The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 2: A Plague Upon Your House

by Erica Mitchell | May 12 2021

Civilization picked up speed after the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, allowing for longer lifespans, healthier people, and lots of population growth. Unfortunately, with population growth comes denser living quarters, enabling contagious diseases to spread more quickly. As humankind spread across the globe in waves of migrations, so did epidemics of unfathomable destruction.
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The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 1: Enter Miasma

by Erica Mitchell | May 5 2021

We take for granted the knowledge that infection is caused by microscopic organisms. But the road to this scientific truth has been long and winding, and medical professionals have taken some pretty odd detours along the way. Hindsight being 20/20, we can examine this path and see the seeds - or germs - of germ theory as we know it today.

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5 Bizarre Beliefs About Germs from the Not-So-Distant Past

by Erica Mitchell | April 21 2021

We live in a time of tremendous advancements in science and medicine. We can save premature babies, reattach severed limbs (how about heads?), and research looks promising to wipe out some pretty terrifying diseases. And yet even recently, humanity still believed some pretty crazy things about where diseases come from... and each of them share haunting similarities to some beliefs we encounter today.

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A Hundred Years Apart: NYC During the 1918 Flu and 2020 COVID Pandemics (Part 2)

by Henry Trinder | November 16 2020

Last week, we began our comparison of how New York City responded to a global pandemic a century apart. This week, we continue the comparison, this time looking at how schools, families, and Broadway balanced economic and health pressures, two essential concerts that were often at odds.

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Gram Positive vs Gram Negative Bacteria and the Fight Against HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | September 23 2020

In formal descriptions of the germ-fighting powers of antibacterial and biocidal products, the terms "Gram positive" and "Gram negative" are used as a way to categorize bacteria. While there are estimated to be over 10,000 species of bacteria, they can be categorized into a few helpful categories.

One of those categories has to do with the structure of the cell membrane. All the known bacteria fit into one of two categories of cell membrane structure: Gram-positive or Gram-negative. But what does that mean?

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Black History Month: 5 Health Care Highlights

by Erica Mitchell | February 28 2020

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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3 Major Innovations on the Long Road to Hospital Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | June 21 2019

We know a lot (or actually most) of our posts about infection and hospitals can be terrifying. But here's some good news: A least you don't live in the time before antibiotics and infection control!

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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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Thankful for Antibiotics

by Erica Mitchell | November 23 2016

On a fall day in 1928, a window was left open in a London laboratory, letting in a cool breeze. Carried on that breeze were microscopic spores of mold, tiny particles that fell gently onto a work surface covered with open Petri dishes culturing Staphylococcus bacteria. One spore landed on the rich culture medium of a dish and began to grow, contaminating the experiment in progress. This contamination, to the surprise of the scientist when he returned to check on his experiment, was peculiar. The mold had not simply grown, it had also destroyed all the bacteria around it, leaving a clear boundary all around its perimeter. The scientist was Alexander Flemming, and his determination to find out what was going on in this peculiar, unexpected, serendipitous mistake would lead to the world-changing discovery of antibiotics. 

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Happy Birthday, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek!

by Erica Mitchell | October 24 2016

Today we celebrate the birth of a scientist known as the Father of Microbiology for his role in the use of lenses to observe the microscopic world. Optics and lens-making developed quickly in 16-17th century Europe, allowing research to expand to the universe. But just as lenses could sharpen light from far away, allowing Galileo to see Jupiter's moons, it could also magnify objects right in the laboratory. The microscope was invented by several lens makers at around the same time in the late 1500s and the technology spread throughout Europe. In the 1660s, however, the use of microscopes for intense research grew explosively. Discovery after discovery began to lay the groundwork for modern biology. 

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