THIS KUTE KID IS… Kathryn Ruhno, a graduate this year from Salem High School in Canton, MI. She will be attending University of Detroit Mercy this fall. Her sister, Emily, will be a senior at Salem HS. Katie’s parents are Kellie and Dave Ruhno, 1989 graduates of Watervliet and Coloma high schools. Katie’s proud grandparents are Bill and Vicky McDonald of Watervliet and Bob and Georgia Otte of Coloma. Katie’s family congratulates her on graduation from high school wishes her success and happiness at college.
Doctors Without Borders: Support urgently needed to curb COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought a disproportionate toll on one of society’s most vulnerable communities: elderly people living in long-term care facilities. In Michigan, where the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has worked for the last two months, more than 7,500 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 2,000 have died, representing nearly a third of all deaths in the state. This reflects reports of high nursing home deaths from COVID-19 nationwide. Building on decades of epidemic-response experience, and on more recent experience gained assisting care homes in Europe and South America, MSF supported more than 50 long-term care facilities—including 31 nursing homes and 24 adult foster care homes—in Michigan between the end of May and July 31. “We saw COVID-19 trigger an acute crisis on top of chronic neglect and lack of support to long-term care facilities,” said Heather Pagano, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Michigan. “At the start of the pandemic, long-term care facilities were left to fend for themselves without protective equipment or adequate infection prevention and control (IPC) training. Staff told us that they were overwhelmed and confused, drowning in guidance and regulations on safety measures from many sources, but without the on-the-ground support that can make all the difference.” MSF mobile teams in Michigan provided direct, in-person support to improve IPC measures. The most common topics that MSF addressed involved proper separation of confirmed, potentially exposed, or newly-arrived residents, hand hygiene, and proper use of personal protective equipment. These measures help to reduce COVID-19 transmission in shared spaces. Practical trainings are essential for non-clinical staff as well as clinical staff. This is especially true for environmental services staff that have a pivotal role in infection control, but often do not receive dedicated training. Helping understaffed and overworked teams cope during a time of heightened emotional stress about the constant risk of COVID-19 for staff and residents was another key priority for MSF. MSF’s wellness officer engaged in active listening using a trauma-informed approach and provided stress-reduction techniques to staff and residents. Tools and short activities that the staff could use for self-help or for boosting the morale of the residents were also suggested. Long-term care facility staff faces a dual burden: anxiety and grief in their day-to-day reality, having lost colleagues and residents to COVID-19, while simultaneously enduring stigma in their sector. “We were terrified, but we had 100 souls counting on us and we couldn’t just walk away and lock ourselves in our home like everybody else was told to do,” said Connie Flanigan, director of nursing at Advantage Wayne in Detroit. “We had to figure out a way to get out here and take care of these souls.” “When I hear something that someone says about the nursing homes, I take that to heart because I work very hard,” Flanigan said. “My heart is here. I would like the public to know that when you can’t be here to be their family, we are. And we choose to be. We spend 12 and 14 hours a day here, because this is where we want to be.” Regulation and oversight play an important role in protecting residents and staff of long-term care facilities. However, punitive measures alone will not help under-resourced nursing homes perform better, nor will they address the challenges presented by this unprecedented global pandemic. In-person support is fundamental. “Just being there, in person, helping alongside the staff made a difference,” said Pagano. “Saying you’re not alone, we’re not here to punish you, we’re here to be in support with you–this indirectly provided its own mental health benefits.”
American Legion Auxiliary Yard Sale Saturday, Aug. 22 American Legion Auxiliary Unit 362 is hosting a yard sale on Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Coloma American Legion Post, corner of St. Joseph Avenue and Sassafras Street in Coloma. The public is invited to rent space and participate in the sale, or just come to shop. Space rental is $10 for a 10’ x 10’ space. Six-foot tables are available while supplies last for $2 each. Set-up starts at 7 a.m. and sale is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hot dogs, chips and pop for $3 will be served all day. Call Christine (269-325-2865) to reserve a space.
COVID testing on Friday in Watervliet
InterCare Community Health Network, headquartered in Bangor, has a mobile unit to test for COVID-19. On Friday, August 7, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., their unit is scheduled to be in Watervliet in the public parking lot on Main Street next to Jot Liquor. To get tested for COVID-19, people are not required to have a doctor’s order and do not have to be an InterCare patient. Symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, chills. To pre-register, call 855-869-6900.
VFW resumes regular meetings
Watervliet VFW Post 1137 will resume its regular monthly meetings at 7 p.m. beginning on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. Masks and social distancing will be in effect per orders from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. All members are encouraged to attend when possible.
How can you help lower your longevity risk?
The investment world contains different types of risk. Your stocks or stock-based mutual funds could lose value during periods of market volatility. The price of your bonds or bond funds could also decline, if new bonds are issued at higher interest rates. But have you ever thought about longevity risk? Insurance companies and pension funds view longevity risk as the risk they incur when their assumptions about life expectancies and mortality rates are incorrect, leading to higher payout levels. But for you, as an individual investor, longevity risk is less technical and more emotional: it’s the risk of outliving your money. To assess your own longevity risk, you’ll first want to make an educated guess about your life span, based on your health and family history. Plus, you’ve got some statistics to consider: Women who turned 65 in April of this year can expect to live, on average, until age 86.5; for men, the corresponding figure is 84, according to the Social Security Administration. Once you have a reasonable estimate of the number of years that lie ahead, you’ll want to take steps to reduce your longevity risk. For starters, try to build your financial resources as much as possible, because the greater your level of assets, the lower the risk of outliving them. So, during your working years, keep contributing to your IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Then, as you near retirement, you will need to do some planning. Specifically, you will need to compare your essential living expenses – mortgage/rent, utilities, food, clothing, etc. – with the amount of income you’ll get from guaranteed sources, such as Social Security or pensions. You do have some flexibility with this guaranteed income pool. For example, you can file for Social Security benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will then be reduced by about 30 percent from what you’d receive if you waited until your full retirement age, which is likely between 66 and 67. You might also consider other investments that can provide you with a steady income stream. A financial professional can help you choose the income-producing investments that are appropriate for your needs and that fit well with the rest of your portfolio. After you’ve determined that your guaranteed income will be sufficient to meet your essential living expenses, have you eliminated longevity risk? Not necessarily – because “essential” expenses don’t include unexpected costs, of which there may be many, such as costly home maintenance, auto repairs and so on. And during your retirement years, you’ll always need to be aware of health care costs. If you have to dip into your guaranteed income sources to pay for these types of bills, you might increase the risk of outliving your money. To avoid this scenario, you may want to establish a separate fund, possibly containing at least a year’s worth of living expenses, with the money held in cash or cash equivalents. This money won’t grow much, if at all, but it will be there for you when you need it. With careful planning, adequate guaranteed income, a sufficient emergency fund and enough other investments to handle nonessential costs you’ll be doing what you can to reduce your own longevity risk. And that may lead to a more enjoyable retirement. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC