“A Day Without Immigrants” Protest Has Unexpected Outcome
Mar03

“A Day Without Immigrants” Protest Has Unexpected Outcome

“If you’re going to stand up for what you believe in, you have to be willing to pay the price.” These wise words were spoken by Jim Serowski, founder of JVS Masonry in Commerce City, Colorado. His words were a response to, “A Day Without Immigrants,” a nationwide day of protests held this February. The protest allowed progressives to voice their outrage at President Donald Trump’s policies regarding immigration by highlighting the effect immigrants have on the productivity of the country as a whole. At JVS Masonry, more than 30 workers failed to show up at the job site on the day of the protest, and as a result, they were terminated immediately. Serowski says, “I stand by what I believe in. I didn’t do anything wrong…They were warned: ‘If you do this, you’re hurting the company, and if you go against the team, you’re not a member of the team.'” Even though employees made their absences from work apparent to Serowski prior to the protest, it still left a bad taste in his mouth. He claims to support immigrant labor, but business is business. Serowski claims he’s known most of the terminated employees for almost two decades, so this couldn’t have been an easy decision to make. Serowski isn’t the only one who terminated employees following “A Day Without Immigrants” — terminations were made all over the country be regretful employers who just want the work to get done. Some employers showed mercy to employees and were supportive of the cause. What made a difference is how the employees handled the protest. Employers tended to be more sympathetic to employees who notified their supervisors in advanced as opposed to a ‘no call no show,’ which could certainly be grounds for termination. The employees aren’t the only ones getting the raw end of the deal. High employee turnover rates can heavily interfere with day-to-day work functions, not to mention the cost — human resources consultants say that employee turnover costs range from 30% to 150% of the employee’s salary. Most employees ended up going back to work on Friday, but those who didn’t are now back on the job...

Read More
Ikea’s New DIY Garden Promotes Local Sustainability
Mar02

Ikea’s New DIY Garden Promotes Local Sustainability

In 2014, roughly 35% of all American households, or 42 million homes, were participating in gardening, up from 17% over the last five years. Thanks to an unlikely organization, the percentage of indoor gardeners will probably increase from 2017 and beyond as well. Ikea, the furniture manufacturer behemoth, has developed a do-it-yourself indoor spherical garden. According to Architecture and Design, the large, indoor product known as “the Growroom,” was designed and developed inside Ikea’s Space10 innovation lab by two Danish architects. Staying in line with Ikea’s award-winning culture, the Growroom was conceived out of a goal to create positive social change in the world. “It is to support or everyday sense of wellbeing in the cities by creating a small oasis or ‘pause’ – architecture in our high-paced societal scenery,” said Space10 developers, “and enables people to connect with nature as we smell and taste the abundance of herbs and plants.” The Growroom is a multi-tiered spherical garden that was specifically designed to produce enough food to feed the average neighborhood. Ikea made the blueprints and plans available as a free online download in hopes of encouraging people around the world to build a Growroom for their own cities, neighborhoods, and homes. “Local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model,” added Space10 developers. “It reduces food miles, our pressure on the environment and educates our children of where food actually comes from.” EcoWatch reports that currently, there are plans to build Growrooms in Taipei, Taiwan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Helsinki, Finland; and San Francisco, California. “Standing tall as a spherical garden, it empowers people to grow their own food much more locally in a beautiful and sustainable way,” said Growroom designers. In addition to the step-by-step diagrams provided via the online download, to build a Growroom, 17 pieces of plywood are required, along with a rubber hammer, metal screws, a drill, and a CNC...

Read More
Mindfulness Meditation Shows Promise For Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Feb13

Mindfulness Meditation Shows Promise For Anxiety Disorder Treatment

In today’s world, stress seems to be a major complaint for nearly every American. Although some wear it like a badge of honor, others find it to be completely debilitating. In fact, workplace stress alone causes approximately 1 million U.S. employees to miss work each day. Americans attempt to reduce their stress in countless ways, but one of the most popular — and obvious — is mindfulness meditation. The practice of mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce the negative effects of stressors and lowers stress hormone levels. Now, a new study shows promising research that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction may provide relief for anxiety sufferers. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Nationwide, these conditions affect 40 million adults over the age of 18. Those with generalized anxiety disorder typically experience more stress than individuals without this condition, so methods of reducing that stress often go a long way. Meditation has been shown to actually change the structure of the brain and impact how it functions. Mindfulness focuses on being present in any given moment and teaches practicing individuals to consider their own thoughts without judgment. The combination of the two has been shown to be incredibly effective for anxiety disorders, as it can allow them to examine their own thought process and how it influences their behaviors, especially in regards to how they deal with anxiety-provoking situations. The recent study involved 89 individuals with GAD. Over eight weeks, participants were assigned at random to either a Stress Management Education course or a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. Before and after starting their respective courses, subjects underwent the Trier Social Stress Test. The test involves giving a lecture in front of a panel, followed by mental math equations. Afterward, the subject’s blood is drawn to measure the level of stress hormones and inflammatory proteins. Following these eight weeks, participants in the MBSR program showed significant reductions in both their stress hormones and their inflammatory proteins. In contrast, those in the education course showed increases to these levels. While the study sample size was quite small and the results don’t show definitive causation, the results do illustrate the importance of thinking about anxiety treatment in a new way. In lieu of expensive medication that may cause a variety of undesirable side-effects in some patients, meditation could present at least one component of safe, effective treatment for anxiety sufferers. Lead study author, Elizabeth A. Hoge, notes, “Mindfulness meditation training is a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma treatment approach, and these findings strengthen the case that it can improve resilience to stress.” And while this study focused specifically on...

