Leaders Urge Caution as COVID Surges in Nursing Homes

Mark Parkinson, CEO, American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), Washington, D.C.

Jessica Van Fleet-Green, MD, chief medical officer, Daiya Healthcare, Bellevue, WA.

Terry Robertson, CEO, Josephine Caring Community, Stanwood, WA

Adam Marles, president and CEO, LeadingAge Pennsylvania, Mechanicsburg.

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, Washington, D.C.

Gregory Johnson, MD, chief medical officer, Good Samaritan Society, Sioux Falls, SD.

Christopher Laxton, executive director, Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, Columbia, MD.

COVID Tracking Project: “The Long-Term Care COVID Tracker.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Trump Administration Announces Initiative for More and Faster COVID-19 Testing in Nursing Homes.”

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: “COVID-19 Nursing Home Data,” “FAQs on Nursing Home Visitation,” “Interim Final Rule (IFC), CMS-3401-IFC, Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency related to Long-Term Care (LTC) Facility Testing Requirements and Revised COVID19 Focused Survey Tool.”

LeadingAge: “As COVID-19 Death Toll Approaches 100,000 in Long-Term Care Settings, Aging Services Providers Need Immediate Congressional Relief,” “LeadingAge Releases Survey Results: Aging Services and Testing.”

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society: “Characteristics of U.S. Nursing Homes with COVID‐19 Cases.”

The Associated Press: “Nursing home COVID-19 cases rise four-fold in surge states.”

Modern Healthcare: “Nursing home COVID-19 cases rise fourfold in surge states.”

The Washington Post: Covid-19 surges back into nursing homes in coronavirus hot spots.”

American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living: “Report: COVID Cases in U.S. Nursing Homes.”

HeraldNet: “Big COVID outbreak at Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood.”

Becker’s Hospital Review: “Nevada reverses block on rapid COVID-19 tests in nursing homes.”

Skilled Nursing News: “HHS Will Send 750K Abbott Point-of-Care Tests to Nursing Homes Next Week.”

CDC, National Center for Health Statistics: “Nursing Home Care.”

BusinessWire: “Jessica Van Fleet-Green Joins Daiya Healthcare as Chief Medical Officer.”

Daiya Healthcare.

Josephine Caring Community.

At-Home Heroes: Celebrating National Family Caregiver Awareness Month

While 2020 has been marred by the imprint COVID-19 has left in its wake, it has also been a year of raising up those on the front lines fighting this devastating pandemic. We’re thanking first responders and medical professionals in a way we never have before, recognizing the sacrifices they all make daily to help ensure we all stay healthy and well. Essential Workers’ praises are rightly being sung, but there’s one group of people who deserve heroic accolades – especially this year – for whom the silence and isolation have been deafening and discouraging: the Caregiver.

November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month and WEGO Health wants to support this cause and shine the spotlight on all of the incredible people who freely and selflessly give all of themselves to care for their loved ones with chronic illnesses or disabilities. They are superheroes hiding in plain sight, giving 110% of what most of us could fathom each and every day.

Continue reading “At-Home Heroes: Celebrating National Family Caregiver Awareness Month”

Experts: COVID Vaccine May Cause Side Effects

Still, task force members spoke out against the idea of nationwide lockdowns or schools, even as New York City returned to remote learning this week, CNN reported.

“We do know what to do and we are asking every American to do those things today,” Birx stressed. That starts with wearing masks, but also staying apart and limiting gatherings, she said.

The virus spreads even when people do not show symptoms, Birx noted. “It is because of this asymptomatic spread that we are asking people to wear a mask indoors,” she said. “Decreasing those friend-and-family gatherings where people come together and unknowingly spread the virus,” will also help slow the spread, she added.

Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. More than 187,000 cases were announced nationwide on Thursday, another single-day record, and daily tallies have been rising in 47 states, according to The New York Times.

In California, officials reported more than 13,000 new cases, a single-day record, prompting the state to announce a 10 p.m. curfew for all but essential workers, the Times reported.

Even if the current seven-day national average of about 166,000 daily cases plateaued until the end of the year, nearly 7 million more people would still contract COVID-19, the Times said.

Though talk of two highly effective vaccines came this week, they will not be widely available until spring of 2021.

