Health Care Workers Hit Hard by the Coronavirus Pandemic – The New York Times

Dr. Sheetal Khedkar Rao, 42, an internist in suburban Chicago, cant pinpoint the exact moment when she decided to hang up her stethoscope for the last time. There were the chaos and confusion of the spring, when a nationwide shortage of N95 masks forced her to examine patients with a surgical mask, the fears she might take the coronavirus home to her family and the exasperating public disregard for mask-wearing and social distancing that was amplified by the White House.

Among the final blows, though, were a 30 percent pay cut to compensate for a drop in patients seeking primary care, and the realization that she needed to spend more time at home after her children, 10 and 11, switched to remote learning.

Everyone says doctors are heroes and they put us on a pedestal, but we also have kids and aging parents to worry about, said Dr. Rao, who left her practice in October. After awhile, the emotional burden and moral injury become too much to bear.

Doctors, paramedics and nurses aides have been hailed as Americas frontline Covid warriors, but gone are the days when people applauded workers outside hospitals and on city streets.

Now, a year into the pandemic, with emergency rooms packed again, vaccines in short supply and more contagious variants of the virus threatening to unleash a fresh wave of infections, the nations medical workers are feeling burned out and unappreciated.

Over the last year, there have been the psychological trauma of overworked intensive care doctors forced to ration care, the crushing sense of guilt for nurses who unknowingly infected patients or family members, and the struggles of medical personnel who survived Covid-19 but are still hobbled by the fatigue and brain fog that hamper their ability to work.

Researchers say the pandemics toll on the nations health care work force will play out long after the coronavirus is tamed. The impact, for now, can be measured in part by a surge of early retirements and the desperation of community hospitals struggling to hire enough workers to keep their emergency rooms running.

Everyone wants to talk about vaccines, vaccines, vaccines, but for our members, all they want to talk about is work force, work force, work force, said Alan Morgan, chief executive of the National Rural Health Association. Right now our hospitals and our workers are just getting crushed.

Some health care experts are calling for a national effort to track the psychological well-being of medical professionals, much like the federal health program that monitors workers who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

We have a great obligation to people who put their lives on the line for the nation, said Dr. Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine.

Celia Nieto, 44, an intensive care nurse in Las Vegas, said many Americans had scant appreciation for the tribulations that she and her colleagues face day after day. There is the physical exhaustion of lifting and turning patients on their bellies so they might breathe easier, the never-ending scramble to adjust ventilators and pain medication, and the mental anguish of telling relatives she doesnt have the time to help them FaceTime with their loved ones.

It feels like were failing, when in actuality were working with what weve got and we dont have enough, she said. We feel quite helpless, and its a real injury to our psyches.

Dr. Donald Pathman, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said he was struck by the early results of a study he has been conducting on the pandemics effect on clinicians who serve in poor communities. Many of the 2,000 medical, dental and mental health professionals who have participated in the survey so far say they are disillusioned.

There is a lot of personal trauma, Dr. Pathman said. Many people have been scarred by their experiences during the pandemic, and they will look to leave their practices.

In interviews, doctors who have recently left the field or are considering early retirement said the pandemic had exacerbated frustrations spurred by shifts in the business of medical care that often required them to work longer hours without increased compensation.

In a survey released in September by the online site Medscape, two-thirds of American doctors said they had grappled with intense burnout during the pandemic, with a similar percentage reporting a drop in income. A quarter of respondents said their experiences with Covid had led them to exit the medical field.

Another survey, by the Physicians Foundation, found that 8 percent of doctors in the United States had closed their offices during the pandemic, translating to 16,000 fewer private practices.

Feb. 14, 2021, 8:48 p.m. ET

Dr. Erica Bial, a pain specialist from suburban Boston who barely survived Covid-19 last spring, said she felt increasingly drained.

We put on our masks and come to work every day because we dont have the luxury of working from home in our pajamas, but the apathy and ennui thats taken hold of society just makes our job feel thankless, said Dr. Bial, who works full time despite struggling with the lingering effects of her illness. Its so demoralizing.

Staffing shortages have been especially acute at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. They were already struggling to retain employees before the pandemic, but many are now facing an existential shortage of skilled workers. According to a study released last week by the nonpartisan U.S. PIRG Education Fund, more than 20 percent of the nations 15,000 nursing homes reported severe shortages of nursing aides in December, up from 17 percent in May, a significant jump over such a short period.

As more and more medical staff members fall ill or quit, those who remain on the job have to work harder, and the quality of care invariably suffers, said Dr. Michael L. Barnett, assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who served as a consultant to the study.

Its a recipe for a collapse in the work force, he said.

So far, the federal government has shown little interest in addressing what Dr. Dzau, of the National Academy of Medicine, writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, described as a parallel pandemic of psychological trauma among health workers.

He and other experts say the government should start by making a concerted effort to accurately count medical worker infections and fatalities.

There is no comprehensive federal government count of worker deaths. But according to a tally by Kaiser Health News and the Guardian, more than 3,300 nurses, doctors, social workers and physical therapists have died from Covid-19 since March.

Experts say the death toll is most likely far higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts 1,332 deaths among medical personnel, which is striking given that its sister agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, lists roughly the same number of deaths just among nursing home workers a small portion of those employed by the nations hospitals, health clinics and private practices.

A number of studies suggest that medical professionals made up 10 percent to 20 percent of all coronavirus cases in the early months of the pandemic though they comprise roughly 4 percent of the population.

Christopher R. Friese, a researcher at University of Michigan, said the governments failure to track health care workers had most likely contributed to many unnecessary deaths. Without detailed, comprehensive data, he said, federal health authorities have been hamstrung in their ability to identify patterns and come up with interventions.

The number of health care worker deaths in this country are staggering, but as shocking and horrifying as they are, we cant be surprised because some very basic tools to address the crisis were left on the shelf, said Dr. Friese, who directs the schools Center for Improving Patient and Population Health.

Jasmine Reed, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., acknowledged the limitations of its coronavirus case data, noting that the agency relies on reporting from state health departments and that can vary according to the state. At least a dozen states do not even participate in the C.D.C.s reporting process, she said.

Many medical workers who have survived Covid-19 face more immediate challenges. Dr. Bial, the pain specialist from Boston, is still plagued by fatigue and impaired lung function.

The day before I got sick, I could comfortably run eight to 10 miles, said Dr. Bial, 45, who started a Facebook group memorializing doctors lost to Covid. Now I go out for a brisk walk and my heart is pounding. Im starting to wonder whether these effects could be permanent.

Dr. Andrew T. Chan, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who has been studying the pandemics disproportionate toll on health care workers, said his preliminary research suggested that long haulers in the medical field suffer greater health challenges than the overall population. That is in part because they are often exposed to increased levels of virus, which can lead to more severe illness.

Another factor, he said, is that the worsening staffing shortages in much of the country lead many Covid survivors to return to work before they have fully recovered.

Health care workers are likely to experience a greater risk of long-term complications, Dr. Chan said. Covid could impact our health care system for years to come by not only depleting our work force but by impairing the ability of survivors to do their jobs.

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Health Care Workers Hit Hard by the Coronavirus Pandemic - The New York Times

These Are The States Attempting to Pass Anti-Trans Health Care Bills – Human Rights Campaign

Now, theyre targeting our communitys health care.

This legislative session, states across the country are trying to prevent transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming healthcare.

Right now, theres at least 15 bills targeting the trans community and our ability to seek medical care. Heres a running list of some of the bills were tracking, and what you can do to help:

ALABAMA

This anti-trans medical bill in Alabama (HB 1/SB 10) is called Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act. Despite its name, this bill has nothing to do with compassion or protection - and seeks to harm trans youth, not protect them. This bill would impose criminal penalties on medical professionals and parents who provide best practice gender-affirming care to trans youth.

This is an appalling overreach. Alabaman legislators are trying to tell parents how to care for their trans kids -- and theyre dead wrong.

Fight back now. If you live in Alabama, you can help us.

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These Are The States Attempting to Pass Anti-Trans Health Care Bills - Human Rights Campaign

Many health care workers turned down their COVID vaccine. Here’s why – KGW.com

Data show about 62% of nursing home workers nationwide have not gotten vaccinated for COVID-19. Many Portland hospital employees have also declined the vaccine.

PORTLAND, Ore. While thousands of people are still waiting to get the vaccine, there is a large group not getting it when offered.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 62% of nursing home workers across the country have not gotten the vaccine.

