Monthly Archives: July 2014

Wycombe District Councillors Approve Further Study into Area Medical Care

Following complaints about a countywide survey on the healthcare of High Wycombe, a city in Buckinghamshire, England, councillors have unanimously approved a new study on medical services available in the area. The new report seeks to analyze healthcare in the area following several changes at Wycombe Hospital, including the closure of the Accident and Emergency department in 2011. The new rendition of the survey will reportedly focus on urgent care and resident statements.

On the evening of Monday, July 28, 2014, the Wycombe District Councillers voted unanimously to launch a second report on healthcare in the Wycombe area after voicing disappointment with a previous study, which was conducted as part of the government’s Keogh review of hospital services. In addition to understanding how the loss of hospital services has affected the community, one cabinet member also stated that the report should aim raise residents’ awareness of the hospital’s Minor Illness and Incident Unit (MIIU), or urgent care center.

The councillor expressed concern that a number of patients who could have been successfully treated at the Wycombe urgent care center instead traveled to the Accident and Emergency department at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, another medical center in Buckinghamshire. Because the Keogh review of hospital services did not analyze how many patients visited Stoke Mandeville instead of the urgent care center, the councillors believe there could be a major problem with the study’s findings. The new report will likely seek an answer to this question and also explore the possibility of increasing services at Wycombe Hospital.

The Council’s concerns over the proper utilization of the community urgent care center are understandable in light of a recent study from the NHS and published in the medical journal BMJ Open: experts from the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the Universities of Manchester, Oxford and University College London, found that A&E departments were unable to treat, discharge or admit 95% of patients within a 4 hour period for over 52 weeks. The study also found that urgent care centers could significantly reduce the pressure on local hospitals. These findings echo similar statistics in other countries: in the United States, for example, the average urgent care clinic gets somewhere between 300 and 400 visits every week, helping to relieve local emergency departments facing an overwhelming number of patients.

The Wycombe MIIU is equipped to handle a variety of ailments and medical conditions, including cuts and bruises, sprains and strains, bites and stings, scalds and minor burns, possible fractures, and other minor injuries. In the wake of a number of NHS hospital closures, similar to the 2011 closure of Wycombe’s A&E, medical centers like the MIIU could become increasingly important: on Wednesday, July 30, it was announced that the A&E units at two West London hospitals, Charing Cross and Hammersmith, were going to be closed and sold off. The 22,000 patients who use the facilities every year will now have to travel to St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Protesters referred to the decision the biggest closure in NHS history.

The new Wycombe study is expected to feature a public listening event in the district to gather reports of residents’ perspectives and experiences at area Accident and Emergency departments, as well as urgent care centers. The study will also gather information on transportation between Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals, as well as the experiences the frail and elderly have had while attempting to access medical services. Until the results of the survey are released and necessary changes are implemented, residents of the Wycombe area have been asked to visit the MIIU for minor medical problems, whereas major problems, serious head injuries, and any cases involving loss of consciousness should be treated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Luxury Homes Across the Country Become More Affordable for Many

Owning a luxury home may not be a far-off dream for some Americans any longer.

While home prices across America continue to rise, there are a number of luxury homes for sale that are experiencing significant price cuts.

According to a July 25 Forbes article, some of these homes are seeing price reductions that cut away as much as 30% of the original listing price — and when a luxury home is technically any home that is valued at more than $1 million, a 30% discount is significant.

Real estate experts say price cuts like these aren’t out of the ordinary, as many luxury home sellers will make a bold initial asking price and gradually become more realistic and practical if the house fails to sell.

“The upper end is going to look at their property a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork,” Ken DeLeon, a luxury broker in Palo Alto, Calif., told Forbes. “You’re more inclined to see people try a bold number, a big number, to start. And when that fails, you have to kind of get more realistic …It’s no longer a Rembrandt, it’s just a home.”

For many home buyers who can’t afford a $30 million luxury home, but could afford a home that’s $18 million, these price reductions make the dream of owning a deluxe residence a reality.

However, the trend to slash prices of luxury homes for sale is far from universal — some high-demand areas like Beverly Hills continue to see home prices on the rise.

“I certainly don’t see it in Beverly Hills because the inventory is so minimal,” Jeff Hyland, president of Los Angeles real estate firm Hilton & Hyland, told Forbes. “We’ve seen a 20% increase in property prices, so I don’t see price reductions unless someone has bought another property, or there’s a divorce, or a death.”

