maine Medical Center has agreed to pay $125,000 to settle allegations over handling, documentation and destruction of drugs.

Hospital officials say the dispute is about record keeping, not missing medicines or quality of care.  They maintain the hospital did nothing wrong, and the settlement is to avoid a costly legal battle with the federal government. 

The Gulf of Maine’s blue mussel population is all but disappearing in the inter-tidal zone, according to ecologists at the University of California, Irvine. The population has declined by more than 60% over the past 40 years.

Ten years ago, before Cascade Sorte became an assistant professor of ecology at the University of California, Irvine, she was a postdoctoral researcher in Massachusetts, where she started to hear rumors about blue mussels.

“So people were seeing blue mussels did not appear to be as abundant as they had once been,” says Sorte.

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