“We are in for a rough period through the end of February,” Dr. Jessica Justman, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, told the Times. “It looks hard to find a way to break it.”

A global scourge

By Tuesday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 12.4 million while the death toll neared 258,000, according to a Times tally. According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Tuesday were: Texas with nearly 1.2 million; California with just over 1.1 million; Florida with over 944,000; Illinois with nearly 666,000; and New York with almost 607,000.

Patient Leader + Thought Leader Conversations, Part 1: The State of Patient Advocacy

MarlaJan Wexler is a leader among Patient Leaders, sharing her very real and often hilariously profane survivor story as Luck Fupus. In her words, Luck Fupus is about “the girl, the nurse, the patient, the part-time superhero… tales of life with lupus, congenital heart disease, fake boobs, and an out-of-order baby maker.” We can’t imagine anyone better to kick off WEGO Health’s series of Thought Leader interviews – where top Patient Leaders will interview industry experts.

MarlaJan’s inaugural Thought Leader interview is with WEGO Health’s founder and CEO, Jack Barrette, weighing in on the effect of the pandemic on Patient Leaders and the evolution of patient advocacy.

If you’re a Patient Leader with an idea for a Thought Leader interview or a Thought Leader ready to be heard, let us know here.

MarlaJan: How has the pandemic affected the process of patient centricity and engagement?

Jack: In some ways, the pandemic shut down of HCP offices to rep visits has helped to focus industry attention back on patients in general. At WEGO Health, we’re seeing innovative companies thinking hard about how to help patients transition to virtual care, for example, which means more collaboration with patient community leaders to understand what that journey looks like. Pandemic nightmares like “it’s dangerous to go to your doctor” have caused patients, HCPs, and payors to get creative—together.

MarlaJan: How has it affected patient advocacy, in either communication with companies or in access to providers/medications/devices?

Jack: Slamming the door on in-person events has really hurt; some advocacy organizations rely on their annual conference or fundraiser, and opportunities for patients to spend quality time with companies and providers is invaluable. But the silver lining has been the democratizing of so many events that were limited to who could physically travel or who could afford it – now everyone is on the same work-from-home playing field, and for most patient advocates, that’s home-field advantage.
At the risk of cheerleading a global disaster, WEGO Health’s been seeing a really positive surge in companies and providers using web meetings to have more frequent, more collaborative conversations with patient influencers and advocates. Hosting five Patient Influencers in person for a day takes months of planning; hosting the same five on Zoom for an hour can happen six times during those months at a fraction of the cost.

MarlaJan: What has happened over the past few years to advance patient advocacy efforts?

Jack: There has been a movement—and I’m proud to say WEGO Health has been a part of it—to line up patient advocates as peers with HCPs and industry. More than ever before, we’re putting patient advocates at the table as accountable contributors and partners – recognizing their expertise and compensating them for real work. And healthcare companies are seeing the real impact of working side-by-side with patient advocates: better-designed trials getting completed more quickly, patient access issues getting tackled, even marketing becoming more authentic and effective with the help of Patient Influencers. That means patients-as-peers isn’t a fad; it’s the new way.

MarlaJan: Which companies are doing a good job of interacting with patient organizations, and how?

Jack: WEGO Health works a lot with life sciences companies – pharma companies – and there’s tremendous variability. There are a LOT of great things happening, so here are just two examples.

At GSK, their lupus team is deeply committed to that patient community; they work with Patient Influencers to support the whole life of a lupus patient, not just their relationship with a medication. The GSK team spends time talking with Patient Influencers and designs programs with them – a recent standout example is the #WhyITattoo campaign to raise lupus awareness.
Alnylam is a standout in the rare disease space; as a biotech, they’ve built a remarkable patient-centric culture and helped to grow advocacy around porphyria, for example, a condition where patients are just beginning to find each other. A top Alnylam exec was on a panel with me recently, and he told the story of their sales reps delivering medication to patients who could not leave their homes during the pandemic – that job is nowhere in their compensation plan. Still, as a company, they think of the patient first.

MarlaJan: What needs to be done to improve patient advocacy efforts, either on the organization side or the healthcare company side?

