“Our staff have been cursed at, screamed at, threatened with bodily harm and even had knives pulled on them…. It is escalating.”
—Jane McCurley, chief nursing executive for Methodist Healthcare System
When the security guard at Methodist Hospital San Antonio met the visitor at the door of the children’s emergency room on a Saturday afternoon in early August, the officer’s request was simple: The man needed to get a temperature screening to make sure he showed no early signs of COVID-19 before entering the hospital.
The man refused, became agitated and began angrily shouting, pulling out his camera to record the guard and hospital staff.
The scene got so tense that San Antonio police were called, but the man — whose identity and reason for wanting to enter the hospital weren’t included in a police account of the incident — stormed off in anger before the officer could arrive.
It was, relatively speaking, a small blow-up, but Texas hospital workers and health care officials say incidents like it have been rising in both number and intensity this summer as tensions boil during the delta-fueled fourth surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“Our staff have been cursed at, screamed at, threatened with bodily harm and even had knives pulled on them,” said Jane McCurley, chief nursing executive for Methodist Healthcare System, speaking at a press conference five days after the incident in the children’s ER. “It is escalating. … It’s just a handful at each facility who have been extremely abusive. But there is definitely an increasing number of occurrences every day.”
Nurses and hospital staffers are historically vulnerable to workplace violence due to the nature of their jobs, where they deal with people who are having bad reactions to street drugs or mental breaks and often have to give bad news to patients or family already in extreme pain or emotional distress.
“[We’ve had] people being punched in the chest, having urine thrown on them and inappropriate sexual innuendos or behaviors in front of staff members.
The verbal abuse, the name-calling, racial slurs … we’ve had broken bones, broken noses.”
—Karen Garvey, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas
But the pandemic has exacerbated the stress that can escalate into threats and violence, as people are now contending with not just the virus but also job loss and other stresses, said Karen Garvey, vice president of patient safety and clinical risk management at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas.
Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas.
Garvey said confrontations at Parkland just this year have included “people being punched in the chest, having urine thrown on them and inappropriate sexual innuendos or behaviors in front of staff members. The verbal abuse, the name-calling, racial slurs … we’ve had broken bones, broken noses.”
Visitors and patients assaulting hospital staff “was an epidemic before the pandemic — it was just silent to the public,” she added. “Health care workers have been dealing with this for years, and it’s become more pronounced with the COVID pandemic.”
The pandemic-related rise in tensions across the U.S. is not unique to the hospital industry. Airlines are reporting an increase in aggressive passengers as flight attendants take self-defense classes. Police are reporting an increase in violent crime and road rage incidents.
A similar phenomenon emerged last year when retail and grocery workers became front-line enforcers of mask mandates and limits on gatherings and indoor activities. And it resurfaced last month when parents aggressively confronted teachers at schools over oft-changing mask rules.
But unlike airlines, which can permanently ban passengers, hospitals are more limited in how they can respond or prevent those instances.
A 2013 Texas law made it a felony to assault an emergency room nurse, but legislation that would have expanded that to include nurses in other areas of a hospital died in the Texas Senate earlier this year. A bill addressing the issue is currently being considered in Washington by the U.S. Congress.
With hospitals reporting historic nursing shortages as the pandemic drags on, the fear is that the “alarming rate” of escalation will be the last straw for nurses who are physically worn out after fighting a pandemic for 18 months, thin on compassion for people who need care after choosing not to be vaccinated and afraid for their own personal safety, said Houston pediatrician Dr. Giancarlos Toledanes.
“With the escalation of this violence toward health care workers, we’re going to lose the workers that are deemed essential,” Toledanes said. “If the problem continues to compound, then I think it’s going to make it much more difficult to staff these hospitals.”
“Tempers are high”
The Texas Department of State Health Services doesn’t track incidents of aggression against hospital staff outside of its regular surveys, the next of which will be done next year, a spokesperson said.
But as health officials across Texas watch hospital ICUs and pediatric units overflow with record numbers of mostly unvaccinated people, they say the surge in aggression toward health care workers is obvious.
Serena Bumpus, Texas Nurses Assn.
