Posts tagged with "medical"

COVID-19 Trial Tests if Common Drug Can Keep Patients Out of Hospital

At-risk people diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States and Canada can participate in a clinical trial testing whether a common drug can keep them from getting sicker and keep them out of the hospital.­­

The trial, conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is based on a discovery by the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Alban Gaultier, PhD, and a former graduate student, Dorian A Rosen, PhD.

Gaultier and Rosen found last year that the antidepressant fluvoxamine may stop the deadly inflammation known as sepsis, in which the immune response spirals out of control. The drug’s apparent benefit for dampening dangerous inflammation prompted the Washington University researchers to begin investigating its potential benefit for COVID-19, which can also cause dangerous overreactions of the immune system.

“If this clinical trial is proven successful, fluvoxamine could become a standard treatment for patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19, especially patients at risk,” Gaultier said. “Even the best vaccines do not protect 100% of the population, and discovery of safe and affordable treatments to prevent COVID-19-associated complications is critical.”

Fluvoxamine and COVID-19

Earlier this year, the Washington University researchers launched their first clinical trial of the drug in patients with COVID-19. That trial compared fluvoxamine with a harmless placebo in 152 adult outpatients. None of the 80 participants who received fluvoxamine became seriously ill after 15 days, while six patients who received placebo did. Of those six, four were hospitalized, for periods ranging from four to 21 days. One was on a ventilator for 10 days.

Based on those initial results, Washington University is now launching a much larger trial open to residents across the United States and Canada. The trial is seeking approximately 880 at-risk participants, age 18 and older, who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild symptoms.

Participants will be provided with either fluvoxamine or a placebo for approximately 15 days. No face-to-face contact is required; everything necessary will be sent to the participants’ doorsteps.

Contactless Check-Ins

The researchers will track the patients by videochat, email or telephone to determine if fluvoxamine provides a benefit and helps keep participants out of the hospital. During brief daily check-ins, trial participants will report their oxygen levels, blood pressure and temperature, along with whether they are feeling shortness of breath or have had any other problems.

The study team will continue to follow the participants for approximately 90 days after they have finished taking fluvoxamine or the placebo.

The trial is open to people who have at least one risk factor for severe COVID-19, such as being 40 or older, being part of a high-risk racial/ethnic group (such as African-American, Hispanic, Native American or biracial), or having one or more medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, a lung disease or an immune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis.

For more information about the trial, visit this website.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Hits High Point During Winter

Carbon monoxide is winter’s “silent killer.” Unintentional carbon monoxide deaths kill more than 400 Americans each year and sicken many others. It’s a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas undetectable to the human senses, so people don’t realize that they are being poisoned. Tragically in 2020, California lost a number of residents from carbon monoxide poison related to faulty wall heaters and other sources of carbon monoxide. Watch the video https://youtu.be/3BT_hDb4uqE.

Products that are typically involved in poisonings include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas.

Symptoms can be variable, ranging from headache, fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness to loss of consciousness and chest pain. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen slowly or swiftly depending on circumstances. In an effort to raise public awareness, California Poison Control offers 10 tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Have all heating equipment installed properly, and have a home or rental’s heating system inspected by a professional prior to turning the heat on when cold weather begins.

2. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in all homes, apartments, mobile homes and workplaces. When a detector goes off, assume that a real danger is present, and get all people and pets out of the structure immediately. Do not re-enter until a heating professional, the gas company or the fire department has declared the area safe.

3. During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.

4. Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil.

5. Never use fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in such an area.

6. In climates with snow, make sure that chimneys and vents do not become blocked with snowfall.

7. Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as a garage, house or other building, or outside of an open window.  Keep the generator as far from the house as possible.

8. Do not use charcoal or hibachi grills indoors to cook with or for heat under any circumstances.

9. Do not attempt to heat your home by turning on the oven or clothes dryer and leaving the door open.

10. Never let a car engine run inside a closed space such as a garage. Drive out promptly after starting the car, and turn the car engine off as soon as you drive into an enclosed space. Never have a garage door closed with a running vehicle inside, even for a few seconds.  

