How Cedars-Sinai’s Geriatrics Program Is Earning Major Recognitions

How Cedars-Sinai’s Geriatrics Program Is Earning Major Recognitions

The 2021-22 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals report named Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles one of the Best Hospitals for Geriatrics. Cedars-Sinai is among the top 10 in the nation, with the publication highlighting its “exceptional” quality of care. The magazine’s widely respected annual evaluation considered more than 1,500 hospitals to settle on the 50 that showed the highest quality of care for senior adults 75 and up, being cared for in terms of a wide range of conditions. 

U.S. News gave Cedars-Sinai a national ranking across a total of 11 adult medical care specialties, listing it overall at No. 6. Also among the top 10 were two other California hospitals: UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. 

A 360-degree view of care

Cedars-Sinai’s renowned programs and treatment plans for seniors address the needs of people who remain actively employed and who live entirely independent lives, as well as those with disabilities and major medical conditions that severely limit their mobility and independence. 

The hospital’s geriatrics team addresses long-term wellness and preventive healthcare needs, along with specific medical issues that include dementia and other types of age-related cognitive impairments. Its team has developed expertise in a wide range of other medical and emotional issues that affect senior adults, notably osteoarthritis, hypertension, depression, and social isolation. 

The older adults that the hospital serves enjoy the benefits of access to free immunizations and diagnostic screenings. They can also take advantage of Cedars-Sinai’s free classes focused on nutrition, physical fitness, and the management of their health.

In addition, Cedars-Sinai’s Leveraging Exercise to Age in Place (LEAP) is an innovative program with a notable research component available to adults 50-plus in its local community. Working with a preventive focus, the LEAP fitness classes work on strengthening bones and bodies to correct balance problems and prevent falls while also enhancing social bonds among participants. The LEAP program offers virtual exercise classes, which are particularly appreciated during the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept many older adults at home. 

A plan for addressing major health issues

An overview of just one notable Cedars-Sinai geriatrics program can illustrate the dedication, expertise, and care that goes into each of its service components geared toward older adults. Patients served through the orthopedics department’s Geriatric Fractures Program have benefited from shorter hospital stays, lower costs, and a higher quality of overall treatment experience. 

The issue of fractures in older adults is of increasing importance in the world of medical care, as an aging population in the United States requires increased attention to both prevention and treatment. With more people living longer and staying alert and involved in life to a later age, they need high-quality support to help manage their health and wellness, in addition to any acute or chronic age-related conditions that may emerge.

Demographers estimate that, by the year 2060, 23 percent of the US population will be made up of adults 65 and older. Meanwhile, recent figures show that 60 percent of senior adults in the country are living with at least two chronic health conditions. These include cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, and ongoing problems with emphysema and other lung diseases. 

The Cedars-Sinai orthopedics team notes that the number of hip fractures in adults around the world is anticipated to reach more than 6 million by the year 2050. Experts estimate that about 50 percent of women and more than 20 percent of men will experience an osteoporotic fracture at some point in their lives. Fractures can be life-altering, resulting in long-term mobility problems. They can even be fatal. The complex needs of these patients are best addressed by a multidisciplinary team. 

One recent Cedars-Sinai-led study, published in the journal Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, centered on a cohort of geriatric patients who participated in a “pluralistic” treatment environment that included private physicians, hospitalist groups, and academic medical faculty members. The researchers found that this type of “mixed practice” fracture prevention and treatment program—as implemented by Cedars-Sinai—reduced the wait time before surgery, lowered overall hospital costs, and significantly cut the number of days hospitalized. 

Cedars-Sinai is taking part in a growing trend among major hospitals: using a multidisciplinary approach to develop 21st-century senior-focused care. Its efforts, including its LEAP program, have resulted in Cedars-Sinai being named an Age-Friendly Health System – Committed to Care Excellence by the Institute for Health Improvement, a partnership between the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. 

The organization specifically cites the hospital’s commitment to sustaining its targeted “age-friendly” healthcare system, particularly in the areas of putting a focus on seniors’ mental health needs, offering easy access to the most appropriate medications available, and supporting increased mobility at every stage of later life.

Vista School Supports Youth with Special Needs on the Way to Success

Vista School Supports Youth with Special Needs on the Way to Success

Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, a forward-looking social, educational, and mental health services provider in the Los Angeles area, has served as a trusted presence among often-neglected communities for more than 100 years. Originally founded as a home for Jewish orphans, the organization has expanded its reach over the generations to offer broad-based assistance to people from all backgrounds. 

Basing its work in a trauma-informed approach that uplifts the dignity and value of every individual, Vista Del Mar today offers access to counseling, adoption services, intensive-treatment foster care, psychological and educational assessment, parenting education, and more. It also offers one of the best school programs for youth from kindergarten to age 22 who need special support for cognitive, social, behavioral, or emotional challenges. 

Individualized goals for learning

Situated on an 18-acre campus and accredited by the Western States Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the Vista School works closely with students and families with a variety of special needs to build Individual Education Plans (IEPs). These state-mandated learning plans are designed to foster optimal academic, emotional, and social growth for students with special needs, such as severe emotional and behavioral issues, intellectual and learning disabilities, and other challenges. The school has established particular expertise and a lengthy track record of working with young people on the autism spectrum. 

Enriching curricula

For elementary school students, the Baron School Program offers high teacher-student ratios in smaller classes, with individual attention paid to each student’s learning style. Activities include music lessons focused on a chosen instrument, art and enrichment programming, and physical education programs centered on tennis, basketball, and swimming in the school’s heated indoor pool. 

Continued growth

Older students in the Vista School’s middle and high school programs also receive education and support services geared to the social and behavioral needs of their age groups.

Vista School maintains smaller class sizes into these older grades as an additional way of providing individualized instruction and guidance. At the same time, the school works to bolster tweens’ and teens’ self-confidence and sense of independence through the use of elective classes and greater room for self-directed scheduling. 

Assisted by extensively trained academic and clinical staff, middle and high school students learn science concepts in the school’s new state-of-the-art laboratory and participate in the full range of other required courses. They can choose from among electives like gardening, woodworking, sports, ceramics, and the performing arts. 

