As part of an ongoing outbreak investigation of a bacterial infection in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of University Hospital in Newark, the New Jersey Department of Health learned late Nov. 26 that two premature infants with confirmed cases of A. baumannii died last week.

The infants contracted the infection six weeks ago and, due to other medical conditions related to being born premature, the bacterial infection may not be the cause of death. No new NICU infections have been confirmed since October, when the Department ordered an external infection prevention expert to guide efforts in the NICU.

A Department survey team came on-site Nov. 27 to investigate the hospital's internal notification policies, governance, and other factors that relate to reporting of deaths of cases during an ongoing outbreak. As of Nov. 26, the hospital's own infection control program was not aware of the deaths when contacted.

The Department first became aware of this bacterial infection on October 1, when two cases of A. baumannii were confirmed in the NICU. Two additional cases were confirmed in lab tests later in October. Of these four confirmed cases, three of the infants have died. On October 25, the Department reported in a press release that a premature infant who had been cared for at University Hospital and had the bacteria was transferred to another facility and passed away at the end of September, before the Department was notified of infections in the NICU. The fourth infant was discharged at the end of last month.

The Department ordered a Directed Plan of Correction on October 25 that required University Hospital to hire a full-time Certified Infection Control Practitioner to guide efforts.

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka gave a statement regarding University Hospital:

“The deaths of three premature infants with an Acinetobacter bacteria and the infection of a fourth, all cared for at University Hospital, are stark reminders that an overhaul of the quality of care and the leadership of the hospital is urgently needed. The infants had a variety of other medical conditions, but the fact remains that they contracted the bacteria in the hospital’s neonatal ICU. The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness will work collaboratively with the New Jersey State Department of Health to continue careful monitoring of the situation in that unit.

“In July, Governor Murphy acted swiftly and decisively in appointing a monitor for University Hospital. Today, more action is needed. The hospital is central to providing health care to Newark residents, and I have been very concerned about its quality of care, its leadership’s failure to live up to the Newark Agreement negotiated when the hospital was created, their insensitivity to the opinions of residents, their attempt to reduce the number of pediatric beds without consulting myself or the Governor, and the failing grade they received on their level of care from the Leapfrog Group.

“The time has come for the State of New Jersey and the Newark community to collaborate in setting a new direction for University Hospital:

1. The hospital needs to become more responsive to the people it serves and sensitive to their needs. This requires more community input with new leadership, including a new board with adequate representation of Newark residents and a new President/CEO with a history of sensitivity to community.

2. State and federal investment is needed to enable University Hospital to become the first-class teaching hospital that it was intended to be, including an overhauled emergency room, a world-class trauma center, and more outpatient clinics to meet the underserved medical needs of the people of Newark.

“In 1968, the state and federal governments negotiated a detailed pact with the people of Newark to create a top-notch medical facility with community involvement and oversight in perpetuity. On the 50th anniversary of the Newark Agreement, it’s time to keep the promise.”


On  Nov. 20, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), public health and  regulatory officials in several states, Canada, and the U.S. Food and  Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of  Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7)  infections linked to romaine lettuce.

CDC  is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and  retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more  about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing, and the advice will  be updated as more information is available.

·  Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not  eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no  one has gotten sick.

o This advice includes all  types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts  of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that  contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

o If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

o  Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was  stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.

· Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

· Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:

o Talk to your healthcare provider.

o Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.

o Report your illness to the health department.

o Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

Advice to Clinicians

·  Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with E. coli O157  infections. Antibiotics are also not recommended for patients in whom E.  coli O157 infection is suspected, until diagnostic testing rules out  this infection.

· Some studies have shown that  administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli O157 infections might  increase their risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (a type of  kidney failure), and the benefit of antibiotic treatment has not been  clearly demonstrated.


·  Thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga  toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 11 states.

o Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018.

o  Thirteen people were hospitalized, including one person who developed  hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been  reported.

