Real Stuff

 

Feb 7, 2018
BuzzFeed
This Teenager Accused Two On-Duty Cops Of Rape. She Had No Idea The Law Might Protect Them.

When Anna said she was raped by two on-duty cops, she thought it would be a simple case. She had no idea she lived in one of 35 states where officers can claim a detainee consented.

Anna was sitting in the parked car with two friends when a charcoal gray van pulled up and flashlight beams momentarily blinded her. The 18-year-old had grown up in south Brooklyn and spent many Friday nights like this driving around the city with friends, looking for places to hang out away from home. On this night, though, September 15, 2017, sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., she crossed paths with the cops.

There were two of them, both plainclothes detectives over 6 feet tall and powerfully built, flashing their badges and asking questions. There was weed in the front cupholder, and soon the detectives ordered the three occupants out of the car. As Anna later recalled, the detectives handcuffed her and told her friends, both young men, they were free to go. Then, she said they led her — a slender woman just over 5 feet tall — into the back of the unmarked police van with tinted windows.

Inside, Anna said the detectives took turns raping her in the backseat as the van cruised the dark streets and as she sat handcuffed, crying and repeatedly telling them “No.” Between assaults, she said, the van pulled over so the cops could switch drivers. Less than an hour later, a few minutes’ drive from where it all began, the detectives dropped Anna off on the side of the road, a quarter-mile from a police station, surveillance footage shows. She stood on the sidewalk, her arms wrapped around her chest, looking up and down the dimly lit street and pacing slowly before borrowing a cell phone from a passerby to call a friend.

The cops made no arrest, issued no citation, filed no paperwork about the stop. Hours later, Anna and her mother went to a hospital, where Anna told nurses two detectives had sexually assaulted her, according to hospital records. Semen collected in Anna’s rape kit matched the DNA of detectives Eddie Martins, 37, and Richard Hall, 33, of the Brooklyn South narcotics unit. Both have since resigned from the force and been charged with rape.

Former NYPD Detectives Eddie Martins (center) and Richard Hall (right) leaving Kings County Supreme Court in January.

Barry Williams

Former NYPD Detectives Eddie Martins (center) and Richard Hall (right) leaving Kings County Supreme Court in January.

Anna assumed it was a simple case: Two cops had sex with a woman in their custody in the middle of their shift.

When a Facebook friend questioned whether there was enough evidence to dispute the officers’ claim that the sex was consensual, Anna wrote back, “Listen man it doesn’t fucking matter they’re on duty police officers its a fucking violation these are the people we call for help not to get fucked.”

But Anna didn’t know that in New York, there is no law specifically stating that it is illegal for police officers or sheriff’s deputies in the field to have sex with someone in their custody. It is one of 35 states where armed law enforcement officers can evade sexual assault charges by claiming that such an encounter — from groping to intercourse — was consensual.

“Our laws regarding sexual consent must be brought into line with basic common sense, empathy, and human decency.”

In recent years, some states have closed this loophole, applying to cops the same rules already in place nationwide for probation officers and prison and jail guards. Oregon did so in 2005, Alaska in 2013, and Arizona in 2015. Most have not, partly because few people realize the loophole exists, and partly because it has been politically unpopular to push laws that target cops and anger their powerful unions.

Of at least 158 law enforcement officers charged since 2006 with sexual assault, sexual battery, or unlawful sexual contact with somebody under their control, at least 26 have been acquitted or had charges dropped based on the consent defense, according to my review of a Buffalo News database of more than 700 law enforcement officers accused of sexual misconduct.

In most of the states that do not explicitly outlaw sex between on-duty cops and detainees, including New York, an officer can claim consent and face only a misdemeanor “official misconduct” charge, which carries a maximum one-year sentence.

“Cultural shifts happen, but what we need to see is a policy shift,” said Tara Burns, an advocate in Alaska who has worked to expand police sexual assault laws. “There’s a long entrenched history of institutionalized rape culture that has to change.”

