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Med students on how COVID pushed them into action, highlighted health care inequities

It was on a Saturday in mid-March when Abby Schiff, then a third-year medical student at Harvard working through surgery clinical rotations, found out she wouldn’t be going back to the hospital.



a group of people on a sidewalk: Medical student Francis Wright (top left) during a mask drive early on in the pandemic with his classmates (clockwise) India Perez-Urbano, Kara Lau, Lane Epps, Ninad Bhat, Laeesha Cornejo and Hunter Jackson, the last of whom came up with the idea.


© Courtesy Francis Wright
Medical student Francis Wright (top left) during a mask drive early on in the pandemic with his classmates (clockwise) India Perez-Urbano, Kara Lau, Lane Epps, Ninad Bhat, Laeesha Cornejo and Hunter Jackson, the last of whom came up with the idea.

She had worked the day before, but with the coronavirus threat growing quickly, Schiff, like thousands of other medical students across the country, was sidelined when the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a temporary suspension of clinical rotations in hopes of protecting students and patients, and conserving personal protective equipment (PPE).

She didn’t sit around waiting, though. As nurses came out of retirement and medical school professors pressed pause on teaching to answer the call to action on the front lines, Schiff also got to work. Within hours, she and a group of other students started building a crash course on COVID-19 for medical professionals.

“At the time, a lot of Harvard medical students were talking about what was going on, and [it] felt like we suddenly had a lot of time on our hands,” Schiff told ABC News. “There was this crisis going on. How can we best contribute?”



a woman standing in front of a book shelf: Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school's COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis.


© ABC News
Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school’s COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis.

In less than a week, 70 of Schiff’s colleagues, including students and faculty, had put together a comprehensive, open-source COVID-19 curriculum.

“So we had about 80 pages of content — all referenced, all freely available — including things like thought questions, quiz questions… helpful information about how to put on masks and PPE, run ventilators,” she said. “And then also an explainer about basic epidemiological terms, about sort of the basics of virology and immunology and the clinical manifestations that were known at the time.”

Seven months later, the curriculum is still being updated with the latest science on a regular basis. Today, it includes modules on mental health, global health and communication, all meant to “dispel misinformation and myths,” said Schiff.



graphical user interface, application: Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school's open-source COVID-19 curriculum.


© Courtesy Abby Schiff
Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school’s open-source COVID-19 curriculum.

As co-chair for outreach, she said her role is to reach out to students and groups that are using the curriculum to get an idea of their needs and how they can best be met, as well as recruiting students to contribute. The curriculum has already been implemented in 32 medical schools across the country as either an elective or mandatory course, and it has been translated into 27 languages and used in at least 110 countries, Schiff said.

“It’s had a really wide reach, including in areas where

Med students on how COVID-19 pushed them to take action, highlighted health care inequities

It was on a Saturday in mid-March when Abby Schiff, then a third-year medical student at Harvard working through surgery clinical rotations, found out she wouldn’t be going back to the hospital.

She had worked the day before, but with the coronavirus threat growing quickly, Schiff, like thousands of other medical students across the country, was sidelined when the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a temporary suspension of clinical rotations in hopes of protecting students and patients, and conserving personal protective equipment (PPE).

She didn’t sit around waiting, though. As nurses came out of retirement and medical school professors pressed pause on teaching to answer the call to action on the front lines, Schiff also got to work. Within hours, she and a group of other students started building a crash course on COVID-19 for medical professionals.

“At the time, a lot of Harvard medical students were talking about what was going on, and [it] felt like we suddenly had a lot of time on our hands,” Schiff told ABC News. “There was this crisis going on. How can we best contribute?”

PHOTO: Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school's COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school’s COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis. (ABC News)

In less than a week, 70 of Schiff’s colleagues, including students and faculty, had put together a comprehensive, open-source COVID-19 curriculum.

“So we had about 80 pages of content — all referenced, all freely available — including things like thought questions, quiz questions… helpful information about how to put on masks and PPE, run ventilators,” she said. “And then also an explainer about basic epidemiological terms, about sort of the basics of virology and immunology and the clinical manifestations that were known at the time.”

