Blog posts

Weekly Rounds 6-7-2020


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DFA’S WEEKLY ACTION ITEM: 

Structural racism and race-based violence are among our nation’s enduring sins and serve as the root cause of many health-related problems such as gun violence, maternal mortality, substance use disorder, and inequities in health insurance coverage, and access to care. This is reflected in the dysfunction of our justice system, our educational systems, our neighborhoods, and most recently thehealth outcomes around COVID-19.  

Our hearts are filled with passion; thus we will not wallow in our despair. There is freedom in action – in trying to make big ideas happen, working together to make the foundational changes necessary to promote equality and equity. If we’re really going to heal our nation – we cannot just feel angry or simply put on Band-Aids - we must collaborate and take meaningful action on these fundamental, structural issues. Each of us as individuals can take action right now, by engaging with policymakers and your local chief of police on your concerns about the impact of structural racism. Phone your chief of police and tell them you want to have a conversation about what they can do to help. Personalize this suggested message and send it to your federal legislators now. - Thank you for your work, and for your willingness to stand up and make your voices heard. - Take Action Right Now.

Please Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to Doctors for America.Donations are necessary for DFA, during the world pandemic, to illuminate through its physician and medical student network the many shortcomings and as well as necessary solutions to heal America during COVID-19 and after. Together we must work toward a better normal where health truly is for all; Please Click Here to Contribute.

DOCTORS FOR AMERICA SPEAKING OUT & GETTING PUBLISHED:

DFA Taking Action:As Coronavirus Cases Increase at Detention Centers, Doctors’ Group Demands Release of Immigrants - As confirmed COVID-19 cases increase inside Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention centers, Doctors for America protested Friday at facilities in Conroe and near San Antonio, demanding the release of non-violent immigrants. The demonstrations at Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe and Karnes County Residential Center southeast of San Antonio were part of a series of actions across the country organized by the advocacy group. (Olivia P. Tallet, Houston Chronicle)

DFA's Dr. Howard Forman - COVID-19 Highlights Racial Disparities in Our Health Care System - "The global pandemic is a dark moment in US history, exposing our lack of attention to health equity in the nation. However, it can be a moment when we begin to address long-standing failures of our health care system, promote equitable access to health services and help communities of color to achieve the care that all Americans should have." (Aneta Gasiewska, Dr. Howard P. Forman and Dr. Darin Latimor, USA Today)

DFA Webinar - End High Drug Prices - END HIGH DRUG PRICES: Webinar talking with Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Abdul El-Sayed, about real life health care stories and why Congress must act to #EndHighDrugPrices. DFA leader, Dr. Reshma Ramachandran, shared a patient story about the devastations of high prescription drug prices.

DFA Webinar - Mental Health and Safe Gun Storage - a webinar on mental health, gun safety, and safe storage during the #COVID19 pandemic. Co-hosted with  @bradybuzz, moderated by @RambaKy, featuring  @EmmyBetz, @PsychBrownBag & our very own Dr. Arka Deb! 

THE WEEK IN QUOTES:

#ThisIsOurLaneToo: We are physicians when we are at work in the hospital, but we are always Black men. We don’t live in our white coats — we live in our Black skin. For those like us who experience these tragedies as terrifying, the silence of the medical community is deafening. Where loss of life due to police brutality is concerned, #ThisIsOurLaneToo.” - Chijioke Nze, Elorm F. Avakame, Olusola J. Ayankola, and Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem, STAT

A REALITY THAT NONE OF US SHOULD TOLERATE: And we must keep in mind that institutional racism and injustice are at the root of disparate outcomes in health. Uprisings affect people’s health in the short term, but the reason they are occurring is because of the long-standing reality that people’s lives are valued differently in our society. This is a reality that none of us should tolerate.”  - Dr. Leana S. Wen - Former  Baltimore Health Commissioner

A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS:At the end of the day, racism is the original sin here, Racism attacks people’s physical and mental health,” It’s “an ongoing public health crisis that needs our attention now.” - Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Assn.

