Convalescing in the Era of COVID-19

by Carley Fisher, WFU JD Candidate ’21

COVID-19 reached U.S. shores sometime early this year; the first laboratory confirmed test was discovered on January 20, 2020 and reported to the CDC two days later.  To date, the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has risen to over 8 million, with over 200,000 lives tragically lost.

The end of the disease is not yet in sight, and while countries have remained innovative in their approach to caretaking, an early concern still exists: will patients be able to obtain hospital access? This question is as important to non-COVID-19 related patients as it is to COVID-19 patients, and the issue becomes especially acute in the face of a pandemic surge.

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The Disproportionate Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black Americans

by Madison Woschkolup, WFU JD Candidate ’21

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the United States is immense, but this impact has been disproportionately felt by Black communities. In thirty-three states and the District of Columbia, Black people comprise a higher proportion of COVID-19 cases relative to the percentage of the state’s population they make up.[1] In Maine, for example, Black people account for 21% of the state’s total COVID cases, even though only 1% of the state’s total population is Black.[2] In comparison, in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of each state’s total COVID cases attributable to white people remains well below the relative percentage of white people in the state. This state-by-state trend extends nationally as well. As of June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 21.8% of COVID-19 cases in the United States were Black individuals, despite the fact that this group only represents 13% of the total population.

It is widely recognized that health outcomes of communities of color are objectively worse than those of white communities.[3] In addition to experiencing an increased risk of contracting the virus, Black Americans are also experiencing the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide, more than double the mortality rate of their white counterparts.[4] As of August, 1 in 1,125 Black Americans has died from COVID-19, or 88.4 deaths per 100,000.[5] For perspective, the mortality rate for white Americans was 40.4 deaths per 100,000.[6] This gap only increases when the data are adjusted for age differences within the race groups.[7]

Continue reading “The Disproportionate Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black Americans”

Homelessness and COVID-19

by Nathalie Freeman, WFU JD/MA in Bioethics Candidate ’21

This year over half a million people in the United States are experiencing homelessness.  Between 25% and 50% of these homeless people work, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these individuals are serving as low-wage essential workers.  Even without considering the current pandemic, individuals who consistently stay in homeless shelters, or live on the streets, have a lower life expectancy, higher rates of addiction, and more underlying health conditions.  With COVID-19 sweeping the country, homeless people are more vulnerable to the virus than housed individuals due to cramped conditions in homeless shelters, lack of access to basic sanitation materials, pre-existing comorbidities, and a general lack of access to health care.  Additionally, a large portion of the homeless population is elderly and already suffering from pre-existing conditions, like chronic heart or lung disease, which make them more likely to succumb to the coronavirus. 

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The Human Thrift Store: An Introduction Into Organ Procurement and Donation

By John Talbot, WFU JD/MA in Bioethics Candidate ’21

History

The first successful organ transplant occurred in 1954, when one twenty-three-year-old male donated his kidney to his identical twin brother.[1]  Since this first successful transplant, advances in science have allowed more widespread access to transplants, a greater variety of organs capable of transplantation,  and better longevity and transport of the organs.[2]  Following the exponential growth in organ transplant capabilities since the 1950s, there was a clear need for a national regulatory structure to govern the procurement and distribution of all donated organs.  In an attempt to address this issue, transplant professionals created the Southeast Organ Procurement Foundation in 1968, which subsequently developed into a fairly crude computer-based network in 1977 for sharing matching information.[3]  Understanding the need for a more uniform matching system that could be used across the nation, Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act in 1984.[4]  This Act created the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) which was required to be operated by a non-profit under a federal contract.[5] The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) was initially offered the contract in 1986, and continues to administer the OPTN to this day.[6]

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Cybersecurity Concerns Impacting Telemedicine During The COVID-19 Pandemic

By Nnaemeka Obiagwu, 2021 J.D. Candidate

With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, telemedicine has been brought to the limelight because it provides an opportunity for patients to have access to quality care remotely, particularly patients that need to be quarantined as a result of the outbreak. Given that data breaches are a critical issue for the health care industry and with telemedicine being offered online, it is understandable why patients are uncomfortable with sharing personal information with their providers. Last year, the healthcare sector saw a whopping 41.4 million patient records breached fueled by a 49 percent increase in hacking, and in the first half of 2020, 41 healthcare providers reported falling victim to ransomware.

