Jan 4, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Turkey today confirmed two human cases of avian influenza, contradicting earlier statements and marking the disease’s first attack on people outside East Asia, according to news reports this afternoon.A 14-year-old boy who died Jan 1 and a sister who is hospitalized in serious condition both tested positive for avian flu, according to news reports quoting Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag. He said a third sibling also has a suspected case.Two days ago Turkish officials said the two young people and two other siblings had tested negative for avian flu. The children had helped raise poultry on a farm in eastern Turkey and had been in contact with sick birds, the Associated Press reported.Akdag did not say if the two patients tested positive for the H5N1 virus specifically. But Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of this Web site, said he was told the virus was confirmed as H5N1.”The lab in Turkey that ran the most recent tests is a very competent lab that’s been collaborating with WHO [the World Health Organization] in the past, and there’s no reason to doubt these results,” Osterholm told CIDRAP News.The WHO’s human avian flu case count, which at this writing did not show the Turkish cases, lists 142 cases with 74 deaths. They include cases in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Indonesia, and Cambodia.An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today said nine people have been hospitalized with a fever and cough in the city of Van, where the 14-year-old died.The confirmed case-patients came from the town of Dobubeyazit, about 40 miles from Aralik, where Turkish authorities last week reported an H5 virus in chickens, the AP report said. Turkey’s first H5N1 outbreak in poultry was reported Oct 5 on a farm in Kiziksa, in the northeast, according to AFP.Commenting on the cases, Osterholm said, “This should not be considered unexpected. There were sick birds, and the family had contact with them.””This does not mean we’re closer to a pandemic; it means that the situation in Southeast Asia is moving,” he said. Bird populations and the “density” of the H5N1 virus in birds remain much greater in East Asia than elsewhere, and the risk of an emerging pandemic strain is still greatest there, he added.However, he said, “The fact that there’s more virus circulating in more birds around the world means there’s a greater likelihood of mutational change” that could lead to a pandemic strain.
Since holding a strike in early February, the National Union of Healthcare Workers has been successful in negotiations with USC’s Keck School of Medicine in earning an improved contract with the university healthcare system for 800 workers.“Eight hundred USC Keck workers forced USC to adhere to its own rhetoric by making them full members of the Trojan family, both by compensating them fairly and by granting them a voice in the hospital’s staffing and patient-care policies,” said Sophia Mendoza, NUHW’s secretary-treasurer.That contract — which was finalized in late March and includes an annual wage that is calculated by experience and years of service as well as tuition assistance — however, has currently not been extended to 100 workers who work in the hospital cafeteria but are employees of subcontractor Sodexo, a national company that provides “quality of life” services to many institutions.According to a video on the NUHW Facebook page, USC and Sodexo have been paying some Keck Hospital employees “pennies above minimum wage” without taking into account factors such as length of service. As a result, NUHW claims that some Keck employees have had to ask for government assistance such as food stamps to make ends meet.The video also compares USC to public institutions such as UC campuses and the Los Angeles Unified School District and how those institutions have made commitments to pay their service workers a minimum wage of $15 an hour.Mendoza noted that USC has the resources to pay a livable wage to its workers at Keck.“It is fully within USC’s power and means to see that all of its workers, even those employed by subcontractors, are paid a livable wage,” Mendoza said.In late January, the NUHW had informed the University that a one-day strike would be held at Keck Hospital demanding of a better contract for the union’s employees on Feb. 10. The NUHW workers on the picket line included nurses and food services and cafeteria staff, as well as other picketers from the California Nurses Association in support of NUHW.A statement from Keck Hospital called the strike “largely a non-event” and claimed that only a fraction of Keck’s NUHW-affiliated employees actually participated. To prevent the strike from affecting patient care, Keck hired contract employees and worked with the LAPD to provide a “safe environment” throughout the strike.USC acquiesced before the beginning of April on the contracts for healthcare workers.However, the union will continue to negotiate the contract for the 100 food service workers it represents at Keck. Currently, NUHW has alleged that USC has had Sodexo keep costs down at the expense of worker’s salaries.Mendoza points out that USC can remedy the situation in a number of ways, such as by paying Sodexo more money for salaries or by doing away with the subcontractor all together.“The real solution is for USC to stop exploiting these workers via Sodexo by bring them back in-house and treating them as full members of the Trojan family, with full Trojan pay and benefits,” Mendoza said.USC has yet to provide a statement on the NUHW agreement or on continuing discussions at the time of publication.The University did not immediately respond to request for comment.
