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COPD activist Bess Clemens dies

Respiratory Care Weekly, September 22, 2005

1. COPD activist Bess Clemens dies

Bess Clemens, who became a de facto activist on behalf of all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients through her public appearances, died of complications from the disease September 15 in Georgetown, TX, at the age of 75.

Clemens helped raise the public's awareness of COPD. By traveling to baseball games and participating in COPD awareness events, she showed other patients with the disease how to get the most out of life despite their diagnosis.

"The last 10 years were hard on her, the last two to three days were grueling," said her son, Roger, a pitcher for the Houston Astros, who spent his mother's final night with her, according to an AP story. "But she was very tough to the end."

2. CDC sets flu shot priorities

While sufficient amounts of the flu vaccine should be available this season for those who want a shot-or a dose of the FluMist inhaled vaccine-only high-risk patients should receive shots prior to October 24, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week.

High-risk patients include people 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, those aged two to 64 with such conditions as chronic illnesses or compromised immunity, children six months-23 months, pregnant women, and healthcare workers like RTs who provide direct patient care.

Caregivers of children less than six months old also may receive shots under guidelines, as well as displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina living in shelters. FluMist should only be given to patients aged five to 49. Furthermore, only 36% of healthcare workers received shots last year; the CDC encouraged more to get on the bandwagon this year.

3. COPD death rates on rise

Standardized death rates-those per 100,000 people in a particular age group-are down over the last 30 years, according to the September 14 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes deaths, however, are on the rise. Fewer people are dying of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and accidents-three of the six leading causes which contribute to an overall downward trend.