“It’s like jail, except nicer.”
"Field hospitals play vital role as COVID surge continues" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff, January 24, 2021
Kenneth R. Smith has visited the convention center in downtown Worcester many times over the years for trade shows and exhibitions. This month, he was there as a patient during a pandemic.
Smith was among dozens of COVID-19 patients being treated at a field hospital constructed inside the large hall of the DCU Center. Patients lie in beds in long rows across the convention center floor, separated by black curtains. There are no walls and no windows to offer a view of the outside world, just bright overhead lights and the thrum of a busy hospital.
It may be austere, but the facility functions much like a COVID unit in a traditional hospital. Patients receive medications like remdesivir to combat the virus and oxygen to help them breathe. Doctors and nurses keep constant watch. This facility, which is run by UMass Memorial Health Care and was assembled in about two weeks, has treated more than 450 patients since opening Dec. 6, providing a crucial relief valve for a health care system under extraordinary strain.
I don't want to take your breath away, but.... the hospitals are not overwhelmed and between the lack of care, power outages, impending inflation and famine, this is looking like a bad time despite the trillions on which we are all sitting.
“You’re not here to get pampered; you’re here to get better and get home and survive,” said Smith, 67, who spent more than a week at the DCU Center. “It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.”
This field hospital, and a second military-style medical site that opened in Lowell this month, together add nearly 300 beds to the state’s health care system and have been essential components of the plan for managing hospital capacity during the second surge of COVID.
They are stark reminders of the severity of a pandemic that has sickened and killed thousands of people in Massachusetts alone, and is far from over, yet despite the grim circumstances, there are, perhaps surprisingly, some advantages for patients who end up there.
They can do something forbidden in traditional hospitals during the pandemic: walk around and socialize. In traditional hospitals, patients are confined to their rooms because of the risk of spreading infection, but because all the patients at the DCU Center already have COVID, and all the health care workers wear full personal protective equipment at all times, it’s safe for patients to leave their beds and interact.
Yes, you have more freedom in the COVID camp.
All this over a virus they have never isolated and which doesn't exists. They weaponized seasonal cold and flu and called it COVID (now with variants) and are pushing a vaccine that won't prevent transmission nor infection for an alleged "disease" that has a recovery rate of 99.98%.
They can walk a few laps for exercise, and relax in the lounge, a corner of the convention floor where armchairs are arranged around a big television screen. (A crime show was playing one recent afternoon). They can stop at a snack station for cookies and coffee. They can chat with other patients. Those who feel well enough can ride stationary bikes.
Doctors say the ability to move and socialize helps with patients’ mental and physical recovery.
“We try to provide a little slice of normalcy for patients and give them the opportunity to walk around, talk to people,” said Dr. John Broach, medical director of the Worcester field hospital. “One of the things we’re concerned about is [that] being ill, especially with a highly infectious disease like COVID, can be such an isolating experience.”
Each patient wears a portable monitor on their finger, so doctors and nurses can track their heart rate even when they walk around. Patients can watch TV in their makeshift rooms on an iPad that also tracks their vital signs.
“We try to give them ways to stay busy,” Broach said.
Maybe that's why the nurses are going on strike.
About half the patients at the DCU Center come from hospitals in the Worcester area, and half from across the state, from as far as Boston and New Bedford. They are sick enough that they need hospital-level treatment, but not so ill that they require intensive care and ventilators to help them breathe. Most get better after a few days and go home.
This is the second iteration of the Worcester field hospital, which was built for the first onslaught of COVID and treated about 300 people last spring. The supplies and equipment sat in storage for months, waiting for the predicted second surge.
Meaning none were never really closed like we were told, and beyond that the ventilators will literally kill you.
To the northeast, Lowell General Hospital reconstructed a field hospital across three basketball courts in a University of Massachusetts Lowell gymnasium. In an upgrade from the spring, each patient can now receive IV therapy, which is critical for administering the antiviral drug remdesivir.
The Lowell patients also are encouraged to walk around and visit the lounge. When they’re admitted, they receive a kit with headphones and an eye mask. They can request a white-noise machine.
