New Item: 5 Best Employment Attorneys in Atlanta, GA – Kev’s Best

Below is a list of the top and leading Employment Attorneys in Atlanta, GA. To help you find the best Employment Attorneys located near you in Atlanta, GA, we put together our own list based on this rating points list.

Atlanta, GA’s Best Employment Attorneys:

The top-rated Employment Attorneys in Atlanta, GA are:

  • Fidlon Legal – a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia specializing in labor and employment law.
  • Barrett & Farahany – an award-winning employment law firm dedicated exclusively to employee rights.
  • Buckley Beal – business and employment litigation attorneys in Atlanta.
  • Hornsby Law Group – an award-winning law firm focused on winning justice for everyday people.
  • Radford & Keebaugh – Georgia attorneys who focus on civil rights and employment litigation.

Fidlon Legal

5 Best Employment Attorneys in Atlanta, GA

Fidlon Legal is a law firm based in Atlanta that serves clients all throughout Atlanta and other Georgia. This law firm specializes in employment and labor laws. Fidlon Legal is passionate about representing employees in all types of workplace situations. Their attorneys are among the best Atlanta has to offer and have the knowledge and experience needed to properly help you. The specializations range from workplace harassment, overtime pay, discrimination, and more. They will always go above and beyond to make sure you get in the position to win your case. So, if you need a reliable employment attorney to help you with your case, Fidlon Legal is a top choice in Atlanta.

Products/Services:
Wrongful termination, employment discrimination, wage/hour and overtime, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, severance agreements, retaliation, workplace violence

LOCATION:
Address: 3355 Lenox Rd NE #750 Atlanta, GA 30326
Phone: (770) 807-0083
Website: fidlonlegal.com

REVIEWS:
I hired Mr. Greg Fidlon last minute and for only having a few days to prepare he did an amazing job. He was very professional and answered all my questions. I have no doubt in my mind that I would have lost my case had not been for Mr. Fidlon who helped me win my case. I highly recommend this law firm. – Sabrina Gregory

Barrett & Farahany

The Best Employment Attorneys in Atlanta, GA

Barrett & Farahany has a team of some of the most talented attorneys in Atlanta. Their attorneys specialize in employment law throughout a wide range of practice areas under it. Barrett & Farahany’s team is dedicated to helping employees during workplace disputes. They try to help their clients pivot towards a more favorable position in their cases. These employment law experts will always go the extra mile to make sure you get the most favorable outcome for your case. They will not just help you through the legal process, but teach you everything so you are also in the know. So, if you are looking for a competent and reliable employment attorney in Atlanta, Barrett & Farahany is a top-tier option.

Products/Services:
Executive compensation, discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, overtime, sexual harassment, wrongful termination

LOCATION:
Address: 1100 Peachtree Street NE Suite 500 Atlanta, GA 30309-4501
Phone: (404) 214-0120
Website: justiceatwork.com

REVIEWS:
I wish these attorneys could practice in Florida. I would hire them in a second. You cannot find attorneys like this in Florida. Very knowledgeable, considerate, passionate, and caring about clients. If anyone in Georgia is looking for a Labor Law Attorney here you go! Look no further! – Maria Gambino

Buckley Beal

Best Employment Attorneys in Atlanta, GA

Buckley Beal is one of Atlanta’s employment law pioneers. This law firm is one of the oldest law firms and specializes in every aspect of employment law. Buckley Beal’s team has almost 90 years of combined experience and will provide top-notch quality. Their attorneys are among the smartest, knowledgeable, and driven legal experts you will find in Atlanta. They will always deliver the best service to make sure you have the best chance of a favorable outcome. So, if you are looking for an employment attorney that will make sure you have a more favorable outcome in your case, Buckley Beal is a great option to look into in Atlanta.

Products/Services:
Employment law, business litigation, individual litigation

LOCATION:
Address: 600 Peachtree Street, N.E. Suite 3900, Atlanta, GA 30308
Phone: (404) 781-1100
Website: buckleybeal.com

REVIEWS:
I did not request representation however I was pleased with my consultation with Joseph Quattlebaum who seemed genuinely concerned with helping me to understand my predicament. – Chad McCarty

Hornsby Law Group

Atlanta, GA Best Employment Attorneys

Hornsby Law Group is an award-winning employment law firm that handles a wide range of civil and employment law cases. This law firm offers personalized and comprehensive legal counsel that will cater to your needs. Hornsby Law Group provides various services for civil rights, personal injury, and whistleblower cases. Their attorneys are passionate about standing up for employees in workplace disputes. They have the experience, knowledge, and qualification to properly assist you in your legal case. So, if you want a top-tier legal partner to help you with your employment dispute, Hornsby Law Group is one of the best firms to partner up within Atlanta.

Products/Services:
Employment law, sexual harassment, civil rights, medical malpractice, wrongful death, false claims act, healthcare fraud

LOCATION:
Address: 1180 W Peachtree St NW #2220, Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: (404) 577-1505
Website: hornsbylaw.com

REVIEWS:
I love Chloe and Amy!! Chloe is a fantastic attorney who was always willing to take my calls and texts, as was Amy. They let me know what was going on EVERY step of the way. Great firm and great people. Highly recommend hiring this firm. – Amanda Rose Henderlong

Radford & Keebaugh

Atlanta, GA's Best Employment Attorneys

Radford & Keebaugh specializes in fighting for employee rights. This law firm has a team of employment law experts that has the knowledge and experience necessary to protect you in the courtroom. Radford & Keebaugh provides services for practice areas like employment discrimination, unemployment benefits, injury and death, and more. Their attorneys are driven and passionate about making sure you get the right outcome you deserve. So, if you are seeking a reliable, trustworthy, and driven attorney that will do everything to make sure you get the result you deserve, Radford & Keebaugh is an excellent firm to collaborate with.

Products/Services:
Employment discrimination, unemployment benefits, injury and death, Georgia whistleblower act, Americans with disabilities act

LOCATION:
Address: 315 W Ponce de Leon Ave #1080, Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: (678) 271-0300
Website: decaturlegal.com

REVIEWS:
Regan is a very good Attorney. Not only did he represent me vigorously but you can tell he cared. Every step along the process I was updated and educated. I would definitely refer them to anyone in need of representation. – Redd Anderson

Alain Atkins is the senior editor for Kev’s Best.  Alain has been working as a journalist for nearly a decade having published pieces in many print and digital publications including the Argus Leader and the Huffing Post.  Alain is based in St Louis and covers issues affecting his city and state.  When he’s not busy in the newsroom, Alain enjoys backpacking.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Hospitals Are Using the Nursing Shortage to Stiff Health Care Workers – Jacobin magazine

There’s no shortage of articles about our nationwide nursing shortage. Everywhere, foreboding headlines paint a dire picture of a health care system stressed by a skyrocketing number of patients and a dwindling number of nurses able to care for them.

But there are no attendant articles about hospital corporations, public health systems, and politicians rising to meet this shortage. One would expect hospitals to be aggressively recruiting and retaining as many nurses as possible with competitive pay, safe working conditions, and attractive benefits. But industry-wide labor disputes throughout the pandemic indicate that the opposite is true.