MY GREATEST RISK: I’ve spent the last several months of my life imploring and exhorting people to protect themselves, to reduce the spread of this virus and save lives,” But after Floyd’s death under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, “it dawned on me that my greatest risk is not COVID-19. It’s the color of my skin.” - Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, Cardiologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine

DANGEROUS: The police tactics — the kettling, the mass arrests, the use of chemical irritants — those are completely opposed to public health recommendations, They're causing protesters to violate the six-feet recommendation. The chemicals may make them have to remove their masks. This is all very dangerous.” - Malika Fair, Director of Public Health Initiatives at the Association of American Medical Colleges

THE CHARACTER OF OUR POPULACE:How does a civil society — if indeed we are civil — respond not only to disproportionate suffering but also to a legacy of injustice? We will soon know the character of our populace.” Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, Cardiologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine

NOT A FAIRY TALE: American history isn’t a fairy tale with a guaranteed happy ending. The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years, a tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal, and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is that both elements are part of the American character, both elements. At our best, the American ideal wins out. But it’s never a route, it’s always a fight and the battle is never fully won. But we can’t ignore the truth that we’re at our best when we open our hearts rather than to clench our fist.” - Vice President, Joe Biden - June 2, 2020 Philadelphia, PA

EVERY 3 DAYS: “2,977 people were killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. As of now, the daily average of COVID-19 deaths equal that total every three days.” - (Jiachuan Wu, Nigel Chiwaya and Robin Muccari, NBC News)

THE CDC: Here is an agency (The C.D.C) that has been waiting its entire existence for this moment, And then they flub it. It is very sad. That is what they were set up to do.” - Dr. Peter Lurie, Former Associate Commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration 

VERY EARLY: “We are really early in this disease, If this were a baseball game, it would be the second inning.” - Dr. Ashish Jha, Director, Harvard Global Health Institute 

AN UNTENABLE SITUATION:The pandemic amplified an already untenable situation, where women are burning the candle at both ends as they drown in work and hack together child care,” - Alexis Barad-Cutler, Not Safe For Mom Group

IRRESPONSIBLE AND DAMAGING: “The pandemic has also dealt a huge setback to vaccination campaigns against measles, diptheria and polio. In a statement, the World Health Organization and others estimated that routine immunization services are being substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and about 80 million children under the age of 1 year old are likely to be affected. Public health experts worry that as nations throw limited resources into fighting the pandemic, there will be less for fighting HIV/AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis. All of this will put extra demands on the WHO, which has been at the front lines of fighting disease in the developing world — and it’s more evidence that President Trump’s decision to abandon the WHO is irresponsible and damaging.” - Editorial Board - Washington Post

REACH OUT: If you get an opinion piece or letter to the editor published PLEASE send me (Pete Van Vranken - pete@drsforamerica.org ) an email with a link to your piece and I will include it in the next edition of the Physician Rounds. Also please send me any feedback you may have on the “Rounds” - Much Appreciated - Pete

MEDIA COVERAGE: 

Cause of Death: COVID-19, Police Violence or Racism? - Doctors and public health experts will tell you that, compared to white Americans, African American people die prematurely and disproportionately of many ills: heart disease, stroke, COVID-19, police violence. The proximate causes of these early deaths vary. But there is a sameness to the pattern, experts say, and a common source of the skewed statistics. Racism — not in its overt, name-calling form, but the kind woven deeply into the nation’s institutions — harms the 44 million Americans who identify as black and potentially shortens their lives, according to those who study racial inequities in health. Melissa Healy, LA Times)

‘This Is What Happens to Us.’ How U.S. Cities Lost Precious Time to Protect Black Residents from the Coronavirus - The coronavirus crisis in black America follows a familiar pattern, from the AIDS epidemic to maternal mortality to breast cancer to even natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, where community concerns were overlooked until gross disparities were revealed. (Robert Samuels, Aaron Williams, Tracy Jan and Jose A. Del Real, Washington Post)