About California Poison Control

CPCS is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information regarding poison prevention. In case of an accidental poisoning, consumers should immediately call the nationwide number from any state1-800-222-1222. Pharmacists, nurses, physician-toxicologists and poison information providers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help.

Weekly tips about safety are available by texting TIPS to 20121 for information in English or text PUNTOS to 20121 for Spanish. Follow CPCS on Facebook and on Twitter @poisoninfo. CPCS is part of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy and is responsible to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a COVID-19 Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Antidepressant x COVID-19

Based on a trial from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the antidepressant fluvoxamine appears to prevent COVID-19 infections from worsening, even keeping patients out of the hospital.

The clinical trial was conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Fluvoxamine was compared with a placebo in 152 adult patients who were infected with the coronavirus.

80 participants received the fluvoxamine, and not one of the 80 became seriously ill after 15 days. Six patients receiving the placebo became seriously ill with four being hospitalized for between four and 21 days. One of the four in the hospital was on a ventilator for 10 days.

Though the sample size was relatively small, the data is believed to be statistically significant. The plan is to launch a larger trial in coming weeks.

Eric J. Lenze, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine, said patients who took fluvoxamine did not require hospitalization because of issues in lung function.

“Most investigational treatments for COVID-19 have been aimed at the very sickest patients, but it’s also important to find therapies that prevent patients from getting sick enough to require supplemental oxygen or to have to go to the hospital,” Lenze said. “Our study suggests fluvoxamine may help fill that niche.”

UVA’s Alban Gaultier, PhD, and former graduate student Dorian A. Rosen, PhD, found in 2019 that fluvoxamine may stop sepsis, a deadly inflammation causing the immune system to spiral out of control. The findings of Gaultier and Rosen inspired the tests at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Gaultier and Rosen determined that fluvoxamine reduces the production of cytokines, which have been linked to deadly cytokine storms, which are thought to occur in severe cases of COVID-19

“Because elevated cytokines levels have been associated with COVID-19 severity, testing fluvoxamine in a clinical trial made a lot of sense to us,” said Gaultier. “We are still unclear about the mode of action of fluvoxamine against SARS-CoV-2, but research is under way to find the answer.”

Washington University’s Angela M. Reiersen, MD, said the drug works by interacting with the sigma-1 receptor to reduce the production of inflammatory molecules.

“Past research has demonstrated that fluvoxamine can reduce inflammation in animal models of sepsis, and it may be doing something similar in our patients,” Reiersen said.

The limitations of the research were emphasized. The small sample size was noted along with the fact that 20% of participants stopped answering surveys during the trial. Though the researchers could rule out hospital visits for those who stopped answering, they did believe it possible that the participants sought treatment elsewhere.

Because of the limitations, the findings should be considered encouraging and worthy of further research rather than iron clad truth.

Gaultier said, “If a larger clinical trial (phase III) confirms the results, fluvoxamine would be a perfect treatment for COVID patients newly diagnosed. Fluvoxamine is not an experimental drug, it is cheap and safe and could be available as a first line of defense to unburden the hospitals that are overwhelmed by the COVID health crisis.”

For more medical research news from UVA, you can click right here.

Allison Christensen Illustrates a Sports Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Tyrod Taylor

By Justin Lyons

Justin Herbert lined up under center on the first drive Sunday for the Los Angeles Chargers, which was a surprise.

Herbert was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Tyrod Taylor was supposed to be the starter while Herbert learned from the bench. Herbert had a successful day, scoring on his first drive and going on to throw for 311 yards and a touchdown, but he came up a bit short of the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs in overtime.

It’s now clear why Taylor didn’t play quarterback Sunday. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn told ESPN’s Shelley Smith that Taylor’s lung was punctured by a team doctor attempting to administer a pain relief injection just before kickoff.

