Category : Health & Medicine

(Local Paper front page) How one rural SC school district is tackling the in-school therapist shortage

Christina Cody has a tireless, we-can-make-it-work attitude.

No matter the problem, she’s the kind of person who will offer up ideas one after another until she finds one that works.

Cody is a health and wellness specialist for Cherokee County Schools, a small, rural school district in the northwestern part of South Carolina. Over the past few years, she has been confronted with the growing youth mental health crisis at every turn. The reports from her colleagues filled her with worry. They would despair week after week as more students threatened to hurt themselves or others.

Some students were stabbing themselves with pencils or scissors. Others tore apart pencil sharpeners to get the blades and cut themselves. When the last school year started, there were seven mental health therapist positions to serve the district’s 8,000 students. None were filled. Without them, educators did the best they could to help in a job they weren’t trained to do.

Students’ mental health needs were increasing well before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The needs have only grown since. More than a third of high school students nationally experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, with half feeling persistently sad or hopeless, according to a Centers for Disease Control Disease Control and Prevention study. In South Carolina, children’s emergency room visits for mental health needs are up nearly a third since March 2020, state officials have said. Suicide attempts also increased, particularly among teenage girls.

“That’s just a lot of pressure,” Cody said. “You can’t lose a kid. You can’t. It’s not an option.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(World) Erin Hawley and Kristen Waggoner on the historic Dobbs decision–A victory for life and the Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court’s courageous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a win for life and the Constitution. That historic ruling finally reverses the court’s disastrous opinion in Roe v. Wade—a decision that made up a constitutional right to abortion and resulted in the deaths of more than 60 million unborn children. Because of the court’s ruling in Dobbs, states may now fully protect unborn life.

The Mississippi law at issue in the case, the Gestational Age Act, protects unborn children and the health of their pregnant mothers based on the latest science. It protects unborn life after 15 weeks of gestational age—a point in time when babies can move and stretch, hiccup, and quite likely feel pain. It permits abortions to save the life of the mother or for severe fetal abnormalities. Despite the modesty of Mississippi’s law, the lower courts struck it down because no matter what science showed, or how strong a state’s interest in protecting unborn life was, under the Roe regime, states may not protect life until viability—about 22 weeks of gestational age.

Dobbs is a win for life. Fifty years of scientific progress and innovation establish what the Bible has always taught: Life begins at conception. Ultrasound technology allows expectant parents to see the truth of Psalm 139: Children are fearfully and wonderfully made from the very beginning.

Under Roe v. Wade, moreover, the United States has been an extreme outlier in abortion law and policy. As the chief justice noted during oral arguments, the United States is one of only six nations, including China and North Korea, that allow elective abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. The Washington Post recently ranked the United States as the fourth most liberal abortion country in the world. Most countries do not allow elective abortions at all, and 75 percent protect life after 12 weeks of gestation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Supreme Court, Theology

(Gallup News) World Unhappier, More Stressed Out Than Ever

Emotionally, the second year of the pandemic was an even tougher year for the world than the first one, according to Gallup’s latest annual global update on the negative and positive experiences that people are having each day.

As 2021 served up a steady diet of uncertainty, the world became a slightly sadder, more worried and more stressed-out place than it was the year before — which helped push Gallup’s Negative Experience Index to yet another new high of 33 in 2021.

As it does every year, Gallup asked adults in 122 countries and areas in 2021 if they had five different negative experiences on the day before the survey — and compiled the results into an index. Higher scores on the Negative Experience Index indicate that more of a population is experiencing these emotions.

In 2021, four in 10 adults worldwide said they experienced a lot of worry (42%) or stress (41%), and slightly more than three in 10 experienced a lot of physical pain (31%). More than one in four experienced sadness (28%), and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Local Paper) Mental health experts say deep TMS therapy should have a larger public health impact

He and his wife had just welcomed a new baby boy. Life was supposed to be good, he thought.

“I found myself, in the moments that should’ve been the most joy-filled moments in my life, just feeling absent or despondent,” Hogan said.

Hogan is part of an estimated 10-30 percent of patients with major depression who don’t respond to typical antidepressant medications like Zoloft or Prozac.