Many of the problems being reported in recent months include disagreements over masking and screening protocols that people don’t have to follow in other places, particularly after most mandatory protocols were banned in recent months by Gov. Greg Abbott, officials said.
Confrontations are sometimes caused by hours- or days-long waits in emergency rooms that are so full of COVID-19 patients that there is no room for anyone else, health care workers said.
“Tempers are high,” said Carrie Kroll, director of advocacy for the Texas Hospital Association. “To the point where some systems are putting a security guard at check-in because family members are getting so abusive over the masking and some of the other screening things they need to do.”
Families are often upset when they can’t visit someone due to COVID-19 rules that limit the number of people who can be bedside or even come inside the hospital, said Serena Bumpus, director of practice at the Texas Nurses Association.
“When our family members are sick, we want to be there by their side, and it’s not that easy to be by our loved one’s side anymore because of this increase in the number of COVID patients in our facilities,” she said.
At the Katy campus of Texas Children’s Hospital west of Houston, Toledanes said some parents get verbally abusive over rules that require them to wait for COVID-19 test results before more than one parent is allowed into a room with a sick child.
“With their child in the hospital and they’re the only ones handling everything, it obviously gets stressful,” he said. “It’s escalated a lot more, especially now that we’ve gotten a little bit stricter with our policies” due to the surge.
Health workers face online harassment
The threats follow health care workers online as well, and often have to do with philosophical differences over what have become political hot buttons such as masking and vaccinations, Toledanes wrote in a recent column for the online medical magazine MedScape.
“Online, healthcare workers, who advocate for masking or vaccination, are often subject to death threats, threats to family members, and verbal abuse on social media,” he wrote. “Veiled threats of ‘we know who you are’ and ‘we will find you’ follow physicians who advocate for masking in schools.”
At Parkland, some of the administration’s actions to protect the workers include a staff of six mental health peace officers — known as the Law Enforcement Intervention for Environmental/Patient Safety staff — who are specially trained to respond to high-risk incidents, Garvey said. Administrators have developed a flagging system in the patient record which identifies patients who have been identified as known risks to staff, she said.
Some hospitals have hung signs in hallways reminding families to be courteous and patient with the overworked staff.
In mid-August, the escalating reports prompted the Texas Hospital Association to take to social media with an image of an exhausted nurse’s face, mask pulled below her chin.
“Don’t forget the person behind the mask,” the image reads.
McCurley said that the increasing violence this year is made worse by the contrast in attitudes workers are seeing now compared with a year ago, when the public seemed to understand that nurses and hospital staff were standing between them and the deadly pandemic.
“We were seen as health care heroes and our community responded with love and support, food and gifts, drive-by parades, buses and motorcycles and airplanes, and we felt so much love and support. It gave us the courage to go in and face our own fears of the unknown in the beginning,” McCurley said at the August press conference. “Today, those health care workers are experiencing abusive behavior by patient families. It’s unfathomable that it’s occurring, and it has to stop.”
The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Disclosure: Texas Children’s Hospital and the Texas Hospital Association have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Rafiah Maxie has been a licensed clinical social worker in the Chicago area for a decade. Throughout that time, she’d viewed suicide as a problem most prevalent among middle-aged white men.
Until May 27, 2020.
That day, Maxie’s 19-year-old son, Jamal Clay — who loved playing the trumpet and participating in theater, who would help her unload groceries from the car and raise funds for the March of the Dimes — killed himself in their garage.
“Now I cannot blink without seeing my son hanging,” said Maxie, who is Black.
Clay’s death, along with the suicides of more than 100 other Black residents in Illinois last year, has led locals to call for new prevention efforts focused on Black communities. In 2020, during the pandemic’s first year, suicides among white residents decreased compared with previous years, while they increased among Black residents, according to state data.
But this is not a local problem. Nor is it limited to the pandemic.
Interviews with a dozen suicide researchers, data collected from states across the country and a review of decades of research revealed that suicide is a growing crisis for communities of color — one that plagued them well before the pandemic and has only been exacerbated since.