The CDC looked at more than 11,000 senior living facilities that held one vaccination clinic between mid-December and mid-January. While 78% of residents got the shot, only 37.5% of staff members did.

Melissa Unger, executive director for SEIO 503, which represents 73,000 nursing and home health care aides across Oregon, said there are several reasons why she believes workers declined the shot.

Unger said this is a young workforce with a distrust of government. Many nursing home workers have low wages and a difficult relationship with their employer.

Unger also said a large percentage of nursing home workers are people of color, who are historically vaccine hesitant.

"There are a lot of reasons. These are some of the first people to get it, lots of these people have had COVID because there's been massive outbreaks, so they question, do they need it? So, there's just a lot of factors that I think are really coming into play, said Unger, who believes most nursing home workers will eventually get the shot.

Its not just nursing home workers. Some hospital employees are also declining or refusing the COVID vaccine.

KGW Investigates checked with the major hospital systems in the Portland and found:

A spokesperson for OHSU said they dont have a number of who refused of declined the vaccine. Kaiser and Legacy Health officials told KGW they don't keep track of how many employees declined the vaccine.

Some workers have cited side effect concerns or wanting to give the shot to someone more vulnerable as reasons why they waited.

Its not a great idea for the people that are bathed in COVID like we are to refuse to get it because they themselves can be spreaders, said Dr. Mauricio Heilbronn, vice chief of staff at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, California.

Dr. Heilbronn urges people in health care and everyone else to get it for themselves, for their families and to achieve the long-awaited herd immunity across the country.

This has been like a nightmare science fiction, horror movie for the last two months, three months. Anything we can do to keep people out of the hospital, we'll do that. And the vaccine will do that.

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Many health care workers turned down their COVID vaccine. Here's why - KGW.com

Healthcare equity and Alzheimers is the focus of March 3 virtual town hall – cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Alzheimers Association will host a virtual town hall examining the relationship between access to health care and the deadly disease from 5 to 6:30 p.m. March 3.

Those interested in the free event should register online here.

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue to expose disparities in healthcare access that overwhelmingly affect communities of color. And underserved populations contend with elevated rates of Alzheimers and other dementias as well as COVID-19.

According to the Alzheimers Association, Black populations are twice as likely as whites to develop Alzheimers or another dementia. Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely.

Complicating the picture, particularly for caregivers, CDC data confirms that minorities are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Case Western Reserve University researchers recently released a study indicating that Black Americans with dementia are nearly three times as likely to become infected with COVID-19 as their white counterparts.

In general, Black Americans are also more prone to factors associated with vascular disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that may put them at risk for Alzheimers and stroke-related dementia.

The town hall -- named for distinguished University of Michigan social psychologist James S. Jackson, who explored links between racial disparities and minority health -- will be hosted by Carl V. Hill, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the Alzheimers Association, and Peter Lichtenberg, president of the Gerontological Society of America.

Speakers from The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, West Virginia University, the Michigan Alzheimers Disease Research Center and the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute will provide valuable insights.

According to Hill, it is important to examine disparities in health care because the research highlights contextual factors for Alzheimers and other dementia risk.

For example, he explained, cardiovascular health and stress may be part of the pathways to Alzheimers and other dementia for disproportionately affected communities.

Eric VanVlymen, Ohio regional leader of the Alzheimers Association, said the organization remains committed to funding national research initiatives that target minorities.

Such initiatives include the new IDEAS study, which aims to enroll 4,000 African-American and Latino participants to determine whether amyloid PET scans improve diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimers.

The association also continues to work with partners in Ohio and nationwide to improve outreach and ensure that all communities have equal access to opportunities for early detection and diagnosis of the fatal illness.

Being there in the community and working within the community is so critically important, said Hill. Its an unparalleled opportunity to translate research findings and engage all communities using community-based participatory strategies.

Hill hopes that all who attend the town hall will walk away with a stronger commitment to health equity and inclusion as part of the overall effort to defeat Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

The Alzheimers Association is the leading voluntary health organization involved with Alzheimers care, support and research. The associations 24/7 help line can be reached at 800-272-3900.

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Healthcare equity and Alzheimers is the focus of March 3 virtual town hall - cleveland.com

‘It happened so quickly’: Health-care workers lose everything in house fire – 9News.com KUSA

Mike and Tara Wiesner have spent a year on the frontlines helping people dealing with devastation, only to now deal with their own.

ERIE, Colo. A bag of dog food thudded as Allison Frary pushed it away with her foot. Donated jackets and pants were piled on her couches, and shoes covered her floor. She looked around and laughed at how cluttered the front room of her home had become.

"I dont like to look over there," she said as she stared at the charred home across the street. "But this happened because of that, so its nice to remember whats going on."

It was about 1 a.m. Wednesday when Frary ran out of her home in Erie to see the orange glow of a fire coming from her neighbor's house.

"It was my daughter," Frary said. "She heard Tara screaming for help and frantically started screaming for help for us to wake up because our neighbor's house was on fire."

The neighbors, Mike and Tara Wiesner, made it out safely along with their kids and dogs. A puppy and a guinea pig couldn't be saved. Mountain View Fire said the cause of the fire at the home on Parkdale Circle has not been released yet, but they didn't think it was suspicious.

"It happened so quickly that if our son hadn't woken us up, that would have been it," Mike Wiesner said.

"I just kept counting the children, just making sure all the kids were out," Tara Wiesner said.

Mike is a respiratory therapist, and Tara is a nurse case manager. Their year has been spent on the frontlines, helping people deal with devastation, only to come home to their own.

"My husband and I are no strangers to seeing people in peril and seeing people that were devastated by fire," Tara said. "Weve seen a lot go on this past year."

While the couple knows all too well how quickly anguish can spread, so can a little kindness, especially when it comes from just across the street.

"I asked them their sizes when they were here the night of the fire," Frary said as she folded a T-shirt. "Every member of the family has their own wardrobe now."

Frary said she couldn't sit around and replay those screams in her head. She needed to do something. She put the call out for donations the morning after the fire. Within hours, her living room was packed with clothes, toiletries, food and school supplies. She created a GoFundMe as well, and it raised more than $37,000 in a couple of days.

"It was just pretty much an instinct," she said. "I knew that they pretty much lost everything, their whole life that they have been working for. If they were in my shoes, I would just hope that they would do that same."

While houses may make up a neighborhood, they don't create a community. The Wiesner family realized it's compassion that really makes a neighborhood whole and believes theirs is worth rebuilding for.

"It's amazing the kindness that people can show you when something happens," Tara said. "Why would you ever want to leave that type of environment?"

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'It happened so quickly': Health-care workers lose everything in house fire - 9News.com KUSA

Who can afford healthcare these days? | Journal-news – Martinsburg Journal

David Shapiro

Romney

With CoVid 19 spreading out of control, health care must be available and affordable for everyone.

With up to 300,000 people falling sick every day and up to 5,000 people dying daily from CoVid 19 (New York Times) the U.S. is at war with the virus. About 123,000 West Virginians have already gotten CoVid 19 and 2000 have died. Millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet. President Biden announced on Friday, January 22 that it will get worse before it gets better. (CNBC) https://cnb.cx/3rr1KDI

Thirty million people dont have health insurance. Another 44 million have such bare-bones coverage that they are always worried about the costs of getting care. (Commonwealth fund)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) has helped people with pre-existing conditions to get health care.

Bidens current efforts to further strengthen the Affordable Care Act would include

Because private insurance company-based health care is pricey, Biden proposes an alternative, public, government-managed option to try to lower the costs. Is it a good idea or not?

Some say that it would be too expensive. My answer: If the public option is more expensive than your current option, dont take it. World Health Organization explains that US is the most expensive system in the world and the better government run systems cost half or less of the US system.

Some people say that taxes will increase. However, we might pay for it directly, without raising taxes. And if the participants do pay for the public option in taxes, the rise in taxes would likely cost less than the amount you pay now to private insurance.

Some people are concerned that it would not give as good health care coverage. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked US 37 this year (and the past 15 years) in longevity and health care quality. The better programs were national government programs.

But will there be limitations to so that I cannot see my chosen doctor or hospital? The plan can be designed so that one can choose the doctor and hospital you want.

What if I want to stay with my current private insurance plan? its your option to stay with our current plan.

These changes would lower the cost of health care. And that is just what all of us West Virginians need in this health care crisis.

