Author Archives: Susan

APA “Stress in America” Report Identifies Impacts of Pandemic

In a new “Stress in America” report, researchers for the American Psychological Association (APA) have found that the pandemic and the lockdowns are causing  with impacts to individuals’ physical and mental health. Researchers say that the impacts will persist past the physical threat of the virus.

High levels of stress reported by Americans is seriously affecting mental and physical health,
including weight gain, sleep issues and alcohol use, noted the report authors.

Adults affected most seriously included 18 to 24-yearolds, essential workers, people of color, and parents.

According to the report, Generation Z adults were the most likely group to say that their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, with 46% of this group endorsing
items showing that they felt the stress.

This age group was followed by Generation Xers at 33%, and the Millennials at 31%. The  Baby Boomers fell at 28%.

Older adults, over age 76, were the least affected with only 9% declaring a stress-related problem due to the pandemic. Ironically, this group is the group that is most at risk for direct danger from the virus.

The report’s authors said that these conditions are likely to “lead to significant, long-term individual and societal consequences, including chronic illness and additional strain on the nation’s health care system.”

One major finding was weight gain. A majority of adults, 61%, reported experiencing unwanted weight changes since the start of the pandemic, with 42% saying they gained more weight than they intended. Of this group, individuals reported gaining an average of 29 pounds. The typical
gain was 15 pounds, which is the median, according to the researchers.

Another finding pointed to sleep problems. According to researchers, “Two in 3 Americans (67%) said they are sleeping more or less than they wanted to since the pandemic started. similar proportions reported less (35%) and more (31%) sleep than desired.”

Almost one fourth, 23%, of those surveyed reported that they were drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress during the pandemic.

And almost half of Americans, 47%, said that they had postponed or ignored otherwise scheduled health care services because of  the the pandemic.

Parents have been hit particularly hard. “Nearly half of parents (48%) said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic. More than 3 in 5 parents with children who are still home for remote learning (62%) said the same.”

“Essential workers were more than twice as likely as those who are not to have received treatment from a mental health professional (34% vs. 12%) and to have been diagnosed
with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic started (25% vs. 9%).

“Black Americans were most likely to report feelings of concern about the future. More
than half said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends (57% vs. 51% Asian, 50%  Hispanic and 47% white).

Parents have been hit particularly hard. Reporting stress at 62% or the parents with children who are still at home for virtual education. Nearly half of all parents, 48%, said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic.

Researchers also identified essential workers as being at the ground zero of stress. “More than half of essential workers (54%) said they relied on a lot of unhealthy habits to get through the pandemic. Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) said their mental health has worsened. When asked about emotional support, 3 in 4 essential workers (75%) said they could have used more than they
received since the pandemic started. Essential workers were more than twice as likely as those who are not to have received treatment from a mental health professional (34% vs. 12%) and to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic started (25% vs. 9%).”

In a related report of research conducted by Sapien Labs, reported by Batya Swift Yasgur, in “New Data on Worldwide Mental Health Impact of COVID-19,” (Medscape -Mar 15, 2021), researchers studied eight English-speaking countries and 49,000 adults.

Results indicated that 57% of respondents said they have experienced some COVID19-related adversity or trauma. Researchers found that one quarter of those responding showed clinical signs of, or were at risk for a mood disorder. On the other hand, 40% described themselves as
“succeeding or thriving.”

“Those who reported the poorest mental health were young adults and individuals who experienced financial adversity or were unable to receive care for other medical conditions. Nonbinary gender and not getting enough sleep, exercise, or face-to-face socialization also increased the risk for poorer mental well-being.”

“The data suggest that there will be longterm fallout from the pandemic on the mental health front,” Tara Thiagarajan, PhD, Sapien Labs founder and chief scientist, said in a press release.

The survey, which is part of the company’s Mental Health Million project, is an ongoing research initiative that makes data freely available to other researchers. The investigators developed a “free and anonymous assessment tool,” the Mental Health Quotient.

The overall mental well-being score for 2020 was 8% lower than the score obtained in 2019 from the same countries, said the researchers. And, the percentage of respondents who fell into the “clinical” category increased from 14% in 2009 to 26% in 2020.

Residents of Singapore had the highest, most positive MHQ score, followed by residents of the United States. At the other end of the scale, respondents from the United Kingdom and South Africa had the poorest MHQ scores.

The decline in mental well-being was “most pronounced” in persons of the youngest age category (18 – 24 years), whose average MHQ score was 29% lower than those those aged ≥65 years.

Worldwide, 70% of respondents aged ≥65 years fell into the categories of “succeeding” or “thriving,” compared with just 17% of those aged 18 to 24 years. “We saw a massive trend of diminishing mental well-being in younger individuals, suggesting that some societal force is at
play that we need to get to the bottom of,” said Thiagarajan.

“Young people are still learning how to calibrate themselves in the world, and with age comes maturity, leading to a difference in emotional resilience,” she said.

The highest risk group was the nonbinary/third-gender respondents. Among those persons, more than 50% were classified as being at clinical risk. Nonbinary individuals “are universally
doing very poorly, relative to males or females,” said Thiagarajan. “This is s a demographic at very high risk with a lot of suicidal thoughts.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come True

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

This movie, an indie, the second effort by Anthony Scott Burns, who co-wrote, directed and filmed it, won favorable attention at Canada’s 2020 Fantasia Film Festival, and a positive rating by the rating accumulator Rotten Tomatoes. Ever since my childhood encounters with the Gothic tales of Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft the horror genre has attracted me. Most of those who reviewed the film used that descriptor, so when Come True was released by Amazon Prime, I popped a bag of Orville Reddenbacher into the microwave, and prepared for a treat.

As the movie opens, we meet the main character, eighteen year-old Sarah, as she wakes wrapped in a sleeping bag, lying on a child’s slide in a playground. Incongruous but not horrifying, but provoking, hopefully intentionally, unanswered questions. We follow her as she bikes home, making a point of avoiding her mother as the latter drives off, and we watch as Sarah goes home for a shower and some breakfast. Later, at school, we see her struggle to stay awake in class. Leaving, she comes across an flier advertising for subjects in a university sleep lab study. Sarah applies for the position, is enrolled, and told to show up the next day.

That night, which she spends with best friend Zoe, she tells of this opportunity. Neither remark on how Sarah’s absence from home impacts on those who live there, one of a series of loose threads in the story’s plotting which I find myself dismissing, swept along by Julia Stone’s virtuoso portrayal of the protagonist. Petite, blonde, a wide-eyed waif who gives a sense of expecting things to get worse, Sarah’s vulnerability evokes sympathy and concern.

The next day, at the sleep lab Sarah meets other subjects and, along with them, is ensconced in a curious ribbed, helmeted costume, wired to a computer and left to sleep. And to dream.

