No One Is Protected Until We Are All Protected

Americans and others in the wealthiest countries may only have temporary protection against COVID unless there is more of a worldwide effort to vaccinate people in poorer countries. The science tells us that the longer the virus thrives and is able to mutate in countries with low vaccination rates the more the character of the pandemic changes.

The U.S. and other wealthy countries have hoarded millions of doses of vaccine and that has proven to be a very short-sighted way to deal with a pandemic. There are few places on the globe not affected by COVID and that means that we have to accept the fact that control of the virus depends on global cooperation. The needed level of cooperation has been slow to evolve.

A New Effort To Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced two bills in the Senate that would lower the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s a part of the press release his office issued on March 23. “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Ro Khanna, (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), along with more than two dozen colleagues, on Tuesday introduced sweeping legislation to drastically reduce the cost of prescription drugs in the United States. The package of bills includes: The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act to peg the price of prescription drugs in the United States to the median price in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan; The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D; and The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act to allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers to import safe, affordable medicine from Canada and other major countries.

Nursing Home Selectivity

Nursing homes are the kind of places that care for the sickest and most vulnerable among us. That is certainly true and, for the most part, these facilities do an excellent job of caring, comforting and maximizing the potential of their residents.

But there is one area of nursing home policy that has always bothered me and when I talk to people about it they are surprised unless they have had experience with the rules around admission and discharge.

Nursing homes interview patients before admission to make sure they can provide the proper care for a potential resident. That is a standard process and it protects both the patient and the facility. There are times when admission is not appropriate and when that happens families end up in a state of chaos.

Growing Old Is Not For Sissies

As we age our bodies, with few exceptions, start wearing out. Every creature lives and dies and in between those two ends they age. Some of us are able to accept aging better than others but no matter our outlook, we all have to deal with bodily changes that annoy and pain us.

As parts wear out such as knees and hips it can become a matter of choosing the right time to replace them now that we have the technology and expertise available to us. Most people that choose to have new knees and hips are happy with the outcome and they are able to get on with their lives much easier with less pain and greater mobility. Those are the relatively easy aging body parts to deal with.

Post-COVID Lives

Life with COVID has been difficult, but humans are a flexible species and we have adapted fairly well to the new normal. There will always be those who do not possess a shred of common sense or decency and thankfully the leader of that group has lost most of his power. The yahoos will persist and the rest of us have to keep as much distance as possible from them.

Thankfully, they are the minority and preventing disease transmission has become part of the daily routine for the majority. That is why we will eventually see a day when other things take priority. The big question is, “When will that day come, if ever?”.

I am trying to imagine what the world will be like a year from now. It is an activity that is all guesswork but it is something that helps to provide some hope for a more active and open society. I think it will take close to a year before there are any significant changes in life as we now know it.

Grace Cottage is Now Administering Vaccines

TOWNSHEND — Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital is now a Covid-19 vaccination site. Vermonters age 75+ can sign up to get their first dose at Grace Cottage by going to the Vermont Department of Health Covid-19 online Event Portal or by calling 855-722-7878.

So far, the following dates have been announced for vaccines at Grace Cottage: Wednesday, Feb. 10; Thursday, Feb. 11; Wednesday, Feb. 17; and Wednesday, Feb. 21. All appointments must be made through the Vermont Department of Health’s registration system.

Mass Vaccination In A Broken Public Health System

This country has underfunded public health for decades. We are seeing the results of that malpractice as we try to test and vaccinate a significant number of our population during the COVID 19 pandemic.

It would be simplistic to blame the departed presidential criminal and his team for their lack of action during the pandemic. Yet, they do deserve a good share of blame for not creating a national plan to deal with COVID.

In order to understand why the Biden administration will not find a way to test and vaccinate a critical mass of Americans within a short time frame it is important to know that this country barely has a functioning public health system.

Eliminate The 1-10 Pain Scale

Anyone experiencing pain who has had contact with the health care system has had one of the most meaningless and offensive questions posed to them. “On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst pain you have ever had, what is your pain now?” Nurses are often the ones asking the question. Asking that question makes life simple for nurses, but it is not fair to patients to ask them to characterize their pain that way.