Building secure adult lives

The Vista School is proud of the fact that 65 percent of the students who graduate from its high school program go on to further their academic or vocational education. The school’s efforts to prepare students in its young adult division for academic and social success include added courses to support vocational training and independent living skills. The eBay program is a flagship real-world learning track for transitional students, and the school also offers other employment and volunteer work opportunities. 

The value of special education programs

Special education as we know it today developed in the 1960s with the strong support of the Kennedy Administration. This administration declared, for the first time in American history, that young people with disabilities have the same right to a full education as their non-disabled peers.

As educators and the public gained more understanding of the needs of youth with disabilities and challenges, the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act further codified these principles into law. Students with disabilities were required to be offered an education equivalent to that of non-disabled students, and to have access to full participation in all aspects of society. 

Today’s quality special education programs, as exemplified by those at the Vista School, are tailored to the distinct needs of each student with a disability. Through IEPs as individual as each student is, schools like the Vista School work to provide early intervention programs and adaptive technology support designed to bring out optimum development of students’ physical and intellectual abilities. 


A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University in New York, showed that even students with mild-to-moderate learning disabilities who lose access to special education programs are at higher risk of being thrown off-track in achieving their life goals.

The study’s cohort of Texas students were 52 percent less likely to complete high school and 38 percent less likely to enter college than peers with ongoing access to special education. This study also revealed significant equity issues: students of color and those from lower-income backgrounds suffered the most drastically from loss of special education programs, since their parents often did not have the resources needed to offset these service losses. 

High-quality special education programs like those at the Vista School bring students into contact with peers and instructors who form a supportive community, helping them to make the transition to adulthood with as many tools as possible to pursue further education, thrive on their chosen career paths, and meet positive, self-set goals. 

What Is Driving Europe’s Fuel Crisis?

Images of gas stations jammed with absurdly long lines of cars flooded social media just a few weeks ago. For an onlooker unfamiliar with the situation, it appeared as though a natural disaster was just hours away, and people were desperately trying to fill their cars and evacuate. That, however, was not the case, and this “panic buying” of fuel heavily contributed to further shortages. 

Currently, gas stations in London and other parts of Britain are struggling to maintain a steady fuel supply for consumers. But unlike the global energy crisis of the 1970s, the current fuel shortage is primarily due to a growing lack of trained drivers, not a lack of available fuel. And this shortage is not just affecting fuel supply; restaurants and groceries stores aren’t able to obtain food or stock shelves. 

The Road Haulage Association, a trade association of road transport operators, estimates that Britain lacks around 100,000 drivers needed to keep their economy moving forward. And the solution is not as simple as just hiring more drivers. 

When we think of truck drivers, an image of an older man pops into mind. And for the most part, yes, truck drivers do tend to be older men. Haulage companies say the average age of HGV drivers in the UK is 55. But now, those older men are retiring or have moved out of the EU altogether, and any young and hopeful new drivers are hitting roadblock after roadblock while trying to get licensed for work due to the pandemic. Additionally, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union has further exacerbated labor shortages, thanks to a referendum that signaled it would impose limits on immigration. These limits have made it nearly impossible for companies to hire drivers overseas. 

Today, there are 30,000 fewer truck drivers in the U.K. than there were just one year ago. 

According to data collected by Transport Intelligence, Poland was short of more than 120,000 drivers last year, while in Germanyup to 60,000 drivers were needed. Drivers have several reasons for leaving the industry, including long hours away from home and poor roadside facility conditions. Those same reasons serve as a major deterrent for attracting new drivers. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied that Brexit is the cause of driver shortages, and instead, placed blame on the trucking industry for underinvesting in things like salaries, truck stops, and overall conditions. But experts say that Britain’s exit from the EU shrunk the labor market, and the Road Haulage Association reported that of the shortage of 100,000 drivers, 20 percent left after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union.

Unfortunately, we take the privilege of having access to what we need for granted without recognizing what it takes, or the people involved, to get supplies from point A to B. For whatever reason, we assume that someone else is taking care of the matter. In this case, we assumed there would always be ample truck drivers ready for work when in reality, applications for such jobs have been dwindling for years. And because of the pandemic, driving test centers had to close, leaving thousands of potential drivers stuck without a way to qualify for work. 

The U.K.’s fuel crisis is the most visible impact of the driver shortage, and with the holidays right around the corner, there’s a race to fill those empty truck seats. In recent weeks the government has moved to grant temporary visas for up to 5,000 overseas drivers, extending their duration until the end of February. But only dozens of visas have been approved so far. 

The Ministry of Defense examiners are allowing more foreign workers into the U.K. and are offering free intensive ‘boot camps’ to train 5,000 people to become HGV drivers, with an additional 1,000 to be trained through courses funded by the adult education budget. To further their efforts, the government is writing to nearly one million drivers who already hold an HGV license to encourage them to come back to the industry.

In the event the situation worsens, the military is on standby. The government’s reserve tanker fleet is delivering fuel to help ease the shortage, and there are already signs the situation is improving.

Pandemic Challenges Workplace Diversity Gains

Pandemic Challenges Workplace Diversity Gains

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (commonly abbreviated as “DEI”) have surged to the top of most CEOs’ lists of necessities for building and growing companies. And there are solid reasons why. 

As shown by an accumulating body of studies, a workforce diverse in terms of age, abilities, racial and ethnic heritage, gender identity and sexual orientation, experiences, and perspectives is a more productive and successful workforce. The best companies thrive on new ideas, new insights, and new ways of problem-solving.

Furthermore, a diverse team helps forge international connections, opens new possibilities for reaching domestic and foreign markets, and enhances a company’s reputation as a forward-thinking and ethical leader among its peers. 

A strong commitment to DEI in a company’s hiring and employee development program gives that company a competitive edge, simply because it has a broader range of talent to draw on.