London, United Kingdom | AFP | Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis believes he is now faced with an impossible task in finding a fitting replacement for outgoing manager Arsene Wenger.Wenger, 68, announced he will step down from his role at the end of the season on Friday after 22 years in charge.Despite winning three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups, mounting pressure was put on Wenger to leave by the club’s disgruntled fans as he failed to match the standards he set early in his reign over the past decade.The Gunners haven’t won the Premier League for 14 years and will miss out on Champions League qualification for the second successive season unless they win the Europa League, where they face Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals.“We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger for a variety of reasons,” said Gazidis as he addressed a press conference at the club’s Emirates stadium on Friday.“The football club is in a very different place than it was 22 years ago and it’s unthinkable to me we will have another manager in the Premier League, let alone Arsenal, who will be 22 years in tenure and have the kind of run of consistent success Arsene had over those years.”In spite of Arsenal’s struggles on the field in recent seasons, they remain the sixth richest club in the world, according to financial consultants Deloitte’s annual Football Money League.And Gazidis claimed Wenger leaves the club in far better shape than when he arrived as a shock appointment from Japanese side Grampus Eight in 1996.“Arsene often said he wanted to leave the club in a better position than when he found it,” added Gazidis. “We are in a better place today than we could ever have imagined 22 years ago. The foundations of this club have never been stronger and this gives me great confidence as we begin to chart the path ahead.”However, Gazidis repeatedly avoided questioning on whether he wanted Wenger to see out the final year of a two-year contract extension he signed last summer.The Wall Street Journal reported that Wenger had chosen to leave on his own terms rather than face being pushed out at the end of the season.Gazidis, though, claimed the wheels hadn’t been put in motion to appoint a successor until Wenger made his decision public.Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Germany coach Joachim Loew are among the front runners with the bookies in a wide-open field of contenders.“We haven’t had any discussions to date regarding that process,” added Gazidis.“The most important thing is to make the right appointment not a quick appointment.”Share on: WhatsApp
Getting the runaroundDonald recalled his frustration with former Oak Bluffs Fire and Ambulance Chief John Rose, who he said was unresponsive to his pleas for a bill reduction. Rose retired on April 30 in the wake of a sexual harassment settlement between himself and a firehouse employee, with divided selectmen opinion on his leadership capabilities, and the FBI digging into his department. In a 2017 letter Donald wrote to Rose, Donald outlined his billing plight. “After I started to recuperate, the bills started to come in,” he wrote in part. “I had Health Safety Net at the time, which covered a lot of the bills. I owed Bourne ambulance $550, and I paid the bill. I owed a few thousand to Mass. General, and I have a monthly payment plan set up. But when I got a bill from the O.B. Ambulance for $8,000, I knew there was a mistake.”Donald went on to write that he was advised by someone at Vineyard Healthcare Access to seek a hardship waiver from Comstar.“Comstar told me what I had to fill out, and what to provide and to send back to them,” he wrote. “They said after they review the forms they would send to you for consideration. I can only guess my case got misplaced, as you said you never received it.”Donald said Rose “would never answer me” on the telephone or in emails. Donald also said he was told on several occasions when he visited the station looking for him that Rose wasn’t there. Having no luck with Rose, Donald said he resorted to seeking help from Whritenour. “I said, ‘Here’s what’s going on; $8,000 is too much, you know,’” he said he told Whritenour. “‘I’ll pay something, but I’m not paying $8,000 [expletive] dollars.’ I think he made some phone calls. He called me back. He said, ‘We’re going to lower it to $2,500.’ And I said, ‘OK, good. I’m going to pay a little bit each month and try to knock it down.’ An invoice dated Nov. 2, 2017 reflected the reduction. A $7,515.19 fee for “Specialty Care Transport” and a $538.20 fee for “Mileage” were trimmed by $5,553.99 to $2,500.The invoice indicates the transfer was from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to “American Medical Response.”After the FBI contacted him, Donald opted to reach out to Comstar again. “I called them up, and I talked to some guy, and he was really nice,” he said. “I said, ‘You know what, with all the articles I’ve seen about the ambulance service overbilling — I’ve been contacted by the FBI, I’m not going to pay anymore. I’m going to hang onto my money, and let’s see where this goes.’ And the guy says, ‘OK, I’ll put that in your file’. I said thank you, and I haven’t heard a thing from them since.”Donald, a longtime musician who regularly does benefit concerts, said he harbors a lot of civic pride and “love” for Oak Bluffs, and felt conflicted about highlighting his billing travails. But the bottom line, he said, was he felt burned. “Apparently they don’t love me,” he said of the town. “I really don’t favor those ambulance rides to Woods Hole,” Whritenour said. He confirmed the town isn’t eligible to get medical reimbursement for such ambulance-to-ambulance handoffs because they don’t constitute conveyance to a licensed medical facility. He said the town has been engaged in “joint problem-solving” on the issue, with Chief Greene’s assistance. “There was some talk of reviewing the contract with the current billing company,” Greene said. But he said the pandemic sidelined the issue. He agreed that Woods Hole transfers were problematic for the town, compensation-wise. In general, Green said, off-Island ambulance transfers suffer from reimbursement deficits because the money paid by Uncle Sam is only a fraction of the true cost of a trip. One example, he said, was that some trips to Boston hospitals sideline ambulance crews overnight because they cannot get the ambulance back to Woods Hole in time for the last evening ferry. “It’s a real challenge the town’s got to address at some point,” he said. “I can’t imagine we’re the only place in the country that has that problem.”He said he’s reached out to Rep. Bill Keating’s office for guidance on the issue in May. Keating’s office confirmed they were working with him. “Congressman Keating and his staff have been working with Chief Greene and Medicare to try to resolve this issue,” Keating’s communications director, Lauren Amendolara McDermott, emailed. Asked if the FBI reached out to him, Greene said “surprisingly” they hadn’t, but they have, on occasion, made “records requests for emails or calls.”Asked if $8,000 was reasonable for a transfer to Woods Hole, Greene said, “That sounds a whole lot wrong.” He went on to say, “From here to Boston, let alone Woods Hole, [it] seems a little steep.” Greene said he wasn’t familiar with the particular invoice. “This is the first time I’ve heard of an issue like that,” he said.Greene, who was formerly Bourne fire chief, said Bourne doesn’t do the type of transfers Donald described. He surmised it was an American Medical Response ambulance based on what the invoice indicates, and because he believes that company may have had a satellite office in Bourne.“We want to lay the issue bare,” Whritenour said of billing problems with the ambulance company. Whitenour didn’t recall interacting with Donald. When asked about Comstar’s stance on Donald’s invoice, Whritenour emailed, “I am certain that the representative that [The Times] spoke to from Comstar erred in referring any ambulance billing questions to me, as I have no information in this area, nor have I ever heard of such a referral, so this is a surprise to me. I can only surmise that they do not provide individual patient billing information, as it may not be legal to do so, in which they would be correct in referring you back to the town, albeit not to me.”Whritenour went on to write that he was willing to look into the invoice further with the town’s fire and EMS departments. In a follow-up phone conversation, Whritenour described Comstar’s stance on the invoice as “ridiculous.” A few days later he wrote, “I am informed that Medicare was not billed for that call.” He indicated this was according to Chief Greene. Greene confirmed this. David Apfel, an attorney who is representing the town specifically with the FBI and on billing matters, didn’t return calls seeking comment. In a July telephone conversation with The Times, former Oak Bluffs Fire Chief Rose said Donald’s name “didn’t ring a bell.” “The federal government has been kind of tight-lipped about what