In the news

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Hospitals innovate amid dire nursing shortages

By Patrick Boyle  At Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, doctors have been stepping up for duties normally done by nurses and medical assistants, such as turning and bathing patients. At UAMS Medical Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, administrators have been recruiting new nurses with signing bonuses of up to $25,000. And at UAB Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, nursing school faculty have been leading teams of students in turning critically ill COVID-19 patients from their backs onto their stomachs (knowns as proning) so they can breathe better. “I’ve never seen such teamwork. It’s been a mind-blowing experience,” says Summer Powers, DNP, CRNP, an assistant professor at UAB School of Nursing who helped to organize the faculty/student teams. Also never seen before are the staffing shortages that are plaguing hospitals in the latest COVID-19 hot spots, forcing them to offer eye-popping employment bonuses and draft everyone — from students to administrators to physicians — to fill in the gaps as best they can. While shortages abound across front-line jobs, nowhere is the need greater than in nursing, as hospitals hit by the current surge report unprecedented vacancies in nursing slots: 470 out of 3,800 positions at Parkland; 240 out of 1,400 at UAMS; and 760 out of 4,000 at UAB. COVID-19 has intensified some of those conditions. The first surges last year compelled many nurses and other health care workers to leave their jobs, but the vast majority battled through the exhaustion, despair, and fear out of a sense of duty and with faith that medical researchers would find ways to combat the disease. They just had to hang on until then. “When we were able to jump in with vaccinations in January [2021], there was a sense of great hope,” recalls Tricia Thomas, PhD, RN, associate dean for faculty affairs at Wayne State University College of Nursing in Detroit.  https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/hospitals-innovate-amid-dire-nursing-shortages 
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And a giant corporation will lead them: Why rely on business to help end the pandemic?

By Nancy Derringer  When the Detroit Regional Chamber convenes its Covid-delayed Mackinac Policy Conference later this month, it will require attendees to produce proof of vaccination to register. The usual suspects are balking, but the Chamber is standing firm. Its CEO, Sandy Baruah, had a kidney transplant in 2019, and is no doubt on anti-rejection drugs, i.e. immunosuppressants. He probably has a dim view of the trust-me-I-have-natural-immunity sermon preached by Covid survivors. Corporations like these – large, multinational, customer-facing – have advocated for a variety of social causes that some conservatives have dug in their heels on. Same-sex marriage and civil rights for LGBT individuals are only one example. Climate change and environmental impact are driving the auto industry in the direction of electric vehicles and renewable energy. Expect worker safety and security to be a higher priority, not only in company policy, but in their lobbying, too; tax-supported universal preschool isn’t just good for children, but for working parents. And good talent is hard enough to come by as it is. But Matthew Roling, an instructor at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, warns the rest of us not to get too complacent with these apparent good deeds. “Businesses never do things for altruistic reasons,” Roling said. “It just so happens that the intersection of customers and talent align themselves (with business’ bottom line). Because the moment those issues diverge, they won’t be there to save us.” 
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We don’t know how many kids are in the juvenile justice system

By Garlin Gilchrist, Sheryl Kubiak and Melanca Clark  Missing data is missing people. Absent complete and accurate data, policies to improve the lives of Michiganders may not reach those who are not counted. The issues with data access, consistency, integrity, and transparency span across issue areas, but of particular concern is the prevalence of these data problems in Michigan’s adult and youth criminal justice systems. A new report released Friday by Wayne State University, Overview of the Criminal Legal System in Michigan: Adults and Youth, illuminates the data challenges Michigan faces to improve public safety and community well-being. As noted in the report, Michigan’s data problems impact thousands of young people, adults, and families that touch the justice system. For example, the total number of young people in the youth justice system is unknown because of data limitations at the county and state levels. 
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Don’t take animal dewormer to treat COVID-19, warns Michigan poison, drug information center

By Danielle Salisbury  Farm stores are hanging safety alerts and health authorities are warning ivermectin, approved for use in humans with parasitic worms and also given to large animals, is not proven to treat or prevent COVID-19, despite some seemingly continually circulating information to the contrary. “It hasn’t been shown to be safe or effective for that specific indication,” said Dr. Varun Vohra, director of the Michigan Poison & Drug Information Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, which has been fielding some calls on the drug and issued a warning statement on Tuesday. Taking formulations intended for livestock, to prevent heartworm disease and certain internal and external parasites, is especially concerning. Horses and cows are much larger than average humans, he said. “So the dose is going to be consistent with that. They’re going to be a lot more concentrated. So, the threshold for toxicity can be a lot lower.” 
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Changing minds: What moves the needle for the unvaccinated?

