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INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE OF CHICAGO

  • 4 Jan 2022 3:15 PM | Anonymous

    Hospitals in the Chicago area are delaying nonurgent surgeries and other procedures not risking patient safety after a plea to do so from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, according to the Chicago Tribune. [Becker's Hospital Review 1.3.2022]

    Illinois is among the 34 states where COVID-19 hospitalizations are up. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased 52 percent in the state over the past 14 days, according to HHS data presented by The New York Times


    In a Dec. 30 news release, the governor said he and hospital leaders were making the plea to prepare for a continuing post-holiday COVID-19 surge and ensure healthcare workers are able to handle serious virus cases and other emergencies without jeopardizing patient care. Mr. Pritzker noted that some hospitals have already delayed nonurgent procedures to boost capacity and urged all hospitals to help ensure sufficient capacity in the coming weeks.

    Advocate Aurora Health, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill., confirmed that it is among the healthcare organizations delaying and rescheduling certain procedures as needed. 

    "Like health systems across the country, our COVID inpatient census is rising quickly with the vast majority of patients being unvaccinated. We are monitoring the situation closely. At times, this has resulted in the need to pause or reschedule some [nonurgent] elective procedures, depending on local COVID case numbers, staffing scenarios and bed availability," Advocate Aurora spokesperson Adam Mesirow said in a statement shared with Becker's

    "Urgent and emergent services will continue to be available 24 hours a day, and it is critical that patients seek care when needed," Mr. Mesirow added.

    During a press conference Jan. 3, Advocate Aurora Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr, MD, told reporters that the health system is not delaying cancer diagnoses, cancer treatment, or lifesaving or limb-saving surgeries and procedures, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal. For nonurgent care, Dr. Bahr said the health system will be rescheduling "certain procedures to times and places where there is appropriate staffing and space and capacity to perform those surgeries and procedures safely." 

    Edward-Elmhurst Health told Becker's that it is not scheduling additional elective surgeries until mid-January at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., and Elmhurst (Ill.) Hospital because of the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

    And NorthShore University HealthSystem, a six-hospital system based in Evanston, Ill., has largely suspended elective surgeries for two weeks, said CEO and President J.P. Gallagher, according to the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Gallagher said the health system is also dedicating beds at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill., solely to COVID-19 patients. 

    Illinois is among the 34 states where COVID-19 hospitalizations are up. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased 52 percent in the state over the past 14 days, according to HHS data presented by The New York Times

    Nationwide, hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased 35 percent over the past 14 days while case counts increased 204 percent during that time, the data shows.

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  • 30 Dec 2021 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    The U.S. reported nearly 489,000 new COVID-19 cases Dec. 29, nearly twice as high as the worst days from last winter's surge, according to The New York Times database. The new cases brought the seven-day average for new daily cases to more than 301,000, another record. [Becker's Hospital Review 12.30.2021]

    While the omicron and delta variants have increased cases substantially, hospitalizations and deaths remain far below levels during last year's winter surge, before vaccines were widely available.  

    During a Dec. 29 COVID-19 briefing at the White House, Rochelle Walensky, MD, CDC director, said the seven-day average of hospitalization admissions is about 9,000 per day, about 14 percent higher from the previous week. The seven-day average of daily deaths are about 1,100, a decrease of about 7 percent over the last week. The "comparatively low" hospitalizations and deaths may be due to the fact that hospitalizations tend to lag behind cases by about two weeks "but may also be due to early indications that we’ve seen from other countries like South Africa and United Kingdom of milder disease from omicron, especially among the vaccinated and the boosted," Dr. Walensky said. 

    Five more recent updates: 

    1. U.S. pediatric hospitalizations are up. An average of 1,200 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 each day last week, up from about 800 at the end of November, according to HHS data cited by The New York Times.

    Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows nearly 199,000 cases were reported among children for the week ending Dec. 23, a 50 percent increase over the weekly new cases since the start of the month. New York has been particularly hard hit by the surge in pediatric cases, with hospitalizations more than doubling in the last few weeks from 70 as of Dec. 11 to 184 as of Dec. 23. The rise in admissions has been particularly concentrated in New York City, where hospitalizations among children increased from 22 to 109 across the same period. 

    Although more children are being treated for COVID-19, it has more to do with low vaccination rates and the sheer number of kids becoming infected with the highly transmissible delta and omicron variants than a higher risk of disease severity, according to health officials. 

    "I think the important story to tell here is that severity is way down and the risk for significant severe disease seems to be lower," David Rubin, MD, physician scientist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Times

    Nearly all children who are currently hospitalized and severely ill from COVID-19 are unvaccinated, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Dec. 30 NewsNation interview. "Virtually all, not 100 percent but close to that, the children who are seriously ill in our hospitals from COVID-19 are children whose parents decided they did not want to vaccinate them," he said. "That is avoidable." 

