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Nova Scotia long-term care homes need more staff, panel concludes

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Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, January 15, 2019 2:48PM EST

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is facing a call from an expert panel to move swiftly to improve staffing at long-term care facilities to address “overstressed” homes that aren’t capable of meeting residents’ needs.

“Staff are in need of immediate support,” says the panel’s first recommendation, as its report called on the province to hire long-term care assistants to help full-time staff.

“We recommend these temporary workers be hired as soon as possible.”

Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey appointed the panel in September in the wake of media reports that raised questions about the quality of care in the facilities, including severe bedsores.

His move came after the death of a 40-year-old woman with an infected bedsore, followed by confirmations in June there were more than 150 nursing-home residents suffering from serious bedsores.

Panel chairwoman Janice Keefe said during a news conference on Tuesday she was comfortable using the word “crisis” to describe the state of the province’s beleaguered system for caring for some of the most vulnerable citizens.

The report calls on the province to finish putting in place a set of reforms designed to reduce the number of bedsores, including having experts available for each home.

But Keefe and co-panellists Cheryl Smith, a long-term care nurse, and Dr. Greg Archibald, head of the Department of Family Medicine at Dalhousie University, pointed to deeper, underlying shortcomings in the system.

After speaking to over 375 people in the system, the authors of the report concluded: “We heard over and over from residents and their families that staff do not have the time to provide appropriate care because they are ‘working short.”‘

“Shortages increase staff responsibilities, with more residents to provide care for, resulting in overstressed staff, high rates of injury and sickness, and many unfilled vacancies across the system,” says the report.

The panel’s recommendations call for at least one licensed practical nurse per residential care facility and expanded access to specialists like physiotherapists or recreation directors that would be shared among facilities.

The report also recommends a return of the bursary program supporting the training of continued care workers in community colleges, a program that wasn’t renewed after the Liberals took power in 2013.

However, Keefe said one of the gravest issues is that the committee found it couldn’t even access basic figures, such as the precise nature of various complicated and chronic illnesses of residents.

Without this information, Keefe said setting precise goals for the hours of care per resident or number of fresh workers and beds is premature.

It’s also unclear how many job vacancies there are in the system.

The province says it’s only two-thirds of the way through a “vacancy survey” to determine how many jobs are open, though Keefe said during a news conference it is in “the hundreds.”

The lack of precise figures and goals in the report drew criticisms from Gary MacLeod, the chairman of Advocates for the Care of the Elderly, and the province’s nurses union.

“The Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union is extremely disappointed … the report does not recommend a minimum staffing level for long-term care homes, something that was requested in the panel’s terms of reference,” the union said in a news release.

MacLeod described the panel’s work as a repetition of known ills, and he added that it has failed to set clear goals for improved numbers of hours of care per resident for the province’s 6,900 nursing home beds and 900 residential care beds.

MacLeod said he’s had four relatives, including his mother, pass through the system over the past 12 years and has witnessed it repeatedly fail to give sufficient care to his loved ones.

“My own mother experienced bedsores and it wasn’t because she was bedridden … it was because she wasn’t being bathed properly,” he said.

Keefe responded that the work of the panel is a “first step,” and called on the province to create an arms-length committee to monitor progress on its wide-ranging recommendations.

Delorey said in a news release his government accepts the “intent” of the recommendations and will “work toward” their implementation.

The release notes the Liberals are looking at ways to increase the number of staff, access to occupational therapists and physiotherapists, and methods of increasing access to nurses.

However, the opposition says the study may simply be giving the province cover to take its time on improving funding.

Gary Burrill, the leader of the NDP, said while the report makes clear more people and care are needed, it should have called for legislated numbers of hour per care.

Barbara Adams, the Tory critic for long-term care, said years of cuts have created the problems and the expert panel’s mandate was too limited to reverse the issues.

“The government can provide a few more workers and say, ‘We’re done,”‘ said Adams, a physiotherapist who has visited many of the province’s nursing homes.

Unions say a key underlying problem is a wage freeze, which has made it increasingly difficult to attract and retain people in continuing care work.

Nan McFadgen, the president of CUPE Nova Scotia, said many workers at the 47 nursing homes her union represents are barely making a living wage. Starting wages of continuing care workers are just over $16.38 per hour, rising to $17.68 after four years.

The report also calls for specialized teams to deal with residents who are having aggressive outbursts. In August 2017, coroner’s reports requested by The Canadian Press revealed 11 unreported deaths of Nova Scotia nursing home residents injured when they were pushed down by residents with dementia.

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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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