Overall suicide rates in the U.S. decreased in 2019 and 2020. National and local studies attribute the trend to a drop among white Americans, who make up the majority of suicide deaths. Meanwhile, rates for Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans — though lower than their white peers — continued to climb in many states. (Suicide rates have been consistently high for Native Americans.)
“Covid created more transparency regarding what we already knew was happening,” said Sonyia Richardson, a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on serving people of color and an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where she researches suicide. When you put the suicide rates of all communities in one bucket, “that bucket says it’s getting better and what we’re doing is working,” she said. “But that’s not the case for communities of color.”
Research shows Black kids younger than 13 die by suicide at nearly twice the rate of white kids and, over time, their suicide rates have grown even as rates have decreased for white children. Among teenagers and young adults, suicide deaths have increased more than 45% for Black Americans and about 40% for Asian Americans in the seven years ending in 2019. Other concerning trends in suicide attempts date to the ’90s.
“We’re losing generations,” said Sean Joe, a national expert on Black suicide and a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “We have to pay attention now because if you’re out of the first decade of life and think life is not worth pursuing, that’s a signal to say something is going really wrong.”
Rafiah Maxie pages through a scrapbook on July 9, 2021, in Olympia Fields, Illinois. She and her son, Jamal Clay, made the book together. Clay died by suicide at age 19 in 2020. (Taylor Glascock for KHN)
These statistics also refute traditional ideas that suicide doesn’t happen in certain ethnic or minority populations because they’re “protected” and “resilient” or the “model minority,” said Kiara Alvarez, a researcher and psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who focuses on suicide among Hispanic and immigrant populations.
Although these groups may have had low suicide rates historically, that’s changing, she said.
Paul Chin lost his 17-year-old brother, Chris, to suicide in 2009. A poem Chris wrote in high school about his heritage has left Chin, eight years his senior, wondering if his brother struggled to feel accepted in the U.S., despite being born and raised in New York.
Growing up, Asian Americans weren’t represented in lessons at school or in pop culture, said Chin, now 37. Even in clinical research on suicide as well as other health topics, kids like Chris are underrepresented, with less than 1% of federal research funding focused on Asian Americans.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans ages 15 to 24, yet “that doesn’t get enough attention,” Chin said. “It’s important to continue to share these stories.”
Kathy Williams, who is Black, has been on a similar mission since her 15-year-old son, Torian Graves, died by suicide in 1996. People didn’t talk about suicide in the Black community then, she said. So she started raising the topic at her church in Durham, North Carolina, and in local schools. She wanted Black families to know the warning signs and society at large to recognize the seriousness of the problem.
The pandemic may have highlighted this, Williams said, but “it has always happened. Always.”
Pandemic Sheds Light on the Triggers
Pinpointing the root causes of rising suicide within communities of color has proven difficult. How much stems from mental illness? How much from socioeconomic changes like job losses or social isolation? Now, covid may offer some clues.
Recent decades have been marked by growing economic instability, a widening racial wealth gap and more public attention on police killings of unarmed Black and brown people, said Michael Lindsey, executive director of the New York University McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.
With social media, youths face racism on more fronts than their parents did, said Leslie Adams, an assistant professor in the department of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Each of these factors has been shown to affect suicide risk. For example, experiencing racism and sexism together is linked to a threefold increase in suicidal thoughts for Asian American women, said Brian Keum, an assistant professor at UCLA, based on preliminary research findings.
Covid intensified these hardships among communities of color, with disproportionate numbers of lost loved ones, lost jobs and lost housing. The murder of George Floyd prompted widespread racial unrest, and Asian Americans saw an increase in hate crimes.
At the same time, studies in Connecticut and Maryland found that suicide rates rose within these populations and dropped for their white counterparts.
“It’s not just a problem within the person, but societal issues that need to be addressed,” said Shari Jager-Hyman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of medicine.
During this time, suicide deaths among Hispanic Texans climbed from 847 deaths in 2019 to 962 deaths in 2020, according to preliminary state data. Suicide deaths rose for Black Texans and residents classified as “other” races or ethnicities, but decreased for white Texans.
