Types of COVID-19 tests

Testing for Covid-19 has become an important part of our lives today. Testing for the virus may be done if you have come into close contact with an individual diagnosed with Covid-19, if you have symptoms associated with Covid-19 or even to satisfy travel requirements for different countries in the world. There are different tests that are available today to test for the virus.

The first type is the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. Samples taken would be taken to the lab for testing using this methodology. The sample is usually a nasopharyngeal swab. The test directly screens for the presence of viral RNA in the sample and can therefore diagnose whether the patient has the virus or not. The disadvantage for this type of testing is that the sample needs to be sent to a lab and can take days for the result to come back. The result has a 30% chance to be inaccurately negative.

The second type of test is the Lateral Flow Test. This is also a type of an antigen test similar to PCR tests. In this test, the sample is placed on a pad and drawn via a capillary line onto strips that are coated with antibodies specific to SARS-Cov proteins. If viral proteins are present, a colored line is formed indicating the virus is present. Results are usually ready within 30 minutes. The accuracy for these types of test is around 80%.

The third type of test is antibody tests. This test is not used to diagnose active infection but it does give an indication of past infection or those that have immunity against the virus. If there is a very large number of people who have immunity in a population, it will stop the virus from spreading, something known as ‘herd immunity’.

What is Autism?

Autism encompasses a broad group of developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges. Due to the wide range of ways that autism can present itself, it is also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). 

Those affected by the disorder have different ways in which they learn, interact and carry out their daily activities. Some can live a normal independent life while others may require assistance and may be severely challenged. 

Children with autism are usually diagnosed in the first few years of life. Early diagnosis is usually associated with better outcomes in the future. Some of the characteristics of autism include atypical tone of voice and speech patterns, late development of speech skills, decreased responsiveness to social interactions, difficulty in communication, repetitive speech or repetitive behaviors, avoidance of eye contact.

Pediatricians are usually the first to pick up on the signs of this disorder. Delays in developmental milestones is usually the first indication, along with concerns of the parents regarding any other behavioral observations. The pediatrician would then refer to a child psychologist, pathologist, neurologist and other specialties as well to determine the severity of the challenges that the child may develop.

Treatments include behavioral and communication therapies. There are no medications to treat autism however symptomatic treatment with medications may be prescribed for associated depression, anxiety, insomnia etc.

What Is A Balanced Diet

Having a balanced diet is a very important part of staying healthy. We need to understand what it means to have a balanced diet. According to dictionary.com, a balanced diet is defined as ‘a diet consisting of the proper quantities and proportions of foods needed to maintain health or growth.’ This means eating a wide variety of foods in the correct proportions to maintain a healthy bodyweight.

The essential components needed by the body to remain healthy are carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. These essential components of the diet can be found in 5 main food groups:

  1. Vegetables: 

The recommendation of vegetable intake for adults is 2 to 3 cups of vegetable per day. According to the CDC website, in 2015, only around 9-16% of adults met this recommendation. The report highlighted that very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables which can put them at a higher risk for chronic diseases.

2. Protein: 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. This is the minimum amount of protein required to remain healthy. Depending on your level of activity, you may require much more than this amount. Proteins are used by the body to build muscles, connective tissue, enzymes, organs, tendons, neurotransmitters and also has many other functions.

3. Fruits:

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2 cups of fruits per day. Studies have shown that this is the most optimum amount that plays a part in preventing chronic diseases along with 3 servings of vegetables per day. Eating more than 2 servings of fruits per day did not show any additional health benefits.

4. Grains:

Grains consists of complex carbohydrates and minerals. It is recommended that men eat 6-8 servings of grains per day and women eat 5-6 servings per day. At least half should be whole grain. Grains can include bread, tortilla, cereal flakes, rice, pasta, popped popcorn etc.

5. Dairy:

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 3 servings of dairy per day. Examples of dairy include milk, yogurt, cheese etc. Diary is important for bone health among other benefits.

Even when we decide to go on a diet to lose weight, we need to ensure that we are taking a balanced diet. Click here to learn more about intermittent fasting.

How to Wear a Mask

Wearing a mask can prevent the spread of COVID-19 among other transmissible diseases, however this would only be possible if the mask is worn properly. We should all learn the proper way to wear a mask so we can effectively keep each other safe. Follow these tips to effectively wear a mask.

1. Before wearing a mask, we should wash our hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds so we do not get any germs on the mask. When we do touch the mask, it should only be on the elastic bands at the side. We should not touch the body of the mask, or the part that will go over our nose and mouth. This step is very important to keep the mask clean and free of germs.

2. The mask should cover the mouth and nose and should extend down to under the chin so it can fit closely in contact with the skin, creating a seal so air can only flow through the pores of the mask itself and not around the edges and corners of the mask. Masks with a nose wire is recommended so it can fit snugly around the bridge of the nose. If you use your hands to adjust the mask, remember to wash your hands before and after touching the mask.

3. Make sure the bands of the mask are not too tight that it would prevent you from breathing or talking or be uncomfortable in any way. You should be able to remain comfortable with the mask on.

