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Tracking COVID Related Deaths Among Healthcare Workers


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This is a good article in Pro-Publica about an anesthesiologist who began tracking the COVID related deaths of healthcare workers. 

Nobody Accurately Tracks Health Care Workers Lost to COVID-19. So She Stays Up At Night Cataloging the Dead.

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The loss of so many dedicated, deeply experienced professionals in such an urgent crisis is “unfathomable,” said Christopher Friese, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing whose areas of study include health care worker injuries and illnesses. “Every worker we’ve lost this year is one less person we have to take care of our loved ones. In addition to the tragic loss of that individual, we’ve depleted our workforce unnecessarily when we had tools at our disposal” to prevent wide-scale sickness and death.

One of the most potentially powerful tools for battling COVID-19 in the medical workforce has been largely missing, he said: reliable data about infections and deaths. “We don’t really have a good understanding of where health care workers are at greatest risk,” Friese said. “We’ve had to piece it together. And the fact that we’re piecing it together in 2020 is pretty disturbing.”

 

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15 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

This is a good article in Pro-Publica about an anesthesiologist who began tracking the COVID related deaths of healthcare workers. 

Nobody Accurately Tracks Health Care Workers Lost to COVID-19. So She Stays Up At Night Cataloging the Dead.

 

Reading the article, it does not seem that she is making a distinction between those who work in health care as an occupation who are infected with COVID  and those who are infected THROUGH their work in the health care field.  The first example, a mammogram technician who is found dead (almost certainly because of COVID, as the article states) does not mean that person was infected through her work.  

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Well that was a maddening read. I think the Secretary of HHS, Azar, makes it perfectly clear what the problem boils down to when he, in July!( not March, April, May, June) said that health care workers don’t get infected because they take precautions. What on earth can we expect to happen when those tasked to help manage a tragedy of this scope speak in such an ignorant, seemingly heartless way, at a national meeting on getting millions of children back to school safely. We’re screwed. Thank God for people like Rezba, because this is basically the best way to shine a light on what we’re doing wrong.

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17 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

Reading the article, it does not seem that she is making a distinction between those who work in health care as an occupation who are infected with COVID  and those who are infected THROUGH their work in the health care field.  The first example, a mammogram technician who is found dead (almost certainly because of COVID, as the article states) does not mean that person was infected through her work.  

If you actually read to the end, you’d understand that she is not compiling a database of numbers. She’s doing this to bear witness to those who died in service to others, in the health care field. Once she started she realized she was finding more than officials were reporting, which the article then goes into better detail on the how and why that is. She’s not a data scientist, she’s making memorials, over 900 I think it said, to those who she feels like need to be remembered. She and another woman have a FB memorial page for 4800 physicians who have died from the virus. 

Your take on it seems a bit cold, imo. 

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22 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

Reading the article, it does not seem that she is making a distinction between those who work in health care as an occupation who are infected with COVID  and those who are infected THROUGH their work in the health care field.  The first example, a mammogram technician who is found dead (almost certainly because of COVID, as the article states) does not mean that person was infected through her work.  

If anyone was officially tracking the deaths of healthcare workers related to COVID, it would make this distinction. The point of the article is that no one is tracking this. Our government is certainly not tracking it. So Rezba and people like her are doing this informally by looking at Twitter and obituaries. 

 

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33 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

If you actually read to the end, you’d understand that she is not compiling a database of numbers. She’s doing this to bear witness to those who died in service to others, in the health care field. Once she started she realized she was finding more than officials were reporting, which the article then goes into better detail on the how and why that is. She’s not a data scientist, she’s making memorials, over 900 I think it said, to those who she feels like need to be remembered. She and another woman have a FB memorial page for 4800 physicians who have died from the virus. 

Your take on it seems a bit cold, imo. 