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Who can afford healthcare these days? | Journal-news - Martinsburg Journal

Since vaccinations began, fewer health care workers in Richmond have tested positive – Richmond.com

On Dec. 16, VCU injected its first vaccine into the arm of Audrey Roberson, a nurse manager of the medical respiratory intensive care unit. Within days, thousands of health care workers and their support staffs at VCU, Bon Secours and HCA received their first shot.

Six days later, the infection rate of VCU health care workers decreased 25%. By Jan. 19, 60% of VCU employees had received their first shot, and the number of sick employees had dropped 50% from its peak a month earlier. That means the vaccine seemingly made an impact before employees received their second dose.

The Pfizer vaccine trials reported recipients received a level of protection from the virus as early as 12 days after administration of the first dose. At VCU, 14 days after an employee received an inoculation, he or she was less likely to test positive than an employee who did not receive the vaccine, the letter writers wrote.

The Moderna vaccine arrived at VCU on Dec. 28. The hospital system offered immunizations to all of its 13,000 employees. As of this week, 69% have received both shots, and 60% have received one shot, the health system reported. Nearing its goal, VCU wants to vaccinate at least 70% of its employees.

At HCA, the seven-day average of associates calling out because of COVID has dropped 78% since the beginning of the year, spokesman Jeff Caldwell said. Other factors may have contributed besides the vaccine, Caldwell said, including a decline in overall hospitalizations, general fluctuation in COVID cases and the continued implementation of safety measures such as hand washing and masking.

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Since vaccinations began, fewer health care workers in Richmond have tested positive - Richmond.com

Escalating Cyberattacks on Healthcare Organizations Highlight Need for Security Interventions – HIT Consultant

Michelle Drolet, CEO of Towerwall,

Healthcare organizations have faced continual stress from heavy COVID-19 caseloads in 2020. Cyberattacks on their information networks also loomed as a serious threat, and the pressure to protect data is expected to grow this year, as more criminals target healthcare providers.

Protecting patient data from unauthorized access has long been a regulatory prerequisite for healthcare organizations. But increasingly, cybercriminals see profit potential in attacking and crippling their networks, and restoring operations carry a high cost, both in the expense of repairing IT capabilities, as well as lost revenue, productivity hits, and erosion of community trust.

The rising pressure to protect data systems is prompting healthcare IT security executives to take a hard look at security procedures, and ways to identify and secure potential network weaknesses.

Attacks on the Rise

The need to batten down security hatches has grown in recent months, as COVID-strained healthcare has been hit with devastating cyberattacks, and government agencies warned that more could be coming.

In late October, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers. The potential attacks were attributed to a Russian-speaking criminal gang targeting providers with TrickBot and BazarLoader malware, leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and service disruption. The agencies noted that the issues will be particularly challenging for organizations within the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal warning came on the heels of several high-profile security breaches. In one attack, UVM Health Network had about 5,000 network computers rendered inoperable by a system outage that lasted 40 days; about 300 workers were furloughed because the outage prevented them from doing their jobs. The organization noted that its IT staff had to rebuild the entire infrastructure before re-populating it with backed up files and data, in addition to scanning and cleaning 5,000 computers and endpoints that had been infected. Hospital executives estimate the total cost of the attack at more than $63 million.

Another large cyberattack crippled Universal Health Services, a large hospital system that had a massive IT network outage in late September. The IT outage for the health system lasted eight days after a malware attack; it used downtime protocols and paper records during the outage.

Some reporting suggested that attackers are mounting ransomware attacks on healthcare system networks and charging higher-than-usual fees for its removal, suggesting that criminals may be targeting as many as 400 different facilities across the country.

More broadly, attacks are being aimed at the entire healthcare sector, according to reports from Microsoft. The technology company reported that it has detected cyberattacks from three nation-state actors targeting seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

In addition, providers could face monetary fines from the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services, which has the prerogative of assessing fines on healthcare organizations or business associates for lack of compliance with HIPAA and willful neglect of practices that protect patient information. As of November 2020, OCR has settled or imposed penalties in 92 cases, resulting in fines of almost $130 million.

Boosting Security Efforts

To counter these threats, healthcare organizations are taking a variety of steps to improve their security postures. Protecting healthcare information is increasingly becoming a challenge because of growing pressure for healthcare entities to distribute healthcare information to better coordinate care, engage with patients and comply with regulations forbidding information blocking. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the use of remote patient monitoring and telehealth services, which increase the amount of patient information being exchanged on provider networks.

An important component of ensuring information security for provider organizations involves regularly testing the defenses that protect access to crucial networks. Penetration testing is one way to check for the effectiveness of cyber defenses before potential incidents, rather than afterward, when patient care can be disrupted and expensive to resolve.

Also known as a pen test, the exercise simulates a cyberattack against a healthcare organizations network to check for vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. Pen testing can involve outside white hat hackers who attempt to breach application systems to find vulnerabilities, such as unprotected inputs that are susceptible to code injection attacks.

Pen testing can be complex, looking for weaknesses that can be exploited by insiders as well as outside attackers. It can involve significant preplanning in terms of reconnaissance, analysis of how systems and defenses respond to different forms of attack, and attempted exploits of weaknesses of systems such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and backdoor efforts as well as human engineering efforts, such as different forms of phishing attacks to see if system users need training so they dont give their network login codes to cybercriminals.

Analysis of such efforts also is complex, assessing which vulnerabilities were found and exploited, if any sensitive patient data or administrative systems could be accessed, or how long a pen tester could remain in the system undetected after gaining access.

Many organizations conduct annual penetration tests, subjecting defenses to internal, external and application attacks designed to emulate real attacks. In addition, healthcare organizations do such testing to meet compliance obligations for standards such as the NIST 800-35 CIS ISO 27001, the PCI DSS, and SOC2, which require businesses to conduct regular penetration tests and security reviews using skilled third-party testers.

But the threat environment for healthcare organizations is always changing, and cybercriminals are constantly honing their skills to access networks and extract value from their attacks. To effectively protect critical systems and private health information, healthcare organizations need to develop customized approaches, utilizing the latest techniques, tools, and technical expertise from outside the organization to understand vulnerabilities and develop an actionable remediation plan.

About Michelle DroletMichelle Drolet is the CEO and co-founder of Towerwall a woman-owned cybersecurity company. She serves as chairperson of the Board of Directors. As one of Towerwalls resident cybersecurity experts, Ms. Drolet assists organizations through the risk mitigation process to help them protect critical data by the evaluation, establishment, education, and enforcement of sound cybersecurity, network security, and data security practices. Reach her at michelled@towerwall.com.

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Escalating Cyberattacks on Healthcare Organizations Highlight Need for Security Interventions - HIT Consultant

3 of the most pressing health care topics of 2021 – cerner.com – cerner.com

While weve turned our focus to 2021, our entire health care communitys day-to-day is still very much concentrated on combating the global COVID-19 crisis. The pandemics devastation will be felt for many years to come, yet its expediting important forces that were already underway in shaping our industry. This presents an enormous opportunity to address and implement meaningful, long-term changes to our health care systems.

At Cerner, we see the opportunity of 2021 with numerous stakeholders motivated to make progress on finding concrete solutions to some of health care's most pressing challenges. While there are many issues to undertake, we believe COVID-19 has particularly accelerated and spotlighted the following topics.

1. Unifying a fragmented health care ecosystem

The rapid development, clinical trial execution and regulatory approval of the COVID-19 vaccine represents one of the most important medical events in the modern era. With around 3,000 lives lost each day to COVID-19 in the U.S. in January, urgent focus is now on delivery and administration of the approved vaccines.

Earlier in the pandemic, the health care industry experienced immense challenges around distribution and management of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and bed capacity. As we move forward with a mass vaccination initiative, we continue to see issues with large-scale coordination across disparate health systems. In the U.S., unifying diverse health systems presents many glaring challenges, such as data sharing across enterprises, state allocations, logistical coordination of production and supply chain management and determining how to best prioritize the most at-risk populations. Continued improvements in standardizing health care IT capabilities should be addressed and are critical to enable a more seamless, coordinated and efficient care delivery system.

Cernersworkwiththe jointU.S.Department ofVeterans Affairs(VA)and U.S. Department of Defense(DoD)health information exchangeis a great example of how participating community providers now have a single point of entry to request and access DoD and VA electronic health records for use in their treatment of patients.

Our expertise and capabilities in leveraging big data and analytics can be central in addressing many of these logisticalburdensthat exist on both the enterprise andpublic healthsectors.It will require deploying data analysisin the same vein aswasusedtopredict COVID-19surges, ventilator supplyand ICU bed capacity. Also,keyto this effort will be our data monitoring and reporting systems forstates and local health departments.Earlyin the pandemic,Cerner helped clients voluntarily share relevant datato the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Healthcare Safety Network, allowing clients to easily share data on lab results, syndromes,PPEsupply and ventilator availability.

