July 2, 2021

US: Longest Life Expectancy by County

US News and World Report just released a list of counties in the US with the longest life expectancies. Number one? San Miguel County, Colorado. Coming in a close second and third, respectively, were Summit County, Colorado and Mono County, California. The list was put together based on the assessment of 3,000 US counties, looking at 84 specific factors. Some of these factors include: economics, equity, public safety, housing, and access to food and adequate nutrition. Social indicators were also assessed, including wealth and education status. Scores for each county and their respective rankings can be viewed in the full list. Read more

Is loneliness a bigger health risk than smoking or obesity? —

Throughout the pandemic, cases of loneliness have grown immensely in individuals young and old alike. With lockdown, separation from family and friends, and fewer opportunities to meet new people, many have struggled greatly. In fact, the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK found that "Loneliness puts people at a 50% increased risk of an early death." One way they seek to address this major issue is through "social prescribing," or the idea that general practitioners should refer patients to non-clinical services, typically social or group activities, that can help to increase social interaction; for example, gardening, dancing, or group chats outside. Most recently, the easing of restrictions has allowed many outdoor (and some indoor) activities to safely resume, something that will hopefully help to counter the rise in loneliness. Read more

Rising deductibles keep people from seeking medical support —

We all know to call 911 or seek the nearest emergency room if severe chest pain strikes or a medical emergency arises. However, a recent study found that a deductible of $1,000 or more on an individual's health insurance plan can serve as a deterrent when seeking care. "Plans with high out-of-pocket costs [...] put patients with chest pain in a difficult spot of balancing their financial well-being against the potential risk of significant heart disease," said the author of the study, Dr. Shih-Chuan Chou. Specifically, individuals who switched to a high-deductible plan had a 4% decrease in ER visits for chest pain and an 11% drop in ER visits that required hospitalization. While there is no quick answer to this financial burden on care, Dr. Felipe Serrano, an emergency medicine physician, suggests that you speak with your primary care physician as soon as any concerns emerge; and, if an emergency occurs when your PCP is unavailable, urgent care centers may be a more cost-effective option than heading to your nearest hospital ER. Read more

Using virtual reality to address healthcare inequities —

A team at Eastern Michigan University has begun using virtual reality to teach medical staff how to better deliver "culturally competent care" to the community they serve. Dr. Tsu-Yin, the director of the Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies at EMU, is overseeing the project, which focuses on addressing healthcare teams about particular barriers to healthcare access that Asian American may be facing, from food insecurity to various forms of racism. The new virtual reality tools allow nurses to simulate patient interactions to learn more about the barriers they may face. If the project continues to move forward successfully, the aim is to make it available to more healthcare providers. Read more

Coronavirus Updates

Growing Delta variant challenges loosened mask guidelines —

The highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 is now showing up in nearly every US state, instigating concerns surrounding possible COVID-19 spikes to come. In Los Angeles, Delta's spread has prompted public health officials to unofficially reinstate mask mandates for public indoor spaces (regardless of individuals' vaccination status). So far, the Pfizer vaccine is proven to be at least 88% effective against the Delta variant following the second dose. That said, the spread of Delta is outpacing vaccinations, and the WHO warns that the more unvaccinated people who remain to spread it, the more opportunities the virus will have to mutate. Read more

Existing COVID-19 vaccines may not require near-future booster shots —

COVID-19 vaccines already in circulation may be more persistent in their response to COVID-19 than originally expected. A study that was released on Monday supports a growing body of evidence that the protection against the virus provided by existing vaccines—such as Pfizer and Moderna—could be long lasting. Specifically, researchers found that germinal centers lymph nodes (key to persistent immune response) in vaccinated individuals were active nearly four months after their first vaccine dose, which may suggest long-term protection. This means that booster shots for these mRNA vaccines may not be needed in the short term. However, while the existing vaccines are proving effective against currently circulating variants, there is still the probability that this may not be the case with future variants. Read more

Upcoming Events

7/7, 3pm PDT: Health Insurance For Travel Nurses —

Health insurance should never be a barrier for the career of your dreams, but it’s hard to find insurance with good coverage that doesn’t break the bank. Join Lynn Frair, RN & Founder of FI-Healthcare as she shares how to find your own health insurance, what it will cost, what travel nursing agencies typically offer by way of insurance, and more. This event is open to all nurses, so invite your nurse friends and family, just make sure you RSVP!

Clockin' Out ✌️

"Today’s nurses are more diverse and more highly educated than ever before. The strength and resilience of the contemporary nurses seen on #NurseTwitter is a beautiful reminder of the far reaching impact our profession has️" - Melissa Babin, MSN, RN (@BabinRn)