Articles Posted in Hospitals

tksgiving-300x177Millions of us will have much to give thanks for during the annual holiday, which, like several of its recent versions, again will be a time of health wariness and uncertainty, too.

The seasonal feast — which brings so many the joy of not only a grand meal but also the pleasure of gathering with friends, family, and other loved ones — will be more costly than any in recent memory due to economic inflation and supply chain problems, the Associated Press reported:

“Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percent increases in the price of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin, and other staples. The U.S. government estimates food prices will be up 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2% annually. Lower production and higher costs for labor, transportation and items are part of the reason; disease, rough weather and the war in Ukraine are also contributors.”

ACEP-300x98Almost three dozen leading groups representing a range of doctors, specialists, and other health workers have called on the Biden Administration to deal urgently with the long-running but increasing and dangerous practice of hospitals allowing their emergency care facilities to be overwhelmed because they also are parking patients waiting for rooms and treatment.

This “boarding” crisis, already at breaking points for many exhausted ER staffs, will worsen and imperil patients even more if the nation gets hit — as growing indicators suggest is occurring — with a “tripledemic,” a choking load of coronavirus, flu, and other respiratory infections serious enough to require hospitalization.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (38,000 members), has been joined by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Emergency Medicine (8,000 members) and groups representing family doctors, allergists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, osteopaths, psychiatrists, and many others in a recent letter to the administration, reporting:

charitycarehospitalskff-300x209Already sick, injured, and debilitated by age and other circumstance, U.S. patient-consumers get battered with misleading information from shady firms about insurance coverage under the Medicare program and with too little word from hospitals about too spare charitable care that could help the beleaguered with bankrupting medical bills.

Democratic investigators for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee have ripped outfits hustling private Medicare plans to seniors, saying that companies have, among other sketchy practices uncovered, “posed as the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies, misled customers about the size of their networks, and preyed on vulnerable people with dementia and cognitive impairment,” the New York Times reported.

The investigators said they have cataloged dubious behaviors by vendors in 14 states of Medicare Advantage programs. The newspaper earlier has reported those health plans have become a highly lucrative line of business for insurers. They overstate how sick their patients are to put a bigger bite on taxpayers’ financial support of health coverage for those 65 and older, with Advantage plans enrolling a huge chunk of seniors now.

celticsmarcussmart-240x300College and pro athletes create feel-good moments in almost rote fashion these days with well-intentioned sojourns to local hospitals to see sick kids. These brief visits are an image-enhancing dream for publicists, teams, and the folks who drop big money on sports in hopes that fans’ adoration of jocks translates into major profits.

For at least one pro basketball player, though, the power of celebrity provides a quiet, powerful, and poignant way to support pediatric cancer patients in ways that he appreciates in a visceral fashion borne of painful personal experience. The Athletic, the New York Times owned sports-focused site, has posted a moving portrait of Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart and his commitment to comforting kids, reporting this:

Marcus Smart has spent far too much of his life sitting beside a hospital bed. He endured years watching his brother Todd battle leukemia when Marcus was in elementary school in Texas. He held his mother, Camellia, as she faced bone marrow cancer a few years ago. He is all too familiar with the last place most people want to be. And yet, he keeps going back. When he arrived in Boston as a rookie in 2014, he began making hospital visits quietly — no cameras, no media, no tweets. Smart wanted to spend time with kids who needed a friend and a distraction. Doctors and nurses would introduce him to those who had chemotherapy treatments that morning. They would explain to him how rough the past few days had been for their patients, hoping he could make their day a little easier. ‘Then I get there and everything that the doctor just told me goes out the window,’ Smart said as a smile finally began to peek through. ‘The kid has the biggest smile on her face. They’re getting up, they’re talking, they’re getting out of bed and that right there is what it’s all about for me.’”

candidaauris-150x150People around the planet must be more wary of the fungus among us, because the too often overlooked pathogens are becoming “increasingly widespread, resistant to treatment, and deadly.”