But since starting a rather new therapy in 2020, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, he’s felt better than he ever has.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Guardian) Scientists harness light therapy to target and kill cancer cells in world first

Scientists have successfully developed a revolutionary cancer treatment that lights up and wipes out microscopic cancer cells, in a breakthrough that could enable surgeons to more effectively target and destroy the disease in patients.

A European team of engineers, physicists, neurosurgeons, biologists and immunologists from the UK, Poland and Sweden joined forces to design the new form of photoimmunotherapy.

Experts believe it is destined to become the world’s fifth major cancer treatment after surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.

The light-activated therapy forces cancer cells to glow in the dark, helping surgeons remove more of the tumours compared with existing techniques – and then kills off remaining cells within minutes once the surgery is complete. In a world-first trial in mice with glioblastoma, one of the most common and aggressive types of brain cancer, scans revealed the novel treatment lit up even the tiniest cancer cells to help surgeons remove them – and then wiped out those left over.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(Economist) Beijing and Shanghai are still trying to get a grip on covid-19

Since the beginning of June, when the authorities in Shanghai lifted a months-long lockdown, many aspects of life in the city have returned to normal. The once-deserted freeways around China’s financial hub are again full of traffic. The white-collar workers who moved into their offices during April and May have at last returned home. The number of cases of covid-19 found outside quarantine has dropped to single digits. Just one was detected on June 13th.

But Shanghai’s officials are still on edge. Many residential communities reopened only to be locked down again when a positive case, or merely a close contact of one, was found in their vicinity. Residents continue to be taken away to quarantine centres if they live in the same building as someone infected. A case linked to a hair salon on a heavily travelled thoroughfare resulted in hundreds of people being whisked into isolation and several housing compounds being locked down. The city ordered most of its 25m residents into mass testing on June 11th and 12th.

This is what the new version of China’s “dynamic zero-covid” campaign looks like. Rolling “micro-lockdowns” and mass testing are meant to replace economically destructive citywide lockdowns. The strategy is supposed to be more targeted, finding and quarantining individual positive cases and their close contacts within hours. But calibration is proving difficult.

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT) During the Omicron Wave, Death Rates Soared for Older People

Despite strong levels of vaccination among older people, Covid killed them at vastly higher rates during this winter’s Omicron wave than it did last year, preying on long delays since their last shots and the variant’s ability to skirt immune defenses.

This winter’s wave of deaths in older people belied the Omicron variant’s relative mildness. Almost as many Americans 65 and older died in four months of the Omicron surge as did in six months of the Delta wave, even though the Delta variant, for any one person, tended to cause more severe illness.

While overall per capita Covid death rates have fallen, older people still account for an overwhelming share of them.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine

(NYT) With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools

In New York City, the nation’s largest school district has lost some 50,000 students over the past two years. In Michigan, enrollment remains more than 50,000 below prepandemic levels from big cities to the rural Upper Peninsula.

In the suburbs of Orange County, Calif., where families have moved for generations to be part of the public school system, enrollment slid for the second consecutive year; statewide, more than a quarter-million public school students have dropped from California’s rolls since 2019.

And since school funding is tied to enrollment, cities that have lost many students — including Denver, Albuquerque and Oakland — are now considering combining classrooms, laying off teachers or shutting down entire schools.

All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Health & Medicine

(Lifeway) 5 Areas of Life as a Pastor You Can’t Ignore

As you’re reading this, you probably have a commitment hanging over your head or a relentless deadline that won’t stop nagging you. Chances are, you’re tired. You’re a human being, not a human doing. But the Father loves your being more than your doing.

Some recent findings from Lifeway Research’s Greatest Needs of Pastors study show half of U.S. Protestant pastors say they need to focus on time management. Slightly more (55%) believe over-commitment is an issue they need to address.

Based on these findings, most of us in ministry need this reminder: If you never close another gap in your leadership, if you never take your game up a notch, God’s love for you remains full, like a gas tank that never empties no matter how far you drive. Former Lifeway president Jimmy Draper said, “God did not call us first to His service, He called us first to Himself.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Poor nations must have access to Covid vaccine, African faith leaders argue

Prominent faith leaders in Africa, including Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops, have implored the world’s governments to support a People’s Vaccine movement, to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have protection against the Covid-19 virus.

