Covid is “Hitchin a ride” for Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2020 No comments

Those of us who are a certain age remember this song well.  What better way to describe what COVID 19 is doing right this very minute?  COVID is hitchin a ride in bus stations, airports, train stations and personal vehicles all across the country.  Just a few weeks ago it was hitchin a ride on Air Force One….accompanying the President of the USA and his entourage to numerous campaign rallies all over the US.hitchhikercovid

COVID is a tough nasty little virus.  It is extremely contagious, it is all around us looking for a host, and it is spreading like wildfire.  Hospitals are filling up in some states. Healthcare workers are getting sick and exhausted.  And as Thanksgiving approaches, millions of stupid people insist on traveling and gathering for the holiday to have a turkey. I hate to put the STUPID label on folks but there it is.stupid

The Federal CDC has warned all of us to “just stay home for Thanksgiving”.  Surrounding ourselves with only the people within our personal bubbles/households is recommended, because of the huge spike in numbers of COVID cases, nationally and especially in specific States.  A small family that I know has done their homework so they can get together.  Only one of them has not been quarantining, and he has tested several days prior to their small family TG. Then he did quarantine with his family to avoid exposure.   There are smart ways to do this safely.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/thanksgiving.html

A lot of things have led up to this huge Thanksgiving rebellion in our country.  Just under half of the citizens of this country support Donald Trump and they voted for him.  Responsibility for presidential leadership/guidance apparently escapes his grasp.  He has failed to be a good example on how to avoid this virus, even after he contracted it himself.  He got immediate and full throttle care for his case, which is atypical for the average citizen.  So, he was lucky enough to bounce back quickly.   His very effective treatment and unusually rapid recovery made him even more cocky and arrogant than he was before he got sick. Maybe a few days on a ventilator in ICU would have humbled him and helped the country in the long run.   Because he has this huge pulpit and visibility, he has become even more dangerous and ineffective during this pandemic.   He doesn’t wear a mask himself and he doesn’t advise others to wear one, so his cult-like followers do not wear masks either.  He rallies and parties, and holds mask free crowded events in the White House.  During his hospitalization and when he was most infectious, he decided the Secret Service guys could take him for a spin around Walter Reid Hospital.  Following DJT’s lead, his doe eyed followers intend to throw caution to the wind for their Thanksgiving holiday.  They don’t seem to recognize that the White House has become a super spreader hub.  Many of his own staff, family, colleagues and Secret Service officers have all become victims of this virus.  But, like their leader, these folks are science deniers and rule breakers and none of them seem to be tuned into the reality that over 250,000 Americans have died and millions have become infected. Some still call the pandemic a hoax!

All of this is happening as the pandemic is getting worse…alarmingly worse as we speak.  It is like a giant rolling pin flattening our country.

So, now the weekend before the Thanksgiving Holiday and only weeks before we can all start getting the very effective vaccine, stupid people are crowding into American airports. We can see these images on any news channel or newspaper, A lot of folks are wearing masks…which is good.  But, masks are only one part of necessary precautions to avoid the little hitchhikers we cannot see….COVID19 viruses.  The other  precautions are distancing, hand washing, avoiding crowds and other practical steps.  If those media images of crowds also showed the microscopic virus hitchhikers on the travelers, most normal intelligent people would be horrified.airportcovid

I am extremely concerned about our future after Thanksgiving.

The Pandemic is growing at a wicked pace right now because so many people are stupid, impatient and selfish.  Stupidity is killing us, one victim at a time.  Most of us who observe and believe in science are going to be the survivors of this pandemic.  We will show up as soon as we can to get our vaccination.  We will continue to use the precautions that are recommended.  We will come out on the other side of this to enjoy our lives.  Far too many of those folks who insist on crowding, celebrating and giving rides to those dastardly virus hitchhikers, will not fare as well.  And sadly a huge number of their innocent vulnerable relatives may die, or suffer needlessly.  They will become the hosts to more than family…they will be hosting those miserable little  hitchhikers.happycovidtg

My son had a cold last week.  A simple cold with a stuffy nose and feeling icky. He works in a business that makes masks and he wears one faithfully.  He immediately went home from work.  He stayed inside for a few days and tested for COVID on the third day.  His test was negative, but he still wears a mask and stays 6 feet away from others, and he will take away his Thanksgiving dinner from my home.  I will cook for my family, and we will all celebrate separately.  I can handle it, and so can my family.  I am an intelligent grown up and so are  my husband and sons.  My life, and especially the lives of my loved ones mean a whole lot more to me than a holiday meal and gathering.  I am sorry for all of us to miss this, but it is ONE YEAR, and it will be better next year.  I feel like Thanksgiving this year should be reserved for loving our families at a distance and being thankful for their continued health. We should also thankful for the scientists who are working feverishly to move forward so we can end this pandemic.

If you don’t want to spend Christmas in ICU on a ventilator, you should abide by the advice of the scientists and the CDC.

I wish the stupid ones a lot of luck, but it takes precautions, not luck, to keep ourselves safe during a pandemic.  Don’t pick up hitchhikers.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Credit to Brian M Day for the COVID images.

https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-11-19/cdc-holiday-travel-thanksgiving-warning

https://www.azfamily.com/news/continuing_coverage/coronavirus_coverage/passengers-crowd-sky-harbor-as-cdc-calls-for-canceling-thanksgiving-travel-plans/article_301628ec-2b8c-11eb-8d6b-97f51f23ef2c.html

https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/crowds-seen-at-ohare-as-travelers-depart-chicago-ahead-of-thanksgiving-holiday/2376658/

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COVID death threats

September 9th, 2020 No comments

I read in the Bangor Daily News today that Pastor Todd Bell’s lawyers claim there have been death threats against him.  That is outrageous, and unacceptable. There is never any place for death threats.  It must stop.

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/09/09/news/york/sanford-pastor-connected-to-coronavirus-outbreak-getting-death-threats-lawyers-say/?fbclid=IwAR1vnhdAZMxWpTDn0d1J1JubSzcUqD0c9zQ4bwvRYMZBZw-jzxgguKSQnyM

However, COVID 19 threatens death to vulnerable people every day.  Even otherwise healthy young people have died of COVID 19.  It is very contagious, and it can be deadly. That is exactly the reason that most of us have altered our lives so much over the past 6 months.  We can’t hire lawyers to protect our lives from COVID. We just have to follow some pretty simple life saving rules.

I remember the first rumblings about COVID.  I went to Sam’s Club and a woman ahead of me was scrubbing off the handle to the shopping cart.  I use to walk by those wipes in stores, and just cleaned my hands when I got home.  That day was different. I felt a startling shift in the need to do such things, religiously. I told that lady, “that is a great idea” and I scrubbed the shopping cart handle. AND I washed my hands when I got home.

