In Helping His Dad With Diabetes, Young Mexican Chemist Pioneers Healthy—and Cheap—Sugar Substitute
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Javier Larragoiti and team working in the Xilinat lab

When 18-year old Javier Larragoiti was told his father had been diagnosed with diabetes, the young man, who had just started studying chemical engineering at college in Mexico City, decided to dedicate his studies to finding a safe, sugar-alternative for his father.

“My dad tried to use stevia and sucralose, just hated the taste, and kept cheating on his diet,” Larragoiti told The Guardian. Stevia and sucralose are both popular sugar alternatives, and many reduced-sugar products available today contain one or the other.

With stevia and sucralose out of the picture, the young chemist needed to keep searching. He started dabbling with xylitol, a sweet-tasting alcohol found in birch wood but also in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is used in sugar-free products such as chewing gum and also in children’s medicine, but is toxic to dogs even in small amounts.

“It has so many good properties for human health, and the same flavor as sugar, but the problem was that producing it was so expensive,” said Larragoiti. “So I decided to start working on a cheaper process to make it accessible to everyone.”

Xylitol Made Cheaper

Corn is Mexico’s largest agricultural crop, and Javier has now patented a method of extracting xylitol from discarded corn cobs. Best of all, with 28 million metric tons of corn cobs generated every year in Mexico as waste, there’s no shortage of xylitol-generating fuel.

Simultaneously, Larragoiti hit on the idea of how to make xylitol less expensive, while inventing a way to reuse the 28 million tons of corn cobs, substantially upgrading the traditional means of disposal: burning them.

Especially in a pollution-heavy country like Mexico, reducing the amount of corn waste burned, would eliminate a portion of the carbon emissions.

His business, Xilinat, buys waste from 13 local farmers, producing 1 ton of the product each year. His invention was awarded a prestigious $310,000 Chivas Venture prize award, which will enable him to industrialize his operation and scale up production 10-fold, diverting another 10 tons of corn cob from the furnace.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

She’s patrolled the Navajo Nation for nearly 20 years. Nothing prepared her for the COVID-19 outbreak
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The Navajo Nation patrol car pulled up to the jail near the center of town and Officer Carolyn Tallsalt stepped out. She adjusted her surgical mask, pressing the edges so they sealed against her cheeks, then flung open the door to the back seat where there was a woman in handcuffs.

A jail guard proceeded to pepper the woman, arrested for disturbing the peace, with questions.

Have you been in contact with anyone known to have coronavirus? Have you contracted the virus yourself? Do you have a fever or body aches?

“No, no, no,” the mask-less woman mumbled, before coughing twice into the open air. Tallsalt stepped back.

The guard placed a temperature gun to the woman’s forehead — 95.8, a few degrees lower than the average body temperature. Cleared to go inside, the woman walked to the side entrance, escorted by Tallsalt. That routine process, which Tallsalt has performed countless times in a nearly 20-year career, carries a stressful new weight during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the start of each shift, she thinks the same thing: I hope I am not exposed today.

More than a dozen fellow Navajo Nation officers have contracted the virus along with thousands of residents of the sprawling reservation.

“My anxiety is out of control,” Tallsalt, 53, said on a recent afternoon. “You don’t know who has it.”

Since mid-March, when the novel coronavirus began to spread like a brush fire on the dry, remote 27,000-square-mile reservation, daily patrols for the nearly 200 Navajo Nation officers have transformed into an exhausting mix of stress and overwhelming sadness.

Here on the Navajo Nation — spanning portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — nearly everyone knows at least one victim of the deadly virus.

Continue Reading the Full Article at the Los Angeles’ Times Website

The Man Behind America’s New Spacesuit: Jose Fernandez
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Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken giving a thumbs up in Fernandez' new space suits before boarding

Recently, and for a while now, new dad of the entertainingly-named little boy, X Æ A-12 Musk, and footloose Twitter aficionado Elon Musk is having one of what he hopes will be a long future of space moments.

It’s no small accomplishment to get the nod from NASA bigs that you can carry the most precious asset, their astronauts, up to the big game on the International Space Station, and kudos to Daddy Musk, and to NASA, for that.