4. If you are using a reusable mask, remember to wash the mask after each use and if you are using a disposable mask, remember to discard the mask after one use.

5. Avoid wearing masks with valves or vents that would allow air to escape unfiltered. Don’t share your mask with your friends or family. Always try to wear your mask when in public.

6. To remove the mask, wash your hands with soap and water and remove the mask by touching the elastic bands only. Discard the mask and wash your hands again.

Delta Variant – All you need to know

The Delta variant was identified in the ending of 2020 and was a result of a mutation to the original Covid-19 virus. It spread fast and soon became the dominant strain in both India and Britain. At this time the Delta variant is the dominant strain in over 100 countries including the Unites States and Europe.

This new variant has specific mutations on the ‘spike’ protein which make it easier for the virus to infect humans. This has resulted in the delta variant to be much more contagious than the alpha variant. Experts are recommending masking up even if you are vaccinated.

Symptoms of the delta variant are similar to the original strain and includes fever, headache, cough and runny nose. Loss of smell has a lower incidence with this strain. Vaccinated people have milder symptoms resembling a common cold or may even be asymptomatic.

Although breakthrough cases have been seen in vaccinated people, the numbers show cases rising in areas that have more unvaccinated people. People who have not yet been vaccinated are at a higher risk to become infected and spread the virus which is why it is our social responsibility to get vaccinated and protect ourselves and others

The World’s Most Expensive Medication- Zolgensma

The prices of medications are continuously rising in the United States and around the world. According to the CMS website, the healthcare spending in the United States for the year 2019 reached $3.8 trillion, which is approximately $11,500 per person per year.

With recent advances in technology, a new type of medication was made, Zolgensma, which functions through gene therapy used for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy. The cost of a 1 time treatment is $2.125 million.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a rare genetic motor neuron disease that leads to muscle weakness, causing difficulty in holding up the head, breathing, swallowing etc. Most patients do not survive past the age of 2 years due to respiratory failure.

Zolgensma works by using a vector to replace the missing/defective gene in the body. It does not reverse the damage already done but can prevent progression of the disease which is why this needs to be administered early in the course of the disease. It significantly improves the quality of life of the patient.

The reason the medication is so expensive is due to the fact that the market for the drug is very limited since it treats a very rare genetic disorder and has a potential to save lives. Its a highly specialized drug that required a lot of research around it.

How do mRNA Vaccines work

Messenger RNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that works different than the other types of vaccines that we are used to getting. Normally, vaccines are made by injecting a ‘deactivated’, harmless portion of the virus itself into the body to allow the body’s immune system to recognize the structure of the virus or of it’s associated proteins, without the risk of a harmful infection. The body identifies the foreign body and creates antibodies specific to it. These antibodies are what makes us immune to any disease. When the person catches the actual virus, the body is ready to fight off the infection with the antibodies that it made from the vaccine.

Messenger RNA vaccines work in a different manner. In this type of vaccine, we inject modified messenger RNA, that contains a sequence of bases that would be able to teach the cells of our body to make portions of viral proteins, into the muscles cells of our body. Normally mRNA in our body functions by taking instructions from the DNA, in bits and pieces and carries that information to the protein synthesis pathway for the synthesis of proteins. With the vaccine mRNA in the muscle cells, the protein synthesis pathway now starts making viral proteins but due to modified nature of the vaccine mRNA, the protein made is harmless.

The body recognizes the protein being made as foreign and starts creating antibodies against that protein structure, which is similar to the actual viral protein structure and effectively makes us immune to the virus itself.

Some of the COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer vaccine, uses this mechanism of action. These vaccines have been rigorously tested and have been held to high standards before allowing emergency use in the United States and other countries. MRNA vaccines do not use the live virus and therefore you cannot get infected with the vaccine.

Benefits of Fasting

Fasting is practiced around the world for two main reasons. The first reason is due to religion where many different faiths practice some form of fasting, including the Christians and the Muslims. The second main reason for fasting is to lose weight or as part of a dieting plan. The question that arises is if fasting is beneficial at all for us? What are the benefits if any? Is it harmful to fast? Let’s look at this practice in detail to determine the answers to these questions.

The following are the proven benefits of fasting:

  1. Fasting may help in the prevention of cancer. Studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting and alternate day fasting both have shown to reduce the chances of cancer development in animals. It also reduces the growth of cancer and can cause regression in some types of cancer.
  2. Fasting increases the amount of Growth Hormone many folds. Growth hormone is required for bone and muscle growth and strength.
  3. Fasting helps with weight loss as it limits the intake of calories, forcing the body to switch to fats as a source of energy. This in turn results in the loss of body fat and which is one of the most common reasons for people to fast.
  4. Fasting reduces insulin resistance and improves the glucose metabolism of the body. It reduces the amount of glucose in the blood by increasing the sensitivity to insulin, which assists in the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells. The reduced intake of glucose from the diet also plays its part in reducing the blood glucose levels.
  5. Studies in animals have shown that fasting improves brain function. These studies are limited to animals and would require more research to see the effect on humans, however the rats studied showed improvement in brain function after fasting.
  6. Fasting may be beneficial for your heart as it reduces the LDL cholesterol from the blood as well as the levels of triglycerides. This in turn has a beneficial effect on heart disease.
  7. The discipline and self-control required for fasting increases our mental health and focus. It gives us the ability to control and compartmentalize our hunger while continuing our daily activities.