As a survivor of the 1950’s Dement days at the University of Chicago, I found the sleep lab depicted in the film a campy Star Trek version of real sleep research, but I remained willing to surrender disbelief. In what follows, we get to follow Sarah into her dreams, and it is quite a journey, scheduled to last an unspecified, but clearly large number of sessions—some of the other participants speak of years.

Sarah becomes increasingly disturbed by the nighttime adventures, and, also, by her realization that Jeremy, the lead graduate student on the project, is stalking her. He is working under the supervision of Dr. Meyer, who seems to be running a tight ship, but without much control, another of those loose threads.

There are impressive elements in the movie. One is Sarah, whose vulnerability is protected by brittle bravado. Here is her confrontation with her stalker: “You just thought, Hey, since I don’t ever leave my nerd den, this is probably my best chance to meet the future Mrs. Nerd, so, if I just follow her around, maybe she’ll fall for my magical fucking nerd charms.” And Sarah’s rageful panic at having her cell phone pick-pocketed while she is asleep at the laundromat, is piercingly true to life. Another is the content of Sarah’s nightmares, not so much horrifying as surreal and progressively disturbing to her, finally evoking seizures. The dream content is, contra the suggestion of many of the movie’s reviewers, unremittingly and impressively Daliesque, with explicit Jungian referents, rather than Freudian.

Burns, with Stone’s support, succeeds in generating a praise-worthy mood of weird unease. But flaws remain. Those include, in addition to the loose threads already mentioned, a shoddy soft porn episode lacking in any contribution to the narrative, and failures in script supervision—the sudden appearance of slippers on Sarah’s feet in the middle of a sleepwalking trek, the coming and going of her eye injury and the sudden reappearance, without context, of her cell phone. And then there are all the loose ends.

The brilliance of the mood creation achievement, oddly and regrettably, heightened my feeling of being let down by the flaws.

Stress Solutions

Just How Stressed Are We Really About Covid?

There seems to be a lot of talk about the “stress” of this 14 to 15-month long pandemic. And, yes, it has caused a lot of inconvenience. It has forced us to stop doing many of the things that make life fun, like visiting with friends and travelling to see family. And, most of us are bored by having to continue to observe all the safety precautions. However, inconvenience and boredom are not really the same as “stress” that has measurable and observable physiological and emotional effects on our bodies and minds.

One way to describe stress could be that state in which our worries, fears, anxieties or simply thinking (targeted mental activity) causes our bodies to produce cortisol and other stress hormones, which can cause physical damage if that state becomes chronic. In other words, true stress comes from the type of mental activity that activates our Sympathetic Nervous System, in particular the “fight or flight” mechanism. It becomes “stress” when our Autonomic Nervous System’s Parasympathetic Nervous System loses its ability to balance or cancel the Sympathetic Nervous System and put the ANS into a state of rest. That occurs when a person is chronically worrying and/or thinking and rarely engages the Parasympathetic Nervous System to rest or unwind. 

Is that happening to most of us because of Covid? Yes, it is for some but perhaps not for all of the humans in the world. Some people who have lost loved ones or friends are likely experiencing bereavement and grief, maybe even deepening into a depression. Others are experiencing isolation, particularly if they live alone and are trying to remain apart from others for fear of catching the disease. The loneliness and inability to talk about our anxieties and fears with others can mushroom into a true physiological stress reaction. Others may have lost their jobs or found their income cut. Fear for personal safety and worry about finances are definite causes of stress.

The CDC has posted information on the ways that the stress of the pandemic is affecting people’s lives. CDC is recommending that people learn to cope with stress in healthy ways, like taking breaks from watching TV news and iPhone information about the pandemic, much of which is anxiety producing. They recommend reaching out by phone and other means, like Zoom, to talk to friends, family and others. And, most of all, take time to unwind, doing things that work for you, like exercising, meditating, listening to music.

Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you and those around you become more resilient.

Legislature to Convene April 12 LSBEP Pares Down its Legislation

At their regular monthly meeting, held online, Friday, March 26, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists passed a motion to proceed to file a reduced version of their legislation.

Discussion by board member Chance McNeely indicated that the board is reducing it’s 29-page bill and submitting a smaller, four to six-page document, with Senator Luneau.

The reduction in bulk of items included in the originally proposed legislation may have been due to opposition voiced by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Dr. Greg Gormanous put forth a motion that Mr. McNeely work on the bill with Executive Director Jaime Monic and the chair, Dr. Amy Henke, and then submit the legislation to be filed.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. McNeely, is the consumer member of the board and also a political consultant. Mr. McNeely said to those attending that the legislation was a fiscal bill and not a policy bill. He indicated that the bill would be immune to amendments, which has been a concern to many in the psychology community.

The language, presented by Ms. Monic on her screen, includes the registration of assistants.

“…the board shall charge an application fee for initial registration of each assistant to a psychologist not to exceed $50. The board shall adopt rules conformity with the provisions of the administrative procedure act, R.S. 49:950 et seq to implement the Provisions of this paragraph.”

The board, through their newest draft legislation, also appears to seek to place into the statutes a right for the board to provide commercial continuing education.

“The board may collect reasonable admission fees from any person or licensee who elects to attend a continuing professional development activity offered, sponsored or cosponsored by the board. Activities offered, sponsored or cosponsored by the board shall be elective for a licensee, and the board shall be prohibited from requiring attendance for any activity that is
offered, sponsored or cosponsored by the board.”

The new legislation also includes a provision so that, “The board shall assess an application and renewal fee to a sponsor of a continuing education activity who seeks review and preapproval of a continuing education course her activity. Such application and renewal fees shall not exceed $250.

“The board shall assess an application fee to an individual license he who seeks review and Preapproval of a course or activity of continuing education in an amount not to exceed twenty-five dollars.”

The legislation also provides for fees to be assessed and collected by the board such as fees for applications for the authority to conduct telesupervision, applications for inactive status or renewal, applications for Emeritus status, and fees for other special services.

Fees for other special services authorized by rulemaking appear to be included, such as fees for computer generated license verification, certified board actions, a duplicate license, a duplicate renewal certificate, mailing lists, and so forth.

The draft bill may have been provided to the Executive Council of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA), this based on a comment made by Dr. Michelle Moore, posting in her role as an LSBEP board member on the communications list for LPA. However, regular members of LPA have not received a copy of the draft nor has the State Board distributed IT on their email list of
licensees.