Industry bosses’ refusal to address this labor shortage by granting nurses even the most basic rights and protections — despite our nation’s major health systems making billions in surplus over the course of the pandemic — suggests that this crisis in nursing isn’t a crisis for everybody.

​​In fact, for decades hospital corporations, obsessed with profit over all else, have been cutting staffing levels while putting increased stress and unrealistic demands on the workers who remain. The result is an impossible situation in which workers are pushed to do more with less, leading to nurses and other health care workers leaving the field due to stress and an inability to provide adequate care for their patients.

When staffing is cut to the bone by health care companies looking to line their pockets, patient care suffers, often with devastating consequences. Researchers have shown that, after controlling for patient and hospital characteristics, each additional patient assigned to a nurse increases the odds that one of those patients will die by 7 percent.

Fewer nurses means worse outcomes for patients — but it also means lower labor costs, less union power, and more profit for hospital corporations. Their response to the current nursing shortage demonstrates that this is a trade-off they’re more than willing to make.

The Generational Shift

There are some objective conditions fueling this staffing crisis. The average age of registered nurses in this country is around fifty years old, and the nursing profession won’t be spared in the mass exodus of baby boomers from the workforce. A 2017 study speculated that around 1 million of the 3.8 million registered nurses in the United States will leave the workforce by 2030.

This timeline has since been accelerated by COVID-19. A survey of nurses in Washington found that around a quarter of nurses in the state either retired or are thinking about retiring earlier than planned because of the stress brought about by COVID.

And this trend isn’t limited to the boomer generation. According to studies released earlier this year, between 20 and 30 percent of health care workers in general — and two in five nurses in particular (43 percent) — are thinking of leaving the profession entirely.

But a generation of aging and retiring workers doesn’t just mean fewer nurses — it also means more patients. As boomers exit the workforce, they’ll be entering our nation’s health care programs and facilities en masse.

Even without the need to account for massive historical contingencies like a pandemic, the 276,000 or so registered nurses projected to be added to the ranks of the labor force over the next decade cannot keep pace with the astronomical growth in the number of people needing care.

It makes sense given this context that the demand for nurses and other health care workers would be intense. And compared to other sectors, health care is actually growing as an industry. Today care workers account for one in seven jobs nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the employment of registered nurses will grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, and employment of health care workers in general will grow by 16 percent over the same period, which is much faster than average for all other occupations.

As these numbers indicate, nurses clearly provide an essential social value. Whether they are appropriately valued in return is another question. Nurses today face increasing workloads, more stressful cases, worse nurse-to-patient ratios, chronic understaffing, higher risks of workplace violence, stagnating wages, and fewer resources.

Despite these conditions, hundreds of thousands of people every year still decide to pursue nursing as a career. But the damage wrought on our public institutions by privatization and the profit motive affects education as much as it does health care. In 2019, nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applicants from nursing programs due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors, as well as budget constraints.

The nursing shortage, then, doesn’t seem to stem from a mysterious loss of interest in nursing as a practice, but from this gap between the increasing social demand for care and the physical stress and economic marginalization of the people and public institutions that perform it.

Management by Stress

In the United States, health care is treated not as a publicly provisioned good but as a commodity. Its function isn’t to make the general population well but to make a small sliver of this population wealthy.

Given the profit motive in US health care, it’s no surprise that health care corporations are making decisions based on their bottom lines, not on what is best for patients. In a field where physical bodies matter more than anything else, staffing constitutes a major portion of hospital operating expenses, making up roughly 50 percent of total operating costs. Given the tremendous cost of labor to hospital operations, executives are always looking for ways to decrease staffing and the costs associated with employing workers.

Many hospitals have found a solution in so-called lean production. This management strategy, originally developed in Toyota auto factories, is premised on cutting staffing to the bare minimum and forcing the remaining workforce to work harder — in the case of nursing, overburdening workers and subjecting patients to terrifyingly unsafe conditions. Because of the importance of increasing the exploitation of individual workers in this model, critics like Mike Parker have called it “management by stress.”

The results of management by stress in health care have been predictable. Overwhelmed by impossible expectations, suffering patients whom they cannot do enough to help, and a lack of breaks and vacations, nurses and other health care workers are leaving the bedside in droves.

Meanwhile, US health care corporations made $180.7 billion in profit in 2019, and are projected to make $197.8 billion in profit by 2024. These companies unsurprisingly made a windfall in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But despite these profit windfalls, all health care positions except physicians have seen slow or negative median wage growth over the past decade. And while the care economy as an industry is growing, real wages lag far behind this sectoral growth as horizontal mergers and consolidations among corporations are creating a situation in which a smaller handful of buyers of a product (in this case, nurses’ labor) can dilute competition and exert more control over wages and productivity. The Biden administration’s massive bailout of big hospital chains has only accelerated this massive sectoral consolidation.

The tight workplace control resulting from corporate consolidation, lean production, and its attendant union-busting practices means that nurses aren’t just seeing stagnating wages — they’re also seeing rapidly deteriorating working conditions. An aging population and higher-acuity patients, coupled with decades of funding cuts across the board, has only made these poor conditions worse.

The pre-COVID nursing situation was already unstable. For many, the pandemic made it completely untenable.

Let’s start with the grimmest reality related to the nursing shortage: over 1,200 nurses have died from COVID-19. While the proximate cause of these deaths was obviously the disease itself, the ultimate cause was the decision by those in power not to allocate society’s vast resources toward the basic maintenance of human life.

Many of these deaths were avoidable. Very few of them occurred in well-funded academic medical centers, while the vast majority took place in shamefully underfunded facilities like nursing homes, hospices, and prisons.

Another irony at the heart of the nursing shortage is that by April 2020, barely a month into the pandemic, 1.4 million US health care workers had already lost their jobs.

The nurses that didn’t die or get laid off faced a dramatic increase in the number and severity of sick patients, rapid changes in protocols, severe understaffing, and shortages of personal protective equipment — plus the emotional toll of being frontline workers during a pandemic, often serving as substitute caregivers for dying patients whose families were unable to visit hospitals because of COVID-related security measures.

While nurses were deemed “essential” for their pandemic-related labor, these nominal accolades didn’t translate into any real material investment in helping them do their jobs.

Shortage or Strategy?

So what are health care corporations doing in response to the nursing shortage? In essence, they’re using it as a pretext to accelerate changes in the way that nursing labor is performed and compensated.

Where providers are hiring new nurses, they’re skimping on training with predictable results. Without the resources to support them, these hiring sprees are putting increased pressure on the more experienced staff. “We’re actually hiring excessively,” Kelley Cabrera, who works as an emergency department nurse in the Bronx, told Jacobin.

“Except wages are not attractive, so we’re only attracting new grad RNs. Staff is all quitting because of the pay and conditions, so there’s nobody to train all the new hires.” Cabrera added that agency staff, who are not permanent workers but instead hired on an as-needed basis, “are training new nurses. And the few non-agency staff left, like myself, are refusing to train anyone else because conditions are so bad and it’s unsafe. And it’s also not worth the $12 an hour to do it.”