Jack: I frequently counsel advocates to share their stories – and the value of working with them. How can your credentials of fighting chronic illness and leading a community of patients help solve real problems for your partners? Don’t be so damned humble!
One consistent piece of advice for companies we hear from WEGO Health Patient Leaders is to avoid the wham-bam-thank-you-advocate approach. If you ask a group of Patient Influencers how to best educate their communities, don’t just get your answers and never call back! The companies that follow up and say “we did this with what your group said” or even “we couldn’t do that because of legal, but we heard you” – those companies are building real trust.

MarlaJan: Describe some of the best moments you have experienced with moving the needle forward in advocacy.

Jack: I have the best job in the world because I get to be inspired by patient advocates daily. There are some life-changers, like our live WEGO Health Awards presentations to 16 of the top Patient Leaders as chosen by their peers and industry judges – I love seeing the patients-are-why-we’re-here needle not just flicker, but get buried like a sound meter at a Guns n’ Roses concert when top healthcare industry presenters can’t hold back tears of gratitude and admiration as they hug the winners. “This is why I do this, why I am in healthcare,” they say.

But right now—this moment—is a best moment for me, too, because MarlaJan Wexler, a powerhouse patient advocate, is leading this very interview, and you’re scheduled to lead an industry panel on this topic. Ten years ago, a patient even attending an industry conference would have been “inappropriate;” 5 years ago, I might have fought to get MarlaJan onto a panel; today, you’re the moderator, you’re the leader, and goddammit that makes my year.

Psychological & Counseling Services Department Highlight

An Interview with PACS

Over the past few weeks, I have been conducting virtual “interviews” with different departments on campus. This in efforts to answer some common questions that students, faculty, or staff may have about the different services that will be offered by various departments on campus this semester. To learn more about services from PACS, read below!

Are your services accessible to all students free of charge? Or do you offer services at a charge?

Yes, PACS services are accessible to all students free of charge. It is covered by the Counseling Services fee paid by enrolled students, there are no additional fees or copays when students access services.

Continue reading “Psychological & Counseling Services Department Highlight”

Junk Food, Alcohol Often Star in Hit Movies

The upshot: 40% of movie beverages were alcoholic, and snacks or sweets accounted for almost one-quarter of the food.

Nearly 94% of movies showed medium or high levels of sugar. Nearly as many (93%) included medium or high levels of fat, and 85% depicted medium or high levels of saturated fat. Medium or high levels of salt (sodium) were found in about half the movies.

The report was published online Nov. 23 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

So the movies fell short of national nutrition guidelines with respect to saturated fat, salt and fiber. And the amount of sugar and alcohol depicted was higher, overall, than real-life Americans actually consume, the investigators found.

“These findings present an opportunity for movie producers to be more mindful of the types of foods and beverages that they depict in movies,” Turnwald said. “It’s about knowing that what is on-screen has the potential to influence tens of millions of viewers, particularly children, and making more of an effort to depict healthier options as the status quo.”

That thought was seconded by Samantha Heller, a registered dietician and senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

The danger, Heller said, is that “the public feels that if someone is successful, and they copy that behavior, they magically become more like the celebrity they admire. Of course, this is not true and celebrities are not health professionals.”

Heller acknowledged that food choices in movies are influenced by the story and dictated by a complex calculation based on character, culture, location and era. Still, “influencers should try to be role models for healthy behavior,” she said.

“As parents, caregivers, educators, we can adopt healthy dietary patterns and make sure our families understand the importance of healthy eating,” Heller added. “This way when unhealthy behaviors are depicted in movies, they can be viewed as part of the story and not behavior we should imitate.”

More information

There’s more about healthy eating at the USDA.

SOURCES: Bradley Turnwald, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, department of psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.; Samantha Heller, MS, RD, CDN, senior clinical nutritionist, New York University Langone Health, New York City; JAMA Internal Medicine, Nov. 23, 2020, online

FDA Authorizes Arthritis Drug Combo for COVID-19

Nov. 19, 2020 — The FDA on Thursday granted emergency use authorization for the arthritis drug baricitinib to be used in combination with remdesivir to treat hospitalized adults and children with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The combination is meant for patients who need supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

Baricitinib plus remdesivir was shown in a clinical trial to reduce recovery time within 29 days of starting the treatment, compared with a control group who received placebo plus remdesivir, according to the FDA press release.