These are just some of the benefits of fasting. Prolonged fasting for longer period of times may be harmful. Intermittent or alternate day fasting for a limited period of time is beneficial. We need to make sure we do not get dehydrated and are taking in all the necessary nutrients required by our body. If you suffer from diabetes or any other medical illness, please consult your doctor before deciding to fast.

COVID-19 Mental Health Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag itself along as we move forward in 2021. Some countries such as India are facing devastating new waves which just shows how important it is to stick with the guidelines even if the numbers are going down. Some of these guidelines include social distancing and wearing masks, limited gatherings, limited indoor activities etc. Over a prolonged period, this can lead to isolation, anxiety, stress and depresion.

Due to the circumstances of this pandemic, it is natural to feel stress and anxiety. We should find ways in which we can cope with these symptoms. Some of the ways to cope with the mental health affects of the pandemic include:

1. Connect with people virtually:
While social distancing is still in place, connect with your community virtually via social media, phone and/or messages or even by mail. This would help you keep your social connections intact and is important for our mental health. We can still follow social distancing guidelines while staying connected to the world.

2. Take out time for yourself:
Take some time out for yourself to relax and do something that you enjoy. Maybe something like reading a book, cooking your favorite recipe, photography or any other hobby that you never previously had the time to follow. Keeping the brain occupied is a good way to keep the brain healthy.

3. Physical health:
Take care of your physical health by excersizing, eating a balnced diet and getting adequate amounts of sleep. Also dont stop your routine visits to your healthcare provider for routine vaccinations, screenings and other appointments. You should also get your COVID vaccination whenever it is availble to you.

4. Follow Authentic News:
Choose your news sources wisely. Only trust authentic sources for information regarding the pandemic. Stay updated onthe news once or maybe twice a day and then disconnect yourself fromt he news at other times. Constant negative news can also lead to depression, stress and anxiety.

If you are struggling to cope with the stress, call your healthcare provider immediately. There are ways to help you with the stess and if you know of a friend or family member who is struggling, advise them to seek help. There are many cofidential crisis resources that can help you get through these hard times.

Post COVID Recovery Symptoms

It has been observed that not everyone fully recovers from COVID infection. Some people continue to experience certain symptoms many weeks and even months after infection. Health issues that persist more than 4 weeks after being first infected with COVID-19 are classified by the CDC as Post-COVID conditions.  This occurs due to the fact that the virus can damage some of our major organs like the lungs, brain and heart causing long term symptoms.

Studies have shown that even months after COVID infection, lasting muscle damage can be seen in the heart muscle which may cause complications later in life. Damage to the lung alveoli are also seen which can cause breathing problems. COVID can also cause strokes and seizures and increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

People that have co-morbidities and are older in age, are more likely to have long term symptoms although younger people can also have long term symptoms. Some the symptoms that can persist for months are fever, muscle pain, depression, anxiety, memory, sleep problems and concentration issues. Other symptoms may also occur along with these.

There are treatments available for Post-COVID conditions. Most of the symptoms get better with time. You should seek medical help to know the options available for recovery. Numerous centers are being opened across the US in major hospitals to address this issue.

For those that have not been infected yet, it is recommended that you get vaccinated to prevent infection and or severity of infection. Research is currently under way to study the longer-term effects of COVID infection.

Source:

COVID-19 (coronavirus): Long-term effects – Mayo Clinic

Post-COVID Conditions | CDC

Why We Should Exercise

We have all heard that we should exercise by a friend or family member and we all know that it is good for us. Some say it helps you lose weight, others say it helps you stay healthy. Today we will dive into what exactly exercise does to help us live healthier lives.

The first and most noticeable benefit from exercise is that it helps us lose weight. Exercising requires energy and in order for us to exercise, we have to burn calories to meet the additional energy requirements for exercise. When we start using more calories than we can intake, we start losing weight. Weight reduction has many benefits including preventing early onset diabetes, preventing bone problems and reducing cardio vascular risks

The body is amazing in how it works. Once we start exercising, the body realizes that the muscles are starting to require more oxygen and nutrients. The heart compensates by beating faster and stronger to get more blood to the muscles that are active. The blood vessels dilate to accommodate more blood and the blood vessels constrict from areas that are not requiring the extra blood. This redirects blood to the muscles that require the extra nutrients. This whole process leads to a stronger heart, better circulation and better oxygen perfusion of the tissues which in turn reduce the risk of heart diseases and heart attack.

Another amazing way in which exercise is beneficial for us is in the management of our blood sugar levels. Under normal circumstances, blood sugar requires insulin to be transported into the different cells of the body. When a person’s body makes a decreased amount of insulin or no insulin at all, for example in Type 2 diabetics, the blood sugar cannot enter into the cells and therefore gets trapped in the blood leading to an increased sugar level in the blood. Here is the amazing part and where exercise plays its role. Once we start exercising, the skeletal muscles of the body no longer require the insulin to take up the blood sugar. In a state of activity, the skeletal muscles can suck up all the glucose from the blood without requiring insulin and therefore for type 2 diabetic patients, regular exercise can significantly lower the blood sugar levels and reduce complications.