Protests Will Likely Spread The Coronavirus. These Doctors And Nurses Are Protesting Anyway - Doctors, nurses, residents, medical students, and others in the medical field are just some of the thousands of protesters flooding town squares and downtowns. To some, their participation may seem controversial or hypocritical. (Stephanie M. Lee, BuzzFeed News)

Police Using Rubber Bullets On Protesters That Can Kill, Blind Or Maim For Life - … when fired at close range, rubber bullets can penetrate the skin, break bones, fracture the skull and explode the eyeball, he said. Rubber bullets can cause traumatic brain injuries and “serious abdominal injury, including injuries to the spleen and bowel along with major blood vessels,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician in New York City and a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians.” (Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News)

Mass Arrests Jeopardizing the Health of Protesters, Police - Mass arrests of protesters across the country — many held for hours in vans, cells and other enclosed spaces — are heightening the risk of coronavirus spread, according to public health experts and lawsuits filed by civil rights groups. As tens of thousands of people take to the streets to protest police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the arrest and detention of thousands further jeopardizes the health of demonstrators — and that of police officers and the broader community.  (Alice Miranda Ollstein and Dan Goldberg, Politico)

A Minneapolis School Asked People to Donate Food for Students After Looting Closed Stores. ‘Miles of Cars’ Lined Up - “There were miles of cars holding food, wrapped around our city blocks,” said Mara Bernick, family liaison for Sanford Middle School. Hundreds of people showed up to give what they could. Some arrived in U-Haul trucks and trailers, and some came carrying groceries in their hands. Soon, the school property was covered with thousands of bags of groceries. By the end of the day, an estimated 30,000 food kits were delivered, and more than 500 families and individuals were able to stock their pantries and fridges. (Sydney Page, Washington Post)

DOCTORS - MEDICINE & RESEARCH:

Red Cross Warns of a ‘Staggering’ Drop in Blood Supplies - Hospitals have resumed elective surgeries and many Americans are venturing out of their homes again, but the rate of donations has yet to bounce back - As protests and violence erupt in cities, the United States faces a new threat: The country is running out of blood. (Christopher Flavelle, New York Times)

Proteins in COVID-19 Patients' Blood Could Predict Severity of Illness, Study Finds - Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease. (Kate Kelland, Reuters)

Convalescent Plasma Not Helpful in China Study; Hydroxychloroquine Doesn't Prevent Infection - Convalescent plasma disappoints in Chinese trial - Infusions of antibody-rich blood plasma from people who have recovered from the coronavirus, so-called convalescent plasma, failed to make a difference in a study of hospitalized patients in China. (Nancy Lapid, Reuters)

ICUs Become A ‘Delirium Factory’ For COVID Patients - Although COVID-19 is best known for damaging the lungs, it also increases the risk of life-threatening brain injuries — from mental confusion to hallucinations, seizures, coma, stroke and paralysis. The virus may invade the brain, as well as starve the organ of oxygen by damaging the lungs. To fight the infection, the immune system sometimes overreacts, battering the brain and other organs it normally protects. (Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News)

Doctors Are Tweeting About Coronavirus to Make Facts Go Viral - Dr. Wachter, 62 years old, is part of a growing group of scientists and public-health officials who are increasingly active and drawing large audiences on social media. They say they feel a moral obligation to provide credible information online and steer the conversation away from dubious claims, such as those in “Plandemic,” a video espousing Covid-19 conspiracy theories that drew millions of views last week. (Georgia Wells, Wall Street Journal)

COVID-19 TESTING:

Race, Ethnicity Data to Be Required With Coronavirus Tests Starting Aug. 1 - Federal health officials announced Thursday they will require laboratories to report race, ethnic and other information about each person tested for the novel coronavirus, following months of criticism that the Trump administration has been insensitive to the pandemic’s profound demographic disparities. (Amy Goldstein, Washington Post)

