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

File photo / MPBN

Advocates for raising the federal minimum wage are ramping up a social media campaign to urge lawmakers to take action when Congress resumes next week.  One of their targets is Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins.  Collins is seen as having a key role in bringing a filibustered bill back on the floor.  But election year politics may get in the way of any movement on the issue.  


Patty Wight / MPBN

SACO, Maine - Graduates from Thornton Academy in Saco will soon be able to earn a college degree in three years. Thornton and the University of New England today announced a partnership where students who excel in certain coursework can enter UNE as a sophomore. The goal is to increase access and affordability for those seeking a college degree. It's an option that's becoming increasingly common in higher education.


Tom Porter / MPBN

The Portland Public School Department plans to launch an online program this year. The district is trying to get a slice of the virtual school pie as it faces competition for students — and funding. But some educators remain skeptical of yet another online option. Portland officials say it's an important — and innovative — option for students.

The first day of school is a busy one for Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. He rides his bike to district schools to personally welcome students back.

Patty Wight / MPBN

WELLS, Maine - Much like the tourists who flock to the state's beaches, forests, and mountains, birds from all over the world inhabit the same special places. And 90-year-old June Ficker eagerly anticipates their arrival. For 25 years, she's been banding birds at the Wells Research Reserve and collecting data for national research projects.

YORK, Maine - As of today, the town of York will put marijuana legalization on the ballot this November. The Marijuana Policy Project submitted more than 900 signatures to town officials this afternoon, more than enough needed to qualify for a citizen initiative. It's the third municipality in Maine to send the issue to voters, which is a growing concern for opponents.


Joaquim Alves Gaspar / Wikimedia Commons

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Lurking in Maine's forests, swamps and even backyards are potentially serious diseases. Deer ticks are a source of at least five diseases in the state. Mosquitoes are the source for two others: West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. Their incidence in humans is rare in Maine, but researchers at Maine Medical Center's Vector-borne Disease Lab know they infect animals around us. As Patty Wight reports in the second part of her two-part series, their job is to find out why, and to detect when the viruses emerge in humans.

File photo / MPBN

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Twenty-five years ago, a critter about the size of a poppy seed grabbed the attention of a few researchers at Maine Medical Center. It was the deer tick - a tiny creature that carries a potentially devastating illness: Lyme disease. The researchers formed the Vector-borne Disease Lab to learn more about where deer ticks occur in Maine and about how they spread disease. A quarter of a century later, the lab is as busy as ever. Patty Wight has the first of two stories on the work being done there.

Photo:Manu Brabo /

ROCHESTER, New Hampshire - A New Hampshire photojournalist who was abducted by Islamic militants in Syria has been killed by his captors. James Foley disappeared two years ago while on assignment in Syria for the GlobalPost. Little information about him has surfaced since. On Tuesday, a video released by the Islamic State showed Foley being executed. Patty Wight has more on who James Foley was, and what happened to him.


PORTLAND, Maine - War-zone-like images of Ferguson, Missouri - where unarmed black teen Michael Brown was recently shot to death by a white police officer - are raising questions about the militarization of police. As violent protests have erupted, police armed in tactical gear have deployed military style vehicles and weapons to disperse crowds. Police departments across the country, including here in Maine, have obtained excess military vehicles since the 1990s. Now, some members of Congress are calling for an end to the practice.

Patty Wight / MPBN

FREEPORT, Maine - It was in the late 1800's that a small patch of sand - about the size of a tea cup saucer - appeared on a Freeport farm field. Within a year, that patch of sand had spread to cover 300 acres. The Desert of Maine was born, and ever since visitors have come to see this barren ecological anomaly in the most forested state in the nation.

For the first time since January, Gov. LePage met with the top leaders of the Legislature. In a closed door meeting he told them he won't seek a full refund from the consultant who produced a plagiarized report on Maine's Medicaid system. The meeting was described as businesslike — with some heat.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Seeing the doctor is now only a few clicks away, thanks to new apps that allow you to do virtual visits on your computer, smartphone or tablet. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced today that it's covering video visits for most of its Maine members when they use the Internet tool LiveHealth Online. Many see the development as a major step forward in convenience and access to health care.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Cancer treatment has traditionally involved intravenous chemotherapy. But that's starting to change. Research has shown that chemotherapy pills can be more effective. The problem is that chemo pills can cost thousands of dollars per prescription, which puts them out of reach for some patients. But a new law in Maine will soon change that.

Donna Brookings has fought cancer twice. The first time was in 2005. It was breast cancer, and once a week she would go to the hospital and sit in a chair for 3-4 hours while intravenous chemotherapy pumped into her veins.

A group of residents of Owls Head will continue to have access to a beach following a Superior Court decision this week. A New York couple who owns a house in Owls Head had filed suit against the town and their neighbors to try to limit access to what they believed was their own private property.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Going to the doctor is not typically at the top of anyone's want-to-do-list, especially for teenagers, who are considered an underserved population in health care. But adolescence is considered a critical time for physicians to connect with young patients as they confront risky behaviors. To build stronger relationships with teens, medical students are increasingly training with simulated, or so-called "standardized patients" for practice.

Third-year medical student Allie Tetreault opens the door to an exam room at Maine Medical Center and greets her 16-year-old patient.