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Urgent Care Services Continue to Expand Across the Country

Statistics show that urgent care facilities represent one of the fastest-growing segments in American medical care, with about 9,300 clinics operating nationwide. In fact, the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) estimates that about 1,300 of those clinics opened up just in the past eight years.

So, what’s fueling the rapid growth of urgent care in the United States? According to Shaun Ginter, an UCAOA board member, “More American are seeking care in an on-demand, convenience-focused environment. Urgent care centers cater to busy lifestyles and the needs of patients.”

Unlike traditional doctors’ offices, urgent care facilities are usually open during evenings and on weekends, and appointments are not necessary. Wait times are also a lot shorter at urgent care centers than at hospital emergency rooms. But it’s not just all about convenience. It’s about cost as well.

Ginter cites controlling rising health care costs as a major factor in the rise of the urgent care industry. Whereas an ER visit might cost around $1,354, the average urgent care visit costs only $150. This is critical for the roughly 35.7 million people in the U.S. without healthcare insurance, as ER visits often cost them even more.

“There’s an inherently high cost with a hospital ER,” he said. “They have very high-cost and highly qualified people and are typically designed as a trauma setting. We’re not staffing with trauma surgeons and heart doctors. In hospital systems, everything is fully integrated and designed for life-or-death situations.”

Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are designed for conditions that need immediate medical attention without being potentially fatal. For instance, urgent care is ideal for treating burns, animal bites and stings, infections, fevers, strep throat, allergic reactions, sprains and dislocations, and deep cuts and abrasions.

8929280_20161211_2791100A patient suffering from heart attack symptoms, stroke symptoms, major trauma, severe abdominal pain, uncontrolled bleeding, or severe vomiting should seek medical help at an ER where a surgeon and other specialists are on staff.

Urgent care services have increased and expanded drastically around the world since they first began in the 1970s, and medical professionals do not expect the trend to slow down any time soon.

Despite Trump’s Policies, U.S. Energy Agreements With Canada and Mexico Aren’t Going Anywhere Soon

In the weeks following the presidential election, many things are up in the air. Between mortgage interest rates skyrocketing to immigration taking a dive, many Americans are wondering where their country stands.

Nevetheless, one thing is for sure: even if Trump has his way and changes some key policies, America’s energy reserves and partnerships aren’t going anywhere.

For the past decades, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have worked together to combine their energy sources in a way that benefits all three countries. Even though Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the results could end up being positive as the new administration seems friendly to the energy sector.

Take former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was just picked by Trump as the new energy secretary. This appointment is being seen as a plus for the oil and gas sector because Perry has been extremely vocal about using the U.S.’s nuclear energy as an energy power house for both Canada and Mexico.

Not only that, but there are talks of the Mexican government building more pipelines to take U.S. natural gas as far south as Mexico City. These enthusiastic plans come after several months of successful natural gas trade between the two countries.

American wood is also an important natural resource that consumers have been using for heating and electricity for hundred of years. It doesn’t look like it is going anywhere soon, as North America’s demand for wooden pellets is expected to rise to around five million metric tons by 2025, which goes to show how much in demand multiple energy sources are in American homes.

Worried about the new president-elect making yet another promise he cannot keep? Pundits are reminding Americans that Trump’s team promised that if change was to happen, it wouldn’t happen fast.

“It’s not so simple to say we’re going to renegotiate the trade deals. We set up the system to create those inter-linkages. You just can’t overnight legislate or executive order that away. If you try to do that, it’s going to have negative economic impacts, not just for the economies on the border but for these specific industries, like energy,” explains Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.

Online Ad Fraud May Be Problematic for Google and Microsoft Browsers

A recent report from FraudLogix claims that online ad fraud activity was found to be highest in certain Google and Microsoft web browsers.

The report states that nearly 50% of the total ad impressions served to Internet Explorer and 20.5% of ad impressions served to Google Chrome were to “non-human” or “bot” traffic.

FraudLogix reportedly studied 135 million individual online ad impressions for a one-week span in July of 2016, analyzed the browsers, and tracked the ads its technology determined were delivered to “non-human” traffic. In addition, it was noted that fraudsters are able to infect browsers with malware and force them to load specific pages in order to manipulate them for financial gain.

These statistics can spell trouble for advertisers, as they can easily be paying for online ads that are never actually seen by real humans. Since marketers in the U.S. are projected to spend nearly $24 billion on online display advertising this year alone, the outcome of this study could have a big impact on how budgets are structured and the effectiveness of online advertising.