2. Making technology, data more effective for better patient-centered care

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how and where we receive care. While technologies that enable care delivery outside the four walls of clinics and hospitals have existed for years, reimbursement, convenience and resistance to change have limited widespread adoption and use. An immediate catalyst for change was the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services temporary relaxation of telehealth reimbursement restrictions for safer care delivery amid the pandemic. Health care providers immediately responded by quickly adapting and expanding the use of digital tools to engage patients via telehealth and virtual health platforms.

For 40 years, Cerner has worked to connect consumer data and systems to eliminate data gaps and silos. Thanks to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and their regulatory framework on information blocking, consumers will have more access to data through apps that use FHIR APIs to create longitudinal patient records in the electronic health record (EHR). Access to trusted data with a longitudinal completeness will help reduce the cost of care, increase access and deliver a more relevant and personalized experience.

Collaboration will continue to be critical for more efficient and effective health care that meets patients and clinicians needs. For instance, Cerner teamed up with Amwell to embed telehealth capabilities into the EHR, allowing us to support clients like Indiana University Health in rapidly scaling their virtual health offerings at the start of the pandemic increasing patients served via virtual visits by 100 times. Another example is our work with Uber Health, which enables providers to schedule non-emergency transportation services for patients directly within the EHR. In addition, were connecting Cerner technology with Amazon Halo wearable devices to allow consumers to easily connect their vital health and well-being information with their broader health care teams.

3. Advancing artificial intelligence for prescriptive and equitable care

Weve long known that health care, in a broad sense, is behind other industries in deploying extensive use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. The types of algorithms that drive social media and entertainment platforms like Google and Amazon have yet to become commonplace in health care delivery.

To advance this conversation, its imperative that one assumption is made as table stakes: Our industry will comply with privacy and security rules that ensure proper use of patient data, and patient authorization, where required, will be obtained. Cerner believes that patients own their data, but with the massive amount of health data thats generated, we need new algorithmic capabilities that support clinicians with integrated, actionable workflow insights. Fortunately, accomplishing this can be done with large anonymized datasets. This strategy is endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration using real-world data to produce accelerated real-world evidence for better clinical and financial outcomes.

Cerner is relentlessly focused on employing data science and leveraging intelligence to enable value-based care delivery. Recognizing the importance of research design and peer reviewed evidence, we have created the Cerner Learning Health Network, which is currently comprised of 55+ U.S. health systems dedicated to sharing de-identified data to advance clinical research. The immediate value of this network was recognized in April 2020 when Cerner was able to quickly aggregate a COVID-19 dataset of 145,000 anonymized records for research.

Through our AWS collaboration, clients like Oklahoma State University and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center were able to leverage AI tools at scale to rapidly advance their understanding of health variables, including social determinants of health, that may impact risk of COVID-19 symptoms. Over the last year, weve made strategic investments and established new partnerships in this area with the goal of transforming the speed and cost of producing real-world evidence.

While this list centers around three key areas for health care in 2021, Id be remiss if I didn't mention another important concern that should remain central to our list of priorities in the months (and years) to come, especially after the unprecedented year that we all endured.

Addressing the growing mental health epidemic

After a tumultuous year in which we waded through pandemic-fueled political, social and economic disruption we must think about how to use advances in health care to address the growing mental health crisis thats affecting so many. Opioid abuse and opioid use disorder are well documented. Yet, much of America continues to struggle with depression and anxiety disorders that impact their wellness and exacerbate the challenges of managing chronic health conditions. In addition, alcohol abuse endures and homelessness is reaching a crisis level in many of our communities.

Expanding our knowledge of the social determinants of health and putting strong networks of community support in place will be vitally important to better serve patients around mental health and wellness as we continue to battle this pandemic. The Cerner HealtheIntent platform helps health systems like Geisinger and Roper St. Francis Healthcare provide community-based holistic, prescriptive care. Reducing costs and improving clinical outcomes can only be achieved when clinicians and health system leaders have a comprehensive understanding of patient needs and gaps in care and can quickly access relevant data to actively manage risk.

Reflecting on 2020, Im reminded that adversity can reveal our strengths and help us embrace change. At Cerner, this is certainly how were approaching 2021. Were focused on our clients success and helping communities fight and recover, while continually pursuing innovations to create a better, more seamless and connected world where everyone thrives.

For more Cerner news and health IT insights, make sure you're following uson Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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3 of the most pressing health care topics of 2021 - cerner.com - cerner.com

Bidens Health Care Moves – The New York Times

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Obamacare endured a grueling first decade of existence. Its launch was famously clunky. It was unpopular in its early years. It narrowly escaped repeal at both the Supreme Court and in Congress.

But the law passed in 2010 and more formally known as the Affordable Care Act has survived. Its more than survived, in fact. It now stands as a monument to a particular theory of progressive lawmaking: When the government enacts a new benefit that makes life easier for millions of people, the program tends to endure. That describes universal high school, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare.

President Biden yesterday signed a package of executive actions on health care, and many experts described them as steps to undo Donald Trumps attempted sabotage of the law. Which they are. But the modest scope of the actions is also a reminder of how little progress Trump made in undermining the law.

The number of Americans without health insurance did rise during the Trump presidency, because of his attempts to diminish the law. His administration did little to advertise Obamacare policies and weakened some of its provisions, like protections for people with certain medical conditions. But this increase in the number of uninsured reversed only a small portion of the decline caused by Obamacare.

Even after Trump, an additional 20 million or so Americans have health insurance today largely because of Obamacare. Others have better benefits like maternity care and addiction treatment or face lower costs.

Bidens orders still matter, because Trumps actions mattered.

Biden will try to strengthen protections for people with medical conditions. He will also create a new three-month sign-up period for Obamacare, starting next month, aimed partly at people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The most recent sign-up period was in the fall.

Perhaps most significant, the Biden administration plans to promote the sign-up period heavily, through advertisements, email and other outreach, according to my colleague Margot Sanger-Katz, whos been covering Obamacare for most of its existence. Bidens people think the Trump people bungled the regular enrollment period, Margot told me.

By the end of Trumps presidency, the uninsured rate probably rose close to 10 percent, from 8.6 percent in the Obama administrations final year. Through executive action, Biden may be able to reduce it to about 8 percent over the next four years, according to my reporting.

The bigger question is whether Biden can persuade Congress to pass a new law that would go further than Obamacare did, by making coverage less expensive for more people. Otherwise, at least 25 million Americans are likely to remain uninsured.

There are still millions of poor, uninsured Americans in states that didnt expand Medicaid, Margot says, and millions of middle-class Americans who find Obamacare insurance unaffordable.

The big picture: The Affordable Care Act is a highly flawed, distressingly compromised, woefully incomplete attempt to establish a basic right that already exists in every other developed nation, Jonathan Cohn, another longtime health care journalist, writes in The Ten Year War, a forthcoming book. It is also the most ambitious and significant piece of domestic legislation to pass in half a century.

Modern Love: Its a good time to find love on multiplayer online role-playing games.

From Opinion: How can adults reduce stress and increase kinship? Try therapeutic crying.

And with these Op-Docs, you can bring Sundance to your living room.

Lives Lived: In a seven-decade-long career, Cicely Tyson broke ground for Black actors by refusing to take demeaning parts. She won three Emmys, an honorary Oscar, and at 88 she became the oldest person to win a Tony. She died at 96.

When Christopher Little received the first three chapters of a book about a boy wizard in 1995, he initially dismissed it. But his office manager insisted he give it a chance. Little became the literary agent who helped build an empire around Harry Potter. Little died at 79.

The first Academy Awards ceremony, on May 16, 1929, was 15 minutes long and resembled a corporate banquet. Over the years, the ceremony turned into the hourslong spectacle that youve probably watched at some point. Now some critics and Hollywood people are urging new changes.

Some could even take effect this year. The ceremony has been postponed until late April because of the pandemic.

A.O. Scott, a film critic at The Times, made the case for completely revamping the ceremony. Among his suggestions: expanding the awards categories to create separate prizes for genres like comedy, horror and action, which are typically not considered prestige cinema and are shut out from awards.