Patients are nervous about the unusual setup before they arrive, said Amy Hoey, chief operating officer at Lowell General, but based on patient feedback, “when they actually get there and are admitted, they love it,” she said.
Any relation to Bob?
Last spring, the Lowell site was readied for patients but never saw any. Two other field hospitals in Bourne and Dartmouth also closed without treating any patients. A 1,000-bed field hospital at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, half of it dedicated to the homeless, treated more than 700 people last April and May, but as the number of people hospitalized for COVID across the state stabilizes, state officials have no plans now to reopen the Boston site or build additional field hospitals.
Here is tour of one anyway.
At the DCU Center, the medical staff wear masks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves throughout their shifts because the entire floor is a COVID “hot zone,” but they find ways to let their personalities peek through. Dr. Dejah R. Judelson, a vascular surgeon who volunteered to work a week at the field hospital, wore a different scrub cap every day, three of them picturing the iconic Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Judelson, 37, last visited the DCU Center for a Dead & Company concert several years ago. This month she was treating patients there, watching their breathing, reviewing their lab results, and prescribing medications. “It’s a little bit of a surreal environment,” she said.
To say the least!
The greatest challenge in building the field hospitals was not logistics and equipment but the availability of health care workers, who are in high demand and short supply. A shortage of staff delayed the opening of the Lowell field hospital by a week. Both facilities rely on travel nurses working temporary assignments.
Caitlin Lynch, 33, usually works as an urgent-care nurse on Cape Cod, but when she heard about the Worcester field hospital last spring, she quickly signed up to work there, and returned when the site reopened. She wanted to help with the COVID crisis and liked the idea of being part of history: How many nurses can say they have experience working in a field hospital?
There are “lots of bays, lots of hardware to step over, piping exposed,” Lynch said. “Apart from the differences in aesthetics, it really is like being in a hospital, except much bigger and much more open.”
Lynch has been staying in a nearby hotel, working four 12-hour shifts a week. She goes home to Mashpee to see her husband when there is time.
“It’s kind of like being back in college,” she said. “You try to figure out what you can cook in the microwave.”
(Blog editor's eyes roll toward the ceiling as he shakes his head at the condescending insult)
Monique Pappas, an artist from Leicester whose entire family contracted COVID, went to the emergency room at UMass Memorial Medical Center when she felt sick earlier this month and was transferred to the DCU Center. She didn’t mind; she said she was glad to be at a facility that specializes in her illness.
Through the fog of illness, Pappas, 46, binge-watched “America’s Next Top Model” on her iPad. When she felt bored, a nurse brought her a notepad and pens so she could draw. When she had the energy, she left her room and walked to the lounge.
She wasn’t bothered by the lack of walls, even though she could hear the patient next to her playing music. She even enjoyed the food: pasta primavera, roast beef with vegetables, chocolate brownies.
“The medical professionals … have done everything they can to put an actual hospital inside that space,” Pappas said. “If you have to stay away from home, it’s not a bad place.”
So that is what they are really for!
Of course, usually it is the school that is considered their home away from home:
"Reopening schools will help, but won’t end Mass. child mental health crisis, experts say" by Naomi Martin Globe Staff, February 24, 2021
Child health care experts say that a return to full-time in-person learning, which Governor Charlie Baker moved to mandate this week, will help alleviate some of the pressures placed on children’s mental health over the past year but will not be a silver bullet.
In pushing the state Board of Education to force elementary and middle schools to reopen, Baker cited one of the more troubling outcomes of the pandemic on kids — the dramatic increase in mental health problems among students, but experts say the state’s mental health care system for youth has long been overtaxed. The challenges are deep-seated — and will likely persist long after students return to classrooms.
Like they care. If they really cared about the kids, they would out this fraud and would never have taken the bribe money.
More and more the state has appearance of a predator, and that's all.
“Massachusetts had a pediatric mental health crisis long before COVID hit,” said Dr. Elizabeth Pinsky, a pediatric psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
For years, the state has lacked adequate numbers of pediatric therapists, outpatient mental health services, and in-patient psychiatric beds, experts said. Those shortages have led to lengthy wait lists; some children experiencing suicidal thoughts had to wait in hospital rooms without any therapeutic support for days or weeks until a suitable bed opened up in a facility.
