In Los Angeles and Beyond, Oxygen Is the Latest Covid Bottleneck

As Los Angeles hospitals give record numbers of covid patients oxygen, the systems and equipment needed to deliver the life-sustaining gas are faltering.

It’s gotten so bad that Los Angeles County officials are warning paramedics to conserve it. Some hospitals are having to delay releasing patients as they don’t have enough oxygen equipment to send home with them.

“Everybody is worried about what’s going to happen in the next week or so,” said Cathy Chidester, director of the L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

Oxygen, which makes up 21% of the Earth’s air, isn’t running short. But covid damages the lungs, and the crush of patients in hot spots such as Los Angeles, the Navajo Nation, El Paso, Texas, and in New York last spring have needed high concentrations of it. That has stressed the infrastructure for delivering the gas to hospitals and their patients.

The strain in those areas … Read more

Children’s Hospitals Grapple With Wave of Mental Illness

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Krissy Williams, 15, had attempted suicide before, but never with pills.

The teen was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 9. People with this chronic mental health condition perceive reality differently and often experience hallucinations and delusions. She learned to manage these symptoms with a variety of services offered at home and at school.

But the pandemic upended those lifelines. She lost much of the support offered at school. She also lost regular contact with her peers. Her mother lost access to respite care — which allowed her to take a break.

On a Thursday in October, the isolation and sadness came to a head. As Krissy’s mother, Patricia Williams, called a mental crisis hotline for help, she said, Krissy stood on the deck of their Maryland home with a bottle of pain medication in one hand and water in the … Read more

Covid ‘Decimated Our Staff’ as the Pandemic Ravages Health Workers of Color in US


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Last spring, New Jersey emergency room nurse Maritza Beniquez saw “wave after wave” of sick patients, each wearing a look of fear that grew increasingly familiar as the weeks wore on.

Soon, it was her colleagues at Newark’s University Hospital — the nurses, techs and doctors with whom she had been working side by side — who turned up in the ER, themselves struggling to breathe. “So many of our own co-workers got sick, especially toward the beginning; it literally decimated our staff,” she said.

By the end of June, 11 of Beniquez’s colleagues were dead. Like the patients they had been treating, most were Black and Latino.

“We were disproportionately affected because of the way that Blacks and Latinos in this country have been disproportionately affected across every [part of] our lives — from schools … Read more

Children’s Hospitals Are Partly to Blame as Superbugs Increasingly Attack Kids

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A memory haunts Christina Fuhrman: the image of her toddler Pearl lying pale and listless in a hospital bed, tethered to an IV to keep her hydrated as she struggled against a superbug infection.

“She survived by the grace of God,” Fuhrman said of the illness that struck her oldest child in this central Missouri city almost five years ago. “She could’ve gone septic fast. Her condition was near critical.”

Pearl was fighting Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as a superbug. A growing body of research shows that overuse and misuse of antibiotics in children’s hospitals — which health experts and patients say should know better — helps fuel these dangerous bacteria that attack adults and, increasingly, children. Doctors worry that the covid pandemic will only lead to more overprescribing.

A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases in … Read more

Video: The Healthy Nurse Who Died at 40 on the COVID Frontline: ‘She Was the Best Mom I Ever Had’

Yolanda Coar was 40 when she died of COVID-19 in August 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. She was also a nurse manager, and one of nearly 3,000 frontline workers who have died in the U.S. fighting this virus, according to an exclusive investigation by The Guardian and KHN.

Read more of the health workers’ stories behind the statistics — their personalities, passions and quirks. “Lost on the Frontline” examines: Did they have to die?

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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