He also recommends treating Parasite, last years best-picture winner, not as an outlier but as a harbinger. It was the first film not in the English language to win that award, and it fulfilled the Oscar ideal a well-crafted movie with something to say that stands the test of time better than any mainstream Hollywood production in decades, he writes. So why not remove the best international feature category and make best picture an explicitly international category? Another idea: broadening the awards voting pool by expanding academy membership for more geographical, generational and cultural diversity.

Others have more immediate suggestions. During the pandemic, the actors nominated for awards should stay home and participate remotely, Peter Mehlman, a former Seinfeld writer, told The Times. Dont you think accepting an Oscar on a couch with dogs and kids might just humanize these people? he said.

Oscars buzz: Here are the films The Timess critics and writers would nominate for best picture, including The Forty-Year-Old Version, Sound of Metal and Minari.

Smoked mozzarella, garlicky bchamel and sauted mushrooms make this mushroom lasagna sing.

One of the revolutionary artistic mediums of the 20th century? Collage, as evidenced in the Spanish painter Juan Griss Still Life: The Table, made from newsprint, wallpaper and several other paper stocks. Explore it here.

Fake Accounts, the critic Lauren Oylers debut novel, follows a smart, irascible narrator who is too steeped in online life and social media. Read Parul Sehgals review.

Stream these 10 classical concerts in February.

The late-night hosts discussed Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia congresswoman who endorsed QAnon.

Now Time to Play

The pangrams from yesterdays Spelling Bee were cardigan and carding. Todays puzzle is above or you can play online.

Heres todays Mini Crossword, and a clue: Disorderly brawl (five letters).

Take THE news quiz

Which top government jobs have still never been held by a woman? What did Anthony Fauci endure over the past year? And whats going on in the above photo? Take this weeks News Quiz, and see how well you do compared with other Times readers.

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Bidens Health Care Moves - The New York Times

Biden Moves to Expand Health Coverage in Pandemic Economy – The New York Times

Dr. Natalia Kanem, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, said the decision would greatly help the agencys work not only in family planning, but in other health services for women and girls in poor countries.

We now have the support of a very important member state, Dr. Kanem said in a phone interview.

The rule has been riding a philosophical seesaw for decades in place when a Republican occupies the White House and overturned when a Democrat moves in.

Mr. Biden also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to, as soon as practicable, consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind the so-called domestic gag rule a collection of regulations imposed by the Trump administration that prohibit federally funded family-planning clinics from counseling patients about abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks access to abortion, wrote last year that the rules havecut the national family planning networks patient capacity in half, jeopardizing care for 1.6 million female patients nationwide. The presidential directive virtually guarantees that the health department will overturn those rules, though that could take months.

The presidents order will also direct federal agencies to review policies, including waivers granted to states, that discourage participation in Medicaid, the public health insurance program for poor and disabled people. Enrollment in Medicaid has grown substantially during the pandemic, in part because people who have lost jobs and health insurance have turned to it.

The Trump administration approved waivers in 12 states that would require certain Medicaid beneficiaries to work a minimum number of hours a week or risk losing their benefits. Four of those pilot programs have already been overturned by courts, and the Biden administration has the authority to end them all, although the Trump administration in its final weeks took steps to make that process more difficult.

Another waiver, completed this month in Tennessee, would give that state fixed funding or a block grant to cover its Medicaid population while loosening many of the rules about how the program is run. That waiver could also be canceled.

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Biden Moves to Expand Health Coverage in Pandemic Economy - The New York Times

UB Department of Surgery launches Anti-Racism and Health Care Equity Initiative with Cornel West as inaugural speaker – UB News Center

BUFFALO, N.Y. An Anti-Racism and Health Care Equity initiative designed to address and mitigate the effects of systemic racism and inequality inhealth care has been launched by the Department of Surgery in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

Cornel West, PhD, Harvard University professor, bestselling author, political activist and public intellectual, will speak via Zoom at Beyond the Knife, the initiatives first public event, from 4-5 p.m. on Feb. 18 .

This event is free and open to the public. Register and submit questions for the question-and-answer at https://tinyurl.com/y49bh3qu.

The virtual conference represents the first of what will be an annual lecture series, initially funded by UBMD Surgery, focused on social justice and health care inequity.

As part of the kickoff, Dr. Mehmet Oz, professor of surgery and television talk show host, recorded this promotional video about it. A panel discussion featuring Jacobs School students, medical residents and faculty, who also are members of UBMD Surgery, will follow the lecture. Additional information is available on the Department of Surgery website.

The UB Department of Surgery is committed to sustained action toward a more diverse and equitable world, said Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, professor and chair of surgery and president of UBMD Surgery. Inviting Dr. West the preeminent voice on this topic for 40 years is a demonstration of the seriousness with which we approach this task. Creating an annual endowed lectureship, paired with a slate of robust new initiatives, is a demonstration of our long-term commitment. Thisis our collective responsibilityas physicians and surgeons in the 21st century.I have every confidence that, working together, we can create real and lasting change.

JamesButchRosser, Jr., MD,a renowned general surgeon and author, will serve as master of ceremonies and moderate the question-and-answer session. Rosser, an activist and thought leader on racial dynamics in medicine, is working with the UB Department of Surgery to launch this effort.

We, as health care professionals, must not buryourheads in the sand in the aftermath of George Floyds death, said Rosser. The public must know that we are one of them and we are ready to do our part.This is urgent work: toaddress the monumental issues before us and map out specific actions to move the national conversation forward.

Schwaitzberg added that COVID-19 has stretched the health care system to the brink while illuminating entrenched inequities that determine health status on the basis of neighborhood and skin color.

With African Americans and Hispanics suffering and dying of COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate, and given the underrepresentation of people of color in surgery, this initiative seeks to comprehensively address these issues and mitigate the effects of systemic racism and inequality in our own community and beyond, he said.

Our department prides itself on its expert faculty, working every day to provide the best in patient care and cultivate todays residents into future leaders in surgery, he continued. We aim to bring surgery to a new level. Every aspect of our mission patient care, research and education must be grounded in an understanding of health care disparities and the effects of institutional racism. We call on all medical schools to determine their strategy and contribution. It is long past time for all departments of surgery to reflect on what measures need to be taken and to get to work.

Schwaitzberg said that the departments programmatic response to racism and health care inequity is already underway and includes:

Establishment of a new research opportunity this summer for underrepresented medical students interested in surgery.

Development of a new curriculum for surgical trainees focusing on the effects of racism and implicit bias. This new curricular emphasis seeks to placeoperative/clinical discussionswithin the larger matrix of social inequality.

Establishment of a mentorship program to allow underrepresented future surgeons increased opportunities to work closely with established local surgeons in the operating room.

A virtual learning mentorship program, currently underway, which is working to spark the imaginations of high school students in Western New York and to recruit them into STEM and medical careers.

Establishment of meaningful partnerships with the residents and organizations of the neighborhoods where UBs affiliate hospitals are located, Buffalos Fruit Belt and the Delavan-Grider community.

Development of a pilot elective rotation for medical students focused on health disparities for surgical trainees.

The following link contains more information about the Department of Surgerys diversity and inclusion initiative.

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UB Department of Surgery launches Anti-Racism and Health Care Equity Initiative with Cornel West as inaugural speaker - UB News Center

Health Care Unions Find a Voice as the Pandemic Rages – The New York Times

The unions representing the nations health care workers have emerged as increasingly powerful voices during the still-raging pandemic.

With more than 100,000 Americans hospitalized and many among their ranks infected, nurses and other health workers remain in a precarious frontline against the coronavirus and have turned again and again to unions for help.

Its so overwhelming. Its unlike anything Ive ever seen before, said Erin McIntosh, a nurse at Riverside Community Hospital in Southern California, a part of the country that has been among the hardest hit by a surge in cases. Every day Im waist-deep in death and dying.

In her hospitals intensive care unit, Mrs. McIntosh said, nurses have sometimes cared for twice as many patients. Were being told to take on more than we safely can handle.

Her union, the Service Employees International Union, and another union, National Nurses United, which has a powerful presence in California, have pushed back against the states decision to let hospitals assign nurses more patients during the crisis.

HCA Healthcare, the for-profit hospital chain that owns Riverside, responded that it had recruited additional nurses and was keeping its employees safe.

Health care workers say they have been bitterly disappointed by their employers and government agencies response to the pandemic. Dire staff shortages, inadequate and persistent supplies of protective equipment, limited testing for the virus and pressure to work even if they might be sick have left many workers turning to the unions as their only ally. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 3,300 health care workers nationwide, according to one count.