It wasn’t long after my Sam’s club visit, that all hell broke loose.  The cases went from 1 case and Trump saying it was a hoax, to now about 6,000,000 cases and 200,000 deaths.  We had blissful days in Maine while Seattle was exploding with COVID.  Maine didn’t see any cases for quite a while.  But, we knew it was coming….

Then we got our first case, and our second. etc.  Then we had our first death and our second, etc.  But, all things considered, Maine has done very well to stem the spread of COVID.  That was until a Pastor Todd Bell joined with other science deniers and rule breakers to officiate a wedding in Millinocket, Maine, my home town.  That was the start of the largest COVID 19 outbreak in Maine, and it keeps growing.

Less than a week after the August 7 wedding I started hearing some things about an outbreak up home. We are one month and 2 days out from that wedding, and now about 160 people, possibly more have been affected.   3 people have died, none of them attended the wedding.  They were secondary or tertiary contacts.  Others have been hospitalized.  And fortunately many have managed their illness at home.  This story has not ended.

Unless Todd Bell has been living under a rock, (and we KNOW he hasn’t because he thrives on attention) , he has seen,  heard and read about the havoc that wedding caused in our State.  He has been educated and warned by State officials about what is expected of Churches AND schools in this state, under executive orders from our Governor.  The rules are for ALL churches and his isn’t excluded.   Those orders are to protect each and every Mainer, including Pastor Bell and his flock.  Yet, he defiantly holds church services, without masks or distancing.  He did this knowing that his own personal church outbreak had doubled last week from 5 to 10 victims.  His choir, crowded in the front of the church without masks, sings hymns.  Singing is known to spread COVID droplets efficiently, especially when no masks are worn.

What will it take to bring this pastor into compliance?  Will it take a death in his own Church?  Will they have to cough, and choke and collapse right in front of him?  Will he go to them to help or will he stand back because he knows they have COVID?  Will he pray over them?  I don’t know that he has prayed for the others who have died, or their survivors, or all of the other people he has left in his path.

He has publicly scoffed at the executive orders of the State of Maine.  He has laughed at all of us.

Pastor Todd Bell’s actions threaten the lives of his flock. So, could his actions be considered a “death threat”?   Members of  his flock leave that church and go back into the community to their homes, jobs, stores, and other public places.  My guess is that most of them don’t wear masks.  That is a clear display of their selfishness and disregard for others and preventative rules. They have likely learned well from their  science defying pastor.

Should they be allowed to continue this defiance and spread of disease?  I don’t think so.  I think they have been handled with diplomacy, education, warnings, and fairness long enough.  I think they have wreaked enough havoc on our State. I think it is time to shut them down.

But, certainly not with death threats.

 

Fighting For Our Lives in COVID Times

September 3rd, 2020 No comments

I am 71 years old with arthritis and circulation problems.  After almost a decade of traveling around the country, attending conferences and fighting for patient safety, I am now an antsy activist who is settled in my living room. My office is a great leather Lazyboy recliner and my computer.   The traveling got to me, and writing presentations did too.  I was physically tired, but my busy mind never stops and my fingers can fly over the keyboard.

For almost 10 years, I learned everything I could about preventing Hospital acquired infections or HAIs.  My father, whose handsome face you see in the corner of my homepage on this website, died in 2009 because he got a deadly MRSA infection when he was in the hospital for a minor ankle fracture and rehab.  He and 2 others died in that infection outbreak in his tiny hometown hospital.

I knew the hospitals could do better to keep patients safe and not give them infections. I studied and joined forces with some of the fiercest patient safety advocates in the country.  We put our hearts and souls into the fight.  I got legislation passed for MRSA prevention in my State of Maine. We fought for testing, screening, treatments, precautions, mask and glove wearing, etc.

podium

Does this all sound familiar right now?

I’ve been pretty laid back for a few years.  I retired my leadership roles in my patient safety groups and decided I was tired and it was time for a break.

Then COVID came in March of 2020!  OH MY GOD!

My husband and I have mostly stayed home and we are just going on short rides each day.  Pre COVID, RV camping trips all over the country and Canada with our travel trailer, eating out, and Casino visits were some of our favorite things to do.

campsite Our last RV trip was last October to meet my brand new 1 day old grand niece, Abbigail.  She lives in SC.

abbigail Our only grandchild is grown and married, our kids are middle aged , so it is just my husband Mike, our shih tzu Stanley and me in our home.  When I wasn’t working on HAI activism or taking care of my mother, we were living the vida loca!   Our favorite activities were crazy fun for us.  Now we honestly don’t dare to go out much at all.

My patient safety colleagues and I studied data,  CDC recommendations, FDA news, hospital ratings, etc. all the blessed time.  We met in Atlanta with the CDC three times in person and many times over the phone. I joined the Maine State HAI council as a consumer/patient representative.    We represented patients/consumers in many meetings around the country and our individual States.  We had to keep up on all the latest patient safety information so we could be intelligent participants in some pretty VIP conversations.  It was extremely hard work and also the most satisfying work of my life.

Now, all of us, every single adult and child in the US is bombarded with complex data, information and mis information every single day about COVID.  All of us are activists now. We all have to weed out the accurate information and activate it to keep ourselves and our families safe.  None of  us want to get COVID 19. Infection control precautions are now necessary in every American household and in our communties.  These precautions aren’t  just for hospitalized patients anymore.

COVID safety is about ALL of us.   All of us read graphs and scrutinize Data about COVID for our States, country and world. We watch the State racehorses all trying to get to the “GREEN” zone (lowest infection rates) like we have in Maine.

covidmap

The news media tells us every day what the death toll is, and now it is over 180,000 in the US.   Everyone has had the lessons about wearing masks, handwashing ,distancing and staying home when we are sick.  These are very similar infection precautions that my patient safety group were driving home with healthcare professionals who had expertise.  Now we all have to be experts on some level.  If you have not learned how to keep yourself and your family safe, you have not been paying attention.

mymask

Teaching every person in every household about COVID prevention (except tiny babies) is like teaching HAI precautions, only on steroids.

The equation of our patient safety work  compared to public COVID education looks like  this:

HAI Precaution education x 3,o00,000 = COVID education for general public

3,o00.000 is the approximate population of the US.

We are trying to educate little kids as young as 3 years old to wear masks and clean their hands.    Oh, and try to keep them 6 feet apart.   We are educating people in all settings, in all races, in all parties, in all religions, all families, all ages…all over the country.