Lynn told Smith that the injury is not career-threatening, and Taylor isn’t mad or upset. Lynn appeared to reaffirm Taylor’s status as a starter when he is cleared to return, saying there was a lot the Chargers didn’t get done with Herbert as their quarterback and that Herbert is a backup “for a reason.”

George Atallah, the assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFL Players Association, tweeted that the union’s medical and legal teams are looking into the incident. He also confirmed that the NFLPA has initiated an investigation.

According to ESPN, the injection is not uncommon, but the doctor is unable to see where the needle is going, which can be difficult. Though the procedure is standard, it is rare that a player’s lung is punctured.

Lynn said Herbert will start Sunday at home against the Carolina Panthers, as Taylor won’t be fully healthy.

“I am looking forward to seeing him play with a week of preparation and knowing he is the starter,” Lynn said.

The Panthers and Chargers will kick off at 1:05 p.m. local time Sunday.

3 Great Ways to Stay Mentally and Physically Healthy After Retiring

When you retire, your whole life changes. Or, at least that’s how it feels. For most of us, our careers are a huge part of our entire identity, and you will probably feel a lot different once you hang it up.

That can be good and bad. For some, it is fully and undeniably a great feeling on day one. A dream come true. For others, the transition is difficult. And that can lead to some negative effects — both mentally and physically.

The best way to make sure you can adapt quickly and avoid any severe downside is by staying active and staying healthy. The more you can do to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, the better it all will go.
The following represent three great ways to maintain your physical and mental health after retiring.

1. Pick Up Something New

By the time you hit retirement age, you are probably pretty set in your ways. The last thing that might seem like a good idea is even more change. But it really can help. It doesn’t have to be something major. Replacing the hours you normally spend at work with something else, however, will do you a lot of good. Join a new club, pick up a new hobby, or get involved in your community in a new way. It can really help you adjust — you won’t be just losing something but adding something as well.

2. Embrace the Water

One of the difficult parts about getting older is that it’s harder to exercise and stay in shape. Even people who have always been fit and love to run or play sports have trouble maintaining their routines because it can be so hard on the joints. The solution? Jump in the pool! There’s a reason that even pro athletes rehab in the water. You can continue using you body and strengthening your muscles — plus your lungs and heart — without risking injury.

3. Get Top Coverage

Of course, no matter how fit you stay, there will always be some health concerns. That’s just inevitable as people age. So you need to make sure you have the best possible healthcare coverage. For most seniors, this means going with some type of Medicare Advantage plan. This allows you to expand upon the coverage of the traditional program at a very affordable rate. There are many different types, but it’s hard to go wrong with a Medicare Advantage PPO plan that includes benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t. Make sure you have access to all the medical care you need.

Staying Mentally and Physically Fit

After you retire, there will be an adjustment period. But you can minimize the negative parts of this transition by implementing the right strategies. The goal for everything should be staying healthy — and improving your health. 

After all, you don’t have to grind away at a 9-to-5 anymore. You might even be able to strengthen your body and sharpen your mind with more free time and more energy to devote to yourself.

Start by replacing your work hours with some new hobbies. Stay fit with low-impact activities like swimming. And make sure you have the best healthcare coverage possible. This alone will help so much. You can embrace retirement head on and start loving your life more and more every day.

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Dianne Morales for 360 MAGAZINE

Dianne Morales

As of late, one of our team members had the opportunity to sit down with New York City mayoral candidate Dianne Morales for an interview. After eight years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will see someone new in the position in 2021, and Morales, a member of the Democratic Party, is jumping at the opportunity.

360: What are the major points of inspiration throughout your life, so far, that have led you to where you are today?