    About 34 percent of Americans ages 5 to 25 were fully vaccinated as of Dec. 28. Children younger than age 5 are not yet eligible for vaccination. 

    Full article here> 

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  • 23 Dec 2021 12:26 PM | Anonymous

    U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy recently released a powerful report on how we can better address youth mental health. It’s time we paid more attention here in Illinois because the consequences of ignoring the growing crisis can be dire, particularly for marginalized communities that face unequal access to treatment. Without proper treatment, young people can face a lifetime of spiraling difficulties and disabilities. Our lawmakers must take decisive action. [Chicago Sun-Times 12.22.2021] 

    Download report on youth mental health here.

    Even pre-pandemic, the trends in young people’s mental health needs were troubling. According to the report, between 2009 and 2019, the number of high school students reporting constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, and suicidal behavior increased by 44%. During the pandemic, the number of young people experiencing depression and anxiety doubled. Last year, the National Center for Health Statistics estimated over 6,600 deaths by suicide among this group.

    Opinion

    As U.S Surgeon General Murthy put it, “This is the moment to demand change, with our voices and with our actions.”

    Youth ages 16-26 are often caught between services tailored specifically to either younger children or adults, with neither serving them well. This group has unique needs as they navigate the transition to adulthood, and they require distinctive treatment models. For this reason, the Surgeon General separates children from young adults in his report. Serious mental health conditions are most likely to begin in this age range, yet young adults are least likely to seek help.

    In addition, the onset of conditions like schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder often begins in young adulthood, requiring early intervention to prevent a lifetime of disability. Recognizing the signs of psychosis and connecting young people to the right services as early as possible can make a lifelong difference. Too often, families are sent through years of revolving doors before finding help. According to a Duration of Untreated Psychosis study, the average time from onset of psychosis to receiving treatment for a young person is 74 weeks.

    Research shows the earlier we intervene, the better chance young people have of getting back on track. A few mental health nonprofits provide that critical early intervention for young adults. Thresholds’ Youth & Young Adult Services has pioneered life-changing, team-based care to address and prevent long-term mental health needs in young adults. However, further investment is needed to support these programs.

    How Lawmakers Can Help

    The Surgeon General’s report speaks to the effectiveness of a multi-disciplinary team to support the complex needs of young people and their families. This approach is used in dozens of other states to engage young adults in life-altering services. Isn’t it time for Illinois to step up?

    In 2018, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Early Mental Health & Addictions Treatment Act. The act requires the state’s Medicaid program to develop a treatment model specifically aimed at the needs of older teens and young adults at the start of serious mental health conditions. It also recognizes the need for young adult-tailored services. However, implementation of this act has yet to begin.

    Illinois lawmakers also need to address a workforce shortage in the mental health sector. The few programs that exist struggle to retain staff. People are often placed on long wait lists, leading to hospital visits that have inadequate capacity for the increased demand. Providers need increased Medicaid rates and payments to compensate staff, attract new talent, and expand services to meet demand. Majority Leader Greg Harris is championing legislation (HB4238) to inject $130 million to address the staffing crisis.

    We urge Illinois policymakers to meet the Surgeon General’s call to action. We know that with the right investment, we can address the mental health crisis in a generationally impactful way.

    Marc Fagan is vice president of Clinical Operations and Youth Services at Thresholds and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

    Check IOMC's website for its upcoming virtual session on Mental Health and Suicide Crisis which will be held in February 2022. 

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  • 22 Dec 2021 12:59 PM | Anonymous

    With NIH support, scientists across the United States and around the world conduct wide-ranging research to discover ways to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Groundbreaking NIH-funded research often receives top scientific honors. In 2021, these honors included Nobel Prizes to five NIH-supported scientists. Here’s just a small sample of the NIH-supported research accomplishments in 2021.


    COVID-19 spread and vaccines

    Drug Delays Type 1 Diabetes Onset 

    Gene Therapy effective in Human Trials 

    Low Fat Diet compared to Low Carb Diet 

    Supplement Targets Gut Microbes to Boost Growth in Malnourished Children 

    Test May Help Reduce Racial Disparities in Kidney Disease 

    and more 

    Download the PDF here> 

    Visit this page> 

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  • 21 Dec 2021 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    Despite important advances in the understanding and treatment of oral diseases and conditions, many people in the U.S. still have chronic oral health problems and lack of access to care, according to a report by the National Institutes of Health. Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges, is a follow-up to the seminal 2000 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. The new report, which is intended to provide a road map on how to improve the nation’s oral health, draws primarily on information from public research and evidence-based practices and was compiled and reviewed by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and a large, diverse, multi-disciplinary team of more than 400 experts.