Hipcamp Puts the Joy Back into Camping by Taking the Work out of Planning

Summer is the season for camping, and with more than 84 million acres set aside across all U.S. territories as part of the National Parks Service and more than 7,000 state parks spread across the country, the American people are never hurting for choice as to where they’d like to set up camp. There are very few places in the world that allow you to view natural geysers, like those in Yellowstone National Park, and set aside huge swaths of land to preserve waterfalls and woodlands, as in the case of Letchworth State Park in New York, like the United States. 

While all of this variety is great, it’s a double-edged blade. If you were to ask any avid camper if there are downsides to the Great American Camping Adventure, they’ll undoubtedly tell you the planning process is absolutely awful. Unlike more mainstream travel experiences — say, a trip to Disney World — there haven’t been any well organized travel booking sites, like Travelocity, etc., to make the process easier — not until now.

Based out of California, the new website Hipcamp is hoping to change all of that. Using the site, campers can choose when they want to go camping and select from a list of criteria the other things they’d like to see and do while they camp. Hipcamp will then match those criteria to availability at popular camping destinations, almost completely removing any work from the planning process.

Hipcamp Improves Upon One of the Quintessential American Experiences
Approximately 43 million Americans went camping in 2013, marking a return of what has long been considered a quintessentially American pastime. Even with Popular Science estimating that 2014 could be the hottest year in recorded history, camping in the U.S. is set to have another banner year. Without a doubt, Hipcamp’s ability to take what many see as the only bad part of camping out of the equation will play a crucial role in its continued popularity.

Moving Becomes a Lot Less Stressful for Those Who Can Afford It, Thanks to White Glove Moving Companies

Almost everyone hates moving. With 40 million people in the U.S. moving each year, this high stress experience is shared by many. For anyone who has had to strain and sweat under the weight of heavy furniture, or who hates the sound of packing tape unfurling, realizing that a move is forthcoming might be a less than exciting prospect.

It’s at this point that companies like FlatRate Elite, which operates in multiple U.S. cities, steps in to help. FlatRate Elite is a luxury division of the company FlatRate Moving, and they offer a white gloved version of the moving experience. 

Customers who hate having to call multiple companies to disconnect their utilities can now outsource that task for just $500 per day. And for movers who want to do absolutely nothing — no budgeting, interviewing potential moving companies, or taking a look around the home to get an estimate of how much space is needed in the moving van, there is now someone who can do that for them at $180 hourly, thanks to another company named NouvelleView.

“We oversee every aspect, from the initial strategic plan to seeing that every box is unpacked,” explains Pamela Muller, who is an owner of NouvelleView. The average customer pays between $6,000 and $9,000 for their services. While some of us might question just how valuable services like this could be, users like Stephanie Foster refer to it as a “godsend.” She said that “it is extremely helpful,” and notes that NouvelleView created a complete inventory for her of what she owns, so that moving is no longer an experience characterized by boxes of unknown items that sit in a basement purgatory.

Part of the company’s appeal among higher-end clients is that they are experienced with handling delicate and expensive pieces, such as paintings, sculptures and antiques that many owners might not want to leave for a regular moving company to handle. “When I do a move, I move art pieces and antique furniture to dresses and underwear, and I need someone that can handle all of that,” said Cassie Alves, who uses FlatRate Elite for work with an estate he manages.

While white glove moving services might never be the go-to option for the regular Joe mover, it’s likely to continue being a service in demand among the upper-crust for many years to come.

Carbon Monoxide Found to Be Deadly Saginaw House Killer

The investigative case regarding how two people died who were found in a condemned house in Saginaw, MI has finally revealed the cause of death.

After an autopsy of the two bodies, Saginaw Police Detective Sgt. Reggie Williams said the pair, 54 year old Yvoone Mallett and 58 year old Napoleon Buford Jr, succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to humans and animals when encountered in higher concentrations. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries.

“Officers discovered a deceased male in the bathroom and a deceased female in the bedroom,” Williams said. “It was determined at the scene that no foul play occurred. Neither victim showed any physical trauma on their bodies,” he explained.

The source of the carbon monoxide remains unknown, though authorities are still investigating the condemned property. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, confusion, vomiting, impaired coordination, seizures, coma, and eventually death.

Upon arriving, inspectors noted that a generator was found in the basement, all of its fuel consumed. A propane turkey cooker and a lawnmower were also found in the house — both could have contributed to the poisoning. The house also smelled strongly of gasoline.

Although these are generally odd causes for carbon monoxide poisoning, other causes can include unvented gas space heaters, leaking furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, gas stoves, and car exhausted from an attached garage.

