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Challenging Responsibility

Interview with Amy Koehnen of Ebenezer Senior Living, Part One Editors note: When this article was first published online we incorrectly stated that if you are unvaccinated you can work at Ebenezer. This error has been corrected. By DWIGHT HOBBES The corona virus contagion threw South Minneapolis businesses for a loop.  Those that haven’t closed are fighting to hold on.  On top of which the highly contagious Omicron variant continues spreading across the country, eclipsing those fueled by the Delta variant over last summer: businesses are  far from full strength.  "There are many places in the country where hospitalizations now are increasing," Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN in December.  As of January, the rate of infections in Hennepin County is “very high”, according to the New York Times. Ebenezer shoulders the unenviable responsibility to not only stay in business – after all, the bottom line is the bottom line – but continue providing invaluable human services, for tenants and residents the most  highly at risk Ebenezer Park Apartments and Ebenezer Tower Apartments (senior housing), Ebenezer Loren On Park (assisted living) and Ebenezer Care Center (nursing home). As of January 6, Ebenezer complies with the City of Minneapolis’ reinstated mask mandate.  On top of which, if you’re not vaccinated, you can't work at Ebenezer.  Amy Koehnen, Minneapolis Campus Administrator spoke with The Alley about meeting the challenges these past couple years. Yours is no easy job. It isn’t. But, I have  experience. Twenty-seven years in the profession, doing this type of work. For good measure, you oversee a fifth site. The University of Minnesota Transitional Care Unit. It is on the west bank and is connected to the Acute Rehab also at the University of Minnesota. It is licensed as a skilled nursing facility so I am the administrator of record. Although they do [...]

Safer Way to Travel

Safer Way to Travel

Safer Ways to Celebrate Holidays By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Holiday traditions are important for families and children. There are several ways to enjoy holiday traditions and protect your health. Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. Here are safer ways to celebrate the holidays: Generally: Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.Outdoors is safer than indoors. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19. If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are traveling with children who cannot get vaccinated at this time, follow recommendations for people who are not fully vaccinated and choose the safer travel options described below.If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s domestic travel or international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.If you will be traveling in a group or family with unvaccinated people, choose safer travel options.Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations. Special [...]

COVID-19 Back to School

COVID-19 Back to School

By LINDSEY FENNER It”™s September, which means kids are back in school! But with the Delta variant spreading in MN, and kids under 12 unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, sending your kids to school this year might feel really scary. Although the new variant is much more contagious, the good news is that all of the COVID-19 precautions we”™re already using are still effective against the Delta variant. We have so many tools to use! But it is important to remember that there isn”™t just one thing to do; we need to layer up these interventions to keep our kids healthy. Read your school”™s COVID-19 plan. Ask questions if there”™s something you don”™t understand.Surround your kids under 12 with vaccinated adults. Every vaccinated person helps to weaken the chain of transmission, and protect unvaccinated folks.Get your kids over 12 vaccinated. Although they are less likely to get severely ill, they can still get sick, and they can certainly spread COVID-19 to vulnerable loved ones, and unvaccinated younger siblings.Reduce community risk outside of school. Preventing spread outside of school prevents spread inside of school. This might look like: wearing a mask in all indoor settings outside of the home, seeing a smaller group of friends, doing fewer extracurricular activities.Good ventilation is essential. If your school isn”™t communicating with families about how they are improving ventilation in the classroom, ask about it!Get tested regularly: The CDC recommends students get tested at least weekly, even if they don”™t have symptoms. Talk to your school nurse about what testing is available through the school. The State of MN offers FREE, at-home testing: https://learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota/Masks are recommended in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Try to get the best-fitting, highest filtration mask your child can comfortably wear for long periods [...]