On the other side of this dynamic, new grad hires are thrown onto the floor before being properly trained, leading to unsafe conditions, burnout, and early departures from bedside nursing. A new grad labor and delivery nurse who requested anonymity told Jacobin, “When we were hired, we were promised a certain amount of training and support, but that was immediately walked back. Management said, ‘We just don’t have the staff for that.’ Of the eight new grads I started with, three left bedside nursing entirely within six months because they felt too unsafe.”

This massive imbalance between experienced and inexperienced nurses creates a vicious cycle: experienced nurses don’t have the time to train new nurses and take care of their patients, which has a bottlenecking effect on the patient population of a given facility, which then creates even more work for the experienced nurses, which then makes more experienced nurses leave, which further exacerbates this imbalance. “At a certain point, there’s only so much we can do, and ramming a unit with new grads who are being rushed off orientation doesn’t help anyone,” said Cabrera.

Rather than providing sufficient support to these experienced nurses to encourage them to stay, health care corporations instead divert funding toward big sign-on bonuses and agency staff. Agency staff, also known as travel nurses, are independent contractors who are hired through staffing agencies that act as middlemen between workers and health care facilities. They are nonunion workers without benefits who are compensated at many times the hourly rate of staff nurses who hold permanent jobs at the same facilities, some of which are union, others not.

In many cases, hospitals utilize agency staff to maintain lean staffing, which means employing as few staff as possible — and bringing in outside workers to fill in gaps only when it’s considered absolutely necessary. The result is that permanent workers are required to do the same job with fewer staff, inevitably leading to worse patient care and increased stress for those workers left to do an impossible job.

While hospitals pay agency nurses significantly higher hourly wages than those nurses they employ on a permanent basis, it’s often more profitable to cycle travel nurses and leave full-time positions unfilled due to the high cost of benefits and the desirability of being able to change staffing levels at will.

As facilities implement leaner and leaner models of staffing, many nurses have noted with suspicion that the so-called nursing “shortage” is occurring alongside a massive rise in nonpermanent agency hires. Nurses across the country have also recently observed health care facilities posting job openings they have no intention of filling. This way, the facilities can blame the shortage on workers’ refusal to work while diverting the money that would have gone toward filling these positions toward agency staff.

“Management is using the ‘shortage’ to justify contracting out [these jobs to agency staff] and increasing the registry budget but not wages and benefits,” said one nurse in California who requested anonymity.

While agency staff get paid at much higher hourly rates than traditional nurses, facilities see them as a long-term investment. “Working at a union facility,” asked Consuelo Vargas, a bedside nurse in Illinois who recently stepped back from the profession due to low morale, “how do we have a union if at least half of the nurses are nonunion agency RNs? Working at a public hospital where employees pay in to a pension fund, what happens to the pension fund when nurses are leaving and the hospital is outsourcing environmental, transporters, CNAs, and RNs, and none of these individuals pay into the fund? What happens to union hospitals?”

A nurse in New Jersey echoed this sentiment, saying that his facility’s justification of the shortage as a way to hire more agency staff is “an intentional move to weaken labor. Talk in the break room has been a mixture of ‘We don’t get treated well’ to ‘I should become an agency or traveling worker too.’”

Marty Harrison, a nurse at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners, also said that her employer embraced the opportunity this shortage provides. “They would be perfectly happy if all of us problematic union members quit and they got to start over with 1,500 new RNs. They would love to staff, as necessary, with 100 percent agency.”

While the nursing shortage has nuanced origins — shifting population demographics; cuts in public health funding; decades of austerity budgets at the municipal, state, and federal levels; the increasing privatization and commodification of health care; and the unprecedented stress placed on workers and our health system by COVID — its trajectory seems clear. Rather than materially address the underlying issues of this crisis, providers will instead exploit it in order to further consolidate power at the top and break the power of organized labor from below.

The shortage is a serious crisis for nurses and patients alike, and employers are choosing to make it an inevitable one.

“Destroying the notion of a unit-based, full-time job with benefits would be a worthy investment at virtually any cost in their minds,” Harrison said. “Never waste a good crisis!”

So what’s the solution? In health care, just like most industries, the improvements in working conditions, pay, benefits, and patient care that have been won over the years are the direct result of courageous workers who said enough to the perverse profiteering of hospital corporations that value the dollar more than human life.

If American health care is going to be reformed to serve patients above all else, it will be through the commitment and organization of rank-and-file workers who are unwilling to tolerate the status quo any longer.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Federal medical teams arrive to assist health care workers in overwhelmed Michigan hospitals – WVPE

Federal military help arrived Friday in two Michigan hospitals, to support frontline health care workers overwhelmed by a near-record number of COVID-19 patients, as the state experiences the highest daily case count since the pandemic began.

“Today’s our day one,” said Lt. Colonel Stephen Duryea, officer in charge of the Department of Defense Medical Response team that arrived at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn on Friday.

The team, which includes 14 critical care nurses, four doctors, three respiratory therapists and a three-member “command and control team” has a 30-day assignment to work with patients.

“Our team previously did this mission in Mississippi for 60 days,” Duryea said during a media briefing with hospital officials Friday. “So we have a lot of experience and lessons learned to hopefully apply here in the state of Michigan.”

Across the state, a separate team of 20 military doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists arrived at Spectrum Health hospital in Grand Rapids, where the number of COVID-19 patients is now well above any other time so far in the pandemic. (A third team has been approved for Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw and will arrive December 12, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced Thursday.)

“I got to meet the team this morning,” said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “Honestly had goosebumps meeting them, they were amazing.”

Elmouchi and other hospital leaders say the military’s medical assistance is badly needed as the number of new patients sick with the virus continues to surge throughout the state. In Grand Rapids in particular, hospitals are already operating at capacity, with exhausted and beleaguered staff. Elmouchi said Spectrum Health’s Intensive Care Units are at 140% percent of their previous capacity for treating patients.

As the number of sick people has skyrocketed, the hospital has set up beds throughout the hospital building, in places that previously weren’t meant for medical care. And despite being the largest health system in West Michigan, Spectrum has had to delay about 1,100 surgeries since the current surge began. In the past month, they’ve denied some 700 transfer requests from other hospitals and medical centers that can’t provide higher levels of care.

Staff at other hospitals in and around Grand Rapids are feeling the same strain. Mercy Health’s St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids is 98% full, and ICUs are 100% full according to Matt Biersack, president of the hospital. At University of Michigan Health – West, which has a hospital in Wyoming, just south of Grand Rapids, the hospital has been at 90% capacity for the past three months.

“It is difficult,” says Peter Hahn, president and CEO of the hospital. “And this round is definitely the most difficult for a variety of reasons.”

At Henry Ford Health System in southeast Michigan, leaders says they are “very close” to asking for federal assistance, too.

“If these numbers [of COVID patients] continue to go up 10% or 20% every couple of weeks, the way that we’re seeing it, we will be looking for alternative help quite quickly,” says Bob Riney, Henry Ford’s president and chief operating officer. But there’s no silver bullet here, he cautions.

