By Alex Nowak
On a typical day, the VCU Medical Center Emergency Department treats 300 patients. The department, a Level I trauma center geographically situated on the main corridor from Maine to Miami, sees some of the worst tragedies from up and down the East Coast: shootings, mass-casualty incidents, freak accidents, and multi-vehicle pileups. Despite every quick action and resuscitation effort made by medical team members, lives are lost and friends and families are left to grieve.
But for the medical team in the midst of a 12-hour shift, there is no time to grieve as their minds and bodies race to save the dying patient in the next bed. Operating in such a relentless environment can lead to exhaustion and burnout. With a recent study finding that nearly two-thirds of U.S. doctors feel burned out, depressed or both, something as simple as taking a moment to reflect after each patient’s death could not only allow providers to be more present for each patient, but build resiliency within the staff.
That is why Julie Kacmarcik, clinical coordinator in the emergency department, and a dedicated team brought the seemingly simple — but oftentimes difficult to personally justify — concept of “The Pause” to VCU Medical Center.
The Pause is 30 to 45 seconds of silence immediately after the death of a patient to honor his or her life, and distinctly mark the importance of the moment at hand. It is a brief timeout for everyone involved in the events leading up to the death to collect, reflect and help bring closure. Beyond that, it’s a moment to acknowledge the tremendous effort and care offered by the health care team.
“We’re looking at a person in a bed who didn’t plan on coming in to see us that day, and didn’t expect their life to be ending. This is a brother, a friend, a dad,” said Kacmarcik, a 23-year veteran of the emergency department. “And we acknowledge and recognize the team that gave their heart and soul to try and resuscitate this patient. It’s realizing that, yes, I’m thinking about all the other folks we have to take care of, but just for this finite period of time, I’ll be in the moment with this patient and with my team members.”
As Russell Davis, Ph.D., VCU Health director of pastoral care, puts it, “It is an expression of our humanity. It allows for silent expression of real human emotions.”
CDC says the vaccinated should wear masks indoors in areas with high infection rates
Federal health officials on Tuesday urged Americans in areas of the country with the highest surges in COVID-19 infections to once again wear masks when they are in public, indoor settings — even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
By Laura Olson
The updated recommendations marked a sharp shift from the agency’s guidance in May that Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask in most situations, indoors and outdoors.
The updates also included changes for schools, with federal health officials now urging everyone in K-12 schools to wear a mask indoors. That includes teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status and the level of community transmission.
The update in CDC guidance was prompted by new data indicating that although breakthrough infections among the vaccinated are rare, those individuals still may be contagious and able to spread the disease to others, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wearing a mask indoors in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission of the virus could help to reduce further outbreaks of the highly contagious delta variant, she said.
Some 39 states have infection rates that have reached “substantial” or “high” levels of transmission, according to a data tracker on the CDC website. The CDC rates Virginia, with 56.4 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days and a 5 to 8 percent positivity rate, as having a “substantial” level of community transmission. However, that varies widely by locality.
“As always, we will thoroughly review these recommendations,” said Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam. “The governor has taken a nuanced and data-driven approach throughout this pandemic—which is why Virginia has among the nation’s lowest total COVID-19 cases and death rates.
“As he has said repeatedly, the only way to end this pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated. The facts show vaccines are highly effective at protecting Virginians from this serious virus — over 98 percent of hospitalizations and over 99 percent of deaths have been among unvaccinated Virginians.”
The agency also tracks infection rates on the county level, and 63 percent of U.S. counties are in those two categories of concern.
“This was not a decision that was taken lightly,” Walensky said. She added that other public health and medical experts agreed with the CDC that the new information on the potential for vaccinated people to have contagious infections required the agency to take action.
President Joe Biden described the agency’s revision on recommended mask use as “another step on our journey to defeating this virus.”
“I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it,” Biden said. “I certainly will when I travel to these areas.”
The mask-use changes may not be the only changes coming as the White House attempts to respond to the spiking infections. Biden also said Tuesday that a vaccination requirement for all federal employees is under consideration.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs already has required its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
But the new recommendations on masks are expected to be met with resistance.
Areas of the country with the highest spikes in COVID-19 infections tend to be those with the lowest vaccination rates and places that were the fastest to end mask mandates for public settings.
Some have taken legal steps to prevent future mask mandates. At least nine states — Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Vermont — have enacted legislation that prohibits districts from requiring masks in schools, according to a CNN analysis.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, blasted the updated guidance in a statement Tuesday, describing it as “not grounded in reality or common sense.” Iowa’s level of community transmission is rated as “substantial” in the latest CDC map.
“I’m concerned that this guidance will be used as a vehicle to mandate masks in states and schools across the country, something I do not support,” Reynolds said, adding that the vaccine “remains our strongest tool to combat COVID-19” and that she will continue to urge vaccinations.
Walensky sidestepped a question during Tuesday’s news briefing about the level of compliance that the CDC expects with the new recommendations, saying only that the way to drive down rising community transmission rates is to wear masks and to increase vaccination rates.
Train Derailment Near Hollywood Cemetery Again
This derailment occurred Friday afternoon. A train also derailed in the same vicinity on June 9th.
All photos courtesy of RFD Twitter.
Posted by RFD Twitter on July 23rd
At approximately 1:26 p.m., crews responded to an area down the North Bank Trail near Hollywood Cemetery for the report of a train derailment. Once on scene, they found multiple freight cars that had been tipped over. The cars were carrying coal.
Some of the load spilled onto the track and ground in the area, but there was no coal in the water. No injuries reported. The incident was marked under control at 1:59 p.m. and turned over to CSX.
Suspect Sought in West Clay Street Burglary
At approximately 4:57 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, the man in the photos climbed a wall in the rear of a house, located in the 00 block of West Clay Street, broke into the residence and stole a computer and credit cards.
Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the individual in the attached photos who is a suspect in a residential burglary that occurred in the Jackson Ward neighborhood last month.
At approximately 4:57 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, the man in the photos climbed a wall in the rear of a house, located in the 00 block of West Clay Street, broke into the residence and stole a computer and credit cards. A photo of his distinctive pink and black sneakers is also attached.
Anyone with information about the identity of this person is asked to call Fourth Precinct Detective J. Land at (804) 646-3103 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.