GOP senator claims birth control and HIV testing is not ‘actual health care’

Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign attacked the health care services provided by Planned Parenthood.

GOP Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign is on the attack against Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state’s largest sexual health organization, saying it does not provide residents with “actual health care,” the Hill reported Friday.

McSally’s comments came in response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it would run ads in Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina about the Trump administration’s restrictions on health care funding that limit how doctors can interact with patients. All three of the states have closely watched Senate races in 2020.

“Senator McSally is focused on providing access to actual health care for women all across Arizona, while Planned Parenthood is only focused on protecting their business model,” Dylan Lefler, the Arizona Republican’s campaign manager, told the Hill.

Planned Parenthood Arizona serves more than 90,000 Arizona residents, according to its website, offering a wide range of real health care services, including annual well-woman exams, birth control consultation and supplies, HIV testing, emergency contraception, and pregnancy testing. Research from the Guttmacher Institute, a group focused on reproductive health, has shown that providers serving low-income patients, including Planned Parenthood, play a vital role in the public safety net, and may be the only health care available in some areas.

The Trump administration unveiled new rules earlier this year stating that federal funds from the Title X program can no longer go to organizations that either perform abortions or refer patients to facilities to receive abortions. Prior to the new rules, organizations like Planned Parenthood were already barred from using federal funds to perform abortions, but the new rule gagged the ability of health care professionals to even discuss the medical procedure.

After the rules went into effect, Planned Parenthood was forced to withdraw from the Title X program, the only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services, birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and annual exams, to low-income Americans. Most of the patients who rely on Title X services are people of color, according to Planned Parenthood.

The ads aim to pressure lawmakers to overrule Trump and allow organizations like Planned Parenthood to once again participate in Title X and offer health care services to low-income people.

However, the McSally campaign identified Planned Parenthood as a “hysterical liberal special interest group” invading Arizona “with false, negative ads.”

McSally has previously voted to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds whatsoever. She also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires health insurance companies to cover maternity and newborn care.

“Republican senators are attacking access to affordable birth control and other vital reproductive health services by standing with the Trump administration’s dangerous gag rule,” Sam Lau, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s director of federal advocacy media, said in an email. “Congress has the power to take action, and the American people want them to stop putting politics over their health and protect access to affordable health care.”

The post GOP senator claims birth control and HIV testing is not ‘actual health care’ appeared first on The American Independent.

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The President, the US private health giant, and top NHS officials – special relationships? | openDemocracy

In the UK, we have a simple take on the US healthcare system as a for-profit, private system that fleeces its customers and fails the poor.

But here’s the secret: the US has its own ‘mini NHS’. Smaller than the UK’s system, but still a government funded, (mostly) publicly-run system that serves people according to their need. It’s called the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

And Donald Trump wants to privatise it.

What’s more, to set the reforms in motion, the firm that’s been appointed to create and expand new private networks within the Veterans health system is Optum, the profitable ‘healthcare services’ arm of America’s biggest private health insurer, UnitedHealth Group.

Optum and UnitedHealth are familiar names to anyone who has been following the silent takeover of the NHS by private healthcare firms in recent years, though aspects of their involvement are fully exposed here for the first time.

Health privatisation, US-style – sounds familiar?

But first, it’s worth a closer look at what’s been happening to the US’s own ‘mini-NHS’ – because there are some remarkable parallels with what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic.

The Veterans Administration has a budget of $70billion with which it provides healthcare for some nine million US military veterans. It has experienced serious capacity issues in the past, but a study last year found the quality of care it provides is the same, or significantly better than the private sector.

Regardless, Trump passed a law last year that allows extensive latitude for a significant proportion of this care to be outsourced to private healthcare corporations.

The President’s plan is backed by a small cabal of right-wing politicians and lobby groups on a crusade to talk down the care the Veterans Health Administration provides – and then to ‘fix’ it, through pushing veteran patients towards private providers. Trump began by replacing senior Veterans Administration officials that stood in the way and reportedly allowed his close political associates and donors to influence the reforms. All the while running a PR campaign, led by officials and their Koch-backed advisors, denying that funnelling billions of taxpayer dollars to private healthcare providers amounts to privatisation. On being appointed, Trump’s new VA secretary told senators: “I will oppose efforts to privatize the VA.”

Democrat Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the real beneficiaries of Trump’s reforms are “pharmaceutical companies, insurance corporations and, ultimately… a for-profit health-care industry that does not put people or veterans first.” If he really wanted to “fix the VA so badly,” she added at a packed rally earlier this year, “let’s start hiring, and fill up some of those 49,000 [staff] vacancies.”

All of this will sound eerily familiar to campaigners defending the National Health Service against privatisation: from chronic understaffing to legislative reform in the face of massive opposition, and all the while strenuously denying that the changes amount to privatisation at all.

We’re told one thing about NHS privatisation – health firm investors are told another

“There is no privatisation of the NHS on my watch,” Matt Hancock assured MPs earlier this year. Boris Johnson has since echoed his words: “We are absolutely resolved. There will be no sale of the NHS, no privatisation.”

Look at the message US private healthcare firms are giving their investors, however, and a different story emerges.