BuzzFeed News

Anna’s case has brought new attention to this legal loophole. On October 26, 2017, New York City Council member Mark Treyger announced that the teen’s story had inspired him to propose a bill to make it illegal for police officers to have sex with anyone in their custody. “Our laws regarding sexual consent must be brought into line with basic common sense, empathy, and human decency,” he wrote in a post on Medium, calling on state lawmakers to pass similar legislation. New York City’s two biggest police unions both declined to state whether or not they support the proposal.

Anna hadn’t considered that her story had the potential to spur changes to the law. Her aim when she went public about her case was simply “to encourage other victims to come forward,” she told me after a recent court appearance. “Police aren’t supposed to be doing this.” Seeing her story “blowing up,” as she put it, has left her optimistic that more officers will be held accountable for sexual abuse. She believes that people are listening to her and will listen to others who have similar allegations. “All it took was one voice.”

Anna’s last name hasn’t been made public, which is usually the case for the alleged victim in a rape case. In court documents she is referred to as “Anna Doe,” but on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram she goes by the screenname she’s used since middle school: Anna Chambers. The daughter of Russian immigrants, Anna attended a racially diverse public high school, owns an impressive collection of Air Jordans, and wants to become a paralegal one day. She has tried to maintain her routine as the case has gone on, clinging to the normalcy she can find in this abnormal period. She still goes to the occasional house party or music show, still posts bedroom mirror selfies, still lives her life. On October 5, two weeks after she reported that she was raped, she was ticketed for weed possession.

The same day, the New York Times exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct, triggering scrutiny of powerful men who abuse their authority across a wide range of industries — Hollywood, media, politics, restaurants, hotels, sports, finance, factory work, housing. As the accuser in the first high-profile police sexual assault case since then, Anna stands at the intersection of two cultural shifts: the rising credibility of women who report sex crimes in the #MeToo era, and the falling credibility of police in an era flooded with videos of cops doing wrong.

Anna stands at the intersection of two cultural shifts: the rising credibility of women, and the falling credibility of police.

She has not shied from the moment. She has rallied support online, and now has around 7,000 followers on Twitter and 12,000 on her private Instagram account. “Thank you,” she replied to one well-wisher. “Who knows how many other girls they’ve done it to.”

Policing is a male-dominated field — Department of Justice statistics show that more than 80% of officers are men — where abuse is more rampant than statistics indicate because victims are less likely to report officer misconduct. “Police abuse of authority is often concealed,” said Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief. “Victims fear coming forward for fear of retaliation.” Officers who rape have plenty of weapons at their disposal: the threat of arrest, the access to a victim’s personal records, and the aura of immunity that comes from carrying a badge. The most sweeping investigation into the scope of police sexual misconduct, by the Associated Press in 2015, counted 990 law enforcement officers who lost their job for sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2014.

“Part of the reason the problem’s so bad in policing is there are people who are drawn to the job for the gun and the badge and the authority,” said Penny Harrington, a former Portland, Oregon, police chief. “And everybody else just keeps their mouth shut.”

Anna began telling her story publicly three days after her encounter with Martins and Hall, tweeting on September 18 — when only her parents, her friends, hospital nurses, and police knew about it — “These crooked ass cops i swear i never want to see one again. What if someone did that to your daughter.” On September 30, two days after the New York Post first reported on her allegations, which were laid out in a court document, she tweeted a photo of a New York Daily News article bearing her photo alongside the headline “Cop Savages.” “This is nuts,” she wrote.

In the months since, she has continued to chronicle her case on social media, posting links to news articles on Twitter and Facebook, sharing photos and videos of her trips to court on Instagram, retweeting the comments of others, and providing her own thoughts on the legal process in the efficient, blunt language of the internet.

“Tryna smear someone who got raped. Be proud of yourselves NYPD this is how you guys work?”

October 22, the day defense lawyers disputed her account: “Tryna smear someone who got raped. Be proud of yourselves NYPD this is how you guys work?”

October 27, the day the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office filed charges of rape, kidnapping, bribery, and official misconduct against Martins and Hall, who face up to 25 years in prison: “GODBLESSSSSS”

November 6, the day Martins and Hall resigned from the NYPD: “Their bail should be revoked since they aren’t ‘cops’ anymore.”

