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Six tips for staying healthy in a world of germs

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Here are some tips on protecting your health in the workplace in spite of all the germs that may be lurking there.

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By Dr. Charles Crutchfield III MD

Dr. Crutchfield, it seems like everyone at work is sick. What can I do to protect myself from getting sick at work?

Here are some tips on protecting your health in the workplace in spite of all the germs that may be lurking there.

Tip 1: Wash your hands.
As you entered your office, you probably touched one of many common surfaces just teeming with germs. These common surfaces include elevator buttons, escalator railings, and door handles. Whenever possible after such contact, wash your hands for 15 seconds with warm, very soapy water.

I was at a professional sporting event this weekend and the men’s bathroom was extremely full. I counted 30+ people. I paid very close attention, and half the people did not wash their hands.

The ones who did attempt to wash their hands did so in such a poor manner that they really only wasted their time. Many just splashed or rapidly rinsed their hands under the water for less than five seconds. No soap. It was almost like a theatrical performance or a gesture of washing hands so as not to look bad in front of the other bathroom patrons. They did not engage in a significant, worthwhile, useful hand-washing event.

Remember, you should engage in at least 13-30 seconds of hand washing with warm, soapy water. True story: When I did wash my hands, I did it properly, and the man behind me commented, “Dude, you’re washing your hands like you’re a doctor!” Wow, did that bring a smile to my face.

Also, be sure to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy. Make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. It can be almost as effective as washing your hands with warm, soapy water.

When it comes to your desk, the area is mainly contaminated with your own germs, so they are unlikely to make you sick unless you brought germs in with you (as from doorknobs, elevator buttons) and did not clean your hands.

Also if you have other people who may work in your personal work area, like an IT person working on your computer, then you should clean your area. This is best done with commercially available disinfectant wipes. Keep these handy and use daily or whenever someone else works in your space or uses your computer.

Tip 2: Try not to touch your face.
This is much easier said than done, but with practice and concentration, you can minimize or decrease how much you touch your face. Studies have shown that most people touch their face 60-100 times per day, and some people even much more.
Your hands carry germs, and they can enter your body through your mouth, eyes and nose. Minimizing the number of times you touch your face will minimize how often you get sick.

Tip 3: Keep your distance.
Maintain a safe distance from your co-workers. You can’t control if your co-workers arrive sick, but you can control the distance between you. Most germs, including the flu virus, are unlikely to spread beyond three feet.
For good health, be sure to stay three feet away from co-workers, especially anyone who is sick. Wearing a mask may seem safe, but in most work environments it is not practical.

Tip 4: Sneeze into your elbow.
In the old days, we were taught that when sneezing we should do so into our hands to prevent propelling germs into an aerosolized cloud that could contaminate those around us. Unfortunately, our hands subsequently touch many surfaces like telephones, coffee pot handles, refrigerator door handles, doorknobs, vending machine buttons, etc.

Sneezing or coughing into our hands just allowed germs to spread differently, not to mention transmission by shaking hands. Coughs and sneezes should be done into one’s elbow or a tissue.

Tip 5: Get vaccinated.
Vaccination is one of the best things that you can do for your good health. It protects you and also those around you, including people who can’t get vaccinated, like infants or those with weakened immune systems.
Sure, there are all kinds of cold medicines that can make you feel better if you are sick, but the best strategy is to prevent getting sick in the first place. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables that will help boost your immune system — and get vaccinated.

Tip 6: If you are sick, stay home.
You will recover faster at home and not spread your illness to your co-workers. The rule of thumb is that if you have a fever, do not go to work. If you are ill but not feverish and can work, this is the one time to wear a mask and keep your distance from coworkers.

Remember, you can’t completely eliminate getting sick at work, but you can do many things to minimize your risk of getting sick that will protect both you and your coworkers.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Serving low-income women with cancer

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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Logo courtesy Organization's website

 In California, over 1.1 million women have been diagnosed with cancer. About one out of three, nearly 400,000, are low-income and cannot afford care. Over the past 30 years, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has been supplementing thousands of low-income women’s standard cancer care with complementary therapies that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Services are provided free of charge.

Studies show that integrative care, including acupuncture, herbs, massage, guided imagery, movement, and nutritional therapies, is vital for an improved quality of life and optimal recovery from cancer and its treatment.

Cancer survivor Claudia C. says, “When I came to CMC…my physical health and emotional well-being were seriously compromised. I was going down, isolated and lost. It felt as if I belonged to a different, less valuable subspecies, more like a human waste…. I find myself beyond words to express my gratitude for the extent that CMC has altered and enhanced the life of my family and me. Thank you, Charlotte Maxwell for making such a real, direct and profound difference in our lives.”

 When almost 4,200 normally scheduled in-person appointments were suspended during the pandemic, CMC continued to provide a virtual lifeline, serving women by offering over 400 group wellness sessions online to aid them in stress management, physical therapy and preventing isolation.

CMC’s Medical Director Dr. Mary Lynn Morales, DAIM, says, “We are looking forward to reopening our clinic in October, as well as building on the success of our online services. The restored in-clinic appointments will reflect COVID-19 prevention protocols and allow us to treat 250 current and new clients who are anxious to resume or start 1-on-1 services in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Cancer survivor Jessica Bates says, “I’ve come to understand it was the doctors who took the cancer out of my body and cured me, but it was all of the practitioners at Charlotte Maxwell Clinic that have helped me to heal.”

Integrating complementary therapies in the cancer treatment and recovery process has been shown to help reduce pain, heal the immune system, reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress and trauma, and build resiliency.

