Articles Posted in Testing

aged-199x300For the old, sick, and injured who are institutionalized, the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts to halt the spread of the disease into care facilities has created debilitating side-effects: isolation, loneliness, silence, fear, and worries of abandonment.

Facility lockdowns, combined with the relentless governmental bungling of the coronavirus response, are taking a terrible toll that may not soon be eased, the New York Times reported. Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, told the newspaper this about the situation in all too many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:

“It’s not just Covid that’s killing residents in long-term care. It’s the isolation, the loneliness.”

cdcredfield-150x150The Covid-19 pandemic, with grim outcomes already, may get even worse in the days ahead.

That troubling forecast — from one of the nation’s less-than-outspoken medical leaders (Dr. Robert Redfield, right, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and as laid out in a seasoned journalist’s detailed reporting — may seem hard to take for already coronavirus-fatigued Americans.

The warnings, however, come atop even more alarms about the disease’s unchecked spread and the hard-to-fathom responses to it.

hhslogoaug20-300x300In response to the shattering harms of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress sought to shore up the U.S. health care system with billions of dollars in emergency aid. But the federal agency that helps to oversee the institutional care for the elderly, sick, and injured performed poorly as a steward of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

The Health and Human Services department, instead, shoveled hundreds of millions of dollars, “no strings attached,” to dubious owners or operators of facilities nationwide. These “for-profit nursing home providers … have faced accusations of Medicare fraud and kickbacks, labor violations or widespread failures in patient care,” the Washington Post reported.

The newspaper said its analysis of HHS allocations of big sums in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, also showed that:

Last week the world took note with appropriate solemnity a terrible historic moment: The first military use of nuclear weapons, with explosions 75 years ago of bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The resulting carnage — which the United States said was needed to end the horrors of World War II, especially by averting a bloody land conquest of Japan — has been seared into the global consciousness ever since, especially with the remarkable writing and reporting of author John Hersey.

The exact toll of the bombings of Hiroshima (a famous site shown above) and Nagasaki has eluded historians and other experts because of multiple factors, including: the scale of destruction, the chaos that ensued, and the uncertainty of the population and infrastructure that existed in the already war-torn cities. Still, by many estimates, tens of thousands died immediately — at least 135,000 in Hiroshima and 64,000 in Nagasaki.

alztest-300x79It isn’t just the testing for the novel coronavirus that has already anxious Americans upset these days. Controversies also are swirling around existing and developing ways for experts to screen older patients for cognitive decline, namely  dementia and its most familiar form,  Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60%-80% of dementia cases, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States overall and the fifth leading cause of death for those age 65 and older, researchers say. Medical scientists have engaged in furious efforts for a while now to determine the condition’s causes and to create treatments for it — a response that is sorely lacking now.

But the New York Times reported that experts believe they are nearing a better way to screen and diagnose the illness using the blood rather than current “expensive methods like PET scans of the brain and spinal taps for cerebrospinal fluid.” As reporter Pam Belluck wrote:

covidgovhogan-150x150Imagine in an alternate world in which it is not the poor and ravenous Oliver Twist who implores the world for more porridge, please. Instead, think of the “poor me” cries coming from Bumble the Beadle or Mr. Limbkins, two nefarious guys who exploit kids at the venal workhouse to which Oliver is consigned.

Welcome to the Dickensian drama that continues to envelop nursing homes and other long-term care facilities savaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. It may be a harsh view, but what to make about the persistent bleating by the profit-hungry owners and operators of care homes about the cost of safeguarding and testing the institutions’ vulnerable residents and health workers?

Maryland officials, struggling themselves with “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” and confronting the prospect of state agency budget cuts of up to 20%, have told nursing homes they soon must shoulder the costs of weekly coronavirus tests for their staff, the Washington Post reported.

covidtestlinesmiamiwsj-300x219How big and bad is the now-unchecked Covid-19 pandemic and the damage it is inflicting on this country?

The United States persists as the novel coronavirus epicenter, blowing past previous record numbers of infections to more than 4.5 million. The disease has edged toward claiming the lives of roughly 155,000 Americans. Imagine if the equivalent, the population of Alexandria, Va., died in just a few months.

July went in the books as the cruelest month, thus far, with Covid-19 infections doubling over June’s tallies, deaths surging, and the coronavirus surging or parking at a high and lethal plateau in most parts of the country,

vaccination-300x199As the novel coronavirus infections and deaths keep skyrocketing, Americans more and more have been forced into tough risk analyses, and frankly, too often thinking like gamblers. They are, for example, looking a lot at the much-promoted possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine in desperate poker ways — “betting on the come” and playing “river, river …”

Experts are asking just how savvy this health care approach is, putting in high stakes in the hopes the deck is dealt just so, or believing in a cliff’s edge rescue when the last cards on the table are flopped over to reveal a winner? Is it reality check time? And is there is a Plan B?

Vaccine makers around the world are racing to produce a viable response to Covid-19. U.S. infections have skyrocketed past 4 million and the disease is heading toward killing 150,000 Americans. Politicians and public health officials continue to speak optimistically about “Operation Warp Speed” and other campaigns globally to develop a vaccine that experts say will play a vital role in blunting Covid-19’s sickening and lethal spree through humanity.

CMS-300x105Five months after national media sounded alarms about  a novel coronavirus savaging a Washington state long-term care center, federal regulators have begun to roust themselves with more vigor to safeguard hundreds of thousands of elderly, sick, and injured residents of nursing homes and other similar facilities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — which is supposed to be the country’s top long-term care watchdog — is barking lots now about its regulatory activity, including promises to send owners and operators billions of dollars more in aid, ordering staffers in areas of great virus risk to undergo weekly Covid-19 tests,  shipping equipment for them to do so, and ramping up inspections.

Owners and operators have offered guarded praise and thanks to the agency. But skeptics say it is yet more of the Trump Administration’s baleful pandemic response — too little and too late.

cmschiefSeemaVerma-150x150With the calendar pages flying off to the fall presidential elections, why isn’t today an excellent time for President Trump to thank Seema Verma for her service and send her packing as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services?

Two news organizations — Vox and Politico — have posted detailed and disturbing takedowns of CMS and its oversight failures that have helped to worsen the terrible Covid-19 toll in the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

CMS, for example, halted nursing home inspections as the pandemic broke out — with disastrous consequences, as the Washington Post explains in a separate report. The agency earlier had also acceded to industry bleating about tough regulation, with Verma and her agency relaxing fines on owners and operators for detected problems and easing training requirements for under paid, over worked, and already ill-trained caregivers. The training standards have gotten so lax that a reporter, in 40 minutes of online effort, became certified temporarily to be a 24/7 caregiving aide.

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