    The report updates the findings of the 2000 publication and highlights the national importance of oral health and its relationship to overall health. It also focuses on new scientific and technological knowledge – as well as innovations in health care delivery – that offer promising new directions for improving oral health care and creating greater equity in oral health across communities. Achieving that equity is an ongoing challenge for many who struggle to obtain dental insurance and access to affordable care.

    “This is a very significant report,” said NIH Acting Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. “It is the most comprehensive assessment of oral health currently available in the United States and it shows, unequivocally, that oral health plays a central role in overall health. Yet millions of Americans still do not have access to routine and preventative oral care.”

    Full article here> 

    Download PDF of report here> 

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  • 20 Dec 2021 10:19 AM | Anonymous

    The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is causing several universities across the country to react, some canceling winter graduation ceremonies while others are requiring all students to receive a booster shot. [Medscape 12.20.2021]

    For instance, the University of Maryland on Thursday announced that it canceled its winter commencement ceremonies and put safety measures back in place because of the surge.

    "Our COVID-19 dashboard was updated to show 98 positive cases from university testing plus an additional 12 self-reported cases (these results are from tests taken since Monday) and we expect to see another high number of cases from today's testing," university President Darryll J. Pines, PhD, wrote in a letter to the campus Thursday. "These are the highest case counts we've seen this fall semester."


    The main graduation ceremony scheduled for Monday has been called off, as have departmental ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday, Pines said.

    "We know how important this time is for our winter graduates and their families, but our first responsibility must continue to be the health and well-being of our community. All winter graduates will be invited to the spring ceremony in May," he said.

    Students taking in-person final exams will be required to wear KN95 masks, and all

    dining halls will transition to takeout options only, Pines said. Basketball, volleyball, and some other sports will be suspended at campus recreation facilities. Students must leave their dorms 24 hours after taking their last exam.

    Earlier this week, Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, reported more than 900 new COVID cases, with a "very high percentage" of them from the Omicron variant in fully vaccinated people. In response, the university moved final exams online. Social events and the winter graduation ceremony were also called off.

    Other colleges made changes because of an increase in COVID cases.

    • Stanford University will require all students to provide proof of booster shots by Jan. 31. Students will take online classes the first 2 weeks in January before going back to in-person learning Jan. 18.

    • Emory University in Atlanta said that all students, faculty, and staff are required to get a booster shot by Jan. 19. The school said it already had a 97% vaccination rate.

    Sources

    University of Maryland. "Important COVID-19 Actions: Effective Immediately."

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  • 17 Dec 2021 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    An internal review sheds new light on what went wrong with the first COVID tests distributed by the CDC during the early days of the pandemic.

    Previous investigations said contamination was the major reason tests shipped to health labs in early 2020 produced inconclusive reports and false positives.

    But the CDC's internal review published in Plos ONE says a design flaw also caused problems with the testing kits.

    The test kits were designed to detect the virus with primers, which bind to and copy targeted sequences, and with probes that emit a fluorescent signal when copies are made, The New York Times reported. The fluorescent signal means the virus's genetic material is present.

    The probes and primers were not supposed to touch or bind to each other, but that happened sometimes in the faulty kits. And this created the false positives, The New York Times said.

    By early February 2020, the CDC admitted the tests weren't working and redesigned them with the help of outside laboratories, The New York Times said.

    "Since the rollout of the initial Covid-19 test, C.D.C. has implemented corrective measures and remains dedicated to the highest quality laboratory science and safety," the CDC said in a statement.

    More details here> 

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  • 16 Dec 2021 10:43 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, brings the panel to Chicago for a field hearing Monday on gun violence in the city.

    The hearing, titled, “Combating Gun Trafficking and Reducing Violence in Chicago,” will be at the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn St., and comes as the Chicago area continues to grapple with shootings.

    According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, as of Nov. 30, there were 1,009 homicides in Cook County, with 927 gun related. Most of the homicides were Black victims.

    The last time Cook County homicides topped 1,000 was in 1994, with 1,141.

    According to the Chicago Police Department, there were 754 homicides in the city through Dec. 4, the most recent data available.

    “As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I felt it was important to bring this hearing to Chicago — a city that is all too familiar with the devastating cycle of gun violence and the trauma it leaves behind,” Durbin said in a statement.

    This will be the first time the Judiciary Committee has a Chicago hearing with Durbin wielding the gavel as chairman.