Scientists have learned a great deal about COVID since the March.  At first people were hoarding all sorts of disinfecting supplies, so they could clean their darned grocery bags.  They learned that masks are definitely useful in prevention, but not to protect ourselves! That would take an N 95 mask.   That seems backward, but it is a good lesson that we have to work almost as hard to protect others as we do to protect ourselves. It’s an even exchange.  They learned not to listen to the president when it comes to treatments and rabbit -in- the- hat disappearing pandemics.  There is some effective treatment though, both with medicine and respiratory therapies. We hear that a vaccine is nearly ready.  Not so many patients are going on ventilators, and more are recovering.  We have made some great strides, against an extremely contagious brand new deadly virus and some pretty wild misinformation.  Remember  the poison control calls for ingestion of bleach?..because the President said it might work and we would study that.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2020/04/25/calls-to-poison-centers-spike–after-the-presidents-comments-about-using-disinfectants-to-treat-coronavirus/#4bba981a1157

It has been nearly 6 months since we first locked down.  Now what.  Some states like mine  have done a terrific job at staunching the virus.  Until recently my home town of Millinocket Maine hadn’t had a single case.  Then a church and a reception venue decided it was OK to exercise their “rights” to not wear masks, crowd into a reception, party on with too many people for an indoor setting..and a number of other broken rules. That’s how they turned that wedding into the biggest outbreak in our State…and it growing as we speak. This outbreak was started in the Millinocket region and rippled out into 3 other communities, affecting over 140 people, with several hospitalizations and 1 death.  The national story about this is evolving as we speak, and it addresses some pretty scary religious zealots and their defiance of science and State regulations and restrictions. How dare they endanger my State?  Most Churches are doing very well and are being great neighbors , but this one is an outlier.

The latest: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/09/02/news/hancock/maine-wedding-outbreak-grows-with-more-cases-at-jail-rehab-center/

Some people have a really hard time with rules. I’m talking about adult educated people, not little kids.  Too many think everything is about THEM and their rights.  They defy the rules and deny the science. Some just don’t give a shit! Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to word that.   Unfortunately, this is not a disease we can avoid by just taking care of ourselves. ….we all have to take care of each other.  Therein lies the problem.  If I have high cholesterol I can eat healthy to treat it for myself. I can’t eat a healthy diet to protect my neighbor from high cholesterol.  Wearing masks protects people around us, our neighbors.

I don’t go into stores right now.  I don’t go on camping trips, or to casinos or restaurants or any of those dangerous places. I have seen far too much non compliance with the rules and recommendations.  And, I have read the stories of my fellow nurses and how horrible it is to be in the hospital with COVD.  I do ride in my car to get our little dog out for walks, but I stay home most of the time.  My husband braves the stores and I order curbside pick up of things I want or need.  We cook great meals and Maine lobsters.  We have a nice back yard to enjoy.   It is ok..we are the lucky ones because we have a comfortable home and money to pay our bills.  Others are not so fortunate.

I am one of those old people who “live in fear” that some radical and hateful jerks ridicule. We older Americans are considered disposable by people like that.   But unfortunately for them, I am actually fearless when it comes to putting my words to good use. I’m tired of being called names by my country’s leadership, and now by some who use the name of God for their name calling. I have a computer and the passion to write and network.  When my hometown was hurt so badly  because of people who defied the rules for prevention of COVID. it got my back up. I am not finished with people like that.  I simply will not abide by selfishness, defiance and denial during a pandemic, because that attitude can start outbreaks that kill people or makes them sick during COVID times.  Case in point….the Millinocket Wedding COVID outbreak…the largest COVID outbreak in Maine yet.

An effective safe vaccination is worth the wait for me.  I am pretty sure I would not survive COVID, so I will stay cautious, smart and protective of this one life I have and the lives of my family and friends.   I hope that people who read this will do the same.  We will all meet on the other side of this and have a huge COVID free party.

 

Millinocket Wedding COVID Outbreak, Fair Questions

August 29th, 2020 No comments

 

This is Blog #3 about the my home town Millinocket , Maine’s  growing and reproducing COVID 19 outbreak.  My heart breaks for the people up home and all of their families.  I am frustrated, but at the same time I want to be fair.

In my last blog, I mentioned a suspect  pastor.  I really wonder about his compliance with COVID preventative steps and seemingly  cavalier attitude about the outbreak from the wedding where he officiated.

I came up with a list of fair questions for him and for all of the other guests and venue workers who attended this wedding, which in turn became a super spreader event.  Granted some of these questions perhaps only the State officials could answer.

1. Were you tested?  Was every other guest and venue worker tested?

2. Were you asked to quarantine for 14 days because of your close and lengthy contact with someone who became sick with COVID?

3. Were you told that a negative test does not mean that you can come out of a 14 day quarantine?

4. Did you quarantine for 14 days from time of contact (Wedding Day)?

5. How long were you asked/required to quarantine if you tested positive or became ill with COVID?      ie. was your quarantine extended and did you comply?

6. Did your household or Church members also become ill?

7. Was the difference between quarantine and isolation explained to you  and did you observe the rules and differences? Information below

I think I find a lot of the answers right here in this Bangor Daily News article that was just sent to me today, but it is not fair to make assumptions.

Still, I fear that we have a Public Health menace in our midst.

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/29/news/york/5-people-associated-with-a-sanford-church-have-tested-positive-for-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR1KlTFkrRoogtaNbArtOc48IAGw8stetD4ZclZ72o6TND6ripstt1hg-f0

If these folks from the wedding did not know about their exposure for 5 days or a week, then nobody can fault them for what they did during that time.  If however they continued to gallivant around the town, State or country after being told to quarantine, that is a different story.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the movements of the wedding party, guests and venue workers.  All of us are angry and sad about this.  But, someday we will need to heal, and getting answers is part of that. It’s hard to get past that they ignored a lot preventative rules for the wedding church and venue.  If they continued that careless attitude after learning there was an outbreak, then they need to be accountable to the State of Maine and to all of the people impacted.

The only online conversation by the bridal party that I have seen told me a lot.  They talked about how unfair the media is and how they are like vultures, how persecuted they feel,  how they already had to postpone their wedding once and how they whittled down the guest list.   Some other pretty dismissive comments were made about the outbreak like how it was just like a mild cold or most people don’t even get sick.

They did not mention the poor lady who died, or others who were very sick or mention any feelings/emotions about that.  It would be my extreme pleasure to sit down with the young women who conducted this conversation and give them some lessons on COVID and life in general.  We all have to grow up some time.  And for these girls, now would be a great time for that.

I would like to see one representative from wedding group, come forward.  I would like to hear their side of things, like some answers to the questions I have listed above.  I’d also like to learn about what they are going to change in their own behavior, both personal and professional, to keep this from happening again.  Maybe the pastor could tell us how he will mandate masks at his services, and how he will wear one himself, and offer hand sanitizer, and how he will require members of his flock to sit 6 feet apart.  He could explain how much cleaning and disinfecting he is doing in his Church.  He could tell us how he is educating his flock to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

But most of all, these folks could say something, anything about how bad they feel for the deceased, her family, the others who needed to be hospitalized, and all of the other people who became very sick at home.   They could also apologize to my home town for their carelessness.  And they could offer prayers or some other kind of compassion for all of them.

I don’t think it is too much to ask for .  124 people in this state spread out over many miles,  have been impacted by this single event. Thousands of others around the infected victims have also had their lives altered because of them.   Someone needs to answer some questions.