We wouldnt be alive today if we didnt have the union, said Elizabeth Lalasz, a Chicago public hospital nurse and steward for National Nurses United. The countrys largest union of registered nurses, representing more than 170,000 nationwide, National Nurses was among the first to criticize hospitals lack of preparation and call for more protective equipment, like N95 masks.

Despite the decades-long decline in the labor movement and the small numbers of unionized nurses, labor officials have seized on the pandemic fallout to organize new chapters and pursue contract talks for better conditions and benefits. National Nurses organized seven new bargaining units last year, compared to four in 2019. The S.E.I.U. also says it has seen an uptick in interest.

Nurses across the country from various unions have participated in dozens of strikes and protests. National Nurses held a day of action on Wednesday with demonstrations in more than a dozen states and Washington, D.C., as it starts negotiations at hospitals owned by big systems like HCA, Sutter Health and CommonSpirit Health.

Hospitals claim the unions are playing politics during a public health emergency and say they have no choice but to ask more of their workers. We are in a moment of crisis that weve never seen before, and we need flexibility to care for patients, said Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association.

At the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, the deaths of two nurses from the virus helped galvanize employees to strike for the first time last fall, said Paul Pater, an emergency room nurse and union official with the Illinois Nurses Association. People really took that to heart, and it really fomented a lot of disdain for the current administration at the hospital.

In their most recent contract, nurses there won provisions ensuring the hospital would hire more staff and keep sufficient supplies of protective equipment, Mr. Pater said. Weve been able to make, honestly, just huge strides in protecting our people.

The hospital did not respond to requests for comment.

Some nurses remain highly skeptical of the unions efforts, and even those who favor organizing acknowledge there are serious limits to what they can accomplish. Im not sure that the union is enough, because it can only take us so far since staffing conditions remain overwhelming, said Mrs. McIntosh, the Riverside nurse.

Many health care workers view vaccines as the beginning of the end of the pandemic. But large numbers especially those who work in nursing homes and outside hospitals, who tend to have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy are refusing to be immunized. During a crisis that disproportionately threatens health care workers of color, one recent analysis found that they are getting vaccinations at rates far below those of their white colleagues.

The unions find themselves treading a fine line between encouraging their members to get vaccinated and protecting them against policies that would force them to do so.

There are still unanswered questions, said Karine Raymond, a nurse at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and a New York State Nurses Association official. The union believes that all nurses should seriously consider being vaccinated, said Ms. Raymond, who would not say whether she personally would accept the vaccine. But, again, its the individuals choice.

The nurses and their unions do want to keep pressuring employers to safeguard workers and patients. Just because a vaccine is rolling out doesnt mean that we can let up on other important protections, said Michelle Mahon, a National Nurses United official, during a Facebook Live event last month.

The past year has created conditions ripe for organizing to address longstanding issues like inadequate wages, benefits and staffing, a problem exacerbated by health care workers falling ill, burning out or retiring early for fear of getting sick. The unions have successfully been able to use the pandemic to rebrand those same conflicts as very urgent safety concerns, said Jennifer Stewart, a senior vice president at Gist Healthcare, a consulting firm that advises hospitals.

They have also shifted many nurses view of their employers, she said. The perceptions and the experiences are being crystallized and starting to be viewed through a certain lens. And I think that lens is very favorable to unions.

At Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., safety concerns created by the pandemic added urgency to the nurses push to join forces with National Nurses United.

Some questioned the unions ability to deliver better working conditions and raised concerns about the union creating divisions within the hospital. A group of 25 Mission nurses signed a letter before the vote saying an outside third party, like the N.N.U., is not the solution.

But last September, 70 percent of nurses approved the union, one of the largest wins at a hospital in the South in decades. Susan Fischer, a Mission nurse who helped lead the organizing drive, called National Nurses United instrumental in helping us find our voice.

She said the union was already proving its worth, pushing management in bargaining talks this month to provide better access to protective equipment and to assign nurses fewer patients.

In a statement, HCA, which owns Mission Hospital, said its highest priority was to protect workers and that the unions were exploiting the situation in an attempt to gain publicity and organize new dues-paying members.

In addition to staging protests and strikes, unions have defended workers who are speaking up against their employers. Some unions have sued hospitals, including one lawsuit against Riverside by the S.E.I.U. Similar cases have been dismissed in court, and HCA called the Riverside suit a publicity stunt.

Industry executives say the unions are unfairly blaming hospitals for the horrors of the pandemic. While some had difficulty providing protective equipment early on, hospitals have done their best to follow government guidelines and to protect workers, said Chip Kahn, the president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents for-profit hospitals.

Mr. Kahn said the unions were leveraging the crisis to achieve their agenda of organizing workers. Theyll push whatever pressure points they can to try to force their way into hospitals, because thats what they do.

About 17 percent of nurses and 12 percent of other U.S. health care workers are covered by a union, according to an analysis of government data, and rates of union coverage have remained largely unchanged during the pandemic. The share of hospital workers with union representation has declined from above 22 percent in 1983 to below 15 percent in 2018, reflecting a decades-long decline in organized labor.

Some unions, including the outspoken National Nurses, have often seemed to occupy the fringes of the labor movement. For years it was better known for advocating proposals like Medicare for All, which would replace private insurance with government-run health care, and for enthusiastically backing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for president.

The pandemic, and the unions decision to endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr. after Senator Sanders left the race last year, have tempered that reputation. Mission nurses said that politics was not part of the allure of National Nurses United. Of all the unions we couldve gone to, they had the best track record, Ms. Fischer said.

The Biden presidency may give the unions an opportunity to flex their newfound muscle. Mary Kay Henry, the international president of the S.E.I.U., was among the labor leaders who met virtually with Mr. Biden last year.

In my 40 years of organizing health care workers, I have never experienced a time when people are more willing to take risks and join together to take collective action, Ms. Henry said. Thats a sea change.

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Health Care Unions Find a Voice as the Pandemic Rages - The New York Times

UPMC Health Care Workers Surprised With Trip To Super Bowl – CBS Pittsburgh

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) There wont be many fans at the Super Bowl this year, but four people in the crowd will be UPMC health care workers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers in partnership with the NFL picked the four vaccinated health care workers to be rewarded with an all-expense paid trip to Sundays game in Florida.

The Steelers shared a video of the workers being surprised with the news.

These healthcare heroes came in for a meeting. They left with a trip to the #SuperBowl, the Steelers tweeted.

UPMC Shady Side Director of Respiratory Care Services Breen Smith, one of the four health care workers selected, said the experience was humbling.

Nearly 8,000 of the 25,000 fans at the Super Bowl will be vaccinated health care workers. Theyll wear masks, social distance and follow the NFLs COVID-19 protocol.

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UPMC Health Care Workers Surprised With Trip To Super Bowl - CBS Pittsburgh

Frontline health care workers with ties to Charlotte win free tickets to Super Bowl LV – WCNC.com

The group of 10 reunites every year to watch the Super Bowl together. This year, they'll be watching it at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. A group of frontline health care workers with ties to Charlotte, North Carolina, are headed to Tampa, Florida, for Super Bowl LV.

Ten friends and physicians who trained in emergency medicine at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center won free tickets to the big game after the National Football League (NFL) announced it would give 7,500 vaccinated health care workers an opportunity to attend the Super Bowl.

"I got an email that physically had my ticket this morning, so that was just a whole new level of, ok, this actually is real, Dr. Jill Antoniazzi, assistant professor in emergency medicine at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, said. And actually seeing the chatter amongst our friends and the happiness we're just like through the moon."

Dr. Manoj Pariyadath, associate professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said their intern class became like a second family in as they trained together.

Their love of medicine brought the group of 10 together, but Pariyadath said their love of sports is what reunites them every year.

"We sort of picked the Super Bowl, one, because it's not a typical family obligation-type date, Pariyadath said. But two, we bonded over football."

Even though the physicians are now spread out across the country, they make a point to watch the Super Bowl together every year.

The tradition started in 2002 and has continued every year since the group graduated in 2005, and the reunion has grown with their careers and families.

Pariyadath said the group was planning to watch the game together in Wilmington this year until they found out they won tickets to the Super Bowl.

Antoniazzi said one friend in the group handwrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and shared their story of friendship, football, and medicine.

We finally got the news that we were going, and I think giddy is the right word, Pariyadath said. Ive been that way ever since I heard that.

The physicians have spent the last year working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, taking special precautions to protect their patients and their own families.