Her lawyer, Michael David, offered to represent Anna after learning that one of his longtime clients was a relative of hers. It’s the biggest case he’s ever handled, and his initial instinct was to rein in her social media activity to protect her from posting something that could be used against her in court.

But she had no interest in being a silent observer, especially at a time when so many women were speaking up about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. “Usually an attorney tells their client to stay off social media, but in her case it was just the opposite,” David said. “I didn’t tell her to tone it down. It got her attention. It got her media pressure.”

With Anna’s approval, David shared the details of her allegations in interviews with several news outlets: the detectives ordering her to take off her bra to show she wasn’t hiding drugs, telling her friends not to follow the van, making their intentions clear once they were on the road, then forcing themselves on her.

By mid-October, Anna’s name had become a hashtag. The first rally in her honor was on October 17, when about two dozen supporters marched through southern Brooklyn chanting her name and carrying signs that said, “We believe you.” On October 28, Funkmaster Flex, perhaps the most famous hip-hop radio DJ in the world, used the entirety of his five-hour Saturday night show to bring attention to her case, urging listeners to call in if they had any information about Martins and Hall.

A month later, more than 50 supporters gathered in Washington Square Park in Manhattan for another rally. “I obviously am not allowed to attend, but guys I really fucking truly appreciate this so much,” Anna wrote on the Facebook page for the event, adding in a later post, “Please send all pics/videos you guys may have.” Weeks later, on the morning of a court hearing for the case, a banner was hung from the Manhattan Bridge: “Martins & Hall aren’t the only rapists / Abolish police.”

“It’s the first time I’ve felt hope in years,” she said. “All of a sudden women are being heard.”

Across the country, police departments are being pushed to confront longtime patterns of abuse. In October, a retired Anchorage, Alaska, Police Department captain wrote a newspaper column detailing the “incessant” sexual harassment she experienced from fellow cops during her career. At a Chicago Police Board meeting in January, a woman shared her experience of getting raped by a cop during her teenage years in the 1980s. Some activists have begun using the hashtag “#policetoo.” In the five weeks following the Weinstein news, at least three police chiefs were fired for sexual misconduct. Since October, at least 21 cops in seven states have resigned or been terminated because of sexual misconduct allegations.

While there have been high-profile cases of police sexual assault in recent years, the culture of misogyny and invulnerability in most police departments remains, said Harrington, the former police chief in Portland. But she believes a reckoning is coming to law enforcement. “It’s the first time I’ve felt hope in years,” she said. “All of a sudden women are being heard.”

And yet, New York’s law means that a trial will pit the word of two ex-cops against the word of a teenager.

The legal process requires Anna to recall the events repeatedly, in detail. In the past five months, she has given statements to a series of NYPD investigators, to her lawyer, to prosecutors, to a grand jury, and to attorneys representing the city for her lawsuit against the department.

“It’s painful,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I still really don’t.” To Anna, some of those sessions, especially with city attorneys, felt more like interrogations. She hadn’t thought much about the court system before all this. She didn’t know how much of her life was now open for questioning. She hadn’t seen any need to clean up her social media accounts, and didn’t know her old posts could be used as evidence that she was lying. She’d put up photos of herself in bikinis. She’d gone to a porn convention when she was 17. She’d posted on Facebook a link to a website about sex when she was 13. She has never hidden that she enjoys smoking weed. Sometimes she makes dirty jokes.

“Who gives a fuck about what I post,” she tweeted after learning that defense attorneys were citing photos, videos, and comments from her social media history in an effort to persuade the DA’s Office to drop the charges.

Defendants Martins and Hall haven’t told their side. The gist of their defense at this point: “There was no nonconsensual sexual encounter,” said Martins’ lawyer, Mark Bederow, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan who has worked criminal defense since 2004. He denied that Anna was handcuffed and that the men used physical force on her. While defense lawyers won’t say what, according to the cops, happened inside the van, their public statements and the evidence they have presented so far point to their only possible legal strategy: Painting Anna as a temptress who came onto them.