In the 1990’s health care professionals started to pay more attention to pain. I was working as a nurse then and accepted the 1-10 scale as gospel, as did most nurses. But I was never entirely comfortable with this rating system and I always tried to ask more questions of people experiencing pain.

Brattleboro 75 and Up – Get Your Vaccinations

Vermont’s vaccination enrollment program is open for people 75 and older. It is a statewide, centralized registry system. No need to call your hospital or doctor’s office. 

They would prefer you to register online, but there is a phone number: 855-722-7878

Hours for the phone center are: Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

A few things to know:

The Vaccine Rollout – Too Many Unknowns

World governments are trying to deal with the complexity of vaccinating enough of their populations to provide an adequate level of herd immunity to be able to declare that the COVID 19 pandemic is under control. Having a Darwinian health care system and a lack of federal leadership means the U.S. will most likely lag behind the rest of the world in vaccine rollout. Experts are guessing that anywhere from 70-90 percent of people need to be vaccinated to meet herd immunity efficacy .

One of the major problems that all countries face is the fact that no one really knows how the pandemic will play out, even under the best of vaccine rollout scenarios. In addition, there are many unknowns about how vaccines work and how the virus behaves.

12 Local Organizations Collaborate on Wellness Care Packages for the Community

Brattleboro, VT — United Way of Windham County has released funds in the amount of $90,322, via a Vermont Department of Health Grant, to 11 area organizations in support of the Collaborative Care Package Project. The participating organizations are: The AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, The Brattleboro Community Justice Center, Brooks Memorial Library, Community Asylum Seekers Project, Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, Elnu Abenaki, Greater Falls Connections, Out in the Open, The Root Social Justice Center, The Susu Healing Collective, United Way of Windham County, and West River Valley Thrives.

HB Lozito, Executive Director of Out in the Open says of the project: “we want to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, both those that are direct and indirect, on our most impacted community members—those who are rural, BIPOC, and/or LGBTQ+ by offering care packages that are supportive of people’s whole selves and families. Our goal is to source as many of these items from locally-owned, BIPOC-owned, LGBTQ+-owned businesses as possible. We are happy to live in an area so abundant with local producers!”

COVID Forever?

Some people are delusional enough to think that humans will eradicate the COVID 19 virus. That is not likely. Consider the fact that the only infectious disease affecting humans ever to be eradicated was smallpox. That disease was declared eliminated on December 9, 1979.

Since then we have been exposed to a number of new and old diseases such as HIV, Ebola as well as the seasonal flu that we have learned how to control but not eliminate. It is estimated that about 35,000 Americans died from the flu during the 2018-19 flu season. That is an average number of deaths according to statistics from the past ten years.

Brattleboro and Vermont COVID-19 Dashboard Summary – December 2020

T’is the month of December. Here is the continuation of daily COVID-19 dashboard numbers from the Vermont Department of Health, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and MA and NH counties that surround Brattleboro. Scroll down the new comments for the latest.

You can find the November numbers here,  October stats here,  September numbers here, August numbers here,  July numbers here, the June numbers here, the May dashboard reporting here, and the April numbers here.

Will a COVID Vaccine Be Safe and Effective?

It is difficult for the average person to understand what they need to know about a COVID vaccine before they decide to be inoculated. The vaccine will be available within weeks or months and public health officials are urging people to get vaccinated.

Government health officials are saying that the vaccines developed have proven to be safe and effective and that the best chance we all have for moving on and living in a world not controlled by the behavior of a virus is to continue to use masks, social distance and to take the vaccine when it becomes available.

According to Francis Collins MD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it will take 80% coverage (vaccine administration) to get to herd immunity, and that is not likely to happen until the summer of 2021if all goes well.

Medicare Disadvantage

Every year during Medicare’s open enrollment period, which is from October 15 to December 7 this year, millions of Medicare beneficiaries are bombarded by private insurance companies looking for their business. The advertising makes it sound like these benevolent companies are looking to offer you a pot of gold for free. If it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true.

Here’s the story. In 1997 congress authorized the creation of Medicare C which has come to be known as Medicare Advantage. It was an effort by Republicans to privatize Medicare and make it less of a government-run program. It was also a gift for the private insurance industry which continues to haul in huge profits when people switch from traditional Medicare A to Medicare C.