• Southern California Ambulance Crews Are Running Out of Oxygen—and Gas

    Scientific American January 23, 2021

    By Carolyn Barber

    Mark Selapack could probably use a break. Stranded for a time aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship in March while he worked to transfer COVID patients, deployedto wildfires up and down California, and sent to skilled nursing facilities to provide badly needed patient care, the San Diego–based paramedic was not home for 160 days in 2020. Then […]

  • Will the vaccines work against the South African variant of COVID-19?

    Fortune January 8, 2021

    By Carolyn Barber

    It’s a familiar story. Cases are spreading at “record pace.” Hospitals are overwhelmed. Basic supplies like oxygen, beds, and ventilators are running low. The rising number of hospitalizations has led some facilities to ration care. Familiar, indeed—but not local. This worrying spike in COVID cases has occurred in South Africa, with the total recently surpassing 1 million and daily new cases climbing […]

  • In the COVID vaccine rollout, our expectations don’t match reality

    Fortune January 4, 2021

    By Carolyn Barber

    When William Schaffner discusses the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the health policy and infectious diseases expert compares it to a process that’s picking up steam—literally. He says he thinks about the rollout as the functional equivalent of starting a locomotive that’s sitting on the tracks. And locomotives can take a while to really get […]

  • The Problem of ‘Long Haul’ COVID

    Scientific American December 29, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    It was just a couple of months into the pandemic when patients in online support groups began describing the phenomenon. In some emergency departments, they said, their complaints were largely being dismissed—or at the very least diminished—by health care professionals. The patients felt they were not being heard, or perhaps even were outright disbelieved. The […]

  • New COVID studies bring some holiday cheer for pregnant women

    Fortune December 23, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    At first, Kate Elden’s choices when the coronavirus pandemic beganmade her stand out. She wore heavy personal protective equipment to work at a veterinary clinic, despite the worries of some of her colleagues that she would scare off clients. She decided against enrolling her toddler in preschool. And after a while, she decided to place […]

  • With COVID raging, why are we even still playing college basketball?

    Fortune December 14, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    It was public, shocking, and very real. In a game against rival Florida State on Saturday, the University of Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson, just 21, collapsed facedown on the court, unconscious. He was removed by paramedics and taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where he was reported to be in critical, but stable condition. His Gators teammates, […]

  • Like drowning in slow motion’: Life on the ground at one of America’s hardest-hit COVID-19 hospitals

    Fortune December 1, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    He was young, polite, and nondescript. Even though he said he felt fine, he looked as though he had just finished running sprints. The symptoms were there: a cough, a low-grade fever, shortness of breath. His oxygen levels were low enough that his doctor admitted him. And thus did Oscar join the ranks of patients […]

  • An Emerging Tool for COVID Times: The Portable MRI

    Scientific American November 12, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    Bedside imaging holds vast potential as a diagnostic tool, especially during the pandemic Among other things, the pandemic of 2020 has emphatically reinforced the need for both patients and their doctors to get reliable medical results quickly. The advent of rapid antigen testing for COVID-19, for example, is changing the way we think about how we approach […]

  • A blueprint for whoever wins the presidential election to fix America’s health care mess

    Fortune November 4, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    As you may have surmised by now, the private health insurance industry in the U.S. didn’t accumulate its massive wealth by running deficits. It is a business designed to turn profit and please shareholders. But with COVID-19 ripping through our country and the 2020 presidential election still undecided, this may be a perfect time to […]

  • COVID’s Other Toll: Unnecessary Tests and Huge Hospital Bills

    Scientific American October 24, 2020

    By Carolyn Barber

    It highlights one of the biggest problems in American health care In a physician chat group recently, a doctor who treats hospitalized patients made a recommendation to our group of 38,000 members that left me startled and alarmed. She shared her protocol for all COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital: every one of them gets […]