With Their Own Homes in Inferno’s Path, Hospital ‘Heroes’ Focus on Patients

California WildfiresEven as the wildfires in California bore down on their own homes, staff at area hospitals remained on the job to help others in need. It’s a scenario we’ve reported on many times — hospital staff who step up in the face of calamity, natural or manmade. But the last few months seem to have brought an unprecedented number of such disasters, from hurricanes in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico to wildfires in the West to deadly heat in the Southwest and even in normally temperate Oregon and Washington. Twenty-five-year-old Cambria Reese, a nurse at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Memorial Hospital, is an example of the many health care workers tending to the victims of the state's infernos. She knew that her parents were living in an area threatened by the fast-moving flames. “It was chaotic at the hospital and stressful not knowing,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I cried a lot and kept working. … I was focusing on work and someone else’s health to get through.” Joshua Weil, an emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rose Medical Center, told the local NBC affiliate, “It would be really easy to imagine watching the flames, getting phone calls knowing your home was about to go up in smoke, that you would just run and try to attend to those needs. But the reality is that everybody was committed to our patients here. It’s very easy to say that everybody was a hero.”

Transforming Fitness in the ‘Native Way’

CanoeingTwo Native American women are organizing traditional activities like canoeing and lacrosse — known in their culture as Creator’s game — to combat the staggering rates of obesity and diabetes in their community, Allie Shah reports in the Minneapolis StarTribune. Ancestral activities inspire people to get up and get moving, and even to eat more healthfully, the women say. “It brings out people who would not normally come out for sports,” one said, as a group of women took a brisk walk around a local lake and another group of women raced canoes. “We know each other’s kids and each other’s families. It builds community, which is the foundation of health in many ways.”

Are We Entering the Post-human Era of Medicine?

Digital HumanBryan Vartabedian, M.D., director of community medicine at Texas Children's Hospital, The Woodlands, makes an intriguing assertion in Stat: The rise of artificial intelligence means doctors must redefine what they do. While some experts claim the medical profession “will eventually be outsourced to algorithms and other artificial tools of clinical reasoning,” Vartabedian believes it is “headed to an evolution, not extinction.” Among many other things, “as the human body becomes digitized and quantified, there will be an emerging role in shaping individual human information as knowledge and wisdom.” Vartabedian explores many implications of AI in health care, and I invite you to read his fascinating article. The bottom line? It’s time for doctors — and medical schools — to recognize that “physicians face a very different future.”