Lack of diversity – a pre-existing condition

But even before the full economic impacts of our current pandemic were known, female employees, employees of color, and others not part of the traditional majority remained underrepresented—particularly in positions of top responsibility—in proportion to their numbers in the general population. 

While it is sometimes challenging to get accurate DEI data from private companies, research clearly shows inequities. According to studies widely publicized in mid-2020, about 64 percent of employees taking entry-level positions were white, while 85 percent of C-suite jobs—including those at Fortune 500 companies—were held by white males. 

We’re in it together, but some of us are falling farther

Now, we must reckon with the continuing fallout from the pandemic. Almost every employee in the world, of every background, has felt the impact of office closures, relocations, shifts to remote or hybrid work, or the threat—or reality—of layoffs or reduced hours. Almost all have felt some degree of anxiety about juggling responsibilities and roles in this new world of work. 

Yet it’s become clear, from both studies and a wealth of self-reported evidence, that employees from non-traditional backgrounds are experiencing the worst of the struggle. These employees are asking their companies for additional support and a healthier way to balance work and family responsibilities. Frustratingly, these pleas are often only partially fulfilled at best. 

The need for access to high-quality mental health resources has emerged as an increasingly acute work-related issue, as numerous employees from diverse backgrounds report feeling marginalized, overworked, or that they are at greater risk of firing or career derailment when their employers’ finances are on shaky ground. In fact, a 2020 study showed that only about 1 in 6 employees who come from diverse backgrounds reported feeling adequately supported by their employers.

It’s not only women, employees of color, and LGBTQ+ employees who are having an especially hard time. Working parents of all backgrounds are feeling the economic, emotional, and time-crunch impact of our COVID-19 world.

The pandemic’s widening gender gap

Women have been affected in a way that ties directly to their gender. The pandemic has disproportionately affected women who are mothers, women of color, and women in upper management positions. Women, more so than men, have had to make hard choices about whether to continue working or care for children or elders during the pandemic. Limited or no access to daycare due to closures added an enormous problem to many women’s already precarious situations. 

One pandemic-era survey asked 1,000 female-identified employees in the US how they felt about their career trajectories. More than half responded that pandemic conditions have set them back. A study from late 2020 showed that 25 percent of full-time female employees, often burnt-out from their jobs and a disproportionate share of household responsibilities, were considering quitting. Other data showed that more than half of female managers considered leaving their jobs after March 2020. 

For women of color and single mothers, who often fill lower-wage jobs that are the sole support of themselves and their families, this crisis has long passed the point at which it could be described as “acute.”  

The burden on people of color just intensified

Black Americans, Latinos, and Native American employees of all genders are over-represented in lower-wage, “essential” service jobs, even as these groups tend to have higher rates of pre-existing conditions that can exacerbate the lethality of COVID-19. 

Additionally, employees of color (notably including Asian Americans), whether they have personally been targeted or not, are living under the stress of an upsurge in violent, racially motivated attacks. The fear that people in these situations live under daily may be scarcely imaginable to white CEOs. Pre-COVID research demonstrates that both direct and vicarious exposure to law enforcement violence of any kind measurably diminishes the ability of employees of color to fully engage at work. 

Small steps forward, future progress in doubt

If there’s any good news in all this, it’s that 40 percent of the international cohort of companies responding to a recent survey reported that they are increasing their investment into DEI programs, even in cases when they are being forced to trim other parts of their budgets amid the pandemic. Close to all the companies surveyed reported putting some type of COVID-19-related programs in place to support all their employees. 

Even so, 90 percent of the CEOs in the survey noted that they were experiencing roadblocks to the full implementation of their DEI development strategies. 

So how can employers help? 

According to a consensus of experts, there are a few ways:

  • Maintain and step up company efforts toward not only diversity but inclusion. Three out of five employees from diverse backgrounds have reported not feeling they could be their real selves at work.
  • Make the work environment more human-centered with meaningful opportunities for team-building and personal interaction, whether remote or in-person. While building these connections, don’t forget that employees experience different impacts from the pandemic, and some may need more or a different type of support than others. 
  • Avoid “color-blind” public statements that minimize the distinct challenges faced by women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other especially vulnerable populations among your employees. Stand up for your employees by challenging racist, sexist, and other biased behavior.
  • Empower employees to take care of themselves. Experts estimate that emotional trauma sustained during a disaster outpaces physical harm by a rate of 40 to 1. Ease red tape and lessen any culture of stigma to make it easier for employees to take time off if they need it. Prioritize the most essential tasks in case anyone needs unexpected time away. 

Ask employees what they need, rather than making assumptions. Ask them how they’re doing in a way that invites real conversation. One of the most productive questions can be “What do you need from me right now?”

How Cedars-Sinai’s Geriatrics Program Is Earning Major Recognitions

Cedars-Sinai Signs Up for Major Study on Child Brain Development

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles keeps on developing innovative research programs designed to improve the health of people of all ages. On September 30, 2021, the hospital announced the beginning of its participation in a major study of childhood neurological growth.

Working toward healthier brains

This HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Study, administered under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), represents a major advancement in the field, since scientists have to date learned comparatively little about brain development during the first 10 years of life. The study is planned to follow participants, currently pregnant people and their children, for the entirety of that first decade.

Cedars-Sinai, one of the leading research and teaching hospitals in the nation, is one of 25 medical institutions actively participating in the project. Boston Children’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, and Pennsylvania State University are among the other participants. All these institutions are located in regions especially hard-hit by the opioid epidemic.

We know that the first few years of a child’s life are a time when the brain and nervous system are in a state of constant growth. What we don’t completely understand is how exposure to various environmental toxins and stressors, immediately before and after birth, affect the course of development over the long term.

A new way to address the opioid crisis

The HBCD study grew out of the realization that the current opioid crisis is having major adverse effects not only on the individuals struggling with addiction, but on the development of their young children. From 2010 to 2017, the number of pregnant people who received diagnoses related to opioid use at the time they delivered their babies increased by 131 percent. And an estimated 2 million people in the United States are living with ongoing opioid addiction.

