The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Monday that cases of Candida auris, or C. auris — a potentially deadly and drug-resistant fungal infection — are on the rise at U.S. health care facilities.
New CDC data published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine showed that the number of infections has grown since it was first detected in the U.S. in 2013. The rate has increased rapidly in recent years, however.
There were 756 reported cases in 2020 and 1,471 reported cases in 2021 — a 95% increase. According to preliminary CDC data, from January to December 2022, the U.S. reported 2,377 cases and 5,754 screening cases.
C. auris infections often cause no symptoms among healthy people, but can lead to serious complications among individuals with weakened immune systems, especially those who are hospitalized or in nursing homes. The complications can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones and other parts of the body, according to the CDC.
About one third of patients who have “invasive” infections die. Given the difficulty treating the condition, C. auris is considered one the worst fungal threats public health officials face, according to World Health Organization rankings.
In the meantime, experts say methods of diagnosing C. auris infections as well as methods of preventing its spread among patients have improved dramatically.
High turnover and the hiring of so-called traveling nurses at Jacobi Medical Center is likely costing the city tens of millions of dollars a year in additional costs, according to sources inside the New York State Nurses Union, which represents staff at the hospital.
Their claim is based on internal hospital staffing data that shows from between November 2022 to January 2023, Jacobi employed a total of 146 so-called traveling or “agency” nurses, who aren’t technically permanent members of the hospital staff.
The agency nurses can earn substantially more in annual salary than regular staff nurses, according to Kristle Simms-Murphy, who’s worked as a nurse practitioner at Jacobi for 16 years.
“It’s a slap in the face,” she said. “We train these agency nurses, and they come on and make more than what we earn.”
The data, which NYSNA shared with the Daily News amid contract negotiations with the city’s public Health + Hospitals network, also suggests the city is spending millions more on traveling nurses than it would on staff nurses at its other public hospitals. When applied to the city’s 10 other hospitals, that spending could translate into hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs.
“A conservative estimate is that the city is spending $18.5 million to $24.2 million per year on traveler/agency nurses just for Jacobi Hospital,” NYSNA spokeswoman Kristi Barnes told The News.
Barnes, who cited fragmented city data as well as data published in a hospital trade publication last year, noted that Health + Hospitals has not yet given NYSNA a full and official accounting of how much it spends on traveling nurses, but said that on average they make two to three times more than nurses who are on staff permanently.
She noted that the union’s estimates are based on all the data currently available to it and said they are “conservative.”
The city’s Health + Hospitals network is now engaged in on-again, off-again contract negotiations with NYSNA. The union presented a full proposal to H+H on March 7, and in a subsequent negotiation, on March 14, the city broke off talks halfway through the day, Barnes said. The next negotiation is set for April 4.
The main bones of contention with H+H are likely to be pay parity between nurses at public hospitals compared to their private counterparts, as well as nurse staffing levels, which the union contends are too low.
An H+H spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions.
“Nurses stand on the frontlines of our health care system, and we all were witness to their heroic actions during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are incredibly grateful for the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice our highly-skilled nurses make every day and we welcome new opportunities to strengthen our partnership with NYSNA and the nurses who are so essential,” said Kate Smart, a spokeswoman for Mayor Adams.
“The city meets regularly with NYSNA and has multiple calendared meetings on the books in the coming weeks as we work toward finalizing a new contract.”
Staff nurses at public hospitals are leaving at an alarming rate as well, according to Simms-Murphy and Barnes — thanks to the higher pay they can take home from private hospitals in the city.
“Health + Hospitals is paying for that training but losing their investment,” said Simms-Murphy. “We’re not able to retain nurses.”
Citing internal hospital data, she said that last year about 250 nurses resigned from Jacobi, and that of those only about 70 were people who retired. Many of the others who left did so because they could demand a better salary elsewhere, she said.
“They tell me they can’t afford to work here,” Simms-Murphy said. “It means that continuing care is lacking. It means that staff doesn’t know our patients. They don’t know the ins and outs of the hospital.”
At least two people were killed in avalanches in Colorado over the weekend, bringing the death toll during the current season to nine.
The deaths occurred in two separate incidents.
