healthcare, law

The latest from the COVID-19 wingnut files…

Regular readers may notice that I’ve recently reposted a bunch of old blog posts. I mostly try to keep the reposts to things like book reviews, because I know that book reviews can be useful long after they’re originally written. I’ve also been reposting other items that I think are worth reading from my original blog. Moving away from the Blogspot platform has been difficult in some ways, mainly because there’s a lot of material there that I genuinely think is good stuff. Of course, there’s also a lot of stuff that isn’t so good. So that’s part of the reason for the many reposts.

But there’s another reason why I’ve been reposting so much old material. It’s partly because nowadays, so much of what I could be writing about involves one of a few subjects dominating the news right now– rightwing politics (Trump, in particular), abortion (especially in Texas), and COVID-19. Let me just say, I am so TIRED of COVID-19. I’m tired of thinking about it, and I’m tired of writing about it. I’m sure that many people are tired of reading about it. It’s a depressing subject.

And yet, I continue to be amazed by some of the crazy news the pandemic has spawned. Last night, just before I went to sleep, I read an article about Angela Underwood, a registered nurse in Kentucky, whose husband is dying of COVID-19. Underwood’s husband Lonnie, is 58 years old, and is currently in the intensive care unit at Norton Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville.

For some reason, Ms. Underwood thinks she knows more than the actual physicians who are treating her husband. She sued the hospital because the healthcare providers in charge of her husband’s care have allegedly refused to administer ivermectin to her husband. Writes Nurse Underwood in her complaint, filed last week:

“As a Registered Nurse, I demand my husband be administered ivermectin whether by a Norton physician or another healthcare provider of my choosing including myself if necessary,”

Underwood also stated, “I am [Lonnie’s] healthcare advocate… The studies and research does show the effectiveness of the medication when given to those patients in the trial.”

Angela Underwood has asked the court to designate the unproven treatment as “medically indicated,” even though ivermectin is not actually recommended for treating or preventing COVID-19. I first heard of ivermectin when one of my dogs had heartworms, back in the late 1980s. Before COVID-19, I knew of ivermectin as primarily used for heartworm prevention and treatment in dogs, as well as a dewormer for horses and other animals. Yes, there are some medicinal uses for it in human beings, but not for treating COVID-19. In humans, it’s used for treating worm infestations, river blindness, rosacea, and head lice.

Unfortunately, just as some people were drinking bleach, taking hydrochloroquine, and ingesting fish tank cleaner last year, this year, there are many people who have bought into the erroneous idea that ivermectin is an effective treatment against COVID-19. But, it’s not. According to the Washington Post:

“[Ivermectin] hasn’t been proven to be effective [against COVID-19],” said Michael Saag, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “If I saw evidence that it worked, I would be one of the first to use it. But the truth is, there are no data that support its use.”

And Dr. Saag is not the only medical professional who says that ivermectin doesn’t work for COVID-19 and isn’t indicated. The idea that ivermectin might work against the virus caught on when Australian researchers noted that ivermectin killed the virus in laboratory settings. However, the amount of the drug needed to kill the virus was much higher than the safe dosage for humans. Moreover, lab settings aren’t the same as actual “real life” settings. If you click the link in this paragraph, you will be taken to a site that discusses the Australian research on ivermectin. But, you will notice that right there in black and white, it says:

  • Do NOT self-medicate with Ivermectin and do NOT use Ivermectin intended for animalsRead the FDA caution online.
  • Whilst shown to be effective in the lab environment, Ivermectin cannot be used in humans for COVID-19 until further testing and clinical trials have been completed to establish the effectiveness of the drug at levels safe for human dosing.
  • For any medical questions you have about your health, please consult your health care provider.
  • The potential use of Ivermectin to combat COVID-19 remains unproven, and depends on pre-clinical testing and clinical trials to progress the work.