The median time to recovery from COVID-19 was 7 days for the combination group vs. 8 days for those in the placebo plus remdesivir group. Recovery was defined as either discharge from the hospital or “being hospitalized but not requiring supplemental oxygen and no longer requiring ongoing medical care,” the agency said.

The odds of a patient dying or needing a ventilator at day 29 was lower in the combination group compared with those taking placebo and remdesivir, although no specific data was provided. “For all of these endpoints, the effects were statistically significant,” the agency stated.

Emergency use authorization allows doctors to use the drugs during a health crisis. Full approval takes much longer, and the research continues.

“The FDA’s emergency authorization of this combination therapy represents an incremental step forward in the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, and FDA’s first authorization of a drug that acts on the inflammation pathway,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, MD, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“Despite advances in the management of COVID-19 infection since the onset of the pandemic, we need more therapies to accelerate recovery and additional clinical research will be essential to identifying therapies that slow disease progression and lower mortality in the sicker patients,” she said.

The data supporting the authorization requrest is based on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The trial followed patients for 29 days and included 1,033 patients with moderate to severe COVID-19. In the study, 515 patients received baricitinib plus remdesivir, and 518 patients received placebo plus remdesivir.

In reviewing the combination, the FDA “determined that it is reasonable to believe that baricitinib, in combination with remdesivir, may be effective in treating COVID-19 for the authorized population” and the known benefits outweigh the known and potential risks. Additionally, there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives for the treatment population.

Thanksgiving Guide: Finding Antibiotic-Free Turkeys

Nov. 20, 2020 — As Americans shop for their Thanksgiving turkeys, a public health advocacy group has issued a buying guide that rates brands based on their antibiotic use policies.

Of the 15 brands evaluated, eight got the green light, four a caution light, and three brands a red light, based on information about antibiotic use in the turkeys found on the companies’ websites.

Industry officials took issue with the report’s findings.

The news about antibiotic use in turkey production, overall, is encouraging, says Sydney Riess, a public health campaigns associate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a federation of state groups that advocate against threats to public health and safety. Its report, “Talking Turkey,” was released today.

But, Riess says, “We also know there is a long way to go.”

Under FDA regulations, medically important drugs that fight germs, defined as those needed to treat human disease, cannot be used in turkeys and other feed animals to promote growth but can be used to prevent disease, she says. Some public health experts say the policy should be stricter, allowing the antibiotics to be used only to treat sick animals diagnosed by a licensed vet or, in some cases, to control a verified disease outbreak. Overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance, an emerging global health issue.

What the Report Found

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or U.S. PIRG, evaluated 15 popular turkey brands, studying each brand’s website to find out about its policy on antibiotic use. Using that data, it divided the companies into green, yellow, or red categories, from most ideal to least.

Green-light companies have publicly available information on their websites saying they prohibit the use of all antibiotics or the routine use of medically important antibiotics for all whole turkeys sold.

Of the 15 brands studied, eight were classified in the green category:

  • Fossil Farms
  • Koch’s
  • Murray’s
  • Nature’s Rancher
  • Norbest
  • Organic Prairie
  • Perdue
  • Plainville Farms

According to information on their websites, companies in the yellow category may offer lines of whole turkeys raised without antibiotics, or without routine use of medically important antibiotics. But the policy does not necessarily apply to all of the whole turkeys sold by that brand, based on website information, U.S. PIRG says.

Four companies are in this yellow category:

  • Butterball
  • Foster Farms
  • Jennie-O
  • Northern Pride

Companies in the red category have no or limited information about antibiotic use in whole turkeys on their website; the data there suggests they continue to use medically important antibiotics routinely to prevent disease in health animals, U.S. PIRG says.

Red category companies include:

  • Honeysuckle White
  • Shady Brook Farms
  • Signature Farms

Industry Response

Beth Breeding, a spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation, an industry group, reviewed the report and responded. “National Turkey Federation members are committed to the judicious use of antibiotics in turkey production, and the industry has prioritized decreasing the need for the use of antibiotics used to treat people while maintaining our commitment to animal welfare,” she says.