Continue reading “Cybersecurity Concerns Impacting Telemedicine During The COVID-19 Pandemic”

The Disproportionate Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black Americans

By Madison Woschkolup

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the United States is immense, but this impact has been disproportionately felt by Black communities. In thirty-three states and the District of Columbia, Black people comprise a higher proportion of COVID-19 cases relative to the percentage of the state’s population they make up. In addition to experiencing an increased risk of contracting the virus, Black Americans are also experiencing the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide, more than double the mortality rate of their white counterparts. As of August, 1 in 1,125 Black Americans has died from COVID-19, or 88.4 deaths per 100,000. For perspective, the mortality rate for white Americans was 40.4 deaths per 100,000. The pandemic has exposed, and exacerbated long-standing inequalities present in the United States.

Continue reading “The Disproportionate Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black Americans”

The Evergreen Forests of Insulin Patents

By: Connor Christensen

The prices of insulin have risen to unconscionable levels in just a little over two decades. What used to be a relatively minor expense for Americans with diabetes  has, for some, become an insurmountable obstacle to living a normal life, or, in some cases living at all. The purpose of this brief commentary is to address just one of the many issues attributed to the stark increase in insulin prices: patent evergreening.

People with Type I and Type II diabetes constantly depend on insulin injections to supplement their insufficient natural production of the blood-sugar regulating hormone in their pancreas.[1]  Without this hormone, a diabetic person’s life expectancy is short and riddled with many serious health complications.[2]  For many decades insulin was readily accessible and affordable for those who needed it.  Recently, however, things have changed.

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Sequence

Sequence

By

John Allen Riggins*

*The playwright has included a series of Director’s Notes throughout that are designed to aid the directors’ and actors’ insight into the science and symbolism of Sequence.

SCENE 1

THREE COUPLES, ALL OF SIMILAR AGE, ARE DOWNSTAGE LEFT, CENTER, AND RIGHT IN COMPLETE DARKNESS. A SPOTLIGHT FADES IN AND ILLUMINATES THE COUPLE STAGE LEFT. BOTH ARE LYING ON THE GROUND, AND SHE HAS HER HEAD ON HIS CHEST WHILE HOLDING AN ULTRASOUND.

THATCHER:

(RUBBING WIFE’S STOMACH) Poor thing, he got your forehead.

ADELAIDE:

And your grainy eyes! He’ll pull them off well enough though. Imagine what they’ll see, Thatch.

THE SPOTLIGHT DISAPPEARS FROM THEM AND RISES ON THE COUPLE DOWNSTAGE CENTER. THEY ARE SEATED IN CHAIRS ACROSS FROM A DOCTOR WHO HAS A PICTURE OF EDWARDS SYNDROME. THE HUSBAND HAS HIS ARM AROUND HIS WIFE AND BOTH ARE CRYING.

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What Do You See?

What Do You See?

By: Emily Burke, JD ’18, Wake Forest University

The cold surface pricked my fingers as I stretched my palms flat against the motorized table beneath me. The coolness sent a chill up my spine, stretching up from the very tips of my toes. It was when the chill spread a dull numbness in my ears that I realized how naked, how vulnerable, and how exposed I was.

I was wearing a hospital gown, laying inside a tunnel beneath a thin, white bedsheet. Away from his gaze. And yet, just as I felt the narrow x-ray beams dance across the sheet, I felt his eyes on me. As the beams skipped across my skin, my heart began to race. I closed my eyes. My brow furrowed as my fingertips pushed    into the table. I was trying to escape the whiteness, the brightness of the tunnel. Just as I lifted my fingers, the blood rushed and pulsed its way back into my fingertips. I swallowed and realized my jaw was clenched. I knew I couldn’t move my hands, or any part of my body, for that matter. I desperately wanted to massage my jaw, my furrowed brow, my pulsing fingers. Instead, all I could do was lay there. Silently.

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What Blinds One Might Blind Another

By: Mary Kate Gladstone, JD Candidate at Wake Forest University School of Law

The Researcher

I still remember the very first day I walked through the doors here.  It was much like the first time you do anything, really. There were nerves and excitement and the ever-sobering realization that I would never be able to do that very thing for the very first time ever again. The research center was situated on the outskirts of the city, lifted up on a small hill where it bounced the early morning sunbeams off of its metallic surface and into the eyes of passersby like myself. The first day I drove up to the center, I had to throw my hand up to my eyes to protect from the building’s blinding reflection. Continue reading “What Blinds One Might Blind Another”