Nevertheless, Angela Underwood and her ilk, in spite of having sought medical attention at hospitals for themselves and/or loved ones, apparently think they know better than physicians. And so, instead of following the care plan set up by the actual doctors treating her husband, Ms. Underwood wants to make medical decisions. Evidently, she thinks her nursing degree holds up to the medical school education her husband’s doctors have received. But even if Nurse Underwood actually had a degree in medicine, it wouldn’t be ethical or wise for her to treat her husband, anyway. She doesn’t have the appropriate professional detachment needed to treat her husband with objectivity.

Fortunately, Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham has better sense than Nurse Underwood does. He’s issued a “scathing response” to Underwood’s lawsuit. According to the Washington Post:

“[the court] cannot require a hospital to literally take orders from someone who does not routinely issue such orders,” …[Cunningham] noted in his ruling how the Kentucky Supreme Court “only allows admission of scientific evidence based on sufficient facts or data.”

The judge continued:

“Unfortunately, the Internet has no such rule. It is rife with the ramblings of persons who spout ill-conceived conclusions if not out-right falsehoods… If Plaintiff wants to ask the Court to impose her definition of ‘medically indicated’ rather than the hospital’s, she needs to present the sworn testimony of solid witnesses, espousing solid opinions, based on solid data.”

In other words, Ms. Underwood is not a medical doctor. Neither is the judge. Trying to force Lonnie Underwood’s physicians to allow certain drugs to be administered is outside of Judge Cunningham’s area of expertise. And if, by chance, the off label use of ivermectin led to a bad outcome, isn’t it possible that Ms. Underwood might then sue for medical malpractice?

I congratulate the judge for rendering his wise decision. I wish all judges had that much sense as Judge Cunningham has. Sadly, some judges think they’re physicians, too.

Last month, in Ohio, a judge ordered a hospital to administer ivermectin to a patient with COVID-19, even though “the Food and Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin to treat or prevent covid-19 and has advised against that use amid spiking calls to poison centers after people took potent versions of the drug meant for livestock.”

Then, another Ohio judge reversed the first judge’s order. The second judge, like Judge Cunningham in Kentucky, realized that judges are not doctors. Moreover, human beings are not horses or dogs or cats… So, unless you have a parasitic infection or rosacea, it’s best to leave the ivermectin on the shelf. And don’t waste time and money on lawsuits, because again, judges and lawyers are experts in LAW, not medicine.

It’s become all too clear that not all legal professionals and lawmakers have the common sense and wisdom Judge Cunningham does. Yesterday’s fresh post was about the new abortion ban in Texas, and how it will probably lead to a lot of suffering and deaths. Why? BECAUSE THE MEN WHO MADE THE LAW ARE NOT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS!!!!! Moreover, they lacked the foresight , wisdom, and care to seek advice and insight from people who practice medicine for a living and know about the scenarios that can arise in pregnancies that would necessitate abortion for medical reasons.

Lawmakers are the same people who tried to pass a law requiring that ectopic pregnancies be “re-implanted” in a woman’s uterus. They did this (as if a woman’s body is like a planter), even though it’s technologically IMPOSSIBLE to re-implant a tubal pregnancy, and ectopic pregnancies must always be terminated, at least at this point in time. Lawmakers and lawyers are not medical experts. But some of them simply don’t realize, or want to admit, that when it comes to medical matters, they need to stay in their lane!

Why go to a hospital for care if you’re not going to follow the advice of the medical experts there? I realize that there are situations in which it’s right for a patient to speak up. However, when it comes to treating and preventing COVID-19, I really don’t think that following wacky conspiracy theories spouted on Fox News or YouTube is the best course of action.

Angela Underwood did find a doctor in Indiana who was willing to prescribe ivermectin, but she claims the hospital would not allow him emergency privileges. But Cunningham, who was filling in for another judge who was more sympathetic to Underwood’s case, wrote “Frankly, even a doctor who was in the trenches in 2020 fighting hand-to-hand against the virus, is probably not up-to-date with what works and what fails in late 2021 because the virus has mutated and our responses and therapies have evolved with it.

