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.

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

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.

Identity Theft Threats Increase Due to Social Media Use and Free Wi-Fi Networks

Identity fraud is surging, according to a new study done by the UK-based company Cifas. What’s even scarier than that fact, though, is that there’s a strong connection between these rising numbers and social media use.

Cifas has stated that Internet fraud perpetrators are increasingly getting people’s personal information from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which have become a “hunting ground” for these criminals.

Also according to Cifas, some personal details were obtained through automated hacking computers, but more and more personal details were cobbled together through these social media sites.

Identity theft can have extremely serious consequences, resulting in the loss of funds and property. It can also lead to negative marks on personal records. More than one in 10 (11%) of the victims of identity theft say that it has had a negative impact on their abilities to get jobs.

Social media isn’t the only modern Internet convenience that poses a threat to personal security. In a new AARP study, findings suggest that almost half of consumers who use free, public WiFi at least once a month conduct sensitive personal business, like banking, shopping, and e-mailing.

This is usually ok — but sometimes, public networks simply aren’t secured.

As AARP’s Frank Abagnale, one of the leading experts in identity theft, forgery, and secure documents, noted, “The convenience of free wi-fi networks remains a great asset for surfing the internet or checking the news or the latest weather forecast.But consumers should never use unsecured wi-fi to log-in to social media, engage in credit card transactions, or do online banking.”

In the light of these results, AARP is launching the Fraud Watch Network campaign, which is designed to help retail stores to provide safe public Wi-Fi.

Websites Developed By Artificial Intelligence Could Mean the End of Days for Skilled Designers

Website building service Wix.com has recently launched an innovative “artificial design intelligence” (ADI) service to change the way novice website creators build their sites.

Wix was founded in Tel Aviv in 2006 and has since served as a foolproof development platform aimed at helping entrepreneurs and bloggers build websites using drag-and-drop tools, making coding knowledge obsolete.

With the introduction of Wix ADI, the company is striving to make website development even easier and faster, using algorithms to automate the web design process. These algorithms are created through a compilation of existing user data, ultimately designed to put together a universally popular website design.

Furthermore, Wix guarantees that no two ADI sites are the same. They promise unique pages, layouts, colors, themes, etc. The client simply answers a few questions, providing the platform with a basic outline of what the company is and in what generalized category they fit. From this information, Wix ADI compiles relevant images, text, and layouts.

Once the site has been fully automated, users can go in and customize aspects of each page. They can tweak layouts, switch themes, edit text, and insert additional images.

“Wix ADI is the world’s first technology platform that combines website design and content creation with artificial intelligence to enable complete websites to be created in a matter of minutes,” said Avishai Abrahami, the cofounder and CEO at Wix. “Building a professional and complete website is the first step in getting online, and while Wix today makes it easy, challenges still exist. With Wix ADI, we solve these challenges, getting businesses online with a fully functioning, stunning looking website easier and faster than ever.”

Professional designers have expressed mixed reactions following the introduction of “robot”-generated websites. Many are arguing that artificial intelligence has nothing to do with the platform’s new features at all. “AI, as developed by Wix…is no more artificial intelligence than robots on an automated assembly line constitute skilled craftsmen,” claimed Ben Moss, editor of WebdesignerDepot. “Wix ADI is an elaborate template browser.”

When it comes down to it, however, many of today’s companies are just looking for a simple design that earns them enough of a web presence to get their name out there. Wix ADI does just that, creating an attractive site that compels visitors to want to learn more about a business. In a world in which 46% of Internet users consider a website’s design to be a leading factor in determining that business’s credibility, that’s all a company can really ask for.

Settlement Reached in Class-Action Lawsuit Regarding Moldy Washers

Customers who purchased a Maytag, Kenmore, or Whirlpool front-loading washing machine between 2001 and 2010 may be eligible for up to $500 as part of a class action settlement.

WRTV Call 6, a local ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, exposed the presence of mold and other defects in front-loading washing machines back in 2013.

Ruth Ogden, who spoke with WRTV, bought a Whirlpool Duet front-loader in 2004. She said that after about a year, she started to notice a strong odor in her clean clothes.