The Times requested the current version of the bill and was instructed to file a formal public records request to the official office address of the Board at S. Sherwood Forest Boulevard, in Baton Rouge, and include payment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Expert in Circadian Rhythms, Dr. Roberto Refinetti, takes Psychology Chair at University of New Orleans

Dr. Roberto Refinetti, biological and comparative psychologist, and international expert in circadian rhythms, is the new Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans. Dr. Refinetti is author of Circadian Physiology, currently in its third edition, and has
published more than 200 articles in professional journals. His scientific reputation is at the top 3% of professors at research universities, and his h index = 32.

Dr. Refinetti came on board in the fall, joining UNO after many years as as a faculty member at the College of William and Mary, the University of South Carolina, and Boise State University.

He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Circadian Rhythms and of the social science journal Sexuality & Culture. And this month he also becomes the Editor-in-Chief of the biological
journal Chronobiology International. He is a Fellow of the American Physiological Society and a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, and other professional associations.

“UNO is a great university in a great location,” Dr. Refinetti said. “It is not common that a department chair can say, as I can, that he likes the university’s president, the provost, and
the dean of his college. The department of psychology has a strong biological orientation, which is something I like very much because I have always been a biological psychologist.”

Examples of his work as a biological and comparative psychologist include: “The circadian rhythm of body temperature,” in Physiology & Behavior, “Non-stationary time series and the robustness of circadian rhythms,” in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, “Relationship between the daily rhythms of locomotor activity and body temperature in eight mammalian species,” in American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, “Temporal relationships of 21 physiological variables in horse and sheep,” in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, “Variability of diurnality in laboratory rodents,” in the Journal of Comparative Physiology, “Entrainment of circadian rhythm by ambient temperature cycles in mice,” in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, and “Amplitude of the daily rhythm of body temperature in eleven mammalian species,” in Journal of Thermal Biology.

Dr. Refinetti is also a favorite with the popular media, having been interviewed by BBC Website, Stossel TV, CBC Radio-Canada, Nature, KTVB NBC News, The Register, Quanta Magazine, Men’s Fitness Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Newsweek Special Editions, Parents Magazine, Parents Magazine, Veterinary Technician, Discovery News, and many others.

Dr. Refinetti has served as a consultant for numerous newspaper and television reporters preparing articles or shows such as the following:

An article on circadian rhythms for Newsweek Special Editions
An article on jet-lag prevention for Atlantic Media’s Quartz
An article on why humans have sex at night for Gizmodo
An article on best time of day for working for Wired Magazine
A documentary on circadian rhythms and hypothetical cataclysmic events for the
Science Channel

His plans for the psychology department at UNO are ongoing. “The department is
relatively small, with eight full-time faculty members, but most faculty members are in
the early stages of their careers, which means that I can make a big difference in their professional lives, and that’s a satisfying feeling,” Dr. Refinetti said.

“My immediate plans are to provide strong support for the faculty, so that they can succeed in their teaching and research, and to make necessary adjustments in the curriculum to ensure that both the undergraduate and the graduate programs are effective and up to date,” he said.

“In the longer term, I would like to recruit more faculty members, to increase research collaborations with other departments at UNO and at other universities, and to augment the
extramural funding of research in the department. Developing an undergraduate program in behavioral neuroscience is also an idea in the backburner.”

How did he come to choose our community and New Orleans, Louisiana?

“It is common for people in academia to move around,” he said. “My first job as a university professor was in Virginia. Things didn’t work very well there, and I moved to South Carolina. I was in South Carolina for 16 years. The weather and culture there were similar to Louisiana’s,
and I liked it there,” he said. “I was on a small campus of the University of South Carolina, however, and didn’t have a real opportunity for advancement. So, I moved to Idaho to become the chair of the department of psychology at Boise State University. They had a good football team (and the famous blue turf), but I didn’t go there for the football team. So, six years later, when I learned that UNO was looking for an experienced scholar to chair its department of psychology, I applied and was lucky to get the job.”

At UNO, Dr. Refinetti will continue to head up his Circadian Rhythm Laboratory, which he established in 1986.

“We have been in South America and in the West Coast, East Coast, and Midwest of the United States. Often, but not always, we have been associated with universities,” according to the Lab website website.

“Biological processes that cycle in 24-hour intervals are called daily rhythms (or, less often, nycthemeral rhythms). When a daily rhythm is endogenously generated, but still susceptible to modulation by 24-hour environmental cycles, it is called a circadian rhythm. Many behavioral processes of individual organisms exhibit daily and/or circadian rhythmicity, including locomotor activity, feeding, excretion, sensory processing, and learning capability. Rhythms of locomotor activity have been the most thoroughly-studied behavioral rhythms.

“Many autonomic processes of individual organisms exhibit daily and/or circadian rhythmicity, including the control of body temperature, cardiovascular function, melatonin secretion, cortisol secretion, metabolism, and sleep. Rhythms of body temperature have been the most thoroughly-studied autonomic rhythms.”

The homeostasis of body temperature is a central feature of the physiology of mammals and birds, including humans. Body temperature is one of many physiological variables that have been found to express circadian rhythmicity. The study of the regulation of body temperature is a traditional subfield of physiology called Thermal Physiology.”

Dr. Refinetti has been teaching at the university level since 1986. He has taught undergraduate courses on Introductory Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Philosophy of Psychology, History and Systems of Psychology, Physiological Psychology, Statistics, Research Methods, Sensation and Perception, Human Sexuality, and Biological Rhythms. He has taught graduate courses on Physiological Psychology and on Sensation and Perception. He prides himself on delivering well-researched and well-organized lectures (making use of multimedia resources and computer technology) and on encouraging critical thinking by stimulating classroom discussions and by assigning home work with broader implications.

How does he like New Orleans so far?

“I arrived in New Orleans this past summer,” Dr. Refinetti said, “just in time to experience the most active tropical storm year in history, which did cause damage to my house facing Lake Catherine. In the winter, the two-night freeze caused several pipes outside my house to burst. And, of course, the covid pandemic greatly limited my ability to interact with students on campus and to experience the food and music of New Orleans. Yet, I love it here. I love the
weather (when there isn’t a hurricane or a freeze), I love the scenery, I love the people. I’ll have much more to enjoy as New Orleans reopens after the pandemic.”

While Dr. Refinetti spends most of his time at the lab or at the office, he has dedicated some time to artistic activities, especially in the past, his efforts including music, poetry, photography, and painting. He has even composed original pieces. (To listen to some of his compositions, visit the “Music” section of his website.)

“When I am not working (which is rare), I play the piano,” he said.

Dr. Refinetti is married, and his wife, who is not in New Orleans yet, will be joining him in the summer.