Cunningham continued, regarding Underwood’s desire to find a hospital more willing to administer ivermectin, “This is impractical because it is likely that no such hospital in the United States, or certainly in this region, agrees with Plaintiff. Moreover, her husband’s medical circumstances may make such a transfer unjustifiably risky.

I truly do have a concept of wanting to try everything, especially when a loved one is sick and dying. I’m sure Ms. Underwood’s reasons for wanting to try ivermectin are borne out of concern and despair. But I also think it’s foolhardy to try to use horse dewormer to fight a deadly virus. I agree with Judge Cunningham’s wise decision wholeheartedly. I think it’s very astute.

According to the Washington Post, Angela Underwood’s husband, Lonnie, remains in the hospital and is fighting for his life. Thoughts and prayers for him… and hopefully, both of them will get vaccinated, if they haven’t been yet. So far, unlike ivermectin, the vaccines actually have been proven to work against preventing and lessening the severity of COVID-19.

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homosexuality

Taste the rainbow… get kicked out of school?

This morning, I read a story about a fifteen year old girl named Kayla Kenney who got photographed blowing out the candles on her birthday cake at Texas Roadhouse. She wore a rainbow sweater and smiled pretty over a rainbow themed cake with two candles, a one and a five, on top. The photo was posted to Facebook and, apparently, that meant the end of Kayla’s freshman year at Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky. Someone shared the photo with officials at her school, and next thing she knew, she was a girl with “no class”… (sorry, for the obvious joke).

Kayla’s mom, Kimberly Alford, alleges that her daughter was expelled from the private Baptist affiliated academy solely because school administrators felt the colorful cake promoted “gay pride” and by posing with it, Kayla was endorsing homosexuality. Ms. Alford received an email from the school’s headmaster, Dr. Bruce Jacobson, who wrote that Kayla,

demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs and follows two years of lifestyle violations.

Alford admits that her daughter did have a couple of disciplinary issues at school. Once, she got caught with an e-cigarette (Juul Pods in her backpack) and another time, she was disciplined for cutting class. Jacobson did not provide details about Kayla’s transgressions in an emailed response to the Washington Post, but he did issue the following statement about this case:

“Inaccurate media reports are circling stating that the student in question was expelled from our school solely for a social media post,” the school said in a statement. “In fact, she has unfortunately violated our student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years.”

Jacobson added that, “Whitefield Academy is accredited by ACSI/AdvancEd and a member of the Non Public School Commission of Kentucky, and therefore we meet all Kentucky regulations and laws.  Our code of conduct is on par with other private Christian schools in our area.  It is unfortunate that one of the student’s parents chose to post internal family matters on social media, and we hope our former student is not adversely affected by what her parents chose to make public about her situation.”

Furthermore, Jacobson writes that all of the families who enroll their children in the private Christian school, which takes students in grades K-12, are aware of the school’s rules and the expectations regarding the students’ conduct. Another article went into more detail about what Jacobson wrote than the Washington Post did.

However, although Ms. Alford acknowledges that Kayla has had some disciplinary problems in the past and was on probation, she states that since the e-cigarette incident, Kayla had not been in any trouble. Therefore, Ms. Alford concludes that Kayla’s rainbow themed birthday celebration was the reason she was kicked out of school, since rainbows and rainbow colored flags are often used to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pride and support for LGBTQ rights. Ms. Alford also emphatically assures everyone that her daughter isn’t gay, even though she likes rainbow themed decorations.

So what do I think about this? Well… it seems to me that anyone who attends a Baptist affiliated school in which it explicitly states in the student handbook that homosexuality won’t be tolerated probably should have realized school officials would not appreciate a student giving off the slightest appearance of promoting homosexuality. That means that publicly posing with anything that has rainbows on it probably does put students on the school’s radar. And if a student has already been in trouble with the administrators over cutting class and having vaping paraphernalia, this might be the last straw. It’s ridiculous, of course, but so is paying money to attend a school with homophobic policies, especially in this day and age. Right here on page 18 of the school’s handbook is the following statement:

Role of the Christian School

Whitefield Academy’s Biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christ- like. On occasion, the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home may be counter or in opposition to the Biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual immorality, homosexual orientation, or the inability to support Biblical standards of right and wrong (Rom. 1:18-32, I Cor. 6:9). If the home environment is not in harmony with the school’s doctrinal belief in the centrality of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture and Biblical lifestyle, it will be difficult for the school to cooperate with the home and achieve the goal of a student becoming Christ-like. In such cases, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student.

