CDC Alarm - Flu Season Escalating Fast
By Liz McKee
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm as the 2019–2020 flu season is escalating FAST. The flu can cost the United States up to $167 billion per year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Germ Hot Spots and Defensive Tips:
Use a paper towel to open and close public bathroom door handles and bathroom faucets too. Use a tissue or a piece of your clothing to push buttons on elevators, office microwave ovens, copy machine, and vending machines. Also, protect yourself from handles on water coolers and drinking fountains, sink sponges, food/food container handled by others, another person’s keyboard or phone. shared books, pens, staplers, etc. Wash your hands with hot water for 20 seconds with soap, several times a day, especially following contact with hot spots.
Prevention is key – Get a flu shot. It’s not too late. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot! Studies show getting the flu shot in the morning is most effective. It takes approximately two weeks for protection provided by the vaccination to begin.
If you feel run-down and sick, stay home. People are most contagious during the first 2–3 days of contracting a cold and about 5 days after being infected with the flu – even before symptoms develop. Remember when you catch the flu you can easily spread it to the most susceptible groups — young children and seniors. So think of yourself, and others, please.
General guidelines to help keep you disease free.
Avoid touching your face, eyes, or rubbing our nose. Relax — stress can decrease immunity. Drink more water. Decrease sugar intake. Get more sleep. Take Vitamin C and D.
Each year, on average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. This costs an estimated $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses and an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stratus Building Solutions, the nation’s leading commercial cleaning and janitorial company, has created "Flight the Office Flu" kits for distribution to offices across the nation. The kit includes: New pens to replace old, germ-infested pens that employees use each day. Cleaning wipes to help employees keep germs away between professional cleanings. Hand sanitizer to battle back against sharing germs when shaking hands, sharing documents, eating together at company lunches, etc. Color-coded “green-clean” disinfectant sprays and microfiber cleaning wipes – highlighting the importance of hiring a commercial cleaning partner that uses different color-coded sprays and wipes for each surface in the office. You don’t want to use the same spray/wipe in the kitchen and bathroom! For more information on these kits, contact Liz McKee by email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 377-9587
Solving the doctor shortage and medical school bottleneck
By Richard Liebowitz
Tens of thousands of Americans apply to U.S. medical schools each year. Only a fraction gain admission. The University of Arizona, for instance, posted a 1.9 percent acceptance rate in 2018. UCLA, Florida State University, and Wake Forest accepted fewer than 3 percent of applicants.
Many U.S. medical schools are proud of their microscopic admission rates. But they have negative ramifications for the nation's healthcare system.
The United States will need up to 121,900 more physicians by 2032 to care for its aging population. U.S. medical schools aren't producing enough graduates to meet that demand -- and don't have the capacity to expand anywhere close to that degree.
International medical schools are America's best hope for addressing its physician workforce needs. They're a crucial alternative for the thousands of qualified students who find themselves on the wrong end of a med school admissions decision as a result of the mismatch between qualified applicants and available seats.
Applying to med school has become a numbers game. In the 2018-2019 cycle, U.S. medical schools received over 850,000 applications from nearly 53,000 students. The average student applies to 16 schools.
Many students who would make terrific doctors fall through the cracks. In a recent interview with U.S. News and World Report, Dr. Robert Hasty, the founding dean and chief academic offer of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, said, "We hear from high-quality applicants every day . . . and these are people with really high MCAT scores and GPAs, that this is their second year, third year or even fourth year applying to medical schools. And years ago, they would have gotten accepted the first time through, but the demand is just incredible."
In other words, the status quo is failing thousands of qualified applicants -- and the U.S. healthcare system, which needs more doctors.
U.S. medical schools don't appear capable of growing to address this problem. Enrollment is up only 7 percent over the past five years. That kind of modest growth won't get us anywhere close to narrowing our nation's projected shortage of physicians.
International medical schools can address these issues, providing opportunity to talented students and supplying the physicians America needs.
Many international schools provide an education every bit as good as those offered by U.S. schools. For example, 96 percent of first-time test takers from St. George's University in Grenada -- the school I lead -- passed Step 1 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam in 2018. That's the same rate as graduates of U.S. medical schools.
Research confirms that international schools produce high-caliber doctors. According to one study published by the BMJ, a leading medical journal, patients treated by doctors trained overseas had lower mortality rates than those treated by U.S.-educated doctors.
Internationally trained doctors also practice where the U.S. healthcare system needs them most. In areas where per-capita income is below $15,000 annually, more than four in ten doctors received their degrees abroad. Americans are increasingly turning to international schools. More than 60 percent of licensed medical graduates of international schools in the Caribbean are U.S. citizens. Three-quarters of the medical students at St. George's are U.S. citizens.
The odds of gaining admission to U.S. medical schools are growing longer. But bright young Americans don't have to give up their dreams of becoming doctors. They can turn to top-notch international medical schools. Their future patients will surely thank them.
Dr. Richard Liebowitz is vice chancellor of St. George's University (www.sgu.edu). He previously served as president of New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.
Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus Threat
Arizona and California are monitoring the risk of disease carried by mosquitoes. Riverside County, California has already experienced cases of West Nile virus infections. In Arizona's monsoon weather creates breeding grounds in the short-term while California's flood control detention basins are pose a long-term risk. The public is cautioned to watch for standing water that can breed mosquitoes and to protect your family and pets from mosquito bites.
If you have been recently bitten by a mosquito and experience any flu-like symptoms, it is recommended to consult with your doctor.
While the risk for West Nile, Zika, and malaria are currently low, it is advised to be proactive in protecting yourself, your family, and your pets from bites. Dead birds in the area are an indication of local disease carrying mosquito breeding grounds.