HEALTH

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HOSPITAL RATINGS: BETH ISRAEL AND ST. MICHAEL’S: A - UNIVERSITY AND EOGH: D

By Walter Elliott


NEWARK - Which "Local Talk" hospitals have raised their Leapfrog grades, which have slipped and which have stayed in grade has been the talk among those within the medical profession and among the general public since the watchdog group's Nov. 7 announcement.


Four of the "Local Talk" area hospitals, with Leapfrog's Fall 2019 Hospital Safety Grades report have become models of consistency - in the good, fair and passable senses of the phrase.


A fifth hospital within the local area rose a grade. A sixth fell a grade.


The reaction may be comparable to when local public school districts get annual survey grades from "New Jersey" Monthly or colleges and universities rated by "US News & World Report."


Those medical centers who more than held their own you may already know about - they may have run advertisements in mediums and/or strung up laudatory banners outside their entrances by now.


Those who have not made progress or declined may be undergoing some introspection or question the survey's methodology.


While none of the “Local Talk” area hospitals have not openly challenged Leapfrog's findings, NCH Healthcare System filed suit against the latter Oct. 31. The Naples, Fla. medical center called Leapfrog's Fall 2019 "D" rating on patient safety, "false and misleading."


Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder, in her Oct. 31 response, said that the group has refined their data base and methodology peer-reviewed the last seven years.


That process involves generating scores from incidents reported among five categories: infections, surgery problems, error prevention, safety problems and staffing. The Washington, DC-based group then sets scales and assign overall "A" through "F" grades.


Leapfrog twice annually surveys 2,600 acute medical facilities across the U.S. the last 12 years as a means to reduce the estimated 400,000 deaths of patients over safety matters.


Two of Newark's three hospitals - RWJ Barnabas Newark Beth Israel and St. Michael's Medical Center, held onto its "A" rating.


Newark Beth Israel gets an "A" for the second straight year on a long-range rebound. "The Beth" scored As in Spring 2018 and 2015 before falling to a string of Cs.


St. Michael's also got a second straight A, having jumped from Spring 2018's C. It has come back from a D made in Fall 2016, when Cathedral Health Care sold it to Prime Healthcare.


University Hospital - Newark's third medical center - maintains a D. Except for the F it received in Spring 2018, the former UMDNJ-Hospital has been in the D doldrums. Shareef Elnahal left his New Jersey Health Commissioner appointment in May to lead University's board of directors as their CEO.


Hackensack Meridian's Mountainside Medical Center maintains a C rating. The Montclair-Glen Ridge hospital is anticipating the completion of its medical arts office building across Bay Avenue.


East Orange General Hospital is the sole local medical center that has climbed a grade.


The Prospect Healthcare-owned hospital, which was the sole hospital in New Jersey with a F rating last fall, is now up to "D." There was a year where it had not reported its data to Leapfrog.


Prospect, after investing $34 million in promised infrastructure improvements, has recently appealed to the state health department to change its for-profit status back to non-profit.


RWJ Barnabas' Clara Maas Medical Center has slipped from an A to a B - back to where it was in Fall 2016-Spring 2017. The Belleville-based hospital fell to a C in Spring 2015.


Details may be found at hospitalsafetygrade.org.

“COVERED WITH COMPASSION” - A SUCCESSFUL EVENT IN ITS THIRD YEAR

By Dhiren Shah


On Oct. 28, 2019, Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake hosted “Covered with Compassion.” The event, which is in its third year, was held at her headquarters at 520 Main Street in East Orange.


Upon receiving their complimentary wigs, attendees had the opportunity to sit with a hairdresser to have their wigs styled to their liking. Other services available at no cost to attendees included massages, medical screenings and beauty makeovers to empower them to feel beautiful, inside and out. 


Any New Jersey woman who is losing or has lost her hair due to conditions such as cancer and alopecia was welcomed to attend. 


Freeholder Tyshammie Cooper had breast cancer, and explained to me what she went through.


