Cyberattack Hits Major Hospital Chain Universal Health Services

What appears to be a major ransomware attack has hit the computers of Universal Health Services, one of largest hospital chains. This affects hundreds of locations.

A network outage at Universal Health Services hospitals and clinical facilities across the country began overnight Sunday, forcing employees onto paper backup systems.

Cybersecurity experts say the incident is likely a ransomware attack, in which hackers lock up computer networks, often steal information and demand payment to restore access.

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California Warns Flu, COVID-19 Could Overwhelm Hospitals

A severe flu season this fall and winter could overwhelm California hospitals that are preparing for an uptick in COVID-19 cases as the economy further reopens, officials said Thursday. They urged people to get vaccinated to prevent that from happening.

California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly speaking with the heads of the state’s hospital and medical associations, said while the state has seen progress with coronavirus infection rates falling to their lowest level of the pandemic this week, officials are bracing for a surge as people start going out more just as the flu season begins.

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Doctors in Hospital

Battle Rages Inside Hospitals Over How COVID Strikes and Kills

Front-line health care workers are locked in a heated dispute with many infection control specialists and hospital administrators over how the novel coronavirus is spread ― and therefore, what level of protective gear is appropriate.

At issue is the degree to which the virus is airborne ― capable of spreading through tiny aerosol particles lingering in the air ― or primarily transmitted through large, faster-falling droplets from, say, a sneeze or cough. This wonky, seemingly semantic debate has a real-world impact on what sort of protective measures health care companies need to take to protect their patients and workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention injected confusion into the debate Friday with guidance putting new emphasis on airborne transmission and saying the tiny aerosol particles, as well as larger droplets, are the “main way the virus spreads.” By Monday that language was gone from its website, and the agency explained that it had posted a “draft version of proposed changes” in error and that experts were still working on updating “recommendations regarding airborne transmission.”






Medical Gear

Colorado Hospitals Report Having The PPE They Need As The State Struggles To Meet Targets

DENVER, Colorado — In Colorado, challenges acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) have improved but the state is still running into bumps in the supply chain for items like N95 masks and gloves.

Meanwhile, 99% of hospitals in the state report having the PPE they need for at least the next week.

The Director of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, Dr. Michael Willis, said the state’s goal for N95 masks is significantly higher than what he is able to acquire.

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Coronavirus Banner

Urban Hospitals of Last Resort Cling to Life in Time of COVID

Victor Coronado felt lightheaded one morning last month when he stood up to grab an iced tea. The right side of his body suddenly felt heavy. He heard himself slur his words. “That’s when I knew I was going to have a stroke,” he said.

Coronado was rushed to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, the hospital nearest his home on Chicago’s South Side. Doctors there pumped medicine into his veins to break up the clot that had traveled to his brain.

Coronado may outlive the hospital that saved him. Founded 168 years ago as the city’s first hospital, Mercy survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but is succumbing to modern economics, which have underfinanced the hospitals serving the poor. In July, the 412-bed hospital informed state regulators it planned to shutter all inpatient services as soon as February.

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Whatever Happened To … The Instant Hospitals Built For COVID-19 Patients In Wuhan?

The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital (meaning Fire God Mountain) opened its doors on Feb. 3. Five days later, its sister hospital, Leishenshan (meaning Thunder God Mountain), opened with another 1,500 beds. Although some reports indicate Leishenshan was slower to fill up than Huoshenshan, according to Chinese state media, it was soon operating at near full capacity as well.

“Most news that came out about [these hospitals] was state-run news by China, so there’s little information on how effective they actually were, because there’s a propensity to publicize only the better side of the news,” says Raymond Pan, the design principal at HMC Architects. In 2011, Pan won an award for his design of Shunde Hospital of Southern Medical University in China, located where the first outbreak of SARS happened in 2003. At the request of Chinese health officials, his design allows the hospital to easily isolate any part of the hospital in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.

Blurred Hospital

Hospitals Brace For Flu Season and Coronavirus Double Threat

In recent months Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in San Diego’s South Bay has been near capacity with coronavirus cases. Located 11 miles from the Mexican border and serving a primarily Latino population, the hospital has seen an ongoing high number of infected patients.

But now doctors and nurses in the 343-bed hospital said they are preparing for even worse this fall, when the upcoming flu season amid the coronavirus pandemic poses a looming double threat that could severely strain the health system.

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Dying Coronavirus Patients Are Getting Family Visits in These Latin American Hospitals

“Dying alone is not the same as being accompanied—saying goodbye and not saying goodbye are very different,” says a palliative care director in Argentina.

BUENOS AIRES — When Augusto Briceño hugged his mother in her bed in the COVID-19 intensive-care ward, he said he sensed the warmth of her body through his protective gloves, and felt full of peace.

“I closed my eyes and tried to forget the gloves were there,″ the 59-year-old pediatrican said. He stroked her hair and soon after, she died.

Despite his grief, Briceño said he felt lucky.

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Hospital Building

Texas Hospitals, Still Battling COVID-19, Now Face Hurricane Laura

“Remember: Just because a hurricane is coming to Texas does not mean COVID-19 either has or is going to leave Texas,” Gov. Rick Abbott said.

HOUSTON — Emergency officials along Texas’ storm-battered coast have had plenty of practice responding to disasters in recent years, but they’ve never seen a scenario like this: A destructive hurricane slamming ashore in the midst of a pandemic.

Hurricane Laura intensified to an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said. Laura is forecast to make landfall around the Texas and Louisiana border on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday night or early Thursday.

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Medical Syringe & Vaccine

Whitmer Pushes Flu Vaccine To Ease Hospitals’ Load During Pandemic

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday urged Michigan residents to get the flu vaccine to ease the load on the health system if there is a surge of coronavirus cases during the fall and winter influenza season, announcing the state wants at least 1 million more people vaccinated.

She received a flu shot during a news conference to “show how easy it is.”

More than 3.2 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents were vaccinated against the flu last season. The state’s goal is to increase that number by a third, to 4.3 million. It announced an advertising campaign that will begin next week, and hospitals and community health centers said they will boost their own efforts to encourage flu vaccinations.

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