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Red Deer surgeons call on province to lift cap on joint replacements

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Doctors in Red Deer say their patients face unnecessarily long waits and are suffering needlessly because of a cap on funding for hip and knee replacements.

“Patients are so frustrated and dismayed by wait times here in central [Alberta],” said Red Deer orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Wolstenholme, whose patients wait an average of two years from the time they are referred to the time they get their joint replacements.

“That’s just too long.”

According to Wolstenholme, the long wait list is driven, in large part, by a limit on the number of joint replacements that are  publicly funded in the province of Alberta. There is no cap on other orthopedic surgeries.

“It’s not fair and its not equal access to care,” he said. “What we end up having is essentially discrimination based on diagnoses. So patients with hip and knee arthritis have a longer wait list than patients with other orthopedic complaints.”

That disadvantage is aggravated, he says, by an uneven distribution of dollars, with Red Deer getting less per capita funding for these procedures than Calgary and Edmonton.

Dr. Keith Wolstenholme says patients waiting for hip and knee replacements wait much longer than those needing other orthopedic surgeries because of the funding cap. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

According to the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute, during the 2017-2018 year, 678 non-emergency hip and knee replacements were performed at Red Deer Regional Hospital, which serves roughly half a million central Albertans. Calgary hospitals performed 3,821 and Edmonton hospitals completed 3,582.

Cap based on ‘need and capacity’

In a response emailed to CBC News, an Alberta Health spokesperson said 194 additional hip and knee surgeries for south and central Alberta were funded through the 2018 provincial budget. The spokesperson did not say how many of those went to Red Deer.

While the larger pool of funding comes from the provincial health department, the number of joint replacements each zone is allowed to perform annually is set out by Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“Volumes are based on need and capacity,” said the Alberta Health spokesperson in the emailed statement.

“Capacity is determined by available resources, including staffing, OR [operating room] space and equipment. AHS prioritizes surgeries provincially based on need, ensuring the ability to address and decrease wait times for all procedures including hips and knees.”

That explanation doesn’t sit well with those on the front lines.

“We don’t understand why the cap is there,” said Dr. Bryce Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon in Red Deer who regularly sees patients struggling with severe pain as they wait.

“People who have paid taxes their entire lives no longer seem to have coverage for the health services that they’ve already paid for,” he said. “They’re angry. They’re frustrated.”

Out of desperation, Henderson says, patients often go to Calgary or Edmonton, where they can get the surgery more quickly.

Or they go out of province — even out of the country — in search of relief.

Dr. Bryce Henderson, a Red Deer orthopedic surgeon, says he’s had patients go as far away as Mexico to get their hip or knee replacements because the waits in Red Deer are so long. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

‘I was done. I was finished’

Bradley McEwen knows what it’s like to wait for months on end: unable to work and housebound. Intense pain left the Red Deer man struggling both physically and mentally.

“[It] was to the point where I couldn’t get up the stairs. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t lay. I couldn’t do anything. I was done, I was finished,” he said.

McEwen gave up waiting for his hip replacement when a family member offered to pay roughly $20,000 so he could have his surgery done at a private clinic in Laval, Que.

“And I walked away — no pain. As soon as they do the surgery, the pain stops.”

Bradley McEwen says he was unable to sleep, work or walk up and down stairs prior to getting his hip replaced at a private clinic in Quebec. The pain was so intense it was impacting his mental health. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Five months later, McEwen can now shovel his walk and navigate stairs with no trouble. And he’s adamant other patients shouldn’t be forced to wait.

“There shouldn’t be a cap. I mean, people are walking around in pain, critical pain, and they’ve paid their taxes for years now — and there’s a cap? ‘Oh no, you can’t have yours done now because we’ve done too many this year?'”

Calls for change

To put an end to the frustration, the Red Deer surgeons are calling on health officials to immediately increase the number of joint replacements funded in central Alberta.

“Pain, suffering and illness shouldn’t be worth any more or any less in Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Calgary or Medicine Hat. It should all be the same,” said Henderson.

According Wolstenholme, doctors could perform up to 200 more joint replacements a year in Red Deer — at no extra cost — with the operating rooms, beds and staff already in place.

Those operating rooms are not sitting idle just because Red Deer has hit its quota for hip and knee replacements. The doctors say — because other surgeries are not capped — patients with different orthopedic problems are getting earlier access to OR time than they would otherwise get.