These are just some of the benefits of exercise. Almost every bodily function gets strengthened including muscles, bones, respiratory system, brain, sleep and it even plays a part in preventing certain types of cancer. If you are living the sedentary lifestyle, try to add in some exercise into your routine.

To get you started, take a look at some of the handpicked products below from Amazon. Please note that the author does get a commission from Amazon if you make a purchase from the Amazon website at no cost to you.

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Phases of Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D has 4 different phases that each member passes through during each year. Each of these phases have different coverage benefits for the member. It is important to understand these phases to know the financial impact that your health expenses can have on you and also when you should opt for that elective surgery.

1. Deductible Phase

This is the first phase and in this phase, the member is responsible for the entire dollar amount of the medication/s up to the Plan’s deductible amount. For example, the Plan’s deductible amount is $400. The member goes to the pharmacy to pick up his/her medication and the total cost of the medication is $600. The member will have to pay the entire amount up to the plan deductible which in this case means the member will have to pay $400 for the deductible phase. The remaining $200 goes into the next phase called the Initial Coverage Phase. If the total cost of the drug is less than the Plan’s deductible amount, then the member pays the full amount and remains in the deductible phase. For example, at the pharmacy, the total cost of the drug is $300 and the Plan’s deductible is $400. The member would have to pay the full cost of the drug $300 and would remain in the deductible phase. The next time the member picks up a medication, the remaining deductible would be $100 after which the remaining amount goes into the Initial Coverage Phase.

Please note that some plans may choose not to have a deductible phase and in that case, when the member goes to pick up their medication at the pharmacy, they start off the year being in the Initial Coverage Phase. The standard deductible amount for 2021 is $445.

2. Initial Coverage Phase

In the Initial Coverage Phase, the member pays a fixed copay or a coinsurance, depending on the plan. The standard coinsurance for the Initial Coverage Phase is 25% which means that the member pays only 25% of the drug cost in this phase and the remaining 75% is paid by the plan. For example if the member already met the deductible amount and is in the Initial Coverage Phase, and goes to pick up a medication that costs $100, the member would only be required to pay $25 for the medication.

Two dollar amounts that the plan keeps a count on is the total drug cost and the amount the member paid (True Out of Pocket TROOP). In the deductible phase, these 2 values would be equal due to the fact that the member pays the total drug cost until the deductible is met. So the total drug cost would be equal to the TROOP in the deductible phase. In the initial coverage phase, since the member is only paying 25% of the total drug cost, the TROOP would be 25% of the total drug cost.

The member remains in the initial coverage phase until the total drug cost accumulates to $4,130 for the year 2021. Once the total drug cost accumulates to $4,130, the member moves into the next phase known as the Coverage Gap Phase

3. Coverage Gap Phase

Once the member enters the Coverage Gap Phase, as the name suggests, there is a gap in coverage resulting in the member responsible for 95% of the total drug cost and the plan responsible for only 5%. In lay man terms, this phase is also called the ‘Donut Hole’ phase of coverage.

This may sound like a very high member responsibility in the coverage gap phase however this is not the case. Manufacturers for brand drugs are required to provide a discount to Medicare beneficiaries of 70%. This means that out of the 95% member responsibility in this phase, there is a 70% Manufacture discount resulting in a member pay of 25%. The plan counts the Manufacture discount as part of the TROOP. To put this in perspective, if the member picks up a brand medication in the coverage gap phase that costs $100, the manufacture discount would be $70, Member pay $25 and the TROOP that the plan keeps track of would be $95.

The member remains in this coverage gap phase till the TROOP reaches $6,550 for 2021. Note that the member moves on from this phase once the TROOP reaches the designated dollar amount and not the total drug cost as for the previous phases.

4. Catastrophic Coverage Phase

Once the member reaches this phase, the member is only responsible for 5% of the drug cost. This is the final phase and the member remains in this phase for the rest of the year. Once the year is over, the cycle repeats and the member starts back in the deductible phase and moves through these phases again.

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Types of Covid Vaccines

All over the world, you must have heard of many different vaccine names currently out there for Covid-19. Out of the many brands, 3 of them are authorized in the United States for the prevention of Covid-19 virus.

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech
  2. Moderna
  3. Johnson & Johnson

Another two are in phase 3 clinical trials as of April 5th 2021. Today I will go over some of the common questions we get regarding the approved vaccines for Covid-19. The CDC does not recommend one vaccine over the other. You should get the first vaccine that is available to you. The approved vaccines are safe, effective and reduces the risk of severe infection.

Pfizer-BioNTech

We will start with Pfizer-BioNTech. This vaccine can be administered to anyone over the age of 16. Two shots of the vaccine are required 21 days (3 weeks) apart. You are considered vaccinated 2 weeks after the second shot. This vaccine was the first to be approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the prevention of the Corona virus.

Moderna

The second vaccine to be approved is the Moderna vaccine. Anyone 18 years old and older can get this vaccine. Two shots of the vaccine are required 4 weeks apart. You will be considered vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose.