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/coronavirus-quarantine-and-isolation/art-20484503

“These terms describe approaches for limiting the spread of disease during epidemics and pandemics:

  • Social distancing. Keeping space between yourself and other people outside your household to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Quarantine. Separating people and limiting movement of people who have or may have been exposed to the disease to see if they become ill.
  • Isolation. Separating people who are ill from others who are not ill to keep the disease from spreading”.

Information below from the CDC.

Rules for Quarantine

Jul 22, 2020

When can I stop home isolation after a confirmed case of COVID-19?

If you are a healthcare provider, please follow your supervisor’s recommendations. If you are immunocompromised, please discuss this with your medical provider. Otherwise, if you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious (most people will not) you can discontinue isolation when:

  1. You have had NO fevers for at least 72 hours (3 full days of no fever without using fever-reducing medicine)
  2. Other symptoms have improved (i.e., your cough or breathing have improved)
  3. At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset

If you had a positive COVID-19 test AND have remained asymptomatic, you may discontinue isolation when at least 10 days have passed since your first positive COVID-19 test. It is important to still wear a face cover over your nose and mouth in public settings after isolation is discontinued.

https://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Portal%20News&id=3198521&v=article-2017&fbclid=IwAR18BFK6tl-GUiTvZsG6xlYkwNILWlf6CNSBL6opIWHLr5YkrgbGfsp1gJg

 

 

Millinocket Wedding COVID Outbreak. Lessons Learned?

August 26th, 2020 14 comments
Millinocket facing Mount Katahdin

Millinocket facing Mount Katahdin

 

Preface:  I love my beautiful hometown.  I liked it better when we all talked more about the beauty of the region, good times, the resilience, integrity and warmth of  the citizens,  instead of COVID.  We will all work really hard to make it that way again.

My previous blog was about the ongoing heart breaking tragedy in my hometown, Millinocket, Maine. My town  is in the midst of a growing  COVID 19 outbreak.

On August 7, a young couple were married at the Tri Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket, ME. Then they moved the gathering to the Big Moose Inn on Millinocket Lake about 15 miles away.  This should have been a fun, beautiful celebration. The  happy couple, their families and guests should have been able to enjoy this special occasion without a care in the world.  Party on…right?

Wrong, there is a COVID 19 pandemic.

church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Churches and reception venues are under strict State preventative guidance and regulations.  Safe happy celebrations are possible, but unfortunately, they all must be done with special hygienic precautions in mind.  Nobody likes this, and nobody wants to put this cloud over any celebration, but this is life right now. Lives literally depend on everyone following rules.  Deniers of science, and defiance because of God given “rights” to gather and assemble can and will cause very serious problems for people around and with them, and in this case, far beyond. Every single one of us has a responsibility to not only keep ourselves safe, but to also keep everyone around us safe.  We all have this huge responsibility for each other.

bigmooseinn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to witnesses, rules were broken.  Distancing, face masks, and  and other mandated precautions were not consistently followed.  The State rule is that 50, NOT 65, people or fewer are allowed for inside gatherings at any venue.  The reception venue was cited and warned, but it remains open.  There has been no citation for the Church, yet.

 

As a result of this celebration, 60 people in the Millinocket region have been infected, one woman has died, and 2 others have been hospitalized.  Beyond Millinocket, there have been 2 related satellite outbreaks, one in at the York, County Sheriffs department (18 victims) and one at a nursing home in Madison (6 victims).  There are primary, secondary and tertiary cases. I don’t know what they are called beyond that even though I am an RN and a certified COVID contact tracer.    I really don’t want to think about “beyond that”.

 

So, from one person, a wedding guest, who was sick the day after the wedding, several more became ill by the 4th day after the wedding and now, 2.5 weeks later, there are at least 84 people infected if I have calculated this correctly.  And it won’t stop there.

 

I am sad for every single one of those infected.  The suffering and fear must be overwhelming.

 

Consider this. If the celebrating guests followed just one of the rules, like wearing masks ,could all of this suffering have been avoided. Certainly a talented seamstress could have made some snazzy wedding masks.   We will never know, but my guess is that YES, it could have prevented this.  In fact, I believe that if ALL the mandates had been followed that this outbreak was 100% preventable.

 

There was no evil intent in what has happened ‘up home’. There was irresponsibility and selfishness. However, some things that are emerging from this disaster are enraging.  Others are heartbreaking.   I have spent the past week talking with friends and family from home.  I have absorbed their fear, pain, and frustration.  One person in particular has suffered immeasurable worry and pain.  Two of his relatives have been infected and the results tragic. At the same time he is obligated to be in a different state because his business was impacted because of COVID.  I can’t imagine the pain or frustration.  An he and his family is just one of the many who are hurting.  I am working very hard to encourage all of these people, who have been so horribly affected, to share their stories with all of us through reporters and social media.  Their stories teach us all things about keeping ourselves and our own family’s safe.

 

And then there are the comments and actions of some people involved with this wedding.
The minister who flew  his private plane in from Sanford Maine, to officiate at the offending wedding and then go fishing, (photos of himself flying and associated text purged from his FB page) seems to have disappeared from social media.  He refuses to talk with reporters.The owner of the reception venue has also refused to talk with reporters. There has not been one public word that I am aware of that about regret, sadness or concern for the people who became sick at this wedding.. just deafening silence…..and this
BELL
I’m betting those quoted words got him some singing, amens, praise and laughs. I find it arrogant and dismissive.  It sends puffs of steam out of both ears!
He  flew home from Millinocket the day after this wedding  (FB photo/text also disappeared)
He proceeded to officiate other church events during the 14 day quarantine period after the Millinocket event. (documented with dates on his Church FB page).
Then he flew his plane to Oxford ME (photo purged from Facebook)
He also has given a live sermon espousing his flock’s “rights to assemble and gather” in church (on one of his Church FB pages). Technically this is true, but gatherings must comply with State regulations.
His instructions for his Christian Academy students say that MASKS are OPTIONAL at SCHOOL.  Ironically this very school was forced to close for a Flu outbreak last February. Link attached.
I don’t know if he was tested for COVID, but we KNOW that he was exposed at the wedding and was likely advised to quarantine in case he was an asymptomatic infected contact.  Dr Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said in his twice weekly televised report yesterday that a negative test is not a ticket out of quarantine.

All of the above information was found on his personal FB page (now purged)  and /or his school’s  and church’s webpage (some information still exists).

