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.

Housing and Vaccinations

Picture via KATV

By Maya Robin

The global issue of homelessness and the number of vaccines being distributed are heavily related. Personal economic status greatly impacts the ability to get vaccinated. And on a larger scale, a country’s economic standing and its influence in the global community also greatly affects the percentage of citizens that get vaccinated. Areas with large homeless populations must overcome more obstacles in distributing the necessary vaccinations; the higher the country’s GDP and cost of living, the more vaccines the country will be able to acquire. This leaves the people in impoverished countries in danger.

Los Angeles is widely known for its housing crisis. The homeless population is skyrocketing, and the average cost of living cannot be met by many. In Los Angeles County, the average monthly income is $6,818, while the average monthly rent is $2,361. To buy a home, the majority of Los Angeles residents would have to spend over 30% of their income. With such a large population of the city going homeless or impoverished, distributing vaccines is significantly more difficult. However, with over six-hundred vaccination sites throughout the county, 63.8% of people 16 years and older and 85.2% of people 65 years and older are now vaccinated with at least one dose.

            In London, most residents also have issues with home affordability. The average monthly income is $3,174, while the average monthly rent is $2,217. Despite this crisis, London has managed to vaccinate 95% of people over 50 years old. The UK’s vaccine rollout is very centralized, which makes vaccines more accessible to those who have financial trouble or cannot afford housing. While Londoners’ average monthly rent is around 70% of their monthly income, the high vaccination rate may be credited to the National Health Service as the singular distributor.

            In a country with high birth and high immigration rates, affordable housing in Tel Aviv continues to be scarce. The average income per month is $4,000, while the average rent is

$1,433. Many are left homeless or forced to leave Tel Aviv and move to more affordable cities in Israel. While this crisis is devastating, Israel has been a global example of how to deal with the coronavirus. Vaccines are distributed by the main health care and health insurance providers. Health insurance is accessible to all, even the homeless, making getting vaccinated attainable for all residents. With over 60% vaccinated, the country has begun to return to a “pre-corona” lifestyle. Residents without proof of vaccination are not allowed indoors at many venues and, therefore, the rates of spreading the virus have been significantly lowered.

            While Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Central America, it is still a third world country due to the extreme poverty. There are 4.5 million Costa Ricans and, devastatingly, more than 52% live in poverty. The average monthly income is $750, and the monthly rent is approximately 66% of that, at $500. This level of poverty makes giving out and getting the vaccine increasingly difficult. As of now, the daily number of COVID-19 cases is in the thousands and only 12.8% of the population has been vaccinated.

            There is a clear correlation between the global status of a country and the number of citizens vaccinated to date. This is represented in society in that the socioeconomic status of a person can determine whether they have access to the vaccines.

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/country/costa-rica

The Mental Health Impact of War and Terrorism: Israelis and Palestinians

Photo Credit AP

By Maya Robin

Until a recent ceasefire, the past few weeks consisted of a constant fear of rockets for the Jewish and Arab residents of Israel and Gaza. The 2021 rockets were not a first, and many similar instances have contributed to the mental health vulnerability of all members of Israeli society. A 2008 study compares the mental impact of terrorism in the region. “After 19 months of terrorist attacks, Arabs and Jewish Israelis reacted roughly similarly to the situation; however, after 44 months of terror, posttraumatic symptom disorder in the Arab population increased three-fold, posttraumatic symptomatology doubled and resiliency has almost disappeared” [Dr. Gelkopf, University of Haifa].

Warfare and terrorism have had a grave effect on all demographics throughout the region; however, children seem to show the most prominent displays of PTSD and mental health vulnerabilities. Children living in Gaza, under Hamas rule, exhibit high levels of abnormal behavior. Whether it be rockets or simply due to life under a terrorist regime, the prevalence of violence presents a commonness of mental health difficulties among the children of Gaza; they have issues with nail biting, bullying, and a common phobia of attending school [Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2001].

While PTSD among Palestinian children living in Gaza is more widespread, PTSD among Israeli children is often dependent upon their geographical location. A study conducted by Lavi & Solomon (Tel Aviv University) found that children living in the territories or areas bordering Gaza or the West Bank have a similar PTSD prevalence rate as the Palestinian children living in the war zones. However, Israeli children living in areas with less conflict display much lower rates of prevalence.

Furthermore, the heated political climate in the area also contributes to the degree of resilience and coping mechanisms of those exposed to violence. In Gaza, there is a less stable governing body and, therefore, a less centralized approach to ending this mental health epidemic. The resources for psychiatric care favor heavy drug treatments rather than therapy, leaving the remainder of the mental health strategies in the hands of community centers, donors, and non-profit organizations [Washington Post, 2018].

To the contrary, in this heated time, Israel has issued state-wide guidelines on how to calm down after a rocket siren in order to take preventative measures against PTSD. Many different factors likely contribute to the contrasting rates of mental health problems, whether it be a genetic predisposition, the government’s strategic approaches, geographical location, or cultural resilience. Regardless of the causes, the epidemic of helplessness, anxiety, and fear is an on-going issue. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a multi-faceted, intense matter; however, the mental health epidemic in the region is not a socio-political, religious, or geographical issue. In these times, it is imperative to look at both Israelis and Palestinians as people who are so traumatized that mental health challenges are common.

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.