As early as April 6, 2020, the New York Times (NYT) published an article revealing early pandemic statistics that showed the death rate for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) who received residential services in New York State (NYS) was double that for the general population. As difficult as the pandemic has been for all of us, it was clear from the beginning that some were more vulnerable than ...

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Contained inside the Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill is a political time bomb for Republicans. Included in the bill's long list of stimulus spending is a provision that delivers on President Biden's promise to strengthen the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Obamacare's big failure has been what it did not do to help––and actually hurt––middle-class buyers of individual health insurance. Since the health law's inception, consumers, who are eligible for little ...

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on its health care workers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 340,000 cases of COVID-19 among health care personnel have been reported, and it is estimated that these numbers are grossly underreported. It is estimated that more than 1,700 health care providers have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with more than 200 being nurses. With ...

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Ballet dancers and doctors are essentially the same people. Long before I entered medicine, ballet taught me the skills that made me successful in my clinical practice.  I was a life-long learner.  I improved my skills with daily practice. I was creative with limited resources. I strived for excellence and was rewarded for these efforts.  The skills I learned as a professional ballet dancer prepared me well for medicine. There was ...

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Physicians have gone toe-to-toe with death since the earliest days of the profession, even knowing that our efforts would often be futile. Over the past century, dramatic technological advances have nearly doubled the average American lifespan, and modern practitioners have a level of control over mortality previous generations could scarcely have imagined. But medicine has by no means conquered death. This puts health care providers in ...

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"We, as a profession, must accept some blame for many of the developing problems in health care delivery. No, I am not suggesting that we caused the problem. I am stating that we have had ample opportunities to manage the debacle and even to reverse some of the disturbing trends, yet ...

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I have been distracting myself since the second wave. Our hospital has quietened down as far as COVID-19 cases go, and we started doing limited planned surgeries. After my last post, which detailed the overwhelming and horrific difficulties we faced during the second wave, a friend of mine suggested my next post should be about some good news. So I thought of telling you about a touching ...

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"Children cannot afford to wait, especially our youngest learners who have difficulty engaging on a screen.  We need to all work together to help schools reopen, especially in low-income communities that are disproportionately suffering and may lack the resources.  I stand with the AAP, CDC, European CDC, WHO, and UNICEF to support ...

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Before COVID-19, I left the practice of medicine for what would turn out to become an entire year. While away, I found a new way of seeing our hearts and bodies as humans in the medical profession, allowing me to return. Here are five lessons I learned in the hope they might help others. 1. Perfectionism doesn’t make you perfect If perfectionism isn’t an unwritten rule in our profession, it’s, at minimum, a ...

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“Why do they book your well-child checks for 15 minutes?” my medical student asked me yesterday.  I laughed.  I couldn’t help it.  Gut reaction – like when you laugh instead of cry.  I explained that all of our appointments are 15 minutes – well-checks (regardless of age), to colds, to suicidality or chest pain.  I work for a large hospital system, and that is how patients are booked.  I the ...

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This past year has been one of overwhelming extremes: global pandemic, a national reckoning on racism, devastating wildfires and storms, and political disarray. To some it was perhaps just a difficult year. But to those who can identify the common thread of injustice, it is clear that this was the product of decades of systemic inequities. It is also clear that if these inequities are not addressed, what we have ...

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"With 2020 behind us and the pandemic still raging, it is incumbent upon us to take a close look in the rear-view mirror. While the vaccines’ approval gives us all hope, the vaccination initiative’s slow rollout should worry us. Physicians, health care providers, nurses, and essential workers, and patients and family ...

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An excerpt from All Physicians are Leaders: Reflections on Inspiring Change Together for Better Healthcare. In times of uncertainty, human behavior often makes people resort to less-than-stellar behaviors; unhealthy personal environments can become manifest as well. Often, these coincide with health care being used more frequently and the safe haven of health care delivery being sought. ...

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"Many friends have asked for my perspective on the COVID vaccine. Answering this requires both an explanation of clinical trials and an understanding of what normally slows down pharmaceutical development. Importantly, COVID vaccines are required to go through the same process as every other pharmaceutical. Vaccination is a personal choice, but I 100 percent ...

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Everyone loved Mrs. Maria. She was everyone’s mom, grandma, teacher. Maria grew up in poverty. Though her family was poor, she knew her parents and siblings loved her and loved each other. But the one thing she knew her passion was at was school. Every morning she couldn’t wait to go to school and learn more. And she knew one day she would be a teacher. Throughout the years, Maria excelled in ...

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A recent conversation with a nurse evoked a metaphor for the COVID-19 pandemic. The floor on which she worked had just had several patients die from COVID-19 in rapid succession. One particularly sad case involved a man saying his final goodbye to his mother, both infected with COVID-19, through a video call because they couldn’t be in the same room as the mother passed away. The nurse said that she ...

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An excerpt from Raising Doctors: The Med School Admissions Success Guide for Parents of Future Physicians. Let’s look at how you as a parent can help your child succeed at applying to medical school. Legitimacy and verifiability matter Applying to medical school, I learned what types of activities, accomplishments, and qualifications were valued and what weren’t. For example, medical schools may restrict ...

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"There is a frenzy of trying to use technology to re-establish the healing human connection in the doctor-patient interaction. These efforts range from advanced transcription of voice-to-record, scribes who do the data recording during a patient encounter, and so on. The IT department at NYU Grossman Medical School, where I teach, ...

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I was at my gym last night (yes, it’s finally open).  Billy Joel’s ballad about trust was the metronome to my squats.  Though vaccinated, I was wearing my mask.  Knowing the latest evidence about vaccines, my mask was only for the optics of those mostly maskless around me.  I overheard the couple next to me say, “OMG. Fauci says we should double-mask. What a BSer!” Trust is fundamental to the delivery ...

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Burnout has been an issue for those in health care long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the increased stress and anxiety we face now have caused a host of new problems.  The current environment health care professionals (HCPs) find themselves in has brought issues of physical and emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, and moral injury, not to mention more instances of second victim syndrome (the effect of an unanticipated, adverse medical ...

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