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Hospital leaders make pledge to improve healthcare worker safety

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Hospital leaders make pledge to improve healthcare worker safety


CEOs from 10 hospital systems are working together to create a new safety standard for healthcare workers as the pandemic has highlighted the risks and inequities in the industry.

The group, formed in early 2021 and known as the CEO Coalition, shared their signed declaration on Tuesday and said they hopes to kick off a national movement to protect workers’ psychological, emotional and physical safety as well as promote health justice.

“We are taking collective actions to protect healthcare workers at every level to ensure they have the systems, tools and resources they need and deserve to feel safe and thrive,” Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Tom Mihaljevic said in a statement.

The founding coalition members include the top executives from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Hackensack Meridian Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Providence, SSM Health, Mass General Brigham, Henry Ford Health System, Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Hospital System and HealthPartners, but founders say they welcome leaders from other hospitals and health systems to join the effort.

“There has never been a more important time in our nation for healthcare leaders to step up together,” Dr. Susan Ehrlich, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital CEO said in a statement. “We hope other healthcare executives will help catalyze this work by signing the declaration and turning these principles into action.”

The coalition’s efforts come as the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill, H.R. 1195, that will create a minimum standard for employers to protect healthcare staff against violence in the workplace. The standard is based on voluntary Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines.

Declaration of Principles:

Safeguarding Psychological and Emotional Safety:

  • Investing in processes and technologies that reduce emotional and cognitive burdens on team members and restore human connection to the healthcare experience.
  • Creating practices and policies that advance open communication between team members and leaders so people feel safe to speak up, bringing their full selves to work.
  • Providing resources to assess and support team members’ emotional, social, and spiritual health, and alleviating the stigma and deterrents to seek support.

Promoting Health Justice:

  • Declaring equity and anti-racism core components of safety, requiring explicit organizational and health equity-focused policies and practices to advance diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

Ensuring Physical Safety:

  • Implementing a zero-harm program for care team members to eliminate workplace violence, both physical and verbal, whether from team members, patients, families, or community members.
  • Ensuring that all healthcare organizations can procure and provide evidence-based personal protective equipment, technology, tools, and processes that healthcare team members need to do their jobs safely and care for patients.



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A new study looks at “pre-loss grief” for people whose family members had advanced cancer or dementia.



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Taming the virus: U.S. deaths hit lowest level in 10 months

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Taming the virus: U.S. deaths hit lowest level in 10 months


COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have tumbled to an average of around 600 per day — the lowest level in 10 months — with the number of lives lost dropping to single digits in well over half the states and hitting zero on some days.

Confirmed infections, meanwhile, have fallen to about 38,000 day on average, their lowest mark since mid-September. While that is still cause for concern, they have plummeted 85% from a peak of more than a quarter-million cases per day in early January.

The last time deaths were this low was early July, nearly a year ago. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. topped out in mid-January at an average of more than 3,400 a day, just a month into the biggest vaccination drive in the nation’s history.

Kansas reported no new deaths from Friday through Monday. In Massachusetts, the Boston Herald put a huge zero on Wednesday’s front page under the headline “First time in nearly a year state has no new coronavirus deaths.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University, said that vaccinations have been crucial even as the nation struggles to reach herd immunity.

“The primary objective is to deny this virus the ability to kill at the rate that it could, and that has been achieved,” he said. “We have in in effect tamed the virus.”

Nearly 45% of the nation’s adults are fully vaccinated, and over 58% have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week, Pfizer’s vaccine won authorization for use in 12- to 15-year-olds, in a move that could make it easier to reopen the nation’s schools.

Physicians like Dr. Tom Dean in South Dakota’s rural Jerauld County are cautiously optimistic, concerned about the many people who have decided against getting vaccinated or have grown lax in guarding against infections. The county has seen just three confirmed cases in the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins data.

“What I’m afraid of is people believing this whole thing is over and you don’t have to worry about it any more,” Dean said. “I think complacency is our biggest threat right now.”

The encouraging outlook stands in sharp contrast to the catastrophe unfolding in places like India and Brazil.

The overall U.S. death toll stands at about 583,000, and teams of experts consulted by the CDC projected in a report last week that new deaths and cases will fall sharply by the end of July and continue dropping after that.

“I think we are in a great place, but I think India is an important cautionary tale,” warned Justin Lessler, a professor of epidemiology at John Hopkins.

“If there is a right combination of vaccine hesitancy, potentially new variants and quickly rolling back control measures that comes together, we could potentially screw this up and have yet another wave that is completely unnecessary at this point.”



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Humans Started Loving Carbs a Very Long Time Ago

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Humans Started Loving Carbs a Very Long Time Ago



By Cara Murez


HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Not only have humans and their ancient ancestors been eating carbs for longer than was realized, but a new study finds these starchy foods may actually have played a part in the growth of the human brain.

A new study researching the history of the human oral microbiome found that Neanderthals and ancient humans adapted to eating starchy foods as far back as 100,000 years ago, which is much earlier than previously thought.

“We think we’re seeing evidence of a really ancient behavior that might have been part encephalization — or the growth of the human brain,” said researcher Christina Warinner, from Harvard University. “It’s evidence of a new food source that early humans were able to tap into in the form of roots, starchy vegetables and seeds.”

The oral microbiome is a community of microorganisms in the mouth. They help protect against disease and promote health.

The findings are part of a seven-year study that involved the collaboration of more than 50 international scientists.

They reconstructed the oral microbiomes of Neanderthals, primates and humans, including a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal, in what’s believed to be the oldest oral microbiome ever sequenced.

Scientists analyzed the fossilized dental plaque of modern humans and Neanderthals, then compared them to chimpanzees and gorillas, man’s closest primate relatives, and howler monkeys, a more distant relative.

Billions of DNA fragments preserved in the fossilized plaque were genetically analyzed to reconstruct their genomes.

The researchers were surprised to find strains of oral bacteria that are specially adapted to break down starch. These bacteria, from the genus Streptococcus, have a unique ability to capture starch-digesting enzymes from human saliva and feed themselves. The genetic machinery they use to do this is only active when starch is part of the regular diet.

The Neanderthals and the ancient humans had these starch-adapted strains in their dental plaque, but most of the primates had almost none.

“It seems to be a very human specific evolutionary trait that our Streptococcus acquired the ability to do this,” Warinner said in a Harvard news release.


Continued

The findings were published May 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers said the finding makes sense because for hunter-gatherer societies around the world, starch-rich foods such as underground roots, tubers like potatoes and nuts and seeds were important and reliable nutrition sources.

The human brain requires glucose as a nutrient source and meat alone is not sufficient, Warinner said. Starch makes up about 60% of calories for humans worldwide.

“Its availability is much more predictable across the annual season for tropical hunter-gatherers,” said study co-author Richard Wrangham, the Ruth B. Moore professor of biological anthropology at Harvard. “These new data make every sense to me, reinforcing the newer view about Neanderthals that their diets were more sapien-like than once thought, [meaning] starch-rich and cooked.”

The research also identified 10 groups of bacteria that have been part of the human and primate oral microbiome for more than 40 million years and are still shared today. Relatively little is known about them.

The oral microbiome of Neanderthals and today’s humans were almost indistinguishable. The study touches on the power of analyzing the tiny microbes that live in the human body.

“It shows that our microbiome encodes valuable information about our own evolution that sometimes gives us hints at things that otherwise leave no traces at all,” Warinner said.


More information

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has more on ancient tools and food.


SOURCE: Harvard University, news release, May 10, 2021



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