“In many ways, what the federal support is offering is 22 FTEs [full time employees] per hospital coming from the Department of Defense,” he said. “Which is help, but it’s a relatively small number in concert with the overall staffing challenges that we’re experiencing.”

Exhausted, frustrated healthcare workers

Nearly two years and now four surges into the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders for each of the hospital systems say the wear on staff and patients is plainly visible.

“Even wearing a mask, you can tell from the eyes what’s going on,” says Hahn. “There’s tremendous stress, tremendous heartache, but there’s also courage.”

“I’ll just say the theme: tears,” says Dr. Elmouchi, describing his latest visit to an ICU team, which he says was set up in an area of the hospital not previously dedicated to intensive care. Tears, he says from team members exhausted after 20 months of non-stop pandemic care. And tears from family members saying goodbye to a loved one.

“This is happening every day, over and over again at all of our hospitals. It is not a pretty sight. It is not something any of us wish upon anyone.”

As more hospitals fill up, and even non-COVID patients have to wait for care, hospital leaders say yet another crisis is emerging. More careworkers are being assaulted by the patients they’re trying to help. “It feels unrelenting,” says Dr. Matt Biersack, of Mercy Health St. Mary’s. “As time spent in the emergency department waiting, as care is strained and we wait longer for care … there tends to be even more hostility and even more impatience.”

It’s not just a problem at one hospital. Leaders at Beaumont, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West say all of their staff are facing it. At Spectrum Health, Elmouchi says there’s been an “amazing increase” in assaults on health care workers. “Every single day we have a report out at the lunch hour about workplace violence issues, and every single day we hear about workplace violence,” Elmouchi says. “Nurses being hit, scratched, spit on, yelled at. Doctors the same.”

Leaders say that increased aggression from patients is one of many reasons healthcare workers are leaving the profession, which puts an even greater strain on those who remain, and could contribute to shortages in staff well into the future.

“If you know a health care worker, check in with them,” Biersack says. “Tell them you support them. Thank them for the work that they’ve done. Demonstrate that you care by wearing a mask when you’re out in public.”

A preventable surge 

Above all else, there is one thing people in the community can do that would help, hospital leaders agreed: get vaccinated.

Unlike previous surges, this one could have been prevented if more people had gotten vaccinated, they say. Now they’re pleading with anyone who’s still hesitant to get the shot. “One of the reasons that people should care about this even if they’re not terribly personally concerned about COVID, is it could impact any other part of your health. And then when you look at the caregivers … people are really struggling. This is needless death, day after day.”

Indeed, the overwhelming majority of hospitalized COVID patients aren’t vaccinated. In Michigan, 87% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 86% of COVID deaths since January are among people who aren’t fully vaccinated. 

Yet hospitals are seeing numbers near or even above the highs of previous surges, back before vaccines were widely available. Henry Ford currently has 420 COVID patients admitted, and another 30 in the emergency departments waiting for beds, said Dr. Adnan Munkarah.

“When we compare it to a year ago, December 4th, 2020, we had at that time 499 patients. So we are getting very close to the numbers that we had a year ago, despite the fact that now we have vaccines that are available. Unfortunately, we are not at the rate that we would like to see from a vaccination perspective in the community. But we do have a solution that can help us.”

About 54% of Michiganders are fully vaccinated, according to state data, and about 1.5 million people have received booster doses.

At Henry Ford Macomb hospital, Riney described a conversation this week with the nurse manager of a completely full ICU.

“She said, ‘I have a stellar team that’s doing exceptional work, but I have 21 beds, 21 patients, all COVID positive, very ill in my ICU, and not a single one of those patients is vaccinated.’ And she said, ‘It’s heartbreaking for me to tell my staff: please continue to give up your holidays. Please continue to work six shifts in a row. Please continue to stress yourself beyond imagination. When the perception is that the community is not meeting us halfway in this fight.’”

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Tipsters file hundreds of complaints with Ottawa’s fraud hotline this year – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)

Ottawa’s auditor general is seeing a “significant increase” in the number of complaints filed to the city’s fraud hotline this year, as people file hundreds of anonymous tips about potential fraud and waste at city hall.

“People might have more time on their hands during the pandemic but that would be pure speculation,” said Nathalie Gougeon when asked about the spike in tips to the hotline during the second year of the pandemic.

During an appearance before the Audit Committee, Gougeon told councillors her office has received 500 complaints so far in 2021, compared to 200 complaints during a normal year. There were 204 tips to the hotline in 2020, including 114 from municipal employees and 90 from the public.

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan wondered if many of the tips were from people wondering if municipal employees were “working hard enough” during the pandemic, when many people are working from home.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, I saw so-and-so out walking their dog.’ I said I walk my dog in between meetings and I’m not going to make apologies for it,” said Meehan.

Gougeon responded, “The nature of the reports that are coming in are a vast variety, as they are every year, so I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s more specific attributed to those working from home.”

The auditor general says it can be time consuming to review the 500 reports to decide how to proceed.

“Many of us look at each report that comes in. Myself, both deputy auditor’s general as well as one of the senior auditors in our team. We want to make sure that we’re triaging everything appropriately, so it does warrant a lot of attention,” said Gougeon.

The auditor general says her office will forward complaints to management to investigate and report back, “in other instances if we’re seeing something more systemic, we will likely hang onto it and take a look at it ourselves.”

A report on the 2021 fraud and waste hotline will be released in April.

Ottawa’s fraud and waste hotline was launched in 2005 in order to facilitate the reporting of suspected fraud or waste by municipal employees. It’s operated independently by a third party, WhistleBlower Security.

Last year, three city employees were fired following tips to the fraud and waste hotline, one of whom took more than six weeks of vacation without recording it. Two employees were suspended without pay for washing their personal vehicles on city property.

2022-2023 AUDIT WORKPLAN

The auditor general’s office currently has audits in progress on the Light Rail Transit system, zero-emission buses for OC Transpo and the pandemic response by the city.

A report for Friday’s audit committee meeting outlined other areas for audits in 2022, including cybersecurity, prevention of workplace violence and harassment, affordable housing and the management of roadways.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: “It’s at a boiling point”: Local paramedics join study on workplace violence – Tbnewswatch.com

Study will track violence faced by paramedics with Superior North EMS, a dozen other Ontario services.

 THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay paramedics are joining a province-wide study on workplace violence, hoping to spur action on what leaders in the field call an escalating crisis.

The Violence Against Paramedics: Building the Case for Change study, overseen by Peel Regional Paramedic Services in partnership with the University of Windsor, will track incidents of violence against the first responders at more than a dozen EMS services across Ontario over the coming year.

Superior North EMS, which serves Thunder Bay and the wider district, recently signed on, joining several other Northern Ontario services including Kenora-based Northwest EMS.

Researchers will look to build data on common risk factors and the physical and mental health consequences that result, hoping to inform new policies and supports.

Justin Mausz, a longtime advanced care paramedic with the Peel service who’s leading the study, said experiences of violence play a big part in the profession’s growing mental health and burnout crisis.

