Eventful Reading for Saturday Evening and Sunday Morning

An iconic American wilderness turns 150, National Geographic

A “paradox of the cultivated wild.” That’s how National Geographic Explorer David Quammen  characterized Yellowstone National Park in a celebrated edition of  National Geographic. In that issue, an epic ecosystem – it’s the biggest complex of mostly untamed landscape and wildlife within the lower 48 states – received epic treatment.

On February 25th, Yellowstone National Park turned 150 years since its founding in 1872. The event also marking the birth of the U.S. National Park System. (Images of sites like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, pictured at top, helped inspire Congress to create the park.) This vast panorama – spread across some 3,472 square miles, mostly in Wyoming, and with portions in Montana and Idaho – is still replete with wild sights. It remains wildly popular among travelers receiving 4.9 million visitors in 2021.

Healthcare News

Flight Attendants Union Wants Face Mask Rule Extended (medscape.com)

A union representing flight attendants is calling on the Biden administration to extend a rule requiring passengers to wear face masks on planes.

Letting the mask requirement expire on March 18 would put some passengers in danger, such as the children under 5 who haven’t been vaccinated, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a statement to Bloomberg. The union represents about 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines.

Increase in Maternal Mortality During COVID Underscores Need for Policy Changes – Center For Children and Families (georgetown.edu)

In 2020, there were 861 women who died during pregnancy or within 42 days after the end of pregnancy, compared with 754 women who died from maternal health causes in 2019. The maternal mortality rate for 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births compared with a rate of 20.1 in 2019. (see table below)

17 ‘overpaid’ healthcare CEOs (beckershospitalreview.com)

For its report, As You Sow evaluated CEO pay at S&P 500 companies. The nonprofit used data to compute what CEO pay would be assuming such pay is related to cumulative shareholder return. In its methodology, a ranking of companies by excess CEO pay and by shareholder votes on CEO pay are each weighted at 40 percent. The final ranking based on CEO-to-worker pay ratio is weighted at 20 percent. 

ER wait times, by state (beckershospitalreview.com)

“Maryland has the longest hospital waiting time, North Dakota has the shortest.”

Sanofi, GSK to Seek Approval for COVID Vaccine Candidate (medscape.com)

Sanofi-GSK’s shot relies on a conventional recombinant protein-subunit approach, compared with the newer mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Medicare Owes Retirees a Refund, Says Powerful Senior Group (msn.com)

the cost of Aduhelm has now been cut in half, and patients can be treated for just $28,200.

COVID-19 Racial Disparities Widen With Omicron (medscape.com)

(Reuters) – New data illustrate the jumps in U.S. coronavirus infection rates caused by the Omicron variant and the heavier toll it has taken on minorities in the latest example of racial disparity in the pandemic.

Overall, for every 2,000 people in the United States, roughly one per day caught a first-time infection when the Delta variant was dominant, compared to about 8 to 10 per day in January after Omicron took over, researchers found.

Hostility Against Hospitals Raged During COVID; Long COVID Patients Lack Safety Net | MedPage Today

As hospitals continue to treat COVID-19 patients, they are also experiencing hostility that has “flourished during the pandemic, encouraged by misinformation campaigns, anti-vaccine activists, and conspiracy theorists,” the Washington Post reported.

Such was the case at Valley Regional Hospital, a small community hospital in Claremont, New Hampshire. One day in December, callers began overwhelming the hospital, demanding it treat a COVID patient in its care with the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, the Post reported. The calls and emails spiraled out of control, even threatening a “military extraction” of the patient from the hospital. And then came the bomb threat.

Simone Gold Reaches Plea Deal on Capitol Insurrection Charge | MedPage Today

At one point during the 17-minute hearing as the judge asked “Ms. Gold” if she had used any alcohol or drugs in the last 48 hours that would impair her ability to understand the proceedings, Gold interrupted the judge, saying, “Your honor, I don’t mean to — I never go by Miss Gold. I always go by Dr. Gold, if that’s okay with you.”

“Okay,” the judge replied. “Dr. Gold.”

(AB) Usually, you are quiet while waiting for your sentence. Privileged . . .

892 hospitals at risk of closure, state by state (beckershospitalreview .com)

More than 500 rural hospitals in the U.S. are at immediate risk of closing because of financial losses and lack of financial reserves to sustain operations, according to a report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. 

Nearly every state has at least one rural hospital at immediate risk of shutting down. In 21 states, 25 percent or more of rural hospitals were at immediate risk, according to the report. 

Why don’t physicians have more power in healthcare? (beckersasc.com)

Their opinions carry less weight on Capitol Hill than in the operating room.

Health policy is shaped by legislators and influenced by lobbyists representing drug companies, medtech, insurers, hospitals and more. In the first half of 2021, healthcare organizations spent $331 million on lobbying, led by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing of America. The top five spenders were:

  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $15.2 million
  • American Hospital Association: $12.1 million
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: $12 million
  • American Medical Association: $10.9 million
  • Pfizer: $6.6 million

Cleveland Clinic’s operating income more than triples in 2021 (beckers hospitalreview.com)

Cleveland Clinic posted an operating income of $746.3 million in 2021, more than triple the $232.4 million recorded in 2020, according to its recently released financial results.

The 19-hospital system also reported a 66.7 percent increase in net income for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2021, from $1.3 billion in 2020 to $2.2 billion in 2021.

Hostility Against Hospitals Raged During COVID; Long COVID Patients Lack Safety Net | MedPage Today

As hospitals continue to treat COVID-19 patients, they are also experiencing hostility that has “flourished during the pandemic, encouraged by misinformation campaigns, anti-vaccine activists, and conspiracy theorists,” the Washington Post reported.

US to Extend Airplane, Transit Mask Mandate Through April 18 (medscape.com)

President Joe Biden’s administration will extend requirements for travelers to wear masks on airplanes, trains and in transit hubs through April 18 as public health authorities review when mask requirements should be dropped, the White House confirmed.