“We’ve been planting seeds and I would say that we’re strong with the NHS,” US healthcare executive, Larry Renfro told investors in 2016. Renfro was then chief executive of Optum – the very same US company that’s recently been awarded huge contracts to take over the US’s ‘mini NHS’.

“We’re strong with [the regulator] NHS improvement. We are getting stronger with the Minister of Health, as well as the Secretary of Health,” Renfro said. His colleague and Optum’s Executive Vice President, Jeffrey Berkowitz, spoke of the years Optum had spent building a “very strong foundation of work on the ground with the Department of Health”.

Investors and financial analysts were told this, but not the British public.

Official records show only that Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, held an ‘introductory’ meeting with Optum in March 2017 and that health minister Philip Dunne visited Optum in Boston and again, a couple of weeks later in London.

It is only because Renfro told investors that a health minister is “as we sit here today, with us… on tour”, that we know that Lord Prior, now chair of NHS England, also visited Optum at its headquarters in Minneapolis in October 2016.

Donald Trump, the private healthcare execs, and NHS senior officials

This was one of many visits in recent years made by politicians and senior health officials to Optum’s various US offices. This includes officials from NHS Digital – guardians of NHS patient data – whose head of data was given a tour of Optum’s capabilities at its Washington office in January 2018. As an Optum lobbyist said in 2014, the trips, some of which it paid for, are part of its efforts to “develop and mature” its relationship with the NHS.

It is also only through documents released under Freedom of Information law that we know that Ed Smith, the chair of the NHS’s powerful regulator NHS Improvement, held a series of ‘working dinners’ with UnitedHealth Group CEO, Stephen Hemsley – first in September 2016 and again in January the following year. Another ‘working dinner’ took place with Renfro in March 2017. The documents don’t reveal what these men discussed.

In February of that year, Hemsley visited the White House to meet Donald Trump [photos from the meeting: second right and slightly hidden here; leaning forward hands on table behind Mike Pence here]. The President tweeted: “Great meeting with CEOs of leading U.S. health insurance companies who provide great healthcare to the American people.”

Once declared the highest paid CEO in the US, Stephen Hemsley is now executive chair of UnitedHealth Group. He earned a reported $65m last year. Fortune described him as the “corporate chief who’s arguably created more wealth for shareholders… than any sitting CEO”.

The secrecy of these trans-Atlantic meetings matters. It has allowed the UK government to tell one story to the public, while quietly inviting a giant, for-profit US corporation, bent on overseas expansion, to embed itself in our NHS.

Optum’s parent company, UnitedHealth Group, which reported earnings in 2018 of over $220 billion, is opposed to efforts in the US to introduce a universal, public health system like the NHS. Its current CEO said Medicare for All, as the proposals are known, would “destabilize” the American healthcare system. It goes without saying, they would also eliminate its industry.

Healthcare markets – why are we looking to US firms to help shape our healthcare?

As support rises in the US for an NHS-inspired ‘Medicare for All’ system to replace the current broken model, in contrast, the Conservative Party has spent the past decade rushing to adopt a US model in its reform of the NHS. This has involved taking our national health system and breaking it up into mini healthcare markets (known as Accountable Care Organisations, or ACOs) to be run, increasingly, with technology and expertise supplied by companies like Optum.

Optum specialises in using data and algorithms to predict and make decisions about who gets what care, something it has honed in America’s private health insurance system, where the more insurers cut costs and ration care, the more money they make. Optum’s algorithm was also recently found to show dramatic biases against black patients.

“Nationally, there are various things going on with data and information and digital that we are actually working with them [the UK] very, very closely right now,” Renfro told investors in April 2017. The health secretary and a “subset of the NHS board” were due to visit, he added: “So things seem to be breaking a lose [sic] right now.”

All of which adds up to quite a different picture to the one used by the Conservatives to sell the reforms to the public in 2010. Health secretary Andrew Lansley’s pitch back then was that his changes were about handing GPs control of the NHS budget to spend locally as they saw fit.

Optum had been involved in discussions from the start in 2010, as revealed in Lansley’s diary (which was released only after a court ruling). Four years later and documents released under FOI showed Optum in prime position to pick up some of the first wave of contracts. In April 2017 – by which time the NHS had been divided into 44 regional areas, each with a plan for reforming its region – Renfo updated investors on “what we’re doing in the UK” and Optum’s UK “44 market strategy”.

“So in February, we won our first business…. with one of those [regions]…. that’s where you’re going to manage with an ACO process. And so we’re tying in everything we do in the States into that win that we just received.” According to Renfro, it was “very, very close” to picking up another two regions and the firm had moved people over to the UK to manage the projects.

Since then, it has been hired by NHS England to “accelerate” these reforms across the country. In the West Midlands, for example, Optum has advised the region’s GPs, hospitals and local councils on their plans. With its partner, PwC, it provided a 12 week programme of training for senior health officials across Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It has also gone into partnership with GP “super-practice”, Modality.

Among the other regions receiving Optum coaching and support are: Cumbria; Cambridge and Peterborough; South East London, Staffordshire and Norfolk, Optum was also brought in to help remodel health services in the region spanning Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes.

Yeovil Hospital, which has led the reforms in Somerset, said: “The ACO model born in the US market is new to the UK, and as such we have partnered with globally experienced Optum who are guiding our journey into this new world.”