Morales: At my core is a commitment to community, and I learned community at home. I am the youngest of three girls and the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. My mother, a secretary for the Leather Workers’ Union, and my father, a building manager on the waterfront, created a working-class life for us in Bed-Stuy. But our home was not just for me and my sisters. My grandmother, Mami, lived with us my whole childhood. In fact, she and I shared a bed until the day that I left home for college. Our home was a resting place, a layover, a transition point for whoever needed it. There was always someone new sleeping on the couch or joining us at the dinner table. Whether they had just arrived from Puerto Rico, were in between jobs, had just returned from the military or from being incarcerated, there were always other people staying with us while they “got back on their feet.” My parents opened their arms and their front door to whoever needed it. I never questioned this way of life. I was taught, “If you have, then you provide.” We took care of each other. I saw, firsthand, the opportunity created when we each take responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors and for our communities. This belief has spurred me on through 30 years in the public sector, as an educator, a foster care worker and a leader of nonprofits.

As I established my own home in Bed-Stuy as a single mom, my children and I recreated the dynamic my parents had built. We always have a few extra people living in our home – whom we often refer to as our “chosen family.” These extended family members have filled my home with love and reciprocal support. In a twist of fate, since the pandemic hit, I have shared my home with my parents and my children. I envision a New York City where we take care of each other, where everyone is welcome to the dinner table, where neighbors provide more support than extra sugar and all of us have a warm place to rest our heads. Although NYC is vast with diversity, we are all inextricably bound together and are only as strong as our most vulnerable link.

360: How can a mayor, as opposed to any other civic official, lead unique positive changes for equity?

Morales: Over the past several months there is a mantra I have been repeating consistently: a budget is a reflection of our values. The mayor has executive power over what gets funded in the city and by how much. Funding for services that contribute to true public safety (access to housing, medical/mental healthcare, economic stability, job training, education) will provide access and opportunity to those who have historically been left behind by our elected officials. Line by line, the budget reveals the values of a city and government. The NYC budget passed in June was a failure. It failed the residents of NYC, who have been raising their voices in protest and demanding a divestment from law enforcement since May 29. It failed those whose lives have been lost at the hands of the NYPD. It failed communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by violence and brutality.

The budget highlights the need for NYC leadership to put New Yorkers first by investing in communities. The NYC Mayor also has the ability to work to desegregate public schools and impact the quality of education provided to over 1.1 million students, many of whom are students of color living in poverty. This alters the course of a student’s life and provides an entry point to economic mobility and a true career trajectory. New Yorkers deserve a bold, transformational leader who is unapologetically committed to prioritizing justice in the budget’s bottom line. I fundamentally believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Our city needs a mayor that is in tune with her people and provides a vision for and direction for what is possible.

360: What are some of the most pressing or urgent issues that need attention within New York City, and how would you address them?

Morales: New York’s problems all stem from structural oppression by Race, Gender and Class, so our solutions must go deeper, all the way to the root causes. Too many New Yorkers are living in a time of scarcity, and that’s been going on since long before the virus hit. The are working two jobs, just barely surviving and always one misfortune away from losing everything. Instead of this “Scarcity Economy,” we need a “Solidarity Economy,” and that requires bold action. First, transforming public safety in the city by providing access to the same critical resources found in wealthy communities will be a critical step toward creating the long-term change we need for all to live in dignity. True public safety includes ensuring that every New Yorker has access to “life essentials,” like quality transportation, affordable housing, excellent and equal education and human-centered healthcare. All New Yorkers deserve access to these fundamental resources in order to live in dignity, and it is the necessary floor needed to break through glass ceilings.

Next, we must enhance and overhaul vital infrastructure requiring multi-part, creative solutions that address the deeper issues embedded in the fabric of NYC. To break the racist cycle of poverty that divides our city into the “haves” and the “have-nots,” we will establish a guaranteed minimum income. We will push for universal healthcare and eliminate inequities in the health system faced by women, and especially women of color. We will work to address the persistent segregation of our schools and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by replacing school safety officers with trained mental health professionals. The driving force behind all policy initiatives is the experiences, needs and voices of women of color. Particularly, Black women. As the Combahee River Collective wisely wrote in its 1977 statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” We know that if New York does right by Black women, the entire city will be better for it.

