Olympics in a Pandemic

Olympic athletes and world competitors seek to take their talents to the highest stage and become a part of history. The pandemic that is ending has altered many lives. As the world heals, less than 10% of the globe is fully vaccinated.  Should we move forward with the Olympics next month?

The decision is not ours to make. It is up to the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and the athletes who are participating. Let us not forget the Japanese people who have financed, worked on, and promoted the games as well as the coaches and managers who have worked tirelessly to get the athletes up to par. It is an extremely hard decision, one with severe consequences – both good and bad. We are mistaken if we make generalities about other countries, communities, and people.

The distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine on a worldwide scale has not been a simple process. It takes time and the vaccine has been out less than year. It will be a foreboding task for the world to receive the shots needed in both dense city populations and rural, wilderness, and farm communities. 

Then there are the economics and business factors surrounding the Olympics.  The money spent and to be gained do not supersede the importance of health, the infected, or the lives lost, but it is a component. Japan has spent billions on the Olympics with the goal of opening the country’s doors in 2020 and letting the world see the beauty and culture of the Japanese people. Money from ticket sales and sponsorships will pay for the infrastructure created for the event. It’s not going to happen as planned as Japan is not allowing visitors into the country, and the games will be kept to a 50% capacity.  

There are many issues to consider when assessing how large-scale events should be handled in this pandemic era. We hope for the best and that solid decisions are made with the safety precautions that keep everyone safe. We look forward to the competition as these world-class athletes are given an international stage to compete so that everyone can see the greatness they are trying to achieve.

Hiring in the Healthcare Field Today

Hiring in the Spring of 2021 is like no other season. The US economy is scaling up from the global pandemic. In the healthcare sector there has always been a noticeable shortage of qualified practitioners, and now it seems like the spotlight is on it.

 We have seen a traumatic year, busy clinical and administrative sectors as well as people wanting a different line of work or seeking a new challenge in their lives. There is no mistake; 2020 was a tumultuous year, and many of the same challenges have crept into 2021.

There have been millions of lives lost, an economic turnover, and psychological burnout.  As our hospital beds were filling up and people were suffering, our clinical workers took on some of the emotional charge. And it was not only in hospitals but nursing homes, hospices, and other care facilities as lives were lost, and the stressful conditions added to people feeling maxed out. These conditions affected administrative people as well; budgets were crunched, employees were laid off, and grieving families just wanted someone to talk to.

What we are seeing now is some people looking for a change. The heavy workload and long hours call for a different lifestyle or new position. With the last fourteen-months being “a steroid year of getting your ass kicked and then working a double,” as one RN in California stated it, the shift, for some, is to move out of hospitals to other healthcare environments. Some are leaving all together while others are moving into the administrative side.

On the other hand, there has also been an influx of people who want to move into the healthcare sector. People are heading back to school to study nursing. A few are looking to finish their degrees while others are joining the fight in helping others with the challenges that lie ahead.

Fear drives us while hope pushes us forward; and it is our goals and dreams that guide us into making the best decisions. With the change in the labor force, especially in healthcare, we hope that people can realize their motivations and continue to support others in the clinical space, even in the administrative, and with everyday life. It is not an easy job, but many things that have fulfilling outcomes seldom are.

A Family Portrait or, What Being Queer Looks Like

by Callum Lee

Somewhere across time and space, there is a father telling his son that he was terrified for years before he came out. He has told him many things over the years, clichés like “it’s just a phase,” and “your life will be so much more difficult now.” The mother parrots phrases like these, but in a more Biblical context: “you know this goes against what God says,” and “this is a sin.” But the thing is, the son knows what sin feels like. He knows what it’s like to be 5 years old, stealing a chocolate bar for the first time and understanding the criminal weight behind it, the burden of guilt and pleasure and panic. Sin feels like cheating on a test or taking money from a purse. Sin looks like suicide, like homosexuals, like tattoos on your body or hate in your heart. At 12 years old, he realized that his options were an early grave caused by self-hatred, denial, and shame, or that he could love himself and live.

The father tells him that nobody is meant to be happy. Happiness is fleeting, joy is forever, and joy is only found in God. This is the argument he gives the son when he says that being who he was meant to be makes him happy. Going back into the closet would mean certain death, absolute misery, total despair, but the father argues that life is discontent anyway. Why not soldier on normally? Being queer is only a hinderance to life’s chances, anyway.

The parents’ worst fears look like this: the child turned away from every opportunity, beaten down by the world, unloved by all except for them. Or maybe, their worst fears look like this: the child’s happiness found in a lifestyle they never wanted/approved of. Because each day that unfolds looks more like the latter. The son has flourished away from home.