Breeding says the report ”has numerous omissions and errors.” Among them, several companies mentioned were not contacted, she says.

The report is misleading and wrong, says Daniel Sullivan, a spokesperson for Cargill, which sells Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkeys. “The mistake is that they are making these claims based solely on what is or is not published on a product website, not any actual data,” he says. His company does not use antibiotics in its turkeys in a preventive fashion (on healthy animals) and hasn’t since 2016, he says. “Nearly 50 percent of the birds sold under the Honeysuckle White brand and Shady Brook Farms brand are antibiotic-free, meaning they were never used. The Honest Turkey brand [also a Cargill brand] is 100 percent antibiotic free. No mention of that anywhere in the report.”

More on FDA Regulations, Public Health Concerns

The FDA updated its regulations about medically important antibiotic use in food-producing animals in 2017, saying these medicines may be used only in the feed or drinking water of food-producing animals with veterinary oversight and can’t be used to boost growth.

According to the CDC, each year in the U.S., at least 2.8 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and more than 35,000 die.

According to U.S. PIRG, in 2017, turkey production used nearly 18 times more medically important antibiotics than chicken per pound of meat produced.

Expert Perspective

“The report shows that there has been progress among the top fresh turkey producers in reducing overuse [of antibiotics],” says Steven Roach, food safety program director for Food Animal Concerns Trust, a nonprofit advocating for animal welfare, who reviewed the report.

“Perdue [a major producer] no longer allows routine antibiotic use, and some other major producers are marketing some turkey raised in reduced antibiotic use programs,” he says.

“The report provides a helpful tool for consumers who are looking for a turkey and want to reward companies doing the right thing on antibiotics. One challenge for consumers and consumer advocates is the lack of transparency by companies in how they are actually using antibiotics on their farms.”

Consumers can also look for specific phrases on the turkey label, such as “No antibiotics administered,” “Raised without antibiotics,” or “No antibiotics ever,” according to U.S. PIRG.

WebMD Health News

 

Sources

Sydney Riess, public health campaigns associate, U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

U.S. Public Interest Research Group: “Talking Turkey: A Consumer Guide to Buying Turkey Raised Without Overusing Antibiotics.”

Steven Roach, food safety program director, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Chicago.

Beth Breeding, spokesperson, National Turkey Federation, Washington, D.C.

Daniel Sullivan, spokesperson, Cargill, Minneapolis.

CDC: “Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Resistance (AR/AMR).”

FDA: “Antimicrobial Resistance.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Thirdhand Smoke: Harmful residue

We all know the hazards of smoking. The person actually smoking is at risk for
many health problems. Second hand smoke can lead to emphysema and lung cancer.
But have you heard of 3rd hand smoke (THS)??
This is the less visible type which consists of all the particles and chemicals
that land on basically every surface in the smoking area. It can be on the
person’s clothes, in their hair, on the floor, and on the furniture.

There are 11 types of
chemicals that when left on surfaces, are considered carcinogens. They’re is
all bad because these are cancer causing. “Off-gasing” is the terms for when
the chemicals have landed on the surface but then release back into the air as
gas. It seems toxins are released everywhere from cigarettes. These toxins can
then interact with other chemicals in the environment. Toxins then are either
inhaled, ingested (they land on food), or absorbed through the skin. Overtime,
the toxins continue to accumulate and become more and more harmful. Let’s say a
person smokes in their car, obviously these chemicals just keep piling up.

Children are the biggest
victims of THS. Children sit and play on the floor. They put their fingers in
their mouths and touch surfaces.

It is important to be
adamant about not smoking in your home or vehicle to avoid THS. Studies have
shown in a house left unoccupied for 2 months, these chemicals were still
present. Acidic cleaners, especially vinegar, can help with some of the
cleaning.

So what is the best
solution to avoid third hand smoke?? Well, quitting smoking. Nicotine is highly
addictive and studies have shown it is nearly as addictive as heroin.

Smokers enjoy the “kick”
from inhaling nicotine. The head change from nicotine entering the bloodstream,
releases adrenaline and creates a euphoric feeling with dopamine.

