Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

kffpostponedcarepoll-300x178Doctors, clinics, urgent care facilities, and hospitals are laboring to get out an important message tied to the Covid-19 pandemic: Patients should not delay seeking their needed medical services, especially urgent or emergency treatment, due to fears of getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

It made sense to postpone many types of medical services as states sought to reduce the virus’ wildfire spread and to prevent the U.S. medical system from potentially getting overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases, experts say.

But public health restrictions are easing, and medical practices and facilities have set up ways to minimize the possibility of coronavirus infection, such that patients may want to reconsider their highest anxiety.

asclepliusrodof-70x300As the Covid-19 pandemic has put huge stresses on medical systems around the globe, the strains have taken their toll:  The credibility and authority — of federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and elite professional journals like the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine — have taken big hits in recent weeks.

In times of huge uncertainty and high anxiety, the public should be able to turn to these respected pillars of the health care establishment for steady, trustworthy, and independent information and execution of crucial policies that benefit the public.

The agencies are not just a pile of letters. Their work, based in rigorous medical science and the best available evidence, is supposed to reject damaging and dangerous rumor, hunch, myth, mis- and dis-information. They help to set standards for care, especially in crises, and they are charged with safeguarding us from disease, dangerous drugs and vaccines, and in protecting the old, sick, and injured in institutional care.

antiracismcsdocs-300x218Like a patient already struggling with serious illness or injury, the nation saw its underlying conditions flare up  in distressing fashion in recent days:

The country first found itself grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic that has infected almost 2 million and killed more than 100,000. It gasped as the economy plunged and joblessness hit rates unseen in decades. Now, from coast to coast, people are confronting racism, injustice, inequity, and authorities’ excessive use of force.

The ugliness almost has become too much to bear.

cashhandle-300x200Cui bono? That query in Latin — Who benefits? — affirms for linguists that sketchy practices date to Ancient Rome and earlier. But who knew the phrase would be so applicable for U.S. taxpayers considering dubious aspects of many of the nation’s pricey Covid-19 pandemic responses.  Herewith a sizable list of conflicts and coziness in the public  funding of pandemic responses.

VP’s chief of staff dealing with health care issues but without giving up stocks

covidmarcshort-150x150While Vice President Pence has headed the White House pandemic task force Marc Short, his chief of staff has served at his side. This has given him full access to the highest-level discussions about strategies and approaches that not only will affect Americans’ health care but also the fortunes of numerous Big Pharma, medical supply, and other major enterprises in the field dealing with the novel coronavirus.

covidnhnoplan-276x300With hurricanes, wildfires and other calamities, authorities pound home to the public the importance of preparedness. So why should preparing for an infection outbreak be any different? Yet more disclosures have raised disturbing questions about the dearth of crucial emergency planning by nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, their owners and operators, and federal and state regulators.

Taxpayers likely will foot hefty bills — a new estimate says it may be $15 billion  —in the days ahead for facilities’ active resistance to oversight and forward thinking. These lapses played a part in the terrible toll in failing to safeguard the old, sick, and injured, and first responders and health care workers, too, reported ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site.

It cites data from AARP about the nationwide deaths in long-term care centers inflicted by the novel coronavirus:

amputate-300x157Although the Covid-19 pandemic may be opening more and more Americans’ eyes to the harsh effects of the country’s economic and racial inequities, the stark damage from the nation’s health disparities can be plain to see — in truly disheartening ways.

Lizzie Presser, a reporter for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site ProPublica, deserves high praise for her distressing article on “The Black Amputation Epidemic.” As she wrote recently from deep in the poverty, neglect, and racial discrimination of the Mississippi Delta:

“[W]ithin months, the new coronavirus would sweep the United States, killing tens of thousands of people, a disproportionately high number of them black and diabetic. They were at a disadvantage, put at risk by an array of factors, from unequal health care access to racist biases to cuts in public health funding. These elements have long driven disparities, particularly across the South. One of the clearest ways to see them is by tracking who suffers diabetic amputations, which are, by one measure, the most preventable surgery in the country.

covidhospitalbed-199x300When it comes to aggravating parties in the U.S. health care system, a certain French phrase captures an uncomfortable reality: “Plus ça change” — as in plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose or “The more it changes, the more it stays the same.”

We can see that here:

covidmdnatguard-300x174Federal and state officials almost seem as if they are competing with each other to race to new lows in their wrong-headed failure to protect elderly, sick, and injured Americans who require institutional care and whose health and lives are being savaged by the novel coronavirus.

An estimated 1.5 million Americans live in long-term institutions, including nursing homes, assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, memory care hospitals and the like. Covid-19 has taken a terrible toll on these frail, chronically ill, or seriously injured and debilitated people with more than 27,000 residents and staff dying from the novel coronavirus — roughly a third of all the disease fatalities nationwide. A third of the coronavirus deaths in the District of Columbia have been in skilled nursing facilities, while 40% of the Covid-19 deaths in California, the nation’s largest state, have been in nursing homes.

In the latest baffling response, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both suddenly have  “recommended” that states get nursing homes and other similar facilities to step up the testing of residents and staff.  They did not make this common-sense step mandatory, nor did they offer any word on how the federal government could help achieve this. As the Associated Press reported:

covidkids2-charlesdeluvio-300x200Federal officials have launched what may be an aptly named, important, and reassuring study for kids, parents, families, and communities — the large-scale “Heros” investigation on Covid-19 and youngsters.

As the National Institutes of Health explains the “Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2” work:

“[It will] help determine the rate of novel coronavirus infection in children and their family members in the United States [and] will help determine what percentage of children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, develop symptoms of the disease. In addition, the HEROS study will examine whether rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection differ between children who have asthma or other allergic conditions and children who do not.”

howardnewhospital-300x169Even as the Covid-19 pandemic shows the terrible toll inflicted on African Americans in the District of Columbia by health care disparities, city officials have announced they are advancing with a pricey plan to plug a giant hole in area medical services by helping to fund not one but two new hospitals that will serve impoverished communities of color.

The facilities will be in Wards 1 and 8 and will replace the Howard University Hospital and the United Medical Center (UMC) in Southeast D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed.

The City Council in the days ahead will consider her latest $700 million or so plan to try to improve medical services for some of the poorest residents in the city by working with Howard, its medical school — one of the main training institutions for black doctors — George Washington University Hospital and two big health systems, Adventist and Universal Health Systems.

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