Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times: Vas Narasimhan Of Novartis: ‘We Are Not At All Prepared For A Pandemic’
Vas Narasimhan was drawn to work in public health. He pursued degrees in medicine, worked to combat disease in India and Africa and studied with Paul Farmer, the renowned physician. But after a brief stint at the World Health Organization, he became disillusioned with public-sector bureaucracy. “I found there to be a dearth of real leaders,” Mr. Narasimhan said. “There wasn’t a mind-set of: How do you create great leaders and how do you lead large organizations?” (Gelles, 8/1)
The New York Times Magazine: ‘We Have Fire Everywhere’: Escaping California’s Deadliest Blaze
The fire was already growing at a rate of one football field per second when Tamra Fisher woke up on the edge of Paradise, Calif., feeling that her life was no longer insurmountably strenuous or unpleasant and that she might be up to the challenge of living it again. She was 49 and had spent almost all of those years on the Ridge — the sweeping incline, in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada, on which Paradise and several tinier, unincorporated communities sit. Fisher moved to the Ridge as a child, married at 16, then raised four children of her own, working 70-hour-plus weeks caring for disabled adults and the elderly. (Mooallem, 7/31)
The Atlantic: The Placental Microbiome Should Be A Cautionary Tale
For decades, scientists believed that babies encounter microbes for the very first time when they are born. Both a healthy womb and the placenta that nourishes the growing fetus, they said, are sterile. If bacteria do sneak in, they’re intruders and bad news for the fetus. But in 2014, Kjersti Aagaard from Baylor College of Medicine challenged that dogma. In placental tissue samples from 320 women, she found DNA from many kinds of bacteria, which made up a “unique placental microbiome,” she argued. Aagaard suggested that this microbiome is part of natural pregnancy and might seed a fetus’s body with microbes in utero. (Young, 7/31)
The New York Times: An American Middle Schooler, Orphaned By Deportation
After color-guard practice one fall Wednesday, Fanny’s coach caught her in the parking lot getting into an Uber and wanted to know why. Fanny was still in seventh grade, a cadet on the junior team, and in the Atlanta suburb where she had spent her whole life, parents, not taxis, usually waited in the school parking lot. Coach Stephanie was concerned that a stranger was picking up a 13-year-old, but Fanny didn’t feel like explaining that she rode with strangers all the time now, or that “home” was with people who, until recently, had more or less been strangers, too. Her mother had been gone for months. Her father hadn’t been around for years. Her 22-year-old brother lived a 45-minute drive away. (Yee, 7/30)
Boston Globe: Five Things I Learned Writing About Opioid Addiction
For more than a year, the Globe has been examining the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, searching to understand why so many are dying and, especially, what can be done about it. The result was a nine-part series that ended Sunday.It’s a tragic story: young lives derailed, communities destroyed, parents hollowed out by grief. But as I wrap up the series, I’m heartened by the compassion and resolve of caregivers, and the courage and resilience of those struggling with addiction. (Freyer, 7/29)
Los Angeles Times: He’d Been Kept Alive With Tubes For Nearly 17 Years. Who Is He, And Is It Possible He’s Conscious?
It was his 34th birthday and the icing from the cake was his first taste of food in almost 17 years. He didn’t react when the dollop of chocolate settled onto his tongue. Maybe his taste buds had stopped working. Or maybe he had just forgotten what real food was like. What else had he missed all these years he’d been confined to a hospital bed? How long had it been since he heard a dog bark or a baby cry? Since he squinted from the sun in his eyes or felt rain on his cheeks? Since he was held by someone he loved? (Faryon, 8/1)
Wired: The Notre Dame Fire Spread Toxic Lead Dust Over Paris
Three months after the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, reports of a new, previously unheeded threat to local residents have emerged: lead poisoning. According to confidential documents leaked to the (paywalled) website Mediapart earlier this month and discussed across French media, locations surrounding the fire-damaged cathedral have registered levels of lead contamination ranging between 500 and 800 times the official safe level. The building’s roof and spire were clad in several hundred tons of the metal, which can be toxic if particles are inhaled or consumed, especially to children. The blaze that consumed the cathedral’s roof liquified oceans of lead and lofted a plume of lead particles across the city. This month’s lead alert has triggered the indefinite closure of two local schools and a halt to all work on the cathedral site. (O’Sullivan, 8/1)
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Source : Kaiser Health