· The Public Health Agency of Canada  has identified 18 ill people infected with the same DNA fingerprint of  E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in two Canadian provinces: Ontario and Quebec.

· Epidemiologic evidence from the United States and Canada indicates that romaine lettuce is a likely source of the outbreak.

·  Ill people in this outbreak were infected with E. coli bacteria with  the same DNA fingerprint as the E. coli strain isolated from ill people  in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to  romaine lettuce in Canada. The current outbreak is not related to a  recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to  romaine lettuce.

· CDC is advising that consumers  do not eat any romaine lettuce because no common grower, supplier,  distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.

· This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.

Symptoms of E. coli Infection

· People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after swallowing the germ.

· Some people with a STEC infection may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

· E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.

·  Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli  infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli  infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering  antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their  risk of developing HUS, and a benefit of treatment has not been clearly  demonstrated.

Illnesses  started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018. Ill  people range in age from 7 to 84 years, with a median age of 24.  Sixty-six percent of ill people are female. Of 26 people with  information available, 13 (50%) were hospitalized, including one person  who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No  deaths have been reported.

Illnesses  that occurred after October 30, 2018, might not yet be reported due to  the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli  infection and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two  to three weeks.


By Thomas Ellis II

On Sunday October 21, 2018, the American Cancer Society held its annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The walk is to raise awareness, to raise money to save lives from breast cancer, and a way to bring people together to make a difference for everyone who has been touched by breast cancer.

Every year, thousands gather at the Prudential Center in Downtown Newark to participate in the Making Strides Walk, and this year was no exception. The weather was a little chilly for some, but by the 10 am time of the walk, the sun was coming out and warming up the city. This year, several parents from UVSO Ivy Hill Pre-K joined the event. The Dads Group, the Moms Group, and the Grandparents Group were all proud to walk.

It's really good to see so many people all coming together for one common cause, and walking to raise the level of awareness. However, let’s not forget that men can suffer from breast cancer as well, and that hundreds of men are survivors of breast cancer.

When it comes to breast cancer early detection and diagnosis is vital, as many women with breast cancer show no symptoms. That's why regular breast cancer screening is so important.

Breast cancer treatment choices will depend on the stage of your breast cancer, your age, overall health, and your personal preferences.

For some of the women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, they may require breast reconstruction surgery. This is not easy for women to deal with, and it can take a toll on them mentally and physically. Nonetheless, it's a procedure that can help them to live longer, and with the right support system the women can go on to have productive lives.

For men, here are some symptoms to look for when checking for male breast cancer:

· A lump felt in the breast

· Nipple pain

· An inverted nipple

· Nipple discharge (clear or bloody)

· Sores on the nipple and areola (The small ring of color around the center of the nipple

· Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm

These are just a few signs for men to look out for. Don't forget, just like the women, men need to go for annual checkups so that we can be in the best of health at all times, or be in a position to get the treatment needed if such illness arises.

To all those that walked in the breast cancer walk this past Sunday, keep walking, keep striding, and keep making a difference. Your walk may encourage someone else to walk next year, and then there will be a larger crowd in Newark, all looking to beat breast cancer.



By Dhiren Shah

NEWARK - Newark City Hospital opened in 1882 with 25 beds only. In the 20th Century, the college of Medicine and Dentistry known as CMDNJ took over and named it Martland Hospital. The expansion of the hospital was built in late 1972 and the early 1980s, ultimately becoming UMDNJ. In 2012, with the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act, the hospital transferred to New Jersey State University Rutgers. In 2013, University Hospital became an independent, standalone medical center.

There was talk going on for a merger of RWJ Barnabas’ affiliation with Rutgers Hospital. According to the news, RWJ Barnabas will invest $100 million initially and then $1 billion in 20 years. Governor Murphy appointed a monitor after Rutgers hospital announced the closure of their Pediatrics Department. With that, there is a huge question. Some feel the quality of Rutgers has gone down after the takeover in 2012. The community has doubts about the treatment they are receiving.