These tragic outcomes are in large part due to practices on the part of the pharmaceutical industry over the decades. In promoting their opioid-based pain medications, the companies downplayed their potential for causing addiction. Alongside each individual tragedy of this epidemic is the impact on entire communities in the form of lower economic productivity and growth, and the effects of lasting intergenerational trauma in families.

A new framework for understanding the brain


The HBCD researchers hope to develop a template that outlines normal neurological development in children, and to measure the extent to which exposure to substances (including tobacco, alcohol, and opioids) and traumatic environments, both before and immediately after birth, contribute to moving children’s brain development away from these norms. A greater understanding of normal brain development trajectories will be central to gaining knowledge of how exposure to toxic substances and other negative environmental influences can alter them.

The researchers’ ultimate goal is to discover factors that can help develop innovative interventions, and that can promote greater resilience in children negatively affected by early exposure to opioids and other harmful substances.

Researching for the future

The study’s results should also be able to contribute to a better understanding of critical public health issues, including any potential effects on development due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and to any analogous health or environmental crises that emerge. The results of the researchers’ work will likely become a valuable repository of information for future scientists, as well as for practicing physicians, child development experts, and community leaders, for generations.

Specific study activities that offer potential for practical applications include the creation of technological advances in neuroimaging and infant neurological assessment, and multi-pronged means for assessing all aspects of early neurological development, including emotional development.

An expert leader

Wei Gao, PhD, serves as the director of Neuroimaging Research with Cedars-Sinai’s Biomedical Imaging Research Institute. On the occasion of the hospital’s announcement of its participation, Gao told reporters that the sooner that physicians can identify young children with an elevated risk of developmental problems, the faster and more efficiently these young patients can receive the best possible treatment. Gao is the principal investigator and director of the Los Angeles area component of the HBCD project. Cedars-Sinai and other local medical facilities will use NIH grant funding totaling almost $6 million to work with pregnant people and their children in the study. Over the course of his previous scientific work, Gao has gained a global reputation for his expertise in using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology to trace previously unknown aspects of early childhood brain development. Among his signal research achievements is a study demonstrating how the growth rates of a baby’s brain cells can help physicians infer the degree of emotional and intellectual capacity that child might develop by age 4. This is the type of information that can lead to increased timely interventions to offset early developmental problems. Gao is also well-known for his design of a special crib to be used in MRI imaging facilities. The crib is more compatible with the MRI process, allowing for greater ease and accuracy of imaging.

5 of the World’s Top Companies Show What Makes a Powerful Brand

5 of the World’s Top Companies Show What Makes a Powerful Brand

The world’s truly great brands all have a few things in common: They are built on genuine quality and success; they find their own unique niche in a market; and they stand for something beyond their marketing campaigns by actually enhancing life for consumers in fresh and creative ways. 

Moreover, each of the greatest brands is great in large part because it has a great story behind it—a story it tells with focus and passion, over and over again. A growing number of experts in the art of marketing and branding are coming to realize that a great brand is “cinematic.” It offers a multidimensional impact that incorporates not only its core product or service identity, but also the tone and inflection of its voice, and the broader environment in which it interacts with the public. 

Apple – designing for its customers

Apple is an obvious but necessary choice for this list, simply because its name and logo have become iconic representations of innovation in function and design. The brand’s central product, according to a range of analysts, isn’t even its meticulously created smartphone: it’s the in-depth thought process behind all Apple products and, most of all, the company’s deep commitment to customer care. Recent branding studies have shown that people all over the world recognize and respond to the Apple logo as instantaneously evoking these ideas.

Additionally, the company’s central business values saturate its entire brand identity, down to the displays in its more than 500 stores located around the world. 

Coca-Cola – sharing happiness

People in more than 200 countries consume an estimated total of nearly 2 billion servings of Coca-Cola every day. But the brand’s global success isn’t due solely—or even chiefly—to the sweet, refreshing taste of its best-known product. Experts note that the Coca-Cola brand has become embedded in popular consciousness as a symbol of something everybody wants: happiness. That easily translated message continues to resonate for a reason. It’s a simple feeling to convey in words and images, and it’s part of humanity’s eternal quest. The Coca-Cola company also goes out of its way to personalize its products and messaging in each culture in which it does business, a necessary task for a global brand.

The happiness that Coca-Cola is selling isn’t just meant for individuals alone; it’s meant to be shared. The company’s social media campaigns take its lasting brand image as a memorable experience, accessible to everyone, and boost it by encouraging others to “share a Coke” with family and friends.  

Veuve Clicquot – the world’s champagne

Veuve Clicquot champagne has become synonymous with the idea of what branding experts call “accessible luxury.” There are plenty of sommeliers who would look askance at the 200-plus-year-old brand for that reason alone, but that’s not the point. It’s not too much to say that, for numerous consumers today, Veuve Clicquot is champagne, and champagne is Veuve Clicquot. 

Part of its reputation is based on innovation and longevity. Designed by the real Veuve (“Widow”) Clicquot herself, the riddling rack corking mechanism was the transformation that allowed champagne to be mass-produced, and it is still in use today. Movie and television shows continue to reference the brand over and over, and this savvy product placement keeps its distinctively yellow-jacketed shape constantly in the popular consciousness. 

Paul Smith – “classics with a twist”

Paul Smith is a quieter brand, but that’s part of its identity as an exemplar of distinctive elegance. It’s built around the work of its namesake, one of the foremost designers of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories in the United Kingdom—and the world. In keeping with Smith’s aesthetic since he went into business in 1970, the brand focuses on creating beautifully tailored pieces that are “classics with a twist.” Its apparel and accessories feature inventive linings, unusually colored buttons, and the like.  

The items produced under the Paul Smith logo have carved out their own distinct niche within the space between avant-garde fashion design and traditional formal wear, a market in which it’s particularly challenging to achieve lasting success. 

The simple typography of the brand’s logo consists solely of the designer’s signature. In addition, its multicolored pinstripe pattern has earned instantaneous recognition from the smaller but discerning set of consumers who appreciate quirkiness, quality, and individuality. 