“We’re looking at this situation that was widely recognized as a crisis before,” he said. “Tack on a pandemic, tack on burnout, tack on growing antipathy and even hostility towards health care workers, and this is really at a boiling point – it’s something we need to address.”

Mausz, who is completing a PhD on psychological health and safety among paramedics, said while the issue has received increased public attention in recent years, there’s surprisingly little solid data.

“I just assumed there was a literal and figurative army of researchers looking at this topic of paramedic mental health,” he said. “I mean, how could there not be? We’ve seen a lot of news coverage around suicide and PTSD among paramedics.”

The research that does exist paints a distressing picture.

A 2017 survey of Canadian emergency services personnel found nearly half of participating paramedics met the screening criteria for one or more mental illnesses. A quarter screened positive for PTSD, 45 per cent for chronic pain, and 10 per cent had attempted suicide.

In a 2014 study in Ontario and Nova Scotia, 75 per cent of paramedics reported being the victim of violence on the job over the previous year, including instances of verbal abuse, while more than a quarter had been physically assaulted.

That study also found more than 80 per cent of the incidents were never formally reported.

Superior North EMS began tracking incidents of violence only in recent years.

Since Nov. 1, 2019, the agency has recorded 90 incidents involving violence or harassment of a paramedic on the job. Of those, 59 involved physical violence, 46 required first aid, six required further health care, and three resulted directly in lost time on the job.

The issue isn’t new – local paramedics have been calling attention to it for years, requesting self-defence training and protective equipment. But Rob Moquin, who represents paramedics in the city of Thunder Bay as Unifor Local 39-11 unit chair, said it’s getting worse.

“The violence has been ever-increasing over the last number of years,” he said.

His role as peer support and wellness coordinator with Superior North EMS has also given him a window into the increasing stresses faced by paramedics.

While all EMS services appear to be facing increased violence on the job, Moquin suspects issues of addiction, mental health crisis, and gang-related drug trafficking are playing a larger contributing role in Thunder Bay than elsewhere.

“In probably the last five or six years, we’ve seen a big increase with the violence on the streets and mental health [issues],” he said. “The drug trade in Thunder Bay has certainly brought a lot of interesting aspects to the daily [experience] of paramedics… we’re seeing a lot of guns and gangs in the community.”

“It’s sad, but we have an ask with our employer for ballistic vests. We’re in situations that are quite frankly dangerous. We’ve had some close encounters with firearms in the last couple of years, more so in the last year.”

Superior North EMS chief Wayne Gates, a former paramedic, said the service has started providing new equipment to deal with the issues.

“In the last two years, we’ve had to start carrying spit hoods and soft restraints in our ambulances,” he said. “I’ve been in this business 30-plus years, and I can tell you 20 years ago, we’d never have even thought of that. There was violence back then, but nowhere to the extent that we’re seeing today.”

Experiences of violence are “a very big piece” of the profession’s growing problem with burnout, mental health injuries, and people leaving the profession entirely, Moquin said.

The rise in mental health injuries among paramedics and other emergency responders has been identified as a crisis by the City of Thunder Bay, driving more overtime demands and exploding Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) costs.

The WSIB budget at Superior North EMS increased by $800,000 in 2021 alone, after a similar increase the previous year, and was identified as one of the biggest drivers of tax increases in city budget documents.

EMS leaders say paramedics are being asked to tackle mental health- and addictions-related issues their services weren’t designed to deal with.

“What I’ve been saying for years is EMS has become the colander of society – we respond to calls that don’t necessarily fit other first response protocol,” Moquin said. “We’re dealing with a lot of mental health issues, a lot of socio-economic issues [that] we’re truly not trained in.”

The union leader pointed to the joint mobile crisis response team, a partnership that allows mental health crisis workers to assist Thunder Bay police with some calls, as an example of the shift that may be needed in response.

“As paramedic services, we really are the safety net for the community – kind of the last resort when people call,” Gates agreed. “I’m hoping through this study, they can develop programs that will prevent us even having to be involved.”

Mausz said support from police can be crucial for paramedic safety, but he doesn’t believe it’s the main answer.

“Given that a lot of the incidents of violence that are perpetrated against paramedics come about because of conditions of social inequity, of injustice, of inadequate primary or mental health care, I would really hate for our response to this problem to be more policing,” he said. “It’s a very blunt instrument – it’s appropriate in some cases, but not all of them.”

In Peel, a smaller study on paramedic violence led to new policies like training on mental health crisis and de-escalation, and the distribution of new equipment.

Peel EMS also adopted a “zero tolerance” position toward violence.

“We’re recognizing we may not be able to prevent incidents of violence, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable,” Mausz said. “The value… is greatest for the individual paramedics, knowing that when they’re subjected to incidents of workplace violence, we as an organization care.

“Somebody’s going to show up and talk to that paramedic and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry you had to deal with that – are you okay, what do you need?’ It might seem on the surface like a simple gesture, but I think it’s actually one of the most powerful ones we can make.”

The study includes EMS services in urban areas like Durham, Windsor, and Peel, alongside more rural ones, including strong Northern Ontario representation from services based in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Kenora.

“That’s going to give us a really important opportunity to look at the differences between exposure to violence in urban versus rural settings,” Mausz said.

The first results from the study are expected to be published in late 2022 or early 2023.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Tipsters file hundreds of complaints with Ottawa’s fraud hotline this year – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)

Ottawa’s auditor general is seeing a “significant increase” in the number of complaints filed to the city’s fraud hotline this year, as people file hundreds of anonymous tips about potential fraud and waste at city hall.

“People might have more time on their hands during the pandemic but that would be pure speculation,” said Nathalie Gougeon when asked about the spike in tips to the hotline during the second year of the pandemic.

During an appearance before the Audit Committee, Gougeon told councillors her office has received 500 complaints so far in 2021, compared to 200 complaints during a normal year. There were 204 tips to the hotline in 2020, including 114 from municipal employees and 90 from the public.

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan wondered if many of the tips were from people wondering if municipal employees were “working hard enough” during the pandemic, when many people are working from home.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, I saw so-and-so out walking their dog.’ I said I walk my dog in between meetings and I’m not going to make apologies for it,” said Meehan.

Gougeon responded, “The nature of the reports that are coming in are a vast variety, as they are every year, so I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s more specific attributed to those working from home.”

The auditor general says it can be time consuming to review the 500 reports to decide how to proceed.

“Many of us look at each report that comes in. Myself, both deputy auditor’s general as well as one of the senior auditors in our team. We want to make sure that we’re triaging everything appropriately, so it does warrant a lot of attention,” said Gougeon.

The auditor general says her office will forward complaints to management to investigate and report back, “in other instances if we’re seeing something more systemic, we will likely hang onto it and take a look at it ourselves.”

A report on the 2021 fraud and waste hotline will be released in April.

Ottawa’s fraud and waste hotline was launched in 2005 in order to facilitate the reporting of suspected fraud or waste by municipal employees. It’s operated independently by a third party, WhistleBlower Security.

Last year, three city employees were fired following tips to the fraud and waste hotline, one of whom took more than six weeks of vacation without recording it. Two employees were suspended without pay for washing their personal vehicles on city property.