“My head was so sensitive from chemo that it was hard to put the wig on,” Cooper said, “Just getting the products was a roller coaster; it didn’t work going to the store. So, when Assemblywoman Timberlake saw me, she said come see me, she and her girls literally pulled up their wigs and it was on Saturday. They took their time to help me make a selection comfortable for me, that I felt confident in and they hooked me up with a stylist, who styled it for me to my liking, and was actually willing to dye it. So this program really helped me. It started to get myself confident. The person who talked about the psychological, that’s real. They help you regain your look, and talk about the psychological effects that you go through.”


She had tripled negative metastatic breast cancer. It was fast moving and very dangerous. She is cancer free now. However, she must go every two to three months for a check-up, blood test and MRI, to make sure that there is no trace of cancer. She added that she has to go through for five years and then she will live a normal life.


Ms. Timberlake said that in the first year, they serviced about 20 clients. 


“This is our third year and we probably have serviced about 80 to 100 clients,” Timberlake said. ‘Covered with Compassion’ is in honor of my late grandmother. Her name was Mary L. Whitley. She died with breast cancer.”


Timberlake added, “This is something each year I do to remember her, passing the same level of compassion to other people who suffered with breast cancer. We know that wigs are not a cure. It’s just a token of appreciation and love. Making sure that the community who is going through health related hair loss is okay.”


Her grandmother was 85 when she passed away. She was diagnosed three years before her death. She did not want chemotherapy. She was strong.


Timberlake said, “I believe that women should be breast examined at all ages. I was diagnosed with cystic breast; they can feel cancerous. When I went to the doctor, they said, ‘You are too young. I am not going to check you.’ But I ended up finding a breast doctor who checks me every time, every year. I am in my early 30s. I have been doing since I was 18 or 19.”


“Covered with Compassion” help with wigs for women who have any type of hair related illness. They collect wigs and do big events like this. But they are open year around. Throughout the year, if someone needs a wig because of hair loss due to their health-related illness, they can contact her office, and they will make an appointment to come in and select a wig. If they want a stylish wig, they can make an appointment with a hair stylist.


The average age for the clients is 55 according to Timberlake. She also said, “You have to advocate for yourself. When doctors told me no, I went to another doctor. I did not have insurance at that time.”


She found the breast center at St. Michael’s Hospital, who served the uninsured. They will check you. They will give you a mammogram, an ultrasound and biopsy if needed.

INTERVIEW WITH LOCAL LEADING PHYSICIAN DR. RAJIYAH

By Dhiren Shah


Dr. Gitendra Rajiyah, better known to his patients as Dr. Raj, is a leading physician in our area where he has been practicing medicine for over 25 years. Over the past decade as member of the medical staff at East Orange General Hospital (EOGH) and a provider practicing in the adjacent Medical Arts building, he has personally witnessed the Hospital undergo quite a few changes. 


When the Hospital Center of Orange permanently closed its doors approximately 14 years ago, there were rumors that EOGH would also close down due to its financial condition and alleged poor service. It was then that the Board of Trustees hired Mr. Kevin Slavin as President. Mr. Slavin became involved in the community and was received well, granting EOGH the ability to continue to survive in the area.


Shortly after, EOGH was acquired by a California-based company, Prospect Medical Holdings, switching from a non-profit organization to a profitable organization. Now, EOGH is up for sale. 


In order to continue providing the same level of care that his patients have been accustomed to, Dr. Raj has decided to move his practice, The Heart Center of the Oranges, from the Medical Arts Building on Central Avenue to the 4th Floor on 60 Evergreen Place in East Orange. These latest events prompted me to sit with Dr. Raj and get his insight on the current status of health care and the clinical services he and his team deliver to our community.


Dhiren Shah: Dr. Rajiyah, welcome and thank you for taking the time to sit with me. Let’s start with your practice, when did you begin practicing in our community?


Gitendra Rajiyah: I have been practicing here for about 25 years, to be exact I started in 1995.


DS: What is your specialty?


GR: I am a cardiologist, but I also practice internal medicine. I try to care for patients as a whole, whatever issues they have, which I can manage. That’s basically my philosophy.


DS: What other services does your practice provide?