At the same time, Optum has been on a hiring spree across the country of former NHS staff to undertake the work, led by former NHS England directors who have also passed through the revolving door. Ultimately, though, the man steering these reforms is Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England. He previously, spent a decade at the top of UnitedHealth Group as Executive Vice President and president of its expanding global health businesses.

The health secretary will still deny that privatisation is occurring on his watch. And Boris Johnson will continue to insist that the NHS is not for sale. Meanwhile, the seeds that Optum has been planting for a decade under the Tories are beginning to bear fruit.

openDemocracy approached the Department of Health for comment on the extent to which the public were being kept in the dark about the extent of the NHS’s engagement with private US health firms, specifically Optum, but they declined to comment, citing pre-election ‘purdah’ rules.

This content was originally published here.

The John Fornetti Dental Center Presents Dentistry For Our Vets 2018

Iron Mountain, MI – The John Fornetti Dental Center will present Dentistry For Our Vets on Saturday, November 10, 2018. Dentistry For Our Vets provides free dental care to our veterans in need.

Dr. John and Dr. Dan Fornetti, along with their team of employees, volunteers and sponsors will be hosting their 5th annual Dentistry For Our Vets on Saturday, November 10, 2018. Those over age 18 in need of dental care will be able to choose between one free extraction, filling or hygiene cleaning. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and patients will be seen on a first come, first served basis until 3:00 p.m.

The media is invited to join the many volunteers and patients to spread free smiles across Iron Mountain through Dentistry For Our Vets at The John Fornetti Dental Center. We are turning our parking lot into an outdoor waiting room, with a heated waiting area and burn barrels, but please remember to bundle up and stay warm.

91% of U.S. veterans are ineligible for dental benefits. Dr. John Fornetti of Iron Mountain, MI, thinks as Americans, we can do better. In response, Dr. John started Dentistry For Our Vets. The John Fornetti Dental Center’s 2017 event was able to serve 58 veterans, providing over 162 procedures, and over $20,000 in services donated.

Dentistry For Our Vets will be held at The John Fornetti Dental Center, located at 100 S. Stephenson Avenue, Iron Mountain, MI. from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering their services for the event can find more information by calling (906) 774-0100 or visiting us on the web here and on Facebook.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. Must Provide Mental Health Services to Families Separated at Border – The New York Times

“The question is,” he said, “what happens from here and can it be enforced? I assume the government will appeal and get the order stayed because it’s brand new. They’ll say the judge got it wrong.”

The family separations were a key part of the Trump administration’s effort to deter migrant families at the southwestern border, where they have been arriving in large numbers, most of them fleeing violence and deep poverty in Central America.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted and jailed, a process that the government said could not be carried out without removing their children.

The federal government had reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly removed from their parents under the policy. An additional 1,556 migrant families were separated between July 2017 and June 2018, the government said last month.

President Trump suspended the policy in June 2018 amid a public outcry, and a federal judge in San Diego ordered the government to reunify the families.

But Judge Kronstadt found that the government had taken “affirmative steps to implement the zero-tolerance policy,” and that its implementation had caused “severe mental trauma to parents and their children.”

Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer with Public Counsel, which brought the case along with the law firm Sidley Austin, said the judge had found that the separation policy violated the families’ constitutional rights.

“You cannot have a policy of deliberately trying to injure a family bond,” he said. “Cruelty cannot be part of an enforcement policy, and here it was the cornerstone of the policy.”

Government lawyers had argued that it could not be held liable for mental health problems that might occur in the future, and that there had been no proof of existing irreparable harm to any of those subjected to the policy.

Further, they said that any harm that might have occurred was quickly abated when families were reunited.

The government declined to comment on the court’s ruling.

The lead plaintiff in the case, a Guatemalan migrant identified as J.P., was separated from her teenage daughter at the border on May 21, 2018. For more than a month, the mother said, she had no idea of her child’s whereabouts. They spoke for the first time after they had been apart for 40 days, and only because a lawyer encountered J.P. during a visit to the detention center in Irvine, Calif., where she was being held.

Until then, no one had explained to her in a language she could understand — she speaks a Mayan language — what had happened to her daughter, according to her lawyer, Judy London, who is with Public Counsel. Her daughter, 16, had been sent to a shelter in Phoenix.

“Despite her obvious terror and inability to comprehend what was happening around her, no one made sure she had understood information about how she could contact her daughter,” Ms. London said in a declaration filed with the court.

“To the contrary, the guards insisted she needed no help and could on her own use phones to reach her daughter,” she said.

This content was originally published here.

Pasco Man Accused of Practicing Dentistry Without License

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Jose Mas-Fernandez, 33, for allegedly practicing dentistry without a license.

“Why people would go to someone like this, we don’t know. We can only speculate, but it is against the law. You have to have a license,” said PSO Community Relations Director Kevin Doll. “You have to be licensed by the state, and this individual obviously did not have that.” 

The arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Health.

Authorities said Mas-Fernandez offered to pull teeth for both an undercover detective and an undercover health department investigator. He reportedly offered to provide antibiotics for $150 and numbing medication for $20.