Understandably, both Microsoft and Google have questioned the report’s findings, stating that it isn’t possible to accurately measure fraud at the browser level. The use of bots and malware can often produce “fake” traffic that cannot be attributed to a certain browser. Therefore, these findings may be wildly inaccurate.

In addition, the percentage of potential ad fraud may be highest for Google Chrome and Internet Explorer solely because of their widespread usage. Other browsers may also be vulnerable to online ad fraud, but simply aren’t used as often and are therefore not as attractive to fraudsters.

Other browsers studied included Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Fewer than 5% of ad impressions delivered to these browsers were determined to be fraudulent by the report.

The most recent versions of Google Chrome have seemed to address these vulnerability issues, and the company has been seen to take steps to prevent instances of online ad fraud. Although one version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, 11.0, has been discontinued, it is still technically supported by the company and received the highest overall percentage of fake traffic in the study.

In order for marketers to continue to view online advertisements as a viable, attractive option, these vulnerabilities must be continued to be addressed and improved upon. Although the reach of online ads is potentially endless, companies need to be secure in the knowledge that these ads are being seen by real human beings and not bots.

Safety Regulators Investigate More Ford F-150 Brake Failures, May Expand Recall

In a well-made car, brakes typically last up to 50,000 miles. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for recent models of America’s top-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150. At least 25 complaints have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alleging sudden brake failure in 2015 and 2016 Ford F-150 pickup trucks.

Last May, a recall was announced for 271,000 model year 2013 and 2014 F-150 pickups because the master cylinders could potentially leak brake fluid, which would cause the brakes to fail. Now, in light of the recent complaints, U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether the recall should be expanded to include newer model years. It should be noted that the 2015 and 2016 models use the same engine that caused problems in the earlier models.

One Florida man told NHTSA that the brakes on his truck failed while he was driving along the Florida Turnpike. As he tried to slow down, the brake pedal hit the floor and the truck continued at 70 miles per hour towards stopped traffic. Fortunately, the driver knew enough to put the truck into neutral and swerve to the side of the road. When he took the truck to the dealership, a mechanic told the owner that the master brake cylinder was failing, and that the company was aware of this common issue.

“Why is there not a recall?” he wrote in his complaint. “I could have killed somebody.”

Other owners of 2015 and 2016 F-150 models have reported similar experiences. Some drivers say that their brake failures were accompanied by warning lights and tones, while others did not get any sort of warning at all. Fortunately, there have been no accidents or injuries.

Ford has announced that they are fully cooperating with the investigation.

“We continuously evaluate our processes for potential improvements and when the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers,” said Ford spokesperson Mike Levine in a statement.

 

Photo attribution: By Tuner tom (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DEA Cuts Opioid Production Quota, Ignores Evidence of Nontraditional Medicine to Treat Addiction

Opioid abuse has become increasingly problematic in recent years, especially heroin.

Heroin, otherwise known as diacetylmorphine or diamorphine, was first synthesized in 1874. Bayer created the drug as a painkiller, with purely medicinal intentions. Known for its euphoric effects, heroin has been abused by people worldwide, causing astronomical numbers of overdoses every year.

The DEA recently issued a statement saying that it would cut back the production quota of Schedule I and Schedule II opioids by at least 25% in 2017. The quota for hydrocodone, commonly known by the brand names Vicodin or Lortab, will be cut by one third.

This cut comes from their decreased demand in hospitals. The DEA is also hopeful that this cutback will reduce the number of opioid-related deaths and overdoses.

Current records show that more people died from drug overdose in 2014 than in any other year on record. A total of 18,893 people died as a result of prescription drug overdose, and heroin killed 10,574 people that year. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been blamed for killing many people as well, including musician Prince in April of this year.

DEA regulations encourage doctors to use non-opioid therapies over heavy narcotics to treat patients, minimizing the risk of medicinal drug addiction. These aggressive efforts, however, have been linked to increased drug-related deaths. When the U.S. government cracked down on prescription drug abuse, there was a surge in heroin use, leading us to where we are today.

“We always were concerned about heroin…We were always cognizant of the push-down, pop-up problem,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior drug policy official in the Obama administration. “But we weren’t about to let these pill mills flourish in the name of worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet. …When crooks are putting on white coats and handing out pills like candy, how could we expect a responsible administration not to act?”

Despite their proven benefits, the DEA has not approved the use of more nontraditional medicines to combat today’s drug addiction epidemic.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under DEA regulations. This means that it is considered as dangerous as heroin and LSD, and more dangerous than hydrocodone, oxycodone, and cocaine.

