Short of medics as virus surges, central Europe sounds alarm

KYJOV, Czech Republic (AP) — Soldiers in Poland are giving coronavirus tests. American National Guard troops with medical training are headed to the Czech Republic to work alongside doctors there. A Czech university student is running blood samples to labs, and the mayor of the capital is taking shifts at a hospital.

With cases surging in many central European countries, firefighters, students and retired doctors are being asked to help shore up buckling health care systems.

“This is actually terrifying,” Dr. Piotr Suwalski, the head of the cardiac surgery ward at a Polish hospital said on a day when daily COVID-19 cases rose 20% nationwide. “I think if we continue to gain 20% a day, no system can withstand it.”


Even before the pandemic, many countries in the region faced a tragic shortage of medical personnel due to years of underfunding in their public health sectors and an exodus of doctors and nurses to better paying jobs in Western Europe after the nations joined the European Union in 2004. Now, with the virus ripping through their hospitals, many health workers have been sickened, compounding the shortfall.

Over 13,200 medical personnel across the Czech Republic have been infected, including 6,000 nurses and 2,600 doctors, according to the doctors’ union.

It’s not just clinicians these countries need. Both Poland and the Czech Republic are building field hospitals as beds fill up on wards, and authorities say there are only 12 ventilators left in all hospitals taking COVID-19 patients in the region around Warsaw, the Polish capital.

This may sound familiar, but not for these countries. Many in the region imposed tough restrictions in the spring — including sealing borders and closing schools, stores and restaurants — and saw very low infection rates even as the virus killed tens of thousands in Western Europe.

But now many central European countries are seeing an onslaught similar to the one their western neighbors experienced — and the same dire warnings.

As he announced new restrictions last week, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put a date on when his country’s health system would collapse, if the new regulations were not imposed to slow the virus’s spread: between Nov. 7 and 11.

With one of the highest infection rates in Europe, the Czech Republic’s hospitals are desperately looking for volunteers. The government is deploying thousands of medical students to hospitals and other students to testing sites.

In the capital of Prague, Mayor Zdenek Hrib, who has a degree in medicine, volunteered to help do initial exams of possible coronavirus patients at a university hospital. Soon, 28 medical personnel from the Nebraska and Texas national guards are expected to arrive to help treat patients at Prague’s military hospital and a new field hospital at the city’s exhibition ground.

Croatia has asked former doctors to come out of retirement to help in hospitals, while Slovenia has put retired physicians and current medical students on standby in case its situation deteriorates.

Poland, meanwhile, is mobilizing soldiers to conduct COVID-19 testing,

Read more

Insomnia With Short Sleep Linked to Cognitive Impairment



Dr Julio Fernandez-Mendoza

Insomnia with objective short sleep duration is associated with a significantly increased risk of cognitive impairment (CI), particularly as it relates to cardiometabolic health, new research suggests.

Results of a population-based analysis show that participants who reported poor sleep or chronic insomnia and who objectively slept less than 6 hours per night had a twofold increased risk for CI.

The findings suggest that insomnia with objective short sleep duration is a more severe phenotype that is associated with cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and neurocognitive disease, according to the researchers. The findings also indicate that objective sleep measures may reflect a patient’s insomnia severity and phenotype.

“This is the first study to show that adults who complain of insomnia and sleep objectively fewer than 6 hours in the lab have a twofold increased prevalence of mild cognitive impairment, particularly cognitive impairment associated with vascular contributors such as stage 2 hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke,” Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, told Medscape Medical News.

The research was published online September 24 in Sleep.

Highly Prevalent

The prevalence of insomnia symptoms in the general population may be as high as 30%, and approximately 15% of the general population has chronic insomnia.

Previous research has established an association between insomnia and psychiatric disorders, but fewer studies have examined the association between insomnia and cognitive impairment.

Furthermore, many studies that have analyzed the relationship between sleep and cognitive impairment have relied on self-reported measures of sleep, rather than objective measures.

For the study, researchers examined data from the Penn State Adult Cohort, which was a random, population-based sample of 1741 adults. Each participant spent one night in the sleep laboratory, during which he or she underwent 8 hours of polysomnography.

Participants also completed a questionnaire about sleep disorders, physical and mental health status, and substance use. They reported having normal sleep, poor sleep, or chronic insomnia.

The investigators obtained each participant’s clinical history, including mental and physical health conditions. Participants also underwent a battery of neuropsychological tests, including the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, and the Trail Making Test.  

The analysis included 1524 participants. The study population had a mean age of 48.9 years. Approximately 47% of participants were men, and about 92% were non-Hispanic Whites.

A total of 155 participants (10.2%) had CI. Overall, 899 participants (59%) reported normal sleep, 453 (30%) reported poor sleep, and 172 (11%) reported chronic insomnia.

Need for Objective Assessment

Poor sleep and chronic insomnia were not significantly associated with CI or possible vascular cognitive impairment (pVCI). However, objective short sleep duration was significantly linked to CI (odds ratio [OR], 1.90) and marginally associated with pVCI (OR, 1.53).

Participants with self-reported poor sleep or chronic insomnia who slept less than 6 hours had a significantly increased risk of CI (OR, 2.06 and 2.18, respectively), as well as increased risk of pVCI (OR, 1.94 and 2.33, respectively), compared with participants with

Read more

Non-Obamacare Short Term Health Plans On The Rise

American’s are looking for lower cost alternatives when it comes to their healthcare needs. Those who do not need a huge demand for medical services to be covered have other options. Even those with some medical requirements on a monthly or quarterly basis are OK with little less coverage if they are saving enough on premiums. The good news is alternative plans are here, and they will continue to grow in demand as 2018 continues.

The Trump Administration signed off on an executive order in the fall of 2017 requiring that short-term health care plans be extended from the current 90-day restriction to the full 365 days as it once was. These types of policies are not there to replace the ACA plans, but to provide individuals and families with more choices for their healthcare needs.

This is great news for millions of Americans who do not qualify for the federal health subsidies and really cannot afford the premiums for the ACA plans. By freeing up some of their hard-earned dollars, they can put it back into the economy, retirement, college or whatever they need.

Short-term plans are non-ACA qualified health plans that are not required to cover preexisting conditions or certain ACA (Obamacare) mandated Essential Health Benefits (EHB), that are covered by ACA-qualified plans.

These benefits include:

  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Specific preventive care benefits such as routine exams, mammograms, cancer screenings, etc
  • Pediatric services (oral care and vision)

The short-term plans are a great option without the above coverages in the policy. Insurance is supposed to be for sudden, expensive things that you usually could not afford on your own. Look at your homeowners and auto insurance. They provide coverage for the unforeseen, costly risks that you cannot afford to take on yourself. The short-term medical plans do just that.

The short-term medical plan extension from the current 90-day maximum to 365-day maximum takes effect May 1st. After that date, you can apply with an insurance company that offers the short-term plan that does not have the 90-day maximum limit.

One other drawback for 2018 is the individual mandate. The short-term medical plan is not an ACA-compliant plan according to the IRS and will be subject to the tax penalty when you file your taxes in 2018. There are other ways around this. You will need to seek out a professional in the field to get more information. For the tax year 2019, this tax penalty goes away.

Source Article

Read more