On the eve of the global Covid-19 summit of world leaders convened by President Biden, 45 faith leaders issued a joint People Vaccine Alliance statement, calling for an “immediate action to address the massive inequities in the global pandemic response”.

The statement, issued on Thursday, says: “We are one global family, where our problems are tightly interconnected. However, we know the greatest impediment to people getting their vaccinations, tests, and treatment is inequity.

“World leaders must renew their approach to tackling the response to the global pandemic by treating Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatment — not as commodities but as public goods, which all people have the right to access. We encourage world leaders to unite and stand in solidarity with people from low-income countries by supporting a People’s Vaccine.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic

(NYT) Jonathan Malesic–My College Students Are Not OK

In my classes last fall, a third of the students were missing nearly every time, and usually not the same third. Students buried their faces in their laptop screens and let my questions hang in the air unanswered. My classes were small, with nowhere to hide, yet some students openly slept through them.

I was teaching writing at two very different universities: one private and wealthy, its lush lawns surrounded by towering fraternity and sorority houses; the other public, with a diverse array of strivers milling about its largely brutalist campus. The problems in my classrooms, though, were the same. Students just weren’t doing what it takes to learn.

By several measures — attendance, late assignments, quality of in-class discussion — they performed worse than any students I had encountered in two decades of teaching. They didn’t even seem to be trying. At the private school, I required individual meetings to discuss their research paper drafts; only six of 14 showed up. Usually, they all do.

I wondered if it was me, if I was washed up. But when I posted about this on Facebook, more than a dozen friends teaching at institutions across the country gave similar reports. Last month, The Chronicle of Higher Education received comments from more than 100 college instructors about their classes. They, too, reported poor attendance, little discussion, missing homework and failed exams.

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Posted in Education, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Young Adults

([London] Times) Loyal labrador saves lost Texas woman with dementia

She strayed from a path and fell into the thicket. The search began the next day and security camera video showed Noppe and her dog on a road on the edge of the woods. The following afternoon the search was suspended because of a storm, though volunteers kept looking for her in the rain.

Noppe’s daughter Courtney said a team of tracking dogs had picked up a scent and a helicopter had been sent to try to spot her. At about 3am on May 6, the party turned off their all-terrain vehicles and heard a fateful bark.

“They just went to him and that’s how they found her,” she said.

Her family said that she was not seriously injured. “That dog has no leash, no collar, and stayed by her side for . . . three days,” her son Justin said. “That just shows you the loyalty that that dog has. He was never going to leave her side.”

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Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(NYT front page) Overdose Deaths Continue Rising, With Fentanyl and Meth Key Culprits

After a catastrophic increase in 2020, deaths from drug overdoses rose again to record-breaking levels in 2021, nearing 108,000, the result of an ever-worsening fentanyl crisis, according to preliminary new data published on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The increase of nearly 15 percent followed a much steeper rise of almost 30 percent in 2020, an unrelenting crisis that has consumed federal and state drug policy officials. Since the 1970s, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased every year except 2018.

A growing share of deaths continue to come from overdoses involving fentanyl, a class of potent synthetic opioids that are often mixed with other drugs, and methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant. State health officials battling an influx of both drugs said many of the deaths appeared to be the result of combining the two.

Drug overdoses, which long ago surged above the country’s peak deaths from AIDS, car crashes and guns, killed about a quarter as many Americans last year as Covid-19.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(IFS) The Adolescent Mental Health Crisis Is Our Responsibility

Many of us have seen the tragic news story about Lauren Bernett, the high-achieving James Madison University sophomore softball player who committed suicide in April. Unfortunately, adolescent suicide is on the rise, and Lauren is just one of too many victims.