Mercedes-Benz – embodying luxury

Mercedes-Benz and its three-pointed star logo have enjoyed multiple consecutive rankings at the top of Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands list. In 2020, the German carmaker was the only European brand in the marketing consultancy’s overall top 10 list, which also included Apple and Coca-Cola. Mercedes-Benz also ranks atop numerous other global lists of the most popular luxury cars. For generations, it has stood as an incarnation of richness in product quality, comfort, design, and superior handling and performance, and it continues to enjoy exceptional customer loyalty. 

Once again, we see with this brand that the customer experience is key to its longevity and profitability. The Mercedes-Benz executive team told media in 2020 that the big secret to its success is its incessant dedication to customer needs. Experts note in particular the company’s keen ability to understand that its customers want a more modern sensation of luxury, and to deliver on that expectation in every aspect of design, production, and marketing. Mercedes-Benz prides itself on its ability to build brand experiences for its customers that reaffirm their connections to its products, and to marshal a range of forward-looking print, digital, and other types of collateral to keep this image before the broader public. 

5 Young Activists Doing Their Best To Solve Environmental Crises, And Why We Should Listen To Them

5 Young Activists Doing Their Best To Solve Environmental Crises, And Why We Should Listen To Them

There’s no arguing that Greta Thunberg has passionately protested her way to being the face of the youth activism movement surrounding the global climate crisis. Thunberg made quite a splash in 2019 when she reprimanded world leaders at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit for having “stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” The young activist spoke for an entire generation of children who face a bitter reality: their future on this planet is rife with dangerous climate conditions.  

But Greta is far from alone in the fight for widespread change. In fact, there are millions of young activists all over the world demanding their voices be heard. These incredible young activists refuse to sit back and watch world leaders continue to ignore the lethal disasters resulting from greenhouse gases and other environmental destructions. They believe that together they can spark change, and we need to pay attention if we want to secure their future on this planet.

Mari Copeny

Mari Copeny is just 14 years old, and for the majority of her life, she and her community have not had access to clean, safe water. The people of Flint, Michigan, have suffered for over six years after being switched from Detroit’s city system to the Flint River, which resulted in a tainted water supply. Mismanagement led to high levels of lead in the water, a crisis that Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality completely ignored. For months, Flint’s residents complained about their water being discolored, having an odor, and being undrinkable, just to have their concerns fall on deaf ears. 

State officials now estimate that around 9,000 children in Flint under the age of 6 were exposed to high levels of lead. These children, including Copeny, are at risk of developing severe, long-term developmental and health problems as a result. 

Back in 2016, Copeny, who was just eight years old at the time, wrote to President Obama challenging him to visit Flint. Her letter, published by the LA Times, sparked an urgent dialogue around the clean water crisis and environmental racism her community was experiencing. Since then, Copeny has met with Presidents Obama and Clinton, Bernie Sanders, TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, NBC News, and VICE. Copeny is now a Youth Ambassador to the Women’s March on Washington and the National Climate March. She currently sits on the board of directors for Kid Box and is an active member of 18 x Eighteen, an initiative to get young people to vote once they turn eighteen. 

Copeny’s work in the community led to the distribution of over 1M bottles of water to Flint residents. Recently, the young activist partnered with Hydroviv, a water filter company that works with her to distribute high-capacity lead removal filters to families and child-centric organizations in Flint. Copeny also raised $500,000 for her “Flint Kids” project to place thousands of books into the hands of local children, along with backpacks filled with school supplies. Copeny’s focus and dedication to supplanting environmental racism has directly resulted in change, and we should all be paying close attention to what this young activist has to say. 

Kevin Patel

Kevin Patel became an activist at just the age of 12 to address food apartheid and food deserts, but his passion for activism intensified when he was diagnosed with various health issues that were the direct result of air and smog pollution in South Central Los Angeles. Now at age 20, Patel is a climate justice activist and the founder of One Up Action International. 

“Air and smog pollution causes many health issues, such as heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, cancer, asthma,” Patel said in an interview with In The Know. “I said you know what? This is not just an issue that’s affecting me. The fossil fuel industry is right in people’s backyards.” Patel was referring to the 53,000 oil wells in the area where he grew up. He knew in his heart that this level of pollution and environmental devastation would never be tolerated in affluent white neighborhoods. 

Environmental racism is an urgent and systemic crisis. In 2018, a report from the Environmental Protection Agency found that people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air. This issue came to a head during the COVID-19 pandemic when lung health was discovered to be the difference between dying of COVID-19 and surviving it. 

“These communities are devastated with not only the air and smog pollution, but [also] the chemicals that are coming out of these drills of the fossil fuel industry and the corporations,” Patel says. “We make sure that we include the communities that are at the front lines of the climate crisis, like our Black communities, like our indigenous communities, like our Brown communities. We have to rethink these systems and say what works for everyone.”

While working with the Youth Climate Strike LA movement in 2019, Patel became inspired to start his own organization, One Up Action International, in an effort to get more young people involved in fighting for change. Today, One Up Action International has over 30 global chapters. 

Kevin is one of the millions of people worldwide who are already victims of the climate crisis. If we want to ensure the planet is safe for everyone, we have to listen to the POC activists who experience the effects of environmental racism every day of their lives. 

Quannah Chasinghorse

Quannah Chasinghorse is a 19-year-old Indigenous model who recently went viral for her stunning Met Gala look. But long before she graced the world with her immense beauty as a model, Quannah Chasinghorse was an activist. Quannah, a 19-year-old Han Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota youth, has traveled coast to coast, advocating to protect her homelands from the desecration of oil drilling. Her mother, Jody Potts, serves as the regional director for Native Movement and is a board member with the Alaska Wilderness League. Together, they represent the decades-long fight to protect their state’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge is known for its immense ecosystem of nearly 20 million protected acres, with mountain ranges providing a sanctuary for wildlife. Before the region was deemed a wilderness refuge by the federal government in 1960, it was known by the Gwich’in as “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit,” meaning “the sacred place where life begins.” But the region is now at an even greater risk of devastation since the Trump administration and congressional Republicans decided to open the refuge’s coastal plain to oil and gas development.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, living off the land has become more critical than ever for the Gwich’in. Due to flight shortages, the community has not had much access to imported foods and goods. But living off the land has proven to be immensely difficult, as climate change has impacted hunting, fishing, and berry seasons. 