Cultural Wellness Center

Cultural Wellness Center

Community Woodshop Seeks Physical Space and Neighborhood Input

Community Woodshop Seeks Physical Space and Neighborhood Input

By JESSIE MERRIAM https://www.fireweedwoodshop.org/ Fireweed Community Woodshop (FCW), formerly known as the Women”™s Woodshop, had to close its South Minneapolis physical location in April of 2020 due to COVID. The shop was started by Jess Hirsch in 2016 as a safe studio and classroom space for women and nonbinary folks to practice and learn woodcraft. During the lock-down, she and a group of dedicated instructors, volunteers, and students used the down time to learn and transition the shop to a cooperative nonprofit, renamed Fireweed. Fireweed”™s mission is to facilitate creative and vocational experiences in the art of woodcraft for genders traditionally marginalized in the field. Throughout the past year, the woodshop has offered virtual hand tool classes such as spoon carving, chip carving, woodblock printmaking, and Dala horse carving as well as demos such as dovetails and bowl carving. The virtual space created new opportunities to gather folks outside of the metro area as well as large groups together in panel discussions such as “Getting into the Trades,” “Getting into Furniture,” and “Building Codes and Construction Standards.” While virtual programming will continue, FCW is seeking a new physical space to facilitate more varied classes, fabrication projects, support local makers through retail, and to gather as a community again. FCW is also hoping to reach new communities post-lock- down and is interested in hearing from community members about what theywould like to see offered at a femme-centered woodworking space,and will be launching a “Get Involved” page with inquiry forms for volunteers, apprentices, instructors and board members in the comingweeks. Some of the in-person classes offered pre-pandemic BIPOC spoon carving class, June 2021, taught by Fireweed instructor Vanessa Walton in coor- dination with St Paul Parks and Recreation. Photo by ASHA [...]

Loss of Two Landmark Theatres a Tragedy

Loss of Two Landmark Theatres a Tragedy

By HOWARD MCQUITTER II In 2003, Loews Cineplex gave way to Landmark Theatres as the new owners of the Edina Cinema at 50th and France in Edina. Altogether the Edina Cinema had been in operation for 87 years, but then came COVID-19 to force the prize of Edina closed for "good". What a loss for us cinephiles and all other regular moviegoers who just wanted to see perhaps an art-house film or even a dashing big budget movie. I think of the countless screenings I saw there or decided to take a 6B or 6C bus to view a film of my liking (always with a pen and notebook in the dark to write my reviews). The Edina (four screens and 1300 seats) had been remodeled some time ago - beautiful, yet not gaudy.             There may be hope, all may not be lost for Edina. Suzanne Haugland, the building owner, told FOX 9 she's optimistic about finding a new private partner to restart showing movies there again.       Another Landmark theatre, Uptown Theatre, in Uptown Minneapolis was evicted from their space in May by the building's landlord Lagoon Partners, LLC. According to the  complaint, Landmark Theatres allegedly owes $340,000 in back rent and fees. If this is true, what caused Landmark Theatres to be so remiss?         Uptown (then called Lagoon Theatre) opened on June 3, 1916, one of the oldest theaters in the Twin Cities, surviving the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War ll, the Vietnam War, and the 1970s and 1980s. The name changed to Uptown Theatre on April 11,1929 at the same time sound came to motion pictures. A fire broke out on April 25,1939, but the theatre was soon rebuilt. When the Uptown closed in 1975, Landmark Theatres chain took it over.         Upgrades of the Uptown Theatre began on January 31, 2012, leading to renovations from a 900-seat theater to about a 358-seat theater. To my delight it always had one screen. I saw [...]

Thanks to Vaccines, the Golden Age for Children’s Health is Now

Thanks to Vaccines, the Golden Age for Children’s Health is Now

Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery 188th in a series By SUE HUNTER WEIR A grandmother tends the graves of two of her grandchildren. Two year-old Freda Aubele died on December 2, 1915. Her six-year-old sister, Annie, died the following day. Their wooden cross is gone but family members placed a new marker on their grave in 2009.Photo credit: Aubele Family The Washington Post recently ran the following headline: “Coronavirus infections dropping where people are vaccinated and rising where they are not.” The story was news only because it specifically referred to the novel coronavirus.  We have known for a long time that the numbers of illnesses and deaths decrease when people, especially children, are vaccinated. There are several  diseases that were once among the leading killers of young children, which have been either nearly or entirely eradicated in the United States. Since the arrival of vaccines, we no longer have to worry about measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, or smallpox. We have much to be thankful for, but the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued some alarming warnings about the current state of those diseases. According to The Washington Post, in 2019, the number of people who died from measles was at a 23-year-high, having increased 50 percent in only three years. There has been a 60 percent decrease in the number of two- to six-year-olds who receive the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine, and a decrease of 63 percent in the number of two- to eight-year-olds who receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. How alarmed should we be? Looking back at the number of deaths caused by just one of the diseases mentioned above, in only one of the city”™s cemeteries, the answer is: very. Among the people buried in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery between 1862 and 1918, 812 of them died of [...]