That’s the view of the World Health Organization, as reported by the New York Times and other media organizations. WHO has sought to heighten awareness about an array of fungal infections because fewer of them can be treated well with familiar therapeutics, the newspaper reported:

“The health agency listed 19 invasive fungal diseases, including four it described as a ‘critical priority,’ that collectively kill 1.3 million people and contribute to the death of five million others each year. Many of those deaths occur among people with HIV, cancer, tuberculosis, and other underlying health conditions that leave them vulnerable to infection. Health officials say the death toll from fungal infections is likely much higher because many hospitals and clinics, especially in poorer countries, lack the diagnostic tools for detecting them. ‘The bottom line is that invasive fungal infections are becoming more prevalent, but frequently they are not recognized in patients and not correctly treated,’ Dr. Carmem L. Pessoa-Silva, a WHO official focused on disease surveillance and control, said at a news conference …’We do not have a real sense of the size of the problem.’”

flusick-150x150The damage that seasonal flu causes can be difficult to forecast. But doctors, hospitals, and public health experts already are seeing the illness hit “hard and early,” especially in the Washington, D.C., area.

The indicators are shaping up that this will be the most severe flu year in the last 13. This is exponentially concerning, as hospitals also struggle with spiking pediatric cases of various respiratory illnesses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, the Washington Post reported and other news organizations have reported.

Chilly weather is starting to grip much of the country, forcing people indoors, and the coronavirus pandemic persists.

childtempreading-150x150Lest anyone think the coronavirus pandemic is not taking a significant toll on this country still, just look at the worrisome conditions prevailing in overflowing pediatric hospitals and the bracing data on how whites gradually have become more likely to die from the infectious disease than blacks.

Doctors and hospitals say they are struggling with a desperate lack of pediatric space to care for increasing numbers of children with various respiratory illnesses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. This is a major problem in the DMV (the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) where hospitals told the Washington Post that they full up with sick kids and scrambling:

“Children’s National Hospital in Northwest D.C., as well as the children’s hospitals at Inova Fairfax in Northern Virginia and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which represent a total of more than 650 beds, are at capacity, physicians at the hospitals said this week. Pediatricians locally and nationally report a spike in cases of respiratory illnesses such as RSV and rhinovirus — the common cold virus — which for the second consecutive year have hit earlier and made kids sicker than usual. At the same time, the coronavirus continues to circulate, and hospitals are bracing for a severe flu season.”

booster-150x150As many as 4 in 20 patients infected with the coronavirus report they have not fully recovered after months and 1 in 20 of those with the disease say they have not recovered at all. The viral illness, which has claimed more than 1 million lives and has infected more than 97 million of us, still kills just under 400 people daily on average.

Meantime, the southeast and south central parts of the United States — including the District of Columbia — are reporting the nation’s highest rates of influenza cases, as this infection is showing an early season surge. Just a reminder that in pre-pandemic times, flu sickened as many as 41 million Americans annually, leading to as many as 700,000-plus hospitalizations, and up to 50,000-plus deaths.

After years now of coping with the catastrophic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, and especially with the sustained harms of long covid, and with evidence growing that this year’s flu season will be tough and break with a recent period of mild caseloads, why aren’t more folks using common sense and getting safe, effective vaccinations to increase their protection against these debilitating and lethal diseases?

colonoscopynatinstitute-300x292Colorectal cancer remains  the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer  in this country. It kills tens of thousands of Americans annually. Although detection of the illness is declining overall, and especially among older adults, specialists have expressed growing concern about its rising rates in younger patients. This has prompted experts to push for more screenings to discover this cancer earlier.

But a new, decade-long European study involving 80,000 participants has given experts in the field at least a pause and may be forcing a more nuanced consideration of colonoscopies — long considered a pricey, inconvenient, intrusive, but “gold standard” test in the battle against colorectal cancer.

The study offered a brusque reminder, especially to regular folks, that testing and early detection of serious illnesses do not automatically result in optimal outcomes that improve or extend lives. As Stat, the science and medical news site reported:

coinstack-150x150The Biden Administration has tackled the “family glitch” in Obamacare, issuing new eligibility rules that will open up more affordable health insurance for many more poor, working poor, and middle-class Americans who otherwise might struggle to pay for coverage, even as provided by their employers.

This change in health care regulation is taking effect, even as tens of millions of people roll into an important period to protect their well-being — the annual “open enrollment” months for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, by many employers, as well as for those eligible for Medicare.

The Treasury Department’s new regulations on the “family glitch” affects as many as 5 million people, more than half of them children, according to the nonpartisan, independent Commonwealth Fund. Here is how the Associated Press described what federal regulators are doing to make health coverage more affordable to many more people under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare:

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