COVID then exacerbated those longstanding problems by increasing the number of children needing services, decreasing the capacity of many psych units due to social distancing, and limiting access to school-based health services for children learning remotely.
“This has been going on for several years and now is acutely exacerbated by the pandemic . . . it’s significantly worse,” said Dr. Patricia Ibeziako, associate psychiatry chief at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Baker, echoing the concerns of health experts, specifically cited mental health concerns when he announced Tuesday that the state would move to require elementary and middle schools to fully reopen this spring.
“The harms that we’re seeing are significant,” said Dr. Lloyd Fisher, the Massachusetts chapter president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is a good move to do whatever we can to get as many children as we can back to in-person learning as soon as possible.”
To Ibeziako, reopening schools will likely help students’ emotional states, as they will have more sense of normalcy, routine, and social connections, but she cautions that children will still be reeling from the pandemic’s toll on their families.
“Children will not be returning to school in a vacuum,” Ibeziako said.
It will feel like with the plexiglass separation barriers and masks, along with the never-ending testing regime that could get your kid quarantined by authorities.
Anyone who thinks going back to school is going to be normal is in for a rude surprise. It's going to be dystopian.
The state and federal governments have provided school systems with more than $1.1 billion to cover costs related to the pandemic, including mental health support for students, according to the Baker administration.
While some students have reported benefits of remote school, particularly those who felt unsafe at school due to bullying or racism, depression and anxiety have skyrocketed, and more children are coming in with eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder, pediatricians said.
Many students have struggled with the isolation from friends and teachers at home, as well as too much screen time. Some students have lost family members to COVID, while others have had to juggle jobs with school, or care for younger siblings in cramped apartments.
Experts urge families to ensure their children get daily exercise, maintain connections with friends, and seek mental health services, even if there are significant delays.
They also stress that preliminary Massachusetts data show youth suicides did not significantly rise amid the pandemic. Last year, 23 young people under the age of 19 died by suicide—higher than the year before but lower than in 2016 and 2017.
For many children who already had mental diagnoses, though, the pandemic has caused them to spiral.
Karin Broadhurt’s 9-year-old son is one of dozens of patients “boarding” at hospitals across the state right now who can’t get access to appropriate psychiatric care. For years, her son has struggled with mental health issues and aggression toward himself and others, leading to hospitalizations, but amid COVID, his emotional instability escalated faster when his mother tried to get him to log on to Zoom classes from their Jamaica Plain home. In late January, he needed to be hospitalized. He has been in Boston Children’s Hospital for 31 days, not receiving the counseling and medication assistance he desperately needs, she said.
Why are the kids in hospitals that are exclusively being overrun with alleged COVID patients?
“There is a very serious children’s mental health crisis right now and no one is treating it like the very serious crisis that it is,” Broadhurt said. “My kid has been sitting in a hospital room by himself. He hasn’t been outside, hasn’t been allowed out of his room. It’s like jail, except nicer.”
What a flippant and cavalier attitude regarding the solitary confinement and torture of the child.
Maybe she should talk to the Pelletiers about BCH.
Meanwhile, many children who didn’t suffer from psychiatric disorders pre-COVID are now struggling.
That's the price to be paid for the Great Re$et, and everything will be fine in a couple of years.
Over the course of the school year spent online, Fabienne Eliacin has watched her vibrant, active daughter withdraw and become more isolated. The 13-year-old has lost motivation to do school work or attend her online classes at the Eliot K-8 School. The eighth-grader, according to her mother, only wants to spend her days in bed, watching anime videos, with the lights out.
“She said she wants to live in the anime world; she doesn’t want to be in this world,” said Eliacin.