Inside Mas-Fernandez’s apartment, investigators found dental equipment and medication. Doll said he told detectives the supplies came from Cuba.

PSO’s documents state that after his arrest, Mas-Fernandez admitted to performing dental work, like teeth cleanings and extractions, out of his home. It’s unclear how many people he may have treated.

“Any medical doctor who’s not licensed working on your body can be very dangerous,” said Doll. “That’s why we suggest anybody who did see this individual to go to a real dentist and have their teeth checked out.”

Doll said Mas-Fernandez told detectives he worked as a dental assistant at Land O’ Lakes Dental Care. The office was closed Friday.

According to Brad Dalton, press secretary for the state health department, the DOH received 1,051 complaints of unlicensed activity during the fiscal year of 2018-2019. The department issued 593 cease-and-desist orders during that time.

Dalton said of those, 67 complaints and 36 cease and desist orders were related to the practice of dentistry. The DOH said Mas-Fernandez received one of those cease and desist orders.

The DOH reminds the public that being treated by an unlicensed medical professional could result in injury, disease, or death. License information for health care practitioners can be found at: www.flhealthsource.gov/ula.

This content was originally published here.

The World Health Organization releases a new plan to drastically decrease the price of insulin

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they’ve worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.



via Diabetes Voice

“Four hundred million people are living with diabetes, the amount of insulin available is too low and the price is too high, so we really need to do something,” Emer Cooke, the W.H.O.’s head of regulation of medicines and health technologies, said in a statement.

Through a process called “prequalification” United Nations agencies, such as Doctors without Borders, will be able to buy approved generic versions of insulin.

The W.H.O. used similar tactics to make HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable.

In 2002, 7,000 Africans were dying every year due to AIDS because Western drug companies sold the life-saving drugs for around $15,000 a year. Now the drugs are made in countries with thriving generic drug industries and the medications cost only around $75 a year.

Rosemary Enobakhare the director of the Affordable Insulin Now campaign calls the new program “a good first step toward affordable insulin for all around the world,” but says it won’t do much to help the 30 million Americans with diabetes.

Any attempt to lower insulin prices would require “Congress to grant Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices,” she added.

Companies that made generic drugs have a hard time penetrating the U.S. market because the Food and Drug Administration imposes hefty fees for drug approvals.

Insulin is ten times cheaper in Canada because the government negotiates with manufacturers, a practice that’s illegal in the U.S.

This vial of insulin costs just $6 to manufacture.

At this pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, it can be purchased for $32. Twenty minutes away, in Detroit, the same exact vial costs $340.

It is time for a government that works for the American people, not drug companies’ profits. pic.twitter.com/Uo2T8GG54T
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 28, 2019

Earlier in the year, the Trump Administration announced preliminary plans to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada. Through the program, state governments, drug wholesalers, and pharmacies can create proposals to import the drugs that would then have to be approved by the federal government.

The catch? It would not include insulin.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took a bus full of Americans to Canada earlier this year to call attention to the out of control cost of insulin.

“Americans are paying $300 for insulin. In Canada they can purchase it for $30,” Sanders said in a tweet. “We are going to end pharma’s greed.”

This family was able to save $10,000 buying insulin for their son in Canada, where the exact same insulin is one-tenth the price.

The profits the drug companies are making ripping off the American people is scandalous, it is outrageous and it has got to end. pic.twitter.com/Rew4ftIo0o
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 29, 2019

This content was originally published here.

Arkansas Department Of Health Reports 9 Cases Of The Mumps At U of A In Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — Nine cases of the mumps at the U of A in Fayetteville have been reported by the Arkansas Department of Health. Other possible cases are still being investigated.

Mumps. Photo Courtesy: MGN Galleries

The mumps is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Coughing and sneezing can easily spread this disease infecting others. It can also be spread through shared drinking cups or vaping devices. There is no treatment for mumps and can cause long-term health problems.

The Arkansas Department of Health is asking that all children and adults get up-to-date with their MMR vaccine as it is the best way to protect against the mumps. While some people who get the mumps may not have symptoms, the symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, swollen glands under the ears or jaw. These symptoms usually last for about 7-10 days, but it can take a person up to 26 days to get sick after they have been infected. The ADH recommends to stay home for 5 days after swelling in the glands appear due to mumps still being present 5 days after the swelling disappears.

Below are the recommended doses of the MMR vaccine according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

• Your children younger than 6 years of age need one dose of MMR vaccine at age 12 through 15 months and a second dose of MMR vaccine at age 4 through 6 years. If your child attends a preschool where there is a mumps case or if you live in a household with many people, your child
should receive their second dose of MMR vaccine right away, even if they are not yet 4 years old.
The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• Your children age 7 through 18 years need two doses of MMR vaccine if they have not received it
already. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• If you are an adult born in 1957 or later and you have not had the MMR vaccine already, you need
at least one dose. If you live in a household with many people or if you travel internationally, you
need a second dose of MMR vaccine. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after
the first dose.

• Adults born before 1957 are considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to get the MMR
vaccine.

• Students that have never received an MMR vaccine will need to be excluded from class and
university activities for at least 26 days. However, they can return to class immediately once they receive a dose of MMR vaccine. They will need to receive a second dose of MMR vaccine 29 days after the first dose.