By Karen Doheny  Not so long ago, Heather Simpson of Dallas was known as the anti-vaccine mom who dressed as "the measles" for Halloween. She painted red spots on her face and posted her photo on Facebook, joking: "Was trying to think of the least scary thing I could be for Halloween … so I became the measles." It went viral with the anti-vaccine crowd. But between that Halloween and today, a series of “aha” moments transformed Simpson's attitudes toward vaccines. In January 2021, one of those moments involved her daughter, now 4, who was scratched by a feral cat, raising concerns about tetanus. Her daughter had been bitten by a dog when she was just 1, and Simpson turned down advice then to get a tetanus shot. "I was convinced the tetanus shot would kill her faster than the tetanus." After the cat incident, the anxiety was so exhausting, she listened to the nurse practitioner at the clinic, whom she trusted. The nurse gently reassured Simpson that the shot was less risky than the possibility of tetanus -- but did not bombard her with statistics -- and that won over Simpson and triggered an overall rethinking of her vaccine stance. "People develop negative attitudes [about vaccines] by accessing alternative sources of information, anecdotes, and personal stories," says Matthew Seeger, PhD, dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and co-director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at Wayne State University in Detroit. 

Sleep debt hampers brain function up to a week later, study finds

We’ve all been there: whether it's pulling a late-night study session, nursing a newborn baby at 4 a.m., or working long hours to meet a deadline, a lot can come between you and your pillow. You may chalk up sleep debt as an inescapable part of life. But a growing body of sleep-medicine research is shedding light on just how much damage too little sleep can cause. New research suggests that recovery from sleep deprivation (many days of it, in particular) may not be so easy. The effects of sleep deprivation on the brain’s attention and cognitive processing abilities may linger as long as a week after we’ve returned to a regular sleep routine, warns a new study, published September 1 in the journal PLoS One. Ultimately, you should think twice before you pull another all-nighter. While you may feel refreshed after a subsequent good night’s rest, your body may still feel the effects of your late nights, says James Rowley, MD, a professor of critical care and sleep medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit. This research is more evidence that you can’t quickly make up for lost sleep if you’re chronically sleep deprived, he says. “In the long run, it’s better to avoid the sleep debt in the first place and try to get seven hours of sleep consistently seven nights per week.” 
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Pregnancy tests, VR goggles, pipes, 100-plus pounds of marijuana among purchases included in Michigan research grants

By Gus Burns  Pipes, virtual reality goggles, biometric tracking devices, iPads, auto insurance, lab vans, pregnancy tests and several dozen salaries are included in the budgets. Michigan voters in 2018 supported a marijuana legalization ballot proposal that included $40 million in funding over two years for U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical trials “researching the efficacy of marihuana in treating the medical conditions of United States armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide.” Marijuana advocates hope findings will scientifically justify to the FDA and other federal entities that marijuana has valuable medical use. Marijuana is currently labeled a schedule I drug by the DEA, which by definition deems it to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” That is not the perception shared by states, including Michigan, that have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Marijuana Regulatory Agency awarded Wayne State University (WSU) $7 million and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) $13 million to conduct their clinical trials that will take five and three years each, respectively. 
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CDC warns against the misuse of ivermectin to treat COVID-19

Overdosing on the drug ivermectin can be scary, with symptoms that can include everything from nausea and vomiting to hallucinations and even death. While ivermectin has been used to treat people with certain conditions, like head lice and rosacea, the FDA and the CDC have seen an uptick of reports of misuse and overdose. “If they’re using the veterinary formulations, you have to realize that these medications, or these formulations, specifically, are designed for animal use. And these are animals that are significantly larger than the average human if we’re talking about horses and cows,” said Dr. Varun Vohra with the Michigan Poison & Drug Information Center at Wayne State University.  
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Pandemic pivot: New supports for students who enter college lacking basic skills