Newly-released statistics on suicide rates reveal a rise in adolescent suicide from 2020 to 2022. This significant rise is evidence of the neurological and emotional fragility of adolescents, which has never been more obvious than during the pandemic. The increase in the despair and anger of teens—as reflected in rising suicide rates—are an example of the collective trauma we have all experienced. And yet this mental health crises, which existed before COVID, is also a communication to us as parents, teachers, and other authority figures that we are failing our children by not preparing them for adversity in their lives and by our handling of the pandemic in terms of the imposed social isolation and myriad of losses they experienced. Our children are the barometers of how we are doing as a society—much like a Faustian painting—and the unhappiness is off the charts.

Even before COVID hit, there was an epidemic of mental illness in children and adolescents, and the pandemic simply amplified the scale of our children’s unhappiness with us as parents and society. Don’t get me wrong: this is not about shaming or blaming. There are many parents who have tried everything to relieve the suffering of their children, and the result is still a sad one. However, in the majority of the families I treat, suicidal threats are a way for children to wake up their parents and adults in their lives to their unhappiness and to make necessary changes in the family and in their lives, such as addressing past and present family traumas, getting mental health treatment, and resolving social and academic pressures.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(NYT front page) Inside China’s Zero-Covid Fortress, Xi Admits No Doubts

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, waved at crowds of giddily cheering students. He held meetings with Olympic Games officials, economic policymakers and European leaders. He toured a tropical island.

But there was a revealing gap in Mr. Xi’s busy itinerary last month, exposing the predicament that Covid is creating in a politically crucial year when he hopes to extend his hold on power. He stayed behind the scenes when it came to China’s biggest, most contentious lockdown since the pandemic began.

Throughout April, Mr. Xi gave no public speeches focused on outbreaks in China as its biggest city, Shanghai, shut down to try to stifle infections, and then Beijing went on alert after a burst of cases. Nor did Mr. Xi directly address the 25 million residents of Shanghai who have been ordered to stay at home for weeks, despite their complaints of scarce food, overwhelmed hospitals and confusing zigzags in mass quarantine rules.

“He wants to deliberately keep a certain distance in from Shanghai,” said Deng Yuwen, a former editor of a Communist Party newspaper who now lives in the United States. “No doubt, he’s doing a lot about fighting the pandemic behind the scenes, but of course he does not want to be directly drawn into the mess in Shanghai.”

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT) China’s Covid Lockdown Outrage Tests Limits of Triumphant Propaganda

Immediately after Beijing said it had detected a new coronavirus outbreak, officials hurried to assure residents there was no reason to panic. Food was plentiful, they said, and any lockdown measures would be smooth. But Evelyn Zheng, a freelance writer in the city, was not taking any chances.

Her relatives, who lived in Shanghai, were urging her to leave or stock up on food. She had spent weeks poring over social media posts from that city, which documented the chaos and anguish of the monthlong lockdown there. And when she went out to buy more food, it was clear many of her neighbors had the same idea: Some shelves were already cleaned out.

“At first, I was worried about Shanghai, because my family is there, and there was no good news from any of my friends,” Ms. Zheng said. “Now, Beijing is starting, too, and I don’t know when it will land on my head.”

Anger and anxiety over the Shanghai lockdown, now in its fourth week, has posed a rare challenge for China’s powerful propaganda apparatus, which is central to the Communist Party’s ability to stifle dissent. As the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country, officials have defended their use of widespread, heavy-handed lockdowns. They have pushed a triumphalist narrative of their Covid response, which says that only the Chinese government had the will to confront, and hold back, the virus.

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

A Weekend Mental Health Break–(CBS) Tampa Bay Rays’ Brett Phillips credits home run to fan battling cancer

Chloe Grimes, an 8-year-old battling cancer, gifted her favorite player, Tampa Bay Rays’ Brett Phillips, a bracelet. He hit a home run while wearing it and has been wearing it for good luck ever since. Steve Hartman shares more in “On the Road.”

Watch it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

(Tish Warren via NYT) Tim Keller for Holy Week–How a Cancer Diagnosis Makes Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Mean More

How has cancer and this encounter with your own mortality changed how you see your life and how you see death?

On an emotional level, we really do deny the fact that we’re mortal and our time is limited. The day after my diagnosis, one of the words I put down in my journal was “focus.” What are the most important things for you to be spending your time doing? I had not been focused.