they’re looking at,” he said. “They haven’t given us any real updates.”Oak Bluffs selectman Brian Packish was a bit more blunt about the FBI. “They tell us nothing,” he said. The investigation ostensibly involves irregularities in medical billing for the ambulance service. In January, the town admitted to $37,535.07 in overbilling to Medicare and Medicaid. Whritenour said the sum was credited back to the federal government. It’s unclear what, if any, other overbilling is or was at play. Past and present members of the fire department and the ambulance service have been subpoenaed for one or more federal grand juries. An FBI spokesperson recently declined comment when The Times asked about the status of the investigation. The man, who was an Oak Bluffs ambulance passenger, provided evidence to The Times of a trip from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to the Steamship Authority terminal in Woods Hole that generated an invoice of $8,053.99. The passenger asked that only his first name, Donald, be used to protect his privacy.It’s unclear if over-billing is at play, but Donald said he found the sum exorbitant, and Martin Greene, the interim Oak Bluffs fire chief, was taken aback when recently told the sum over the phone. Donald told The Times he had suffered a mild heart attack in February 2015. Because of a snow storm, he said, he could not be airlifted off the Vineyard to get to a higher-level care facility, as commonly occurs with cardiac patients at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Instead, Oak Bluffs Ambulance transported him across Vineyard Sound on a Steamship Authority ferry, and then transferred him to what he recalled as a Bourne ambulance. That ambulance then took him to Massachusetts General Hospital. In previous reporting, The Times found that the Steamship Authority charges $250 for an ambulance crossing, and the hospital covered that cost. Donald said while he was billed $8,053.99 for the ambulance trip to Woods Hole, he only received an invoice for $550 for the ambulance journey to Boston. Earlier this year, Donald’s Oak Bluffs ambulance invoice drew FBI interest. “I talked to an agent,” Donald said. “He wanted to see if I had any paperwork for the bill. And you know, it was funny, I was looking through all these boxes and I was about to throw out all this paper. Right on top was the bill, the original bill. I was like — ’almost threw it away.’ So I sent that to him and, you know, he said we’ll be in touch. And I haven’t heard a thing since.”Donald said the FBI agent told him the ambulance ride from the hospital to the boat wasn’t covered and that insurance only covers direct transfers to another hospital like Massachusetts General. It’s unclear if Oak Bluffs tried to bill Medicare for Donald’s trip. Oak Bluffs EMS Lt. Matt Bradley said he was unable to answer that question, but Comstar, the billing company for the ambulance service, would have the information. A representative from Comstar declined to provide the information, and said the company would not provide the information even with a HIPAA form from the patient (HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, governs patient health information disclosure). Pressed on the subject, the representative, who did not provide her name, transferred the inquiry to a supervisor who identified herself as “Jennifer,” and said she was unable to answer the question. She later declined to provide her last name. Jennifer said a manager wasn’t immediately available to weigh in on the question, but expected one would reach out to The Times as soon as practicable. The next day Jennifer left a voicemail that indicated questions about Donald or Oak Bluffs Ambulance Service must be answered by the town of Oak Bluffs, specifically Whritenour — carefully spelling his name in the phone message. During a follow-up conversation, she reiterated that stance.“Any questions like that have to go directly to him,” she said. An Oak Bluffs man has been contacted by the FBI about a large bill he received for an ambulance transfer to Woods Hole. In December, The Times revealed an FBI inquiry was underway at the Oak Bluffs Fire Department. The status of that probe, which encompasses the Oak Bluffs Ambulance Service, remains unclear. Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour said the town has shown a high degree of cooperation with the FBI. He said he learned the FBI was “happy” with the information and documents the town has provided thus far. But he also said they haven’t revealed much else to town officials.