But, talk about a cool flight suit: Musk and his deeply pedigreed Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez took a couple of years to design the new NASA super-skinny pressure suits. The spacesuits certainly look snazzy, with their close-to-the-body cut, their elegant dark silver (fireproof!) piping over the white Teflon fabric, their highly articulate gloves and neck, and the black knee-high boots that seem to quote the Duke of Wellington’s own below-the-knee cavalry boots, albeit ready for the wear and tear of outer space rather than that of Napoleon’s cannon at Waterloo.

Mr. Fernandez is no stranger to durable, tight-fitting clothes for heroes, having worked on costumes for Batman V Superman: Dawn of JusticeTronIronman 2The Amazing Spiderman, and Captain America: Civil War, to name just a few of his impressive credits. He was first approached by SpaceX in 2016 to participate in a design competition and freely recounts that he didn’t, at first, understand that it was for a real space effort, not a movie production about a space effort, to which he would be submitting his work. “I didn’t know what SpaceX was, and I thought it was a film,” the modest Fernandez says.

Not so the light, ovoid, and very open-to-the-cosmos Fernandez helmet. Fernandez has not simply given his astronauts a better, less obstructed field of vision. The helmet tops a flexible and, for a spacesuit, very extended and articulate neck piece, best seen above on astronaut Doug Hurley, left, as he boards the Tesla on May 27 en route to the spacecraft before the first launch was scrubbed. In fact, some of the old NASA helmets would wholly prevent the astronaut from even contemplating getting his head low enough to get into a car as astronaut Hurley is doing. We’ll get to see Hurley and his partner Bob Behnken do it again on Saturday, and again with the excellent product placement of the Musk-enterprise-friendly Tesla as the new and very cushy official NASA launch-tender ride.

With the visor up, the Fernandez helmet resembles that of a Parisian pompeur , a fireman’s helmet, jaunty and protective at once. Visor down, the sleek ovoid quotes some of Kier Dullea’s very, very cool space headgear that Stanley Kubrick had commissioned for his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, close viewers of the Grammys and all fans of disco/electronic/dance/trance will notice a strong connection in the NASA helmet to the helmets sported by the ultra-shy French pop duo Daft Punk.

This is no accident: It should be noted that Daft Punk has in fact commissioned the brilliant Fernandez for several pieces of their trademark weird-oh disco-robot headgear. But as a deeply schooled “extreme couture” tailor to all sorts of cinematic superheros and heroines embroiled in narratives whose origins stretch back to the early 20th century, Mr. Fernandez would be well aware of Kubrick’s earlier camera-friendly helmet innovations.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article

Photo: Getty Images

COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Increased Supplier Diversity
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By Elizabeth Vasquez

As global citizens prepare to fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have been inspired by the individual stories of the women-owned businesses in the WEConnect International community and the resilience of my team and our supporters around the world.

As the CEO of a global nonprofit, I’m used to spending my life in airports and airplanes flying to meetings, speaking at conferences and meeting with our member buyers and the women business owners who supply a wide assortment of goods and services. But my intense travel schedule has ground to a halt as meetings have been canceled or postponed.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be at our WEConnect International South Africa Conference, Scaling Up in 2020 for Sustainable Growth, in Johannesburg. I met several exceptional women business owners and large buyers committed to inclusion.

Many are stepping up to help us all face the coronavirus challenge, like Refilwe Sebothoma, whose company, PBM Group, is supplying face masks. Belukazi Nkala, who owns Khanyile Solutions, is providing protective uniforms. And Judy Sunasky’s company, Blendwell Chemicals, is producing hand sanitizer.

In Singapore, Rithika Gupta is also increasing hand sanitizer production at her company, FP Aromatics, as is Sarah Sayed’s company, BX Merchandise, in the UK. WEConnect International educates and certifies women’s business enterprises based in over 45 countries, and women business owners such as these have registered with us in over 120 countries.

There are approximately 224 million women entrepreneurs worldwide who participate in the ownership of nearly 35 percent of firms in the formal economy. As traditional value chains shift, these business owners can step in to meet buyer demand.