“All we’re asking as surgeons is the ability to control our own wait lists,” said Wolstenholme. 

“We should be able to prioritize our patients. We should be able to at least offer them equal access. But right now we can’t. We know that the patients that need hip and knee replacements have to wait longer because of the cap.”

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Herbal remedies: Saw palmetto for hair loss prevention

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(Natural News) Saw palmetto is a small, shrub-like palm endemic to the United States. Known for its medicinal properties, saw palmetto has been used for centuries to treat reproductive issues and hormonal imbalance.

Today, saw palmetto is used as an ingredient in many hair growth products and supplements, as it is thought to prevent hair loss. This could be due to saw palmetto’s influence on the hormones that dictate hair growth.

Saw palmetto for hair loss

There is evidence to suggest that saw palmetto can help treat hair loss and prevent its occurrence. According to a 2012 study, saw palmetto could inhibit 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). 5-AR converts testosterone, a male sex hormone, into a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Research shows that high levels of DHT can shrink hair follicles and result in hair loss. DHT also makes it harder for hair follicles to grow new hair once the old hairs fall out. By inhibiting 5-AR, saw palmetto blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

In another 2012 study, researchers evaluated the effects of saw palmetto supplementation in men with mild or moderate androgenetic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness. One group received 320 milligrams (mg) of saw palmetto every day for two years, while another group took one mg of finasteride, a conventional drug used to treat hair loss.

The results showed that 38 percent of participants who supplemented with saw palmetto experienced improvements in hair growth, compared to 68 percent of those who supplemented with finasteride.

While the experiment showed that finasteride was more effective, the researchers noted that saw palmetto may be less likely to work in people with more severe cases of hair loss. More research is needed to confirm this.

Saw palmetto is available in several forms, including oral supplements and hair care products like conditioners and shampoos.

Due to limited research on the use of saw palmetto for hair loss, there is no official recommended dosage for it. That said, a study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery cited a recommended dosage of 160 mg twice daily for saw palmetto tablets. Researchers often use this dosage when studying with saw palmetto.

Take note that saw palmetto has been reported to sometimes cause mild side effects, such as headaches and stomachaches. If in doubt about using saw palmetto, consult a natural health practitioner.

Other natural remedies for hair loss

Hair growth depends on several factors, including a person’s genetic makeup. Still, some home remedies might help prevent hair loss and/or encourage hair growth. These remedies include:

  • Jojoba oil – Jojoba oil helps nourish hair follicles without leaving any residue behind. It also stimulates hair cells to grow faster.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe vera helps get rid of sebum buildup in the scalp. Sebum is a natural oil that helps keep the scalp moisturized. It can build up on the scalp and clog hair follicles due to poor hair hygiene.
  • Garlic – The pungent compounds in garlic help increase blood circulation in the scalp, which stimulates hair growth. These compounds also stimulate the synthesis of collagen, a protein that gives structure to hair.
  • Onion – Like garlic, onions boost blood flow in the scalp for better hair growth.
  • Licorice root – Licorice root helps relieve dry and irritated scalp. It also strengthens weak follicles.
  • Rosemary oil – Rosemary oil has antiseptic properties. It is ideal for treating scalp issues that slow hair growth, such as dandruff and bacterial infections.
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk helps moisturize a dry scalp, which is a leading cause of hair loss.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works as a clarifying agent, ridding the scalp of extra sebum and other residues that can clog hair follicles and inhibit hair growth.

Some hair loss is natural. But for mild to moderate cases of hair loss, it might help to use herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto, to strengthen hair or encourage hair growth.

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Scientist that condemned coronavirus lab leak theory admits he squashed it to protect Chinese scientists

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(Natural News) An American scientist who criticized theories that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) might have accidentally escaped or leaked from a Chinese laboratory has admitted that he was denouncing the idea in order to protect Chinese scientists.

Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nongovernmental organization that conducts scientific and policy research regarding emerging diseases, led an endeavor in February 2020 to quash any kind of suspicion that COVID-19 might have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research and academic institution supported by the Chinese state.

This culminated in a statement published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet that condemned the “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 doesn’t have a natural origin.”

The Lancet article was written during the very early stages of the global pandemic, during a time when there wasn’t any kind of rigorous research on the origins of the virus.