GR: Presently, we are a group of providers specializing in cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, podiatry, pulmonology, sleep, and nutrition. We work closely with providers of various other specialties in order to address any gaps in care that patients need. We are currently developing a weight management program which we feel will cover the needs of a large percentage of the patient population we treat. We strive to maintain a comprehensive medical practice, covering a wide range of health issues. In the near future, we are hoping to be able to soon add endocrinology, gastroenterology and pediatrics. We try our best to serve the community providing compassionate, quality, and prompt care. We also are in the process of starting a walk-in center, similar to an urgent care center with patients who need immediate attention.


DS: What is the difference between an urgent care center and a walk-in center?


GR: To be brief, our walk-in center doesn’t stop with quick treatment only. Some patients do need an extension of urgent care. Let me give you an example: If a patient has high sugar, just bringing the sugar down and discharging them may not be the right answer. If they have a doctor, it’s fine; we can refer them to the doctor to continue treatment. If there is a delay in following the care, we need to bridge the gap. So, my philosophy is trying to give comprehensive care, even to urgent care patients. Our urgent care concept is managed by doctors, who are also very good with primary care and internal medicine. We have mid-level nurse practitioners under the supervision of doctors. That’s the concept we are trying to adopt.


DS: What kind of critical problems is the urban area of Essex County facing?


GR: Approximately 40% of the patient population we treat is covered by Medicaid HMOs. With the social-economic challenges we need to be sensitive to coverage, changes in coverage and benefits. When you prescribe medications, you are limited by agents covered by a specific plan. Today a patient may be covered by United Health Care, tomorrow Horizon NJ Health and in three months it may be WellCare. We are very vigilant in order to make sure that patients are not left with unnecessary balances which can affect their ability to adhere to treatment regimens and stay on track with care plans. Also, we have to have adequate counseling for serving patients. We recognize there are other non-pharmacological treatments that may be beneficial to patients such as diet and exercise. Many patients are dealing with substance abuse, smoking, and alcohol abuse, so all that has to be addressed. We continue our commitment to addressing these specific needs of our community and the patients we treat. 


DS: When you mention requiring permission of all the insurance companies, is there any effect on quality of care in the long run?


GR: Quality of care does get affected. But we are left with no choice but to work with insurance companies. Patients have to get their medications, especially if they have diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, COPD.


DS: When you said that you have a group of doctors, how do you pick a good doctor for your practice?


GR:  We try to find providers that are compassionate and committed to caring for patients and treating them as an individual person and not as a disease. We work with them to make sure we all share the same vision. A lot of our providers have been with us for some time and have quite the patient following. Compassion is very important for us when we look for a provider. One of the advantages that our patients have is that they can chose the provider they feel most comfortable with from a variety of locations. Our practice shares the same electronic record so the medical record is always readily available for our providers to review.


DS: When the patients don’t have the financial means, do local non-profit organizations come here to help you?


GR: We have formed a link with a lot of big pharmaceutical companies to participate in their assistance programs. Since I started, I have had one dedicated staff member who directly gets involved with this type of challenge. She helps patients complete the proper paperwork, and she talks to the companies, trying to get the medications they need. We make a big effort in trying to get the right treatment for them. We also educate our patients on how to apply for Medicaid, and try to get the right prescription plans through Medicaid. We advise them on how to get the right HMO plan (Health Maintenance Plan). So, there is a lot of work involved. We have a competent, hardworking and compassionate staff.


DS: How do you sustain services with the community?


GR: It’s always a challenge. Again, we are in an economically underprivileged area. Our staff is composed of both people from the community as well as outside of the areas we treat. We do our best to employ staff that is from the community as they bring some insight pertaining to the challenges our patient population face.


DS: You are moving as of November 1, 2019. What changes can we expect from this new facility?


GR: We will continue to provide care in East Orange but are moving from our Central Avenue location to 60 Evergreen Place. This move has been difficult. I am proud to say that I have developed a facility that is better equipped to serve our patients. We will be incorporating more services such as the much-needed weight management and Nutrition programs. 


When we move, our services are going to be expanded. This new office has been personally designed by me with the input from my staff. Patients will benefit greatly from this move. The overall processes will be better streamlined which will allow for better customer care and patient satisfaction.