This has been the most common defense used by cops acquitted in sexual assault cases. In 2007, former Irvine, California, police officer David Alex Park was acquitted of sexual assault after claiming that the woman initiated sex to avoid getting a ticket. In 2016, before Arizona’s recently passed consent law went into effect, former Phoenix police officer Timothy Morris was acquitted of sexual assault even though he admitted to having oral sex with a handcuffed woman in his patrol car, claiming she had seduced him.

Lawyers for Martins and Hall have canvassed Anna’s social media footprint. They’ve flagged items posted since the incident: a tweet about the “paparazzi” she found waiting for her outside the courthouse; captions dubbing herself “50mily,” a possible reference to her $50 million lawsuit against the department; tweets with any sort of sexual reference; comments on her pages posted by others claiming to have evidence that she is lying, including one to which she replied, “I hope ya mommy gets gang raped.”

The effort to damage Anna Chambers’ credibility became known to the public in October when the New York Post obtained a letter the defense lawyers had sent to prosecutors, referencing “provocative photos” and arguing that the DA’s office should “further investigate Chambers’ dubious claims.” The lawyers suggested that the life she presented on social media was evidence that she had not undergone the trauma of a sexual assault. “This behavior is unprecedented for a depressed victim of a vicious rape,” the letter said.

In December, Anna gave her deposition for the lawsuit. In the conference room of a private law firm, she and her lawyer sat across the table from attorneys representing New York City. The questioning and answering spanned 12 hours over three days, and when the transcript was typed up it ran for 740 pages. Hours were spent going over her social media posts, a painstaking accounting going back to her middle school years. Another chunk was devoted to her sexual history. Another covered her gynecological exams. During a round of questioning about a set of Facebook comments, she broke into tears.

The trial is likely many months away. At some point, a judge will determine how much of Anna’s personal and social media life defense lawyers may present at trial. At some point beyond that, she will take the witness stand and be cross-examined by the lawyers who have called her a liar.

Lawyers for Martins and Hall continue to call on the DA’s Office to drop the charges, accusing prosecutors of ignoring evidence that reveals Anna’s “willingness to lie” and of rushing the case forward to satisfy Anna’s supporters who want to see the men held accountable. Of the evidence the defense has pulled from her social media history to undermine her, Anna said, “None of that should matter.” It only matters because of the loophole.

In another letter challenging Anna’s credibility, filed in January, defense attorneys pointed out various inconsistencies among her statements, including over which detective told her to take off her bra, which pocket her cell phone was in, the reason she took time away from high school, and why she told city attorneys she’d dressed up as the Disney princess Jasmine for Halloween when her social media posts showed her in an orange inmate costume, a set of handcuffs dangling from her belt. A judge plans to rule by April 5 on which, if any, portions of the deposition transcript are admissible for trial.

Meanwhile, Anna, who is now 19, still lives in a neighborhood policed by former colleagues of the men she accused. “I see police cars park on my block all the time,” she told me. “I feel like I’m being watched.” She has felt that way since that night at the hospital, when she counted nine cops, of various ranks and roles, passing through the hallway as the investigation into her case began. She spends most days in her room on social media, she said. Those who follow her on Instagram can see the live videos she often posts from her bedroom, rapping to songs or talking to friends or putting on lip gloss while she scrolls through her phone. She responds to the comments, which mostly show love, sometimes spew hate, and every now and then offer advice on her case or encourage her to run for political office. She seems at ease, though not relaxed. She still lives her life, but it is now a life that carries the weight of that September night, and all that has followed. She seems to understand the long road she’s facing, and how lonely it can be. On the first day of 2018, she tweeted a link to a news article about her case, with the note, “Lets not forget.”

And many haven’t. On January 18, the morning of Anna’s latest hearing, about a dozen supporters stood outside the courthouse holding two signs: “Anna Chambers We Believe You” and “Let’s Smash This Rapist Cop State.” Passersby stopped and asked about the case. Staffers talked about it in elevators. Photographers and television cameras gathered in the hallway outside the courtroom. Anna walked past them without looking, her hands in the pockets of her green bomber jacket, her eyes behind reflective sunglasses, her two lawyers flanking her. The gallery was already half full by the time she entered, and she found a seat in a middle row. When Martins and Hall arrived a few minutes later, the only open spot left was just across the aisle. That night, Anna posted on Instagram a photo of herself leaving the courtroom, writing in the caption, “Its disgusting seeing these monsters 12 ft away from me.” ●

CORRECTION

Anna tweeted a photo of a New York Daily News article about her case on Sept. 30. An earlier version of this story misidentified the newspaper.

