“Narrative medicine programs teach doctors and other caregivers ‘sensitive interviewing skills’ and the art of ‘radical listening’ to improve patient care.”
“Waclawa ‘Joanne’ Zak, who now lives in Oxford, Wis., fought in the Polish resistance during World War II. As a teenager, she served as a scout, assessing German troop strength and positions. Later in the war she trained as a nurse and was liberated from a German P.O.W. camp. She told her story as part of the ‘My Life, My Story’ program at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis.” Credit…Andy Manis for The New York Times
by Richard Schiffman
“The pandemic has been a time of painful social isolation for many. Few places can be as isolating as hospitals, where patients are surrounded by strangers, subject to invasive tests and attached to an assortment of beeping and gurgling machines.
“How can the experience of receiving medical care be made more welcoming? Some say that a sympathetic ear can go a long way in helping patients undergoing the stress of a hospital stay to heal.
“’It is even more important now, when we can’t always see patients’ faces or touch them, to really hear their stories,’ said Dr. Antoinette Rose, an urgent care physician in Mountain View, Calif., who is now working with many patients ill with Covid.
“’This pandemic has forced many caregivers to embrace the human stories that are playing out. They have no choice. They become the “family” at the bedside,’ said Dr. Andre Lijoi, a medical director at York Hospital in Pennsylvania. Doctors, nurses and others assisting in the care of patients ‘need time to slow down, to take a breath, to listen.’
“Both doctors find their inspiration in narrative medicine, a discipline that guides medical practitioners in the art of deeply listening to those who come to them for help.”
Click here to continue reading this article at The New York Times.
“My Life, My Story: Advancing the Veteran Experience” – Veterans Affairs
“Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, walks on country road to attend to her patient near Iltsi village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)“
by Mstyslav Chernov and Yuras Karmanau
“VERKHOVYNA, Ukraine (AP) — Riding a horse-drawn cart, Dr. Viktoria Mahnych trots along country roads to attend to her patients in several villages nestled in the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine.
“The country of 42 million has recorded more than 1.1 million confirmed COVID-19 infections and nearly 20,000 deaths. Mahnych, 30, now fears that the long holidays, during which Ukrainians frequented restaurants and other entertainment venues, attended festive parties and crowded church services, will trigger a surge in new coronavirus infections and make her job even more difficult.
“Starting Friday, Ukraine imposed a broad lockdown aimed at containing a surge in infections, but many medical workers say that the move came too late.
“The streets of Ukrainian cities swarmed with festive crowds during the holidays and thousands flocked to churches to attend Christmas services Thursday in the mostly Orthodox country without worrying about social distancing or wearing masks.”
From top to bottom: “A medical worker talks with coronavirus patients in a hospital organized in the medical college in Lviv, Western Ukraine, on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. A medical worker treats Mykhailo Kaldarar, patient with COVID-19 as his wife Oleksandra Kaldarar, left, looks at him in a hospital in Rudky, Western Ukraine, on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)”
“LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — A medical college in western Ukraine has been transformed into a temporary hospital as the coronavirus inundates the Eastern European country.
“The foyer of the college in the city of Lviv holds 50 beds for COVID-19 patients, and 300 more are placed in lecture halls and auditoriums to accommodate the overflow of people seeking care at a packed emergency hospital nearby.
“The head of the hospital’s therapy division, Marta Sayko, said the college space has doubled treatment capacity. She hopes a broad lockdown ordered Friday will reduce the burden on the Ukrainian health care system.
“’Considering that now the number of cases is growing, more patients arrive in a grave condition with signs of respiratory failure,’ Sayko said.”
Most Americans plans to use telehealth after the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll. While most respondents were comfortable using virtual visits, they were also keen on keeping in-person visits with their doctor.
by Elise Reuter
“As many people sought out virtual visits for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic, most plan to continue to use them in the future. Roughly 65% of people plan to continue to use telehealth after the pandemic ends, according to a survey recently conducted by The Harris Poll.
“In general, people over age 65 were more likely to favor in-person visits over telehealth, according to the survey of 2028 adults conducted between December 18 and 20.
“Early in the pandemic, telehealth visits soared as in-person visits were restricted to conserve resources. But many returned to in-person care over the summer, though telehealth use was still up significantly from before the pandemic.
“Roughly 83% of all survey respondents said they had ever used telehealth. The majority across all age groups said they were comfortable with virtual visits, especially those that had already used telehealth. But a majority of respondents also indicated that they still wanted to keep in-person appointments with their primary care physician.
“If given the option between a telehealth visit or an in-person visit, relatively few respondents (15%) said they would opt for telehealth services alone.”
(KHN Illustration/Getty Images)
by Michelle Andrews
“Looking back, Sam Bloechl knows that when the health insurance broker who was helping him find a plan asked whether he’d ever been diagnosed with a major illness, that should have been a red flag. Preexisting medical conditions don’t matter when you buy a comprehensive individual plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. Insurers can’t turn people down or charge them more based on their medical history.
