Posts tagged with "medical"

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.

360 Magazine, Wheelchair

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).

Alison Christensen, illustrations, pandemic, 360 MAGAZINE

New COVID-19 Stroke Guidelines

Top stroke experts have issued new guidance to ensure stroke patients receive safe, timely care while preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The guidelines urge the use of telemedicine to speed treatment and advise EMS crews how to determine the best facility to treat the patient’s needs. The recommendations, from the American Heart Association’s Stroke Council, come amid increasing concerns that stroke patients are delaying seeking care because of fear of COVID-19. Such delays can have catastrophic consequences, including death.

“Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients should continue to seek immediate care for life-threatening and emergency conditions, and call 911 for any new signs or symptoms of stroke,” said UVA Health stroke expert Andrew Southerland, MD, one of the guidelines’ authors. “As the only certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in Charlottesville and Central Virginia, UVA has the necessary resources to ensure both patient safety and provide the highest level of care for stroke patients. Seeking emergency care for a stroke can help save lives and reduce the risk of long-term neurologic injury and resulting disability.”

The Importance of Speedy Stroke Care

With strokes, every minute counts, and speedy care can be the difference between life and death. It can also prevent lifelong disability. For that reason, Southerland and other telemedicine experts at UVA have worked with local EMS personnel to pioneer the use of the technology for pre-hospital care. They’ve placed tablets inside ambulances to connect first responders with UVA stroke experts, allowing stroke care to begin even before the patient arrives at the hospital. The new guidelines suggest this approach should be used widely.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, adds an extra layer of complexity for first responders. In addition to the need for appropriate personal protective equipment, EMS crews must assess whether each patient has the coronavirus, the new guidelines note.

When possible, EMS workers should screen patients using free tools available online, the guidelines recommend. Responders should have a protocol in place in case the screening is positive or if the patient is incapacitated and can’t be screened. The receiving hospital should be notified as well.

Stroke patients with COVID-19 are more likely to require a ventilator and intensive care, so emergency crews should consider taking patients to a hospital with the capacity to provide that level of care, the guidelines note. Emergency crews also may need to consider hospital capacity based on the number of cases in their region and they may want to bypass emergency rooms to lessen exposure risk.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic,” the guidelines state, “it is more important than ever to ensure that the patient is transferred to the right hospital the first time around.”

In all of this, communication between emergency crews and the receiving hospitals is key, the guide’s authors say.

“Now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to work collaboratively and support our emergency medical services providers working day and night on the front lines for our community,” Southerland said. “To achieve this, we must optimize communication and pre-hospital care for patients. Nowhere is this more important than in rural networks like surrounding areas in Central Virginia.”

For the latest medical research news from UVA, click here to subscribe to the Making of Medicine.

360 MAGAZINE, illustration, sara sandman

5 Myths About Varicose Veins and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

In case you have been diagnosed with varicose veins, it could be troublesome to distinguish facts and fiction about the condition. Most victims tend to feel that the entire society has an opinion and possible solutions for the situation. Let’s look at a few misconceptions about varicose veins and the reasons why we should not trust them. 

Women are the Only People Affected by Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are prevalent among women, although men can also get affected by the medical condition. Some studies have revealed that both genders are equally affected by the disease. Based on a survey conducted by the American Society for Vascular Surgery, an excess of 15 million Americans are affected by the disease. Varicose veins run in the family; therefore, family history is a significant determinant in the development of varicosities and not gender. It is, however, unfortunate that a majority of men and women go untreated. 

Surgery is Vital for the Removal of Varicose Veins

Back in the day, varicose veins symptoms were managed through weight reduction, leg elevation, dietary salt reduction, daily exercises, and using the compression hose. However, with the advancement in technology and the advancement of the disease, modern treatment involves the control of venous pressure by removing the affected veins. According to the experts at MyVivaa, the procedure could be performed in an outpatient facility using anesthesia. The surgical process could be a stringent procedure; therefore, it would be advisable for anyone seeking a procedure to pick a facility that doesn’t have financial, race, religion, or national origin bias. After a procedure, the patient can return to their routine life.

Besides, the other misconception running in society is that surgery is the only solution for varicose veins. Well, in case one of your relatives suffered from the disease and underwent surgery, probably that was the right treatment for them.

Currently, there are minimally invasive treatment options available for varicose veins patients. Surgery remains to be one of the treatment options, but there are other suitable options that you should enquire from your doctor. Micro phlebectomy is one of the procedures that involve making several incisions on the skin to remove the veins. Sclerotherapy is another solution for the superficial veins, and it consists of mixing a scarring agent with air, then it is injected in the affected veins.