I truly believe that all places of worship and their leaders need to do what is recommended by the State of Maine for all of our safety.  They need to be good citizens, just like the rest of us, if we are ever to get past this pandemic.  I believe most of them are following the rules, but certainly not all are.
This is a problem.  The above preacher is a leader in the evangelical Christian community in Maine who is doing these things..after officiating a celebration that quickly became a super COVID spreading event in my home town and State of Maine. He oversees other Churches all over Maine, and Christian academies.  And if I am correct, the events I listed above were done during the time that he should have been quarantined. I don’t blame him for the sickness, but I do call him out for his lack of regret and his recklessness. He is playing fast and free with the rules and his community.   And again,  has not  publicly expressed one word of compassion for those affected by this tragic outbreak.
Now that his quarantine time is over, I wish he would teach his flock about how to prevent all of this from happening again and express his support of State mandates to stop this pandemic.  And it wouldn’t hurt to offer a few kind words of concern for those who became ill, and who have lost a family member and all of the other thousands people in the Millinocket region who are now hunkered down again because of an outbreak. His arrogance is pretty hard to get past. Apparently this man thinks he only answers to God and is not responsible in any way for Mainers beyond who is in front of him.  My mother’s words taught me and the Bible teaches us to “do onto others as you would have others do onto you”?  I know my comments sound judgmental, but I don’t apologize. In normal times, some of this minister’s adventures would be lovely, inspiring and uplifting, but in COVID times  and after an exposure to the COVID, it is reprehensible. How can he be this cavalier?
This is what I think.  Governor Mills and her investigative and enforcement team has to stop super spreader events.  A random FB poster left a comment on the Bangor Daily News FB page,  that a wedding event on private property is coming up this weekend in Stockton Springs/Searsport and the guests have been asked to NOT wear masks.  I think that anyone who spots this kind of information should have a way to send it to the regulators and they should be stopped. I think we need to put the fear of GOD into folks who are denying and defying the preventative rules and that huge fines and criminal charges should ensue.   People are criticizing our Governor, but she has governed Maine according to established science.  Now I want to see her put some sharp teeth into her regulations…very sharp teeth that bite.  Our families, friends and communities rely on it for our lives and safety. This all would sound like drama in normal times before COVID…not anymore.
No more Mr Nice guy.

Going forward we need to use the philosophy of lessons learned, lessons taught. Every single one of us has to take what we have learned from this outbreak, and use it to be responsible for our own, and our community’s safety.   We will all be happy to see this pandemic behind us so we can have a change of subject.  We can talk about the beauty around us, and awesome people again.  Most of that is still around us.

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/29/news/how-a-single-wedding-changed-the-complexion-of-maines-coronavirus-outbreak/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-maine-wedding-covid-outbreak-jail-indoor-reception-millinocket/

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/08/25/metro/millinocket-maine-wedding-covid-19-outbreak-linked-clusters-nursing-home-jail/

https://www.facebook.com/calvarybaptistmaine  demonstrates how busy Rev Bell was for 2 weeks after his exposure

https://wgme.com/news/local/two-maine-school-closed-due-to-flu

Wedding COVID 19 outbreak, Millinocket, ME

August 20th, 2020 7 comments

In 1970, I graduated from nursing school.  Before our graduation, my best friend and room mate all through school had asked me to be her Maid of Honor.  I was so excited to do it.  So, we packed up our stuff and went home to Millinocket, Maine to prepare for her big special event.  I had also been hired to work as a nurse at the Millinocket Regional Hospital, my first nursing job.  I got sick the day before the wedding.  My throat was killing me.  I had a fever.  I was a mess.  But, I made a promise to my friend and I kept it.  I walked down the aisle ahead of her.  She was a gorgeous happy bride.  I dragged my sorry butt through the reception after.  I hugged and kissed people.I hope nobody got sick because of me.  I had Strep throat.

The day after the wedding I had to travel to Augusta, Maine and stay 2 days to sit for my RN nursing license boards.  I stayed alone (thank goodness) and I sucked down aspirin the whole time.  The next two days, I filled my pockets with tissues, took my aspirin, and sat in a roomful of other new graduates and started my 2 day long test.

When I finished my second day of testing, I drove home to Millinocket and went to bed for a few days and got antibiotics.  How many people did I expose to my Strep throat? How many got sick. I’ll never know.  I was a dumb kid, and nursing school never discouraged us from showing up for classes if we were sick.  In later years my places of employment were irritated if I missed work because I was sick, so I showed up. So I went to places like my friends wedding and my testing site with my germs and exposed a couple hundred people.

So, when I read about the COVID19 outbreak in Millinocket after a wedding with 65 guests, I paused.  How could I be ticked off at this bunch of folks when I did the same thing as a younger woman..a nurse no less.  Well, let’s see.   COVID19 is different from Strep or the flu or a cold.  It is much more deadly and contagious. There is no cure or vaccination.  170,000 Americans have died because of it since March.   I’m not excusing my irresponsibility , but honestly?  We have all had this kind of information fed to us daily for months!   Maine has been one of the best 2 States for preventing the spread of COVID.    There is a reason for that.  Our Governor Mills has taken it very seriously from the beginning.  She has met resistance,hatred, threats and lawsuits the entire time.  But, she has followed science and made recommendations and mandates based on science.  Her compadre Dr Nirav Shah is one of the smartest, kindest, most diplomatic infectious disease experts I have known.  He is the Director of the Maine CDC.

Articles in the Bangor Daily News have revealed that 65 guests were at the event.  It was held in East Millinocket at the Tri Town Baptist Church.

church  The reception party moved to a gorgeous venue at Millinocket Lake called the Big Moose Inn. My guess is that they had a wonderful time and the photos are gorgeous.  I congratulate the Bride and Groom and family.bigmooseinn

But someone was irresponsible. Maine mandates that any commercial events held inside must accomodate 50 people or fewer.  Guests must be distanced and wear masks unless eating.  Outside events can be up to 100 people, with similar rules.  It seems that somebody fudged on the rules.  These events take special planning now…and rules are shared and should be enforced.  Who was responsible for this scary mess…the family?  the happy couple?  the venue?  WHO?

The COVID 19 virus rode into that wedding in a human body, either a guest or a worker, where most likely rules for prevention were broken. According to the latest CDC report, one person became sick the day after the wedding.  He/she was likely the source, and was probably asymptomatic on the day of the event.  Covid then hitched a ride in another person, and another and another until most of the party was exposed, and 32 people tested positive.  That 32 people went in multiple directions after the wedding.  Then the COVID spread itself into 32 homes (assuming none of the positive victims were couples) and into 32 or so workplaces, and a multitude of businesses and offices, ball games, parties etc. At the end of this blog there is a letter from Millinocket Regional Hospital CEO, Dr Robert Peterson dated August 20, 2020.  So far I know of 3 close communities affected and possibly a more remote one.

mrh

3oo people tested, 190 tests pending, 32 people tested positive and 1 so far, has been admitted to the hospital.  The median age of the victims is 42, and 87% of them are symptomatic.  This will change.  4 days after the event, several more people became ill.  That is a common number of days from contact to sickness (incubation period), but it may go up to 14 days.   The State of Maine has issued a imminent health hazard citation for Big Moose Inn.