While it would appear Quannah’s activism efforts have paid off in a way, the community has a long way to go. For example, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley have all committed to no longer backing Arctic drilling projects— but the Trump administration still announced its plans to open up 82% of an Alaska nature reserve for oil and gas leasing.

But Quannah is more dedicated than ever to honoring her ancestors and fighting for future generations and the preservation of this sacred land. “I’m not an environmentalist; I’m an Indigenous youth trying to stick up for our ways of life,” Quannah said in an interview with TeenVogue. “They’re just tearing up more land, destroying more water, and in the end, when all of the oil is extracted out of Alaska, what are they going to do? We need to reconnect and rebuild our relationship to the land. If all of this were to be destroyed from drilling and oil spills, I don’t know how I would feel connected anymore. I don’t want that taken from us.”

Quannah has a deep connection to the lands and her people’s way of life. We need to join her in this fight to keep this sacred land protected at all costs. 

Devishi Jha

Devishi Jha is an 18-year-old  climate activist and Director of Partnerships at Zero Hour, an international youth-led climate justice organization. Devishi advises multinational brands like UNILEVER and Johnson & Johnson on their environmental commitments, a role she takes very seriously after having witnessed the monsoon season in India get worse because of climate change.

In April 2020, Devishi launched a platform called Voyagers that connects companies with Gen Z advocates who can help them adapt their business practices. She believes economies that reduce, reuse, and recycle natural and artificial resources are the future and wants other young activists to join in the fight for a green revolution. 

“We noticed that there are so many young consumers that care about sustainability, and we wanted to get the conversation going between businesses and Gen Z. To get companies to speak about what they’re doing and what product they’re selling in the context of diversity, equity and inclusion, human rights and of course climate change,” Jha explained in an interview with Forbes.

Devishi believes a sustainable future is one that is able to maintain longevity and prosperity for all, not just a select few. “I remember seeing climate change intensify the monsoons, heatwaves, and drought in India, where I was born. I realized that I needed to speak out and advocate for marginalized communities who are most affected by the climate crisis, because it impacts people of different means and identities (such as) race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, differently.”

She hopes that her work in activism allows more Asian-Americans to enter the space and contribute in a meaningful way. It is her dream that her platform Voyagers will “change the core of corporate business models, placing sustainability at the same pedestal as financial returns.”

Vic Barrett

Vic Barrett was just 11 years old when Hurricane Sandy devastated his upstate New York hometown. For this young activist, climate change is a human rights issue. Barrett, a transgender Black, first-generation Honduran-American, is one of 21 young people suing the executive branch of the U.S. government for failing to respond to the global climate crisis. He says he can’t recall a world before climate change, which he believes is directly linked to police violence, inhumane migrant treatment, and Indigenous land dispossession.

Barrett delivered a speech in New York back in September of 2019 and said, “I am Garifuna. My people are an Afro-Indigenous community from the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. We are being pushed from the lands that my family has inhabited for generations. That land will be underwater in a few decades if we continue on the path we are on.”

After realizing a huge number of the people most impacted by Hurricane Sandy were poor, Black, and Latino, he started to view Hurricane Sandy much differently. Barrett learned that hurricanes like Sandy devastate low-income housing communities. This crisis will only worsen as hurricanes and storms are likely to become more intense each year due to global warming. So, he decided to get involved in fighting for change. During his freshman year of high school, he joined Global Kids, an after-school program that helps students build activism campaigns around human rights-related issues.

“We’re here to write a new story, a story in which our country is doing everything in its power to address not only the climate crisis, but the systemic injustices at its roots, a story in which our constitutional right to a safe climate is recognized by the highest courts,” he said in an interview with Mashable. “When you have this lived experience of feeling unheard or unlistened to, or ignored, you kind of want to prevent that for other people. I think the climate movement is a really good home for that.”

Barrett became a senior fellow with the Alliance For Climate Education, which educates students about climate change and activism. He made speeches to local elected officials on the organization’s behalf, and he was invited to the Paris Climate Conference with ACE in 2015. 

Determined to make his voice heard, Barrett reached out to Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit law firm in Oregon that represents youth in legal cases asserting their right to a stable and safe environment. As a result, he became one of 21 plaintiffs represented by Our Children’s Trust suing the U.S. government for environmental degradation related to climate change. The plaintiffs argue that the U.S. has enabled industries that contribute to climate change, such as the fossil fuel industry, and in doing so, has infringed on their basic rights to life, liberty, and property in a future of increasing environmental degradation.

Barrett has many intersecting aspects of his identity, including being Black, Latino, first-generation American, transgender, and Indigenous ancestry. He is an invaluable source of information for the American public. We can all learn from someone like Barrett, who can offer the world a unique perspective and educate us on how these climate issues affect all people of all walks of life.

Cedars-Sinai Boosts Knowledge of Rare COVID Complication in Kids

Cedars-Sinai Boosts Knowledge of Rare COVID Complication in Kids

The findings of a 2021 study led by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center team may help doctors better understand multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a severe complication of infection with COVID-19. The study first appeared in the peer-reviewed publication Journal of Clinical Investigation and was authored by the Cedars-Sinai team in collaboration with partners at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. 

Tracing the value of biomarkers

This research offers the potential to use distinctive MIS-C biomarkers to more accurately predict the course of disease in young patients. It may also help physicians develop potentially lifesaving new treatments. 

The study looked at data from a small cohort of patients to pinpoint a set of pathogenic trajectories that ended up as MIS-C. The researchers also examined blood proteins potentially able to act as biomarkers that would help predict symptom severity and thus better inform doctors about the optimal treatment for each patient. 