The Condition is Only Cosmetic

There is a cosmetic aspect in varicose veins and most of the time; it can be viewed on the affected person’s legs, making it uncomfortable for them to wear skirts or shorts. Spider veins are a common phenomenon among varicose veins victims, and it is considered to be the smaller version of the condition and that it is purely cosmetic. Varicose veins could have a significant impact on how much you enjoy life and your health status. The condition could cause intense bleeding whenever a victim is injured, increase the chances of a blood clot, cause changes in skin color, or make the skin thicker, cause swellings or cause pain and discomfort.

Varicose Veins Have no Treatment

Lack of treatment is a great myth meant to demoralize varicose veins victims. The fact is that numerous treatment options include slightly invasive non-surgical options and revising someone’s eating habits.

There are other innumerable activities that you could indulge starting now to reduce the varicose veins symptoms such as regular physical activities that would result in muscular movement, thus improving blood flow. In case you are overweight, consider losing some weight that will significantly benefit your legs and your overall health. Besides, try elevating your legs to your heart level four times a day for at least 30 minutes that will reduce pressure on the veins.

Women Should Wait till They are Done with Having Children to Seek Treatment

This is not correct! Even for those women who are in their family planning stage, they can also seek treatment during pregnancy. But it’s also important to discuss with your physician to ensure prescribed drugs are not dangerous to your present or future pregnancy. Some of these drugs can also be excreted via breast milk. 

Having debunked these varicose veins myths, you stand a better chance of dealing with the superficial veins at an early stage, given the numerous treatment options available in your local hospital. In case you suspect that you have varicose veins but haven’t spoken to your physician or you thought that some of these myths applied, its high time you made an appointment. For those who have been diagnosed with the condition and experience pain and they are interested in better means to relieve the pain, ensure you make an appointment with an interventional radiologist who will offer you great solutions for your problem.

Things to Look for Before Shopping Medical Supplies Online

Aside from the expertise in the medical field, one of the other most important aspects of any medical practice or business is the equipment and supplies. Shopping for these tools can be a hassle when you are not sure what to look for or where to look for, but that is a problem easily solved. The most important part is knowing what you need and what is going to help take your medical business to the next level.

Aside from the actual supplies themselves, you need to figure out what goes into the buying process. Making the right decisions can save you time and money that can be used for other areas of your business or practice. Check out these tips to learn what to look for.

Reliability and Trustworthiness of a Seller

Finding inexpensive medical supplies might seem like a blessing while browsing around online but it could end up hurting you in the long run. Cheap supplies or unreliable sellers could end up costing you more time, money, and headaches than sticking with trustworthy sellers. You want to find a reliable, and trustworthy source for supplies. This means one that has reviews and extensive research on products too. The legitimacy of your business can hinge on the quality of the tools you use. Similarly, if you want to be seen as a medical business that people would love to do business with, then you need to provide them with the care they need and this comes with finding sellers that are only providing the best supplies.

Costs and Expenses 

As mentioned, costs still play a factor. Whether they are too high or too low, there is always something to consider. Paying for quality is usually a fairly true statement, especially with medical supplies, but it does not always mean you need to go broke trying to get everything you need. On the flip side, you cannot expect to find everything you want for well under your budget. It is best to understand that there is a good middle ground between paying the right price (or a little more in some cases) to get what you need but to also set a budget and plan exactly how much you need. Consider cross-referencing prices of products from different suppliers and getting things in bulk that can allow you to cut down on paying on a per-product basis.

Protection and Warranties

A lot of expensive and delicate supplies or equipment is intended to last as long as advertised, but that is not always the case. In an ideal world, we would be able to buy one product than not have to replace it for a very long time. This does not happen so it is good to get the warranties offered for shipments and products. For the products themselves, it is a good idea in case the product is defective, breaks, or is generally not as listed. It is also important to hold shipping and delivery companies responsible for their part in providing the supplies you order in a safe manner. Hospitals and other medical practices need supplies fast and in good condition, so there should be no room for error when it comes to this and you should see if this is something you can get.

Contracts and Other Potential Partnerships

This depends a lot on the size and scope of your medical business or practice, but a lot of suppliers offer products and deals through contractual agreements or partnership programs. This is just meant to ensure that they have you as a dedicated customer and can supply you for a determined amount of time. This may be a reliable alternative to buying supplies from different companies and can help you develop a strong relationship with a reliable seller. The benefits are great and they can offer you deals on many products or help you find the best possible options. The earlier tip about reliability and trustworthiness is furthered by this as these vendors can help review products in support of your business goals and budget concerns.

Before purchasing any kind of medical equipment or supplies, you need to make some very important considerations. All of the points listed are things that you need to consider before purchasing because they can help you stay within budget, ensure that you are getting the proper supplies, that they are in good quality, and the vendor/seller is of good reputation. With this information, you can make informed and smart decisions that will help you and your practice succeed.