Johnson & Johnson

The third vaccine is Johnson & Johnson. This vaccine can be given to anyone age 18 and over. It only requires 1 shot. You will be considered vaccinated 2 weeks after the first shot.

Source : https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

Do these 4 things during Quarantine!

Do these 4 things during Quarantine!

In todays world, quarantine has become a part of traveling. If you travelled recently abroad or even domestically, it is recommended to quarantine for at least 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control CDC recommends quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This process of quarantine may take a toll on your physical and mental health, which is why I wanted to discuss some ways to spend quarantine that can keep you active and alert and keep everyone safe. 

Here are just a few of the activities you can do while during quarantine.

  1. Watch a movie or tv series

Now might be a good time to catch up with that movie you really wanted to watch but didn’t have time for. Sit back and relax and sign up for your favorite streaming service to watch all the shows you’ve been missing. 

2. Read a book

If you are into books, or even if you are not, now might be a good time to start reading that novel that’s been on the bookshelf for years. Or maybe pull out your kindle book and download an ebook of your choice. They’re tons of free ebooks available that will keep your mind occupied for hours and even days.  If you are a professional, it might be a good idea to read up on latest advances in your field, which would help you professionally. For any reason, pack your book with you on your travels to stay busy during quarantine.

3. Exercise

Never had time for the gym? Or too lazy for the gym? We have all had that moment. Well guess what. During quarantine, we have the time and we are not so lazy. It’s time to make those stretches and lift those weights and get some cardio in there. Staying physically active and fit is very important to remain healthy during quarantine. It refreshes the body and keeps us from getting bored.

Photo by Li Sun on Pexels.com

4. Social Media

Remember all your friends that you never had time to reach out to. Hop on to social media and connect with friends and family. Social distancing does not mean social media distancing! Call you friends and family and maybe even video call them. The more connected you feel, the less if would feel like a quarantine and more like home. If you have a lot of common friends, get on together in a group video call and connect. 

These activities will make quarantine go by really fast and keep you busy through out while keeping you productive and active. You can also add these activities to your daily routine even if you are not in quarantine.

Origin of the Corona Virus

In 1937, coronaviruses were first described as an infectious bronchitis virus suffered by birds that could devastate poultry stocks. Viruses are now the source of the common cold in 15% to 30% of all cases. In the past 70 years, researchers have discovered camels, goats, cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, pigs, rats and turkeys infected with coronaviruses.

A novel coronavirus strain—SARS-CoV-2—was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, a town in China’s Hubei province with 11 million, following a pneumonia outbreak without an exact cause. The virus has spread over 200 countries and territories across the world and was identified on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic.

As of 4 January 2021, there were 83,322,449 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide, with 1,831,412 recorded deaths. On 16 March 2020, the number of cases and fatalities outside of China exceeded those in the region.

To date, more than three million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, more than two hundred thousand have died, and millions have been financially and emotionally affected. Our frontline employees are charged with continuing to work to fulfill our public health and safety needs. During this ongoing pandemic, frontline staff and health workers struggle to take care of their patients and the general population while still dealing with their physical fatigue, tension, worry and anxiety.

In the context of the global catastrophe triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are mindful that the first line of protection against this pandemic is health professionals. Unfortunately, due to the shortage of biosafety devices, shortages of infection management services, lack of appreciation schemes and job benefits, and eventually physical and psychological violence and prejudice by patients, which affects their mental well-being, they confront this health emergency with inadequate working conditions. There are well-known job background stressors that can be recognised as psychosocial labour influences. Because of insufficient knowledge regarding the infection, the continuous treatment of patients with COVID 19, heavy workload, frequent vulnerability to crucial incidents such as mortality, apprehension of becoming contaminated and infecting their family and the impact for their wellbeing, its symptoms could be reflected as fatigue, depression, anxiety. Therefore, in a community without mental disorders, reports have confirmed the prevalence of psychological signs, such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress and regression of those who have a mental disease.

Suppose without providing the basic requirements to monitor, reduce and cope with extreme. Even permanent pandemic effects, COVID-19, bring health workers vulnerability to be physical, biological, and psychological hazards. In that case, it may be regarded as an occupational disorder because of the manifestations of occupational danger and its psychological consequences.

The severe psychosocial consequences of this pandemic on health workers are apparent, and they are specifically related to working environments. Therefore, if their working environments are inadequate, they will place the wellbeing of their families at risk and, as a consequence, the impact on their mental health will be exacerbated. It is essential to consider that several findings have shown that preparation in biosafety systems, the proper execution of infection prevention protocols, as well as personal protective equipment and acknowledgment of their efforts

Research centered on identifying preventive factors that will assist health workers’ efficiency and facilitate their adaptation, considering the intense physical and emotional need for their services in periods of crisis. However, this tolerance and resistance potential is attributed to the security and help offered by providing appropriate working environments, with a decline in psychosocial risk factors.

As a result, it is significant to remain mindful of the unique concerns of healthcare personnel and to incorporate crisis-focused and post-trauma treatment psychological recovery programs, as well as to make administrative and operational improvements and provide a coordinated and quality health system, maintaining its continuity and response capability despite the crisis.