CORRECTION

Ohio’s law bars sex in custody between police and detainees, and DC’s does not. An earlier version of the map in this story had the colors reversed.
Source

Feb 8, 2018
CNN Money
This is why the Dow is plunging

The Dow has dropped more than 1,000 points on Thursday, primarily because of concerns about the bond market and inflation.

Wild swings over the past week have left stocks in the red for the year. The Dow has entered a correction, down 10% from its record high just two weeks ago.

Here’s what’s driving the volatility.

1. Concerns about inflation …

Stocks had been rising steadily since the election in part because the economy is so strong. Unemployment is historically low, and there are more open jobs than people to fill them.

Companies are starting to pay workers more to retain existing employees and attract new hires. Businesses will eventually have to raise prices on the stuff they sell to afford their growing payrolls.

Though the economy has been growing steadily for almost nine years, price inflation has remained stubbornly and mysteriously low.

The Federal Reserve combats inflation by raising its interest rates. The central bank has been unable to significantly raise its interest rates over the past decade, fearing it could stymie the economic recovery and perhaps cause prices to fall.

The Fed planned on raising interest rates slowly this year — just three times in 2018. But if inflation picks up, the Fed could raise rates more often or more steeply than it had planned.

Related: Dow plunges 1,175 — worst point decline in history

2. … and interest rates

When the Fed raises rates, the cost of borrowing money increases. That means companies have to pay more for their loans, which cuts into corporate profits. It also means Americans will pay more for mortgages and loans.

Another reason the stock market has risen so much over the past year has been the steady growth in corporate profits. Companies are healthy, and investors have rewarded them by pushing up their stock prices.

When interest rates rise sharply, stocks often fall. Investors worry that businesses’ profit parade will slow down.

3. Worries about the bond market

Stocks have also been on a tear because they have been one of the only investments with a decent return. U.S. Treasury bond yields have been so low that many stock dividends are paying better.

But stocks are a higher-risk investment than bonds, which are backed by the United States Treasury. If bond yields start to rise, investors will want to take some of their money out of stocks and put it into safer bonds.

Sure enough, bond yields hit a four-year high Thursday. The recent tax bill has forced the Treasury to borrow more money, which will put more bonds into play. A supply glut could devalue bonds. Prices and yields move in opposite directions, and bond buyers will want a higher yield (and lower price) to make it worth their investment.

Inflation is bad for bonds, too. If borrowing costs increase, bond investors will want more return — a higher yield.

Attractive yields on a safer investment have made stocks suddenly less attractive.

4. Too far, too fast

Stocks have been rising pretty much in a straight line since November 2016, and that’s not exactly healthy. Stock market analysts believe the stock market is long overdue for a 5% pullback or even a 10% correction.

A cooling-off period would be a good thing. It would make stocks cheaper and more attractive to investors, especially if the underlying companies are healthy, cranking out strong sales and profits.

The market finally began to come down to earth — just a bit — and investors wonder whether this is a much-needed correction or the beginning of a bear market. There could be a little groupthink taking place in the downturn.     Source

Jan 17, 2018
NPR
Majority of National Park Service Board Resigns, Citing Administration Indifference

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks on the Trump administration’s energy policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington in September 2017. Nine of 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned Monday citing Zinke’s unwillingness to meet with the panel.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Nearly all of the seats on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board are vacant following a mass resignation Monday night, with ex-members citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s unwillingness to meet with them.

Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles said that he and eight other members of the panel handed in their resignations. In a separate letter Wednesday, another board member, Carolyn Hessler Radelet, also quit.

The advisory board, which normally has up to 12 members and describes itself as comprising “citizen advisors chartered by Congress to help the National Park Service,” has been an institution since 1935. Members of the current bipartisan iteration were appointed by President Obama and represented the geographical breadth of the U.S. and a range of research disciplines, from social science to natural resource conservation.