He can be reached at the address below and more about his work is available at these sites:

Professor, University of New Orleans, https://www.uno.edu
Head, Circadian Rhythm Laboratory, https://www.circadian.org
Fellow, American Physiological Society, https://www.physiology.org
Author, Circadian Physiology, https://www.crcpress.com/9781466514973
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Circadian Rhythms, https://jcircadianrhythms.com
Editor-in-Chief, Sexuality & Culture, https://www.springer.com/12119

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louisiana Launches Grassroots COVID Vaccine Campaign to Make Sure that No Community in La Gets Left Behind

On March 18, the Louisiana Department of Health and 20 initial partners kicked off
Bring Back Louisiana #SleevesUp, a grassroots campaign to bring COVID-19 vaccines to communities of concern through community events and targeted outreach. The campaign will begin with 9 pilots … one in each public health region of the state … with community vaccination events taking place the second and third weekends of April.

“This is a massive undertaking, and we as the state cannot do it alone,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We need strong, diverse, trusted community partners to help us meet people where they are, identify their needs, and remove whatever barriers may exist so that our residents can make informed decisions when it comes to the COVID vaccines.”

“For a job as big and necessary as equitable vaccine distribution in a once-in-a-century pandemic, we have to be creative, collaborative, and even a little unconventional,” said Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, Secretary of LDH. “We have been building this for several weeks now, and we are excited to get going.”

Partners Joining the state in this statewide effort are the following partners:

AARP Louisiana
AFL-CIO Louisiana
COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force
Hispanic Health Equity Task Force
Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI)
Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA)
Louisiana Independent Pharmacy Association (LIPA)
Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus
Louisiana Legislative Rural Caucus
Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA)
Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)
Louisiana Rural Health Association (LRHA)
LSU Ag Center
NAACP Louisiana
Power Coalition for Equity and Justice
Together Louisiana
Urban League
Viet
Baton Rouge Vaccine Task Force
Nola Ready

Several of these partners have been doing this type of grassroots work on the COVID-19 vaccines at the local level, and the state will continue to learn from them as it leverages resources to scale and coordinate these efforts.

Partner organizations will play different roles, ranging from phone banking and door-knocking to data evaluation. LPHI will coordinate efforts of community partners and will provide rapid evaluation of this grassroots model for COVID vaccine allocation and outreach.

“Like any true campaign, we are announcing this effort as we continue to build,” said Gov. Edwards. “This is just the start. We welcome other organizations, businesses, faith-based leaders and the public to join us in this exciting mission to ensure no community is left behind as we work to end this pandemic. These vaccines are our best chance at restoring normalcy,
getting our economy back on track, and bringing back the Louisiana we know and love.”

“As a public health organization, LPHI is honored to participate in this creative and proactive program which is the embodiment of our health and racial equity work to increase our state’s capacity to ensure all of us (Louisianans) have just and fair opportunities to be healthy and well,” said Shelina Davis, CEO of LPHI.

“The Black Caucus is excited to participate in this campaign. Equity in the vaccination process is critical and we are committed to reaching citizens in Louisiana’s vulnerable communities,” said State Representative Edward “Ted” James, Chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. “Get Out The Vote efforts, which this campaign is modeled after, is a proven method to reach those areas and citizens with limited access, transportation and information about the vaccine. We are happy to join the trusted voices in our state.”

“Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component for Louisiana as we work to reopen our businesses and rebuild our economy,” said Stephen Waguespack, President and CEO of LABI. “We stand ready to work with our members, the Louisiana Department of Health and other stakeholders to ensure that this mission is a success.”

“AARP Louisiana is excited to be a part of this new campaign and join the effort to help more Louisianans get vaccinated. The mission statement is: The charge of this campaign is to follow the data and work with local partners to meet people where they are, especially in our underserved, on-the-fence and hard-to-reach communities, to listen to their needs and remove barriers so that every Louisianan has the opportunity to get the COVID vaccine.

Goals: Louisiana’s ground game for the COVID-19 vaccines will meet people where they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rep. Mandie Landry’s HB 66 Limits Solitary Confinement Measures for Mentally Disabled

If passed into law, HB 68 by Rep. Mandie Landry expands present law restrictions on the use of solitary confinement to include that persons with the following conditions shall not be placed in solitary confinement.

(1) Persons who have been diagnosed by a healthcare provider at intake or in the previous five years, or at any time during incarceration, with a Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 mental health classification as provided for in the policies, rules, and regulations promulgated by the department.

(2) Persons who have, or had a record of, mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12102).

The proposed law requires the department to ensure that the curriculum for new corrections officers, other new department staff, or staff of any facility who contracts with the department and regularly works in programs providing mental health treatment for prisoners shall include at least eight hours of training regarding mental illness and mental illness with regard to the prisoners.

The proposed law further requires that all department staff and the staff of any facility who contracts with the department who has direct prisoner contact shall receive annual training regarding mental illness.

HB 68 defines “healthcare provider” as having the same meaning as defined in R.S. 22:1831 and that healthcare provider shall not include any physician or other healthcare practitioner who has a restricted, suspended, or revoked license as described in R.S. 37:1285.

HB 68 defines “solitary confinement” as any form of housing, segregation, or both that limits meaningful access to social interaction, counseling, medical care, visitation, outdoor recreation, or other therapeutic programming in a manner more restrictive than for the general population and includes but is not limited to disciplinary, preventative, and administrative housing, segregation, or both.

The proposed law makes present law applicable to private correctional institutions as well as facilities owned by the department.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey to Prison A Story of Failure, Struggle, Discipline, and Gratitude

Caught up in the DOJ net for Medicare fraud, Dr. John Teal, previously licensed as a psychologist in Mississippi and a medical psychologist in Louisiana, shares his journey,
challenges, and spiritual strengthening in My Journey to Prison: A Story of Failure, Struggle, Discipline, and Gratitude.

The book is about his experiences in prison––his observations about relationships between the inmates and his reflections on his life and faith. Teal’s writing has been said to be from the heart and him to be a genuinely caring, humble man. The book
includes his journey of faith and a time where his own spiritual discipline brought him to the other side of a traumatic, life changing experience.

In his introduction, Dr. Teal describes how he was hit broadside with the indictment.

“Suddenly I heard the buzz of my phone,” he writes. “As I looked down and saw this name on my phone, it occurred to me that he and I had not communicated, other than occasional casual texting, for quite some time. I felt a tingle of anxiety to see the attorney for Company X calling me without having texted first, but I tried to suppress my concerns as I answered the call.

“Hey Mr. Lester,” I said.

“Hey John. This is Peter Lester” […] ” I’m calling to let you know that you have been indicted.”

Dr. Teal writes about how he experienced a deep wave of anxiety and dread. He goes on to explain that he knew nothing of the accounting had company X but begins to see how his own ignorance may have come to be his most important problem.

In a fascinating description of his interactions with DOJ prosecutors, he lets us know how it feels to be targeted. Teal agrees to meet with the federal prosecutor who is willing to show him and his attorney the evidence against Teal.