Here in Washington, D.C., the WEConnect International Team has decided to hold our annual Gala and Symposium virtually. This is not a cancellation or a postponement but rather an opportunity for champions of diversity to leverage technology in support of inclusive global growth.

We are committed to creating opportunity in the face of adversity and have engaged our award winners, member buyers, women-owned businesses and strategic partners to join us for our first-ever 24-hour Cyber Gala culminating with the announcement of our Top 10 Global Champions.

Governments are taking the pandemic seriously and are working hard to protect their citizens through social distancing, while meeting the needs of those who fall sick. In addition to the human suffering, the virus has hurt domestic and international business. As a result, governments and business are working together to diversify supply chains to help mitigate future shocks to local and global economies.

 

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital
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On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

A Latino Astronaut’s Guide to Getting Through Isolation
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Astronaut Jose Hernandez

While living in isolation may be a new experience for many of us, this experience is part of the basic training for those who desire to become astronauts. Astronauts are required to learn how to manage loneliness and anxiety, all while being separated from the rest of society in a small space.

But before astronauts even step foot in the rocket for their next mission, they are required to self-isolate as to not get sick when they deploy for the stars.

Of isolation in NASA, former astronaut Jose Hernandez told NBC, “We live in isolation for more than a month, and even before that you have to do a lot of exercises with your team to prepare.”

Here are Hernandez’s top three tips on how to best handle isolation and separation from society:

1) Communicate and Establish Routines

Much like the teams of astronauts that are forced to be in the same space for a long period of time, families are being forced to spend a lot more time with each other at home. But for some, spending too much time with the same people can become difficult. At NASA, astronauts go through a procedure in which they are required to give instructions, have the instructions repeated back to them, and evaluate what is reasonable in the requests given. This method of careful and thoughtful communication can also be used at home when trying to express your concerns with other members of your household. Routines, Hernandez suggests, are also vital—even when there is nothing on the agenda for the day—as routines help to establish accomplishments.

2) Reach Out Digitally

Being out in space makes a quick visit to friends and family impossible. During a time of not being able to visit those we are not quarantining ourselves with, the effects of loneliness can become harsh on someone who is not used to being away from human interaction. Hernandez suggests reaching out to the people you care about digitally. While in space, Hernandez used to video call his family and show them how he would eat M&Ms in zero gravity. Hernandez uses video calling during the pandemic as well to talk to his parents who are isolated from him.

3) Stay Positive

To cope with loneliness while in space, Hernandez was trained to look at his time in space with a positive attitude. When days were hard for Hernandez, he would remember he was one of the lucky few who was trained and chosen to do the kind of work he did.

When days are hard for us, we can think of how grateful we are to be in a place of safety and health during a time when many are not. It may not make the immediate situation better, but staying positive can help to ease stress and decrease anxiety.

There is a lot to be learned on how to handle this new normal, but following these tips can help us make it through.

How One Company is Supporting the LGBTQ Community During COVID-19
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Minority populations, including the LGBTQ+ community, have shown to be more at risk of contracting and suffering the consequences of COVID-19 due to the continually changing economic, social, and healthcare issues.

In an ongoing effort to support the LGBTQ+ community, Toyota has partnered up with several nonprofit organizations to help with the medical and personal needs of the community during the pandemic. A total of $275,000 donated from Toyota will be distributed among LGBTQ+ organizations in need of funding for critical situations, and an additional $25,000 is being awarded to other foundations that serve as a support system for those in the community.

Organizations that will be receiving funding include the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and it provides health services, housing for homeless teens in the community, and wellness checks to older adults. This money will be especially critical to keeping the organization running, as many of its most important fundraising events had to be canceled due to the virus.

Toyota is also donating protective face shields to the Los Angeles LGBT Center to keep workers safe.

Additionally, Toyota is continuing its ongoing support for many of the organizations that are helping to fight the effects of the virus, such as the Dallas Resource Center, the Point Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the Trevor Project.

For more information on Toyota’s COVID-19 response, please visit: toyota.com/toyota-covid-19-response

On National Kidney Month, Protect Patients by Protecting Their Health Care Choices
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NKF Logo

By Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz and Dr. Elena Rios

The recent coronavirus outbreak has millions of Americans thinking carefully about their health and wellness. For the 37 million of our friends and neighbors battling chronic kidney disease, however, health care risks that the rest of us often take for granted are never far from their mind.

Every year, 124,000 patients with kidney disease see their condition progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure and will require dialysis at least three times per week to survive.

Hannah, an ESRD patient in Henrico, Virginia, describes dialysis as “the most painful thing, physically and emotionally, I’ve had to endure.”

As a physician who represents medical providers in the Hispanic community – a demographic disproportionately impacted by kidney disease (Rios) – and a former lawmaker who worked to reduce the uninsured rate and improve quality of care (Schwartz), we know that stories like Hannah’s are all too common.

These individuals are looking to us to be their advocate and to join them in the cause of working toward a day when the burden of kidney disease is lifted and ESRD can claim precious lives no more.

In 2016, Congress took an important step in this direction with the bipartisan passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, making a $6.3 billion investment in medical innovations that can bring healing to the most devastating of diseases.

Included in the bill was a provision expanding ESRD patients’ options for Medicare coverage. Previous law prohibited these patients from becoming new enrollees in Medicare Advantage – the managed-care option in Medicare where 24.4 million Americans receive coverage – the Cures law removed this barrier.

As of January 2021, ESRD patients will have the choice to enroll in Medicare Advantage. For many patients, this opportunity brings hope of a better way to manage their condition.

Medicare Advantage offers an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses – leading to savings of roughly $1,600 a year compared to Traditional Medicare – and reports a 33 percent lower rate of emergency room visits among those with chronic conditions. In a study involving a clinically complex cohort of patients with diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disease, conditions associated with ESRD, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries had a 73 percent lower rate of serious complications than those in Traditional Medicare.

This is promising news for patients, but a looming hurdle remains.

As plans and providers anticipate a switch for some ESRD patients to Medicare Advantage next year, an independent study warns that payment from the government to Medicare Advantage for ESRD patients in highly populated regions “may be significantly below actual patient costs.”

Patients with kidney failure have unique and complex health care needs, leading to yearly costs to the Medicare system of $90,000 per patient for those on dialysis. A failure to give Medicare Advantage the tools to meet these needs makes hurts patients and would cause particular harm to Hispanic and African American communities, which comprise an outsized share of the ESRD population.

Stakeholders ranging from the National Black Nurses Association, to Population Health Alliance, to Consumer Action have joined the effort to protect patients by pushing regulators to address this inequity.

Right now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is finalizing plans for its annual rate announcement and proposed rule – vehicles through which the administration can make any number of payment and policy changes to Medicare Advantage.

This process is the agency’s opportunity to stand on the side of ESRD patients by updating its payment methodology for these beneficiaries to ensure a successful transition of care for those with ESRD.

While we strive for more permanent solutions to end the harm of kidney disease once and for all, there’s no time like right now – National Kidney Month – for policymakers to stand up and protect ESRD patients’ health care.

Allyson Y. Schwartz is the President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. She represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to 2015.

Elena Rios, MD, MSPH is the president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association.

 

10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World
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Nurse's hand holding a syringe giving a vaccination to a patient

By McKinley Corbley

It seems that your news feed has been flooded with nerve-wracking updates on the COVID-19 outbreaks, have no fear—there are also plenty of positive updates on the pandemic as well.

So without any further ado, here is a list of 10 hopeful headlines on the coronavirus response from around the world.

 

1) U.S. Researchers Deliver First COVID-19 Vaccine to Volunteers in Experimental Test Program

Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle delivered the first rounds of a potential coronavirus vaccine to several dozen optimistic volunteers earlier this week.

43-year-old vaccine recipient Jennifer Haller, who is also a mother to two teenagers, was all smiles after she told AP reporters she was “feeling great” as she was leaving the clinic. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” she added.

2) Distilleries Across the United States Are Making Their Own Free Hand Sanitizers to Give Away for Free

Amidst national shortages of hand sanitizers, alcohol distilleries in Atlanta, Portland, rural Georgia, and North Carolina have begun using their facilities to make their own sanitation products.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) says that cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based rub can help to kill viruses on your hands, many of the distilleries say they hope to continue producing their bootleg sanitizers until the virus has been properly contained.

3) Air Pollution Plummets in Cities With High Rates of Quarantine

Satellite readings of air pollution levels over China and Italy show that the regions hit hardest by the COVID-19 have also caused air pollution levels to decline dramatically.

Some reports estimate that China’s quarantine has saved more than 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere—which is about the equivalent of what Chile produces in a year.

Not only have similar effects been reported across Italy, the canals and waterways of Venice are reportedly cleaner than ever with the waters shining crystal clear in the absence of diesel-powered boats and gondoliers.

4) Johns Hopkins Researcher Says That Antibodies From Recovered COVID Patients Could Help Protect People At Risk

The vaccine developers in Seattle aren’t the only ones working on potential treatments and cures for the disease—an immunologist from Johns Hopkins University is reviving a century-old blood-derived treatment for use in the United States in hopes of slowing the spread of the disease.

The technique uses antibodies from the blood plasma or serum of people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to boost the immunity of newly-infected patients and those at risk of contracting the disease.

5) South Korean Outbreak Finally Abating as Recoveries Outnumber New Infections for Three Days in a Row

According to Reuters, South Korea recorded more COVID-19 recovery cases on March 6th than new infections for the first time since the nation experienced the largest Asian outbreak outside of China.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak was first reported in South Korea back in January, the nation reached a peak of 909 new infections on February 29th.

Now, however, Reuters reports that the declining rate of infection has continued to fall with less than 100 new cases reported for several days in a row.

6) China Celebrates Several Milestones of Recovery After Temporary Hospitals Close and Parks Reopen

Crowds of medical staffers and discharged patients were filmed celebrating the closure of all 14 temporary hospitals that opened in Wuhan to treat COVID-19 patients during the worst of the outbreak.

Authorities told the South China Morning Post this week that the virus had finally passed its peak as the nation’s mainland experienced only 11 new cases on March 13th, most of which were from international travelers.

As the outbreak is finally brought under control, parks and tourist attractions are slowly beginning to reopen to the public under careful moderation.

7) Australian Researchers Testing Two Drugs as Potential ‘Cures’ for the Virus

At the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, scientists have found that two different medications—both of which are registered and available in Australia—have completely wiped out traces of the disease in test tubes.

Not only that, the drugs were given to some of the nation’s first COVID-19 patients, which resulted in “disappearance of the virus and complete recovery from the infection,” researchers told News.com.au.

The university is now looking to conduct a nationwide trial with the drugs to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of each drug administered separately and together.

8) Uber Eats is Supporting the North American Restaurant Industry By Waiving Delivery Fees for 100,000 Restaurants

As restaurants across Canada and the United States are forced to temporarily shut down amidst COVID-19 outbreaks, Uber Eats has announced that they will be waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants.

“We know the success of every restaurant depends on customer demand,” the company said in a statement. “That’s why we’re working urgently to drive orders towards independent restaurants on Eats, to help make up for the significant slowdown of in-restaurant dining.

“As more customers are choosing to stay indoors, we’ve waived the Delivery Fee for the more than 100,000 independent restaurants across US and Canada on Uber Eats. We will also launch daily dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns—both in-app and via email—to promote delivery from local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app.”

9) Dutch and Canadian Researchers Are Reporting Additional Breakthrough Research on Treating the Virus

Scientists from Canada and the Netherlands have also made medical breakthroughs of their own. In Toronto, a team of researchers managed to isolate the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, which will help researchers around the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, and vaccines.

“Researchers from these world-class institutions came together in a grassroots way to successfully isolate the virus in just a few short weeks,” said Dr. Rob Kozak, clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook University. “It demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when we collaborate.”

Meanwhile, Dutch researchers have submitted a scientific paper for publishing on how they have identified an anti-body for the virus—and it could be a world-first.