If symptoms are noticed, ADH recommends you contact your doctor’s office before going to a clinic since the doctor may not want you to sit in the clinic near others. They do not recommend going to work or public places in general.

Meanwhile, ADH is working closely with the U of A officials to stop the spread of mumps. They will be monitoring the situation closely and if the outbreak continues to spread, officials will keep you informed of any additional necessary steps taken.

ADH issued a health public health directive stating, “Any student not immunized with at least 2 doses of MMR according to University of Arkansas policy will either need to be vaccinated immediately or excluded from class/class activities for 26 days.” This directive is being issued up the authority of Act 96 of 1913, Arkansas State Board of Health Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Reportable Diseases.

For more information contact the Pat Walker Health Center at 479-575-4451

This content was originally published here.

Dracut orthodontist sinks his teeth into hydroponic gardening

James Pelletier, an orthodontist, created a hydroponic vegetable garden in his Dracut back yard to grow a better crop of tomatoes in a smaller space. Watch video at lowellsun.com. SUN photos /Julia Malakie)

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

DRACUT — James Pelletier says he’d cry if he ever came home to find his tomato plants wilted.

“The biggest fear every hydroponic gardener has is a power failure,” he says.

The Dracut orthodontist circles around his labor of love on a recent Friday to make sure the solar-powered garden in his backyard is running seamlessly. The Big Boy tomatoes that grow in bato buckets are not yet ripe. All are bright green, some plumper than others.

As the sun bears down on Pelletier and the tight rows of tomato plants, he shares that he has trained them to thrive on one vine. “Because one vine doesn’t allow them to grow bushy and get wet, and get diseases,” he explains, reaching out to pull a velvety sucker from one plant.

Above, the crop; at right, a jar of sauce made from his tomatoes.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

“You only want one grow point, and that’s how you have one vine.”

After years of trouble with growing tomatoes and subsequently running out of space in his yard for more tries, Pelletier, 57, wanted to find a way to grow the vegetables every year without having to move it to a new spot. He wanted something easier than conventional gardening. Pelletier read books on hydroponic gardening — a method of growing plants without soil — and made several attempts at the garden before building his current one two years ago. Three solar panels supply energy to batteries that run two special pumps and an aerator that, in turn, feed the tomato plants. Instead of soil, Pelletier uses coconut fiber and perlite.

He regularly pours different liquid nutrients into a reservoir built into the ground, which are then pumped into each tomato plant. Once the buckets the plants are in reach a certain level, the fluid drains back into the reservoir. The cycle repeats four times a day.

“I’m a scientist in my heart. I just get a lot of satisfaction out of doing it,” Pelletier says. “I am creating something from nothing and tweaking it this way and that way over the years to get it to do exactly what I want it to do.

It’s like a big, huge science experiment and, when it goes good like this, it feels great.”

The garden’s greatest threat according to Pelletier is blight, a plant disease that actually hasn’t affected his garden. There’s also a pesky chipmunk who sneaks into the garden to steal tomatoes. On this recent Friday, the chipmunk made an appearance, having stolen a small, green one.

After the science comes the fruit of Pelletier’s labor. Once the tomatoes have ripened, he and his wife, Karen, pluck them and prepare them for canning, sometimes with the help of their daughter, Mollie Andrews, 30. On the weekends they sit on their deck to can the tomatoes in Mason jars before storing them away.

The irrigation system for James Pelletier’s hydroponic vegetable garden in his Dracut backyard is powered by these solar panels. The garden also includes a bed of asparagus, center. SUN photos /Julia Malakie

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Karen makes sauce from the tomatoes, and dishes that also incorporate the other vegetables growing in their backyard such as zucchini. Pelletier says he also gives out canned tomatoes to relatives and neighbors across the street.

“I love it. He works very hard on it,” Karen, 58, says. “It takes a lot of time, but he enjoys gardening so we get a lot of beautiful vegetables from it.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo

Batteries on the top shelf of this cabinet store power produced by Pelletier’s solar panels.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

This content was originally published here.

‘Pay to breathe?’ ‘Oxygen bars’ hit New Delhi as India chokes under pollution & declares health emergency

A new fad sweeping India offers customers a breath of fresh air – literally. As pollution in New Delhi hits toxic levels, “Oxygen bars” are popping up in the city to help locals breathe easy, but some found the idea off-putting.

Officials in New Delhi were recently forced to declare a public health emergency over the city’s hazardous air quality after pollution levels soared to around 20 times what the World Health Organization deems safe, halting construction projects and closing schools across the capital. While the smog-choked air is inescapable for many, those with the cash may find a brief reprieve at their local oxygen bar.

Also on rt.com

© ANI via REUTERS
‘Theater of the absurd’: Delhi kids run mini marathon as city drowns in toxic smog (PHOTOS)

One such establishment is tucked in the corner of an upscale shopping mall in New Delhi, dubbed Oxy Pure, with bright lights and gadgets glowing through its clear glass storefront. Here, customers can pay between 299 and 499 rupees (around $4 to $7) for a 15-minute oxygen session, with their choice of several fragrances: orange, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass or peppermint.