DS: I understand that you use a lot of advanced digital technology. What new treatments will you provide?


GR: Telemedicine is something I am looking into incorporating within our practice. Telemedicine is the way to communicate with patients who are chronically ill and need our services to prevent them from having relapses. Even with acute illnesses, outside of office hours, we are trying to implement a system where patients can get some face-to-face advice via a computer screen, preferably with an MD. If an MD is not available, there will be a nurse practitioner available. Again, my philosophy is to provide compassionate and accessible care. I also plan to keep the costs as minimal as possible as well, so that we can provide the services in a reasonable, efficient way and hopefully improve adherence to treatment plans.


DS: Dr. Rajiyah, again, thank you very much for your time.

N.J. HUMAN SERVICES LAUNCHES NEW FAMILY PLANNING BENEFIT

Targeted Medicaid Benefit Provides Family Planning Services 

to Individuals Not Previously Covered Under Medicaid


TRENTON - On Oct. 7, First Lady Tammy Murphy and New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson announced a new family planning benefit program for women and men with incomes that are higher than traditional Medicaid eligibility.


The benefit, called Plan First, provides coverage for birth control, the HPV vaccine, family planning-related lab testing, and other targeted family planning-related health care needs.


The plan provides coverage of targeted family planning services for individuals up to 205 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning individuals with incomes up to $25,605. Plan First enrollees will not have co-pays for these benefits. Traditional Medicaid eligibility offers comprehensive health care coverage for individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or $17,237.


“Plan First increases our residents’ ability to obtain critical health care services,” said First Lady Murphy. “By expanding access to reproductive healthcare, we are working to ensure healthier mothers, babies, and families.”


“The Murphy Administration is committed to providing women coverage for quality, affordable health care,” Commissioner Johnson said. “Family planning is an essential health care service, and we are pleased to have been able to work with the Legislature, the health care provider community, and women’s advocates on the design and implementation of this critical benefit.”


“Women are finally getting the family planning services they need and deserve under Governor Murphy’s administration,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a longtime advocate for and sponsor of legislation signed by Governor Murphy to support women’s health care. “After the prior administration redlined services, it is so important to see this expansion.”


Plan First provides coverage for services such as:


· Comprehensive family planning services for women and men including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, pregnancy testing, family planning counseling, and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases

· Over-the-counter birth control methods such as condoms

· Long-acting reversible contraception

· Family planning-related laboratory testing, including STD/HIV screenings, and PAP smears

· Vasectomies for men 21 years of age or older

· HPV immunizations


Visit www.njfamilycare.org or call 1-800-701-0710 to apply.


“The Department of Human Services is continuing to work hard at modernizing our Medicaid benefits to ensure access to vital services, including contraception for as many women as possible,” said Human Services Deputy Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “Plan First is a key step forward in our goal of a healthier New Jersey for everyone.”


“We encourage residents to visit our web site or call our hotline to learn about how to apply and begin receiving Plan First coverage,” said Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Langer Jacobs, who directs Human Services’ Medicaid program. “Plan First is a comprehensive, no-cost option for family planning.”


“Access to reproductive health care should not depend on who you are, your income, or your zip code,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “We applaud this move to expand access to affordable care and ensure that more New Jerseyans can receive the lifesaving care they need and deserve.”


“With the launch of the Plan First program, New Jersey is making an important move towards increasing access to contraception and related services for low-income patients throughout the state,” said Deborah Polacek, RN, New Jersey Family Planning League, Vice President of Program Operations. “Plan First will help New Jerseyans avoid unintended pregnancies, and help keep women and families healthy.”

NEWARK BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER RECOGNIZED AMONG WORLD’S BEST HOSPITALS BY NEWSWEEK

NEWARK - Newark Beth Israel Medical Center has been named one of the World’s Best Hospitals by Newsweek magazine.


Newark Beth Israel ranked among the top 225 U.S. hospitals and is one of only five New Jersey hospitals on this prestigious list, which also includes The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Massachusetts General.