The second change was you realize that there’s one sense in which if you believe in God, it’s a mental abstraction. You believe with your head. I came to realize that the experiential side of my faith really needed to strengthen or I wasn’t going to be able to handle this.

It’s one thing to believe God loves you, another thing to actually feel his love. It’s one thing to believe he’s present with you. It’s another to actually experience his presence. So the two things I wrote down in my journal: one was focus and the other one was “Know the Lord.” My experience of his presence and his love was going to have to double, triple, quintuple or I wouldn’t make it.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Health & Medicine, Holy Week, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(NYT) This Psychiatric Hospital Used to Chain Patients. Now It Treats Them.

For centuries, they called the foreboding building on a hill above this capital city the Kissy Lunatic Asylum. It was built in the early 1800s by the British colonial administration, and behind the high walls, patients were kept in chains. People here say the stench seeped from the brick walls, and the screams of patients, whose psychosis and trauma were untreated by medication or therapy, echoed out the narrow, barred windows.

Today a small wooden sign hangs over the front desk in the outpatient department: “Sierra Leone Psychiatric Teaching Hospital: Chain-free since 2018.” The sunny corridors of the newly renovated facility flash with the fuchsia uniforms of psychiatric nursing students. The shelves of the pharmacy are lined with the latest antipsychotics and antidepressants. Children bounce on a trampoline at a cheerful clinic just for them. And six residents are on their way to being the first psychiatrists ever trained in this country.

The transformation at Kissy is part of an extraordinary effort to build a mental health care system from scratch in one of the poorest countries in the world. The residents work the wards and see patients in the packed outpatient clinic, under the supervision of three consulting psychiatrists. They are the only three in the country’s entire health system — a staggering ratio, but a threefold increase from decades when there was just one, who paid the patients at Kissy a weekly visit.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sierra Leone

(Economist) Black Americans have overtaken white victims in opioid death rates

Treatment for opioid use disorder (oud) is woefully inadequate across the country, but African-Americans often face extra barriers. Studies have found that medications for treating oud, as well as naloxone (a life-saving medication that reverses opioid overdoses), are doled out unevenly. A study of data from Medicaid, the government insurance programme for the poor, across several states with some of the highest opioid-overdose rates found that between 2014 and 2018 black people with oud were 28% less likely to use oud medications.

Studies in various cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, suggest that African-Americans have less access to naloxone, too. In Detroit between 2019 and 2020, white addicts received 28% of naloxone administrations, though they accounted for 17% of the city’s opioid overdoses; although 80% of overdoses were among black people, they received only 67% of naloxone administrations. This does not necessarily mean black addicts are being denied naloxone. Those who use opioids alone, are homeless or live in communities with little trust in first responders might be less likely to call for help.

Such disparities strengthen the case for local interventions that deal with the unique hurdles certain communities face. Other solutions are more sweeping, like expanding access to Medicaid and reducing red tape around oud medications. But underlying all these is a straightforward calculus that applies to all Americans, black or white: “It has to be easier to get treated than it is to continue using,” says Dr Kolodny. “You have to flip it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Race/Race Relations

(NYT) Shanghai Seethes in Covid Lockdown, Posing Test to China’s Leadership

Parents have organized petitions, imploring the government not to separate children infected with the coronavirus from their families. Patients have demanded to speak with higher-ups about shoddy conditions at isolation facilities. Residents have confronted officials over containment policies that they see as unfair or inhumane, then shared recordings of those arguments online.

As the coronavirus races through Shanghai, in the city’s worst outbreak since the pandemic began, the authorities have deployed their usual hard-nosed playbook to try and stamp out transmission, no matter the cost. What has been different is the response: an outpouring of public dissatisfaction rarely seen in China since the chaotic early days of the pandemic, in Wuhan.

The crisis in Shanghai is shaping up to be more than just a public health challenge. It is also a political test of the zero tolerance approach at large, on which the Communist Party has staked its legitimacy.

For much of the past two years, the Chinese government has stifled most domestic criticism of its zero tolerance Covid strategy, through a mixture of censorship, arrests and success at keeping caseloads low. But in Shanghai, which has recorded more than 70,000 cases since March 1, that is proving more difficult.