Delhi: An oxygen bar in Saket, ‘Oxy Pure’ is offering pure oxygen to its customers in seven different aromas (lemongrass, orange, cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus, & lavender), at a time when Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city is in ‘severe’ category. pic.twitter.com/dZuVnY03jn

— ANI (@ANI) November 14, 2019

“Air pollution is going to dangerous levels so people are coming here to breathe pure oxygen,” Oxy Pure owner Aryavir Kumar told The National.

Each winter, air quality suffers in cities around India as winds die down and farmers burn the remnants of crops to make room for the next harvest. This time around, Kumar says New Delhi’s worsening smog has driven a surge of business at his establishment.

“We would get 15-20 people a day [before]. Now we are getting 30-40 customers every day,” he said. “There is a tremendous increase in the numbers of customers in the last two weeks.”

Conjuring images of a pulmonary ward, the bars deliver O2 through a standard cannula device which customers hook up to their nostrils, cranked out of a “concentrator” machine that pulls clean oxygen out of the polluted air. While Kumar is careful to insist the “oxygen therapy” does not cure any diseases, he says the air can rejuvenate “like a spa.”

Oxygen bars are not all that uncommon.

It offers a ‘natural high.’ We’re not used to breathing air which is > 20% oxygen. So, when you take a hit of oxygen at an oxygen bar, you immediately start to saturate your blood with oxygen, which can heighten concentration.

— TheRudim3nt (@TheRudim3nt) November 18, 2019

Despite the potential for benefits, many online found the concept downright dystopian, suggesting a future in which only the wealthy can afford to breathe non-toxic air.

Delhi is #1 most polluted air of 1,600 global cities AND #2 richest city in India. 15 minutes in “Oxygen bar” costs ₹ 500. Negligible for the rich, out of reach for poor, migrants living on ₹ 1,134/ month. The sweet privilege of clean air, clean water #EnvironmentalJustice

— Trishna | तृष्णा (@TrishnaTweets) November 18, 2019

This is your future India. “Pay to breathe “. Oxygen bar. And if you still don’t realise what petty politics / divisive politics does to you , you have lost the cause already. #DelhiPollution #Emergency #AirPollution pic.twitter.com/W4QsOwDx8Z

— bhupendra chaubey (@bhupendrachaube) November 15, 2019

“Commodify oxygen already,” tweeted another frustrated user. “F–k it, Commodify EVERYTHING. Subscriptions to life. $1.99 a minute.”

Here we are, even breathing is now becoming a commodityhttps://t.co/wyND3xTXoS

— Giulia Guidi (@giuliaguidi) November 18, 2019

Even so, the naysayers are unlikely to put a stop to the trend anytime soon. With India home to 15 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, the country’s air quality woes are here to say for some time, perhaps pushing a greater number of Indians into oxygen bars like Oxy Pure – at least those who can afford it.

Also on rt.com

© Stewart Goldstein
‘You still owe us $1,400’: Woman dependent on oxygen tank dies after provider cuts off electricity

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Cheesesteak destination Max’s shut down by Philly Health Department

One of Philadelphia’s most storied cheesesteak shops was closed for business over the weekend, disappointing both regulars and tourists who flock to the increasingly-famous North Broad Street destination.

Max’s Steaks, which was featured in Rocky sequels Creed and Creed II and recently made a cameo on NBC’s This Is Us, was temporarily shut down due to health code violations, according to a cease and desist sign on its front door.

Also shuttered were the adjacent Eagle Bar and Clock Bar, on Erie and Germantown avenues, respectively. The three locations share an owner and are connected to one another via basement passages, according to Rasul Haqq, who said he works as an assistant manager and security guard at Max’s.

“We never had any serious violations before,” Haqq told a reporter outside the shop on Saturday. “It’s probably been 10 years since this place closed.”

The interior of Max’s Steaks as health inspectors walked through Saturday afternoon

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Health officials could be seen inside the establishment, giving it a once-over after crews had come in to fix the issues and give the place a deep cleaning. “It took us 48 hours to do the whole thing,” Haqq said. “Everybody pitched in.”

He and other staffers gathered outside said they expected Max’s to reopen early on Saturday night after inspectors approved the cleanup, but a return visit around 8 p.m. found the gates still half-pulled over the windows and only a few people inside.

Several groups walked up to the locked front door, only to be disappointed. “That spot says it has cheesesteaks,” one teenager said to his friends, pointing to a sign directly across the street. “Nah, we don’t want those cheesesteaks,” came the dejected answer.

Calls to the Philly Health Department’s weekend dispatch center to discover which violations were still outstanding on Sunday were not immediately returned.

Eagle Bar next to Max’s, with newly-cleaned floor mats hanging out to dry

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

A Health Department report shows the cheesesteak shop at 3653 Germantown Ave. failed its regular inspection on Nov. 7, with the sanitarian in charge citing “imminent health hazards” like live rodents and lack of proper temperature care for opened food ingredients.

While reactions on social media included pearl-clutching about dirty environs, these kinds of violations aren’t that uncommon in a city with old infrastructure.

The Inquirer’s monthly report of Health Dept. violations shows at least 37 restaurants were shut down for being out of code last month, including a Federal Donuts, a Starbucks, and various other facilities ranging from corner groceries to goPuff delivery warehouses.

