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Should school nurses be able to send unvaccinated kids home? Many parents say 'yes.'

In Philadelphia, PA, nurses used to have the right to keep an unvaccinated child out of school — until now.

Lincoln High School nurse Peg Devine explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer that, in her experience, exclusion — preventing a child from attending school until they are up to date on required vaccinations — “proved powerful.” In her 26 years on the job she kept only 15 students out of school and none of them ended up missing more than two days before proving immunization.

However, now her right to intervene has been taken away by the school district, which she finds especially concerning due to the local outbreak of mumps (so far, over 100 Temple University students have contracted the disease) and the measles outbreak in New York — less than two hours from Philadelphia.


“It’s very dangerous that you’ve got kids who are not immunized, and you have medically fragile kids,” Devine said. “It’s unprecedented.”

About 10% of children in the Philadelphia school district remain unvaccinated.

The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed several nurses from within the school district who all believe it should be their discretionary right to exclude students who were not properly vaccinated.

Colleen Quinn, the nurse at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, points out that two students at her school are receiving chemotherapy, and there are others whose immune systems are compromised, including young teachers who are pregnant. Of the 750 students at the school 42 are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. She has attempted to educate parents but often gets the “runaround.”

“If you were a parent, and you had a child in the school setting who was recovering from cancer, or recently had an organ transplant — and these are not hypothetical cases, most of us have had these cases — would you want your children in a building with students who were not immunized?” said Strawberry Mansion High School nurse Judith Cocking, who claims she has 28 non-compliant students.

The school district now says nurses can only exclude unvaccinated children on a case-by-case basis, meaning it’s no longer up to the nurses’ discretion.

[rebelmouse-image 19534861 dam="1" original_size="640x425" caption="David Haygarth/Flickr." expand=1]David Haygarth/Flickr.

Karyn Lynch, chief of student support services for the district explained that the recent shift was an attempt to standardize procedures “so that across the city, everyone is following the same process. To inequitably implement across the district would be inappropriate."

She explains that if an unvaccinated student is thought to have come into contact with someone who has an infectious disease, they will deal with it accordingly, but excluding all kids who are unvaccinated could have repercussions.

Parents in the district are less than pleased by this development. In fact, many are shocked and outraged that so many unvaccinated children are walking the halls of their children’s schools.

“I must say I was unaware and completely shocked that [vaccination] was not a compulsory requirement in the Philadelphia School District,” says Neha Ghaisas, whose son, Advik, attends Kindergarten at General George A. McCall School. “I feel that the school district should have the right to keep students away until all the vaccine requirements are fulfilled.”

Shiya Furstenau, whose son Jackson will be entering Kindergarten in the fall at William M. Meredith School, dubs the policy “unreasonable.” “I wouldn’t take my kids to a doctor’s office if they allowed patients that weren’t up to date on their vaccines,” she says. “It puts everyone at risk, especially those who are immunocompromised and our babies who haven’t been able to get vaccinated yet.”

Nicola Espie, who has one child at Chester Arthur School and another entering in the fall, points out that the mumps outbreak at Temple University, as well as the measles outbreak in New York, is proof that “we aren’t talking about a remote hypothetical.”

“People have the right to make medical decisions for their children, of course, but that right should not extend to affecting the public health and putting vulnerable populations at risk and the school district must do its part to protect our children,” she adds.

For Valentyna Abraimova, whose son attends Meredith and whose daughter will enter in the fall, the situation isn’t so black and white.

She explains that vaccinating her children wasn’t “an easy decision,” but because of the crowded classrooms in the public school system as well as the recent outbreaks, she sees the importance of it and hopes “most parents will too.”

She says that getting a nudge from the school nurse, as well as facing the threat of exclusion, is effective. Her son, Gabby, was missing his second dose of MMR. The nurse hinted that he might be suspended, and he got the shot two days later. “It might work for other families, who maybe just missed a couple of appointments or, like myself, are hesitant about vaccines and need an extra push.”

[rebelmouse-image 19534862 dam="1" original_size="725x479" caption="Photo via Pixnio" expand=1]Photo via Pixnio

However, another mother of a child whose daughter attends McCall who wishes to remain anonymous agrees with the school district’s stance: she doesn’t believe that unvaccinated children are putting those who are vaccinated at risk. “For a school of 800, there are roughly 80 who aren’t properly vaccinated, and there is a good chance they wouldn’t come into contact with one another,” she says. She also points out that the vaccinations these students haven’t gotten could be “low-risk viruses, such as the chicken pox or the flu.”

For mom Miranda Hall, the issue isn’t about vaccination itself. “The government should never be given the power to dictate someone’s medical condition as a norm. The occasional extreme, maybe, but that should be determined case-by-case. Choosing alternative immune support methods is not an extreme situation.”

As a parent myself whose child will be entering the Philadelphia school district in the fall, I firmly believe school nurses should be able to exclude students who aren’t vaccinated.

When I was attending school, nurses had the right to send home a child for any reason pertaining to health, because they were considered the school’s medical expert. Nurses, not administrators, go to school to learn about medicine, and we rely on them to take care of our children’s health needs. Why should district officials, with limited to no medical background, get to override that?

If school nurses aren’t given the opportunity to use their medical background and trained judgement to make that call on their own — especially in situations when there is an outbreak going on — the health of our children will be compromised. And if that practice becomes more widely adopted, the health of everyone in this country will be impacted, especially now that we’re dealing with more and more serious outbreaks.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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