2022-2023 AUDIT WORKPLAN

The auditor general’s office currently has audits in progress on the Light Rail Transit system, zero-emission buses for OC Transpo and the pandemic response by the city.

A report for Friday’s audit committee meeting outlined other areas for audits in 2022, including cybersecurity, prevention of workplace violence and harassment, affordable housing and the management of roadways.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Hospitals refused to give patients ivermectin; political pressure followed – UPI.com

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not authorized ivermectin to treat COVID-19, shown in this computer-generated representation of the virus under electron microscpe. File Image by Felipe Esquivel Reed/Wikimedia Commons

HELENA, Mont., Dec. 3 (UPI) — One Montana hospital went into lockdown and called police after a woman threatened violence because her relative was denied her request to be treated with ivermectin.

Officials of another Montana hospital accused public officials of threatening and harassing their healthcare workers for refusing to treat a politically connected COVID-19 patient with that antiparasitic drug or hydroxychloroquine, another drug unauthorized by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19.

And in neighboring Idaho, a medical resident said police had to be called to a hospital after a COVID-19 patient’s relative verbally abused her and threatened physical violence because she would not prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, “drugs that are not beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19,” she wrote.

These three conflicts, which occurred from September to November, underline the pressure on healthcare workers to provide unauthorized COVID-19 treatments, particularly in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low, government skepticism is high, and conservative leaders have championed the treatments.

“You’re going to have this from time to time, but it’s not the norm,” said Rich Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association. “The vast majority of patients are completely compliant and have good, robust conversations with their medical care team. But you’re going to have these outliers.”

Even before the pandemic, the healthcare and social assistance industry — which includes residential care facilities and child day care, among other services — led all U.S. industries in nonfatal workplace violence, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. COVID-19 has made the problem worse, leading to hospital security upgrades, staff training and calls for increased federal regulation.

Ivermectin and other unauthorized COVID-19 treatments have become a major source of dispute in recent months. Lawsuits over hospitals’ refusals to provide ivermectin to patients have been filed in Texas, Florida, Illinois and elsewhere. The ivermectin harassment extends beyond U.S. borders to providers and public health officials worldwide, in such countries as Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Even so, reports of threats of violence and harassment like those recently seen in the Northern Rocky Mountains region have been relatively rare.

Ivermectin is approved to treat parasites in animals, and low doses of the drug are approved to treat worms, head lice and certain skin conditions in humans. But the FDA has not authorized the drug to treat COVID-19. The agency says clinical trials are ongoing but that the current data does not show it is an effective COVID-19 treatment and taking higher-than-approved levels can lead to overdose.

Likewise, hydroxychloroquine can cause serious health problems and the drug does not help speed recovery or decrease the chance of dying of COVID-19, according to the FDA.

In Missoula, Mont., the Community Medical Center was placed on lockdown and police were called on Nov. 17 after a woman reportedly threatened violence over how her relative was being treated, according to a Police Department statement. Nobody was arrested.

“The family member was upset the patient was not treated with ivermectin,” Lt. Eddie McLean said Tuesday.

Hospital spokeswoman Megan Condra confirmed Wednesday that the patient’s relative demanded ivermectin, but she said the patient was not there for COVID-19, though she declined to disclose the patient’s medical issue. The main entrance of the hospital was locked to control who entered the building, Condra added, but the hospital’s formal lockdown procedures were not implemented.

The scare was reminiscent of one that happened in Idaho in September. Dr. Ashley Carvalho, who is completing her medical residency training in Boise, wrote in an op-ed in the Idaho Capital Sun that she was verbally abused and threatened with both physical violence and a lawsuit by a patient’s relative after she refused to prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.

“My patient was struggling to breathe, but the family refused to allow me to provide care,” Carvalho wrote. “A call to the police was the only solution.”

An 82-year-old woman who was active in Montana Republican politics was admitted to St. Peter’s Health, the hospital in Helena, with COVID-19 in October. According to a November report by a special counsel appointed by state lawmakers, a family friend contacted Chief Deputy Attorney General Kris Hansen, a former Republican state senator, with multiple complaints: Hospital officials had not delivered a power-of-attorney document left by relatives for the patient to sign, she was denied her preferred medical treatment, she was cut off from her family, and the family worried hospital officials might prevent her from leaving. The patient later died.

That complaint led to the involvement of Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who texted a lobbyist for the Montana Hospital Association who is also on St. Peter’s board of directors. An image of the exchange was included in the report.

“I’m about to send law enforcement in and file unlawful restraint charges,” Knudsen wrote to Mark Taylor, who responded that he would make inquiries.

“This has been going on since yesterday, and I was hoping the hospital would do the right thing. But my patience is wearing thin,” the attorney general added.

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper was sent to the hospital to take the statement of the patient’s family members. Hansen also participated in a conference call with multiple healthcare providers in which she talked about the “legal ramifications” of withholding documents and the patient’s preferred treatment, which included ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Public Service Commissioner Jennifer Fielder, a former Republican state senator, left a three-minute voicemail on a hospital line saying the patient’s friends in the Senate would not be too happy to learn of the care St. Peter’s was providing, according to the special counsel’s report.

Fielder and the patient’s daughter also cited a “right to try” law that Montana legislators passed in 2015 that allows terminally ill patients to seek experimental treatments. But a legal analysis written for the Montana Medical Association says that while the law does not require a provider to prescribe a particular medication if a patient demands it, it could give a provider legal immunity if the provider decides to prescribe the treatment, according to the Montana State News Bureau.

The report did not offer any conclusions or allegations of wrongdoing.

Hospital officials said before and after the report’s release that their healthcare providers were threatened and harassed when they refused to administer certain treatments for COVID-19.

“We stand by our assertion that the involvement of public officials in clinical care is inappropriate; that individuals leveraged their official positions in an attempt to influence clinical care; and that some of the exchanges that took place were threatening or harassing,” spokeswoman Katie Gallagher said in a statement.

“Further, we reviewed all medical and legal records related to this patient’s care and verified that our teams provided care in accordance with clinical best practice, hospital policy and patient rights,” Gallagher added.

The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment but told the Montana Free Press in a statement that nobody at the state agency threatened anyone.

Rasmussen, the head of the Montana Hospital Association, said St. Peter’s officials have not reached out to the group for assistance. He downplayed the attorney general’s intervention in Helena, saying it often happens that people who know medical leaders or trustees will advocate on behalf of a relative or friend.

“Is this situation different? Certainly, because it’s from the attorney general,” Rasmussen said. “But I think the AG was responding to a constituent. Others would reach out to whoever they know on the hospital board.”

He added that hospitals have procedures in place that allow family members of patients to take their complaints to a supervisor or other hospital leader without resorting to threats.

Hospitals in the region that have watched the allegations of threats and harassment unfold declined to comment on their procedures to handle such conflicts.

“We respect the independent medical judgment of our providers who practice medicine consistent with approved, authorized treatment and recognized clinical standards,” said Bozeman Health spokeswoman Lauren Brendel.

Tanner Gooch, a representative of SCL Health Montana, which operates hospitals in Billings, Butte and Miles City, said SCL does not endorse ivermectin or other COVID-19 treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA but doesn’t ban them, either.

