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An Urban Hospital on the Brink Vs. the Officials Sworn to Save It

Illinois and Chicago officials are trying to figure out how to stop a private company from closing a money-losing urban hospital in a poor, underserved Chicago neighborhood. Trinity Health, a national Catholic tax-exempt chain, wants to close Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on Chicago’s Near South Side by May 31. Last month, in an unusual […]

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Children’s Hospitals Are Partly to Blame as Superbugs Increasingly Attack Kids

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A memory haunts Christina Fuhrman: the image of her toddler Pearl lying pale and listless in a hospital bed, tethered to an IV to keep her hydrated as she struggled against a superbug infection. “She survived by the grace of God,” Fuhrman said of the illness that struck her oldest child in […]

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As the Terror of COVID Struck, Health Care Workers Struggled to Survive. Thousands Lost the Fight.

Workers at Garfield Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles were on edge as the pandemic ramped up in March and April. Staffers in a 30-patient unit were rationing a single tub of sanitizing wipes all day. A May memo from the CEO said N95 masks could be cleaned up to 20 times before replacement. Patients […]

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No More ICU Beds at the Main Public Hospital in the Nation’s Largest County

She lay behind a glass barrier, heavily sedated, kept alive by a machine that blew oxygen into her lungs through a tube taped to her mouth and lodged at the back of her throat. She had deteriorated rapidly since arriving a short time earlier. “Her respiratory system is failing, and her cardiovascular system is failing,” […]

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What Happened When the Only ER Doctor in a Rural Town Got COVID

Kurt Papenfus, a doctor in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, started to feel sick around Halloween. He developed a scary cough, intestinal symptoms and a headache. In the midst of a pandemic, the news that he had COVID-19 wasn’t surprising, but Papenfus’ illness would have repercussions far beyond his own health. Papenfus is the lone full-time emergency […]

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As Hospitals Fill With COVID Patients, Medical Reinforcements Are Hard to Find

This story is from a reporting partnership that includes WPLN, NPR and KHN. This story can be republished for free (details). Hospitals in much of the country are trying to cope with unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients. As of Monday, 96,039 were hospitalized, an alarming record that far exceeds the two previous peaks in April and July of just […]

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OSHA Let Employers Decide Whether to Report Health Care Worker Deaths. Many Didn’t.

As Walter Veal cared for residents at the Ludeman Developmental Center in suburban Chicago, he saw the potential future of his grandson, who has autism. So he took it on himself not just to bathe and feed the residents, which was part of the job, but also to cut their hair, run to the store […]

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Rural Areas Send Their Sickest Patients to Cities, Straining Hospitals

This story is part of a partnership that includes KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News. This story can be republished for free (details). Registered nurse Pascaline Muhindura has spent the past eight months treating COVID patients at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. But when she returns home to her small town of Spring Hill, Kansas, she’s often […]

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For Nurses Feeling the Strain of the Pandemic, Virus Resurgence Is ‘Paralyzing’

For Christina Nester, the pandemic lull in Massachusetts lasted about three months through summer into early fall. In late June, St. Vincent Hospital had resumed elective surgeries, and the unit the 48-year-old nurse works on switched back from taking care of only COVID-19 patients to its pre-pandemic roster of patients recovering from gallbladder operations, mastectomies […]

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‘No Mercy’ Chapter 7: After a Rural Town Loses Hospital, Is a Health Clinic Enough?

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Family physician Maxwell Self is doing his same old job for a new employer. For two decades he was a doctor with Mercy Hospital. But when Mercy packed up and left, a federally qualified health center moved to town — into the hospital building itself — and […]