“On December 16, 2015, an in person meeting at the federal building in New Orleans was scheduled for Mr. Palmer and I. Mr. Simpson [an attorney for the defense] was also present, and I did not say a word. There were several other serious looking FBI agents sitting around the conference table as well, but they rarely spoke either. On the table, there were tall stacks of paper and several ring binder notebooks with ‘TEAL’ emblazoned in bold on the front and along the side of them.

“Mr. Palmer laid out the case against me. He covered lots of material in that meeting. Most of it made sense to me. Some of it did not. The overriding point was that while I worked for Company X, I over-billed for services that were provided. ‘You were famous!” he said, referring to this overbilling. There were other points, but the main one was over billing and the subsequent inappropriately high amount of money that was reimbursed as a result. Mr. Palmer’s presentation was abrasive and aggressive. He pointed his finger directly at me and repeatedly stated ‘Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!’ and he continued, ‘If
you go to trial you will be found guilty of fraud, and you will go to prison!”

“As I listened to Mr. Palmer, I felt defensive, but I found a strange refuge in not being expected to speak. His strategy was clearly to scare the living shit out of me, and to assure me that I had no chance at all of winning the case in court.”

Dr. Teal continues to explain the inner turmoil and confusion he experienced in being indicted and prosecuted, and the difficult decisions he had to make to survive emotionally.

According to the publisher’s page: “John A. Teal grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. This birthplace was formative for him in that it was a central hub of racial integration in the country. Shortly before he was born, his parents moved to Mississippi from various places northward, with the goal of improving race relations. His father taught Physics at Tougaloo College, a private historically black college, for his entire professional career.

“Because of John’s parents’ worthy pursuit as well as their cultural backgrounds, he grew up with a mixture of liberal minded social justice and theologically conservative Lutheran Christianity. This interesting mixture served to engender within John a balance between the need for thoughtful consideration and action.

“John is an avid runner and he loves to pick on the acoustic guitar.

“Professionally, John became a clinical psychologist and worked for a few years in a state hospital and private practice.”

Dr. Teal’s book is available on Amazon.

Judge Barbier Denies Hesson §2255 Appeal

On February 24, United States District Judge Carl J. Barbier denied Dr. Rodney Hesson’s
§2255 request to vacate his sentence in the high profile 2015 Medicare fraud case. The
§2255 appeal is based on the right to have adequate representation.

Mr. William Kent, Federal Criminal Appeal Lawyer from Florida, who has argued before the US Supreme Court, filed a response on behalf of Dr. Rodney Hesson, and his mother, Gertrude Parker, in the US District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, on February 16.

Kent said that Hesson’s conduct could not be considered criminal because he made a “reasonable interpretation” of Medicare statutes. Kent demonstrated that charts produced by the government at the trial were false and highly misleading to the jury but were not challenged by the defense attorneys.

Judge Barbier found that the arguments did not matter, writing, “… the Court is convinced that no jury would find Defendant’s conduct complied with any reasonable interpretation of the statute. Further, Defendant merely speculates that there is a qualified expert that would have testified to the effect that his conduct was a reasonable interpretation of Medicare. Given the egregious conduct of Defendant, the Court has serious doubts as to whether such a qualified expert exists.”

In the appeal, Kent argued that the two main charts used by the government were inaccurate, but the defendants’ attorneys did not question or contradict these errors. “The Government throughout the trial implied that billing of units under Medicare code 96101 equated to face-to-face hours spent by the psychologist with the patient. This was false,” argued Kent.

Hesson, who is from Mississippi, and his mother, Ms. Parker, owned and operated two regional companies, and marketed to nursing homes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

A respected member of the Louisiana psychology community and past member of the state psychology board, Dr. Beverly Stubblefield, had worked at the firm and was pulled into the legal problems. Unable to mount a defense she entered a plea agreement of guilty. Dr. John Teal, a Louisiana medical psychologist, was also charged and pleaded guilty.

In this latest response, Mr. Kent writes: “The law is well settled in this and other circuits, that in a criminal fraud case based on legally false statements, such as that charged in this indictment, the Government has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’ s interpretation of the governing regulation was not simply wrong, but entirely unreasonable.”

It was incumbent on the defense, wrote Kent, to brief the Court on the Government’s burden to show that Hessen was unreasonable in his interpretation. “That was not done. Instead, the Government closed the case with no argument to the jury that Dr. Hesson’s and Parker’s interpretations of the governing regulations were unreasonable, simply that they were wrong.

“The Government throughout the trial implied that billing of units under Medicare code 96101 equated to face-to-face hours spent by the psychologist with the patient. This was false.” The the chart’s numbers and totals “… are meaningless and the implications that they conveyed to the jury significantly prejudiced Hesson and Parker when their attorneys failed to object to the chart or bring out its failings on cross-examination.”

Ψ We Remember Dr. Tom Hannie

Thomas Joseph Hannie Jr., PhD, passed away unexpectedly on February 13, 2021. He had been dealing with a heart condition over the last year. Dr. Hannie was 83.

Dr. Hannie had a profound influence on the psychology profession in Louisiana and over the last half century was a cornerstone of change for many pivotal milestones in the profession.

He was a forensic psychologist and a true applied scientist who was also a fascinating person. He possessed a depth of experience that, coupled with his exceptional analytical thinking, gave him a keen ability to critique any point of law, psychology, or philosophy.

Tom’s abilities were complemented by his sense of humor and a contagious enjoyment of life and living. He was just as likely to invite you over for an LSU football party as to
correct your flawed logic on some matter, and his colleagues counted themselves lucky either way.

“Very few psychologists have ever had anything close to the impact he had on psychology in our state, and over a very long time period,” said colleague Dr. John Fanning.

Dr. Kim VanGeffen said, “Tom was a powerful figure in the history of psychology in Louisiana. We owe a lot to him.

As an LSU psychology undergraduate in the 1960s, Tom helped in the successful effort to pass the original Louisiana licensing law. In 1978, he served as president of the Louisiana Psychological Association and was proud that his year saw the start of the successful drive to remove, from the licensing law, the clause requiring psychologists to diagnose and treat only “…in consultation and collaboration with a physician.”

Gregarious and energetic, he engaged in many professional organizations and activities
throughout his lengthy career. Tom served on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and was Chair in 1982. Along with serving as president of the Louisiana
Psychological Association, he also served as the president of the Orleans Psychological Society and as president of the New Orleans Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

Over the years, Tom was a clinical fellow in the Behavior Therapy & Research Society, and a member of many organizations, including the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, the New Orleans Behavior Therapy Society, the Southeastern Association for Behavior Therapy, and the American Institute of Stress.

He was also a member of the American Psychology-Law Society, the International
Association for the Study of Pain, and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology.