“My son was a typical teenage slob, and we all thought the odor from him was getting into our clothes,” she said, adding that she disposed of hundreds of dollars worth of clothing.

Though Ogden spent money on products to clean her washer and even purchased a new washer as a last resort, she said that she might have difficulty getting any cash out of the settlement.

“Who saves receipts for 10 years of products to get the stink out of clothes when you didn’t even know that was causing it?” Ogden said in frustration.

Attorneys for other disgruntled customers alleged that the washers had “serious design defects” that ultimately caused mold and mildew buildup; however, Whirlpool failed to alert its customers to this risk.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all types of mold have the potential to cause negative health effects, ranging from minor to severe, and in some cases, exposure to mold can even result in death.

Fortunately, no one has come forward with claims of serious health issues as a result of the faulty washers.

Since the start of the lawsuit, the companies in question have made design improvements to their machines. The new front-loaders have virtually eliminated the risk of mold by installing special vents that allow air to better circulate.

To officially approve the settlement, a hearing is scheduled for September 7 in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, OH.

17 Dogs Rescued From Jackson Garage This Weekend

Seventeen dogs living in “filth and misery” were rescued this weekend from a Jackson, NJ, garage, covered in urine and feces, according to the Associated Humane Popcorn Park Shelter.

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received an alert this weekend that dogs were being kept in “horrific conditions,” as the statement from Popcorn Park states.

“The owners of the dogs started out with just a couple of dogs but quickly became overwhelmed when they began to multiply,” the statement said.

The dogs ranged from five months old to young adults and had apparently never left the garage before being rescued this weekend.

“There was no ventilation in this garage, no windows, nowhere for the urine and feces to go, and no end in sight for these poor dogs living in such filth and misery,” the statement said.

Over time, the dogs and the garage became covered with waste. The feces had been on the dogs for so long that their fur had matted.

According to the shelter, several dogs had to be shaved down to the skin, while others required hour-long or more baths to remove all of the feces from their fur.

The shelter said the dogs’ condition was “much worse” than the dogs rescued from the Howell hoarding case earlier in the month.

More than 200 dogs were rescued earlier in the month from a Howell home in what authorities deemed “an extreme hoarding situation.”

In total, 276 dogs were found inside the 1880-square-foot home; some dogs were even discovered in the walls.

Fortunately, most of the dogs from the Howell case were in fair condition when they were rescued, and the very first Howell dog was adopted this past weekend.

The dogs from Jackson, however, are not currently up for adoption.

“The hard part is getting them to realize that they are safe and cared for, and that they have nothing to be afraid of. Right now they are still quite terrified and can barely handle being touched,” the statement said.

Over 90% of pet owners say that their pet brings a smile to their face more than once a day. The hope is that soon, these lovable dogs will be rehabilitated and doing the same in their new homes.

Poster Explaining Do’s and Don’ts of Cheerleading Causes Backlash at University of Washington

There are almost four million cheerleaders in the United States, but whoever made a new promotional poster at the University of Washington must believe they should all look the same.

A flyer posted on the official Facebook page of the University of Washington cheerleaders listed dos and don’ts for students looking to join the team.

It showed a picture of a thin, blonde cheerleader not wearing much clothing. There were arrows pointed to each one of her body parts, with a tip for each one.

Potential cheerleaders were told to have a bronze, beachy glow, voluminous hair, flattering eye shadow, and “girl about town” lipstick.

The “body do’s” included having a physically fit athletic physique with a natural or spray tan.

The poster also advises young women to show up at tryouts in solid black sports bras, mid-rise black shorts, and cheer shoes. Girls were not allowed to try out if they wore a shirt covering their midriff.

This controversial image caused negative comments to be posted on their Facebook page from cheerleaders all over the country. They complained that over-sexualizing cheerleaders is only adversely impacting the sport and the reputation its participants have fought so hard to get.

Reported on Syracuse.com, the Associated Students of the University of Washington released a statement saying, “An advertisement such as this completely objectifies women and creates barriers that only perpetuates the inaccessibility of opportunities that should be open for every student on this campus.”

In response to the backlash, the university withdrew the poster.

A spokesman for University of Washington athletics department backed up the graphic, saying it was only created to answer questions the students were asking about tryouts.

Officials at the University did not address the debate any further.