The city of Saginaw apparently issued four warnings and violations to the owner and previous owner of the property, siting a furnace not working, problems with electrical outlets, and missing smoke detectors, said Chief Inspector John Stemple.

On April 1st, the house was condemned and Consumers Energy cut the gas and electrical services on the same day. The city will normally cut off utility access to a property in order to prevent people from living there is the house is deemed condemned. If the city finds residents are still living in the houses they condemn, they will take action to remove them.

For this particular incident, the city did not realize anyone was living in the home in Athens. Funeral arrangements are still being made and detectives are still interviewing witnesses in order to close the case.

Younger, First-Time Owners Driving This Year’s Increase in Luxury Brand Car Sales

Luxury car sales are “booming,” says a report from Time.com, but it might not mean what you think it means for the economy.

More recently, Time reported that overall new car sales rose 40 percent between August 2012 and August 2013 in the United States, an almost 50 percent increase in car sales in just one year alone

But this year, luxury brands such as Mercedes, Audi, Rolls-Royce and Bentley are also reporting higher earnings in the luxury car market. The two latter brands are often available to only the wealthiest of customers, with vehicles priced in the $200,000 and up category — even for pre-owned models.

Rolls Royce, for instance, has seen a 60 percent increase in sales in Europe alone for the first half of 2014, with a 33 percent increase overall. Total sales for luxury brand vehicles are up 11 percent for the first half of 2014. 

So this means good things for the economy, right?

While the increases in luxury car sales could have to do with the growing number of billionaires on the planet — about 219 more this year than there were last year — it might be a different demographic driving these sales.

Some more accessible luxury brands, such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes, have begun offering lower-priced models in the $30,000 range. For Audi, whose A3 starts at $30,000, sales went up 23 percent in June alone.

Audi executives told Edmunds.com that the customers seeking these lower-priced luxury models are often “move-up” customers: younger, less affluent car buyers who were previously driving similarly priced Hondas, Toyotas, Fords and other non-luxury makes, many of whom get their information from social media. These new customers are “wowed” by the fact that they have an authentic Audi or other brand, said Mark Del Rosso, Audi of America chief operating officer.

What’s more is that many of these sales aren’t outright purchases: the number of cars being leased is growing, with more than 28 percent of new cars being leased for all brands; luxury leases are at an even higher percentage, according to the Wall Street journal.

The only luxury brand to lose sales so far this year has been Cadillac, which saw a 22 percent decrease in the sales of its ATS model.

How 3-D Printing is Changing the Face of Modern Dentistry

It is a well-known fact that we are living in the Age of Big Data, a period in which humanity is collecting and recording an unprecedented amount of information, which is then analyzed by computers and in turn, used to create even more information. Many of the things that revolutionized how our species lives came from this time period, changing everything from engineering and healthcare to social norms. But one of the best and most unexpected examples involves the use of 3-D printers, state-of-the-art systems that are now being used to help dentists replace missing teeth. 

Dentistry is a subject of serious concern in the United States. Over 25% of American children aged 2 to 5 years old are affected by tooth decay, an estimated 15-25% of adults 35 to 44 years old have severe periodontal disease, and an estimated 31.3% of seniors over the age of 75 have no remaining teeth. Indeed, missing teeth is a severe problem in the United States, which not only creates an unattractive appearance and esteem issues, but can also causes problems related to eating and talking. However, because it is medically considered to be an aesthetic issue, tooth replacement is largely performed by cosmetic dentists. Originally, this issue was treated throughout history with dentures; however, as dental technology has improved, the dental industry has begun working with dental implants, permanent artificial teeth that scientific literature reports as 98% successful. However, this process is evolving even further with the addition of 3-D printing, creating a practice that is now known as “digital dentistry”. 

Three-dimensional printing uses a digital model to create an object out of a wide range of materials, but most commonly use concrete and plastic. In the past, 3-D printers have been able to create everything from car parts to artificial limbs, but dentistry uses the technology in a variety of ways. One example of the technology, called CEREC Technology from SIRONA, first uses a 3-D camera to take high-resolution image of the teeth and the gap to be filled. This image is then sent to the CEREC computer, which creates a detailed model of the tooth. The model is then adjusted to appear as natural as possible before being sent to a milling unit, which creates a crown, inlay, or onlay to replace the patient’s missing tooth. Once milled, the replacement piece can be inserted that day. 