Smoking doesn’t just affect
the smoker. The cigarette residue remains on clothing, drapes, furniture, just
to name a few surfaces. Opening the windows or turning on a fan don’t eliminate
the problem. You don’t want to serve a nice dinner on a thirdhand smoke residue
kitchen table. The best solution is to maintain a smoke free lifestyle. Even stepping
outside to smoke is not the right answer. It is polite to share, but not when
it comes to smoking and it’s plethora of harmful side effects.

https://academic.oup.com/mutage/article/28/4/381/2459888

https://academic.oup.com/her/article/28/5/923/617816

https://www.aappublications.org/content/30/11/8.2

everybodysfit

Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY’s Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she’s an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She’s also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.

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About the Author

Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY’s Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she’s an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She’s also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.

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What are we supposed to eat?

When I was a kid, if I were told that I’d be writing a book about diet and nutrition when I was older, let alone having been doing a health related radio show for over 36 years, I would’ve thought that whoever told me that was out of their mind. Living in Newark, New Jersey, my parents and I consumed anything and everything that had a face or a mother except for dead, rotting, pig bodies, although we did eat bacon (as if all the other decomposing flesh bodies were somehow miraculously clean). Going through high school and college it was no different. In fact, my dietary change did not come until I was in my 30’s.

Just to put things in perspective, after I graduated from Weequahic High School and before going to Seton Hall University, I had a part-time job working for a butcher. I was the delivery guy and occasionally had to go to the slaughterhouse to pick up products for the store. Needless to say, I had no consciousness nor awareness, as change never came then despite the horrors I witnessed on an almost daily basis.

After graduating with a degree in accounting from Seton Hall, I eventually got married and moved to a town called Livingston. Livingston was basically a yuppie community where everyone was judged by the neighborhood they lived in and their income. To say it was a “plastic” community would be an understatement.

Livingston and the shallowness finally got to me. I told my wife I was fed up and wanted to move. She made it clear she had to be near her friends and New York City. I finally got my act together and split for Colorado.

I was living with a lady in Aspen at the end of 1974, when one day she said, ” let’s become vegetarians”. I have no idea what possessed me to say it, but I said, “okay”! At that point I went to the freezer and took out about $100 worth of frozen, dead body parts and gave them to a welfare mother who lived behind us. Well, everything was great for about a week or so, and then the chick split with another guy.

So here I was, a vegetarian for a couple weeks, not really knowing what to do, how to cook, or basically how to prepare anything. For about a month, I was getting by on carrot sticks, celery sticks, and yogurt. Fortunately, when I went vegan in 1990, it was a simple and natural progression. Anyway, as I walked around Aspen town, I noticed a little vegetarian restaurant called, “The Little Kitchen”.

Let me back up just a little bit. It was April of 1975, the snow was melting and the runoff of Ajax Mountain filled the streets full of knee-deep mud. Now, Aspen was great to ski in, but was a bummer to walk in when the snow was melting.

I was ready to call it quits and I needed a warmer place. I’ll elaborate on that in a minute.

But right now, back to “The Little Kitchen”. Knowing that I was going to leave Aspen and basically a new vegetarian, I needed help. So, I cruised into the restaurant and told them my plight and asked them if they would teach me how to cook. I told them in return I would wash dishes and empty their trash. They then asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was an accountant.

The owner said to me, “Let’s make a deal. You do our tax return and we’ll feed you as well”. So for the next couple of weeks I was doing their tax return, washing their dishes, emptying the trash, and learning as much as I could.

But, like I said, the mud was getting to me. So I picked up a travel book written by a guy named Foder. The name of the book was, “Hawaii”. Looking through the book I noticed that in Lahaina, on Maui, there was a little vegetarian restaurant called,” Mr. Natural’s”. I decided right then and there that I would go to Lahaina and work at “Mr. Natural’s.” To make a long story short, that’s exactly what happened.

So, I’m working at “Mr. Natural’s” and learning everything I can about my new dietary lifestyle – it was great. Every afternoon we would close for lunch at about 1 PM and go to the Sheraton Hotel in Ka’anapali and play volleyball, while somebody stayed behind to prepare dinner.