Sending her daughter to school isn’t an option for Eliacin. She’s lost family members to the pandemic and fears her daughter would catch COVID-19 and bring it home to the rest of the family. She wants local and state officials to take more steps to address the safety and mental health needs of students before ordering schools to reopen. “I want my kid to be in school — just not right now,” yet Hathalee Higgs, of Somerville, feels differently. She says her 10-year-old daughter’s anxiety has been increasing during the pandemic. The child is nervous about going outside. She’s more sensitive to loud noises, and she has become fixated on longstanding fears.
For Higgs, the best way schools can tend to the social and emotional needs of their students is by having them return to their classrooms.
“I know the teachers are working hard and doing the best they can,” she said, “but I would say the schools are pretty maxed out with what they are doing in trying to deliver the remote learning.”
At least the opportunities for sex abuse at school are lower, no?
"Baker administration calls for Mass. elementary students to be in school five days a week in April, with older students to follow" by James Vaznis and Felicia Gans Globe Staff, February 23, 2021
Governor Charlie Baker and top education officials unveiled a proposal on Tuesday to force districts to reopen their schools for in-person learning five days a week, a move that immediately ignited passions across the state and raised questions about local control.
Officials were less clear about whether they would set a timeline for a full return for high schools before the school year ends, characterizing it as a possibility while potentially dashing the hopes of many graduating seniors. Reopening high schools is more complicated because, unlike elementary school, students do not stick with the same group of peers all day and frequently change classes in crowded hallways.
The announcement represents a significant shift for state officials, who have provided districts with reams of guidance on reopening schools but have resisted pleas from exhausted parents, medical experts, and some elected officials to firmly order a full-time return. Those calls have grown as COVID-19 positivity rates have decreased in recent weeks.
Must be because of a new president because that is the only thing that has changed.
Questions have lingered throughout the pandemic about whether state officials have the authority to order schools to reopen, especially in a state like Massachusetts where districts enjoy a high degree of local control that includes calling off school for inclement weather and other emergencies.
Most reopening plans have also been the subject of intense negotiations with local teacher unions, and the unions reacted angrily Tuesday. Some called for vaccinations for teachers before resuming in-person schooling.
Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, accused Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley of trying to wrestle away local control of schools from cities and towns.
“There are places where it is possible to return to in-person learning, but the commissioner’s arrogance to create top-down mandates will not get us there,” she said, noting that the quality of ventilation varies tremendously by school and that the proposal undermines collective bargaining, but Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said many district leaders have been looking for the state to step in.
“We have to make some bold moves here,” Scott said. “We have to take advantage of what we know ... and find ways to bring students back.”
Parents would continue to have the option to keep their children at home full time and learn remotely, while the state would create a waiver process for districts that are unable to comply with a full return to classrooms, Riley said. “We agree with President Biden,” Riley told the board members during their monthly meeting Tuesday morning. “It’s time to get students back to school.”
State officials cited a number of factors they believe are creating the right conditions for a safe return. They noted that COVID-19 positivity rates are declining and that they have stepped up efforts to do surveillance testing of the virus in schools.
Meanwhile, research has shown transmission of the virus in schools has been low.
Najimy and Beth Kontos, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts also questioned the legitimacy of a reopening effort that doesn’t provide for the immediate vaccination of educators in their own communities rather than at mass vaccination sites.
“Amid the Baker administration’s failed vaccine rollout, the state is the one obstacle standing in the way of the plan developed by the teachers and fire fighters unions to vaccinate educators in their local communities,” Kontos said in statement.
Districts also have some logistical obstacles to tackle in order to accommodate a full return, including whether they can accommodate 6 feet of social distancing between students. State rules allow for a minimum of 3 feet, a standard many teachers and some parents find unacceptable.
During the state board of education meeting, member Matt Hills, of Newton, applauded Riley’s proposal and urged him to move aggressively with middle and high school students, too.
“Please get it done well before the end of this [school] year,” he said.
Speaking at an unrelated news conference Tuesday, state Attorney General Maura Healey said getting children back into school is “a matter of equity.”
The new buzzword for whatever is the agenda.
Who could argue with "equity," right?
Maybe if you paid them more:
"Women struggle to break through top pay ranks at UMass Amherst" by Deirdre Fernandes Globe Staff, February 24, 2021
No women were represented among the top 10 earners at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2019, pointing to a formidable pay ceiling at the state’s flagship public campus, according to a new report.