"Having this bright spot where, you know, I can say that I've just been, you know, thinking about being with my friends and being at the Super Bowl, it's just added a lightness that is much, much needed, after the year that we've been through, Antoniazzi said.

The NFL is taking precautions of its own to make the in-person fan experience safe for those in attendance. The physicians have all been vaccinated, but they arent letting their guard down.

"We don't plan on getting too crazy in Tampa, Pariyadath said. We're going to stick together, wear our masks, social distance, even though we are vaccinated."

Paryidath said he feels blessed that his group of friends and physicians have this opportunity, especially after what theyve been through in the last year.

"We get excited about hanging out together, he said. "This is just going to be sort of icing on the cake to be able to do that at the Super Bowl."

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Frontline health care workers with ties to Charlotte win free tickets to Super Bowl LV - WCNC.com

Partnership created to accelerate health care innovation – WISHTV.com

by: Alex Brown, Inside INdiana Business

Posted: Feb 3, 2021 / 10:51 AM EST / Updated: Feb 3, 2021 / 11:06 AM EST

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis is partnering with an Indy-based venture studio to expand the reach of health care-related innovations. The institute says through the partnership, Boomerang Ventures will also benefit from the expertise of its research scientists.

Boomerang Ventures focuses on funding and launching startups and concepts to help improve health care. The institute says together, the partners will work to develop and commercialize innovations from Regenstrief research scientists.

Todd Saxton, vice president for business development atRegenstrief says bringing any type of concept, even those that are well thought out and backed by evidence, to market can be complex.

With its depth and expertise, Boomerang Ventures will help us take the discoveries made in our research to the next stage, refining and connecting these promising concepts to professionals and markets to help them flourish, said Saxton. It is one promising approach in an array of ways to move from research to impact. We look forward to working closely with Boomerang Ventures to advance our research for the betterment of peoples health and health care systems.

Boomerang Managing Partner Oscar Moralez says the partnership will help bridge the gap between the research and business worlds.

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Partnership created to accelerate health care innovation - WISHTV.com

Stroke Recovery – Norton Healthcare

Common causes of stroke include:

An ischemic stroke (blood clot blocking blood flow in the brain) often can be traced to cardiovascular conditions such as atrial fibrillation, atherosclerosis and carotid artery disease.

Treating these underlying conditions can help prevent another stroke. Our stroke neurologists work with the specialists at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute to reduce your stroke risk.

Patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), an irregular heart rhythm, that isnt caused by a heart valve condition, are at high risk for stroke. In A-fib, the chambers at top of the heart the atria dont pump out all the blood, making blot clots more likely.

More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that originate in the heart come from the left atrial appendage. This pouch of flesh on the heart serves no known purpose. For many patients, closing the appendage with a minimally invasiveleft atrial appendage closure procedurecan reduce their stroke risk and allow them to stop taking blood thinners.

Carotid artery disease a buildup of plaque in the arteries that deliver blood to your brain causes an estimated 20% of strokes. Many patients can take advantage of a minimally invasivetranscarotid artery revascularization (TCAR)procedure. TCAR currently is used on patients who may have difficulty with traditional open surgery to remove the plaque.

A stroke typically happens suddenly with no gradual progression that allows for preparation, grieving and coping.

Many patients will recover quickly and fully from a stroke. Some may have post-stroke conditions such as difficulty swallowing, weakness and paralysis, incontinence, difficulty speaking or understanding, emotional challenges or poor attention span.

If a stroke was on the right side of the brain, there may be left-side weakness, impulsiveness, overconfidence in abilities and vision issues to deal with. A stroke on the left side of the brain can be associated with weakness on the right side of the body, along with difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding language, and a cautious behavioral style.

TheNorton Neuroscience Institute Resource Centeroffers a number of services to patients recovering from strokes.

With the changes and stress that come with caring for a loved one who has survived a stroke, caregivers and family members also may be at risk for depression, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. Our stroke support groups are for survivors and their family members, friends and caregivers.

Norton Healthcares rehabilitation servicesoffer specialized outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy at locations downtown, on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus and on the Norton Healthcare St. Matthews campus.

Cressman Neurological Rehabilitationon the Norton Brownsboro campus offers access to some of the most advanced technology and specialized services in one location to help with gait, balance, strength, flexibility, speech, fine motor skills, swallowing, driving, cognition, vision and more.

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Stroke Recovery - Norton Healthcare

Hims & Hers, ATA, and 10 others launch Telehealth Equity Coalition – Healthcare IT News

As the novel coronavirus pandemic swept the country last year, hundreds of thousands of patients turned to telehealth in order to continue accessing care while remaining as safe as possible.

Telehealth was held up as a "panacea," said Adaeze Enekwechi, a board member at the Public Health Institute and the Alliance for Health Policy, at the final installment of the American Telemedicine Association's EDGE policy conference on Tuesday.

"And the first thing that occurred to me was, 'There's no way this is a panacea for everyone or everything,'" Enekwechi said. "We just have to be honest about that."

Indeed, as panelists pointed out, although telehealth has made some strides in addressing health access disparities, it has also exacerbated others.

"There's still a have and have-not system when it comes to broadband," said Mignon Clyburn, former commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission. And when people don't have access to quality Internet, she added, "that further hampers their access to quality telehealth care."

To that end, several of the groups represented at the conference announced the launch of the Telehealth Equity Coalition, which is aimed at advocating for greater access to virtual care.

The coalition, composed of the ATA and the Health Innovation Alliance, along with Hims & Hers, Adaptation Health, the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved, and other major players in the space, will take a data-driven approach to identifying opportunities and advocating to improve telehealth policy.

"If there was ever a time to address digital equity, it's now," said Amy Sheon, president of Public Health Innovators.

Panelists noted that health disparities go beyond medical care alone that housing, transportation and,of course, connectivity can play major roles in an individual's wellbeing.

"I hope to see a broader conversation about the intersectionality of some of these," said Enekwechi. "How do all of these interact?"

"Broadband is a super-determinant of health," said Clyburn. "We wasted a lot of time debating whether broadband was a necessity, but we should have been addressing wide affordability and adoption gaps."

"The Internet is a must. Connectivity is a must. Whatever our recalibrated new normal will be, it will not be what we saw pre-pandemic," Clyburn continued.

And infrastructure alone will not be enough, Clyburn said. "You can have all the fiber in the world at my doorstep, but if I can't afford it, then I will never be connected."

"We need to have serious conversations about how we narrow this divide," she said.

She stressed the importance of centering what communities need in the conversation not to go into a situation with preconceived notions about the best next steps.

"We need to be in a listening mode," she said. "We need to put our egos in check, but if we do so, everybody's objectives will be realized. I cannot emphasize how important that is."

As policymakers and advocates move forward toward equity, Clyburn reiterated: "Forever andalways put communities first."

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.Twitter: @kjercichEmail: kjercich@himss.orgHealthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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Hims & Hers, ATA, and 10 others launch Telehealth Equity Coalition - Healthcare IT News

Rebuilding trust after COVID-19: U.S. healthcare experts weigh in – Medical News Today

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the U.S. healthcare system in unprecedented ways. In a webinar hosted by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit organization promoting health policy reform, experts look at some of the lessons that the new U.S. administration can learn from the pandemic.

The Commonwealth Fund a nonprofit private organization dedicated to improving access to healthcare, particularly for more vulnerable groups hosted a webinar discussing the steps that the new United States administration can take to achieve this goal.

The discussion featured experts from the organizations Task Force on Payment and Delivery System Reform, and tackled how healthcare in the U.S. is organized, paid for, and delivered.

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The webinar featured the following experts:

The discussion was moderated by Dr. David Blumenthal, MD, president of the Commonwealth Fund and former professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Some of the priorities and recommendations that the experts discussed included:

In this article, MNT highlighted some salient points from the discussion, particularly around rebuilding trust in the medical establishment, promoting health equity, and diversifying and strengthening primary care.

The speakers also discussed a value-based healthcare model as a potential alternative to the current fee-for-service model that predominates in the United States. Value-based healthcare focuses on the idea that healthcare providers should not be rewarded based on the number of healthcare services that they provide, but on the health outcomes of their patients.

The panelists responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Dr. Blumenthal: How can changes in our workforce help us be more prepared for an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic and others that we may anticipate in the future?

Karen Dale, RN, MSN: The first thing is to think about the healthcare workforce in a more comprehensive way. If we widen our lens, we will consider both those people who are clinicians, and those other personnel, such as community health workers, peer supports, and others, who are so important in helping people navigate the healthcare system in a way that is more easily accessible and more readily understood.