“Ultimately, the treatment decisions are at the discretion of the provider,” Gooch said. “To our knowledge, no COVID-19 patients have been treated with ivermectin at our hospitals.”

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Fraud and waste complaints way up, major audits incoming for city AG – Ottawa Citizen

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Fraud and waste complaints way up, major audits incoming for city AG

Author of the article:

Taylor Blewett

City of Ottawa auditor general Nathalie Gougeon.
City of Ottawa auditor general Nathalie Gougeon. Photo by MICHELLE VALBERG /Handout

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In addition to its scrutiny of some of the city’s heftiest projects and programs, the office of Ottawa’s auditor general is navigating a “significant increase” in complaints to the fraud and waste hotline, AG Nathalie Gougeon reported Friday.

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What’s not clear right now is the reason for the surge.

“People might have more time on their hands during the pandemic, but that would be pure speculation,” she told city audit committee members.

Some of the complaints coming in are similar in nature, but Gougeon said the office has received more than 500 so far this year, compared to a typical total of approximately 200.

As far as the trend timeline, it was Gougeon’s understanding that 2020 originally saw fraud and waste complaints decrease, then start to significantly ramp up towards the end of the year, a trend that has continued through 2021.

Audit committee member and Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan wondered whether the increase was tied to community members questioning whether city staff were working hard enough when they worked from home.

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“I’ve heard people saw, ‘Oh I saw so and so out walking their dog,’” said Meehan. “I walk my dog in between meetings, and … I’m not going to make apologies for it, if I have a half-hour and the sun is shining, I’m going to take advantage of that.”

It wasn’t a trend Gougeon was identifying at this point.

“What I can say is the nature of the reports that are coming in are of [a] vast variety, as they are every year.”

She also noted that the upsurge aligns with a trend that councillors’ offices are seeing when it comes to incoming complaints.

Bylaw and 311 have also seen an increase in requests for service, audit committee chair and Alta Vista Ward Coun. Jean Cloutier pointed out, in a post-committee press conference.

“As people are at home and perhaps observing a little bit more, those calls are coming in.”

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The AG’s office is still working through all 500-plus complaints — multiple senior audit staff including Gougeon review each one — and anticipate tabling their annual report on the fraud and waste hotline, including investigation results, next spring.

Reports to the independently-operated fraud and waste hotline can be submitted anonymously by members of the public or city staff online or by phone, and each report is given a tracking number and password so the complainant can follow action taken.

Often, Gougeon said her office will pass a complaint to management to investigate and report back, while in other cases, “if we’re seeing something more systemic, we will likely hang onto it and take a look at it ourselves.”

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It’s all adding up to a lot of work for her office, and was part of the rationale behind a budget ask for two additional full-time equivalent (FTE) staff.

If the draft budget approved at committee Friday gets council’s backing, the number of FTEs allocated to the office will rise from nine to 11. They will also help support increased demand for “specific and more complex audits,” according to budget documents.

Asked if that staffing complement will be enough, Gougeon told reporters Friday that her office’s budget, as a percentage of the city’s operating budget, is the smallest of all municipal AGs in Canada. In determining budget asks to put forward to the audit committee and council, Gougeon said her office took into consideration “the many competing priorities the city is facing, including the ongoing pressures of the pandemic” and wanted to make sure their request was reasonable.

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“That being said, more resources would help us get through even more audits,” she noted. “But… we do need to balance our ask of the city.”

The office of the auditor general’s 2022-23 workplan, which also got audit committee’s backing, includes ongoing audits of the city’s pandemic response, the planned transformation of OC Transpo’s fleet to zero-emission buses and of Ottawa Community Housing activities. The office plans to start a cybersecurity audit in 2022, and the following year, has scheduled audits of progress made on the city’s corporate diversity and inclusion plan and climate change master plan, among others.

There’s also the audit tacked on this fall of the first phase of LRT in Ottawa. Gougeon said she hopes to avoid duplication of efforts with the province’s planned public inquiry into the LRT program, announced last month, and wants to coordinate with them to determine the scope of work on her end.

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Once that’s better understood — she was advised by the province “that they would respond to our questions when appropriate” — Gougeon said she’ll update council on the expected cost of the LRT audit.

She’s also consulted with city-hired LRT consultant TRA and is in touch with city management about any other consultants they might bring in to advise on the light-rail system. The idea is to gather all available information to define an audit scope that adds value and doesn’t replicate what others are doing, she explained.

The city, meanwhile, has heard “crickets” from provincial bureaucrats and politicians about their plan for the LRT inquiry, said city manager Steve Kanellakos. He’s currently in the dark about its scope, terms of reference and timing.

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Audit committee member and Bay Ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh praised Gougeon for the expansive view her office is taking in the topics her audit work plan tackles. Among them is the prevention of workplace violence and harassment at city hall.

“This is about protecting people and ensuring equity, and it’s a subject I don’t think people think of in terms of an audit, we get caught up on the dollar value,” said Kavanagh.

Gougeon also noted that her office is looking to develop their own website, separate from the city’s, and is debating whether they want to wade into the world of social media as a communications tool.

Gougeon, a chartered professional accountant and certified internal auditor who’s worked in the field for more than 15 years, took over the auditor general’s role last February.

Audit committee chair and Alta Vista Ward Coun. Jean Cloutier took note of Gougeon’s unique decision to quote the Dalai Lama in the opening to her first annual report, tabled Friday: “a lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”

“It’s never been done before,” said Cloutier. “But I like it.”

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Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Improving Physical Security for Healthcare Systems – HealthTech Magazine

Physical security for healthcare systems is evolving along with changing needs. It’s no longer enough to know the location of secure entry points; workers need to be able to track movement through those entry points into facilities. Are the right people entering at the right points of entry? Are they going to the right places, or are they entering areas they shouldn’t?

Technology has also evolved to keep up with these changing needs, with more sophisticated video monitoring, modernized alerts and flexible solutions that can adapt to diverse settings.

Modernizing Physical Security in Healthcare

Tracking movement through a facility is not as complex or even as cost prohibitive as it has been in the past.

Robust badge scanning and simple tap-and-go access for employees at different entry points allow security teams to understand who is using what entrance and when. For visitors and patients, a smartphone app with basic wayfinding capabilities can steer them directly to where they need to be.

The next layer, the monitoring platform, could be something as basic as a legacy security camera system or something as current as a cloud-based video surveillance solution, which can offer modern, more precise tools for tracking someone through a facility.

READ MORE: Extend the value of physical security systems with enhanced video surveillance.

Improved Infrastructure Supports Physical Security

With any investment in new and emerging technology, there will be an additional strain on the existing environment. Video data and video monitoring have higher consumption values than passive sensor monitoring, for example. Also, if there’s an artificial intelligence solution in use, that could require upskilling personnel to better understand the tool.

It’s critical that a healthcare system’s infrastructure can handle the added burden. Issues such as whether the security platform should be isolated through network segmentation and how the backup power and recovery plan works in the event of a disaster should be considered.