With all that was going on, Mayor Ras Baraka announced a townhall meeting at NJIT’s Jim Wise Theater at Kupfrian Hall.

Assemblyman Thomas Giblin has proposed a resolution to include three members of the board of trustees appointed by Mayor Baraka.

Giblin said, “We have responsibilities to the children and families of the surrounding communities and make sure that our health care is at the optimal best. The players should be involved, labor union community, NAACP, employees of the hospital…We have to be pushy, aggressive, demand…when the key decisions are made.”

Giblin also said that he introduced legislation in respect to the hospital that the mayor of the city of Newark should have an opportunity to have a representative at these board meetings. Also, he added that organized labor should be included in the board meetings.

There were about 20-25 speakers from the audience. Among those who spoke and/or were in attendance were former Mayor of Irvington Wayne Smith, Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese, community activists Donna Jackson and Kathleen Witcher, members from labor unions, some hospital employees and the local community. However, due to the venue’s size there were about 100-150 people in the audience, rather than a standing room only as I expected.

The main concerns about the hospital was ensuring the care of children and again, the quality of service.



By Walter Elliott

NEWARK - RWJBarnabas Health Newark Beth Israel's 15th Annual Alma Beatty Health & Wellness Fair, held here on Alma Beatty Way Sept. 22, appeared to "Local Talk" as having staying power on several levels.

"Local Talk" made its debut appearance by 2:30 p.m. Saturday, some two-and-a-half hours after its kickoff.

Visitors coming from Lyons Avenue and Osborne Terrace Noon-4 p.m. actually had two paths to the fair's registration tent. One could walk directly to the tent or walk through a 10-foot diameter inflatable colon.

"Local Talk" went straight for the tent for sign-in and receive a passport card. One is to take at least one health class and visit at least six exhibit tables. The visitor is to then return to the registration tent and show the stamped card to get an end-of-fair raffle ticket.

A quick scan and walk along Alma Beatty Way/Osborne Terrace between Lyons and Lehigh avenues, however, showed that all the classes were held. The box lunches were also all gone.

One would think that many people and exhibitors in the fair's final hour would start drifting away.

"Local Talk," however, counted 335 men, women and children still on that block. Some may have lingered for the concluding raffle drawing and a few of the 32 exhibition tables were cleared or folded up.

There were far more people than the 33 midblock seats who were watching a dance demonstration.

Some younger people playing ping-pong or one-on-one basketball by the YMCA's portable hoop and van. Others were trying out a nearby obstacle course or a gym's pull rope.

People still stood in lines five-deep for face or plate swirl painting or fresh juice samples. Some others were waiting to try the massage chairs along the hospital's ABC Lobby.

Some others still were visiting the 27 exhibitors’ tables. One could pick up information on matters running from personal affairs forum folders to home safety to organ donation. "Local Talk," thinking of a parishioner, picked up a sickle cell trait and disease handbook before taking a sleep deprivation survey.

This fair, like most, held screenings for blood pressure, diabetes and dental health. There were more screenings, either on-site or for appointment sign-up, on a wider range of conditions.

One veteran exhibitor said that the fair usually draws 600 people on its annual day. The 335 who stayed the last hour means that a majority had stayed to almost the end.

"Local Talk" was trying to remember just when the Newark Beth Israel Greenhouse was opened. The Beth Greenhouse, which was open for tours Saturday, is the fair's latest exhibit addition - a sign of the event's growth.

Saturday was the 15th annual fair - which is evidence of the hospital and its participating exhibitors' commitment.

The fair was most likely started while the late Alma Beatty was community affairs vice president of "The Beth." Beatty, 75, hailed for her long-time outreach, died Feb. 10, 2015. The city later held an honorary street renaming between Lyons and Lehigh.

"Local Talk" walked through that half-colon before leaving the fair. Thoughts of whether to call the inflatable model a hemi- or semi- colon were replaced with views of simulated polyps and tears to illustrate potential rectal problems.