Since I was the new guy, and didn’t really know how to cook, I never thought that I would be asked to stay behind to cook dinner. Well, one afternoon, that’s exactly what happened; it was my turn. That posed a problem for me because I was at the point where I finally knew how to boil water.

I was desperate, clueless and basically up the creek without a paddle. Fortunately, there was a friend of mine sitting in the gazebo at the restaurant and I asked him if he knew how to cook. He said the only thing he knew how to cook was enchiladas. He said that his enchiladas were bean-less and dairy-less. I told him that I had no idea what an enchilada was or what he was talking about, but I needed him to show me because it was my turn to do the evening meal.

Well, the guys came back from playing volleyball and I’m asked what was for dinner. I told them enchiladas; the owner wasn’t thrilled. I told him that mine were bean-less and dairy-less. When he tried the enchilada he said it was incredible. Being the humble guy that I was, I smiled and said, “You expected anything less”? It apparently was so good that it was the only item on the menu that we served twice a week. In fact, after about a week, we were selling five dozen every night we had them on the menu and people would walk around Lahaina broadcasting, ‘enchilada’s at “Natural’s” tonight’. I never had to cook anything else.

A year later the restaurant closed, and somehow I gravitated to a little health food store in Wailuku. I never told anyone I was an accountant and basically relegated myself to being the truck driver. The guys who were running the health food store had friends in similar businesses and farms on many of the islands. I told them that if they could organize and form one company they could probably lock in the State. That’s when they found out I was an accountant and “Down to Earth” was born. “Down to Earth” became the largest natural food store chain in the islands, and I was their Chief Financial Officer and co-manager of their biggest store for 13 years.

In 1981, I started to do a weekly radio show to try and expose people to a vegetarian diet and get them away from killing innocent creatures. I still do that show today. I pay for my own airtime and have no sponsors to not compromise my honesty. One bit of a hassle was the fact that I was forced to get a Masters Degree in Nutrition to shut up all the MD’s that would call in asking for my credentials.

My doing this radio show enabled me, through endless research, to see the corruption that existed within the big food industries, the big pharmaceutical companies, the biotech industries and the government agencies. This information, unconscionable as it is, enabled me to realize how broken our health system is. This will be covered more in depth in the Introduction and throughout the book and when you finish the book you will see this clearly and it will hopefully inspire you to make changes.

I left Down to Earth in 1989, got nationally certified as a sports injury massage therapist and started traveling the world with a bunch of guys that were making a martial arts movie. After doing that for about four years I finally made it back to Honolulu and got a job as a massage therapist at the Honolulu Club, one of Hawaii’s premier fitness clubs. It was there I met the love of my life who I have been with since 1998. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. She said,” If you want to be with me you’ve got to stop working on naked women”. So, I went back into accounting and was the Chief Financial Officer of a large construction company for many years.

Going back to my Newark days when I was an infant, I had no idea what a “chicken” or “egg” or “fish” or “pig” or “cow” was. My dietary blueprint was thrust upon me by my parents as theirs was thrust upon them by their parents. It was by the grace of God that I was able to put things in their proper perspective and improve my health and elevate my consciousness.

The road that I started walking down in 1975 has finally led me to the point of writing my book, “A Sane Diet For An Insane World”. Hopefully, the information contained herein will be enlightening, motivating, and inspiring to encourage you to make different choices. Doing what we do out of conditioning is not always the best course to follow. I am hoping that by the grace of the many friends and personalities I have encountered along my path, you will have a better perspective of what road is the best road for you to travel on, not only for your health but your consciousness as well.

Last but not least: after being vaccinated as a kid I developed asthma, which plagued me all of my life. In 2007 I got exposed to the organic sulfur crystals, which got rid of my asthma in 3 days and has not come back in over 10 years. That, being the tip of the iceberg, has helped people reverse stage 4 cancers, autism, joint pain, blood pressure problems, migraine headaches, erectile dysfunction, gingivitis, and more. Also, because of the detoxification effects by the release of oxygen that permeates and heals all the cells in the body, it removes parasites, radiation, fluoride, free radicals, and all the other crap that is thrust upon us in the environment by Big Business.

For more, please view www.healthtalkhawaii.com and www.asanediet.com.

Namaste!