He’s found friends that love him for who he is (none of them are perfect: there’s always the ones that ask weird questions or still have the same idea of toxic masculinity in their heads, but they’re trying, he’s teaching them). He’s discovered the space he needs to accept and appreciate himself, learning about the little joys in life and how to stay steady despite hardships. He’s remained strong through difficulties, realized more about himself in the past few years than any other. He has started to repair the damage his parents have done to his identity and to his heart, and he doesn’t ever regret coming out. They say it’s harder this way, that they’ve always wanted better for him, but he can’t change how he was made, what he wants. There’s a happiness inside him. It’s warm and content, and it looks like self-acceptance.

How the COVID “Storm” Took India

by Callum Lee

            On February 1, 2021, COVID-19 cases in India were at an all-time low. At 8,635 cases, people presumed that the country was out of the red and would not experience a second wave like Brazil and the United Kingdom. However, the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus, the relaxing of restrictions, as well as lack of medical supplies and hospital space in India has led to a massive spike in COVID-19 cases. As of today, the country sits at 329,000 cases, with only 10% of the population having one vaccine dose and 2% being fully vaccinated. The country has been caught off-guard, overwhelming the health system and rendering the rollout of the vaccine to a mere trickle. People have taken to the black market to buy medical supplies such as oxygen tanks for their dying loved ones.

Because ventilators and oxygen are in short supply, patients are ferried from hospital to hospital by desperate relatives in order to find aid. In an interview with Channel 4 News, Dr. Sumit Ray explains that citizens are dying on the way to hospitals because of the lack of beds. He is exasperated by the shortage of supplies and space, helpless to the waves of patients that can only wait to die. At a hospital in Delhi, Manika Goel sits at her husband’s bedside, searching for a ventilator. She tells Channel 4 News that “it isn’t COVID that’s killing people. It is the unavailability of the treatment which is killing people.” The doctors tell her that her husband only has two days to live. Her story, while agonizing and unfortunate, is like so many others in India.

Devastation has overrun the country to the point that even crematoriums have become overpopulated. Car parks have been fitted as emergency funeral pyres in order to accommodate for the number of bodies that need to be cremated. Even in death, the families of the victims are pressed to find arrangements for funerals and ensure that their loved ones are put to rest properly. There is no peace for the people of India.

Other countries such as the UK and the USA are committed to aiding the country by sending health supplies, oxygen, masks, and medicine. U.S. President Joe Biden announced that by July 4, the U.S. will send 10% of its AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, such as Canada, Mexico, and India. This past year has been an immense struggle for everyone worldwide, and as some countries are coming out from under the hold of COVID-19, some may forget that there are still people out there suffering. In these times, it is imperative to cherish our loved ones and what we have, but it is also our duty to exercise empathy and help others.

If you are interested in donating to help India, here is a link of places you can donate. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/how-to-help-india-during-its-covid-surge-12-places-you-can-donate 

City of Angeles / City of Mental Health

Our mental health can be in a good phrase if we are happy, but in a different context, it has an extremely negative connotation.  Let us strengthen the phrase and change the definition. What if we made Los Angeles the mental health capital of the world?

There is an insightful 2009 movie called the Soloist, starring Jamie Fox and Robert Downey, Jr., based on the lives of Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez. Nathaniel is an extremely talented classical musician who suffers from schizophrenia. Steve Lopez who writes for the Los Angeles Times tells the story of how Nathaniel became homeless on the streets of Downtown LA. Years after watching the film while living downtown, I would still see Nathanial Ayers on the streets, playing his instrument. The Soloist is the story of many homeless. It could you be you or me, our children, or our neighbors; without the proper help and a support system, we are all vulnerable.  

One suggested solution to homelessness has been to construct more housing. It is not a bad solution. In fact, it is a thoughtful one and, in most instances, it should have worked.  We just cannot build enough, fast enough.  The County’s homeless numbers have increase 12.7% to 66,436 from the last count in June of 2020 according to the Los Angeles Homeless Authority.  This is even though the city has increased their budget to help the homeless. People from around the United States come to the city because of the weather and the services, and more are coming every year. in addition, people here end up on the street from mental instability, abuse, or bad luck. It is a radical idea, but we have spent millions of dollars on building new housing. What if we treat the cause and make Los Angeles a city of mental stability?

How do we do it? We increase our services, expand the program for trained social workers and healthcare providers to help more people on the streets, in schools, and in the community. We open more centers for those fighting abuse, and we create online and remote care facilities for others who are dealing with turmoil here and around the world.

It is expensive – yes. To increase these programs and create the infrastructure costs time and money. And so is building any type of real estate in California. The solution is not to stop building shelters or housing. Part of the way that we can solve this problem is to treat the underlying illness.  We can direct new funds for Los Angeles to create a better infrastructure for mental health, and we do it at the local, community, street, and school level to make this city a beacon for mental stability – and not homelessness.