Perhaps the most telling evidence of the impact of this new technology is the way dental professionals have responded to its addition: for example, one dentist who has invested in digital dentistry practice, belonging to Dr. A.J. Vashi, describes his CEREC system as “a breakthrough technology that allows Dr. Vashi to create perfect-fit, color-matched permanent crowns using beautiful and durable high-grade porcelain.” In other words, the technology is more effective, attractive, and beneficial to both the patient and the dentist. 

Currently, the cosmetic dental industry generates an estimated $ billion in revenue in the United States. However, despite this figure, there are only 5,847 cosmetic dental facilities in the nation, and only 10% perform dental implants, the most effective method of replacing missing teeth. Despite these relatively low statistics however, the addition of digital dental practices, such as 3-D printing, promises a number of exciting developments in dentistry yet to come.

Recent Study Shows Dish Cloths, Sponges Dirtier Than Toilets


  You might want to think twice about re-using that sponge the next time you wash your dishes

New research has found that dish cloths and kitchen sponges carry more germs than the average toilet.

According to a July 7 KSHB 41 article, UK researchers found that these germs include life-threatening bacteria like E-Coli. 90% of kitchen dishcloths possess some of the highest levels of bacteria in the entire world. Even more concerning is that 60% of the dishcloths studied were contaminated with E-Coli.

So before you use a dish cloth to wash your dishes or wipe down your counter, remember how germy it is. These germs will stay on your hands and will transfer to your and your family’s food when you handle it.

KSHB 4 conducted a survey among its viewers to find out how many people use germ-ridden dishcloths and sponges without regularly washing or switching them out.

The Kansas City station found that about half of those surveyed use dish cloths and sponges in the kitchen, but most reported they wash them every day or use a new one for each use. One viewer told KSHB she uses paper towels instead of dish cloths or sponges — not the most environmentally-friendly option.

To make your kitchen more sanitary, experts say you can boil or microwave your kitchen sponge for 15 minutes once every few days, which will kill off 99% of its bacteria. Your health — and the health of your family — may depend on it.

Serial Robber Conducts $65,000 Dental Equipment Heist

A man who stole some $65,000 worth of dental equipment from two Brooklyn dental offices late last month is wanted by law enforcement.

According to a July 8 NY Post article, the thief stole enough equipment to be able to create his own dental practice, including two whitening lasers, a root-canal locator, two digital X-ray sensors, three polishing kits and a large number of tooth scrapers used for plaque removal.

The New York Police Department said that on June 21, the thief broke into a dentist’s office on Glenwood Road, stealing $58,600 in dental equipment. Two days later, he broke into a Kings Highway dentist’s office and made off with a laptop and $160 in cash, the NY Post reported.

Based on video surveillance of the two thefts, police also describe the suspect as a “black male with a goatee and long braids in a pony tail,” according to the NY Post.

Much of the equipment stolen is necessary for dentists and dental hygienists to perform patient check-ups and procedures like filling cavities — which 92% of Americans have had at some point.

At the time of the NY Post article’s publication, police were still looking for the thief, who was wearing a white graphic T-shirt, gray shorts and black shoes during the second theft. 

As to why the man made off with the dental equipment — no one knows the exact answer yet.

“We don’t know if this guy means to pawn this equipment or what,” a ­police source told the NY Post.

Temporary Jobs More Prevalent in B.C. Than in Previous Years, Says Report


According to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, an increasing number of people in British Columbia are working at temporary jobs.


“The clear trend is temporary jobs that are unprotected and open for abuse,” said B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair, who has identified the results of the two-year study as “deeply disturbing.” The report goes on to indicate that those people who are employed temporarily tend to live in poverty, while working at jobs with little security. They also do not typically enjoy other perks and benefits that permanent employment allows.

“I think we have to fight the dominant message today which is good-paying jobs are bad for the economy,” said Sinclair. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” He believes that some employers attempt to receive a short-term gain from hiring temporarily, even though it can damage the overall economy in the long term.

The B.C. Ministry of Jobs has added that the report has shed important light on the state of temp agencies themselves — 66% were found to not be legally registered, even though this is a legal requirement.

Currently, about 40% of post-recession job creation in B.C. has come from temporary employment. Although many who are pro-temp work argue that the positions serve as a “foot in the door” for more permanent positions, many workers have reported that making this transition to full-time work can be very difficult, especially in a limited job market. There are additional advantages, though, to using temp companies from the perspective of businesses — a staffing agency can check references, conduct basic interviews, and administer tests to see if candidates are the right fit for a job.

Clearly, an update is needed to the Employment Standards Act, which was crafted before non-standard forms of employment became increasingly popular. Temp workers need to receive minimum employment standards, and staffing agencies need to be held accountable for the positions they place employees in.