He was a member of the American Psychological Association, the Southeastern Psychological Association, and the Southwestern Psychological Association. He was also a member of Psi Chi Honorary Society in Psychology.

Before retiring he was licensed/certified in Louisiana and Texas, and held the Diplomat
from the American Board of Vocational Experts. He was a certified School Psychologist from the Louisiana State Department of Education.

Dr. Hannie was known for his analytical accuracy and precision. “Tom’s advice was
always the best,” said Dr. Susan Andrews. “He forgot more psychology than most of us ever knew.”

Dr. Bill McCown first met Tom Hannie at the 1978 state convention, where Hans Eysenck presented, “While most of us were thunderstruck with Eysenck’s legitimate genius, Tom, always interested in professional issues, took the opportunity to grill Eysenck on why the status of British psychologists was ‘not equivalent to their
IQs,’ ” said McCown.

“Tom knew his literature well. Eysenck had been responsible for setting up the clinical psychology profession in Britain in 1950. Tom wanted to know why so many years later most very bright British psychologists were getting paid very little and whether we in Louisiana could learn anything from this.”

Dr. Tom Hannie’s career path was that of an applied psychological scientist and he developed expertise and excellence in many areas. These included evaluation and treatment of victims of psychological and physical trauma, evaluation and treatment of chronic pain patients, including vocational aspects, and evaluation and intervention of children with school, behavior and emotion problems.

He also worked in pre-employment assessments, vocational evaluations and counseling, disability determination evaluations, labor market surveys, and neuropsychological evaluations.\

I wanted to see some of everything before I went into private practice,” Tom told the Times in 2010. Coming out of the comprehensive doctoral training program at the University of Georgia with a degree in clinical psychology, a minor in industrial-organizational, a minor in sociology, and a sub-specialty in behavior therapy, Tom
began his career by gaining experience in a variety of settings and with a variety of clients.

He explained that he originally worked with executives, with school systems, with preschool children, with alcohol and drug cases, with inpatients, and with outpatient clinical cases. He performed a variety of assessments and also worked as an instructor, trainer, and supervisor in a wide range of settings.

His primary professional position was as a consulting psychologist in private practice, in
Metairie from 1973 to 2005 and in Baton Rouge from 1989 to 2007.

But over time Tom found that he was very well suited to, and took real pleasure in, the work of the forensic psychologist––forensic evaluation and testimony. This role became the “most enjoyable” aspect of his long and distinguished career.

“Every case is like going back to graduate school,” Tom said. “You have to be up on the
latest research. You have to prepare as if they can bring in the top expert in the nation. It’s having to be at the top of what you do,” he said. “You’re investigating and working the puzzle. The basis of the work is that you don’t rely on what you’re told–you dig it out for yourself. You have to find the inconsistencies in the data.”

During his long career, Tom consulted in over 2000 criminal cases, and several thousand civil/worker’s compensation cases. “Nothing will make you learn how to express yourself like forensics,” he said. “If you get out of line, you can get hit—hard.” He explained, “You learn how to use few words. They’ll rip you up if you don’t have things in line.”

Dr. Hannie consulted to Feliciana Forensic Facility in Jackson where he evaluated clients
for competency to stand trial and provided court testimony related to competency. He consulted to the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Detention & Probation division regarding evaluations and program development, interventions, and training of the probation staff.

Tom consulted extensively to assist in the care of disabled individuals to improve their quality of life. He consulted to numerous group homes and rehabilitation services where he combined his efforts with evidenced-based treatment, accurate evaluations, staff training, and treatment planning for clients.

Also during his career, Tom worked in business and industry, particularly in areas that required the interface between clinical and vocational. He was also an instructor at Louisiana State Extension Service at Pineville, Northwestern State University Continuing Education program, and LSU’s courses at England Air Force Base, Keesler Air Force Base, and others.

In 2007, Tom retired, and this allowed him more time to enjoy his considerable range of hobbies. He greatly enjoyed professional level gambling, he was a sports car enthusiast, and he loved sports, most especially LSU football. He owned a Mini Cooper, decorated it in purple and gold with the LSU emblems, which he drove and displayed in LSU activities.

Friend and colleague Dr. Gail Gillespie said, “Tom was quite the character. I recall his
discussing with me how he used to win at casino poker games, and he once let me take a spin in his sporty sports car! We shall miss him and his larger-than-life personality.”

In 2010, Tom explained, “Since retiring, I have returned to my childhood. In my previous life I made my living playing poker,” referring to how he supplemented his income as an engineering student, math wiz, and U.S. Army vet, who went to school and worked on the oil rigs.

“If it weren’t for the travel required, I’d play more often,” he said. Tom was a personal friend with many of the people portrayed in the popular movie 21, the story about how MIT mathematicians beat the Las Vegas systems. Tom said, “…the most effective system for blackjack was developed by a clinical psychologist!”

“The people I have met through blackjack are some of the brightest, most creative people I know. Most are educated, PhDs in many scientific areas, JDs, MDs. Imagine guys who can walk in a casino, figure out how to make a profit, and do it.”

Also during retirement, Tom had more time for volunteer civic activities. He was a member of Baton Rouge Freethinkers and strongly involved with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group committed to the protection of First Amendment freedoms.

In 2010, Dr. Hannie moderated a forum about the social, legal, and philosophical issues of same sex marriage, titled: “Same Sex Marriage: Is It a Church-State Issue?” The forum was sponsored by the Louisiana Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In 2011 he was instrumental in opposing a bill that would have created a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. Legislators dropped HB 277 after receiving Hannie’s detailed letter with legal references. Dr. Hannie pointed out that the Commandments are a religious text and the posting would be “constitutionally suspect and an affront to religious liberty and diversity in Louisiana.”

In 2013, his Letter to the Editor was published in the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he pointed to differences between science and religion. “Science is science, religion is religion,” he wrote.

“Again, many have missed the point. We must teach science to our children. Science includes building theories to explain the data. In science class, different theories should be taught based on the evidence for each.” And, “If a school is private and thus may teach religion, teaching creationism and intelligent design is acceptable. Hopefully science and religion are not confused there. We are concerned about our public schools, which are prohibited from teaching religion by our Constitution.”

“Evolution is within science. Creationism and intelligent design are within religion.

“Maybe more important than teaching our children biology is teaching them the difference between science and religion, as it is obvious that too many of our citizens haven’t learned the difference.”

He expressed ongoing support for the freedom of information efforts of the Times. He often helped report on and analyze news, including secretly taping a government meeting. In 2015, he won the The Psychology Times’ Sunshine Meets Psychology Contest with Thomas Jefferson’s quote, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

He had no trouble asserting his views and asking for explanations. In 2014, Dr. Hannie asked the board members to reconcile apparent problems due to sections of the law contradicted their public statement. In 2017, he asked “… if the attorneys were committing malpractice by not recusing themselves and if y’all have looked at that?”