The terms of most of the members who quit were set to expire in May. Radelet’s term would not have expired until 2021.

Knowles, in a letter of resignation to Zinke, said the board had “worked closely and productively through 2016 with dedicated National Park Service employees, an inspiring Director and a fully supportive Department.”

Since then, as explained in the letter, the board had repeatedly tried and failed to secure a meeting with the new interior secretary.

“[Our] requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of the agenda,” the letter reads.

Alaska Public Radio quoted Knowles as saying that the Department of the Interior “showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystems, education.”

“And it has rescinded NPS regulations of resource stewardship concerning those very things: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change,” he added.

According to The Washington Post:

“The three board members who did not resign include Harvard University public finance professor Linda Bilmes, University of Maryland marine science professor Rita Colwell and Carolyn Hessler Radelet, the chief executive of Project Concern International. Terms for the first two end in May, while Radelet’s term does not expire until 2021.

“In an email, Bilmes said she did not resign her post because she is conducting research with other colleagues funded by the National Park Foundation, and wanted to complete her project.”

In a statement Wednesday, Department of Interior spokesperson Heather Swift said the department welcomes the resignations. She called the board members’ claim of neglect “patently false,” saying the department had been working with the board as recently as earlier this month.

“The appointment of two of the individuals who claim to be resigning had already expired in July and November, and they did not seek reappointment,” Swift added in her statement. “Their hollow and dishonest political stunt should be a clear indicator of the intention of this group.”

E&E News points to another area of contention between the Department of the Interior and the NPS advisory board:

“At the heart of the dispute is the Trump administration’s move in August to scrap a 2016 order by the Obama administration that called for a focus on climate change in managing natural resources in U.S. parks. …

“Among other things, the order called for park managers to make decisions based ‘on science, law and long-term public interest.’ And it said park superintendents and other NPS leaders had to ‘possess scientific literacy appropriate to their positions and resource management decision-making responsibilities.’ ”

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat who is the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement of support for the resigning board members.

“The President still hasn’t nominated a director for the National Park Service and Secretary Zinke has proposed tripling entrance fees at our most popular national parks,” she said. “His disregard of the advisory board is just another example of why he has earned an ‘F’ in stewardship.”

“To not have any meetings, to not have their phone calls returned, to not have any opportunity to have an audience with the officials at the interior department is really a slap in the face and I think sometimes you have to make a statement,” Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior during President Obama’s second term, told NPR’s Here and Now on Wednesday.

“They were being ignored, and I have to believe that’s consistent with what this administration has done with other advisory boards and councils in other agencies, as well,” she said.

Since taking office, President Trump has sought to roll back protections of national parks and public lands under the auspices of the Department of the Interior. The administration has ordered a dramatic downsizing of two massive national monuments in Utah and has announced plans to open up oil drilling in protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic.

“If we lose the people with the knowledge and the ability to educate the next generation of young people, to appreciate our history, our culture, our natural world,” Jewell said, “then we lose the value of the national parks.”

Swift has vowed to “fast-track filling these new vacancies with people who are actually dedicated to working with the Department to better our national parks.”

The department has also moved to renew the board’s charter.

“The advice and recommendations provided by the Board and its subcommittees fulfill an important need within the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service,” Zinke said in a document dated Jan. 4 and published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, “and it is necessary to re-establish the Board to ensure its work is not disrupted.”  Source

Jan 16, 2018
The Inquirer
As the flu season gets worse, is there anything we can do? 
by Anna Nguyen, Kids Health Assistant Editor @HealthyKidsPHL

As many of us probably know, the flu is making its rounds in a big way this year. Last week, health officials described the flu season as “moderately severe” due to persistent cold weather and an imperfect vaccine.

We checked in with Peter Bidey, D.O., Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and member of the Inquirer Health Advisory Panel, about what’s happening and basics tips to try to stay healthy.
What’s going on with this year’s flu? Why is the flu vaccine imperfect?

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is showing that the majority of influenza cases are the H3N2 strain of influenza, which can strike early in the flu season and often can make both the young and elderly very sick. Due to the fact that it has been particularly cold, and with the virus striking during the holiday seasons this makes more of us stay indoors, together, in more confined spaces.  This circulated air and close contact is a perfect scenario to spread the virus itself.