The following year it did only slightly better — adding one woman to the ranks.
UMass Amherst fared worse in achieving gender equity among its top earners than many of the country’s 130 public and private research institutions surveyed in the report released Wednesday by the Eos Foundation, a Massachusetts nonprofit group that focuses on women’s pay and power gaps.
“It’s a glass ceiling of money,” said Andrea Silbert, president of Eos. “Women have great degree attainment. … but they just can’t climb. The institutional barriers are so high, that they just don’t make it to the top.”
No offen$e, but who CARES?
The report, based on publicly available compensation data from 2019, says the UMass Amherst chancellor, a provost, the top fund-raiser, and several business and sciences professors — all men — took home the most money that year (between $349,680 and $637,360 each in total compensation).
After Eos completed its data collection, Massachusetts updated its payroll database for 2020 to reflect that Anne P. Massey, the dean of UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, was among the top paid employees on campus. In her first full year in the position, she earned $454,220.
UMass Amherst officials disputed some of the report’s conclusions and said it failed to accurately portray the university’s efforts to increase female leadership. Universities report compensation differently, even on state payroll databases, across the country and comparing the pay can be be complicated, UMass officials said.
The Eos report found that using the recent publicly available data, UMass Amherst was one of only eight institutions nationwide with no women in its top salary ranks, when athletic department employees and medical faculty were excluded.
“While we applaud the Eos Foundation for exploring the power gap at leading universities, the report, due to its methodology, does not recognize UMass Amherst’s strong commitment to gender equality,” Ed Blaguszewski, a university spokesman, said in a statement.
Many of the top paid employees at UMass Amherst are professors who are supplementing their base salary with additional income from federal research grants or online teaching duties, Blaguszewski said.
Further work needs to be done to ensure that women have more opportunities to increase their pay through grants and other funding sources, he acknowledged, but UMass Amherst has expanded leadership roles on the campus for women, with more than half of the dean and vice chancellor positions being held by women and many of them paid competitively, Blaguszewski said. They aren’t included in the report, however, because they don’t earn additional money from major sponsored research, he added.
According to the Eos survey, other Massachusetts colleges, including Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Brandeis University, and Northeastern University reported about 30 percent of their top paid employees were women, while at Tufts University it was 20 percent and at Boston College 10 percent.
Some institutions, including the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Brown University, have reported that half or more of earners at the very top are women, according to the Eos report.
The Eos Foundation found that across the country’s top research universities, women are represented in greater numbers in a college’s president’s cabinet, but that’s not always where the money is, Silbert said.
Many of the top-paid faculty are in science and technology or business, fields that are rich in research funding and command high salaries but traditionally include fewer women. If institutions want to close the gender pay gap, they have to attack these underlying problems, Silbert said.
Eos also found that women of color are “grossly underrepresented” among the most highly paid employees at top research institutions.
Black, Asian, and Hispanic women make up just 2 percent of the more than 2,000 most highly paid employees that Eos reviewed. White women made up about 22 percent of the top employee tier.
Women of color were “all but invisible,” said Kim Churches, chief executive of the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit that advised Eos on the report.
Even though Black and Latino men are under-represented among top university earners, there are still significantly more of them than women from those groups, despite the fact that women are twice as likely to earn doctoral degrees.
In these situations, women are securing the degrees needed to advance in an academic workplace, but they are not getting promoted and moving up the pay ladder the way men are, Churches said.
The pandemic, which has put more caregiving responsibilities on women and forced many of them to reduce hours or leave the workforce, is likely to make the gender pay gap even wider, Churches said.
Universities need to do more frequent pay audits to ensure that gender equity remains a priority, Churches said.
Several institutions surveyed by Eos, for example, declined to provide percentages of top earners by race, citing privacy issues.
“Every college says it values diversity and inclusion, but it has to move beyond hashtags and requires bold action,” Churches said. “We give higher education a hall pass because they’re doing great mission-backed work. ... When you follow the money we don’t see where their values are being put into practice.”