Thomas Joseph Hannie Jr., PhD was a brilliant, truth-loving and wise colleague to those in the psychology community. For many he was a constant source of advice, understanding, and insight.

He understood what it meant to be a science-based, applied psychologist and he embraced everything he did in the profession with a sense of excellence.

A natural and skillful leader, Tom had a pivotal role in professional changes and his leadership was essential in the history of Louisiana psychology.

Tom was also a cheerful, fascinating colleague. His enjoyment of life was contagious and he willingly shared his enthusiasm with his friends and colleagues. He had a generous heart and a tolerant spirit.

His passing leaves a great void in the community.

Dr. Tom Hannie is survived by his loving wife, Rosemary Parkel Hannie, his two sons Mark and Trey Hannie, and his granddaughter, Ella Caroline Hannie.

LSBEP Pushes Their Legislation Despite Opposition from La Psychological Assn

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) continues their
planning to introduce comprehensive legislation in the upcoming April session,
according to sources. This despite a recent vote by the Executive Council of the
Louisiana Psychological Association to oppose the bill.

According to sources, LPA President Dr. Erin Reuther made an announcement to
members last month that the LPA Executive Council had decided not to support the
LSBEP introducing the measure.

In January the LSBEP voted unanimously to begin the search for a legislator to sponsor their changes to the Psychology Practice Act for the 2021 legislative session.

LSBEP’s legislation will make sweeping changes to the psychology law. These changes
include the registering assistants, expanding the board’s charter, expanding legal
authority of employees, adding fees, changing the scope of practice, modifying board
composition, and exempting hearings from Open Meetings Laws. The new law also gives the board the authority to conduct and sell continuing education.

According to a draft copy of the new proposed law psychologists would be required to seek the board’s approval for any assistant who is helping the psychologist provide services to patients or clients. This would include any clinical, family, or organizational setting, including government. The yearly fee is up to $75 per assistant.

Included is the requirement that the assistant initiate a criminal background report from the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information.

The board would approve the assistant’s training, qualifications, and services to be provided. The board can deny or revoke the registration of the assistant at any time that it receives reliable information that the assistant is causing harm to clients or patients, or likely to, or is unethical or unprofessional.

The new law also gives the board authority to collect an array of new fees. These include up to $250 for preapproval of continuing education courses. Also they can charge up to $200 for authorization to conduct tele-supervision, to authorize an inactive status or renewal, or to authorize emeritus status and renewal. The board appears to be intending to provide continuing professional development with a charge of up to $200 per continuing unit.

According to the draft of proposed legislation, the board will be creating new committees that may operate with full authority of the board for complaints procedures and disciplinary actions, to perform tasks such as creating subpoenas and summary suspension authority.

The board will add the ability to restrict a license along with the current law for suspension are revoking. Also added in new language, the board is to communicate violations to the District Attorney.

Under scope of practice the board is adding language for:
• psychological test development;
• provision of direct services to individuals or groups for the purpose of enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness;
• using psychological principles, methods and procedures to assess and evaluate
individuals for the purpose of rendering an expert opinion or diagnosis in a legal
setting; and
• supervision and consultation related to any of the services described in the current
law.

The new language affirms that psychological services may be rendered to persons throughout their life time including families, groups, institutions, organizations, and the public. The board is also creating new language that removes transparency having to do with investigations. “All proceedings in connection with any investigation by the board shall be conducted in closed session, and are exempt from the provisions of the Public
Meetings Law [….]

Two of Us

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

This subtitled French film, available on Amazon Prime,written and directed by Filippo Meneghetti, is a debut effort that packs a jarring punch. Its exploration of a passionate
relationship between two women at an age some French would delicately call “certain” shatters any presumption of attenuated sexuality in the elderly, evoking the onlooker’s
anxieties about what Freud called the primal scene, the child’s disturbing fantasies about parents’ bedroom activities. The two protagonists, Mado and Nina, don’t just
love one another, they urgently, desperately need each other.

The two have had a life-long relationship hidden from the world. We meet them in their seventies when they are struggling to abandon pretense, and move to Rome, leaving Mado’s married children and grandchildren behind, openly to live together.

In a way, the basic plot line is familiar. They are, like Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers. On the verge of this disruptive change, their intense relationship is challenged on multiple levels. Mado is fearful about her offsprings’ reaction, evoking resentment in Nina. Then Mado suffers a stroke, becoming aphasic and partially paralyzed. Their
previously private love life becomes invaded by outside actors blind to Mado and Nino’s need for each other: care takers not motivated to care about Mado, but seeing her as
a source of income, medical people who work to force Mado into institutional compliance with their drugs and regimens.

The tension generated by our watching the couple’s struggle against these alien elements is intense and unremitting. It would be a spoiler to provide the outcome.

To describe it as moving or stirring or powerful are understatements.

However, I can justify a theoretical sidelight. As I watched the film, my thoughts turned not only to Freud’s speculations about the primal scene, but to another, more contemporary psychoanalyst, a Frenchman, Didier Anzieu. Anzieu was impressed with the infant’s need for physical contact, its need to be touched and held, to cling. He made reference to Harry Harlowe’s famous study of infant monkeys raised in an artificial environment in which they had access to a wire model that held a nursing bottle and a terry cloth model to which they could cling. Though the infant monkeys would visit the wire mother for food, they spent more time with the terry cloth mother and turned to it when stressed. Harlowe concluded that the need for contact, for someone to cling to, was an early and urgent need during what Freud famously called the oral stage. Although the study was criticized because the animals raised in these artificial surroundings suffered from later lack of social skills, Anzieu was convinced that the need to be touched and held was early and urgent. And it is clear that Moda and Nina needed to be close, not just socially, but physically, and that their need was all-consuming. I was struck by the aptness of the French title of this film—Deux. A single word whose sense is Both.

Stress Solutions

Healing the Healers: Stress Among Psychotherapists

Surely, there is no real argument that mental health providers have job stress. This topic has been explored in numerous countries, including Great Britain, India, Spain, and Japan, to name a few. The Japanese Occupational Health department even developed a Brief Job Stress Questionnaire. Unfortunately, it is only available in Japanese.

The British studies by the British Psychological Society (BPS) did a study by survey in 2015. The findings were that 46 percent of psychologists surveyed reported that they experienced a depressed mood and 70 percent said that they found their jobs stressful. Many listed over-work as a primary factor in their burnout.