DISCOVER: Learn 3 ways to better integrate physical security with IT systems.

Physical Security Beyond the Pandemic

Though workplace violence against healthcare workers was on the rise before the pandemic, the global health crisis has made the situation worse.

Pandemic protocols such as temperature checks and mask requirements have added more to the list of what hospitals must monitor. Temporary setups such as tented areas in parking lots for mass testing and vaccination have also provided security challenges.

Healthcare systems have learned that they need to have flexible security solutions that can be easily and rapidly deployed to diverse environments. Improved safety ensures a better quality of care for patients and providers. Nurses, doctors and all hospital employees need a safe work environment in order to help their communities.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.

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Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Federal medical teams arrive to assist health care workers in overwhelmed Michigan hospitals – Michigan Radio

Federal military help arrived Friday in two Michigan hospitals, to support frontline health care workers overwhelmed by a near-record number of COVID-19 patients, as the state experiences the highest daily case count since the pandemic began.

“Today’s our day one,” said Lt. Colonel Stephen Duryea, officer in charge of the Department of Defense Medical Response team that arrived at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn on Friday.

The team, which includes 14 critical care nurses, four doctors, three respiratory therapists and a three-member “command and control team” has a 30-day assignment to work with patients.

“Our team previously did this mission in Mississippi for 60 days,” Duryea said during a media briefing with hospital officials Friday. “So we have a lot of experience and lessons learned to hopefully apply here in the state of Michigan.”

Across the state, a separate team of 20 military doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists arrived at Spectrum Health hospital in Grand Rapids, where the number of COVID-19 patients is now well above any other time so far in the pandemic. (A third team has been approved for Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw and will arrive December 12, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced Thursday.)

“I got to meet the team this morning,” said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “Honestly had goosebumps meeting them, they were amazing.”

Elmouchi and other hospital leaders say the military’s medical assistance is badly needed as the number of new patients sick with the virus continues to surge throughout the state. In Grand Rapids in particular, hospitals are already operating at capacity, with exhausted and beleaguered staff. Elmouchi said Spectrum Health’s Intensive Care Units are at 140% percent of their previous capacity for treating patients.

As the number of sick people has skyrocketed, the hospital has set up beds throughout the hospital building, in places that previously weren’t meant for medical care. And despite being the largest health system in West Michigan, Spectrum has had to delay about 1,100 surgeries since the current surge began. In the past month, they’ve denied some 700 transfer requests from other hospitals and medical centers that can’t provide higher levels of care.

Staff at other hospitals in and around Grand Rapids are feeling the same strain. Mercy Health’s St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids is 98% full, and ICUs are 100% full according to Matt Biersack, president of the hospital. At University of Michigan Health – West, which has a hospital in Wyoming, just south of Grand Rapids, the hospital has been at 90% capacity for the past three months.

“It is difficult,” says Peter Hahn, president and CEO of the hospital. “And this round is definitely the most difficult for a variety of reasons.”

At Henry Ford Health System in southeast Michigan, leaders says they are “very close” to asking for federal assistance, too.

“If these numbers [of COVID patients] continue to go up 10% or 20% every couple of weeks, the way that we’re seeing it, we will be looking for alternative help quite quickly,” says Bob Riney, Henry Ford’s president and chief operating officer. But there’s no silver bullet here, he cautions.

“In many ways, what the federal support is offering is 22 FTEs [full time employees] per hospital coming from the Department of Defense,” he said. “Which is help, but it’s a relatively small number in concert with the overall staffing challenges that we’re experiencing.”

Exhausted, frustrated healthcare workers

Nearly two years and now four surges into the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders for each of the hospital systems say the wear on staff and patients is plainly visible.

“Even wearing a mask, you can tell from the eyes what’s going on,” says Hahn. “There’s tremendous stress, tremendous heartache, but there’s also courage.”

“I’ll just say the theme: tears,” says Dr. Elmouchi, describing his latest visit to an ICU team, which he says was set up in an area of the hospital not previously dedicated to intensive care. Tears, he says from team members exhausted after 20 months of non-stop pandemic care. And tears from family members saying goodbye to a loved one.

“This is happening every day, over and over again at all of our hospitals. It is not a pretty sight. It is not something any of us wish upon anyone.”

As more hospitals fill up, and even non-COVID patients have to wait for care, hospital leaders say yet another crisis is emerging. More careworkers are being assaulted by the patients they’re trying to help. “It feels unrelenting,” says Dr. Matt Biersack, of Mercy Health St. Mary’s. “As time spent in the emergency department waiting, as care is strained and we wait longer for care … there tends to be even more hostility and even more impatience.”

It’s not just a problem at one hospital. Leaders at Beaumont, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West say all of their staff are facing it. At Spectrum Health, Elmouchi says there’s been an “amazing increase” in assaults on health care workers. “Every single day we have a report out at the lunch hour about workplace violence issues, and every single day we hear about workplace violence,” Elmouchi says. “Nurses being hit, scratched, spit on, yelled at. Doctors the same.”

Leaders say that increased aggression from patients is one of many reasons healthcare workers are leaving the profession, which puts an even greater strain on those who remain, and could contribute to shortages in staff well into the future.

“If you know a health care worker, check in with them,” Biersack says. “Tell them you support them. Thank them for the work that they’ve done. Demonstrate that you care by wearing a mask when you’re out in public.”

A preventable surge 

Above all else, there is one thing people in the community can do that would help, hospital leaders agreed: get vaccinated.

Unlike previous surges, this one could have been prevented if more people had gotten vaccinated, they say. Now they’re pleading with anyone who’s still hesitant to get the shot. “One of the reasons that people should care about this even if they’re not terribly personally concerned about COVID, is it could impact any other part of your health. And then when you look at the caregivers … people are really struggling. This is needless death, day after day.”

Indeed, the overwhelming majority of hospitalized COVID patients aren’t vaccinated. In Michigan, 87% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 86% of COVID deaths since January are among people who aren’t fully vaccinated. 

Yet hospitals are seeing numbers near or even above the highs of previous surges, back before vaccines were widely available. Henry Ford currently has 420 COVID patients admitted, and another 30 in the emergency departments waiting for beds, said Dr. Adnan Munkarah.

“When we compare it to a year ago, December 4th, 2020, we had at that time 499 patients. So we are getting very close to the numbers that we had a year ago, despite the fact that now we have vaccines that are available. Unfortunately, we are not at the rate that we would like to see from a vaccination perspective in the community. But we do have a solution that can help us.”

About 54% of Michiganders are fully vaccinated, according to state data, and about 1.5 million people have received booster doses.

At Henry Ford Macomb hospital, Riney described a conversation this week with the nurse manager of a completely full ICU.

“She said, ‘I have a stellar team that’s doing exceptional work, but I have 21 beds, 21 patients, all COVID positive, very ill in my ICU, and not a single one of those patients is vaccinated.’ And she said, ‘It’s heartbreaking for me to tell my staff: please continue to give up your holidays. Please continue to work six shifts in a row. Please continue to stress yourself beyond imagination. When the perception is that the community is not meeting us halfway in this fight.’”

Source: Ross Arrowsmith