Wow. This is what rule breaking can get you. Now this business’s future relies on them following the rules. This has made tons of people sick and interrupted the lives of thousands of community members, businesses, churches, town offices/services, and hospital and medical services.  The impact is on public health and economic health.

This Millinocket outbreak was preventable.  We have all been warned about COVID19.  We have been constantly and doggedly educated about how to stop the spread.  Everything was shut down to stop the spread back in March and April and then later we were given guidance on how to re open safely.  Anyone who follows the news on TV, in the newspaper, or on social media knows about all of this..about the risks and the lives lost.  They also know what the recommendations are to stop the spread. Little kids get this.

Individuals have been asked to do simple things to protect ourselves and others.

1. Socially distance when outside your home and wear a mask.

2. Wash your hands frequently

3. Stay home if you are sick.

Special more complicated guidance is given for places of business, schools and such.

We are warned and taught these things at our workplaces, in our schools, at our doctors offices and hospitals.  It is pretty hard to escape a good solid education about the prevention of COVID.

For the average individual citizen,this is not rocket science.  It is all pretty simple stuff.  Even as a new RN in 1970, I didn’t have this kind of guidance.   I have never seen illness like this, all around us, in every corner of the State, Country and World.  COVID spreads like wildfire and it can be deadly, especially for vulnerable people like the elderly, disabled, and chronically compromised.

People have chosen to defy and deny these simple instructions for prevention.  In fact there are groups who actively do sketchy things to avoid the rules, and the result is more COVID infections.    Here is a Facebook post from a woman who wanted to help new brides to have safe weddings…and this is what she found.

“I have a good friend who’s a florist who joined a Covid Brides group thinking she could help people. She said that what she learned was horrible. Most of the brides were exchanging ideas of how to lie to venues, get false test papers for out-of-state guests, appear to be following guidelines while not, etc. and demonstrated horrible disregard for the venues, vendors, communities and guests. They included “cheat sheets”  and also black-balled businesses and vendors who wouldn’t comply with demands and worked together to bomb those businesses’social media with negative reviews. She left the group.”

Other examples of this kind of behavior are displayed in videos of customers fighting with retailers for enforcing mask rules, and others coughing or spitting on them.  This is not only sickening, it is assault.  And it is incredibly stupid.

I am sick over my hometown’s suffering because of irresponsible rule breakers and defiance of science.  The rules are to protect ALL of us.  COVID doesn’t care who you vote for, what color you are, what church you go to, how smart or dumb you are….it will infect you if you are careless.  If you are infected and you defy the rules around others, you WILL infect someone else.

If you care about staying COVID free yourself, follow the recommendations.  If you care about others, do the same.  It is the only way we will put an end to this nightmare.

hospital letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/19/news/did-they-have-to-have-their-wedding-katahdin-region-comes-to-grips-with-virus-outbreak/

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/20/news/penobscot/inn-that-hosted-millinocket-wedding-reception-cited-for-violating-maine-virus-gathering-limits/

ADDENDUM:

One victim from this COVID outbreak has died.  Here is today’s notice from Millinocket Regional Hospital.  mrh2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, you can have a party

June 27th, 2020 No comments
Socially distanced pool crowd

Socially distanced pool crowd

How NOT to party

How NOT to party

Disclaimer:  I am not promoting big parties or gatherings for vulnerable people, I am only making the point that it can be done safely if the proper steps are taken.

I can live without big parties these days, but boy oh boy, did I love a big ole loud party when I was young.  We listened to music, danced, ate great food and drank (just a little).  We met and made friends, and we loved being with our old friends. The best party I ever went to was my own wedding reception.  It was a great combination of my young partying friends, and my family, altogether in the same big room, dancing, laughing and celebrating. Imagine, that was almost 50 years ago.  My parents might have disapproved of some of my earlier parties!

Partying now isn’t the same, and maybe it will never be?  I hope it can be, because everybody deserves to be able to safely get together with their family and friends. Most of us are social creatures.  We crave being around others, especially family and close friends.   But, COVID has changed what we do so much, including how we gather with our favorite people.

This article is an example how NOT to party.  This family in the photo looks like a bright loving group…I’m sure they are.  However, they did not take proper party precautions.  And unfortunately, the result is that 18 of them tested positive for COVID 19, and Grandma and Gramdpa were hospitalized with very serious infection.  The last I knew, Grandpa’s life was very much in jeopardy.  I know none of this was intentional..and this family is feeling the grip of the horrors of the pandemic, but it could have been so different had they heeded warnings about close up large gatherings.

https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/north-texas-family-shaken-after-18-relatives-test-positive-for-covid-19-following-surprise-birthday-party/287-ea8960ea-4c3c-40c1-b75e-f4437fe6f836?fbclid=IwAR01SwBYDdf77IzSJ57q307MdjsI015rTEaO2PHFQ0_tUSXUyD5wegBX7tE

We don’t know who tests positive by looking at them. Unless they are displaying symptoms of active infection, people can be infected and have only subtle or no symptoms at all.  That is very important to know.  And that is why wearing masks, particularly out in public closed in spaces, is so important.  Wearing a mask is the socially responsible thing to do. It is to protect our public health.   Unless you are wearing an N 95 mask like healthcare providers do, you are wearing your mask to protect others, like Grandma and Grandpa.  Right now it is the most important and simple thing we can all do for each other.  Also, it is the kind thing to do. Maine Retailers actually started this Be Kind campaign.

https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/customers-harassing-workers-over-wearing-masks-leads-to-launch-of-lets-be-kind-campaign/97-5532fc64-c48b-435f-a85d-9eef1ffbef13

A week ago, my youngest son (45yo) held a backyard  pool party for his friends birthday, here at my home.  He asked about it a few weeks prior to that, and I told him it was fine, but he would have to keep it under 20 people,  they would all have to stay outside and use the basement bathroom.  Plus he would have to clear some basement stuff out of the way and clean the bathroom before hand!   There is an outside entry to our basement from the back yard.  He agreed to our terms and he set a whole bunch more terms for his guests.  His responsible middle aged friends gathered here and practiced every precaution in this Bangor Daily News Article.  The article’s author was actually a guest at my sons party. It was so fun to listen to the party in my back yard.  It has been so long.  Everybody had a great time, proving you can  enjoy yourself during a pandemic and not get sick.

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/06/27/news/state/no-hugs-or-plus-ones-and-stay-outside-how-to-party-safely-during-the-pandemic/?fbclid=IwAR1jSjgeSakVWlH9rIAOhcW-VoG_RWn7Wk1pKx-yS1m6MCCww8e6H4sUnrs

The birthday of our Independence is coming next Saturday, July 4th.  It will be quiet here, but I know that many folks will want to celebrate somehow with family and friends.  Please, read the BDN article.  The author, Emily Burnham consulted with the former CDC director of the State of Maine and she/they produced a great guide for all of us.  Dr Dora Ann Mills talks about ‘layers’ of protection and it is very easy to follow.