COVID-19 was thought to have little effect on children. But according to doctors in New York City, 15 children have been hospitalized for a rare but serious disorder after contracting the coronavirus. The New York City Department of Health issuing a warning for doctors to be on the lookout for this serious syndrome, first reported lat month in Europe.Doctors say the children first showed symptoms including fever, rash and stomach illness, similar to a rare condition called Kawasaki Disease, which causes the inflammation of blood vessels and can lead to heart problems.As a result, The World Health Organization is investigating whether the coronavirus causes some children to develop a rare inflammatory disease, WHO officials said Wednesday.Health officials in the U.K. warned doctors over the weekend that Covid-19 could be causing a rare inflammatory condition in children. Britain’s Pediatric Intensive Care Society said Monday the National Health Service alerted it to a small number of critically ill children presenting with “an unusual clinical picture.” The society noted that many of the children with symptoms of the new inflammatory disease had been diagnosed with Covid-19. The condition was likened to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease.“We are aware of this report which came out of the United Kingdom about a small number of cases amongst children with this inflammatory response,” WHO’s lead scientist on Covid-19, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said Wednesday. “We’re looking at this with our clinical network.”It remains unclear what the relationship is between Covid-19 and the inflammatory conditions, but Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, told reporters Monday it is “entirely plausible” that Covid-19 causes the illness.“There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to the Kawasaki syndrome,” Van Kerkhove said. “But it seems to be very rare.”
Submitted by Don TrosperI’m not sure what a ‘Tid’ is, but I have heard of ‘Tidbits.’ In my years of making local history a fulfilling hobby I’ve discovered many unique stories and interesting tidbits about historic people throughout southwest Washington. Let me highlight just a few of these ‘bits’ just to tease you, and perhaps entice you to consider making local history your hobby too.I suppose I should first mention my road. Trosper Road in Tumwater is named for my great grandfather who brought his family here from Kansas in 1892. They bought 60 acres from our uncle, Jesse Ferguson, who was a member of the Simmons/Bush party that founded Tumwater in 1845, the first permanent American community north of the Columbia. We still live on that property and have some Northern Spy apple trees still barely surviving that uncle Jesse planted more than 150 years ago.Speaking of Tumwater, did you know that one of the reasons for the forming of our state of Washington and the early settlement of towns like Tumwater and Centralia was the fact of racism in the Willamette Valley in Oregon? Two primary early settlers were men of color, George Bush of the Tumwater area and George Washington of Centralia. They were not allowed to settle on the south, or American side of the Columbia and so moved north to the British side of the river. That led to the eventual formation of Washington.Don Trosper will be teaching a history community education course at SPSCC this fall.Did you know that Tumwater is five years older than Olympia? Their proposed original names did not stick. Simmons wanted to name his little town “New Market,” but the early townsfolk instead used an Americanized name of Chinook jargon “Tum chuck”, which means noisy water, hence the name Tumwater. Olympia was going to be called Smithfield for co-founder Levi Lathrop Smith, but after he died while having an epileptic fit while on a canoe on the Sound, his partner Edmund Sylvester laid out a town and named it for the beautiful backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. He called it Olympia.Oh there are so many great stories throughout our area, enough for a lifetime of research. I think of how Grand Mound was actually named for a big mound or hill on the prairie not far from today’s Great Wolf Lodge, or how there are conflicting stories of how Maytown got its name, my favorite being that it was named by a former British sailor Joseph Shelley who laid out a proposed town and said that it may become a town or it may not, “so I’ll call it Maytown.”I love the stories of the many one-room schoolhouses throughout the area, the forts and blockhouses that protected early settlers during the two year period of tribal uprisings, the many railroads that not only connected towns but also wound their way through the hills for logging purposes.I haven’t even begun to mention all the wonderful ‘tidbits’ I’ve learned about Lewis, Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties.If you’d like to know more you might want to consider signing up for my “History of SW Washington” series of non-credit classes I’ll be teaching again this fall at SPSCC on Monday evenings at the main campus from September 16 through November 4. Class information can be found on the South Puget Sound Community College website focused on Community Education courses. Click on Writing or Washington State to find the course.I hope you’ll join me as we talk over old times and obtain more ‘bits of tid.’ Facebook40Tweet0Pin0