Once closed, these places usually reopen within days, so it’s a good bet that a newly sparkling Max’s will return to normal operation this week.

This content was originally published here.

According to a Study, Sleeping With a Snorer Can Take a Toll on Your Health

It’s hard to deny that living with a snorer can be challenging, especially if that person is someone you share the same room or bed with. But the consequences of second-hand snoring have recently been discovered and go far beyond being a simple nuisance.

We at Bright Side care about your well-being and here’s everything you need to know about the health risks of living with a snorer:

1. Insufficient sleep

This seems to be the most obvious consequence, but lack of sleep leads to health problems that we often don’t take seriously. Both the snorer and those who live with them can lose many hours of sleep, which are vital for the body to recover and fulfill biological functions, like memory consolidation and metabolism regulation.

It’s not just about getting enough sleep, but about doing it continuously. Spouses of people with sleep apnea tend to wake up almost as many times as they do, preventing all the phases of sleep from being completed and further damaging the biological mechanisms involved in that process.

In addition, a person who doesn’t get enough rest is prone to make more mistakes, think slowly, and lower their productivity. Another problem associated with this is constant irritability, which could have an effect on your relationships.

However, it has also been discovered that lack of sleep is a risk factor for anxiety and depression. And, beyond its psychological consequences, it also increases the chances of developing obesity or suffering from a stroke.

The fact that your partner’s snoring doesn’t let you sleep can erode the relationship little by little. Listening to a person snoring by your side every night and having to wake them up to stop them from making noise will only make them feel upset. Many even choose to sleep separately or get a divorce after trying to use earplugs or hearing aids to reduce the noise, without getting good results.

We’ve already talked about some consequences of not sleeping well, but if this is caused by your partner or a family member, they become the main reason for your bad mood and the primary target of your anger.

These conflicts impact your health in a bad way, since it has been proven that a negative atmosphere at home can cause stress, inflammation, and changes in appetite. The immune system is also weakened by constant arguing.

A study by Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, sought to evaluate the effects of snoring on both the snorers and their spouses. They selected 4 couples in an age range between 35 and 55, in which one of the members had severe sleep apnea.

The conclusion they reached was that the effect of the snoring sound didn’t affect the snorers as much. This is because the brain dampens respiratory interruptions during sleep. But 100% of their partners did suffer the consequences, especially in the ear that was exposed to snoring. The effect was equivalent to having slept for 15 years with an industrial machine.

The loud noises not only affect hearing, but they can also raise blood pressure to risky levels, especially for other diseases, according to research from the Imperial College of Science in London, which assessed the stress of people living near several European airports.

Their findings determined that, the higher the volume of noise, the greater the risk of hypertension. They realized that the body always reacted in the same way, regardless of whether the patient woke up with the noise or not.

They also discovered that these results could be transferred to any sound of more than 35 decibels, so people exposed to snoring were also at risk, since it can reach 80 decibels. Hypertension can lead to other diseases, such as kidney problems, dementia, and heart disease.

Dangers of second-hand snoring

Here are some possible consequences, direct and indirect, of sleeping near a person who snores:

How to prevent these problems

Sleeping with a snorer is an ordeal, especially when you have already tried everything to make your nights more bearable. If the headphones and earplugs no longer work, you could (if possible) go to sleep in another room and be with your partner at times that do not affect your rest.

smart pillow is being developed for the snoring partner, which will allow the snoring noise to be canceled out with an equal and opposite sound frequency. However, it has not yet reached the market, so this is a solution that you’ll only be able to use in the future.

You could also take a look at these tricks for those who want to stop snoring. They can be useful to regain harmony and, what’s most important, health in your home.

This content was originally published here.

Spirit of the Entrepreneur: Valdosta Family Dentistry | Local News | valdostadailytimes.com

VALDOSTA — Being an entrepreneur isn’t always easy and everyone does it a little differently.

Some open online stores, while others open brick-and-mortar storefronts.

Some go all in and invest their lives into a new venture, while others start a new business as something to do on the side. Regardless of the type, entrepreneurs help drive the local economy.

Larry Black, owner and dentist at Valdosta Family Dentistry, didn’t begin his career in dentistry until he was in his mid-30s.

At 17, he left Valdosta and joined the Navy for six years.

He worked as an electronic technician doing satellite communications and cryptography.

After leaving the military as an employee, he worked as a civilian contractor for the Navy for six years doing similar work.

The work required Black to travel regularly, and he eventually decided he wanted to settle down.

“We traveled about 11 months out of the year,” he said. “We traveled anywhere the Navy was having trouble with communications equipment. I decided that I was ready to quit traveling and started back to school.”

Being from Valdosta, Black returned to attend Valdosta State University to earn a biology degree.

After three years of undergraduate work and a degree in hand, Black had been introduced to the world of dentistry through Dr. Greg Morris, he said.

So, Black attended the Medical College of Georgia for four years to to become a dentist.

By the time he attended MCG, he was the third oldest student in his cohort. Black said being a non-traditional student was beneficial to him.

“I was one of those people who could not have done and focused on school at 18,” he said. “Part of the reason I went into the Navy was I knew that about myself.

