The Dirt on Garden Bacteria

by Erica Mitchell | March 24 2017

As winter ends and spring begins to arrive (and stay), many of us will find ourselves elbow-deep in soil, getting our gardens ready for the season. While we are selecting our annuals, clearing out weeds, and picking out our vegetable plants, there is an army of workers already at work in our gardens: Bacteria. Billions and billions in one handful, these microscopic organisms are performing essential actions that enables us to grow a beautiful garden and grow nutritious food. Today we will explore these unseen workers and how, depending on where they are, they can be either life-sustaining or life-threatening.

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Patient Safety Awareness Week 2017

by Erica Mitchell | March 15 2017

March 12 - 18, 2017 is Patient Safety Awareness Week, an annual education and awareness campaign for health care safety led by the National Patient Safety Foundation. Here are links to some of the excellent resources health care facilities created to participate in this important community project.

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International Women's Day: Healthcare Edition

by Erica Mitchell | March 8 2017

Today is International Women's Day, a day celebrating women's achievements and bringing attention to gender parity in the workforce. In different forms, it has been observed since the early 1900s, with the first major event being a march in New York City in 1908 calling for better pay and voting rights for women. In 1977, the United Nations adopted a resolution for member nations to celebrate women's rights and achievements on a day of their choice, and started setting an annual theme in 1996. In the United States, March was named Women's History Month in 2011 by President Barak Obama on the 100 year centenary of International Women Day. In honor of today's celebrations and calls for action, today's post will explore the issues of gender parity in healthcare professions.

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Black History Month: 5 Health Care Highlights

by Erica Mitchell | February 22 2017

The history of African-Americans health care is replete with stories of both tragedy and triumph. From the horrific conditions of slavery, through the centuries leading to the Civil Rights Era, to today's freedoms and hopes, our nation has been formed and transformed by our shared experiences. Today's post shares just a few of those experiences that focus on health care. Join us as we explore how extraordinary challenges and obstacles impacted both access to health care and opportunity in health care professions, and how the work continues today to achieve equality.
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Bacteria: We Love You. We Love You Not.

by Erica Mitchell | February 14 2017

An earlier edition of this post was originally posted on December 8, 2014.

Bacteria rule the world. Not only do they far outnumber every other type of plant or animal, they are everywhere - inside and outside every other type of animal and in every conceivable environment, from boiling thermal vents to sub-zero glaciers. But not all bacteria are germs, or illness-causing bacteria. Most are vital to our survival and to the survival of life on Earth. Unfortunately, some bacteria are dangerous, especially to those of us with weak immune systems. Today’s post will explore this incredible branch of the tree of life, and our “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” relationship with these microorganisms.  

What is bacteria?

Bacteria are single-cell organisms. Where humans are made up of, on average 1 trillion cells, bacteria are made up of just one. But one isn't the loneliest number when it comes to bacteria; they reproduce very efficiently by splitting into two, who then go on to split into two more… and on until you have a colony of bacteria. Some of these  colonies are beneficial to us, some don't harm us at all, and some are downright nasty, leading to harmful infections which can threaten our lives.

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We Only Have One Chance: One Mom's Battle Against Cancer and Infection (Part 2)

by Erica Mitchell | February 9 2017

Our last post gave us a glimpse into the life of a mom responding to the shocking diagnosis of cancer in her three-year-old son, Jack. This concluding segment will explore the result of her unrelenting fight against infection as she did everything possible to help her son survive, and the lasting impact that experience has had on her life the life of her son.

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We Only Have One Chance: One Mom's Battle Against Cancer and Infection

by Erica Mitchell | February 7 2017

It was a fall evening just after Thanksgiving when Page snuggled with her son at bedtime. He had just celebrated his 3rd birthday and was feeling a little under the weather, so she was rubbing his belly while he rested, going through the list of what it could be - chicken pox? Too much dinner? A stomach bug? All those thoughts came to a screeching halt when she felt a soft lump just over her son's belly button. With a sudden mother's intuition that would prove to move mountains in the years to come, Page bundled up her child and with shaking hands, immediately drove him to the emergency department at the nearby children's hospital. Only a few hours later, the world-changing diagnosis was given: Neuroblastoma. Stage IV. Cancer.
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Special Populations Series: Pediatric Cancer

by Erica Mitchell | January 30 2017

With a few words, a family's life is forever changed: "It's cancer." For any patient, these words bring anxiety and fear. When that patient is a child, however, no words can express the emotions that send shock waves through a family, friends, and community. Today's post begins a two-part story of one such young patient, a little boy named Jack. (Best of all, Jack's story has a happy ending.) Stay with us as we see the challenges of pediatric cancer treatment and infection control through the eyes of a boy and his mother.

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Special Populations Series: Cancer

by Erica Mitchell | January 20 2017

This post begins a series on how infection, and specifically hospital-associated infections, affect special patient populations. Our first series will be dedicated to those patients facing a cancer diagnosis. As with any serious disease, the many types of cancer put a great deal of stress on the body and can make a person more susceptible to infection. Unique to cancer, however, are the infection risks due to the disease's treatment. Today we will explore how cancer and infection intersect in this special population.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About the Flu

by Erica Mitchell | January 13 2017

We are right in the middle of the flu season, when more and more tests come back positive for the influenza virus. Next to the common cold, there's probably no more familiar illness than the seasonal flu: If you don't get it, someone you know does. Despite this familiarity, there are some fascinating facts about the flu that most of us do not know. Learning about influenza reveals a global network of researchers whose daily work keeps this virus at bay.

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