    “I’ve worked for years to try to stem the flow of illegal guns and to promote common-sense gun safety measures, and I’m glad we now have a White House that shares this commitment. This hearing also provides an opportunity for a broader conversation about public health approaches to prevent and reduce community violence. We will hear from federal agencies that are playing a key role in these efforts, and I am committed to doing all I can to help make our communities safer,” Durbin said.

    AG GARLAND ON SPIKE IN SHOOTINGS: ‘THIS BOTHERS ME VERY MUCH’

    In July, Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Chicago native raised in Lincolnwood, and Durbin were in Chicago to launch a new federal effort to combat gun violence across the country.

    It was Garland’s first official visit back to Chicago as AG, and he called gun violence an ongoing tragedy: “I feel it particularly in my hometown,” he said. There were three mass shootings that day in Chicago.

    At a Justice Department news conference Monday on another issue, Garland took questions and at the end was asked about crime in Chicago, with the question prompted by the Cook County medical examiner’s sad report of more than 1,000 victims in Cook County so far in 2021.

    Garland was asked, “What’s the plan?”

    He replied, “It is a terrible thing,” noting the rise in crime started last year and continued into this year.

    “As you no doubt know, I visited my home city of Chicago and we established gun violence trafficking task force there and I met with the chief of police, I met with all the federal law enforcement and I met with this state and local law enforcement in length.”

    Garland also noted that last May, “We announced an anti -Violent Crime Initiative, which focuses very much on establishing these kinds of Joint Task forces with state and local police agencies combined with all of our federal law enforcement so that all the tools available to the department are used to help our state and local partners.

    “We also have reinvigorated the Safe Streets task forces, which have been in effect for quite some time, all of which is to say that this bothers me very much and the violent crime increase is one that we must address, that we are putting all of our resources toward.”

    Full article here>

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  • 15 Dec 2021 5:54 PM | Anonymous

     The cost of complex hospitalizations for COVID-19 ranged from about $49,000 in Maryland to $129,000 in New Jersey, according to a new report by FAIR Health. [MedPage Today 12.15.2021]

    In an analysis of private insurance claims spanning March 2020 through July 2021, New Jersey ($128,650) had the highest average allowed amount for complex hospitalizations, while Alaska ($44,239) was the highest for non-complex hospitalizations, and Nevada ($1,538) the highest for outpatient treatment.

    Maryland had the lowest average allowed amounts for complex ($49,127) and non-complex ($12,531) hospitalizations as well as outpatients ($580).

    Regionally, the west ($117,316) bore the highest average allowed amount for complex cases, and the south ($84,324) had the lowest, according to the report. The west ($38,135) also had the highest average for non-complex hospitalizations, while the south ($20,013) again had the lowest.

    Among outpatients, the west ($1,187) was again the highest, while the northeast was the lowest ($937).

    The report also looked at other patient characteristics, concluding that among those with complex hospitalizations, 48.4% had five or more comorbidities and 20.6% had no comorbidities.

    The most common comorbidity for patients with complex hospitalization was hyperlipidemia and/or hypertension (14.7%), it found.

    The median length of complex hospitalization declined from a peak of 13 days in April 2020 to 7 days in July of this year.

    While the percentage of COVID patents who died in April 2020 was 1.9%, that figure declined to about 0.5% each month from February to July this year, the report found.

    Gender showed varying trends: In non-complex hospitalizations, 57% of patients were female, while 57% of patients with complex hospitalizations were male.

    More details here> 

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  • 14 Dec 2021 3:03 PM | Anonymous

    Genomic surveillance data indicates the omicron COVID-19 variant accounts for about 3 percent of new U.S. cases, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, told NBC's Today on Dec. 14. [Becker's Hospital Review] 

    The strain has been detected in at least 33 states and accounts for 13 percent of new cases in New Jersey and New York. 

    "We're starting to see some early data that is demonstrating some decreased severity — shorter lengths of stay, fewer people on oxygen, fewer people in the intensive care unit  — but I also want to emphasize if you have more and more people who have disease, even if you have fewer people that get sick from it, you still have a lot of people who are getting sick, so really we want to make sure we keep all those keep prevention measures — vaccination, boosters — in place," Dr. Walensky said. 

    Preliminary findings suggest omicron causes less severe illness than earlier variants. It is more transmissible, however, and a new study published Dec. 14 based on information from 211,000 COVID-19 cases in South Africa also supports that indication. The risk of hospitalization among people who contracted COVID-19 during a surge in omicron cases was 29 percent lower relative to the initial wave in March 2020. 

    The same study also found omicron was more resistant to Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine, which provided about 33 percent protection against infection. Still, the vaccine offered 70 percent protection against hospitalization.

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