Seven months later, the curriculum is still being updated with the latest science on a regular basis. Today, it includes modules on mental health, global health and communication, all meant to “dispel misinformation and myths,” said Schiff.

PHOTO: Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school's open-source COVID-19 curriculum. (Courtesy Abby Schiff )
PHOTO: Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school’s open-source COVID-19 curriculum. (Courtesy Abby Schiff )

As co-chair for outreach, she said her role is to reach out to students and groups that are using the curriculum to get an idea of their needs and how they can best be met, as well as recruiting students to contribute. The curriculum has already been implemented in 32 medical schools across the country as either an elective or mandatory course, and it has been translated into 27 languages and used in at least 110 countries, Schiff said.

“It’s had a really wide reach, including in areas where there are fewer resources available,” she said. “In the age of the internet, and especially when there’s something like this pandemic that’s affecting people in every single country and really just upending the structures of knowledge, it’s really important to keep information

Dubai fitness challenge will unite the city with action and purpose

  • Month-long calendar of exciting fitness and wellness events will exemplify Dubai government’s safety-first approach, with the highest standards of safety precautions and social distancing in place 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) – the city’s flagship fitness initiative championed by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, is returning for its fourth edition from October 30 to November 28, 2020 to energise the emirate and further unite the community. Featuring an exciting mix of virtual and physical events and activities, this year’s programme will have in place the highest standards of safety precautions and social distancing measures to ensure Dubai’s residents and visitors can stay connected as they commit to 30 minutes of daily physical activity for the 30 days.

Throughout the month, an inspiring calendar of events, sports, health and wellness programmes and virtual sessions will be available to make fitness accessible and easy for all to complete their 30 days of physical activity.  DFC welcomes the whole city to find the motivation to keep moving, discover their passion for fitness and embark on a truly holistic wellness journey, regardless of age, ability, interest, fitness level or location preference.

Further details, including registration information and the full line-up for Dubai Fitness Challenge will be released in the coming weeks. Participants are encouraged to set goals prior to the initiative’s kick-off and register on the Dubai Fitness Challenge website.

Health and safety of the city’s people remains DFC’s top priority. All events and activities will be held in accordance with the Dubai Government health and safety guidelines.

For further information and to register, please visit www.dubaifitnesschallenge.com 

-Ends-

For further information, please contact: Dubai Tourism on mediarelations@dubaitourism.ae  or Edelman on dfcteam@edelman.com 

For more information, see:
Facebook:        www.facebook.com/dubaifitnesschallenge
Instagram:        @dubaifitnesschallenge
Twitter:             @dxbfitchallenge
Hashtag:           #Dubai30x30

About Dubai Fitness Challenge

The Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) is an initiative of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council. DFC has been created to motivate the people of Dubai to boost their physical activity and commit to 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days. Running from October 30 to November 28 2020, the Challenge encompasses all forms of activity – from cycling and football, to kayaking, team sports, walking and yoga, as well as wellness and healthy lifestyle.  Everyone is encouraged to participate individually or together with friends, family and colleagues and enjoy new and exciting ways to improve their fitness and health levels, and help make Dubai the most active, healthiest, and happiest city in the world.

© Press Release 2020

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Kentucky governor takes action as state fights becoming next COVID-19 hot spot

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vowed to halt a recent escalation of COVID-19 cases after reporting 17 more coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, marking one of the state’s highest one-day death tolls since the outbreak began earlier this year.



a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women's and Children's Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.


© Bryan Woolston/Reuters, FILE
Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.

“What that shows is we are — in our total case count — in an escalation, meaning last week was more; this week will be more than that, it appears,” Beshear told reporters at a press conference Thursday.

State health officials reported 910 new coronavirus cases on Thursday after shattering records earlier this week, with rural and urban areas seeing massive spikes in new infections. Of the newly reported cases, 146 were children under the age of 18 with the youngest victim being 3 months old.