There were two RWJB-Beth Israel staff members fielding questions on colon health nearby. The employees said that they and their inflatable were at the opposite corner by Osborne and Lehigh. One could sign up to have a colorectal cancer screening appointment.

Plans for the 16th Alma Beatty Health and Wellness fair are being made for the next fourth Saturday in September.


By Thomas Ellis II   OP/ED

With marijuana laws changing across the country, and the state of New Jersey in the fight to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, there was a discussion about cannabis on July 31 at Bethany Baptist Church with advocates for decriminalizing and how to look at the business side of the issue. 

I have known people who have been smoking marijuana for 50 years or more, and with the current climate changing on the position of marijuana, and hundreds of millions of dollars generated for taxes, my, how times have changed.

Many people still believe that weed is bad for you because of the myths and stories that were created during the war on drugs about marijuana. But in today's world, researchers have found several medicinal uses for the so-called drug.

The myth about cannabis being labeled a class drug, and that it is the gateway to stronger drugs is what fueled many heated debates over the years about the plant. Again, I know people who have been smoking pot for many years and never graduated to crack, cocaine, heroin, or even pills. All they wanted to do was smoke their joint and be happy.

Jails are filled with nonviolent offenders who was caught with a dime bag, nickel bag, half an ounce of marijuana and serving time with violent offenders because of the law. However, now in those states where pot have been legalized for recreational use, what do the cities 

and states do?

Thousands of lives have been ruined, with many people labeled addicts and dealers for a plant that the U.S. Government is now growing, selling, and making millions of dollars from. How do those people restore their lives? That is the question.

Now let’s look at some pros and cons of marijuana from the information I gathered from the meeting, internet and other sources. I have tried my best, but make your judgement after you investigate and find out for yourself.

Here are a few pros:


- Marijuana helps with glaucoma

- It can help control epileptic seizures

- A chemical found in marijuana called CBD stops cancer from spreading

- THC slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease

- It relieves arthritis discomfort

- Marijuana spurs creativity in the brain

- Cannabis protects the brain after a stoke

- Weed soothes tremors for people with Parkinson's disease

- Marijuana helps veterans suffering from PTSD

It is truly amazing the medical benefits of this product, but because it is deemed illegal many were unable to reap the benefits.

Now let's look at some of the cons:

- It is addictive, and 10% of users will develop a dependence

- Marijuana is a drug, and a drug changes the way the body works

- Users of pot experience a high that alters the way they perceive things while under the influence

- Marijuana cause brain problems and effect the memory

- Smoking reefer raises the heart rate from 20% to 100% for up to 3 hours after it's been smoked. This increase boosts the risk of several problems including heart palpitations, arrhythmias, and heart attack

- There are also many who believe there is a link between marijuana use and mental illnesses, like depression, and schizophrenia. Researchers aren't sure if the marijuana triggers these conditions, or if people smoking it turn to the drug to self-medicate their symptoms.

Several cities and states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana and in return, it has been a cash cow in generating monies for their state. Colorado, the first state to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, is expected to take in $60 to $70 million in a years’ time in taxes from legal pot sales.

California is another state that will gain a lot of money in taxes from legalizing pot. They can raise millions of dollars just from the sale alone, not to mention the monies raised from growing the plant.

Washington passed initiative 502 in 2012 which legalized small amounts of marijuana related products for adults over the age of 21. The revenue Washington earns in taxing these products is designated for health care and substance-abuse prevention and education.

There is a lot of money to be made and that's why the states are legalizing this so-called drug all of a sudden. Once the politicians and states found out about the money they could make off marijuana and how they can use those monies to fix infrastructure, pay off city and state budget debts, create jobs, lower taxes, and increase revenue, they were all for it - no matter if it was labeled a drug or not.

The state of New Jersey elected a new governor in Phil Murphy last year, and he took office January 16, 2018. One of his campaign promises was to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Many are for it, but many are against it. Some detractors think it will create more criminal activity in the community, more addicts, and that legalizing pot would be a great disservice to the state.