360: How can you use your personal experiences with serving as a single mother and observing the many other challenges that face New York City residents to enact policy reform?

Morales: So many of New York’s problems have impacted me directly, and so much of who I am and what I know comes from being a mom. My greatest joy is being the mother of my two children, Ben and Gabby. They constantly push me, teach me and nourish me. As a single parent, I share experiences with hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers. A 2018 study found that single-parent households are the second largest household type in New York City. I navigated New York City’s systems – economic, health and education – on my own. I balanced a budget for my family each month, figuring out how to make it work. My greatest challenge was parenting my children through the NYC education system. The rigid and unforgiving education that my children received did not allow any space for their learning differences. They did not see themselves in the white-centric curriculum and we struggled to find support during their developmental years. Advocating for my children was a full-time job on top of my paying-full-time-job. Again and again I have stood with parents for a more equitable and life-affirming education for our kids. It is with this same community spirit of coalition building, advocacy and bettering of our social safety nets that I will push for policies that support all types of families in NYC.

360: What is one of the most significant components of your background or experiential knowledge that separates you from any other candidate?

Morales: I am, in so many ways, the average New Yorker. I was born and bred in Bed-Stuy. I am an Afro Latina single-mom of two children who survived the New York City public school system. I am a first generation college graduate who came back home to my city after school. I am a woman of color who discovered that I was not being paid the same as my white male counterparts. I’ve watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen Starbucks replace the corner bodega, and I have spent my weekends marching side by side – 6 feet apart – with my fellow New Yorkers demanding justice for those killed at the hands of a racist policing system. Because I am the average New Yorker, my voice reflects the voices of thousands of others. We share our lived experiences, frustrations and joys. I love New York City because I see our full potential for all of us.

360: How does your previous extensive work with social service nonprofits inform your motivations and goals to serve as Mayor?

Morales: For decades, I worked within the community to address structural inequities burdening communities of color. I worked alongside those experiencing the symptoms of our broken system most acutely – poverty, lack of access to education, homelessness and mental health services. I witnessed firsthand the day-to-day struggles of New Yorkers that are perpetuated by cycles of poverty and oppression. I worked from the ground, up and from the inside, out. But as I hammered away, I recognized these structural and institutional barriers, and began to ask, “So how do we burn them down?” It felt as though I was only tinkering around the edges of the problem and providing Band-Aid solutions to deep, deep wounds. The core, perpetuating issues were centralized and foundational. I realized that if I want to create lasting, effective change, I must address these systemic and political problems at the root. As Mayor, I would carry with me the voices of those I have served.

360: In outlining your points of action and reform for New York City, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect any of these potential strides for change?

Morales: As we know, COVID-19 is a catastrophe that illuminates all of the cracks and splinters in our broken systems. At first, many claimed the COVID-19 was a “great equalizer,” affecting all people, regardless of race, class or gender. Instead COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities. This is not a coincidence or personal failing, but rather the direct result of racist systems, putting structural oppression in stark relief. While some New Yorkers are able to escape crowded areas, arm themselves with personal protective equipment and work remotely, others, namely people of color, are on the front lines providing essential services to our city.

As COVID-19 has had devastating consequences that will leave a lasting impact for years to come, it has also provided us with a unique moment. As we saw after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, being homebound and isolated forces us to pay attention. We have paused. We have slowed down. With fewer distractions and a center of focus, folks all across the country have had the veil lifted. People are noticing the interconnected webs of oppression I have lived with and that I have been fighting to dismantle my entire life. In this moment, we need leaders in office who are of, by and for the movement for social change. There is a momentum and hunger for justice that can no longer be ignored. As we overcome the challenge of the disease, I will never let the city forget who is truly essential. Together we will create a world in which front-line workers are truly valued as indispensable. A world where we accompany our applause and platitudes with a livable wage, unquestionable dignity and real community power.

360: What are some of the most rewarding takeaways you have gained from leading several momentous organizations?