Last, but not least, the virus can mutate both in the population as it circulates and the virus that was used to make the vaccine can also have mutations occur during the process. Both of these factors can make the vaccine imperfect and not always cover all strains of the virus each year.  For example, some estimates are saying that this year’s vaccine is approximately 30 percent effective.

Are products marketed as immune boosters for kids such as vitamin C gummies or drops worth using?

Immune boosters that contain Vitamin C and other antioxidants are not specifically bad.  However, there is not a vast amount of data that shows that these compounds provide any benefit. Although they might not hurt a patient, these key minerals and vitamins are best absorbed by eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and ve

What are some ways to keep our kids’ immunity up?
To answer this question, just think back to what your mother or father told you when you were sick. It is always best to:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Get the proper amount of sleep
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a tissue or into your elbow.
  • If sick, try to avoid contact with other individuals so that you do not spread the disease.
  • If not sick, try to avoid coming in contact with sick individuals.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables

Always contact your primary care provider if symptoms are not improving or worsening

Should my family get flu shots if we didn’t yet?
Emphatically, yes! It is not too late in the season and although the vaccine is not perfect, it still can do a lot of good. The vaccine can still protect you from some strains of this year’s influenza. If you or a loved one still do contract the flu, the vaccine can allow you to have a much milder case and help protect you from needing hospitalization. Source

Jan 4, 2018
PennLive
32 Pa. hospitals penalized for allowing infections, injuries

Chambersburg Hospital
Chambersburg Hospital (PennLive.com/file)

The federal government has penalized 32 Pennsylvania hospitals for high rates of infections and injuries that took place in the facilities.

They are among 751 hospitals around the country being penalized by way of reduced payments from Medicare. The penalties result from a four-year-old program that’s part of the Affordable Care Act and intended to prod hospitals into making reduction of such incidents a higher priority.

Seventeen of the Pennsylvania hospitals that were penalized were also penalized the previous year.

The penalty amounts to 1 percent of the money hospitals receive from Medicare. In 2015, when 39 Pennsylvania hospitals were penalized, it cost them an estimated $19 million.

Hospitals were penalized for having higher rates of infections related to certain catheters and intravenous lines, certain surgeries and MRSA and c-diff infections. They also reflect higher rates of certain hospital injuries, such as bed sores and hip fractures from falls at the hospital.

An analysis by Kaiser Health News found that hospitals which treat higher proportions of people with lower incomes were more likely to be fined than hospitals that mostly serve people who are better off.

Kaiser further wrote: “The penalties have been controversial from the beginning. The hospital industry faults them as unfairly punishing hospitals that treat sicker patients and those that do a better job of identifying infections and other patient complications. Patient advocates say that, while not perfect, the penalties have been a valuable prod to make hospital executives consider more than the bottom line.”

  • Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia
  • Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh
  • Allegheny Valley Hospital, Natrona
  • Chambersburg Hospital, Chambersburg
  • Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton
  • Ellwood City Hospital, Ellwood City
  • Excela Health Frick Hospital, Mount Pleasant
  • Forbes Hospital, Monroeville
  • Geisinger-Bloomsburg Hospital, Bloomsburg
  • Geisinger-Community Medical Center, Scranton
  • Heritage Valley Sewickley, Sewickley
  • Holy Spirit Hospital, Camp Hill
  • Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana
  • J C Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon
  • Jefferson Hospital, Jefferson Hills
  • Lancaster Regional Medical Center, Lancaster
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital – Hazleton, Hazleton
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill, Pottsville
  • Meadville Medical Center, Meadville
  • OSS Orthopaedic Hospital, York
  • Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia
  • Phoenixville Hospital , Phoenixville
  • Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, Pottstown 
  • St Joseph Medical Center, Reading
  • St Luke’s Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale
  • St Mary Medical Center, Langhorne
  • UPMC Altoona, Altoona
  • UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Pittsburgh
  • UPMC St Margaret, Pittsburgh
  • Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale
  • West Penn Hospital, Pittsburgh
    Source

 

463total visits,1visits today