The role of Leadership in Healthcare

Leadership is important for the organization of any company, especially in the healthcare field. The quote that speaks out to me the most is by John Quincy Adams in Josephson, (2011) “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more and become more, you are a leader.” I always believe in inspiring others and empowering them to grow and progress. Leaders are at a position which is best suited to help people achieve their maximum potential. 

As mentioned by Roddick (1991), we would need to lead in a way that we expect to be led ourselves. This approach is very important as it gives us an insight into our own performance as leaders. According to Asamani, Naab & Ansah (2016), a leader needs to display multiple styles of leadership depending upon the situation. These quotes highlight examples of successful leadership strategies that need to be taken into consideration for different circumstances. 

In the field of healthcare, leadership skills are extremely important as we are dealing with the health of patients and it is important that both healthcare workers and patients both trust their leadership. It is important that we value the views of employees and lead by example as mentioned by Roddick (1991). The mentioned quotes give us strategies that can be used to lead and help maximize the potential of employees. These employees will then be empowered to perform and connect and improve overall health outcomes. 

Diversity and inclusion are very important in any organization and even more in the field of healthcare. Each individual brings unique experiences to the table and this unique experience becomes even more valuable with a diverse employee population. Along with this, a diverse employee population is better able to reach out to the community and engage and educate them to improve health outcomes. We must follow the approach of a servant leader which would empower individuals to be outspoken and provide valuable feedback and ideas. Employees should be encouraged to share their experiences with others. 

References:

Josephson, M. (2011). More business & leadership quotes [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://josephsononbusinessethics.com/2011/02/more-business-leadership-quotes/

Roddick, A. (1991). Body and soul: Profits with principles, the amazing success story of Anita Roddick & the Body Shop. Danvers, MA: Crown

Asamani, J.A., Naab, F., & Ansah Ofei, A. M. (2016). Leadership styles in nursing management: Implications for staff outcomes. Journal of Health Sciences, 6(1) Retrieved from,http://library.capella.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F1807903693%3Faccountid%3D27965

Is your coworker abusing company facilities?

For any organization to succeed, the employees as well as leaders must have an ethical approach. An ethical challenge that I have encountered in my professional life is that of waste and abuse. One of my coworkers would constantly use printer paper to print large numbers of pages for personal use using the company printer. The content of the printed pages would include tickets, documents, articles and even books. I always found that very inconsiderate and was not quite sure if I should be talking to him about it or if I should let my supervisor know. I was a bit confused if this would amount to a breach of any of the company’s policies. 

The code of ethics that I selected is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Point number eleven clearly mentions that employees shall disclose fraud, waste and corruption. A company’s policy of disclosure of any waste and abuse is very important for the sustainability of an organization. The government sustains billions of dollars in losses due to fraud, waste and abuse in relation to Medicare services (Chen, Blumenthal, & Jena 2018). 

The factors that contributed to this issue is the fact that there is no system in place that can monitor the content being printed by employees. Due to the lack of monitoring there is a potential for abuse as in this situation. Although the effect on the organization is minimal, abusing the facility of a printer does lead to a small amount of loss to the company and it poses more of an ethical issue with the employee having the potential to misuse other facilities also. 

The issue can be resolved by adhering to the code of conduct. The actions of the employee should be reported to the supervisor so appropriate action can be taken to prevent further waste and abuse. As mentioned by Chen, Blumenthal, & Jena (2018), Medicare attempts to control frauds, waste and abuse by similar policies of disclosure. 

As a leader, I can support the process by promoting a culture of open communication and preventing any retaliation at workplaces. A compliance department can be set up that can take in complaints of compliance and waste anonymously to prevent any retaliation. My current workplace does have a compliance department which is what I had used to resolve this issue without being identified. 

References:

Cdc.gov. (2019). CDC Ethics Home Page. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ethics/index.html [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019].

Chen, A., Blumenthal, D. and Jena, A. (2018). Characteristics of Physicians Excluded From US Medicare and State Public Insurance Programs for Fraud, Health Crimes, or Unlawful Prescribing of Controlled Substances. JAMA Network Open.

How to prevent Absenteeism in the Healthcare Field (Case Study)

Employee attendance is an issue that affects all businesses, small or large. One way to solve this issue is to incentivize perfect attendance, as indicated in this case study, Case 12- A Lottery for Employee Attendance, (Buchbinder, Shanks, & Buchbinder, 2014).The Nursing Home Administrator was able to decrease absenteeism from 33% to 6% by incentivizing perfect attendance, (Buchbinder, Shanks, & Buchbinder, 2014). This did however result in a draw back of CNA’s showing up sick to work so they can get the incentive. This case analysis will analyze the method used by the Nursing Home Administrator and also provide evidence based suggestions on preventing CNA’s from showing up to work when they are sick. The paper will show the importance of collaboration and communication in solving issues that may arise.