Morales: I’ve learned firsthand about the barriers and challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain access to opportunities that are alleged to be available to everyone. I also have watched as community members care for one another to bridge the gaps in access to those opportunities. This is testament to the power of our communities to be true partners in determining the solutions they face when given the resources to do so. Finally, I have been able to bear witness to what is possible when people finally gain access and opportunity and how that has the potential to change the trajectory of people’s lives and transform families and communities.

360: Regarding the national and global movement, Black Lives Matter, how will you utilize your unique identity to empower minorities in the City of New York?

Morales: Like many people of color, I have lived years of my life trying not to take up space. I have seen the ways that my identities – my Blackness, my Latina roots, my politics, my womanhood – make people, namely white people, uncomfortable. In these spaces I would constantly ask myself, “Do I seem too opinionated, too articulate, too aggressive?” I would contort and deflate myself to fit into tight corners and small boxes. I would shrink myself so that others could feel big. When making the decision to run for Mayor of NYC, I decided it was important for me to run as my full, unadulterated, unapologetic, multi-hyphenated self. There would be no more shrinking, questioning or self-doubt. I recognize that by the very nature of stepping into this space, I am opening up a path of possibility. As the first Afro-Latina running for mayor of New York City, I recognize the awesome responsibility I hold. I know that when I speak, unfairly or not, I am representing all Afro-Latina women. Missteps become mass stereotypes. Accolades become communal achievements.

This is both beautiful and deeply terrifying. But in moments of fear, I am guided by a greater purpose to bring with me those whom have been devalued and made to feel small, as I have been; to elevate the voices of those with shared experiences and claim our rightful place in democracy and representation in leadership. People like me, individuals and communities of color, women of color, we must be at the forefront of our politics and policies. I am deeply committed to divesting from racist systems and investing in Black and Brown communities. I am committed to reimagining public safety on our streets and in our schools. I am committed to shifting wealth opportunities to those who have been historically marginalized. I am committed to redressing and repairing the wounds of oppression that scar our city. I am in this race to stand taller in the face of a world that tells me to shrink. I am here to tell them that Black lives are beloved. We matter today and every day forward.

360: To all of the NYC citizens following your efforts to better numerous communities, what are some of the best ways individuals can support your campaign?

Morales: The best way to help me is to join the campaign with a small contribution. I am not a career politician, and unlike other candidates, I have not spent decades cultivating a war chest of people, networks and resources to kickstart my run for mayor. I want to be responsive to the people, not the special interests.. My campaign was born out of my home in Bed-Stuy, out of conversations with my neighbors, friends and colleagues. Our campaign is 100% powered by the people, not the 1%. We are an intersectional coalition of Black and Brown, Latinx, LGBTQIA and working class New Yorkers. We are backed by the people being hit the hardest at this moment in time. I am so incredibly humbled that in the middle of a pandemic, without employment, people are finding a way to donate to our campaign. I know what is at stake and the choices they have had to make to do so. If donating to our campaign is not possible for you during this financially uncertain time, we understand. Visit my website, dianne.nyc, for information and volunteer opportunities. Spread our mission to your fellow New Yorkers. Reach out to join our team. Remember me in November 2021.

To learn more about Dianne Morales, you can click right here. To learn more about her stances and solutions, you can click right here. To support Morales through donations, you can click right here. You can also support her on Twitter and Instagram.

Covid and health illustration

Oxford Vaccine Shows Promising Signs

By Eamonn Burke

A vaccine developed by The University of Oxford in the UK and major pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has shown early signs of being a potential success. According to data posted today in The Lancet medical journal, a strong immune response was invoked by early testing of the vaccine in a large human trial of over 1,000 participants.

The vaccine, named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, produced higher levels of antibodies and T-cells that fight the virus, according to the data. In other words, “We’re stimulating both arms of the immune system,” says Oxford’s head of the Jenner Institute Adrian Hill.

