2024年4月25日 星期四

Staffing Shortages at Nursing Homes Persist 全美療養院人員短缺議題 持續延燒

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2024/04/26 第482期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Staffing Shortages at Nursing Homes Persist 全美療養院人員短缺議題 持續延燒
Dozens of Top Scientists Sign Effort to Prevent Artificial Intelligence Bioweapons 頂尖科學家簽協議 阻AI生化武器問世
Staffing Shortages at Nursing Homes Persist 全美療養院人員短缺議題 持續延燒
文/Andrew Jacobs

全美療養院人員短缺議題 持續延燒

Many Americans prefer to believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past. But for the nation's nursing homes, the effects have yet to fully fade, with staffing shortages and employee burnout still at crisis levels and many facilities struggling to stay afloat, according to a report by federal investigators.


The report, by the inspector general's office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that the flawed infection-control procedures that contributed to the 170,000 deaths at nursing homes during the pandemic were still inadequate at many facilities. And while the uptake of COVID vaccines was initially robust when they first became available, investigators found that vaccination booster rates among staff workers and residents have been badly lagging.


The findings were directed at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency under the department's jurisdiction that oversees 1.2 million nursing home residents whose care is provided mainly by the federal government. The inspector general's report described the staffing problems as "monumental," noting high levels of burnout, frequent employee turnover and the burdens of constantly training new employees, some of whom fail to show up for their first day of work. For nursing homes, the inability to attract and retain certified nurse aides, dietary services staff and housekeeping workers is tied to federal and state reimbursements that do not cover the full cost of care.


Rachel Bryan, a social science analyst with the inspector general's office, said the report sought to ensure that key lessons from the pandemic were not lost, especially now that the acute sense of urgency has faded.


"Just as airplanes cannot be repaired while in flight, nursing home challenges could not be fully repaired during the pandemic," she said. "We feel very strongly that as we come out of emergency mode, we take the time to reflect, learn and take real steps toward meaningful change."


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials asked that some of the proposed recommendations be removed from the report, saying improvements were already in the works.


The agency, for example, cited a new federal program that will provide $75 million in scholarships and tuition reimbursement for those pursuing careers in nursing.


Dozens of Top Scientists Sign Effort to Prevent Artificial Intelligence Bioweapons 頂尖科學家簽協議 阻AI生化武器問世
文/Cade Metz

頂尖科學家簽協議 阻AI生化武器問世

Dario Amodei, CEO of high-profile artificial intelligence startup Anthropic, told Congress last year that new AI technology could soon help unskilled but malevolent people create large-scale biological attacks.


Senators from both parties were alarmed, while AI researchers in industry and academia debated how serious the threat might be.


Now, more than 90 biologists and other scientists who specialize in AI technologies used to design new proteins — the microscopic mechanisms that drive all creations in biology — have signed an agreement that seeks to ensure that their AI-aided research will move forward without exposing the world to serious harm.


The biologists, who include Nobel laureate Frances Arnold and represent labs in the United States and other countries, also argued that the latest technologies would have far more benefits than negatives, including new vaccines and medicines.


"As scientists engaged in this work, we believe the benefits of current AI technologies for protein design far outweigh the potential for harm, and we would like to ensure our research remains beneficial for all going forward," the agreement reads.


The agreement does not seek to suppress the development or distribution of AI technologies. Instead, the biologists aim to regulate the use of equipment needed to manufacture new genetic material.


This DNA manufacturing equipment is ultimately what allows for the development of bioweapons, said David Baker, director of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington, who helped shepherd the agreement.


"Protein design is just the first step in making synthetic proteins," he said. "You then have to actually synthesize DNA and move the design from the computer into the real world — and that is the appropriate place to regulate."


The biologists called for the development of security measures that would prevent DNA manufacturing equipment from being used with harmful materials — though it is unclear how those measures would work. They also called for safety and security reviews of new AI models before releasing them.


They did not argue that the technologies should be bottled up.


"These technologies should not be held only by a small number of people or organizations," said Rama Ranganathan, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Chicago, who signed the agreement.


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