“Newark Beth Israel has long been a center of excellence and a destination center for the most advanced cardiac care, heart and lung transplant comprehensive cancer care and pediatrics at our Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. Today, as we continue to expand our top-ranked specialty services and recruit world- renowned physicians, it is an honor to be named among the World’s Best,” said Darrell K. Terry, Sr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.


Newark Beth Israel Medical Center was recognized as a top hospital in the United States for anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine, cardiology, diabetes and endocrinology, general and visceral surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, neurology and neurosurgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, palliative care, pediatrics, pediatric surgery and neonatology, plastic surgery, pulmonology, radiation oncology, radiology, traumatology, orthopedics and spine surgery, and urology.


Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospitals 2019 ranking lists more than 1,000 best hospitals in 11 countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


Newsweek partnered with Statista Inc., a global market research and consumer data company, to develop the ranking. Hospitals were evaluated based on three data sources. The first included hospital recommendations from peers through an online survey of doctors, health care professionals and hospital managers from 11 countries. About 40,000 medical experts were invited to the survey.


The rankings also looked at patient experience based on surveys of patient satisfaction with hospitalization and also incorporated medical key performance indicators (KPIs) for hospitals, which included data on quality of treatment, hygiene measures, and patient safety measures.

NEWARK BATTLES LEGIONNAIRES OUTBREAK IN SENIOR BUILDING

By Walter Elliott


NEWARK - An initially curious thing happened during Mayor Ras Baraka's press update on water quality remediation here at City Hall May 7.


Baraka, Newark Acting Water and Sewer Director Kareem Adeem and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe brought the media in Tuesday afternoon to brief them on the lead sewer line replacement program and other advances on their war against lead content.


They, indeed, got their update out - but only to be later asked about the Legionnaires' Disease outbreak in the 2 Nevada St. senior center building. Word of three elderly residents falling ill there became public May 3.


"Those are two separate and completely different issues," said Baraka. "Legionnaires' wouldn't be a problem as it relates to a water source. It would be a problem that occurred in a specific building once it gets into the water system in that building."


A Friday report came out that two residents fell ill to the form of pneumonia last month and a third so diagnosed in December. They all reside in Nevada Street Apartments, a 306-unit, 19-story senior and Section 8 building constructed in 1978.


Health and Community Wellness Director Dr. Mark Wade confirmed the three cases that Friday. Wade, who was not at Tuesday's press conference, said that State Health Department investigators had arrived there that day. City officials have also been cleaning 2 Nevada's water system May 6.


Wade cautioned that the three patients may not have contracted the disease in 2 Nevada St. and may have contracted it elsewhere.


Legionnaires' infects victims when they inhale droplets of reheated water that contain the Legionella bacteria - a common bacteria found in water or soil.


The reheated water allowed the bacteria to multiply, causing fever, chills, muscle ache and a cough. Those who are 50 or more years old who have a chronic illness, are heavy tobacco smokers and/or have an otherwise compromised immune system can have more serious, even deadly symptoms.


The disease's name comes from its first reported outbreak - an American Legion convention in Philadelphia's Bellevue-Stratford Hotel July 21-23, 1976. 130 of the conventioneers fell ill at home in late July and 29 suddenly died.


The bacterium was discovered in one of the hotel's air conditioning cooling towers, causing changes in climate control maintenance. The 1904 Center City building became a mixed-use retail-hotel in 1988.


Legionella-tainted water can be spread through aerosol faucets and fixtures like shower heads, faucets, humidifiers and decorative fountains. It is therefore recommended that one minimizes time being exposed to water mist. Taking baths and drinking cold water are preferred.


The disease can be treated via antibiotics. Water heating and filtering systems are to be cleaned and its filters replaced.


West Orange spent July-October testing and cleaning its township and public school buildings after an employee and a summer camp-attending child came down with symptoms in July. The bacteria was first found in its Municipal Building water system - and then in Redwood Elementary School water.


Baraka and Adeem had intended the conference to announce that the first 750 lead service lines between city water mains and customers' homes are being replaced. That is the first of a 10-year, $75 million replacement program of some 15,000 LSLs in wake of the city's elevated lead levels.


The city began organizing the LSL replacement plan while distributing some 43,000 water faucet or pitcher filters to addresses served by the Pequannock Water System last fall.