By no means does this data guarantee an effective vaccine, but human testing is a major step in the right direction, especially one with positive results. Another good sign is the lack of serious side effects, with most volunteers only reporting fatigue, headache, and soreness at the injection site. Big questions that remain, however, are how the body will react once infected, and if someone can get infected again.

AstraZenaca has received support from the U.S., pledging $1.2 billion dollars to vaccine work, and from the U.K., who has made a deal for 90 million doses of it. It is one of over 100 being developed globally, with 23 in the human trial phase. One of them is Moderna’s, which also showed promising signs in data last week and is set to start a Phase 3 of development on July 27.

Texas A&M Innovation Plaza

Texas A&M System Brands Buildings at Texas A&M Innovation Plaza in Texas Medical Center

The five-acre mixed-use Texas A&M Innovation Plaza in Houston will be home to the Engineering Medicine program and more.

The Texas A&M University System has announced Discovery Tower, Life Tower and Horizon Tower as the names of the three buildings that comprise Texas A&M Innovation Plaza, its landmark 5-acre campus in Houston, Texas, at the prominent intersection of Holcombe Boulevard and Main Street near the Texas Medical Center (TMC). This campus sets a new standard for collaboration in engineering, medicine, research and education and is the first all-new mixed-use campus for the Texas A&M System in Houston.

The Texas A&M University System initiated the new campus by acquiring and renovating an 18-story office building at 1020 Holcombe Blvd. to be the home for EnMed, a unique two-degree program that provides students the chance to earn a master’s degree in engineering from Texas A&M University and a medical degree from the Texas A&M College of Medicine. Opening later this year, this building supports EnMed and an expanded array of Texas A&M’s engineering, research, innovation, medical and life science programs that are reflected in the newly announced brand: Discovery Tower.

Complementing the academic, research, discovery and innovation missions of the EnMed Building, Texas A&M Innovation Plaza will provide a welcoming, secure and vibrant experience to the campus population and visitors alike, with generous green spaces and lifestyle amenities not commonly found in the TMC area.

With groundbreaking scheduled in late 2020, the System’s public-private partnership (P3) developer is bringing additional investment of $401 million to fulfill unmet needs in the area with two complementary towers totaling an additional 1.9 million square feet.

“EnMed is just the first example of innovation that Texas A&M System intends to bring to the Texas A&M Innovation Plaza,” said Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “We are excited to have such a visible location in the Texas Medical Center.”

Scheduled to be complete in June 2022, Life Tower is a 19-story, 714-bed student housing tower will overlook a scenic plaza flanked by a large garage with retail and dining at grade with convenient, affordable parking for 2,714 vehicles. Texas A&M medical students and Prairie View A&M University nursing students will be given priority for housing, but students from other institutions could fill open slots, if available.

Scheduled to deliver in January 2024 is Horizon Tower, a 17-story, 485,000 square-foot integrated building that will be built atop the 13-story parking structure. With generous, efficient floorplates and robust building technologies, Horizon Tower will be ideally suited to life sciences, clinical, biomedical, technology and office uses.

Accessible via Main Street, Holcombe Boulevard and Fannin Street, Texas A&M Innovation Plaza is also adjacent to the METRO TMC Station, providing convenient connectivity via bus and light rail service to the TMC, Museum District and Downtown Houston.

The developer for the P3 projects is Medistar Corporation, a long-time Houston-based developer. Infrastructure investment firm American Triple I Partners, founded by Texas A&M alum Henry Cisneros, is part of the financing team.

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.

The Risks of Bad Medical Billing Practices

Medical providers do not pay enough attention to billing. They do it as a necessary process with little thought about doing an effective and efficient job. What they fail to realize is how bad billing practices can lead to potential issues with care and revenue. It can also open them up to legal consequences.

If you are a provider, you need to think about the importance of proper medical billing. Consider how beneficial it could be to your practice and your patients if you simply found better billing solutions.