The year before the pandemic, 23 percent of Michigan’s high school class of 2019 took at least one remedial course when they enrolled in a four-year university or community college. It’s too early to know the statewide remedial enrollment rate for the pandemic classes of 2020 and 2021, but some colleges in Southeast Michigan reported lower remedial enrollment during the pandemic. The enrollment rate for Wayne State University’s remedial math course dropped slightly from 7.7 percent of first-time students in the fall of 2019 to 7.2 percent in 2020. In addition to its remedial math course, Wayne State offers an introductory English course, which still counts for college credit; after changing its English placement process going into the 2020-21 academic year, the enrollment rate for introductory English dropped from 19.1 percent in 2019 to 11.9 percent. WSU has offered an alternative admissions program called Academic Pathways to Excellence (APEX) for students who show academic promise but do not meet the university’s standard admissions requirements. “It’s easy to think that we have two groups of students: those who need bridge programs and summer supports, and those who don’t need that at all,” said Monica Brockmeyer, senior associate provost for student success. “And I think we’re seeing the impact of the pandemic to be so pervasive that pretty much every student might benefit from a more intensive level of support or more granular supports that are specific to their academic needs.”  
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TechTown Toast of the Town goes virtual for second year in a row

TechTown will once again host its annual Toast of the Town virtually on Sept. 30. This year, Toast of the Town presented by Bank of America will broadcast live from two locations to showcase TechTown’s impact and reach, including Wayne State University’s Industry Innovation Center and the Detroit Southwest Ford Resource and Engagement Center. Online guests will learn more about how TechTown continues to move forward to a more inclusive economy, witness the live announcement of the TechTown Startup Fund grantees and celebrate the Wayne State Office of Economic Development’s tenth anniversary. “The team at TechTown has been busy reimagining our economy, and we’re looking forward to celebrating the creativity and ingenuity of our clients, alumni and the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem at Toast of the Town,” said TechTown President and CEO Ned Staebler. 
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Detroit Jazz Festival pivots to become a virtual event

The Detroit Jazz Festival, the world’s largest free jazz festival, is typically held outdoors in downtown Detroit on Labor Day weekend, but it has been forced at the last minute to become a virtual event again this year as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases. The four-day event will be streamed live from three soundstages at downtown’s Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center under COVID-19 protocols. “We’ve got a highly diverse roster of acts ranging from legends to serious up-and-comers, and a number of very special projects,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Festival Foundation, and a professor of music at Wayne State University. “And we’re excited about the format we’re working in. We’re so uniquely positioned to do a top-quality virtual festival because, first of all, our festival has been free admission for 42 years. Second, we’ve invested in the technology to do this right. The jazz festival team is doing a herculean effort here, and it’s not simple or cheap. This is a serious pivot…when people tune in, they’re getting extremely high-quality audio and video by leading Detroit professionals, and when you’re experiencing this jazz, you’re experiencing the spontaneity. You’re experiencing the moments at the same time they’re happening, live. It’s a true, live jazz experience.”   
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The week that was

Saeed Khan, senior lecturer in Near East and Asian studies at Wayne State University, joins a panel to discuss the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan, including the recent attack at Kabul international airport. “The intel had already been predicting this, the U.S. knew about it. The problem was that the U.S. really didn’t have that much rapport with the Taliban, which was in charge of security at Kabul airport. And when you don’t have that kind of credibility with the people who are running the show, it doesn’t make things easy. It’s also important to realize that if there is a group right now that is quite anxious about what happened, it is the Taliban. What this showed is that, despite the fact that they are now the de facto leaders of Afghanistan, they are a little bit inept at being able to provide security, which emboldened not only ISIS-K, but also the Afghan opposition.”  
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What’s working at Michigan colleges in remedial education

The pandemic has forced community colleges and universities to rethink their approach to remedial education, as they’re unable to rely on the usual in-person placement tests and students’ needs have changed in the new virtual learning environment. Innovations in approach have included changes in screening, academic supports, and more. Wayne State University experimented with self-guided selection for introductory English courses, summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen, and more to help adapt to changing student needs.  
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Free transportation available for Wayne State students and employees