So, while Dr. Jacobson claims that Kayla wasn’t kicked out over posing with the rainbow themed cake, I have a feeling that the rainbow themed cake, along with some of Kayla’s other “missteps” from the straight and narrow (ie; dressing like a “tomboy” and being “athletic”, as her mom puts it), made her appear to be less suitable for the strict Christian school, which claims to want to mold its students in the image of “Christ”, but in policy, seems rather un-Christlike to me. After all, Christ was all about being kind, forgiving, and inclusive, wasn’t He? But… as Whitefield Academy is a private school, I suppose they do have the right to make and enforce rules as they deem fit.

My comments about Kayla being “unsuitable”, by the way, isn’t a slam on her. I, myself, would be highly “unsuitable” as a student at that school. I like beer and I cuss like a sailor… and I support people loving whomever they choose to love, as long as the relationship is consensual and legal. I also highly object to this policy on page 17 in Whitefield’s handbook:

Fine Arts Works

All original student work, whether graphic, written or performed, is considered the property of Whitefield Academy. The school reserves the rights to print and reproduce copies of the student work for sale and display in an effort to continue to fund the training of students in a performing fine arts area. This policy also protects the amateur status of the serious fine arts student until such a time as he/she is ready to assume the responsibilities of a professional artist.

All original work produced by the student within the school and under the instruction of a Whitefield Academy instructor will be returned to the student at the end of the school year. The student is not permitted to sell any original work or copy of original work while holding the status of student at Whitefield Academy. The sale of original work or copies of an original work by a student may result in his removal from the Fine Arts Department or even dismissal from school.

Once a student has graduated, transferred or otherwise left Whitefield Academy, he will be granted by Whitefield Academy non-exclusive rights to any work done while at Whitefield Academy. These rights are non-exclusive: Whitefield Academy will maintain the right to reproduce from a copy any student work for resale or display while allowing the student to do the same from the original.

I think artists, performers, and writers get shafted enough as it is when it comes to ownership of their works. Whitefield Academy should not, in my view, lay claim to work done by a student. Just my opinion, though… and it would not top the list of reasons why I would never let my hypothetical child go there or to a similar school. However, I guess I do still support the all American right of freedom of choice.

Ms. Alford claims that her appeal to get Kayla back into her private Christian school was immediately denied. Kayla is now enrolled in a public school, which I think will be a better environment for her. Although Kayla’s older sister is a Whitefield Academy graduate, Kayla seems a bit too free-spirited and open-minded for such an intolerant environment. I hope that Ms. Alford gives some more thought about her decision to send her children to a school that espouses such “judgmental” policies. She apparently didn’t have a problem with those policies before her daughter was tripped up by one. I would encourage her to consider whether or not conservative Christians are really all that “Christlike” after all. Maybe public school is where God thinks Kayla should be… where she can be around people who are truly forgiven for their mistakes.

Lots of fine people would not fit in at Whitefield Academy. It seems to be a special kind of place for a special kind of people who happen to fit the conservative “Baptist” Christian norm. Plenty of wonderful people can’t do that even on their “best” day… and frankly, in my view, that’s often to their credit. Who wants to hang around a bunch of legalistic uniformed Bible thumpers, anyway? Why pay for that experience? I wish Kayla much success and happiness in her new school.

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true crime

You just never know…

A friend of mine just shared this Facebook post with me.