Absenteeism On Weekends And Holidays

Absenteeism is a major problem in the healthcare field around the world. Employees will take days off around holidays and on weekends for a variety of different reasons. According to Ramadhan, & Santoso, (2015), the reasons for absenteeism in a study conducted in Indonesia have been found to be for valid medical reasons with a doctor note, other commitments, religious holidays, social interactions among others. In order to address these issue we must analyze these reasons for absenteeism.

At a given point in time, there will be a few employees that would be on a valid medical leave.  They would have a note from the doctor or other medical documentation. According to Hefner, Miley & Fikfak (2018), the most common medical reason that may affect health workers are musculoskeletal disorders. They are at an increased risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders due to long working hours and the ergonomics of the workplace (Hefner, Miley & Fikfak, 2018). The leadership team should ensure proper ergonomics of the workspace to reduce the number of people on medical leave. 

Companies usually have employees from a diverse background. People of different traditions and religions come together with a common goal of improving healthcare. With this diversity comes the issue of religious and traditional holidays that may not be incorporated in the company’s calendar. When individual religious and traditional holidays are not taken into account, employees tend to take these days off, resulting in absenteeism. Organizations should engage and communicate with employees to determine their preferred holidays. For example, many Muslim employees may be willing to work on Christmas, if allowed to take off on Eid, the Islamic equivalent of Christmas.

Another major reason for employee absenteeism is unwarranted absences. This can happen due to emotional exhaustion. Healthcare workers often work long hours of overtime and are expected to bear additional burden. This leads to mental exhaustion. According to Vignoli, Guglielmi, & Violante (2016), it can be concluded that there is a relationship between emotional exhaustion and absenteeism. Due to this reason, any intervention on the part of leadership should focus on the emotional health of employees as well as work life balance. 

Increased Dissatisfaction Among The Employees Who Pick Up The Extra Work Due To Absenteeism Of Others

As a consequence of absenteeism, the work is then picked up by the employees who are present. This added work on responsible workers leads to burnout of the employees that do show up to work.. According to George, & Reyes, (2017), a negative relationship has been established between burnout amongst nurses and  emotional exhaustion. This would reduce job satisfaction and good employees end up searching for other jobs (George, & Reyes, 2017). This negatively affects the company as they  not only lose good employees, but they also have to undergo increased cost to hire new employees, who will again go through the same problem. 

Another issue that arises with selected employees taking on work of absent employees, is the development of segregation and disharmony between employees, resulting in reduced communication and teamwork (Hartgerink, Cramm, Bakker, Eijsden, Mackenbach, & Nieboer 2014). In order to deliver better patient outcomes in the health field, collaboration and inter professional communication is essential. According to Hartgerink, Cramm, Bakker, Eijsden, Mackenbach, & Nieboer (2014), working with a variety of professionals to reshape patient care still remains a challenge. Since healthcare does require a multi disciplinary approach, it is important that this segregation among employees does not develop to maintain a high standard of patient care.

In the case study, the Nursing Home Administrator went with the strategy of incentivizing perfect attendance of the Certified Nursing Attendants. This step was taken after communicating with the Administrator in Training, demonstrating inter disciplinary communication. This consultation resulted in the development of the incentive strategy. The strategy resulted in an effective communication of the issue and was successful in addressing the issue. Taking into account the fact that the Nursing Home Manager reached out to the Administrator in Training to discuss the issue, it can be deduced that this leader is likely to maintain relationships with other leaders. It is evident that the leader is open and clear in communication. 

The first step that should be done in conflict resolution is open communication. According to Johansen (2014), having a work environment that lacks communication will result in conflict and stress. To counter this, it is necessary to promote an environment of open communication. In the case study, the Nursing Home Administrator uses the strategy of inter departmental communication, by reaching  out to the Administrator in Training and discussing the issue with that department.

  The leader in this case study approached the situation in a very positive and intellectual manner. Scholarly articles were consulted to find an appropriate solution to the issue identified. Consultations with other departments is definitely a strength and an area that needs growth is to study the complete outcomes of the suggested change as in this case, the implementation of the incentive, ended up creating another problem of employees showing up ill. The lesson that can be taken away from this case is the fact that by consulting other departments and utilizing scholarly articles and other information available, it is possible to resolve difficult  issues effectively with communication and collaboration. 

The scholar-practitioner model is a model in which a practitioner applies scholarly knowledge in their practice. It allows theories which have been extensively researched to be combined with the experience of the practitioner to solve problems or to increase and improve efficiency. This case study is an excellent example of how the scholar-practitioner model has been effectively used to address the issue of decreased attendance. The Nursing Home Administrator utilized research and scholarly articles to come up with a solution for absenteeism and was successful in achieving the outcome. 

The leader in this case came up with a very ethical approach. Instead of mandating attendance, the Nursing Home Administrator incentivized perfect attendance. This created a desire in the employees to be at work instead of the administration having to take adverse action against employees. A key lesson that this case provides for leaders is that with collaboration and communication across different departments and disciplines, effective solutions can be obtained for complex issues. 

This case describes a situation in a nursing home where the administrator introduced a lottery system to address the issue of absenteeism around weekends and holidays. The absenteeism was causing increased dissatisfaction among workers that had to pick up the extra work of the absent employees. The contributing factors of this absenteeism was analyzed and suggestions to overcome these issues were discussed based on scholarly evidence. The leaders approach using the scholarly-practitioner model is also reflected in this case study. The importance of communication and collaboration was established.

