Tag: health care

As Nursing Homes’ Stocks of PPE Get Too Low for Comfort, Ivey Grants Them $50 Million in COVID Aid

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday announced that up to $50 million in federal grants will be allocated to the state’s nursing homes to help respond to COVID-19. That’s welcome news for the state’s long-term care centers, as researchers recently found that one fourth of such facilities have less than a week’s worth of the kind of masks needed to protect workers from contracting coronavirus. Read more.

Gov. Ivey Requires Face Masks in Schools, Extends Statewide Ordinance

WBHM — For teachers and students preparing to enter the classroom next month, masks will now be required for anyone in second grade and above. Governor Kay Ivey issued the new mandate Wednesday as an amendment to the statewide mask ordinance and Safer at Home order. The orders, originally set to expire Friday, have been extended through Aug. 31. Read more.

More Than 15% of COVID-19 Tests in Jefferson County are Positive

This past week, 1,700 new individuals per day have been tested for the coronavirus in Jefferson County, with an average of 278 people a day testing positive and two a day dying. Those numbers give the county a positivity rate that tops 15%, the highest of any one week so far during the pandemic, county Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said in a briefing Tuesday.

Hospitals in Jefferson County are caring for 275 patients with the virus; 110 of those are in intensive care units and 52 on ventilators, Wilson said. Read more.

Not Just in the Lungs: Coronavirus Causes Blood Clots, Attacks the Brain, Can Result in Strokes and Organ Damage

In March, a Chinese researcher warned scientists and doctors to expect the unexpected with COVID-19.

That researcher hit it on the nose, said UAB pulmonary critical care physician Dr. Sheetal Gandotra. “We had a lot to learn about the risk factors, symptoms, course of the disease, organ systems affected and recovery. But the basic tenets of excellent critical care remain the same.”

As doctors treat COVID-19 patients with a constellation of symptoms and organ damage, researchers continue to try to determine health outcomes for virus survivors. They have no long-term studies to guide them, because the disease surfaced in China in November 2019.

Initially, COVID-19 was thought of as a respiratory disease. But now, studies show the virus spreads its deadly effects through blood clots to the brain, heart, kidneys, endothelial cells that line blood vessels and other vital organs. From looking at the damage, some researchers have said a subset of patients who contract the coronavirus may suffer long-term damage from the disease.

Autopsies of COVID victims have found that the virus attacked the lungs the most ferociously, but the pathogen was found in other vital body organs. Pathologists found that oxygen deprivation to the brain and the formation of blood clots may start early in the disease process. Read more.

Health Care Disparities: Black Doctors Have Been Rare, but a Local Physician’s Experience May Point the Way Toward Building Numbers

Trust — or a lack of it — can become a barrier when it comes to health care.

Black patients sometimes get less effective treatment than similar white patients, and sometimes that’s because they don’t trust doctors of a different race as much as they do doctors who look like them.

And yet, there are relatively few Black doctors in the U.S. The Association of American Medical Colleges reported that, in 2018, there were about 807,400 active physicians in the country and only 45,534 of them were black. Experts see it as a problem.

“Black Americans make up more than 13% of the U.S. population, yet only 5% of physicians are black,” wrote National Public Radio’s Yuki Noguchi in a story that appeared July 1. “That lack of representation isn’t just a problem within medicine … but it perpetuates a sense that medical and mental health care is not of — or for — the Black community.”
Read more.

Residents, Employees at Veterans Nursing Homes Test Positive for COVID-19

At the end of June, after completing a round of testing for the coronavirus at the state’s four veterans homes, the state Department of Veterans Affairs reported that all of the residents at the homes were “virus free.”

That is no longer the case.

The department reported Monday that after additional testing last week, nine residents and seven employees at the William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette tested positive for the coronavirus. So have seven employees at the Colonel Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home in Pell City, three at the Floyd “Tut” Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville and four at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City.
Read more.

Health Care Disparities: ZIP Code, Race Predict Lifelong Health Inequities

On the day he’s born, the average white resident of Jefferson County is expected to live about 3.5 years longer than the average Black resident.

Jefferson County’s Black residents have higher rates of death due to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and “malignant neoplasms,” or cancerous tumors, than their white neighbors, according to the Jefferson County Health Action Partnership’s 2018 Community Health Equity Report, which studied county and state health statistics.

Infant mortality and low birth weights are twice as likely to occur among black newborns as white ones.

These differences are clear when data is broken down by ZIP code. Historically Black neighborhoods, such as College Hills, Fountain Heights and Titusville, show some of the lowest life expectancies and highest rates of disabilities and infant mortality in the county. Majority-white areas tend to show better health outcomes, an effect that is most pronounced in high-income areas such as Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills.

In this, Jefferson County mirrors the rest of the nation. Black Americans generally have more health problems and chronic illnesses, and consequently shorter life expectancy. Read more.

The Legacy of Race is an ongoing series about how the history of racism and segregation in Alabama affect the society we live in today. Read the stories published so far.

Amid Record COVID-19 Cases, Near-Capacity Hospitals Prep For July 4th Influx

With COVID-19 patients already filling beds at a record pace, hospitals across Alabama are bracing for an influx of people infected at Fourth of July gatherings.

Statewide hospitalizations Wednesday were 1,110, the highest number yet, Dr. Don Williamson, president and CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association said Thursday.

The state also had 163 admissions, the highest one-day number of new patients due to COVID-19. The state was down to 206 intensive care unit beds available, which is 12% of capacity, the lowest rate yet during the pandemic.

“The concern is that all the numbers we are using to monitor the outbreak moved in the wrong direction,” Williamson said. Read more.