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT) Covid and Diabetes, Colliding in a Public Health Train Wreck

After an insect bite on his back became infected, David Donner, a retired truck driver in rural Alabama, waited six hours in a packed emergency room with his wife, before coronavirus vaccines were widely available. A few days later, they both began experiencing the telltale symptoms of Covid-19.

Debra Donner quickly recovered, but Mr. Donner, 66, landed in the I.C.U. “The virus barely slowed her down, but I ended up surrounded by nurses in hazmat suits,” he said. His halting recovery has left him dependent on a wheelchair. “I walk 20 feet and I’m huffing and puffing like I ran 20 miles.”

The Donners see little mystery in why they fared so differently: Mr. Donner has diabetes, a chronic disease that hobbles the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and inexorably wreaks havoc on circulation, kidney function and other vital organs.

After older people and nursing home residents, perhaps no group has been harder hit by the pandemic than people with diabetes. Recent studies suggest that 30 to 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the United States have occurred among people with diabetes, a sobering figure that has been subsumed by other grim data from a public health disaster that is on track to claim a million American lives sometime this month.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(NYT) Trying to Solve a Covid Mystery: Africa’s Low Death Rates

There are no Covid fears here.

The district’s Covid-19 response center has registered just 11 cases since the start of the pandemic, and no deaths. At the regional hospital, the wards are packed — with malaria patients. The door to the Covid isolation ward is bolted shut and overgrown with weeds. People cram together for weddings, soccer matches, concerts, with no masks in sight.

Sierra Leone, a nation of eight million on the coast of Western Africa, feels like a land inexplicably spared as a plague passed overhead. What has happened — or hasn’t happened — here and in much of sub-Saharan Africa is a great mystery of the pandemic.

The low rate of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths in West and Central Africa is the focus of a debate that has divided scientists on the continent and beyond. Have the sick or dead simply not been counted? If Covid has in fact done less damage here, why is that? If it has been just as vicious, how have we missed it?

The answers “are relevant not just to us, but have implications for the greater public good,” said Austin Demby, Sierra Leone’s health minister, in an interview in Freetown, the capital.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Health & Medicine

(Washington Post) Covid vaccinations — including boosters — fall to lowest levels since 2020

With another pandemic surge possibly on the way, vaccination for the coronavirus in the United States has all but ground to a halt, with initial doses and boosters plummeting to the lowest levels since the program began in late December 2020.

On Wednesday, the seven-day average of vaccinations fell to fewer than 182,000 per day, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. That is lower than at any time since the first days of the program.

The daily total has been in free fall for the past six weeks. On Feb. 10, the nation was averaging more than 692,000 shots a day. Booster shots have been more common than first or second doses since October, and the low rates have long caused concern among some experts.

Now, with authorities bracing for a possible increase in covid-19 cases caused by the BA.2 subvariant, 65.4 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated and just 44 percent have received a booster shot. That is substantially less than the totals in many Western European nations — which nevertheless have seen a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks and months.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(NYT) ‘A Frightening Repeat’: Ukrainian World War II Survivors Face Conflict Again

Borys Zabarko was six years old when the Nazis invaded what is now Ukraine in 1941 and his hometown, Sharhorod, became a Jewish ghetto. Women, children and old men slept in packed rooms with no bathrooms or water, he said. As typhus epidemics raged, the ground was too cold to dig graves, and bodies were thrown on top of each other. Mr. Zabarko’s father and uncle, who fought with the Soviet army, died in combat.

After the liberation, Mr. Zabarko said he became convinced that nothing like that would ever happen again.

Now 86, he spent a recent night in the freezing train station in Lviv, in the west of Ukraine, standing on a crowded platform, as he tried to get on a train to escape another war.

“It’s a frightening repeat,” he said by phone from Nuremberg, Germany, where he fled with his 17-year-old granddaughter, Ilona, before eventually settling in Stuttgart. “Again, we have this murderous war.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, History, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Russia, Ukraine

(NPR) As a nurse faces prison for a deadly error, her colleagues worry: Could I be next?