10) Here Are a Bunch of Other Ways That People and Businesses Are Supporting Each Other Throughout the US Outbreak

Dollar General has announced that they will be devoting their opening hour of shopping time to elderly customers. Athletes and sports teams are pledging to pay the wages of arena employees during the shutdown. Utility companies, landlords, automakers, and internet providers are waiving a number of late fees and payments to ease the financial burden of the shutdown. School districts across the country are still opening their doors to serve meals to kids and families.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Trailblazing Latina CEO Nina Vaca sees diversity, equity, and inclusion in business as the foundation for a better America
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Nina Vaca dressed in blue business dress smiles while casually leaning on table

Nina Vaca’s journey from Ecuadorian immigrant to transformative tech entrepreneur is the kind of story that is part of America’s rich social and economic tapestry.

Even more so, Vaca knows that continuing her legacy includes paying her success forward to a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, particularly women of color. Vaca, one of the headliners in the Philadelphia Diversity & Inclusion Conference October 5-6, 2020, has made a significant impact as a global business leader and philanthropist since founding and leading Pinnacle Group in 1996.

Vaca, who will make her second consecutive appearance at the conference, this time as an emcee, says she wants to ensure that her success highlights the importance of immigrants to America’s success.

“As a Latina entrepreneur, I am living proof of the ways that immigrants can make positive contributions to this country,” she says. “I’ve been blessed many times to be the first Latina at the table, but I don’t want to be the only Latina.”

That’s why Vaca takes opportunities like the Philadelphia Diversity & Inclusion Conference, a national gathering of CEOs, academics and other thought leaders, to speak to a new generation of leaders.

“I believe that true success is opening doors for others and expanding opportunities for all women and minorities,” she says. “I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to invest in people and what motivates me is helping the next generation to reach even greater heights than we ever dreamed.”

Vaca says she realizes now that she could have relied more on the support of fellow women entrepreneurs when she started Pinnacle Group. Now, as the head of a company named America’s fastest growing woman-owned business from 2015-18, she says she is in a better position to appreciate how far she has come.

“Early on, I wish I had known that as an entrepreneurial woman, I was not alone,” Vaca says. “It is just a fact that there will always be challenges, but you can’t let these things derail you, instead the struggle must be your teacher as you learn to persevere. It is at your hardest moments that you find your inner strength and where we learn to bend, but not break.”

That resilience is why Vaca says she thinks Philadelphia is such a strong location for a national conference on diversity, equity, and inclusion. At a time when companies are increasingly trying to figure out best practices in hiring and retaining workers of diverse backgrounds, Vaca says the city sets the tone for creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion across all sectors.

“As a business leader, I have seen firsthand how diversity and inclusion fosters a more creative and innovative workforce,” she says. “When everybody has the opportunity to bring their best self to this country, we all help create a better America.

“I think this conference serves as an example for other cities searching for ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in their own communities,” she adds. “There is something poetic about being in Philadelphia, which played such an instrumental role in the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and bringing great minds together to navigate a path towards upholding the promise of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

With a rapidly growing Latino population, Philadelphia is becoming home to a growing number of entrepreneurs of color, especially among immigrants. Vaca says the city can incubate the growth of minority and women-owned businesses, and invest in social entrepreneurship as a way of sustaining equitable growth. She adds that the presence of diverse industries also helps to create an ecosystem that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The cities that attract diverse entrepreneurs all have these best practices in common: they actively recruit industry leading corporations; they create infrastructures that are friendly to business; they foster a culture of technology and innovation; and they create collaborations between businesses, educational institutions, non-profits, and the centers for arts and culture,” she says. “These partnerships are incredibly important to contributing to the economic development that fuels entrepreneurial ventures. That is why it is important for corporations to be intentional with their investment and impact in order to lay a foundation that encourages the next generation of entrepreneurs to stay in or come to a city to work, live, and innovate.”

Vaca cites Comcast as an example of a Philadelphia-based company that invests in a diverse workforce, noting it has “built a best-in-class diversity and inclusion framework that is measurable and accountable.” She adds that the city’s success can be emulated across the country.

“Any city can transform itself into a hub if it is willing to adapt and look toward the future for ways to offer opportunities to both your best and brightest residents and those looking for a place to grow,” she says.

For more information about the Philadelphia Diversity & Inclusion Conference, and to register, visit diphilly.com

9 Non-Clinical Healthcare Careers to Consider
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Closeup portrait, young healthcare professional in white lab coat standing beside microscope, smiling

By Ashley Brooks

It’s hard to ignore the healthcare field if you’re searching for a stable career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the healthcare field is expected to add 2.4 million new jobs from 2016 to 2026—which is more than any other occupational group!