Two bonuses come from taking that approach. [Firstly,] community health workers and other nonclinical personnel when they are part of the system and recruited from the communities they serve are more likely to build trust and easy engagement with those communities because they reflect who lives there and that diversity. [Secondly,] we would be helping create jobs and economic security.

[F]rom the task funds perspective, we should be funding those efforts. So, having something like a national program that focuses on the continued education, recruitment, and training of nonclinical personnel would be important.

Dr. Blumenthal: Should we transition towards a different form of payment, one that emphasizes value, not volume, and that may be more resilient and more effective? What is the role of value-based payment, what have we learned about it from the pandemic, and what should be its role going forward?

Dr. Mark McClellan, MD, Ph.D.: [W]e started the process of [recommending transitioning to a value-based payment system] before the pandemic, but [COVID was a] wake-up call for needing to move to a different mechanism of financing our healthcare, to get what we want. Care thats upstream, care that can do the kinds of things that Karen was describing, reaching out proactively to people at risk, rather than just trying to keep your door open because utilization is down and you have to lay off staff.

I think COVID was a huge wake-up call, and [] we now have lots of examples of how [value-based care] can be done really well. Many organizations around the country are doing what Karen described. I was talking with a healthcare group today thats moved into one of these advanced alternative payment models, way away from fee-for-service, where theyve prepositioned at-home COVID tests for all of their high-risk beneficiaries. And if any of them have any COVID symptoms, they do a telehealth call right away to get an evaluation.

[] If they [do test] positive, there [] are some treatments for people who havent been vaccinated yet, who are in high-risk groups, and they get put into a pathway to get access to monoclonal antibodies. [] Were seeing some of the same programs being implemented for addressing vaccination.

So, thats the kind of healthcare we want, taking that beyond the pandemic context, we need to move more care upstream, with community health workers, with assistance from apps and digital technology to help identify people who have risk factors and meet them where they are. [] Moving beyond traditional medical services to address social needs all of that is hard to do without moving away from traditional fee-for-service.

So thats why the report makes some very strong recommendations for the pandemic and beyond, to accelerate the adoption of alternative payment models.

Dr. Blumenthal: How can the federal government assist healthcare systems in actively confronting and fighting racism and building back trust among populations of color?

Karen Dale, RN, MSN: In order to build trust, I often say [] that health happens at the speed at which trust exists or is being built. If you are simply going to tell me what I should do and how I should do it, and Ive never had a seat at the table in the design, the discussion about the policies and its implications, [] then Im not sure I will trust you.

We also need to reckon with our history of racism in this country, and not try to wash it away but, rather, face it squarely. And when we do that, we acknowledge that its not that everyone is a bad person because they have bias, but we know that we have bias, and thats a human trait. However, being aware enough, and making changes in our practice, our behaviors, and our decisions thats where the rubber hits the road.

[The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)] should have an office of engagement, which is one of our recommendations, so that were saying: Its required for you to engage and have those whom you serve at the table! It changes the conversation.

We know over years of research and just from looking at corporations that, when you have diverse boards and leadership, it makes a huge difference in how decisions are made and what the decisions look like.

So, having this office of engagement would be huge to send that message. We can also do more and have more requirements around collecting data, using data and sharing it, and being much more transparent with the information we gain over time about the disparities and the plans of improvement.

When all of that is right out there, we can have meaningful discussion, we can talk about change, and it will all [improve] the trust of those we intend to serve.

Dr. Blumenthal: How can the pay-for-value system be adapted to promote health equity?

Dr. Mark McClellan, MD, Ph.D.: [M]ost of the efforts that have looked at [defining value] carefully do include equity as a high priority. [] The recommendations in our report include putting a bigger emphasis on setting up programs in a way that reflects the input and participation of those they serve. []

If [we are using] measures for accountability, [] that accountability should include accountability for equity.[]

If we had more explicit measures built-in, and designed our value-based care reforms and the payment reforms to support them, to reinforce taking those on directly, just imagine how much more progress we could make!

So, whether its vaccination in the COVID context, or maternal mortality, or cardiovascular disease outcomes, or access to [] substance use disorder care, you can imagine a limited number of measures that could really change how the value-based system takes these on directly.

Karen Dale, RN, MSN: [In our report w]eve included some process measures around social care so, are you referring those patients who are facing food insecurity, who need certain items such as diapers, etc.? so we have those other measures to capture whether this practice is focused on the social care component more holistically.

Health inequities affect all of us differently. Visit our dedicated hub for an in-depth look at social disparities in health and what we can do to correct them.

If we share the data with that practice [], if we share our analysis to say, based on race, ethnicity, language, and other factors, heres a report for you where you have clear disparities, if were doing that on an aggregate level over our membership [] just in the same way that were sending them report cards about how theyre doing on their value-based measures, [] then were giving them information that they didnt necessarily have before.

And if we provide them with tailored technical assistance, then [the practices] are now getting the support they need, the coaching, and the ability to see how theyre doing with creating change.

[I]f we reduce some of the administrative burden, [practices] have more time to look at data and [continue to improve] in terms of their outcomes.

Prof. Blumenthal: What are some of the things that we could do to strengthen primary care and get them to participate in the vaccination of their panel?

Dr. Julian Harris, MD, MBA: [W]e have an opportunity to broaden the pipeline, particularly as we think about expanding representation from communities of color among the ranks of physicians, [and] across all of the subsectors or subspecialties within medicine.

I think primary care is particularly challenging because of the way that weve structured reimbursement. [W]e can significantly increase what we reimburse or how we compensate primary care providers if theyre doing all the right things to both improve quality for the patients that they serve and help them manage the health of populations.

If we think about the delta between reimbursement for primary care versus specialty care, it really is a deterrent for students who have significant student loan debt, who have to make trade-off decisions, and who, in many cases, may be the first person in their family to go to college, not to mention to pursue a graduate degree.

Some of the things we need to do to make primary care more broadly attractive will also help actually diversify those who end up selecting primary care as their chosen profession, because were closing that gap between primary and specialty care.

This enables folks to make different kinds of trade-off decisions as they think about how to close what is an economic and wealth gap in the country as well, between communities of color and others.

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Rebuilding trust after COVID-19: U.S. healthcare experts weigh in - Medical News Today

4 Cincinnati health care workers awarded free trip to 2021 Super Bowl – WLWT Cincinnati

Registered nurse Beth Day is known for her tireless work and commitment to helping others.Taking on long hours and extended shifts amid the worst months of the pandemic, she loves what she does, never expecting to be thanked, in such a big way."I'm very grateful to be able to do this, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people," Day said.Day and three other TriHealth nurses are headed to the 2021 Super Bowl. They're just four of nearly 7,500 vaccinated front-line health care workers that'll attend the big game with free tickets and game day experiences directly from the NFL."I've been to a couple of Bengals games but nothing that was of any significance like the Super Bowl," Day said.Nurse Manager Stephanie Long helped select Day for this major opportunity. She'll be representing TriHealth's Good Sam hospital at Evendale."I've worked with Beth for 10 years, she always has a positive attitude, always willing to do anything you need her to do," Long said. "With all the COVID chaos she was willing to go anywhere that was needed."Soon she'll be off to Tampa, rooting on her team of choice."The Chiefs, all the way!" Day said.Knowing her efforts to keep people safe played a small part in making a game like this one, even possible.

Registered nurse Beth Day is known for her tireless work and commitment to helping others.

Taking on long hours and extended shifts amid the worst months of the pandemic, she loves what she does, never expecting to be thanked, in such a big way.

"I'm very grateful to be able to do this, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people," Day said.

Day and three other TriHealth nurses are headed to the 2021 Super Bowl.

They're just four of nearly 7,500 vaccinated front-line health care workers that'll attend the big game with free tickets and game day experiences directly from the NFL.

"I've been to a couple of Bengals games but nothing that was of any significance like the Super Bowl," Day said.

Nurse Manager Stephanie Long helped select Day for this major opportunity. She'll be representing TriHealth's Good Sam hospital at Evendale.

"I've worked with Beth for 10 years, she always has a positive attitude, always willing to do anything you need her to do," Long said. "With all the COVID chaos she was willing to go anywhere that was needed."

Soon she'll be off to Tampa, rooting on her team of choice.

"The Chiefs, all the way!" Day said.

Knowing her efforts to keep people safe played a small part in making a game like this one, even possible.

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4 Cincinnati health care workers awarded free trip to 2021 Super Bowl - WLWT Cincinnati