The nonprofit Lown Institute has ranked 3,200 hospital systems across the country based on racial inclusivity, i.e., what their patient mix was in terms of race and socioeconomic status. It found stark differences between the most and least inclusive hospitals, which often were just miles apart.
For example, the most racially inclusive hospital, Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City, is not far from a hospital deemed among the least racially inclusive: Lenox Hill. Metropolitan serves 77% people of color while Lenox Hill serves 33%.
The study noted that many hospitals deemed among the best in the country in other rankings were among the least racially inclusive. The report found that Atlanta, Chicago and Manhattan were among the most racially segregated cities when it came to hospitals.
Body of Knowledge
Whatever you inhale, from smoke to vaporized medicine, reaches the brain quickly — in under seven seconds.
Get Me That, Stat!
With their crystalline waters routinely treated for anti-microbial chemicals, swimming pools would appear to be germ-free havens. Most of them are most of the time, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that between 2015 and 2019 there were 208 outbreaks at common water facilities, leading to 3,600 cases of infection and 13 deaths.
Public pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds were the most common sources. Two microbes — cryptosporidium and Legionella — were the primary culprits. Half of outbreaks occurred between June and August.
70: The percentage of surveyed LGBTQ+ youth (ages 13-24) who said their mental state was poor always or most of the time during the pandemic.
42:The percentage who said they had seriously considered suicide in the 12 months prior to being surveyed.
Source: The Trevor Project
Stories for the Waiting Room
Optogenetics is an emerging therapy in which doctors use light to control genetically modified neurons. In a new case study, French researchers said they were able to restore (limited) sight to a patient who had been blind for nearly 40 years.
In the study, neurons in the patient’s retina had been genetically modified to express a light-sensitive protein usually found in green algae. Using black goggles that projected images of his surroundings as light beamed onto his eyes, the patient was able to recognize objects in his vicinity, including a black notebook.
The patient could not see colors or fine details, but the results suggest optogenetics may be a path to restoring at least partial vision for some people who cannot see at all.
Mania of the Week
Ergomania: an excessive passion for working. (Ergo is the Greek word for work.)
Food for Thought
Interesterified fat has an interesting name, but its ingredients are quite ordinary. It’s a chemical blending of fully hydrogenated and non-hydrogenated oils, created as an alternative to the trans fats. It’s found in pastries, margarine, frozen dinners and canned soups.
Given its relative newness, not much is known about interesterified fat and consumer safety, but early studies have found that it may increase the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol, which isn’t a good thing. And it may boost blood sugar levels while decreasing insulin response.
Q: Why don’t astronauts need health coverage?
A: Because they’re never under the weather.
“Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.”
— Nutrition and lifestyle coach Heather Morgan
This week in 1997, the same Scottish scientists who produced Dolly the cloned sheep announced they had cloned a sheep with human genes. Polly and four other cloned lambs marked a milestone in the effort to alter the genetic makeup of animals. The goal was to develop animals that might eventually provide human drugs, milk and transplant organs, as well as aiding medical research.
Ig Nobel Apprised
The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh, then think. A look at real science that’s hard to take seriously and even harder to ignore.
In 2014, the Ig Nobel Prize in psychology went to a trio of researchers who found that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, manipulative and psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
Q: Why do people get shivers up their spines?
A: It’s a physiological response to emotion or stress. If you’re watching a horror film or listening to a particularly moving song, the hypothalamus (a region of the brain) may be stimulated and react in a few ways.
One way is by triggering the arrector pili muscles that cause your skin to contract, creating goosebumps and hair to “stand on end.” When confronted by predators, this is helpful in making the prey look bigger. Not so useful anymore when faced with a cinematic killer, but the response remains.
The hypothalamus also helps regulate emotions, and in this case, strong emotions may cause the hypothalamus to flood our bodies with the hormone adrenaline, which primes us for physical action, but also causes sweaty palms, tears, increased blood pressure and, well, shivers — down our spine and elsewhere.
Q: What does “pancreas” mean? For bonus points, how many parts does a pancreas have, and what are their names? And what exactly does the pancreas do?
A: The pancreas was named by an ancient Greek surgeon named Ruphos. He called it pancreas, meaning “all flesh,” possibly because the organ lacks bone or cartilage. The pancreas has four main parts: head, neck, body and tail. It’s a small organ, just six inches long, but the pancreas has a big job: It produces insulin, excreted when blood sugar levels get too high and glucagon when levels get too low. It also produces multiple enzymes critical to digesting food.
Against All Odds” — Tombstone of American baseball player Roger Maris (1934-1985), who broke Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old single-season homerun record with 61 homers in 1961. Maris hit the 61st homer during the last game of the season.
To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.