What We're Reading: Depression in Minority Patients; Louisiana Braces for COVID-19 Surge; NY Recruits Retired Doctors

March 27, 2020

A new study reveals severe depression in minority patients; Louisiana faces a surge of COVID-19 cases; New York state adjusts its medical workforce to combat rising cases.

Minority Patients Experience More Severe Depression

Louisiana Braces for COVID-19 Wave

New York State Recruits Retired Doctors, Students

A new study released by JAMA Network Open found that older patients from minority backgrounds are up to 2 times as likely to experience severe depression than white patients. After adjusting for confounders, the cross-sectional study found significant racial and ethnic differences in severity of depression in later-life. Data from over 25,000 adults aged 50 and older revealed black patients’ scores on a depression-measuring questionnaire were around 10% higher than white patients, while scores from Hispanic patients of the same age cohort were 23% higher than white patients, indicating a greater severity of depression. Although the results only indicate an association between the factors, researchers note more studies should be conducted on the subject.The state of Louisiana is poised to face a spike in hospitalizations and shortages of supplies, staff, and sick beds, Reuters reports. It is believed that Mardi Gras celebrations in the city of New Orleans last month could have fueled the outbreak. Demand for ventilators has already doubled in the state, with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards saying New Orleans would be out of the medical devices by April 7. “It’s not conjecture, it’s not some flimsy theory…This is what is going to happen,” Edwards said. Eighty percent of the state’s intensive care patients are now on breathing machines, and it is estimated the city would be out of bed space by April 7.To combat the growing number of patients with COVID-19, New York state has begun to recruit retired healthcare workers and inexperienced staffers, Politico reports. This move has raised concerns, as older individuals are more susceptible to experience complications from the novel coronavirus, and may take up scarce resources, should they fall ill themselves. Medical and nursing students are also being recruited to help, while specialty doctors have been asked to adjust their skills to meet the demands of the virus. The adjustment comes after Governor Andrew Cuomo recently used executive authority to relax medical licensing, protect healthcare workers from civil liability, among other measures to increase medical personnel addressing the pandemic.