“Low-income women may not be aware of the range and benefits of holistic care as part of their cancer treatment, much less be able to afford it,” says Melbra Watts, CMC’s Executive Director. “They also deserve the opportunity to achieve the highest attainable health during their cancer journey.”

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, CWC is hosting “An Evening of Gratitude for CMC” virtual event from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

Donations are needed, appreciated and encouraged.  For ticket, donation and sponsorship information, contact Melbra Watts at (510) 601-7660 Ext 224, or mwatts@charlottemaxwell.org.

The awards show and fundraiser, is open to the public and will honor the organization’s co-founders, Sally Savitz, acupuncturist and homeopath, and Gabriella Heinsheimer, MD, former medical director of CMC. It will celebrate the contributions of long-time volunteers and partners. Heartfelt patient testimonials will also be shared.

The emcee for the event is Janice Edwards, award-winning TV talk show host and executive producer of “Janice Edwards’ TV: Bay Area Vista.”

Proceeds from this event will help rebuild and expand vital integrative care services, both in-clinic and via telehealth, to low-income women impacted by cancer and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Former High School Administrator Files Federal “Whistleblower” Lawsuit Against OUSD

Cleveland McKinney alleges he lost his job for complaining about “unsafe and discriminatory conditions” at McClymonds High

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Cleveland McKinney

Cleveland McKinney, a former assistant principal at McClymonds High School in West Oakland, has filed a lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District, alleging that he was demoted and terminated for exercising his freedom of speech to complain about “unsafe and discriminatory school conditions, including tainted water, disproportionate suspensions of Black children, staff assaulting students, misappropriation of funds (and) sexual harassment of female students.”

“I’m a whistleblower,” said McKinney in an interview with the Oakland Post. “They forced me out once I began to speak up about a lot of the injustices that were going on and how they mistreated the Black community (in West Oakland) in the same way.” 

Reached by the Post, the district said it does not comment on pending litigation. 

During the time he was facing threats of demotion and loss of his position, several hundred members of the McClymonds community attended a school board meeting to protest the retaliation against him.

McKinney’s complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in December 2020 by Sonya Z. Mehta of Oakland civil rights law firm Siegel, Yee, Brunner and Mehta. The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount of money including damages for lost wages, emotional distress and pain and suffering. 

Depositions began in the past few weeks for the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in August 2022. In addition to the district, the complaint names McKinney’s former bosses, OUSD Executive Director of High School Instruction Vanessa Sifuentes and former McClymonds Principal Jarod Scott as defendants.

Prior to facing retaliation and being terminated by OUSD, McKinney had a spotless record as a teacher and school administrator since about 1996, according to the lawsuit.

McKinney was originally hired by OUSD in 2014 to help implement a 2012 Office of Civil Rights complaint against the district for “discriminatory discipline, including unwarranted suspensions, against African American students.”

State statistics indicate that in 2020-2021 McClymonds had 357 students, of whom 78% were Black. 

In his position at OUSD, McKinney worked with the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education to help create new discipline policies and train teachers how to discipline students. 

“McClymonds appointed McKinney the on-site administrator with school-wide responsibility for discipline as per the requirements of the 2012 agreement,” according to the lawsuit. 

The relationship between McKinney and his bosses began to deteriorate by Aug. 22, 2016, when he reported that water in McClymonds locker room looked “dirty and orange.”

“(He) requested the water be tested because of his reasonable belief that the water was dangerous and injurious to students,” the lawsuit said.

McKinney and others, including former McClymonds basketball coach Ben Tapscott, pushed for the district to conduct testing of all parts of the school, while students and teachers still used the water.

Officials told school staff there was nothing wrong with the water. “They advised letting the water run for five minutes, even for the cooking water in the kitchen,” though the water was still dirty after letting it run, the complaint said. 

An official stated she would not spend $100,000 to fix corroded pipes and that filters would be sufficient, the complaint said.

McKinney also met regularly with his bosses about disproportionate discipline in violation of the 2012 Office of Civil Rights agreement.

“He complained about teachers who were suspending Black students for not having pencils, asking to use the bathroom, talking, or chewing gum – and teachers who needlessly berated Black students.”

He also complained about a staff member who hit students, including punching “a girl in the throat in a meeting with many witnesses.” The administration said there was no merit to the complaint. 

McKinney also complained about mismanagement of a $50,000 donation for student activities that was redirected to administrator salaries, a Spanish teacher who knew no Spanish, an extreme mice infestation and an afterschool program that falsely claimed it was providing services to students. 

He pushed administrators to refurbish the locker room. The school’s entire football team, which was African American, “had to strip down and change on the football field and leave their equipment on the field due to the abysmal condition of the locker room. Students were forced to strip in front of adults,” the complaint said. 

In February 2018, Executive Director Sifuentes told McKinney, “Why are you so concerned about helping these people and everyone? Why don’t you just go along with what we are doing? What do you gain from this?”

In July 2018, McKinney’s bosses at the school moved his office to a space in the basement that was “moldy with a stale stench, (and) the carpet was filthy,” the complaint said.

In that room, he immediately began coughing and wheezing from allergies and asthma. 

McKinney met with OUSD Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell in September 2018 and December 2018 about his complaints, but she took no action, according to the lawsuit.

In August 2019, McKinney was demoted, removing him from his certificated position as an assistant principal and reclassified to a classified position as a program manager. On March 17, 2020, he was told that he did not have a job for the coming year and that he was terminated due to budget cuts. 

“I didn’t have any due process,” McKinney said. “When you speak up for the students and the community, it puts a target on your back, and they come after you.”

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Continuing the Healing Journey: 30th Anniversary Celebration for Charlotte Maxwell Clinic

Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Marks 30th Anniversary
In Virtual Event, Thursday, October 28th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm

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