Rare but terrifying

Only a few children develop MIS-C, but it can be fatal. The condition involves inflammation of various parts of the body, which can include the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, and even the skin and eyes. While scientists do not yet understand the exact cause of MIS-C, they have shown that many children who manifest the condition have either been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or have been in close contact with an infected person.

The complications of MIS-C can appear even weeks after a child has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The median age of patients with MIS-C is nine years old.

Given prompt and appropriate medical care, most children who develop MIS-C have improved. Most pediatric patients in the U.S. presenting with the condition have required hospitalization in the intensive care unit. 

Particularly if left untreated, the condition can worsen and result in death for a small number of patients.

From May 2020 to the last week in August 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received more than 4,400 reports of cases of MIS-C. Out of those cases, more than three dozen children died.  

Accumulating urgency

With many schools reopening under less-than-optimum conditions and the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, parents and physicians are more concerned than ever about how the disease affects children. Statistics for summer 2021 showed more children being hospitalized than earlier in the pandemic. Physicians also noted troubling issues of equity: MIS-C is especially prevalent among Black and Latinx children. 

These are all among the reasons why the director of Cedars-Sinai’s Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division told media outlets that the pathfinding study on biomarkers is especially important. 

An immune system running riot

Research is slowly clearing away some of the unknowns surrounding MIS-C. Scientists now view it as an autoimmune disorder, in which the patient’s own immune system goes into hyperdrive, perhaps in response to the large-scale tissue damage that some people sustain from infection with SARS-CoV-2. This causes the immune system to literally attack the patient’s own organs. 

Pediatric patients with MIS-C typically show up with the same “cytokine storms” that doctors had previously marked in adult patients with severe inflammatory responses to SARS-CoV-2. Among the symptoms are long-term fever, inflammation of the heart, shock, and acute respiratory or neurological system crises. 

Connecting the dots

Previously, the Cedars-Sinai team published a 2020 study that can be considered a precursor to the newer one on biomarkers. In the earlier research, conducted with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the scientists discovered similarities in the biological reactions that characterize MIS-C, the cytokine storm phenomenon, and toxic shock syndrome, which has long been recognized as a rare outcome in cases of bacterial infection.

When doctors first identified MIS-C in their child patients earlier in the pandemic, they noted its multiple resemblances to toxic shock and Kawasaki syndrome, whose symptoms include fever, rash, and swelling of the lymph glands and extremities.

The researchers built a truly interdisciplinary team to conduct the biomarker study, with Cedars-Sinai and five partner organizations contributing specialists from a variety of fields in order to keep the project moving quickly. This dream team relied on a number of advanced technologies, including RNA sequencing, antibody analysis, and proteomics, the analysis of cell proteins. The researchers also analyzed immune system signaling, the complex biological process that allows the body to identify and respond to infectious agents.

The key limitation of this study, as the team acknowledges, was its small subject size of 69 children. Some had been diagnosed with MIS-C, others had not, and still others had been diagnosed with Kawasaki syndrome. Still, this study can serve as an anchor to see if its findings can be replicated in further research. 

Symptoms? Get help promptly

The CDC urges parents to be alert for the signs of MIS-C, while understanding that not every child with the condition will develop the same symptoms. The typical scenario involves persistent fever, along with one or more other symptoms such as headache, extreme tiredness, rash, bloodshot eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, clammy skin, and difficulty breathing.

Anyone who suspects a child might be developing MIS-C should contact the child’s pediatrician right away. Symptoms that require an immediate call to emergency services include persistent chest pressure or pain, labored breathing, difficulty remaining awake, new confusion, and gray, blue, or abnormally pale skin, nails, or lips. 

Vista School Supports Youth with Special Needs on the Way to Success

Vista Del Mar’s Forward-Looking Work on Adoption

Since the earliest days of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services’ long history of serving the people of Southern California, it has offered cottage-style homes to its children, the first-ever orphanage in the region to do so. In the intervening years, its offerings have expanded to include services for families with children on the autism spectrum and with other special needs, as well as those looking for mental health counseling, psycho-educational evaluation, parenting resources, and adoption services.

1. A trusted leader in adoption services

With the oldest adoption program in its region, Vista stands out as a pioneer in the field of adoption. The professionalism and attentive, compassionate engagement with families that characterize its other service programs also distinguish its adoption services, which enjoy widespread public trust. Fully accredited and licensed, its adoption services program has earned a national reputation for its thoroughness and integrity.

Vista’s professionals are able to address the entire range of needs centered on forming a new family, from foster care placement, the foster-to-adoption process, international adoptions, and counseling and support for birth parents who choose adoption. The Vista team also provides the required home study services, as well as pre-adoption workshops and post-adoption services, preparation of the necessary court paperwork, cooperative adoptions handled with attorneys and facilitators, and more.

Because Vista maintains strong relationships with not only multiple adoption attorneys and facilitators, but also local hospitals and maternity clinics that serve birth parents, it provides relatively short turnaround times; after completion of a home study, for example, the average wait time for a prospective adoptive family to be matched with a child ranges from a year to a year and a half.

Additionally, Vista can provide adoptive families with information on the federal Adoption Assistance Program (AAP), which gives most children adopted through an agency or foster care specified financial benefits, as well as health care benefits through the Medi-Cal program.

2. Compassion, respect, and cultural competence

On its website, Vista addresses several common adoption-related questions, including whether single adults and members of the LGBTQ community can qualify to adopt, to which the response is “yes.” In fact, Vista has earned a seal of recognition from the Human Rights Commission for its work in helping LGBTQ parents build their families.

The core values that each Vista adoption services professional observes are openness, honesty, and compassion. Each birth family and adoptive family is received with respect and a warm welcome at Vista, where its culturally competent staff focuses on developing a sense of comfort and trust.

3. Support through a life-changing process

These are among the key reasons that birth and adoptive families work with Vista. The adoption process offers a chance to start or complete a family, provide a loving home for a child in need, and create positive changes in the lives of everyone involved. But because it can also be stressful and demand emotional vulnerability, Vista makes a point to offer intensive support throughout the process – and afterwards.