Marc Mendiola often heard his classmates at South San High School say they were suicidal. In 2017, Mendiola and his classmates began advocating for mental health services at the school. (Photo: Marc Mendiola)
The numbers didn’t surprise Marc Mendiola. The 20-year-old grew up in a majority-Hispanic community on the south side of San Antonio. Even before the pandemic, he often heard classmates say they were suicidal. Many faced dire finances at home, sometimes living without electricity, food or water. Those who sought mental health treatment often found services prohibitively expensive or inaccessible because they weren’t offered in Spanish.
“These are conditions the community has always been in,” Mendiola said. “But with the pandemic, it’s even worse.”
Four years ago, Mendiola and his classmates at South San High School began advocating for mental health services. In late 2019, just months before covid struck, their vision became reality. Six community agencies partnered to offer free services to students and their families across three school districts.
Richard Davidson, chief operating officer of Family Service, one of the groups in the collaborative, said the number of students discussing economic stressors has been on the rise since April 2020. More than 90% of the students who received services in the first half of 2021 were Hispanic, and nearly 10% reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm, program data shows. None died by suicide.
Many students are so worried about what’s for dinner the next day that they’re not able to see a future beyond that, Davidson said. That’s when suicide can feel like a viable option.
“One of the things we do is help them see … that despite this situation now, you can create a vision for your future,” Davidson said.
A Good Future
Researchers say the promise of a good future is often overlooked in suicide prevention, perhaps because achieving it is so challenging. It requires economic and social growth and breaking systemic barriers.
Tevis Simon works to address all those fronts. As a child in West Baltimore, Simon, who is Black, faced poverty and trauma. As an adult, she attempted suicide three times. But now she shares her story with youths across the city to inspire them to overcome challenges. She also talks to politicians, law enforcement agencies and public policy officials about their responsibilities.
Growing up in West Baltimore, Maryland, Tevis Simon dealt with poverty and trauma. She attempted suicide three times as an adult — but now uses her story to teach and inspire others. (Photo: Tevis Simon)
“We can’t not talk about race,” said Simon, 43. “We can’t not talk about systematic oppression. We cannot not talk about these conditions that affect our mental well-being and our feeling and desire to live.”
For Jamal Clay in Illinois, the systemic barriers started early. Before his suicide last year, he had tried to harm himself when he was 12 and the victim of bullies. At that time, he was hospitalized for a few days and told to follow up with outpatient therapy, said his mother, Maxie.
But it was difficult to find therapists who accepted Medicaid, she said. When Maxie finally found one, there was a 60-day wait. Other therapists canceled appointments, she said.
“So we worked on our own,” Maxie said, relying on church and community. Her son seemed to improve. “We thought we closed that chapter in our lives.”
But when the pandemic hit, everything got worse, she said. Clay came home from college and worked at an Amazon warehouse. On drives to and from work, he was frequently pulled over by police. He stopped wearing hats so officers would consider him less intimidating, Maxie said.
“He felt uncomfortable being out in the street,” she said.
Maxie is still trying to make sense of what happened the day Clay died. But she’s found meaning in starting a nonprofit called Soul Survivors of Chicago. Through the organization, she provides education, scholarships and shoes — including Jamal’s old ones — to those impacted by violence, suicide and trauma.
“My son won’t be able to have a first interview in [those] shoes. He won’t be able to have a nice jump shot or go to church or even meet his wife,” Maxie said.
But she hopes his shoes will carry someone else to a good future.
More Texas hospitals are reporting a shortage of ICU beds than at any other time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state 18 months ago — just one sign among many that the health crisis is on track to reach its most dangerous phase yet, health officials say.
The latest surge of the virus has also caused new cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations to rise with record speed to just below their January peaks, as the highly contagious delta variant rips through the unvaccinated community at a rate up to eight times faster than earlier strains, officials said.
“We are entering the worst surge in sheer numbers,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, a palliative care specialist in Dallas and a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force. “This is the fourth round of what should have been a three-round fight. We do have very sincere concerns that the numbers game is going to overwhelm us.”
Between 93% and 98% of hospitalized COVID patients, depending on the area, are unvaccinated, officials said. With just under half of Texans fully vaccinated, the state still has some 16 million people who have yet to be protected from the virus.
And they are filling the state’s intensive care units rapidly.
“This is the fourth round of what should have been a three-round fight.”
— Dr. Mark Casanova, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force
In Dallas County on Monday, only 16 intensive care beds were available to serve the county of 2.6 million and its surrounding areas. The day before that, it was 12, Casanova said.
The state has asked the federal government for five mortuary trailers in anticipation of a potential spike in deaths, which are climbing again after a low in July — although the daily deaths are still much lower than they were during previous surges.
The strain is showing across the state.
Last week in San Antonio, 26 minutes went by with no ambulances available to respond to 911 calls from the city’s 1.5 million residents. In Austin, paramedics are so understaffed and overworked that some ambulances have to sit unused because there is no one to run them, said Capt. Selena Xie, an Austin paramedic and head of the Austin EMS Association.
“We’re seeing call volumes that are breaking our records, outside of the [February] snowstorm,” Xie said.
In rural West Texas, a school district announced Monday it would be closed for the next two weeks in an attempt to slow the virus’ spread before it overwhelms the scant health care resources in the area.
And on Tuesday, overwhelmed Harris County officials offered $100 to anyone getting their first vaccine dose, a desperate attempt to stave off what one hospital CEO called “the worst surge that we have faced in the community.”
“The numbers at Harris Methodist and other hospital systems in this area have never gone up this far, this fast,” said Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO of Harris Health System. “I’m begging you. Do the right thing. Get yourself vaccinated.”
An earlier version of this story overstated the number of children who have been hospitalized in Texas recently with COVID-19. The story said over 5,800 children had been hospitalized during a seven-day period in August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number correctly referred to children hospitalized with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. In actuality, 783 children were admitted to Texas hospitals with COVID-19 between July 1 and Aug. 9 of this year.
Estefani López’s 11-month-old baby was struggling to breathe. The little girl, Ava Rivera, had contracted COVID-19 and began having seizures. Then her pulse weakened. Her mom couldn’t feel her taking breaths anymore.
López rushed her to an emergency room where they began initial treatments, putting tubes down her throat to pump her lungs with oxygen. But the baby’s condition required care at a pediatric hospital and none of the ones in the Houston area could take her in. They were all full.
Instead, López had to watch as hospital staff placed her baby in a helicopter to be airlifted 150 miles away to Temple for emergency care at the nearest children’s hospital with space. López spent the next three hours driving to the hospital, praying her baby would survive.
“I felt like my heart fell out of my chest. I didn’t know what was happening for three hours,” López said. “It felt like it was three days.”
More children are being treated in Texas hospitals for COVID-19 than ever before. But there’s a second factor that is putting pediatric hospitals on the path to being overwhelmed: an unseasonable outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, a highly contagious virus that can require hospitalization mostly among children five years and younger and especially infants.
A “Dual Surge”
During the last year, RSV was largely dormant, which experts believe was due to people masking up during the pandemic. Now, in just the last several weeks, thousands of Texas children have tested positive for the virus.
In addition, the delta variant of COVID-19 appears to affect unvaccinated children more often than previous variants. It’s unclear if children are also becoming sicker from it than from other variants of COVID-19. And with the regular flu season approaching, medical experts are concerned over how hospital capacity could be affected.
Over 5,800 children in Texas were newly hospitalized with COVID-19 in the seven-day period ending on Aug. 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 37% increase from a week prior. Nationwide, nearly 94,000 children contracted COVID-19 last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
López’s daughter is doing OK now. Doctors replaced the intubation treatment with a nasal tube, her fever broke, and she was able to go home the next day. But the situation in children’s hospitals continues to worsen. In Texas, it’s getting harder and harder for those hospitals to meet the combined demand for beds for COVID-19 and RSV patients as well as children with other conditions or injuries. And physicians fear what will happen with the reopening of schools, with far fewer children masked and far more attending in person than last year.
“We’re seeing a significantly greater number of children who are being hospitalized with COVID-19. Some are requiring ICU care, more than we’ve seen with previous surges, and that’s related to the increased transmissibility of delta,” said Dr. Seth D. Kaplan, president of the Texas Pediatric Society. “This is just a more aggressive variant. It’s sickening more children and requiring more to be hospitalized. So that, on top of the RSV, is what’s really causing the capacity issues.”
“It is spreading like wildfire,” said Dr. Jim Versalovic, pathologist-in-chief and interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “During the past several weeks, Texas Children’s has been escalating strategies in terms of dealing with this dual surge.”
Texas Children’s Hospital: 25 Kids Diagnosed with RSV and Covid
The hospital has extended its urgent care hours. Doctors are postponing elective surgeries that require a postoperative bed. Staff are opening new units within the hospital and working overtime to meet the demand. Within Texas Children’s, more than 45 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, and hospital staff have diagnosed over 1,600 cases with RSV. Around 90% of the hospital’s COVID-19 positive patients — all children and adolescents — contracted the delta variant.
Approximately half of Texas Children’s RSV and COVID-19 patients are infants.
The influx of RSV cases during the summer came as a surprise to physicians, who normally see the spread later in the year. Versalovic said southern states are experiencing the surge of RSV, while children’s hospitals in other regions are reacting to increased hospitalizations from COVID-19.
What’s worse, Versalovic said his hospital has identified 25 children who have both RSV and COVID-19. While he’s confident that his hospital system can effectively treat these cases, it’s a new phenomenon, and doctors are unsure of what to expect. Over half of those diagnosed with both viruses have been hospitalized — a hospitalization rate much higher than for either virus alone.
“We’re certainly concerned about it … We’ve never seen this before,” Versalovic said. “We are concerned that [the double-diagnosis cases] may be more severe.”
Meanwhile, adult hospitals are facing a crisis of their own, as rising numbers of COVID-19 patients fill intensive care units across the state. Staff shortages are compounding the problem as more adults — the vast majority of them unvaccinated — are being hospitalized with the delta variant. In the most recent federal numbers reported last week, 53 hospitals in Texas had completely run out of ICU beds; the situation has likely worsened since then.
Last summer, children’s hospitals helped by taking some of the overflow of non-COVID adult patients from nearby hospitals during the worst of that stage of the pandemic. But now that children’s hospitals are facing crises as well, that will likely no longer be an option.
“We are preparing for a very challenging period in the weeks ahead, and we must anticipate, with the beginning of the school year, many more pediatric and adolescent COVID cases,” Versalovic said. “We cannot have any plans to take adult patients and offload neighboring hospitals, because we need to keep those beds reserved for the children and families we serve.”
A Harsh Start to a New School Year
The delta variant is believed to be at least twice as transmissible as previous variants of COVID-19 and has primarily ripped through unvaccinated populations. A large segment of those unvaccinated are children 12 and under who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated. Even among 12-to-15-year-olds in Texas, who are old enough to get the shot, less than 27% are fully vaccinated.
Versalovic said that even when the vaccines are approved for children under 12 — with best-case estimates suggesting it could be late September or early October — it would take weeks or even months for that to slow down the surge.
Parents should focus on masking their children and getting them vaccinated if they are eligible, said Kaplan, the pediatric society president. The vaccine remains the most effective defense against the virus. Even in rare breakthrough infections where vaccinated people contract COVID-19, they still are largely protected from hospitalization.
“We know that COVID-19 can be transmitted through populations of children. We know that many of them are not vaccinated, and many aren’t even eligible for vaccination,” Kaplan said. “Anyone who has not been fully vaccinated should be wearing a mask when they’re in an indoor public setting and social-distancing themselves.”
Dr. Mary Suzanne Whitworth, director of pediatric infectious diseases at Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth, said her facility has seen sharp upticks in RSV and COVID-19 as well. Cook has seen around 200 cases of RSV each week for the last month.
“I think that really everyone, nationally, was surprised at how much RSV happened this summer. It’s the first time it’s ever happened like this,” she said.
Although earlier in the pandemic, some thought children were less likely to catch COVID-19, Whitworth says parents need to keep their guard up with the emergence of the delta variant. On Tuesday, there were two dozen children hospitalized with COVID-19 in Cook Children’s, according to data from the hospital.
“Children do have some risk of severe disease,” she said. “Children, in general, do pretty well with COVID — but there are plenty of children who do not. And you never know who will or not.”
Darius Fulghum—like so many of our male Nurses of the Week—seems to enjoy complaining about the toughness of a BSN program. “Getting my degree is probably the hardest thing I’ve done,” he told Sky Sports, in the halcyon pre-pandemic days of 2019. “I’m going to the Olympics, and I’m still saying it was hard.”
Covid-19 collided with the 6”1” 201-lb boxer’s Olympic dreams, but he’s now making a splash as a promising pro. His BSN, though, still ranks as one of his proudest achievements.
The Texas-born Fulghum was already an outstanding wrestler when he decided to major in nursing at Prairie View A&M University. How did he end up in a program as academically demanding as a BSN? “I started getting serious about my health and being fascinated by the human body and learning about it, and that’s how I got more into science;” nursing seemed to follow naturally. His father (a graduate of Florida A&M; most of the family are HBCU alums) was the one who first suggested nursing. Fulghum says: “My dad was the one who pushed me into it. When I was in high school, I didn’t really know where I wanted to go, but he said they really need men, and it’s a good profession. It’s never stagnant. You always have something to do. The fact that you can help people is the most rewarding thing.”
As a military brat, Darius was well-prepared for the demands of nursing as well as athletics. Of his father, he told the Prairie View A&M blog, “He is the most disciplined guy I know and he made sure that we learned.” And somehow, Darius not only kept up with his BSN studies, he also trained so effectively that he won the Golden Gloves in 2018, the year before he graduated.
In 2019, when Fulghum graduated and passed his NCLEX, he had expected to store his pin in mothballs when he aced his Olympic trials and trained in preparation for Tokyo. When Covid hit, it was a painful blow (no pun intended, and we promise to make no facetious references to knocking people down and being able to patch them up afterwards).
As a boxer, though, Fulgham has had plenty of experience with making himself get up after being knocked down. Will he exchange his boxing gear for hospital PPE at some point? He’s not sure. But, if anyone is ever in need of medical assistance at a Darius Fulghum match, they will be in good hands and we might see him as a Nurse of the Week again one day.
For more on Fulghum, PVAMU, and his story, see the below video or see this article.
PRNewswire/ — On June 17 the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP), the largest professional membership organization representing the nation’s 325,000 licensed nurse practitioners (NPs), unveiled a new national advertising campaign highlighting the stories of real patients whose lives were saved by their NPs.
“We are proud to share this positive message about the tremendous contributions that NPs make in people’s lives,” said Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, president of AANP. “Millions of people choose an NP as their primary care provider, and NPs treat patients in more than 1 billion visits each year. NPs are educated, clinically trained and highly qualified to deliver comprehensive health care. As patients attest, NPs save lives.”
In AANP’s latest television commercial, which began airing nationally the week of June 14, four patients talk about the lifesaving care they received from their NPs. A young girl named Sophie, whose NP diagnosed her Kawasaki’s Disease, says, “My NP saved me from a life-long heart condition.” A woman named Sasha, whose NP manages her life-threatening diabetes, says, “She prescribed the right medicine … I will always be grateful.” A patient named Robert, whose NP identified his blocked arteries, says, “She saved my life.” And Roun McNeal, a former Mississippi state legislator, appears in the ad to say, “I’m alive, thanks to my nurse practitioner.” Roun’s NP diagnosed him with multi-organ failure, and he affirms that his NP saved his life twice.
The nation’s more than 325,000 licensed NPs provide advanced primary, acute and specialty care for patients of all ages. In every state, NPs assess patients, order and interpret tests, make diagnoses and provide treatment, including prescribing medications. NPs can be found in clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, nursing homes and private practices nationwide. Millions of Americans choose an NP as their health care provider. As clinicians who blend clinical expertise with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to health care.
The new AANP television commercial will air on ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX, with radio and digital advertising running in select markets nationwide. To learn why millions of people choose NPs and to find an NP in your area, visit WeChooseNPs.org