capnurse-300x169What’s in a name? The Covid-19 pandemic should force a major change in the big misnomer of long-term care institutions: Let’s stop labeling them with the term nursing — as if they provide significant medical services to the elderly, sick, and injured.

Instead, the coronavirus may lead the public to bust the myth put forward by owners and operators of nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living centers, and other similar centers about how they treat some of the nation’s most vulnerable people, especially based on growing evidence amassing in news reports.

The care facilities knew they were not hospitals, with extensive equipment and highly trained doctors and nurses. The facilities found they often were sorely lacking gear — especially personal protective equipment. They too many times did not have the staff with the skills or training to treat already fragile residents infected with the novel coronavirus or recuperating from significant bouts with a debilitating illness. They did not have the Covid-19 tests they needed. They struggled to isolate the infected.

covidclosedstore-300x200Wall Street investors may be seeing their portfolios flush again. But the Covid-19 pandemic has left tens of millions of Americans jobless. And if the once-flourishing health care business has not snapped back into rosy condition as it so often has in difficult times, the battle of the last decade over health insurance will haunt patients and employers throughout the coronavirus infection.

The New York Times reported that record-setting, sudden unemployment has exposed the perils to workers of their reliance on health insurance they get via their jobs:

“While hospitals and doctors across the country say many patients are still shunning their services out of fear of contagion — especially with new [Covid-19] cases spiking — Americans who lost their jobs or have a significant drop in income during the pandemic are now citing costs as the overriding reason they do not seek the health care they need. ‘We are seeing the financial pressure hit,’ said Dr. Bijoy Telivala, a cancer specialist in Jacksonville, Fla. ‘This is a real worry,’ he added, explaining that people are weighing putting food on the table against their need for care. ‘You don’t want a 5-year-old going hungry.

algorithmwoes2-300x200High-tech wizards may be pushing medicine into a brave new world where important medical decisions rely on supposedly data-driven findings that also may be rooted in an old malignancy: discrimination against black patients.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine warns that race-based tools and formulas, algorithms aimed to assist doctors in speeding up their diagnosis and treatment in such areas as heart disease, cancer, and kidney and maternity care, improperly steer blacks away from therapies commonly given to whites without sound reasons, the New York Times reported:

“The tools are often digital calculators on web sites of medical organizations or — in the case of assessing kidney function — actually built into the tools commercial labs use to calculate normal values of blood tests. They assess risk and potential outcomes based on formulas derived from population studies and modeling that looked for variables associated with different outcomes. ‘These tests are woven into the fabric of medicine,’ said Dr. David Jones, the paper’s senior author, a Harvard historian who also teaches ethics to medical students. ‘Despite mounting evidence that race is not a reliable proxy for genetic difference, the belief that it is has become embedded, sometimes insidiously, within medical practice,’ he wrote.”

blmdckoshukunii-240x300Just as law enforcement authorities find themselves under fire for instances of racist, excessive uses of force, police agencies across the country seem hell-bent on giving critics more and more evidence for their argument that major policing reforms are needed.

The independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News Service and USA Today deserve credit for scrutinizing dozens of incidents involving officials’ actions nationwide against people protesting the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. As the news organizations reported (and in passages worth quoting at length):

“In a joint investigation into law enforcement actions at protests across the country after George Floyd’s death in police custody, KHN and USA TODAY found that some officers appear to have violated their department’s own rules when they fired ‘less lethal’ projectiles at protesters who were for the most part peacefully assembled. Critics have assailed those tactics as civil rights and First Amendment violations, and three federal judges have ordered temporary restrictions on their use.

dcfireems-300x145At least three recent deaths  in the DC area offer a grim reminder about the summer’s heat and the risks of drowning. With the Covid-19 pandemic changing the easy and relaxed availability of public and supervised pools and other cool water recreation spots, will this be a harbinger of needless tragedies?

Here’s hoping not.

But authorities have issued stern warnings already about swimming in the Potomac River, where they caution that the currents run stronger and the waters can be chillier than casual enthusiasts may expect. It is illegal to swim in the Anacostia and Potomac, primarily due to pollution concerns. As the DCist news site reported, though:

covidweight-300x200Health and nutrition experts may get a rare and unexpected chance in the Covid-19 pandemic time to see whether Americans have experienced even a minor reset in their maintaining a more healthful diet, increased exercise, and maybe even reduction in weight gain and its associated problems.

To be sure, these have been times of high stress, and much popular discussion has focused on people’s “Quarantine 15,” the excess pounds packed on in recent days due to worry, couch sitting, and the availability of food in the close confines of the homes to which so many of us have been confined.

And many restaurants, notably fast food vendors, offered high-fat, high-calorie takeaway for weeks now, even as they make plans to re-open.

covidcasespike23states-300x107The shambolic federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic has splintered the United States, with coronavirus infections rising in just under half the states (see NYT graphic, right) since Memorial Day and with too many Americans eager to whistle past the graveyard.

The nation leads the world in negative outcomes, with more than 2 million diagnosed infections and more than 100,000 deaths. As states and local governments relax public health measures to battle Covid-19, forecasters now estimate that 124,000 to 140,000 Americans will die of the disease by July 4.

Its trajectory looks grim in some of the biggest states, the New York Times reported:

coronaflawnursinghome-300x237Hundreds of thousands of institutionalized Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus. Tens of thousands of them are dead. Yet a lethal bungling persists in the response to Covid-19’s savaging of residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Why?

Their owners and operators agree with medical scientists that significantly more testing is required, urgently, so the sick can be diagnosed, treated, and isolated.

But insurers and owners are bickering over who should pay for Covid-19 tests, notably for institutions’ staffers — many of whom are themselves getting sick and dying. As the New York Times reported:

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.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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