“But Bloechl, now 31, didn’t know much about health insurance. So when the broker told him a UnitedHealthcare Golden Rule plan would cover him for a year for less than his marketplace plan — “Unless you like throwing money away, this is the plan you should buy,” he recalls the agent saying — he signed up.
“That was December 2016. A month later Bloechl was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after an MRI showed tumors on his spine.
“To Bloechl’s dismay, he soon learned that none of the expensive care he needed would be covered by his health plan. Instead of a comprehensive plan that complied with the ACA, he had purchased a bundle of four short-term plans with three-month terms that provided only limited benefits and didn’t cover preexisting conditions.”
Read this article in its entirety at Kaiser Health Network, click here.
“How patients with certain conditions get care in the comfort of their home.”
by Ken Terry
“Herbert Prahl, a 73-year-old retired Lutheran pastor, was recently admitted to the Mayo Clinic hospital in Eau Claire, Wisc., for an infection of his vertebral spine. He underwent surgery so his doctors could take bone samples and determine what kind of bacteria were causing the infection. Afterwards, he was placed on powerful IV antibiotics.
“Once Prahl was stabilized, he normally would have been transferred to a rehabilitation facility to continue receiving the antibiotics. But his doctors were making this decision on a Thursday, and there was no possibility of Prahl being placed in one over the weekend. So he was facing four additional nights in the hospital, followed by a transfer to an institution that was 40 miles from his home.
“Then Prahl’s nurses told him about an alternative: The Mayo Clinic was conducting a pilot of a new acute-care model, in which he could receive hospital-level treatment at home. Was he interested in going home to his wife right away? He was.”
“The more scientists learn about how we age, the more likely they are to recalibrate the clock. But that poses another question: Should they?”
Illustration by Liana Farmer
by Liz Stinson
“Humans are born with an expiration date. From the moment of conception, we’re assigned a shared fate — that someday, in some way, we all die. It used to come earlier. In ancient Roman times, people could expect to live 30 to 35 years. By the mid-20th century, life expectancy in the United States had risen to 65 for men and 71 for women. Today, the average American life span hovers around 78 years, though that’s far from the bounds of what is possible.
“Scientists believe that the capacity of the human body currently reaches its limits at around 115 years old. But most people fall short of that due to the ailments and vulnerabilities that accompany old age, a fact that has been tragically underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what if it was possible to reach that outer edge? Just think about that delta for a second: 80 versus 115. “That leaves 35 years to realize,” says Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and author of Age Later (St. Martin’s Press). Barzilai is part of a growing cadre of scientists studying longevity — why we age, how our bodies break down, how it affects our well-being and quality of life, and what we can do to slow the process. These scientists believe in a future where interventions will forestall our physiological wear and tear, effectively making us better resistant to age-related diseases and, yes, maybe even pandemics.
“Extending life span is rooted deep in the human psyche.” Keep reading this article at Allure, click here.
by Robert King
“The first half of this year had 43% of working-age adults without stable insurance, an issue compounded by not just the COVID-19 downturn but by lingering problems with health plan affordability, a new survey finds.
“The survey, published Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund, looks at reasons for instability in health insurance coverage, which has been thrown into disarray due to major job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“’Even before the pandemic, people were struggling with inadequate health coverage and mounting medical debt,’ said David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, in a statement. ‘It has never been more important to ensure that all U.S. residents have affordable, comprehensive coverage to survive this pandemic and beyond.'”
Read this article in its entirety at Fierce Healthcare.
“Your health care costs can still add up even after you enroll in Medicare, but smart strategies can help you minimize these expenses.”
“Becoming a smart health care shopper can help you save on medical expenses.” (GETTY IMAGES)
by Kimberly Langford
“YOU MAY THINK THAT YOU don’t need to worry about health care costs after you turn 65 and are eligible for Medicare. But you still have to pay some premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, and the numbers can add up over time: A recent study by Fidelity found that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2020 will pay an average of $295,000 in health care costs over their lifetime, a 3.5% increase over the 2019 figures. That number includes Medicare premiums, deductibles and copayments, or coverage to fill in the gaps.
“The following steps can help you prepare for these expenses in retirement and minimize your health care costs:
Click here to continue reading this article at US News & World Report.
by Judith Graham
“For months, Patricia Merryweather-Arges, a health care expert, has fielded questions about the coronavirus pandemic from fellow Rotary Club members in the Midwest.
“Recently people have wondered ‘Is it safe for me to go see my doctor? Should I keep that appointment with my dentist? What about that knee replacement I put on hold: Should I go ahead with that?’
“These are pressing concerns as hospitals, outpatient clinics and physicians’ practices have started providing elective medical procedures — services that had been suspended for several months.
“Late last month, KFF reported that 48% of adults had skipped or postponed medical care because of the pandemic. Physicians are deeply concerned about the consequences, especially for people with serious illnesses or chronic medical conditions.”