There’s no denying that there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you in healthcare. But what if you don’t see yourself working in direct patient care? Luckily you don’t have to work in a clinical setting to take advantage of a career in the booming healthcare industry.

The healthcare field revolves around caring for people, but it takes more than just doctors and nurses to make it happen. High-quality healthcare gets plenty of support from non-clinical workers who take care of administrative tasks, coordinate care efforts, manage technology and more.

These non-clinical healthcare occupations are a valued part of the medical field and play an important part in keeping the healthcare industry running smoothly. Explore these non-clinical healthcare career descriptions to find the one that’s the best fit for you.

  1. Medical coder

In a sense, medical coders are the translators of the healthcare industry. They convert patients’ medical records and physicians’ notes into specially designed codes so insurance companies can accurately bill for the services patients receive. Because these healthcare professionals have access to sensitive patient information, they also need to be well-versed in government regulations surrounding healthcare privacy and electronic health records.

This role may sound simple, but it keeps a healthcare provider’s financial records in tip-top shape.

  1. Health information technician

Technology is changing the way the healthcare industry works, especially where electronic health records (EHRs) are involved. Health information technicians (HITs) ensure that a patient’s EHRs are accurate and secure. They also analyze data on patient outcomes.

Like medical coders, HIT professionals are expected to stay current with regulations about patient privacy.

  1. Healthcare manager

Healthcare managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a medical department. They set and monitor budgets, train new staff members to their team and look for ways to increase efficiency and quality of care.

Healthcare managers set the tone for their department and their team, so their leadership influences every patient who walks through a facility’s doors.

  1. Medical administrative assistants

Medical administrative assistants, sometimes called medical secretaries, are often the smiling faces you see when you first enter a medical facility. These administrative experts greet patients and provide customer service, schedule appointments, enter insurance information and work with patient billing.

Medical administrative assistants keep a healthcare facility running smoothly behind the scenes, and they make patients feel welcome and cared for.

  1. Healthcare administrator

Healthcare administrators are the leaders of their medical facility. They set financial goals for their facility, create policies that benefit patient care and ensure that their facility stays in compliance with healthcare regulations.

Healthcare administrators might seem far removed from patient care, but their work directly impacts the quality of care a facility is able to provide.

  1. Community health worker

Community health workers focus on improving the well-being of the people in a particular area or region. Their tasks include educating community members on important health issues, reaching out to at-risk populations to improve their health and assisting with disaster preparedness. These healthcare workers are in the unique position to impact individuals’ general well-being on a large scale.

  1. Human service assistants

Human service assistants work with patients to help them arrange the medical care and other services they need. Their work varies depending on the population they serve. Human service assistants who focus on the elderly might help patients arrange transportation to the doctor, set up a meal delivery service or navigate Medicare. Those who work with people with disabilities might help them arrange personal care services or find a job that accommodates their disability.

Human service assistants spend their days making it easier for patients to navigate a complex healthcare system so they can live their lives to the fullest.

  1. Corporate wellness coordinator

Corporate wellness coordinators work at the intersection of healthcare and business. These healthcare pros bring wellness programs to corporations to help their employees improve their overall health—which in turn gives a boost to the company’s bottom line. They often run fitness initiatives and evaluate individuals for health risks.

This healthcare career puts the spotlight on wellness so individuals can be aware of their risk factors and take control of their health.

  1. Patient advocate

It can be easy for patients to feel overwhelmed in a medical setting, especially if they’re experiencing health issues. Patient advocates help bridge this gap by explaining medical terms and procedures to patients, ensuring they have access to the treatments they need and helping them understand their treatment plan. Patient advocates also communicate a patient’s concerns to doctors or nurses.

Patient advocates dedicate themselves to making sure patients feel heard. They’re the ones patients can turn to if they need support and aren’t sure what to do.

Source: rasmussen.edu/degrees/health

HNM BLM

 
*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 Unidos US Annual Conference
    July 25, 2020 - July 27, 2020
  2. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  3. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020