Reflections From a Former COVID-19 Case Investigator

Reflections From a Former COVID-19 Case Investigator

By LINDSEY FENNER  After over a year working in public health as a pandemic responder, I am back doing my pre-pandemic work. And although this doesn”™t mean the pandemic is over, it does mean this column is at an end. I started writing it because I wanted people to have something to hold onto within the swirl of pandemic uncertainty and anxiety. I realized very quickly that no matter what my job description was on paper, what I was really doing was struggling with people through uncertainty. My job was to listen, to talk through complicated realities that didn”™t fit neatly into a box, to help people who were sick make decisions when there wasn”™t a clear correct choice. And now, after my job is over, what is there to say about what we have all been through together?  We are all connected. Which is nothing new, but doing this work meant relearning that every single day. In my role doing case investigation/epidemiology we called people one by one, asking them questions about their individual actions. But in every individual conversation, we were really teasing out all of these threads of connection. How one thing led to another, led to this particular person I was talking to on the phone being infected. This is after all how infectious diseases work, and why this work is done by “public” health and not your personal healthcare provider.  And each individual conversation was so important, especially at the beginning when there was so much we didn”™t know. Each person had a story. And these stories, as lived experiences, all matter. And parts of that story became data points on a graph. This shouldn”™t be seen as something purely reductive or dehumanizing. These data points, made up of stories, collectively helped tell the policy makers what to do next.  We could have done better. Sometimes the wrong decision was made by people in power. Sometimes there was no good [...]

How We Get to the End (because we’re not there yet)

TIPS FROM A COVID-19 CASE INVESTIGATOR By LINDSEY FENNER Now that COVID vaccines are much more easily available in Minnesota, we have reached what is perhaps the hardest part of this enormous vaccination task: reaching the folks who waited or haven”™t quite made up their minds or still have questions. And as much information as any government public health official can send out in the world, YOU can make a difference by having conversations with loved ones about getting vaccinated. These conversations might be difficult. And it will likely take more than one conversation. But this is how we get to the end of the pandemic.  Some tips for having these difficult yet crucial discussions Listen with empathy and without judgement: These vaccines are new. There is so much information and misinformation about them, it can be overwhelming. It is understandable that people have questions or anxiety about getting their shot. Give folks space to talk it out. Ask open-ended questions: This helps keep the conversation going, and helps you understand what your friend or relative is concerned about. Share information and resources (but ask permission first): There are many good informational resources about the vaccine. Just try not to SPAM them with information!Help them find their reason why: People who get vaccinated do it for different reasons. You could share why you got vaccinated to help them think about it, or talk about what you both could do together once everyone is vaccinated.Remove barriers: Sometimes people just need a little logistical support, like help finding an appointment or vaccination event, transportation to the vaccination site, help with caregiving if they have side effects, or just someone familiar to accompany them at the appointment. We need  to acknowledge that there are so many structural reasons that have prevented people from getting vaccinated, like lack of access to healthcare, paid time off, or [...]

Can You Say “Tuskegee Experiment?

Can You Say “Tuskegee Experiment?

SOMETHING I SAID By DWIGHT HOBBES You couldn”™t throw the COVID-19 or any other number vaccine on me in a bucket of water. Can you say Tuskegee Experiment? The research for which African Americans were used by the United States Public Health Service as lab rats to explore the effects of syphilis. That was far back as 1932 but medical science hasn”™t progressed so far today that we don”™t have one Dr. Jean-Paul Mira, chief of intensive care at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, France. In April of last year, he asked the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research director Camille Locht on French television channel LCI, “Shouldn”™t we be doing this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?” Locht responded, “You are right. We are thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use approach with the BCG placebos.” Placebos. The same ruse this government perpetrated, in a study that went on until 1972, years with not one infected patient being treated with penicillin despite that by 1947, the antibiotic was widely available and had become the standard treatment for the disease. The program killed 128 of its 600 participants letting them die from syphilis or related complications. Mira and Locht might well have got away with similarly disregarding black humanity but for the outrage on social media condemning their comments. There is no telling how many men, women and children would have died a miserable death as Mira and Locht blithely went on about their business. Admittedly, there”™s no evidence that US doctors will follow that lead. No smoking gun. On the other hand, there”™s also no reason to believe they won”™t, the medical profession conducting another Tuskegee-style experiment and simply being smarter about keeping it under their hats. Time [...]

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