It’s not really that hard, and the effort to stay safe is definitely worth it.

 

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My COVID 19 sense of things

May 4th, 2020 5 comments

Crowd in Texas chants 'fire Fauci' as thousands across the country ...

How do we mesh these two images?  We don’t, because they don’t mesh.

I am a 71 year old nurse.  I graduated 50 years ago and our nursing school class was set to celebrate this year, but COVID 19 put an indefinite delay on that.  Who would have guessed any of us would see anything like this in our life times?

I have socially distanced with my husband and my dog for about 6 weeks now.  Early worries were about having enough food and toilet paper, but like most things those things have worked out.  My greater worry now is will our society condone that older citizens are disposable.  It seems that some sectors do believe exactly that.

While this pandemic continues to ravage some areas of our country and on a smaller scale, my home State of Maine, crazed citizens are loudly and in some cases threateningly demonstrating in our Capitols and on our streets to “open America”.  This is a chant that their hero, President Trump, has continually hammered home for weeks now.  He hasn’t grieved the over 60,000 dead or offered condolences or contacted any of the surviving families. Instead he repeatedly tells us we must open up, and at the same time he ignores the warnings about the steps to take that will make this opening safer for all of us.  He makes false claims that testing is robust, and huge numbers of citizens will be tested before opening. And he has repeatedly given all of us lousy medical advice, ie. injecting disinfectants to cure COVID.   More recently, his followers have said that the vulnerable (like me)  can continue to “isolate” if they don’t want to get infected and die.  Isn’t that special of them?  It seems a better approach would be to make it safe for all of us to be back to our normal lives eventually.

“Freedom” lovers want what they want…..crowded bars and sports games, all businesses open and rolling in dough.  I want that too.  I want everything to go back to normal, but I don’t want MY life, or my husbands or any of my loved ones lives sacrificed for it.  I am one of those libs, or cowards or Commies, whatever the gun toting, swastika carrying, ranting and raving lunatics call me…and I want my LIFE.  I want to live and I want to do it without the experience of COVID 19 and all of the perils it carries.

So, if we “Open America” without taking the necessary professionally recommended steps, who will die?  Well, if I don’t stay in my house all the time…ME.  I could die, and my husband could because we are seniors.  People who work in meat plants could die, because their bosses won’t be doing the recommended testing and other screening.  Some have already become ill, but our President used the Defense production act to make them reopen, regardless of the threat of more illness and death.  And of course nurses,doctors and other first responders are dying.  They have been forced to work without adequate Personal Protective Equipment, but the president would not invoke the Defense production act to get more PPE manufactured and distributed.  Instead he has set up a situation whereby States have been forced to find their own gear, and to compete against each other for needed medical equipment.  When governors ordered Chinese masks and they  arrived at a port of entry, they were seized by the federal government.  Then of course essential retail store workers will die.  Those familiar grocery and Walmart clerks will be at increased risk of the infection.  Prisoners and homeless people will die too.  People in Long Term care and assisted living facilities will also die, but according to some, this is an acceptable loss, because we need our freedoms.

If President Trump and his crazed gun lovin’ n totin’  demonstrators get their way, there will soon be campaign rallies again.  After all, it is his favorite thing to do…sucking up as much attention and adoration as he can.  Pack em’ in he says, and get them all riled up.  I am curious about that first rally.  Will there be social distancing?  Will they wear masks?  Will they screen people who are entering to see if they are sick?  Will they get sick after the rally because of exposure to COVID 19?  We know that ministers who bucked the advice of doing remote services, and insisted on in person salvation, caused COVID 19 outbreaks.  Will President Trumps rallies cause outbreaks and death of his supporters?

This is how I see it.  Vulnerable high risk individuals are put between a rock and a hard place. Workers from factories with known COVID 19 outbreaks,  illness and death..are being forced back to work. Inevitably some of them will die but Americans can’t do without their meat!  Old people like me will have to stay inside indefinitely to avoid infection.  Businesses small and large will be opening in the MIDST of this pandemic and the hardest hitting time of it, because being closed infringes on their “freedoms”.   A spike in COVID 19 cases is inevitable if we do not  “Open America” very carefully. I offer this warning to the demonstrators.   I’d bet, with confidence, that victims of this extremely horrifying infection beg for death at the end, and death is the ultimate “freedom”.  Is that what you want?  If so, they you can be the test cases for all of us.  I will stay safe by socially distancing for as long as it takes.

I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I do know this.  We have amazing experts on infectious diseases in this country and the world,  who are making solid scientific recommendations to our President and to our country, that are being totally ignored.  Ignoring science is stupid.  People who don’t care about other people’s lives are ignoring pandemic science.   Yes, reopen, and do it soon. But do it gradually and cautiously by following the advice and steps of experts.  Don’t listen to the President because he ignores warnings and science, and he makes up his own narrative. Our lives do not mean a damn to him. Money and winning elections do!  And please, stop the asinine demonstrations.  Who the hell are they demonstrating against…a virus? dying people? caregivers?   That is just insanity.  You can’t stop a virus by shooting them with an AR 15.  Our State leaders, or at least most of them, are working extremely hard against some steep odds and with limited resources,  to do the best they can. Their priority is public health and the lives of their  residents.

As much as we may hate it, we are all in this together.  What we do as individuals can determine whether or not our neighbor lives or dies.  What we do as a society can determine whether or not whole sectors of our population live or die.    Give that some thought, settle down and do this right.

Overdose and Narcan. What would you do?

August 22nd, 2019 No comments

Image result for Narcan

Last week, while my husband Mike walked our little shih tzu, a car pulled in about 2 spaces over from our truck.  I watched while a young mother got her beautiful baby out of the back seat and her significant other (SO) got the umbrella stroller out.  The SO stayed back and I watched while mother and baby walked by.  That baby was beautiful.

The next thing I heard was the SO yelling to her “get back here right now.  He won’t wake up”.  Simultaneously, my husband arrived back with our pup and said, “there is some kind of trouble over there”.  He thought the trouble was with another child.  I immediately got out of the truck to see if I could be of assistance.  I always offer to help in medical emergencies, because I have the knowledge and the willingness to use it. Not everyone agrees with me that that is a good idea.

As I approached, I saw that the person who would not wake up was a young (26 years old) man seated in the back seat. He was the SOs younger brother.   His head was lolled onto his chest and he was completely non responsive and not breathing.  I advised him to lift his chin and straighten his neck to see if he would breath.  He did not. I asked if his brother used drugs and he said yes. I noticed a tightly rolled $100 bill in his hand and assumed he had snorted something very recently.   He vigorously rubbed his chest and slapped his face, no response. I checked his radial pulse and it was strong, regular and a good rate.  It remained so all during this horrible event.   In the meantime the lady had EMS/911 on the phone.  They got the needed information and had help on the way.  Then they gave her step by step instructions to relay to her SO to do CPR.  He lifted him from the car and onto the ground.  This was the first time for him.  He was incredibly heroic for his brother.  He did mouth to mouth respirations and I watched the young victims chest rise and fall. He then did compressions…stating “I am losing my shit here”.  I encouraged him and said he was doing an tremendous job.  I continued check his pulse and stimulate the victim and eventually he only slightly opened his eyes and moved.  EMS arrived and took over.  They gave him Narcan intramuscular.  The young man immediately woke up.  He was placed on a stretcher and taken away.