According to the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office, a 36-year-old man was killed after he was buried by more than four feet of snow in Rapid Creek on Friday evening. His body was recovered on Saturday. He was later identified as Joel Thomas Shute.
Two others were injured in the avalanche and needed medical treatment.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said another person was killed on Sunday afternoon in a “large avalanche” near a ski resort in Aspen. Two others were trapped by the avalanche but were able to free themselves, though one needed to be airlifted back down the mountain.
The three were reportedly just outside the Aspen Highlands Ski Resort’s ski boundary.
Another seven people were involved in other avalanches over the weekend. Two occurred at Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday and Sunday and one on Red Mountain Pass in southwestern Colorado that caught two different groups. No injuries were reported in any of those avalanches.
The weekend’s deaths added to the 2022-23 season’s avalanche-related deaths, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
An average of 21 people per year have died in avalanche-related deaths over the last 10 winters, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The American West has been inundated with storms recently, raising the risk of avalanches. Similarly, lower altitude areas have seen increased floods, including a slot canyon flood in Utah that killed two.
“We do not believe the suspected shooter ever entered the school,” police said in a Twitter announcement. “School was not in session and not all students had arrived on campus when this incident occurred.”
The school went into lockdown after the shooting. Both victims were receiving medical care. An update on their conditions was not immediately available, Arlington Independent School District spokeswoman Anita Foster said.
The identifies of the victims and suspect have not been released, nor has a motive. Administrators plan to release students for the day once the lockdown is lifted. Officials urged parents to avoid the campus.
“The scene is secure,” police said in an update shortly before 9 a.m. local time. “But per protocols, officers must clear the entire building, which could take time.”
Lamar High School students had been scheduled to return to classes Monday after going on spring break last week.
Arlington is about 15 miles east of Fort Worth and 25 miles west of Dallas.
Religious leaders in Hamburg urged people not to give up on peace at a memorial service Sunday for the six Jehovah’s Witnesses killed in last week’s mass shooting by a former member.
Catholic and Protestant churches organized the service, along with the Association of Christian Churches. Jehovah’s Witnesses did not attend because it is against their beliefs to participate in interfaith worship services, according to the religion’s website.
In a letter, the Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledged the sympathy of fellow residents of the northern German city, according to Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
They plan to hold a memorial service of their own next week, in line with their beliefs, DW reported.
Sunday’s service was attended by local politicians as well as clergy.
“The more insurmountable the difficulties and the bleaker the prospects for security and peace seem, the more insistent our prayers must be and the more we must stand together in this city,” Catholic Archbishop Stefan Hesse was quoted as saying by DW.
Speakers including Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher paid tribute to the first responders and emergency chaplains who had rushed to the scene.
“For me, God was present — in you, dressing wounds, recovering the dead, hugging the frightened, reassuring neighbors,” Protestant Bishop Kirsten Fehrs said.
The shooting took place March 9 at a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall house of worship at about 9 p.m. local time. Seven people were killed, including the suspect and a pregnant woman’s unborn baby. Eight others were injured.
The suspect, identified by German authorities only as Philipp F., killed himself after the shooting. He had been a Jehovah’s Witness until leaving the religious group two years earlier.
Indiana authorities are frantically seeking a 14-year-old boy who may be “in extreme danger” since he went missing Thursday.
The search for Scottie Dean Morris is centered around the small town of Eaton, located 76 miles from Indianapolis. It’s where he lives with his family and where he was last seen.
The missing persons report was issued Thursday for the 5-foot-4, 150-pound teen, and over the weekend more than 100 volunteers were assisting in the search. There were also two boats scouring the river, two infrared drones scouting the skies and two bloodhound teams covering the ground, the Eaton Police Department said Friday.
The brown-haired, blue-eyed youth was “last seen wearing black shoes, red and black shorts and a white T-shirt with writing on the front,” the police said in a Silver Alert issued Friday,. “He is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance.”
Search parties were suspended on Sunday because Indiana State Police helicopters were training infrared cameras on the search areas, police said.
“Scottie, please know we really do want to find you safe and help you anyway we can! if you read this, please contact us!” local cops stated on Facebook.