The organization refuses to reschedule cannabis, despite its proven abilities to reduce opioid overdose deaths and decrease narcotic dependence. Ibogaine, a naturally occurring psychoactive substance, is also listed as a Schedule I drug, despite its promise in calming heroin addictions.

While Hundreds of Thousands are Evacuating Because of Hurricane Matthew, a Florida Couple Wants to Have Their Outside Wedding

Although Hurricane Matthew has forced evacuations all across the Southeast coast of the U.S., a Florida couple plans to continue with their October wedding.

A Florida couple wants to get married in early October on the beach, but it looks like Hurricane Matthew is going to disrupt their dream day.

According to ABC News, Ryan Gordon and Jamie Gurnavage plan on having their special day at the Ocean Landing Resort in Cocoa Beach.

They plan on having “some type of ceremony,” Gurnavage said, “whatever kind of ceremony that will be.”

A Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study shows that the average number of wedding guests is around 136 people. Unfortunately, it will probably be difficult for the couple to get that many people to commit to an outside wedding when such dangerous weather conditions are affecting the country and the world.

As of October 7, a state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

“I just want to emphasize to everybody that this is still a really dangerous hurricane,” said President Barack Obama. “That the potential for storm surge, flooding, loss of life, and severe property damage continues to exist. Pay attention to what your local officials are telling you. If they tell you to evacuate, you need to get out of there and move to higher ground.”

According to The New York Times, South Carolina Governor Nikki R Haley has already evacuated over 300,000 people with a goal of at least 500,000.

“It’s getting worse,” Haley said at a news conference Friday morning. “We are looking at major storm surges, we are looking at major winds. We need to encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to understand: It’s not worth risking your life to see if you can ride out a storm.”

In Haiti, as Independent reports, at least 572 people have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Airbnb Offering Free Rooms in Florida and South Carolina as Part of Disaster Response Tool

As part of its Disaster Response Tool that aims to connect people in need of shelter, Airbnb has sent out a call to action to those hosts who are willing to put up evacuees for no charge in their available spaces.

The storm has prompted multiple evacuations in parts of Florida, including in Brevard, Martin, Palm Beach, Volusia, and Indian River counties.

Voluntary evacuations have also been recommended in counties such as Miami-Dade, Broward, St. Lucie, and Flagler.

Airbnb said in a news release that it is still looking for hosts who are not impacted by the storm, “so that they can list their home for free and assist in sheltering those in need.”

In addition, they have announced that new users who have never hosted will also be allowed to offer up their spaces to those in need of shelter.

As hurricane Matthew draws closer to the U.S., Florida Gov. Rick Scott has pleaded with residents living on the east coast to evacuate the area.

Scott even mentioned Airbnb’s service during his most recent briefing about the impending storm.

He said that in addition to Airbnb making rooms available for free, sites like Visit Florida and Expedia were making efforts to help residents find shelter.

The governor’s office reported that approximately 1.5 million people were in evacuation zones, and said that tolls had been suspended on major routes to make the evacuation process run smoothly.

The storm has impacted other events, as well. Even the presidential candidates are experiencing delays as a result.

Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama were scheduled to make an appearance in Miami Gardens that was postponed due to the storm.

The Trump campaign was also affected, cancelling a fundraiser that was supposed to happen in Florida this week.

Officials ranging from county officials to the White House have urged citizens to evacuate and prepare for the storm, even resorting to fear tactics as motivators for stubborn residents.

Approximately 62% of vacationers reported they would rather stay in a vacation rental, and while the situation may not be ideal, they can at least get shelter from the storm with Airbnb’s help.

The company has previously used the disaster tool to aid people after a storm has hit, but this is the first time the company has activated it before a storm. With any luck, they’ll be able to provide people with shelter and some peace of mind during the storm.

Federal Grant Provides Domestic Abuse Protection for Cleveland Deaf Community

Speaking through an interpreter for the deaf, Dawn Marie Fucile recalled the horrors of her three-year abusive relationship. Her ex-boyfriend, who is also deaf, pushed her down, hit her, and threw her at their coffee table. It’s only by sheer luck that she missed it “by an inch,” she says.

Unfortunately, the reality of domestic abuse within the deaf community is that it’s startlingly common. A recent study from the Rochester Institute of Technology showed that individuals in the deaf community are 1.5 times more likely than hearing individuals to become victims of relationship violence.