References

Buchbinder, S. B., & Shanks, N. H. (Eds.). (2012). Introduction to health care management (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett. (Buchbinder 46)

Buchbinder, S. B., Shanks, N. H., & Buchbinder, D. (2014). Cases in health care management. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

George, R., & Reyes, M. E. S. (2017). Burnout as a predictor of quality of life among selected filipino nurses. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 8(7), 691-696. Retrieved from http://library.capella.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F1961772556%3Faccountid%3D27965

Hafner, N. D., Milek, D. M., & Fikfak, M. D. (2018). Hospital staff’s risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, especially low back pain. Zdravstveno Varstvo, 57(3), 133-139. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.2478/sjph-2018-0017

Hartgerink, J., MS, Cramm, J., P., Bakker, T., P., van Eijsden, A., MSc, Mackenbach, J., P., & Nieboer, A., P. (2014). The importance of multidisciplinary teamwork and team climate for relational coordination among teams delivering care to older patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(4), 791. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1111/jan.12233

Johansen, M. L. (2014). Conflicting priorities: Emergency nurses perceived disconnect between patient satisfaction and the delivery of quality patient care. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 40(1), 13-19. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1016/j.jen.2012.04.013

Know why your staff members are not at work. (2011, Jul 06). The Star Retrieved from http://library.capella.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F875369248%3Faccountid%3D27965

Ramadhan, A. P., & Santoso, D. (2015). Health workers absenteeism: Indonesia urban public health centres. Journal of Public Health, 23(3), 165-173. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1007/s10389-015-0667-6

Revuelta, J. F. R. (2014). Nursing presenteeism. patient safety implications. possibilities of control and reduction/Presentismo en enfermería. implicaciones en seguridad del paciente. posibilidades de control y reducción. Enfermería Global, 13(3), 374-383. Retrieved from http://library.capella.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F1664837245%3Faccountid%3D27965

Vignoli, M., Guglielmi, D., Bonfiglioli, R., & Violante, F. S. (2016). How job demands affect absenteeism? the mediating role of work-family conflict and exhaustion. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 89(1), 23-31. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1007/s00420-015-1048-8

Your Guide To Masks

These guidelines can be found on the CDC Website.

CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people.

How to Select

When selecting a mask, there are many choices. Here are some do’s and don’ts.DO choose masks that

DO choose masks that have 2 or more layers of washable, breathable fabric graphic.

Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric

DO choose masks that completely cover your nose and mouth;

Completely cover your nose and mouth

DO choose masks that fit snugly against the sides of your face and don't have gaps.

Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gapsDO NOT choose Masks that

DO NOT choose masks that are made of fabric that makes it hard to breath, for example, vinyl

Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl

DO NOT choose masks that have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape

Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape

DO NOT choose masks that are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks

Are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks

Special Considerations

Gaiters & face shields

graphic of a man wearing a gaiter

Wear a gaiter with two layers, or fold it to make two layers

graphic of a woman with a face shield

Not recommended: Evaluation of face shields is ongoing, but effectiveness is unknown at this time.Glasses

Graphic of a woman with black framed glasses and red mask

If you wear glasses, find a mask that fits closely over your nose or one that has a nose wire to limit fogging.Children

graphic of girl wearing a pink mask

Find a mask that is made for children to help ensure proper fit

graphic of a boy wearing a blue mask

Check to be sure the mask fits snugly over the nose and mouth and under the chin and that there are no gaps around the sides

graphic of a girl wearing a blue mask

Do NOT put on children younger than 2 years oldCold weather gear

girl sitting on bench with scarf and mask on

Wear your scarf, ski mask or balaclava over your mask

girl sitting on bench with scarf

Scarves, ski masks and balaclavas are not substitutes for masks

How to Wear

Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection.

  • Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on a mask.
  • Do NOT touch the mask when wearing it. If you have to often touch/adjust your mask, it doesn’t fit you properly, and you may need to find a different mask or make adjustments.

For more information, visit our How to Wear Masks web page.Do wear a mask that

Do wear a mask that: Covers your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin; Fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Covers your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Fits snugly against the sides of your face.

How NOT to wear a mask

elderly woman with mask around her neck

Around your neck

man with mask on forehead

On Your forehead

man with mask under nose

Under your nose

man with mask on face but without his mouth covered

Only on your nose

man with mask on chin

On your chin

woman with mask hanging from ear

Dangling from one ear

man with mask hanging on arm

On your armHow to Take off a Mask

graphic of a man wearing an orange mask

lite icon

Carefully, untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops

graphic of hands holding an orange mask

lite icon

Handle only by the earloops or ties

graphic of the inside of an orange mask

lite icon

Fold the outside corners together

graphic of a person cleaning their hands

lite icon

Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removingHow to Clean

Washer and dryer - dryer has regular laundry including face masks

Reusable masks should be washed regularly. Always remove masks correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used mask.

  • Include your mask with your regular laundry
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask
  • Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry