Spring allergies

It’s that time again. Yep, spring, which while welcome after a brutal winter still has a fearsome downside for allergy sufferers. That’s because the trees are having sex, which they do once a year, which is kind of sweet and almost chaste of them.

Unfortunately, most trees depend on the wind, unlike most flowering plants which get pollinating insects to do the job of moving grains of male pollen onto female stigmas. Trees being, well, trees, and usually the biggest living things around, they churn out a huge volume of pollen. So much of it, in fact, that cars, windows, house siding, lawn furniture and decks can all turn green and yellow under the onslaught in an hour or two.

That means we all breathe in some of that pollen. It’s inescapable, especially on dry windy days when it gets blown from one county to the next. For allergy sufferers, those days are hellish.

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School nursing

In the century-plus time that school nurses have taken care of children in school settings, their roles and responsibilities have evolved. There was a time when a school nurse was in charge of reducing communicable diseases, such as the cold or flu, through education of hygiene and intervention, or offering support along with a Band-Aid to children with scraped knees. In today’s world, both these childhood common problems are still on the radar of a school nurse. However whether in a public or private school, a nurse plays a much more complex role today, tackling new complexities in health, both physical and mental.

According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the first nurse entered a school in New York City in 1902 in order to reduce absenteeism from communicable diseases. Students learn better when healthy.

The NASN goal states that, “The school nurse supports student success by providing healthcare through assessment, intervention, and follow-up for all children within the school setting. The school nurse addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs of students and supports their achievement in the learning process.”

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On-line hypochondriac


Wrote H.L. Mencken many years ago, “A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.” I think this goes double for the Internet. When it comes to trying to diagnose one’s own self via the Internet, it goes triple or maybe even quadruple.

You know how it goes, Maybe you’ve done this yourself (I sure have). You’re not feeling well, and you can’t quite put your finger on exactly why. Rather than first consult your own doctor, who may be unavailable because it’s one in the morning or maybe you just don’t want to drop a $30 or $40 co-pay this week, off you go to Dr. Google. The next thing you know, that soreness in your hip or irritation of the sinus leads you to believe, with all your might, that you do not have plain-old bursitis or allergies. Nope, it absolutely has to be a case of Tasmanian crotch palsy or chronic obstructive sinusitis, neither of which or curable.

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CrowdMed online diagnosis healthcare


I didn’t even know what crowdsourcing really meant until last week. When I was looking for a logo for a small business I’m launching, my uncle suggested I could save money using a company that “crowdsources.” You submit your specs, he said, and many people bid on the job. They may not all be pros, but for a price lower than what the pros charge you can choose something from the top of the heap of a large group if responds.

Wikipedia offers another example of this process. It offers lots of source material for research that has been contributed by the masses, not by the pros. The information is not necessarily reliable, of course. (I only use it to satisfy idle curiosity, never to research the articles I write.)

Financial crowdsourcing seeks money for such things as investments in creative projects or emergency expenses due to house-burnings or serious medical crises. While not everyone believes in it, crowdsourcing seems here to stay.

But can it work for medical care? Take the fairly young CrowdMed. Although some of its “MDs,” or “Medical Detectives,” are doctors, it is not the traditional professional opinion of one or more physicians you’re getting, but a diagnosis from the collective wisdom of a very large group.

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Obamacare anew in NY

On the eve of the second enrollment period for Obamacare — which begins November 15 — insurers in the state are not getting what they asked for. During the first six-month enrollment period, which ended officially March 31 of this year but was extended due to website glitches, 370,000 state residents were able to sign up for private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

People can sign up for Medicaid at any time during the year. Though not restricted to the enrollment periods, some 600,000 people signed up during the last one, including many who were previously uninsured. This makes nearly a million New Yorkers affected by Obamacare.

The ACA was instituted to control the health insurance industry. There were 44 million uninsured Americans, the highest in history, and the law was designed to require that everyone be insured, with fines to motivate those who didn’t sign up. People who don’t have coverage by 2015 will pay a penalty of $325 per adult, $162.50 per child or two percent of income, whichever is higher. Other factors in the plan include expansion of the Medicaid program and elimination of restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

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