Four years ago, inside the most prestigious hospital in Tennessee, nurse RaDonda Vaught withdrew a vial from an electronic medication cabinet, administered the drug to a patient and somehow overlooked signs of a terrible and deadly mistake.

The patient was supposed to get Versed, a sedative intended to calm her before being scanned in a large, MRI-like machine. But Vaught accidentally grabbed vecuronium, a powerful paralyzer, which stopped the patient’s breathing and left her brain-dead before the error was discovered.

Vaught, 38, admitted her mistake at a Tennessee Board of Nursing hearing last year, saying she became “complacent” in her job and “distracted” by a trainee while operating the computerized medication cabinet. She did not shirk responsibility for the error, but she said the blame was not hers alone.

“I know the reason this patient is no longer here is because of me,” Vaught said, starting to cry. “There won’t ever be a day that goes by that I don’t think about what I did.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues

(Economist) Why loafing can be work–Daydreaming, promenading and zoning out pay rich dividends

….time to muse is valuable in virtually every role. To take one example, customer-service representatives can be good sources of ideas on how to improve a company’s products, but they are often rated on how well they adhere to a schedule of fielding calls. Reflection is not part of the routine.

The post-pandemic rethink of work is focused on “when” and “where” questions. Firms are experimenting with four-day workweeks as a way to improve retention and avoid burnout. Asynchronous working is a way for individuals to collaborate at times that suit them. Lots of thought is going into how to make a success of hybrid work.

The “what is work” question gets much less attention. The bias towards familiar forms of activity is deeply entrenched. But if you see a colleague meandering through the park or examining the ceiling for hours, don’t assume that work isn’t being done. What looks like idleness may be the very moment when serendipity strikes.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Washington Post) Ukraine conflict could spark surges of covid, polio, other diseases, say experts

But as more than half a million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, global health officials fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be the latest reminder of a grim lesson — that war and disease are close companions, and the humanitarian and refugee crises now unfolding in Eastern Europe will lead to long-lasting health consequences, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

As Russia’s military campaign accelerates, Ukraine’s hospitals are running out of critical medical supplies as travel is increasingly choked off by the conflict. The country’s health workers and patients are relocating to makeshift shelters, seeking to escape explosions. Meanwhile, officials at the World Health Organization, United Nations, U.S. State Department and other organizations warn of rising civilian casualties and new pressures on the region’s fragile health-care systems.

“What we’re dealing with now in Ukraine is a double crisis,” said Máire Connolly, a global health professor at the National University of Ireland Galway who has studied the link between conflict and disease. In an interview, Connolly said she was worried not just about threats from the coronavirus pandemic but also those from Ukraine’s polio outbreak, which global experts had sought to quell for months. She also said she fears the potential resurgence of tuberculosis during the current conflict.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Ukraine

(Local Paper) South Carolina DHEC eases COVID-19 school guidance as number of new cases declines

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced it would provide new guidance to help schools and child care centers transition from Test to Stay quarantine and isolation.

“Our updated guidance recognizes that COVID-19 is an illness that we now need to treat and manage as endemic, and will help our schools, child care centers, and ultimately all of us make that transition,” Dr. Edward Simmer, director of the state health agency, said. “It also allows us to respond quickly should another surge or impactful new variant arise.”

According to DHEC, the guidance resembles pre-COVID-19 guidance for influenza, allowing schools and child care centers to suspend Test to Stay or quarantine once they have had two consecutive weeks with less than 10 percent of all students and staff having COVID-19.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Education, Health & Medicine

(CT) Birth Behind Bars: Christians Fight ‘Cruel,’ Outdated Prison Policies

Vanessa Franklin lost her mother, her father, and her husband in a 12-month span. But the grief of their deaths paled in comparison to parting with her three teenage daughters in the same year, 2008, when she went to prison for fraud.

“Being separated from them was worse,” said Franklin, who served four years in Oklahoma.

She couldn’t imagine a deeper hurt until a few years later, when her daughter, Ashley Garrison, was sentenced while pregnant. The 20-year-old went into labor the day she checked into prison.

Garrison had a boy and named him William. She held him for an hour before she was forced to relinquish custody to his father’s family.

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Posted in Children, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Prison/Prison Ministry