I did read the article.  I see "She usually starts by Googling for local news stories; if she’s still not tired, she turns to the obituary site Legacy.com. The hunt for a person’s occupation and cause of death invariably takes her to Facebook, where she follows the trail to relatives and co-workers, to vacation slideshows and videos of old men serenading their grandkids on the guitar." 

Maybe I am wrong, but it sounds to me as if she is researching people who worked in a health care related field and who died of COVID; that does not mean that those people died in service to others.  I am a college professor.  If I died of COVID that would not imply that I contracted COVID as a professor, that is is an occupational hazard, and that I died in service to my college students.  

Every life is important.  I certainly don't mean to be cold or uncaring.  I just find that this type of reporting sensational and misleading and I think does a disservice to those who really do contract COVID through their work. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

I just find that this type of reporting sensational and misleading and I think does a disservice to those who really do contract COVID through their work. 

I didn't think it was sensational; the author included information about how cavalier some healthcare workers were about protection because "If I was going to get it, I'd have gotten it at work by now." My DH works in healthcare, and some of his co-workers (usually ones in a certain job function that gets nearly deified) are quite cavalier outside of work (but follow guidelines while at work).

The fact that no one else is tracking it is neglectful, so if this effort catches a few who "don't count" because it's off-hours exposure, oh well. I don't think that's likely a majority of cases. I think OH was tracking stats, but I haven't kept up. 

OTOH, there is a doc in the practice my DH works for that likely contracted COVID on the job before there were known cases in our state, and she's still out of commission months later. I think she failed to test positive, but her case is textbook for COVID. She's young and had no pre-existing conditions. 

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1) impossible task for anyone to accurately track all covid deaths. 
2) HCW are going to be getting the largest viral loads out of any profession. This in undoubtedly lead to a higher death rate. 
3) hospitals are tracking deaths internally and you bet they are comparing notes within the hospital chains and with each other as a part of the hospital association and WH task force. 
4) a memorial website is a lovely idea.
 

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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

If anyone was officially tracking the deaths of healthcare workers related to COVID, it would make this distinction. The point of the article is that no one is tracking this. Our government is certainly not tracking it. So Rezba and people like her are doing this informally by looking at Twitter and obituaries. 

 

And at the end of the day, no matter how they die, it means less people to save lives when the rest of us get sick. 

1 hour ago, kbutton said:

I didn't think it was sensational; the author included information about how cavalier some healthcare workers were about protection because "If I was going to get it, I'd have gotten it at work by now." My DH works in healthcare, and some of his co-workers (usually ones in a certain job function that gets nearly deified) are quite cavalier outside of work (but follow guidelines while at work).

 

Uh oh, does my theory that surgeons would be the most likely to understand the "my mask protects you" mantra not hold up in practice?

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46 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Uh oh, does my theory that surgeons would be the most likely to understand the "my mask protects you" mantra not hold up in practice?

Nurses. Could be regional and political, but it's nurses here. There are a lot of different kinds of nurse personalities and competencies locally, including the kind that are very evidence-based and thorough, but many are just...cavalier, unfortunately. I don't get it. I am glad they aren't all that way!!! 

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1 hour ago, kbutton said:

Nurses. Could be regional and political, but it's nurses here. There are a lot of different kinds of nurse personalities and competencies locally, including the kind that are very evidence-based and thorough, but many are just...cavalier, unfortunately. I don't get it. I am glad they aren't all that way!!! 

Ah, okay, that doesn't surprise me. Nurses back in the day were well known for smoking long after it was known how dangerous it was, etc. And in vet clinics we said nurses were the worst owners. 

But not ALL nurses, some are amazing. My mom was a nurse, as was her mother, and very evidence based, best practices, etc. 