In California, an estimated 2,000 children in need of an adoptive family enter the system daily. Some children wait for years in foster care before finding permanent adoptive homes. Many of the children most in need are older, are non-white, or have special needs. For children who age out of the foster care system without finding an adoptive family, the risks to social, emotional, and educational development are significant.

The right adoption offers a world of advantages to a child. As members of a family, they will develop lasting bonds with parents and family members. A successful adoption provides a child with a sense of belonging and security, setting the foundation for healthy development at each stage of growth toward maturity. Adopted children, like other children in stable homes, are also statistically less likely to experience domestic abuse and develop substance abuse issues or harmful behavior patterns.

Similarly, an adopted child offers their new family a chance for personal and emotional growth, in part by returning their adoptive family’s gift of love, care, and acceptance with trust and reliance as they build a new relationship. Adoptive parents can also experience gratification from sharing their good fortune with a child who might otherwise never have had even their most basic needs fulfilled.

For birth parents who decide that adoption gives their child the best chance in life, there is peace of mind in knowing that pre-screened, qualified, loving adoptive parents are ready and willing to provide their child with a home. A birth parent who is unready to raise a child can pursue dreams of education and career that otherwise might have had to wait for years or remain unfulfilled. And in many cases, birth parents and adoptive families can reach agreements to maintain a relationship, allowing the adopted child a continued connection that benefits everyone.

To learn more, visit Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services at VistaDelMar.org.

Spotlight on Cedars-Sinai – High-Quality Care of the Vulnerable Rooted in Faith

Spotlight on Cedars-Sinai – High-Quality Care of the Vulnerable Rooted in Faith

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center got its start with two small community hospitals that opened at the start of the 20th century. Its mission expanded over the decades to focus on meeting the full range of the healthcare needs of both the Jewish and general communities.

Today, the massive hospital complex is the largest not-for-profit medical center in the western part of the United States. Its teams continue to provide research, patient care, and community outreach of a quality that has made it one of the world’s leading centers of breakthrough science, medical education, and service to its community.

It embodies the spirit of tikkun olam.

The hospital began by serving the Jewish community, fulfilling the highest social value of tikkun olam (“repairing the world” in Hebrew), but it didn’t stop there. It continues to work in the spirit of the Jewish ethical tradition, as it concentrates on reaching out to those most in need from every background across the diverse fabric of the Los Angeles area.

It is nicknamed the “hospital to the stars” thanks to its status as hospital of choice for numerous Hollywood celebrities. However, Cedars-Sinai further expanded its service to struggling communities in 2020 by broadening the income requirements necessary to receive free or reduced-cost services.

It was originally founded to treat Jewish patients with tuberculosis.

Cedars-Sinai as we know it today was formed from the merger of Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (originally Kaspare Cohn Hospital) with Mount Sinai Hospital (which developed out of the Bikur Cholim Society’s hospice). Kaspare Cohn Hospital opened its doors on Carroll Avenue in Los Angeles in 1902, out of the home of its founder and namesake. Kaspare Cohn was a businessman and founder of Union Bank who donated the residence located in the neighborhood now known as Echo Park.

The hospital’s original mission was to treat Jewish patients who had contracted tuberculosis. A pioneer in more ways than one, Kaspare Cohn included on its staff one of the area’s first-ever women doctors, Dr. Sarah Vasen, who served as medical director from 1906.

In a 2002 article tracing the Cedars-Sinai story, the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles noted that TB was a widespread problem among American Jewish communities of Eastern European origin. Many migrated west from the crowded tenements of New York and other eastern cities, hoping for a cure for the contagious disease then often referred to as “consumption.” The idea was that the cleaner, drier air would have a healing effect. 

These “lungers,” as the slang term called them, produced a surge in the Los Angeles Jewish population, which quadrupled from the turn of the century to reach 10,000 by 1910. Several local Jewish benevolent organizations joined forces to try to help their new community members. Vista Del Mar, for example, now a broadly focused social service organization, originated in 1908 as an orphanage for Jewish youth who had lost their parents to tuberculosis. 

It was a refuge from anti-Semitism.

The need for hospitals devoted specifically to the American Jewish community was great in the 19th century and much of the 20th. Most new Jewish immigrants were poor, with no other recourse to obtain professional medical care.

Many Jews also wanted to be treated in a hospital that would respect their religious and cultural traditions, such as keeping kosher and observing Shabbat. And due to the presence of widespread anti-Semitism in America at the time, Jewish patients could not always count on receiving equal treatment—or sometimes any treatment at all—at non-Jewish hospitals in their communities. 

Jewish hospitals also existed as a way of offering top-flight medical training to Jewish healthcare professionals. Even in the 1930s and 1940s, it was often impossible for a Jewish doctor, regardless of experience or credentials, to get hired at a non-Jewish facility. 

In 1918, Los Angeles’ Bikur Cholim Society (the literal translation of the Hebrew is “visiting the sick”) began treating hospice patients. Located in a residence in Boyle Heights after 1921, it remained the Bikur Cholim Hospital until its relocation to Beverly Boulevard in 1955 as Mount Sinai Hospital. It was on this site that the current Cedars-Sinai Medical Center began to expand after the hospitals merged in 1961. 

It continues to pursue its mission in new ways.

Until the mid-20th century, Cedars-Sinai’s sole goal was direct patient care. While that has continued as the core mission, it expanded into research and medical education after the mid-1950s. Now, working as part of the Cedars-Sinai Health System, it employs more than 12,000 staff, and admits about 50,000 patients in a typical year. 

One component of Cedars-Sinai’s multi-strategy pandemic response is its innovative COVID-19 Recovery Program. Launched at the beginning of 2021, this effort works specifically with patients dealing with the symptoms of “long COVID” months after their recovery from SARS-CoV-2. The related Cedars-Sinai Cardiology Program assists people with lingering heart problems, and its Post-ICU Post-COVID Clinic supports those with post-intensive care issues stemming from COVID or another critical illness. This work falls squarely within the original mission of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital from 1902: to bring healing to patients stricken with infectious diseases and other ills, using the best-available scientific treatment and the highest standards of care.