The Reason Behind Billing Issues

Forbes explains that doctors often rush training on the systems and procedures involved with billing. They simply do not understand how complex it can be or the attention it deserves. Even worse, many offices do not offer training at all. It is a learn as you go type of setup.

The most important aspect of billing that every provider needs to understanding clearly and have proper training on is accurate documentation. Doctors have to document everything they do. If they don’t, they can’t bill for it properly. It also could lead to misunderstandings in the care and other serious issues for patients as they move from doctor to doctor for treatment of various health conditions.

On the flip side, if a doctor doesn’t document care properly, it could result in overbilling the patient. This is just as bad as not charging enough. Doctors need to realize that billing is an essential component of care just like anything else they do.

However, even an excellent billing provider, such as Fortis Medical Billing, cannot avoid issues with bills based on bad documentation. For this reason, doctors need to ensure they get proper training and know how to use documentation systems correctly.

Other Common Billing Problems

Beyond inaccurate and bad documentation, there are a lot of other things that your office may do to make billing more difficult.

Not managing claims and information can lead to a terrible mess when it comes to billing. Each office needs to have someone who can manage claims and stays on top of billing needs. Even if you outsource billing, your office needs to manage what is going out to the billing company.

Failing to inform patients about their responsibilities when it comes to billing is a great way to end up with trouble. With so many insurance plans having high deductibles, patients need to know they will be responsible for payment. If you fail to make them aware, it leads to collections and difficulties in collecting payments due.

Patient information capturing is an essential part of the billing process. When done correctly and completely, it can help prevent problems with submitting claims to insurance companies. It also is important in avoiding confusion among patients and incorrect billing for services.

When your patients get their bills, it should be easy for them to pay and understand. If mistakes happened, it will delay the payment, which affects you the most in the end. You can overcome all of these mistakes that lead to billing issues, but it does take a commitment. It is not enough to provide high-quality medical care. You need to provide quality in every service, including billing.

Knowledge Is Key

One thing you have to keep in mind when it comes to medical billing is that it all starts with you and your office. Billing results depend on you providing accurate information and understanding how the whole system works.

If you cannot provide good documentation and proper information to whoever is handling your billing, then you can expect problems with your billing. You should take time to ensure everyone in your office receives adequate training on documentation and billing procedures. Take a strict stance on this to make sure everyone takes these things seriously. Developing this mindset is really the only way to avoid problems.

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COVID-19’s Impact on Nursing Homes

The American Health Care Association National Center for Assisted Living has published a report detailing the impact that both the COVID-19 crisis and historic underfunding are having on nursing homes.

Between declines in occupancy, supply costs increasing by up to 103 percent, and labor costs rising, nursing homes across the U.S. are on the verge of collapse. The estimated revenue loss is up to 23 percent, or $57 billion. “Because of COVID-19, communities cannot continue move-ins or use revenue from new residents to counteract these expenses… this means that many homes will fail” (Dr. Ira Bedzow, NY Medical College, FoxNews.com, 4/29/20).

When it comes to nursing home care, as the old saying goes, we get what we pay for. Due in part to the exclusion of long-stay nursing home services from the Medicare benefit, Medicaid is the dominant payer of nursing home services. “Medicaid payment rates are typically 70-80% of private pay prices” said David Grabowski, PhD, Harvard Medical School (Testimony To U.S. Senate Finance Committee, 3/16/19).

Pre-COVID, the average nursing home was operating at a net loss or shoestring budget due to Medicaid’s funding shortfall. “In 2018, the average total margin – reflecting all payers (including  managed care, Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurers) and all lines of business (such as skilled and long-term care, hospice, ancillary services, home health care, and investment income) – was –0.3 percent, down from 2017 (0.6 percent).” (MedPAC Report To Congress: Medicare Payment Policy, 3/1/20).

“Medicaid must begin to pay a higher rate commensurate with the costs of delivering high-quality long-term care to frail older adults. In many states, this will require greater federal contributions” (David Grabowski, PhD,Harvard Medical Schoo, and Vincent Mor, PhD, Brown University).