MORE: Health officials urge Americans to get flu vaccine as concerns mount over possible ‘twindemic’

Last week the state saw its highest total of new infections reported over a seven-day period, but the governor said the state was on track to top that figure this week.

“When we have a lot of cases, sadly a lot of death follows,” Beshear warned.



a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women's and Children's Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.


© Bryan Woolston/Reuters, FILE
Emergency medical personnel transport a patient into the emergency department of Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, as all wear masks to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Louisville, Ky., March 24, 2020.

The 17 coronavirus-related fatalities reported on Thursday followed four COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday.

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The new deaths meant that as of Thursday, a total of 1,191 people had died from the coronavirus in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic. Seniors above the age of 80 account for more than half of those deaths.

Residents between the ages of 20 and 49 account for the bulk of statewide cases, but health officials are urging residents of all ages to take the virus seriously. People in the 20-29 age group appear to have the highest rates of diagnosis, according to state data.

To help combat the spread of the virus during Halloween, Beshear asked parents keep their children away from crowds and to use another approach to traditional trick-or-treating. He and state health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack asked residents to place individually wrapped candy outside on their porches, driveways or tables in lieu of the usual door-to-door trick-or-treating.

“We have put together the best guidance we can for Halloween to be safe. But we can’t do things exactly like we did them before, and we all ought to know that,” Beshear said. “Having a big party right now during COVID puts everybody at risk. Let’s not ruin Halloween for our kids by it spreading a virus that can harm people they love.”

MORE: Gov. Reeves takes action as Mississippi shapes up to become nation’s next COVID-19

Experts: Tackling Poverty and Racism as Public Health Crises Requires Rapid Action | National News

Late last month, the Healthcare Anchor Network, a coalition of more than three dozen health systems in 45 states and Washington, D.C., released a public statement declaring: “It is undeniable: Racism is a public health crisis.” In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May, many states, cities and counties across the United States issued similar declarations, according to the American Public Health Association.

While it is becoming clear that ZIP code may matter more to longevity than genetic code, some public health experts have been sounding the alarm for decades. Indeed, poverty and racism have an enormous – and devastating – impact on health, according to a panel of experts brought together for a webinar hosted by U.S. News & World Report as part of the Community Health Leadership Forum, a new virtual event series.

In Chicago, as just one example, life expectancy between some neighborhoods can vary by 30 years, because of factors like access to health care, education, nutritional food sources, income and what many call systematic disinvestment dating back decades.

COVID-19 has made such inequities impossible to ignore. Expected at first to be “the great equalizer,” hitting all demographics equally hard, the novel coronavirus has caused impoverished, mostly Black and underrepresented minority populations to suffer far more death and ill health effects than their white peers.

COVID-19 “attacks vulnerabilities in a truly diabolical way,” said featured speaker Wes Moore, chief executive officer of Robin Hood, one of the nation’s leading anti-poverty organizations.

“We are going to need a concerted and a collective effort to deal with a calcified and hard problem” of poverty and racism and how they influence health, Moore said. Half of the population of New York City lived in poverty for at least one year over the past four years, Moore said, and the probability of dipping back into poverty within a year was 37% – even before COVID-19 hit. “The data continues to reinforce the fact that … [poverty] is not a choice of the person who is feeling the weight of poverty, it’s society’s choice,” Moore said.

Those in poverty are far more likely to have preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes and obesity, Moore noted, putting them at greater risk of death from COVID-19 and other illnesses.

In his new book, “Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City,” Moore examined the 2015 death of Freddie Gray and its aftermath in the city of Baltimore. Moore wrote that Gray, born premature and underweight to a heroin-addicted mother, had grown up in poverty and was exposed to lead at a far greater rate than the limit recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Freddie Gray never had a shot,” Moore said, because he was failed by every social system, including the health system, and not just law enforcement.

Yet Moore remains optimistic. “We are not yet what we can be; our responsibility to get there is our responsibility to get there,” he said. Citing a