Coronavirus Antibody Tests: Facts, Myths and Everything You Need To Know - Are the tests reliable? What do they tell you? Your antibody test questions answered…. For a closer look at all of these issues, we asked experts what we know—and don’t know—about the tests. (Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal)

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RESPONSE: 

The C.D.C. Waited ‘Its Entire Existence for This Moment.’ What Went Wrong? - The technology was old, the data poor, the bureaucracy slow, the guidance confusing, the administration not in agreement. The coronavirus shook the world’s premier health agency, creating a loss of confidence and hampering the U.S. response to the crisis.  (Eric Lipton, Abby Goodnough, Michael D. Shear, Megan Twohey, Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times)

Experts Warn of Dire Global Health Consequences If U.S. Withdraws from the World Health Organization - An American withdrawal from the World Health Organization could wreak profound damage on the global effort to eradicate polio and could undermine the world’s ability to detect and respond to disease threats, health experts warned. (Helen Branswell, STAT)

The Trump Administration Has Yet to Pay Out Billions in Emergency Health Aid - Months after Congress approved $175 billion in emergency aid to health providers, the Trump administration has yet to pay out the majority of the funds — nearly $100 billion — amid a series of setbacks and internal uncertainty over how best to distribute the money.  (Adam Cancryn, Politico)

COVID-19 & IMMIGRATION:

Doctor Who Advised Homeland Security Testifies Against COVID-19 Protocols in Immigration Detention - A doctor contracted by the Department of Homeland Security to advise on detention health conditions appeared before Congress on Tuesday to personally criticize the Trump administration as COVID-19 continues to spread through civil immigration detention centers. (Quinn Owen, ABC News)

Fear, Illness and Death in ICE Detention: How a Protest Grew on the Inside

For months in ICE’s detention centers, nobody really knew how many immigrant detainees had Covid-19, because the agency was scarcely testing, even as public-health experts warned of a pending crisis… In response to the pandemic, immigrants in at least a dozen ICE facilities have announced protests and strikes. (Seth Freed Wessler, New York Times)

Illinois to Become 1st State to Provide Medicaid Regardless of Immigration Status - Illinois will become the first state to provide Medicaid for undocumented seniors ...Tucked in near the end of the 465-page budget implementation bill that passed the Illinois General Assembly late Saturday night was a provision giving Medicaid access to noncitizens over 65 years old and whose income is $12,670 or less (Kade Heather, The State Journal-Register)

DRUG AFFORDABILITY:

Long-Delayed Drug-Price Legislation Not Dead Yet, Grassley Says - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said that he intends to push for a vote this year on a bill that would limit drug-price increases, even as pharmaceutical companies race to find treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. (Riley Griffin & Emma Court, Bloomberg News)

Medical Societies Have ‘Extensive’ Financial Ties With Drug and Device Makers

Many leaders of influential U.S. medical societies have extensive financial relationships with drug and device makers, raising concerns about the extent to which industry may influence research, physician education, and treatment guidelines, a new study finds. (Ed Silverman, STAT)

GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC: 

Handgun Ownership Vastly Increases Suicide Risk, Large Study Confirms - A large new study confirms what mental health experts and those who research firearms have known for some time: Owning a handgun vastly increases one’s risk of suicide. The research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, goes beyond what smaller past studies have shown, however, by capturing suicide risk down to the individual level. (Shraddha Chakradhar, STAT)

SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER:

Overdose Deaths Have Skyrocketed in Chicago, and the Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Making It Worse - Opioid-related deaths in Cook County have doubled since this time last year, and similar increases are happening across the country. “If you’re alone, there’s nobody to give you the Narcan,” said one coroner. ...“This is going to make it so much worse,” said Kathleen Kane-Willis, a researcher with the Chicago Urban League who has studied the opioid epidemic for more than a decade, adding that the true impact of the pandemic on drug overdoses likely won’t be known for some time. (Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib, ProPublica)

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