Wayne State University students and employees will be able to take advantage of free transportation options throughout campus beginning Sept. 1, thanks to partnerships with  DDOT, SMART, the QLine and MoGo. The university will subsidize four-hour Dart and annual MoGo passes for all enrolled students, as well as full- and part-time employees, allowing them to ride DDOT and SMART buses, the QLine streetcar, and MoGo bikes at no cost. To participate, users will need to download the Dart app and enter an eligibility code, or sign up using their Wayne State email address on a customized MoGo webpage. By investing now, the university hopes to help ease pandemic-induced financial stress on students and employees. Navigating campus — including destinations in Midtown and downtown Detroit — involves the movement of approximately 30,000 students and employees, who are vying for one of 12,000 parking spaces scattered across eight structures and 26 surface lots on a daily basis. After arriving on campus, pedestrians rely on various modes of transportation including walking, scooters and cycling. To reach farther points, a number of other options are available.  
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President Wilson joins OU President Ora Hersch Pescovitz on Spotlight on the News to discuss the fall semester

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson discusses the start of the fall semester on campus, and the steps taken to keep campus safe, including a vaccine mandate and indoor mask requirement.  “We’ve prioritized health and safety in all of our decision making, so if it came to the point where the Delta variant was really overtaking us and it became dangerous on campus, we would not hesitate to go back to a virtual environment…I’m hoping that because of the vaccination mandate, we won’t get there,” said Wilson. 
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Michigan colleges hope raffles boost COVID-19 vaccinations in time for fall

At Wayne State University in Detroit, administrators announced the school’s second vaccination incentive program on July 22. It allows individuals with at least one dose to sign up until Sunday. During the first program in April, students that received at least their first dose of the vaccination received a $10 credit on their university payment card, OneCard. “There was nobody on campus (because) we were virtual learning at that point,” David Strauss, dean of students at Wayne State University, said. “To get (around) 2,700 students to sign up for the incentive program - we think that is a great success.” Enrollment for WSU was 26,251 students for the fall 2020 semester. The stakes in the second round got higher: Prizes for students range from $100 vouchers to a free semester of tuition. Faculty and staff can win prizes ranging from $25 Grubhub gift cards to one year of paid parking. The university will be mandating vaccines in the fall and is not sure if it will have an incentive program during fall. In a report from July 23, WSU found 84.3 percent of students and 91.5 percent of employees received their full dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.  
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Wayne State University granted $7M for cannabis research for veterans

By Jake Bekemeyer  The State of Michigan has awarded Wayne State University in Detroit a $7 million grant to investigate the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis to improve military veteran patients’ quality of life and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms that can precede suicide. The grant was awarded as part of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s 2021 Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Program. Leslie Lundahl, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the WSU School of Medicine, is the lead principal investigator on the five-year project — Wayne State Warriors Marijuana Clinical Research Program: Investigating the Impact of Cannabinoids on Veteran’s Behavioral Health. 
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Dave Massaron takes new job at Wayne State

The head of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget team is leaving state government to become the chief business officer and chief financial officer/senior vice president for finance and business operations and treasurer at Wayne State University. Although the announcement of his new role and departure comes before the governor and lawmakers have finalized a budget, he will stay with the administration through the end of the fiscal year in September. Before serving as State Budget Director, Massaron served as the city of Detroit’s chief financial officer. 
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Wayne State basketball to host Michigan in exhibition to open new arena

Wayne State will open its new basketball arena with a flourish. The Warriors will host Michigan in an exhibition in the inaugural game at the new arena on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. It’s a collaboration between Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel for a high-level opponent in the debut of the new arena for the Warriors, who play in Division II. "I truly appreciate the willingness of Coach (Juwan) Howard and Warde to provide this opportunity to open our arena with the state's premier Division 1 program," Fournier said in a statement.  "To me, it underscores their genuine support for the City of Detroit and our community.” Wayne State also has a partnership with the Pistons on the new arena, which also will house the Pistons’ G League franchise, the Motor City Cruise. The Cruise will begin their first season in the G League in the fall as well. In the past, Wayne State has played against Michigan in games at Crisler Center. This time, the Wolverines are returning the favor. "I want to personally thank Coach Howard and his staff for helping us open our new basketball arena," Wayne State coach David Greer said. "It certainly has been a long time coming (with the new arena) and the partnership with the Detroit Pistons made it happen. To have a Division I program in Michigan be a part of our celebration of opening our new arena will make it a big event for our young men since Michigan is a big part of Detroit basketball.”