I don’t know this woman at all, but after I read her post about the terrible car accident she was in, I took a look at her Facebook page. It appears that she has a wonderful life with loving family members and many friends. Like me, she was recently in Scotland. It looks like she enjoyed a bucket list vacation last month, which also included a stop in Brussels, Belgium, another one of my favorite places. I can see that she has a lot of good people around her, and some of them were also having fun with Sharp in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. On September 29, 2019, Pat Sharp was riding in the third back seat of a car in Frankfort, Kentucky when she was in a horrific car accident.

Jerry Elder, of Flint, Michigan barreled down Interstate 64 at about 70 miles per hour in his fully loaded 18 wheeler semi. He had his cruise control set, but his attention was fixed on the cellphone mounted on his dashboard. He was watching a video on YouTube while driving through a construction zone. Consequently, Elder was distracted, and didn’t notice that traffic had slowed down. Instead of braking to avoid causing an accident, he collided with a Jeep Liberty, killing its driver, 61 year old Jeffrey Curtis. The truck then hit two more vehicles and a Ford Explorer. Elder and Trina Summers, the driver of the Explorer, were taken to a hospital with non life threatening injuries. I’m guessing Pat Sharp was also in the Explorer, along with four other people.

When Elder was released from the hospital, he was initially charged with manslaughter and taken to the Franklin County Regional Jail. Looking at Elder’s details on the jail’s Web site, I see that he’s now been charged with murder, assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and two counts of wanton endangerment. His bond is set at $500,000, and he has already pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. I wonder what in the world was so important on YouTube that Elder had to endanger so many innocent people’s lives that day. Curiously, he was also not wearing corrective lenses required by his commercial drivers’ license and medical card. What the hell was he thinking?

Pat Sharp is now looking for the nurse who stayed in the back seat with her while she waited to be rescued. She says the nurse comforted her and helped her stay alert and breathing while the paramedics worked on freeing her and everyone else in the car. I can’t help Sharp with her quest, except to write this post about her accident. Maybe someone reading my blog knows the nurse who helped her on the day that changed her life, probably forever. She spent a week in the hospital in Frankfort after the wreck, and will no doubt now have big medical bills to pay, as well as legal issues to attend to, since I’m sure she will be a witness when Elder goes on trial.

Reading about this accident makes me realize that, once again, you just never know when something horrible is going to happen. I woke up a little while ago, thinking about how mundane my life is most days. I don’t really have to worry about much, which causes me to sweat the small stuff or things that I can’t control. But I think about people who find themselves in suddenly horrific situations like Pat Sharp was in last month. Things can change in the blink of an eye, and all it takes is someone who would rather watch YouTube while driving than pay attention to the road.

I have no idea what kind of a person Jerry Elder is. I see from his booking photo that he doesn’t appear to be a country club type. I’m sure he has friends and family, though. Most people have someone in their lives who care about them, and I’m sure that’s true for Jerry Elder, too. He probably didn’t even consider that he could wind up killing someone that day and land in jail on murder charges. Most of the people involved in the wreck didn’t know each other, and yet fate brought them together in the form of a tragic, deadly accident.

Jeffrey “Jeffro” Curtis was a man with a green thumb who inspired loving memories from friends, and a request for donations to the Kentuckiana Blues Society. I wonder if he was listening to the blues when Elder’s semi rammed into the back of his jeep. I see he had a fiancee, friends, and family members, and all of them are now left to mourn his death.

I’ve been on Interstate 64 myself many, many times. It runs through Virginia and is the Interstate closest to Gloucester, Virginia, which is where I grew up. I’ve never been in a bad car accident myself, but I know a lot of people who have. It just goes to show you that life is short and precious, and people have no business using cell phones while driving.

I’ve already said a prayer for everyone involved in this wreck, including Jerry Elder. It sounds like he was careless and negligent, which unfortunately led to someone losing his life. It goes to show that actions have consequences, and even the most minor choices can irreparably affect other people in devastating ways. God be with Pat Sharp, and everyone else who was involved in the deadly accident. I’m going to try to be more careful myself, having read about this. You just never know when your life will change… or end.

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