‘Death is imminent’ for Michigan woman who opposed COVID-19 vaccination and regretted decision

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MLive.com 10 September, 2021 - 02:04pm 37 views

Nicole Linder, of St. Francis Hospital in Michigan, delivers powerful remarks about COVID vaccine

Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV 10 September, 2021 - 06:00pm

Amazon to spend $1.2 billion for employees to attend college

WNEM TV5 10 September, 2021 - 07:28am

In a news release, the e-commerce giant said it will cover the cost of college tuition, fees and textbooks for its hourly employees as part of a $1.2 billion investment by 2025 in the company’s Career Choice program. The program will begin in January 2022, NBC News reported.

The program will be open to hourly employees in Amazon’s operations network after 90 days of employment, the company said in its release. That includes workers in warehouses and distribution centers.

Amazon also said it will cover the cost of high school diploma programs, GEDs and English as a second-language certification for employees.

Amazon says it will offer to pay 100% of college tuition for its 750,000 US hourly employees. https://t.co/rNhuAPMJLQ

“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the U.S., and we know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country,” Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, said in a statement. “We launched Career Choice almost 10 years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education -- time and money -- and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study.

”This new investment builds on years of experience supporting employees in growing their careers, including some unique initiatives like building more than 110 on-site classrooms for our employees in Amazon fulfillment centers across 37 states. Today, over 50,000 Amazon employees around the world have already participated in Career Choice and we’ve seen first-hand how it can transform their lives.”

Amazon said it will pay the tuition and fees in advance, rather than offering reimbursement after an employee completes a course, the company said. Employees said the employees will have access to annual funds for as long as they remain at Amazon. There is no limit to how many years an employee can benefit.

Amazon’s announcement comes after other major employees, such as Walmart and Target, extended similar offers to their employees, Forbes reported. In July, Walmart announced it will pay 100% of college tuition and book costs for employees of Walmart and Sam’s Club, NBC News reported. The following month, Target unveiled a program that covered the cost of associate and undergraduate degrees at selected schools.

Michigan hospital staffing shortage nears crisis point as COVID-19 patients rise

Detroit Free Press 09 September, 2021 - 11:56am

COVID-19 hospitalizations have now reached about 1,400 statewide — just under one-third as high as they were during Michigan's biggest coronavirus surge in the spring — and hospitals are approaching capacity now, he said.

"It's also this pent-up demand," Peters said. "The people who should have come into a health care setting ... at a much earlier point to address a health care issue and instead they delayed seeking treatment ... and now they have a very serious situation that demands more care.

"That's the reality on the ground right now. We are very concerned about that getting worse." 

Dr. Geneva Tatem, the associate division head of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Henry Ford Health System, urged all eligible Michiganders to take coronavirus vaccines to reduce the strain on the health care system and help end the pandemic.

"If we don't, the threat of a fourth surge is very real," Tatem said. "The strain that we are all under, we are all very concerned may be a tipping point for all of our health systems around the state."

With flu season approaching, the confluence of influenza and coronavirus could be too much, Tatem said.

"We don't want that to happen," she said. "We all know that the stakes are too high for that and we can end this pandemic once and for all through vaccination."

The state added 2,364 newly confirmed cases Wednesday — the highest single-day case total since May. That represents a more than 2,000% increase from the seven-day average low of 110 cases per day reported on June 28.  

Health care systems may not be able to continue to handle the ongoing stress from patients who could have avoided severe illness and death by getting vaccinated, said Dr. Nicole Linder, chief hospitalist at OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group in Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula. 

"I was really relieved and really hopeful when there was a highly effective vaccine developed much more rapidly than I could have dreamed," said Linder, whose hospital has 25 beds but no intensive care unit. "There was a feeling that we were getting to the finish line and we just had to hold on till the vaccine was available and then everyone would be vaccinated and this whole thing would be over. And, unfortunately, we now know that's not the case.

"We're currently at our hospital experiencing a significant wave of COVID ... and are seeing many of the same systemic problems again."

She told the story of a woman with COVID-19 named Kathy who has been hospitalized for three weeks and was being sent home Thursday with hospice care because there's no way to save her. Kathy had refused the vaccine. 

"It was too late for her," Linder said. "And despite everything that could possibly be done for her, she's going to lose her battle and lose her life. And she's quite vivacious and gregarious and just a wonderful person, and this did not have to happen, and her family didn't have to lose her. So I'm fatigued and I'm heartsick, and I'm tired of watching people suffer needlessly and die of a disease that could have been prevented by a simple and safe and effective vaccine."

"It's not just one sector of our workforce, either," he said, saying it affects nurses along with food services workers, housekeeping staff and all the other employees who keep a hospital functioning. 

Among those requiring vaccines as a condition of employment are Henry Ford, Michigan Medicine, Beaumont Health, Trinity Health, Spectrum Health, OSF HealthCare, Ascension Health, and Bronson Healthcare, along with Veterans Health Administration facilities.

"We hope that we'll be able to retain our staff, and will not have to have to see any of ... our team members depart. With that said, we also have been able to kind of come up with mitigation plans going forward in case we have the unfortunate situation of losing some of our staff."

As of Thursday, 91% of the health system's staff had been fully vaccinated and 3% of workers had gotten one dose in a two-dose series, said spokesman David Olejarz. 

"An employee who has not received at least one dose of a vaccine by Friday, Sept. 10, or does not have an approved exemption, will face suspension," Olejarz said in an email to the Free Press. "The suspension will be in effect until Friday, Oct. 1. During these three weeks, the team member can get vaccinated. Once they receive one dose of vaccine, they may return to work.

About 50 employees have sued Henry Ford in U.S. District Court in Detroit, hoping to stop the vaccine mandate. A hearing in the case is set for 3 p.m. Friday.

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