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.

Should Everyone Get Vaccinated

Work

We all know the story: Responsible Al who never misses a day comes into the office sneezing and coughing. We offer Al a cough drop and tissue paper, hold our noses and hope Al doesn’t make us sick. But he does. Later that night, we start to have the same cough and before you know it, we are debating if we are going to pull an Al and come to work the next day. Saturday is the day we must go and visit our mother-in-law in the nursing home….

School

We are always rushed in the morning, and our eight-year-old is complaining they are not feeling well. With the carpool, 9:00am meeting, and no one available for a last-minute baby-sitting favor, we are forced to send the child to school. Unknowing, in the carpool ride home, your child is with another youngster’s sibling who has an immune deficiency. With the windows rolled up and everyone singing the latest pop chorus jingle, soon everyone in the car has the infection.

Social

Another scenario: you are not feeling your greatest, but you promised a group of friends that this time you were not going to flake on drinks. You take a couple of Tylenols and an hour later, you are at the bar, hoping the gin and tonic will be an excuse for your red eyes. You are laughing and hugging, and by the end of the night, you feel one hundred but notice your friend now has that same sneeze you woke up with.

Sound familiar? Life happens all the time, but that does not make us bad parents, irresponsible co-workers, or a bad friend. What if this time, it is more than a cold? What if the bad cough, congestion, or fever are more than just a cold or the flu. What if in our post-2020 world, this is COVID or a new variant. Have we done the right thing by avoiding a vaccination? Yes, we are ok, but what about those around us who are not as lucky.

 In 2019, there were 22,000 reported deaths from the flu in the United States (CDC.GOV). In 2020, there were over 360,000 deaths due to COVID-19 the numbers tell the story of just how important this vaccination may be.  

by

Dane Flanigan

CEO ultraHealth Agency

A Chat with My Therapist

by Callum Lee

Like many Generation Z’ers with emotional baggage, I see a therapist on the regular. It’s not like one of those movie scenes, where I’m sitting on a straight-backed leather couch or lying on an uncomfortable settee and my therapist is across from me, rapidly scratching out notes. We meet on Zoom these days, her at her office and me from the comfort of my home, and I just rant. For however much I pay her, I feel pretty comfortable spilling out all my deepest, darkest secrets, but it’s more than just that. I’ve been seeing her since my first year of college when I was a disordered mess of panic and rage, and she’s seen how I’ve grown out of that persona. She’s been with me through all the housekeeping, but I don’t know much about her.


So, when I was tasked to write about a healthcare professional, I thought about her. Why send cordial emails to a doctor I barely speak to (I rarely see my primary physician), when I could just shoot my therapist a text? Seeing the person I interviewed on the semi-regular made it a lot easier to ask questions, the first of which being; “What do you do and why do you do it?”


She’s a licensed psychologist that specializes with families, children, couples and gender and non-binary people. As for the why, she expressed an interest in psychology in high school, when she had the opportunity to take classes at the nearby university of Cal Poly Pomona. During her undergrad at UCSD, she wanted to pursue veterinary practices, but decided the exact sciences of chemistry weren’t for her. She then switched to psychology, which was when her cousin was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to think. This diagnosis motivated her to research with a psychologist studying schizophrenia and health, where she fell in love with research and decided to pursue a PhD.

It’s been a long journey ever since of working with different practices, and when I asked her why specifically she decided to cater to LGBTQ+ clients, she had this to say.


“I had a friend that began to identify as transgender while we were in a faith community. The community indirectly did not feel safe for my friend and they were struggling with their mental health and living situation. They lived with us for a couple years.”
Over the call, I can hear her voice struggle with emotions when she exclaims: “The tears, the snot on my shirt and my shoulders are always there, and it always reminds me and gives me a deep well of empathy for gender and non-binary people.” When it comes down to it, there’s no better reason to be a therapist, and I can tell she takes pride in what she does. She’s been changing lives like mine ever since.

Homecare Will Change Moving Forward

Home health has been here long before what we now know as modern medicine. Even before there were organized hospitals, medicine people of the town / village were making house calls for the sick and delivering babies. Let us define the 21st century vocabulary of home health: Home health is or maybe was defined as “Care in a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home.”  Medicare.Gov. The home healthcare provider is a practitioner who checks on a person’s welfare daily, weekly or a few times a month with a myriad of services that range from medication, physical therapy to helping with daily functions like bathing. These services have changed the way we think of healthcare in the modern age. The discussion on changing healthcare always starts with affordability and ends with access. Let us talk about how that access has changed via technology which may play a key role in increasing affordability.

Now that we are in the pandemic period of COVID-19, new information on using technology and revitalizing home services is key.  Just like food delivery services have been around for generations, the pandemic has forced us to rely on these services more. Thus, more delivery services are faster and easier. What was once viewed as a  convenience became a transport of necessity that changed personal habits, public perception, and an increase in investment in new technology.

In addition, the pandemic has fostered awareness of telehealth services since in March and April of 2020, most hospitals decided to limit the entry of non-emergency patients to stop the spread of the virus and conserve resources.  People who needed to check in with their practitioners had to think of other ways to communicate face to face. As corporations hopped on screen calls, schools had kids logging onto the web for class, telehealth became the access point for medical professionals for a one-one dialogue. In addition, care facilities started to increase the technical aptitude both for the infrastructure and the staff.

 At the University of Wisconsin Health, Dr. Pete Newcomer, Chief Medical Officer,  states that telehealth was “minimal” before the pandemic but now  he sees it at 30% of patient visits. Madison.com   The demand for people to converse has not changed, but the method of communication has transformed how it is viewed and distributed to the market.  With the Biden Administration’s new plans for a $400 billion investment into “home – or community-based care”, there is going to be more discussion about access, communication and how technology will be at the forefront. Let’s start a new definition – one defined by people, structured in communication and lives in health.

By Dane Flanigan

CEO ultraHealth Agency