I walked away to my car.  I was an emotional wreck and began to cry, with relief, frustration and disgust.  I was relieved that the young man woke up, even though he would go to jail after medical treatment at St Joseph hospital.. He had only been out 2 days and was on parole. This will be one more opportunity for him to get clean and sober.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t get on my knees (arthritis) and do more to help with CPR and that I did not have Narcan to give him immediately.  I was disgusted with the entire opioid epidemic and the loss of young lives, just like this young man.

A young female police officer came to our truck and asked our names and addresses.  I asked her how many times she sees this. She said it was her first one that day, but she had just started her shift.  She said average was 2 a day, right here in Bangor, ME…a small city and only one police officer of many.

Then the young mother came to us before we left and thanked me for helping.  I told her that her SO did everything that needed doing and he did a great job. He is a good man and a good brother.  I knew how frightened he was.  She told me that the young man would be going back to jail.  They hadn’t seen him for 2 years, and they spotted him in a Bangor park and picked him up.  She didn’t know he had done drugs until this all happened.

I learned 2 things that day.  I need to get Narcan and learn about using it.  It is available without a prescription for free at any Maine pharmacy according to the Bangor Fire Department.  The local Health Equity Alliance teaches about using it and I have already made an appointment to go with a friend to learn about it.  It is a nasal spray, but there are instructions and precautions that people need to learn.  If I had had it on me that day, we could have administered it immediately and avoided doing CPR, although he still would have had to go to the hospital.

I also learned that I need to get a new CPR mask/barrier to carry.  I’m not sure I could have used it that day because he was on the ground, but there may come a circumstance that I could, and I would like to be prepared.  I could also have offered it to this victims brother to use.

These two items are essential when helping unresponsive people who are not breathing in the community, and my plan is to have them with me at all times soon.  However,  I hope I never encounter this kind of situation again.

I ran this experience by a group of nurses on Facebook.  The discussion was alarming.  Most agreed that I did the right thing to help this young man and his brother.  Others said they would never give Narcan in the field/community.  They worried about liability and possibly a violent reaction from the victim.  I was blown away.  I know in my heart that I could not stand by and withhold something…my skills, my knowledge and a freely available and effective medication…all tools that could save a life!  I have stopped at accidents, and helped sick or injured people on airplanes and in stores, at conferences, etc.  I don’t always do a lot, and sometimes I just stand by, but how could a nurse walk past something like what I saw?

What would you do?  How would you handle this?  I am very interested to hear from some of you who read this.

 

 

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Warehousing of the Elderly, Part 6

June 27th, 2019 No comments

The young physician’s assistant met me in Mum’s room on April 3.  She was bright, and thorough.  She found a cerumen (wax) impaction in Mum’s Rt hear, so that may be compromising her hearing  in that ear. It takes many months for wax to build up to that degree and it makes me wonder why it was missed at her Assisted living. They will use Debrox and irrigation to clear Mum’s ear.    She also said she would order blood work to follow up on her low blood sodium and high blood potassium levels.  It sounded reasonable to me.  I find that Mum continues to be sleepy most of the time, but she awakens when touched and spoken to loudly.  Her caregivers have told me how great she is doing, helping with her own hygiene and toileting. One even said she pushed herself up and down the hallway in her wheelchair.  Considering Mum’s level of somnolence and weakness,  I’m not sure I totally believed that she went in the hallway at all.  I have been visiting Mum every day at different times of day, excluding early mornings.  So, perhaps she has more energy in the mornings, that I haven’t witnessed.

April 4, 2019  I went in to visit close to lunchtime.  Mum was upright in her wheelchair sound asleep, which seems to be the usual.  An occupational therapist came in and said that she had gone to the dining room for breakfast, but the CNA said she had difficulty eating and spilled her food and drinks on herself.  The plan was to take her back this noontime.  She was barely awake.

The occupational therapist came for us to go to the dining room for lunch.  I was seated next to Mum at a dining room table while we waited for her food.  I laid out a hand of solitaire to see if it sparked any interest.  She continued to sleep, with her head lolled onto her chest.  A full tray of food was delivered.  I woke her but she went right back to sleep.  I tried to get her to hold a fork, but her hand fell.  Then to OT came back and sat next to her in my chair, prodding her and urging her to eat.  I know this is her job, but considering Mum’s condition, and deteriorating health,  I found this undignified and I truly believe it is disrespectful.  I had to leave because it was too painful to watch. My mother is a very private and proud woman.

I got a call from Mum’s PA that afternoon.  She was alarmed that Mum’s blood sodium is so low at 117.  She said that this could explain the somnolence and weakness, but it also could lead to seizures.  As I have observed and guessed,  Mum is very very sick.  So, the choices were to give her IV saline in the facility or take her back to the hospital.  I chose the first option.  If she gets sicker, we may have to make a decision about moving her to the hospital. Why is life (and death) so cruel?

When I returned to the facility later in the afternoon, the nurse was setting up Mum’s IV.  As always, she was sound asleep, but comfortably so in her bed.  Apparently she woke up long enough to ask the nurse “What the hell are you doing?”   I expressed my concerns to the RN about Mum being hauled off to a Family meeting that she slept through and to a dining room full of people who were awake and feeding themselves  where she was  being prodded to eat while she slept upright in the wheelchair.  Everyone except my mother was awake and alert.  I told her I was so hurt to see them do this undignified thing to my mother.  I want her treated with dignity and respect, and common sense.  If she is somnolent, she will not eat.  If she is weak she will not lift a fork.  Let her rest.  Give her ice cream, pudding, boost, juices, water…things that she can handle when she is alert…..and forget about getting her to eat a full course meal with noodles, meat, and sliced beats , or even dry chocolate cake!  It will not work.  It will not help.  It is disrespectful, impractical and just wrong. My sense is that these well meaning therapists and assistants need to learn some lessons about Patient/Person centered care.  Recognizing the patient in front of them with all of their idiosyncrasies and specific needs and abilities is essential to quality and effective care.

This nurse understood. She has 30 years of geriatrics under her belt.  She said that on her watch she will not allow those things to happen to my Mom.  She encouraged me to speak up and advocate for my mother because nobody else will.  She is so right.

I don’t want to alienate my mothers caregivers, because they are dedicated professionals,  but I must speak up for her.  I am prepared for any outcome, and I am pretty sure which one to expect.  In the meantime, I want her to be comfortable and treated with respect and dignity.

April 5…..I will go see Mum this morning.