Daszak further reiterated his support for China in a statement released on Feb. 6, stating that he stands with other scientists to “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that 2019-nCoV does not have a natural origin. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this virus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging diseases.”

In June, Daszak also wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian titled: “Ignore the conspiracy theories: scientists know COVID-19 wasn’t created in a lab.”

But on Friday, Jan. 15, Daszak’s spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that his statement, which has been used to silence anybody with a dissenting opinion regarding the origins of the coronavirus, was published to protect Chinese scientists from criticism.

The Lancet letter was written during a time in which Chinese scientists were receiving death threats and the letter was intended as a showing of support for them as they were caught between important work trying to stop an outbreak and the crush of online harassment.”

WHO team heads to Wuhan to probe virus origin

The situation surrounding Daszak’s initial statements and his sudden retraction are being compounded by the fact that the doctor is part of an international 15-member team of experts sent by the World Health Organization (WHO)to Wuhan to figure out the origins of the coronavirus.

According to the WHO, the team’s official mission is to determine how, where and when the virus crossed from animals to humans.

Daszak has been tweeting about the mandatory quarantine period he and his team are going through. During day four of quarantine, he said that the day, like the previous days, is “packed” with virtual meetings.

Day 6 of quarantine lockdown in Wuhan & it’s that special time for our friendly health care workers to swab for our PCR tests – they go deep, but they’re very cheerful about it. Xie xie! pic.twitter.com/QvKzgC0Lng

— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) January 20, 2021

Peter Ben Embarek, team leader and WHO food safety and animal diseases expert, said that the team will be granted permission “to move around and meet our Chinese counterparts in person and go to the different sites that we want to visit,” once they’re done with the mandatory quarantine period.

It is unclear whether the WHO team will be looking into the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the theory that the coronavirus was engineered. Embarek has stated his desire to visit the “famous Wuhan market” to try and determine “everything that went in and out” of there in the weeks before the first confirmed cases.

Embarek is referring to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where many wild animals were often sold. This place is being investigated as a likely setting for the supposed “animal-to-human jump” of the coronavirus, or a place where that jump was accelerated.

“We know the virus originated in bats at some point, and then we know that human cases appeared in Wuhan in December 2019,” said Embarek. “But what happened in between, how many other animal species were involved in between, and where, remain to be found in more detail.”

“We don’t really know what happened in that period of time, and that’s what we are looking out for.”

Questions will remain regarding the role of the institute in the initial outbreak; questions that will continue to linger if WHO team does not conduct its investigation.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even said that the government has reason to believe that several researchers working for the institute “became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

Pompeo said that this calls into question the claims made by Shi Zhengli, the institute’s senior researcher on bat-related viruses, that there had been “zero [COVID-19 or SARS-related] infection” among the institute’s student body and staff.

Pompeo noted that the possibility of an “accidental infection” in a lab is more likely than people might think, especially considering that such an incident has already occurred in China. In 2004, a SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people and killed one originated in a research facility.

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California healthcare workers suffer severe allergic reactions following coronavirus vaccination

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(Natural News) Six healthcare workers suffered allergic reactions after getting a shot of Moderna coronavirus vaccine in San Diego, California. Their symptoms were considered severe and required medical attention.

The doses administered to the six healthcare workers were part of the Moderna Lot 041L20A distributed to 287 providers across the state earlier this month. That batch of shipment, which arrived in California between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, is composed of 330,000 shots.

Moderna said in a statement that it is cooperating with California’s health department to investigate the allergic reactions.

“Moderna acknowledges receiving a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that a number of individuals at one vaccination center were treated for possible allergic reactions after vaccination from one lot of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine,” the statement read. “The company is fully cooperating with CDPH in investigating these reported adverse events.”

Dr. Erica Pan, California’s state epidemiologist, said Sunday, Jan. 17, that providers should err on the side of caution and stop using the doses until federal, state and company officials finish an investigation.

“Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Moderna and the state is complete,” she said.

Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz have already paused distribution while two Covid-19 vaccine clinics have been canceled in Stanislaus County following the allergic reaction reports.

The delay was a huge blow to California’s vaccine distribution efforts. California currently has the second highest number of coronavirus cases per capita in the United States, with Los Angeles being a particular hotspot.

All cases of apparent allergic reactions occurred at San Diego County’s drive-through mass vaccination site at Petco Park. No other providers have reported allergic reactions to vaccines administered from the same batch of doses.

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