 

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I wonder if they're not tracking it because it's often not possible to know if people contracted it at work.  I overheard a conversation in a parking lot last week where a person was saying that 8 people at her workplace had tested positive - since they all wear PPE when patient-facing, they were pretty sure that it had spread in the breakroom where nobody wears masks and people eat together.  I have no idea what these folks do - they could be in an ER, be orthodontists - I didn't know the people.  None of the 8 were symptomatic, from what I heard.  Anyway, it's possible that none of these medical professionals got sick while caring for patients.  Clearly, in other cases the workers got sick directly from doing patient care.  Obviously any death is a tragedy, but if this has taught us anything it's that a whole lot of unappreciated people, like grocery store employees and truck drivers, have jobs that are essential to the public.  

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I’m pretty sure most nurses do not want to be “deified”, however nurses and respiratory therapists are the ones who are spending hours with these patients dressed in ‘space suits’ that leave you absolutely sweaty and uncomfortable. Other healthcare personnel are mostly in the rooms for maybe a few minutes at a time, and many don’t go in them now, such as phlebotomists and housekeepers, so the nurses are taking on their jobs too.

Some of those I work with are very cavalier about it all, but many aren’t and are being careful, often because of a desire not to be a risk to others. Those that aren’t careful tend to either be those with quite right wing political beliefs or young ones that think they’re invincible. Often they have also not been paying attention to what is happening in other places, and because things have not been overwhelming here, don’t get it, and like a number of people on this board, say they are just done with it.

The thought of having to work in these conditions for months to come is pretty horrendous. Yesterday I had to crawl along the floor, in my ‘space suit’, to get into my patient’s room because the dialysis lines were stretched through the door and I had to get under them. I probably shouldn’t post today, because I’m still feeling really annoyed at the people minimizing this. I usually wait a couple of days after I work to calm down a bit.

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8 hours ago, TCB said:

I’m pretty sure most nurses do not want to be “deified”, however nurses and respiratory therapists are the ones who are spending hours with these patients dressed in ‘space suits’ that leave you absolutely sweaty and uncomfortable. Other healthcare personnel are mostly in the rooms for maybe a few minutes at a time, and many don’t go in them now, such as phlebotomists and housekeepers, so the nurses are taking on their jobs too.

Some of those I work with are very cavalier about it all, but many aren’t and are being careful, often because of a desire not to be a risk to others. Those that aren’t careful tend to either be those with quite right wing political beliefs or young ones that think they’re invincible. Often they have also not been paying attention to what is happening in other places, and because things have not been overwhelming here, don’t get it, and like a number of people on this board, say they are just done with it.

The thought of having to work in these conditions for months to come is pretty horrendous. Yesterday I had to crawl along the floor, in my ‘space suit’, to get into my patient’s room because the dialysis lines were stretched through the door and I had to get under them. I probably shouldn’t post today, because I’m still feeling really annoyed at the people minimizing this. I usually wait a couple of days after I work to calm down a bit.

The local nurses being cavalier are emergency department nurses, not floor nurses. Except for high risk procedures like intubation, risk is spread pretty equally among the healthcare workers in our local ED. I live in an area where politics plays a big part in the cavalier attitude. Honestly, the ED nurses here don't have a lot of responsibility compared to other facilities (and sometimes have to be told to get off their phones). It's a point of contention.

I haven't heard anyone talking about how floor nurses are doing locally. Our neighbor is a RT, but in a pediatric setting. I don't think his job has been all that different from normal so far. 

I really hope your area doesn't get slammed. It sounds like your job has gotten a lot more complicated already. 😟

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I’m in ICU. So far we are busy but not out of control, although we start to get worried when we get several positive admissions at the same time that a surge is coming lol! We are all working really well as a team but there is no doubt that the work is much more challenging and uncomfortable in many ways. I’m not sure what it’s like in the ED but I can see that the exposure would be much more uniform there. We are super grateful to have people to do PPE support.

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Short video about infection among asymptomatic HCW in the Houston TX area. Note: A dog barks in the very beginning and is a little distracting but doesn’t keep it up. 

Interesting finds 
Allied Health & Admin %+ was  higher than clinicians & nurses. 
Support staff had the lowest %+  
 

 

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