"At leading research hospitals in the United States, administrators and young graduate students have been inoculated with some of the earliest supplies of coronavirus vaccines, in a contradiction of federal and state guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations intended to ensure that the nation’s vaccines first reach those at highest risk: health care workers who interact with Covid-19 patients, and residents and staff members at nursing homes, followed by people 75 and older and certain essential workers. Each state has established its own version of the guidelines, but with the rollout proceeding at a glacial pace, pressure has been growing for a more flexible approach. Officials at the C.D.C. and the Food and Drug Administration have recently suggested that it might be wiser to simply loosen the criteria and distribute the vaccine as widely as possible, but a handful of the nation’s most prestigious academic hospitals have already taken the notion much further. A 20-something who works on computers. A young researcher who studies cancer. Technicians in basic research labs. These are some of the thousands of people who have been immunized against the coronavirus at hospitals affiliated with Columbia University, New York University, Harvard and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, even as millions of frontline workers and older Americans are waiting their turns. Some of the institutions were among the first recipients of the limited supplies in the United States. The C.D.C. never intended to include workers who don’t interact with patients, like administrators and graduate students, in the first tier of priority vaccinations, said Dr. Stanley Perlman, an immunologist at the University of Iowa and a member of the committee that issued the recommendations."
Well, they did say to vaccinate the youngest first because it will maximize efficiency and minimize the spread of COVID-19, and it's all on the honor code because the moral compass of most people — even powerful people accustomed to certain advantages — will point in the right direction when it comes to an immediate vaccination plan as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb and you are caught like mice in a trap.
I couldn't see her smiling under the ma$k as their school plan enters its ‘senior study’ phase for state funding after a fatal police shooting of a man who attacked them with knife after smoking some marijuana.
The motivation was the munchies and he wanted to eat out. Was going to order the early bird special from the menu; however, he didn't have the money to pay for it and had to eat with the windows and doors open and the fans on, and masked except when actively putting food in our mouths like a woman or child -- so the cops taught him a lesson.
At least there is summer camp to look forward to (and scar you for life):
"Parents, rejoice: Mass. summer camps can open this year, but operators say they need more details about capacity levels and safety guidelines" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff, February 25, 2021
Massachusetts camp operators, parents, and children hoping for a fresh-air respite this summer got a long-awaited bit of good news on Thursday, as Governor Charlie Baker announced that both overnight and day camp programs will be allowed to open this year.
The news, part of a broader reopening plan laid out by the administration, follows a year of uncertainty for camps across the state. Overnight programs were not allowed to operate in 2020, and many day programs were significantly curtailed to comply with regulations put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, with signs that the crisis is easing, and a year of industry experience operating elsewhere under increased public health restrictions, camp operators welcomed Baker’s announcement.
“Confidence has now been bolstered for resident camps to be able to effectively register their families, to plan for summer operations, to make the decisions necessary and the investments necessary to reopen their doors for the summer,” said Matt Scholl of the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA camps, and president of the Massachusetts Camping Association.
Camp operators and families had been growing increasingly impatient as the season drew nearer without a clear answer on what kinds of programs would be able to operate.
Scholl said the information released Thursday helps with planning, but camps still need more details about what the state public health protocols will be — and soon.
Such decisions will determine how many campers each program can accept, what supplies and equipment camps need to gather for safety, and how many staffers they will require.
The state public health department did not immediately respond to a request for information about the regulations.
State Senator Adam G. Hinds, a Pittsfield Democrat whose district includes many of the state’s camps, said operators have told him that they ideally would like to know what will be required of them by the beginning of March, which is Monday.
The registration season for summer programs would normally be well underway. Overnight camps, in particular, are concerned about permanently losing families to camps in nearby states that were allowed to open last year.
“Camps have always said that once they have the green light to go ahead, and clear guidance on what is required to achieve that green light, then they will be able to meet that,” Hinds said. “The important step is having that clarity, and having that on-ramp, so that when people are making decisions about the summer — which is now — they are able to understand where they can send their children.”
Parents are cheering for now they are free to go on vacation without the little shit(s).