“When I came back from the Navy and started school, it was much easier for me having already had life experience and improved time-management skills. Knowing where I wanted to be and how to get there helped me jump through the hoops or check off the boxes to get there.

“I knew what I wanted and was wiling to work harder for it and put in the time.”

After graduation, Black came back to Valdosta in 2004 and opened his first office, Quitman Family Dentistry in Quitman.

“When I got out and looked at a place to set up my office, there was still plenty of room for more dentists in Valdosta, and having grown up here, I felt that it would be easier to start up a business in my hometown,” he said.

In 2009, Black opened an office in Valdosta.

“When I was working in Quitman Family Dentistry, myself and Dr. Eric Castor felt there would be a need for an emergency dental clinic in Valdosta,” he said. “We spent a year with this office as an emergency-only clinic.”

Based on customer requests, Black expanded to a full-service dentist office in 2010.

After being in practice for almost 15 years, he said the hardest part has been operating the business side.

“Running the business is probably the toughest part of what I do,” he said. “The toughest part for most dentists is we tend to be very technical. We enjoy working with our hands and working with people. And dental school prepares you for all the knowledge you need to do dentistry.

“The tough thing is they don’t prepare you to run a small business. When you come out of school and you have to learn about tax structure and accounting.”

Black said he leaned on his late wife, Dana Black, when he first opened his business.

“I got into it thinking you get out, put your sign on the door and you go to work,” he said.

While he worked with the clients, Dana learned how to run the business for him.

“She was a big part of why we were able to do what we did,” he said.

Dana passed in 2017.

As for advice for new or potential business owners, Black suggests taking a few years to learn about the selected industry. He also recommends utilizing the small business resources available.

“If you are going to open up your own business, understand that business,” he said. “Most people have an idea of what a business is but they haven’t worked in it before. They don’t have an idea of how it works. Take a few years and start from the bottom and work in a few positions.

“Then go and take some accounting classes and business classes either through (Wiregrass Georgia Technical College) or the (University of Georgia Small Business Development Center at Valdosta State University) that’s here in Valdosta because both of those guys helped me out after I got started.”

Valdosta Family Dentistry, 2935 N. Ashley St., Suite 130, is open open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Quitman Family Dentistry is open Tuesday and Thursday. For more information, call (229) 333-8484.

Jason Smith is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1257.

This content was originally published here.

Illegal RV sewage dumping in Seattle pollutes waterways and poses a public-health hazard | The Seattle Times

Since 2015, the number of parked RVs located within the Sodo and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle has increased dramatically, now totaling hundreds. Many of these RV owners fail to follow proper waste-disposal protocols, instead discharging their accumulated sewer wastes, including “black water,” directly into the city storm drains. The result is that untreated sewage is being released directly into our local waterways.

Using Environmental Protection Agency wastewater pump-out and treatment statistics, it’s estimated that Seattle RV campers likely discharge more than 1 million gallons of untreated sewage annually into our waterways, including the Duwamish Waterway and Salmon Bay. For comparison, a July spill of 3 million gallons from the West Point Treatment Plant closed multiple King and Kitsap counties’ beaches and could lead to enforcement actions.

To better understand the potential impact of RV discharges, the Sodo Business Improvement Area and Ballard Alliance commissioned Anchor QEA, a Seattle-based environmental science and engineering firm, to evaluate existing water-quality data and collect a storm drain water sample from a heavily populated RV parking area in Sodo. The sample from the storm drain in the midst of the RVs registered 300 times greater than the state water-quality standard for fecal coliform bacteria.

Sadly, this sampling result is consistent with recent trends in deteriorating water quality in the area. For example, historic water quality monitoring data showed a decades-long improvement in the Duwamish River — until 2015, when fecal coliform bacteria measurements began to spike upward. This coincides with the movement of hundreds of RVs into Sodo.

While a more definitive pollution-identification study is needed on the relative impact of illegal black-water discharges, the data points strongly suggest that illegal dumping of sewage and trash, along with unsanitary conditions in unregulated RV encampments, increase public-health risks and could result in serious outbreaks of communicable diseases such as hepatitis A and typhus.

Not only do these poor waste-management practices have the potential to endanger RV residents, but they frustrate ongoing efforts to clean up our waterways and adversely impact the marine environment and public health.

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Seattle is known worldwide as an environmental leader and the protector of Puget Sound. However, the data indicates that unchecked dumping of untreated waste into Seattle’s stormwater system threatens to undo decades of cleanup and restoration. Turning back this tide of pollution starts with stopping the proliferation of dilapidated and malfunctioning RVs — something we have raised with Mayor Jenny Durkan as well as the City Council. While the mayor’s office has engaged productively, council members turn a blind eye to the issue, choosing instead to keep the status quo and continue to allow derelict RVs to remain parked on our neighborhood streets, threatening the safety of our waterways.

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Sodo BIA and the Ballard Alliance have shared this study with Seattle officials and have asked to partner with the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Health, King County, and Seattle Public Utilities to develop approaches to stop this ongoing problem.

It is time to stop ignoring the impacts of unregulated RV encampments and illegal raw-sewage dumping. It is disturbing to think that something as basic as enforcing city codes regarding dumping raw sewage from RVs could roll back decades of progress made in cleaning and protecting Puget Sound.

This content was originally published here.