Read More
Africa and Asia Continue to Battle Air Pollution
Feb10

Africa and Asia Continue to Battle Air Pollution

Indoor pollution continues to cause problems around the globe. Nearly 3% of the entire global burden of disease is attributed to indoor air pollution. But while this poor air quality is causing major problems all over the world, it is especially bad in Asia and Africa. According to Shanghai Daily, a new law has been proposed to regulate indoor air conditions in classrooms and in area schools because the children inside these facilities are in danger of health risks associated with poor air quality. Carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, benzene, and PM2.5 particles have been found in Chinese schools and are putting the health of these students in jeopardy. “That is the reason why students often feel drowsy after sitting inside the classroom for a long time,” said Huang Chen, a lawmaker and professor at the School of Environment and Architecture of the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology. “It is urgent to regulate the indoor air conditions for classrooms.” Only a few private schools have focused on improving the air quality inside classrooms and Huang hopes local schools will be compelled to meet the quality air standards specified by his proposed law. Scientists in Africa have discovered that the air pollution problem is even worse than they originally thought. “It’s a very big problem in Africa,” said Carlos Dora, a coordinator for the World Health Organization’s Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health department. “We have to create more of the ground level monitors but I have no doubt that just by being in African cities it’s quite clear.” Quartz reports that from 1990 to 2013, the annual number of deaths from outdoor air pollution significantly increased by 36% and indoor air pollution’s death rate — which was already at an alarmingly high rate of 400,000 deaths — rose another 18%. Dora added that the solution to reducing these air pollution issues is difficult and complex. In addition to schools doing their part, urban planning committees, waste management, transport authorities, and many other agencies will have to work together in order to successfully combat the air pollution...

Read More
New Electronic Billing System Poses Problems For Connecticut Home Health Agencies
Feb09

New Electronic Billing System Poses Problems For Connecticut Home Health Agencies

If you want to stay ahead of the curve — or just keep up with the changing times — you have to go digital. More and more businesses across all different industries are shifting over to electronic billing and system management for fear of being left behind. These systems often improve both revenue streams and customer relations; billers get paid one to three days faster, and, according to a recent survey, one-fourth of customers felt their relationship with their biller improved after changing to an e-billing system. But when not implemented correctly, these systems can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth. Case in point: after Connecticut’s Medicaid program forced home health care agencies to switch over to a new electronic system, both clients and workers are expressing a plethora of complaints. Now, agency leaders are imploring the state of Connecticut to delay the implementation of the mandated system until these issues can be fixed. Instead of speeding up the rate of payments, agency leaders say that the new system has actually delayed payments and caused mistakes that then require staff members to manually fix. All told, they say that the state owes agencies more than $1 million. Some agencies have considered phasing out their service to all Medicaid clients due to these substantial and ongoing issues. Known as EVV, or electronic visit verification, the new system is meant to track the comings and goings of home health workers, as well as the duties they perform at each home they visit. The Department of Social Services says that it’s intended to eliminate over-billing via the practice of “time-padding,” as workers will now have to clock in and out in real time. DSS estimates it could save Medicaid between $8 billion and $15 million every year. “This system change is about making sure Medicaid isn’t being milked by over-billing, no-show claiming and other abuse and waste,” says DSS spokesman David Dearborn. Agency officials are in total support of such a system, but they say that the system being mandated by the state isn’t an effective solution. They feel that the roll-out of the system has been rushed and has caused panic among health care providers and clients alike. If Medicaid clients are turned away as a result of this new system, the results could be disastrous. Currently, there are approximately 16,500 Medicaid clients who receive in-home care, but those numbers are expected to rise dramatically in the near future. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the percentage of Americans over age 65 will increase to 20% of the total population by the year 2050. That means that...

Read More