These two steps were in response to two years' of elevated lead level readings. One test cycle found two thirds of 156 city-wide sample sites reading above the US EPA's 15 parts of lead per billion gallons "actionable" level.


The lead content is largely from buildup in water fixtures and/or old lead pipes from sporadic use. Newark had been using sodium silicate at its Pequannock and Montclair treatment plants to coat any lead lines - until the DEP told them it had stopped being effective in 2017.


Baraka and Addem also announced that they have switched to adding orthophosphate as a liner additive. Orthophosphate is being introduced in its Valley Road Treatment Plant after spending $70,000 to refit that Montclair site.


The Valley Road plant also serves Newark customers Montclair, Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley and indirectly Glen Ridge. (Glen Ridge buys its water from Montclair.)


Newark's health officials are also working with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the FAA in responding to two measles exposure cases at Newark Liberty International Airport.


Officials are asking to public whether they have been in EWR Terminal C 4-9 a.m. April 16 and 9 p.m. March 4-9:30 a.m. March 5.


That was when two separate passengers from two separate flights were found to have measles symptoms. The April 16 passenger just disembarked from a flight from Israel; the March 4-5 passenger from Aruba.


New Jersey is ranked by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention May 6 as having the third highest number of measles cases. The Garden State has three cases from among 764 so far recorded among 23 states.


New Jersey is sandwiched between Pennsylvania, which registered its first case last weekend, and New York, which tops the list at 690 cases.


The outbreak, which began Feb. 1, is the largest in 25 years.

EOGH CELEBRATES VALENTINE’S DAY WITH NORMAN TOWERS RESIDENTS

By Dhiren Shah


On Feb. 13, 2019 about 30 Norman Towers residents gathered at the East Orange General Hospital (EOGH) Cafeteria to celebrate Valentine’s Day a day early. 


Norman Towers, with over 400 apartments, is known to East Orange and surrounding communities. East Orange General Hospital executives and staff joined with them for a festive lunch followed by a tour of the hospital. The tour includes the Women’s Health Center, which houses a complete range of diagnostic and primary health services including the latest state-of-the-art 3-D mammography equipment.


Guests also visited the Family Heath Center, which provides primary and orthopedic care and services. The Bariatric Surgery and Metabolic Wellness Center was the final stop on the tour. The Center provides both medically-supervised weight loss services and a range of bariatric surgery procedures, as well as seminars and support groups.


Prior to lunch several members of the EOGH team spoke to the guests, including Paige Dworak, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, East Orange General Hospital. 


“This hospital is the healthcare home at the heart of this community, and we are pleased to welcome you all into our home to see and experience the transformation that has taken place within these walls,” Dworak said.


Also, EOGH Chief Operating Officer Guy Voelbel and Emergency Department Chairman and Medical Director Shubert Perotte addressed the audience.


“Having a community hospital is so important,” said Marie Ettore, Onsite Manager, Norman Towers. “It was exciting to visit East Orange General and see all of the great changes and updates they have made to revitalize the facility.” 


Lynette Atkinson, a resident of Norman Towers, said, “My mom was here decades ago. I was also a patient of EOGH a couple of years ago. It is okay to celebrate Valentine’s Day today and I am enjoying it. I am looking forward to seeing the changes here. Oneness, nurses, equipment and new technology is very good. I heard what they say; it’s wonderful.”

2018

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DEATHS REPORTED OF TWO PREMATURE INFANTS ASSOCIATED WITH BACTERIAL INFECTION OUTBREAK IN UMDNJ NICU

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.”

WARNING: THROW OUT ROMAINE LETTUCE IMMEDIATELY

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.


LATEST OUTBREAK INFORMATION

·  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.

MAKING STRIDES AGAINST BREAST CANCER WALK IN DOWNTOWN NEWARK

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.

A TOWN HALL MEETING TO DISCUSS RUTGERS AND RWJ BARNABAS

 

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.

RWJ BARNABAS BETH ISRAEL FAIR HOLDS PUBLIC'S ATTENTION

 

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.

MARIJUANA: PROS AND CONS

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.