A study from a state in midwestern USA published by Deutsch, CJ in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (1984) surveyed 264 therapists about the amount and sources of their stress. The therapists completed a questionnaire on background
information, their beliefs, and a 36-item stress scale. What they found was that irrational beliefs and attitudes held by mental health providers lie at the center of their reported job stress.

The irrational beliefs uncovered are very interesting and can provide a basis for all psychologists and/or mental health providers to explore their own systems of beliefs. So, to that end, I list a few irrational beliefs for further contemplation.

  1. One should operate at peak efficiency and peak competence with all clients and at all times.
  2. If a client does not get better or terminates prematurely, it is the therapist’s fault for not doing a better job of engaging the client.
  3. A good psychotherapist is not likely to get “burnout” because a good therapist is emotionally well-balanced and can manage their own emotions and stress. So, if the therapist becomes “burned out,” it must mean that that person is not a good therapist and is not well adjusted after all.
  4. It is an embarrassment for a therapist to seek therapy for themselves.

As a mini-self-test, do you agree with any of the above beliefs? And, if you do agree with any of the beliefs, what are you going to do about it? Food for thought

Governor Edwards Expands COVID Vaccine Eligibility

On February 22, Gov. Edwards expanded vaccine eligibility to an additional group of Louisianans … K-12 teachers, school support staff, day care staff, those who are pregnant and Louisianans aged 55 to 64 with certain health conditions … are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This group represents around 475,000 Louisianans and will bring the total population eligible in Louisiana to nearly 1.65 million people. Louisiana is currently vaccinating people in Priority Group 1B-Tier One.

According to the press release, Louisiana’s COVID vaccination strategy relies on making vaccine doses available across the state through community clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and other health care providers. So far 812,962 total vaccine doses have been administered in Louisiana, with 271,216 Louisianans receiving both doses.

As dose allocations of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines from the federal government have increased week over week through direct allocations to the states and to a federal pharmacy program Louisiana opted in to, the Governor decided to expand the population that is eligible for the vaccine.

“Teachers, school support staff and daycare employees have played a critical role throughout this pandemic and their safety is important to our continued recovery. We also know w that those people with certain underlying health issues are more likely to have severe or devastating outcomes from COVID, which is why we are expanding vaccine access to people ages 55 to 64 with certain health conditions as outlined by the CDC,” Gov. Edwards said.

“Thanks to continued increases in the availability of vaccine doses to the state of Louisiana from our federal partners, I am confident that now is the right time to continue to expand eligibility. People will still have to be patient and the vaccine doses are still limited, but this is a positive step forward for our state. It is my hope that soon even more people will be able to get these safe and effective vaccines in Louisiana.”

The Louisiana Dept. of Health has published the list of participating providers on its website: covidvaccine.la.gov. In addition, residents can call 211 to find a vaccine provider near them.

Priority Group 1-A: Ongoing (around 249,000 eligible people)

Health care workers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 hospitals

Staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities

First responders to serve as vaccinators (Emergency Medical Services, fire personnel, law enforcement)

Priority Group 1-B, Tier One: As of Monday, February 22, 2021 (around 1,391,000 eligible people)

Dialysis providers and patients

Ambulatory and outpatient providers and staff

Behavioral health providers and staff

Urgent care clinic providers and staff

Community care providers and staff

Dental providers and staff

Nonemergency Medical Transportation staff

Professional home care providers (including hospice workers) and home care recipients (including older and younger people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based care, as well as clients of home health agencies)

American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and Support Service Providers (SSPs) working in community and clinic-based settings, and clients who are both deaf and blind

Health-related support personnel (lab staff, mortuary staff who have contact with corpses, pharmacy staff)

Schools of allied health students, residents and staff

Law enforcement and other first responders

Persons 65 years old and older

Louisiana Unified Command Group

State and local essential COVID emergency response personnel

Some elections staff ahead of March and April elections

Teachers and any other support staff working onsite in K-12 or daycare

Individuals aged 55-64 with at least one of the conditions listed by the CDC as placing them at an “increased risk” —

These include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30kg/m 2 or higher but < 40kg/m 2 )
  • Severe obesity (BMIC >40kg/m 2 )
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • All pregnant persons, regardless of age.

Citizen Kane

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

A lifelong addict to Conan Doyle’s fictional accounts of Sherlock Holmes, I am generally intolerant of those adaptations that clash with my images of the sleuth and his trusted Dr. Watson. The bakers dozen or so of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce were marginally acceptable to me. Their adaptations of the Doyle accounts involved irksome deviations from the canon, but Rathbone’s acerbic coolness and Bruce’s winning bumbles charmed. Other contemporary efforts have been off-turning to me. So I approached the Netflix adaptation of Nancy Springer’s account of Sherlock’s younger sibling, Enola, with considerable reservations. But I will confess being won over—for the most part.

 The movie artfully invokes almost every device to enhance its appeal. It is a coming-of-age story in which a young woman discovers her independence. It invokes the classic appeal of a child searching for her parents. It is packed with teenage romcom appeal. It makes a centerpiece of John Stuart Mill’s 1869 prescient classic On the Subjection of Women in which he argues that women should have full social equality, predicting that they will be the last class of humans to achieve it. Parallel to the Holmes in The Adventure of the Dancing Men, it involves decrypting secret messages. And, uniquely, it makes heavy use of asides to the audience, temporarily dissolving the narrative wall between the protagonist and the observer, establishing a supplemental emotional bond between them.

The movie takes place in 1884 when the British House of Lords was considering The Representation of the People Act, the adoption of which would nearly triple the number of Britons eligible to vote—all men, of course. The movie manufactures a circumstance of the outcome depending on a single vote, that of young Lord Tewkesbury, whose accession to his father’s title is occasioning efforts to kill him. Enola, whose name is an anagram for “Alone,” has run away from home to search for the mother who has disappeared, abandoning her. When she discovers the plot against Tewkesbury, she is diverted from her original quest, seeking to discover the identity and motives of those pursuing him.

Her efforts are complicated by the circumstance that she must also frustrate the efforts of her brother, Sherlock, and their older sibling, Mycroft, to find her. Mycroft, who has
become designated her guardian, wants her placed in a finishing school where she will learn how to become a proper and marriageable Victorian lady. Enola, who had been home schooled by her mother, an assertive feminist reader of Mill’s tract, not to sew, embroider and the like, but a variety of martial arts.

Avoiding her brothers, seeking to protect Tewkesbury and finding her mother constitute a suspenseful scaffolding of events for the film. Describing the details would be a spoiler, so I will close with a few additional carping comments. The historical context is weak in that the tension over passage of the Restoration Act did not hang on a single vote, but on prime minister Gladstone’s political maneuvering. In addition, despite the film’s feminist tilt, the 1884 Act did nothing for women. It was not until 1918 that British women won the right to vote—when they got to be thirty.