The eight-year study surveyed college students at RIT, home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The study was one of the first to examine the relationship between relationship violence and the deaf community. Relationship violence includes physical and psychological abuse within domestic relationships, as well as sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Partner violence is already an overwhelming problem in the United States. Every year, approximately 4.8 million women experience physical violence by an intimate partner. However, not only are women in the deaf community more likely to suffer physical abuse, they also have a more difficult time reporting their assaults.

According to the CEO of Cleveland’s Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, the fact that deaf and hard of hearing victims lack easy access to education or communication services presents a big problem. Once Dawn Marie Fucile finally gathered the courage to contact police after her boyfriend assaulted her, she became frustrated with police who assumed she couldn’t understand them or communicate at all.

Fortunately, a recent federal grant has supplied the Cleveland Police Department and the domestic violence center with iPads that can remotely connect with interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing. Officers can now bring these iPads with them on calls, which is particularly helpful given Cleveland’s tight-knit deaf community. In addition, police officers in Parma, Ohio have implemented a text messaging service to communicate with deaf individuals. Both Parma and Cleveland police utilize live interpreters for in-depth interviews.

Although Fucile’s ex-boyfriend has since been tried and convicted, police departments across the nation still have a long way to go in order to provide reporting services specifically for deaf individuals. Fucile says the use of technology is “a step in the right direction,” and urges domestic violence victims to be unafraid to ask for help. One can only hope that there will be a nation-wide push for police squads across the country to use similar technologies in order to protect the particularly vulnerable people in the deaf community.

Snowbirds and RV Enthusiasts Flock to South Mississippi Every October

The population of South Mississippi is about to grow significantly as RV enthusiasts from across the country begin their annual migration south for winter, bringing business to the area’s restaurants, casinos, and local RV parks. In fact, the RV industry has an estimated $269 million economic impact on Mississippi.

“About the first of October the snowbirds start coming through,” said resident James Lee. His family owns Indian Point Campground in Gautier, which spans 186 acres and has 200 sites, 36 cabins, two swimming pools, and access to deep water all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. According to Lee, the RV park is fully occupied for the majority of the year.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) estimates that across the country, there are as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts. According to a 2011 study, the typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, and has an annual household income around $62,000. However, in South Mississippi in early October, nearly 100% of RV campers are seniors. RV park owners say that the older crowd is drawn to the area because of low prices, casinos, and the vast natural landscape ideal for fishing and bird-watching.

“What we like about it is the people we meet,” said Carlie Fears, an RV owner who traveled to Mississippi from Missouri with her husband and two English bulldogs.

At the Gulf Haven Campground on the Mississippi coast, there are plenty of activities for seniors to enjoy — Saturdays are movie night, Monday is game night, Wednesdays they hold a potluck dinner. The park offers exercise programs and craft projects, and the local senior center is directly behind the campgrounds.

According to Wesley Stinchcomb, the general manager of the Camping World retailer in Biloxi, low gas prices have helped keep the RV industry consistent. Then again, he noted, people who own RVs aren’t all that worried about gas mileage.

An RVIA report revealed that gas prices would have to quadruple for RVers to lose their economic advantage over alternative methods of travel.

President Obama Vacations As Flood Worsens In Baton Rouge

According to a survey, when Americans go on vacation, about 61% of them continue to work. And while this is somewhat true for President Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s not true enough for many people affected by the severe flooding in Louisiana.

After three days of heavy downpour, historic flooding has killed 13, and 30 parishes have been declared as disaster zones.

The U.S. Coast Guard, along with other first responders, have rescued more than 20,000 people over the weekend. More than 70,000 people have registered for federal disaster assistance, and 9,000 have already filed flood insurance claims.

Amid this disaster, President Obama has received heavy criticism for vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and for failing to cut that vacation short.

Earlier in the week, the President approved John Bel Edward’s request for federal disaster funding, and reportedly is being updated on new developments on Martha’s Vineyard by his officials and aids.

Lousiana’s largest daily newspaper, The Advocate, called the President out on his lack of action last week.

“A disaster this big begs for the personal presence of the President at ground zero,” read the editorial. “In coming here, the President can decisively demonstrate that Louisiana’s recovery is a priority for his administration — and the United States of America.”

The column continued to call on Obama, saying that “The President’s vacation is scheduled to wrap up on Sunday. But he should pack his bags now, and pay a call on communities who need to know that in a national catastrophe, they are not alone. The President’s presence is already late to this crisis, but it’s better later than never.”