Behind The Lens episode 116: Modified Phase 1B


This is behind the lands podcasts. From the lens. New orleans first nonprofit nonpartisan public interest newsroom. I'm caroline heldman on this week's episode. The cdc has issued new guidelines on how to safely reopen schools nationwide and they do not include vaccinating teachers while at the same time vice president. Khama harris has been advocating for teachers to be bumped onto the priority list for the vaccine will discuss how the new orleans public schools are handling this two lane. School of medicine administrator has been suspended from her position as program director of the schools medicine pediatrics residency program and is suing the university for alleged discrimination those stories insight and analysis. Coming up on on a cold podcast this week. Education reporter martyred juice in high. Marta health reporter. Philip kiefer's is here again. Hey philip and lens editor. Charles maldonado is here. Hi charles. marta. Education is up. I newly released. Cdc guidelines for reopening schools. Do not call for teachers to be vaccinated before returning to the classroom. However in recent interviews vice president kamala harris has argued that teachers and other essential workers should move up on the vaccination priority list locally city. Students have him back in the classroom. Since mid-september until rising case numbers called for returned a virtual. Learning elementary students returned february. First high. School students are coming back into classrooms on monday. When we'll teachers be able to receive the vaccine in louisiana and who is making that decision even all the national politics aside. I think we saw the new. Cdc guidelines this week much like guidelines that were released previously. There's not a whole lot of changes. Although many schools in other parts of the country have not reopened the way new orleans has just just like basically every other decision that's made in school district. It's coming down to local authority. It's when teachers can get vaccines same as everything else. That's coming down to local authority. That's coming to the louisiana department of health at this point in time teachers general education teachers who wouldn't qualify another way for being you know older than sixty five or a specialized therapy or counseling position. You know we don't exactly know when they're going to be eligible. I dunno felt you speculate on that at all. Last i heard on This question of tears. So we're in phase one b tier one right now in phase one b tier two includes teachers serve transit workers other essential workers as designated by the state but that tier keeps getting pushed back and pushed back as of last week. The state didn't have any estimate on when when there will be eligible by dr jennifer of edna. The roman city health director said that she expected that eligibility to come after the johnson and johnson singled shot vaccine is approved. Which is expected to happen sometime this month. We do know that about you. Know twenty two other states have kind of bumped up teachers in some capacity similarly here. We also have counselors school nurses and other other types of educators to qualify in special ways. That have you had a chance to talk to any of the teachers unions or anything about how they had their feeling about this every to union representation this week. But i didn't hear back i. I suspect part of that is just our general. You know mardi gras. This is a week off for schools this week right so yeah after six weeks of school. Virtual return the high school. Kids are coming back on monday night after we just had some some version of mardi gras. All of that begs the question. Of what are they. Are there concerns. What are they anticipating. Might happen after the return. After mardi gras district officials were pretty confident that they would be able to go back to normal or what had been normal. Which would be elementary schools. Five days a week. they're back now and then high scores on more of a hybrid schedule. So you know anywhere from one to three days in the classroom and other days at home i noticed. Pretend lewis was confident we'd be able to return. He said you know we are able to do this. I thanks giving I think the question is did celebrations in any way resemble like they did over the winter break because that would raise concerns about potential spike in cases. But we don't have any evidence to suggest that so far but at the same time. We had both margaret holiday. Suppressing test results are people getting tested and then additionally we have this winter storm that it's affected ability to task throughout the state and potentially ability to vaccinate going back to the vaccinations for a second. Philip were on tier one. B right now is worse over phase one b tier one which i mean honestly. The tears are a little bit less at this point because rather than Progressing through them step by step. Like you would expect what's happening. The is the governor's office l. d. h. have just added people to the existing tier so we were still in his one me tier one. It was expanded to include people sixty five in up so at this point. I think i take all of the tears. Were the Hefty spoonful absolve that. This is kind of there. Signaling your thinking that these people will come next but there's nothing firm in there about what what exactly that means in terms of progression so it's really just semantics. Almost okay the list of people who are eligible for the vaccine keeps expanding are all those people who are eligible to receive the vaccine able to get vaccinated at this point. No there's still delays in getting appointments set up. I mean it is happening so it but surely but at this point one point two million people are eligible for the vaccine. Roughly in only about five hundred. That i have been administered. That's less than half. The state has been saying is that they're aiming for roughly eighty percent of people who walk the vaccine and are eligible to be vaccinated before moving to the next the next tier or for For demand to be about eighty percent of supply before opening to the next one where we are large scale. Numbers there about hesitancy i mean. That's what approximately forty percent of people in the eligible categories the challenges that these early categories are people who in general have very compelling reasons to get vaccinated there from one healthcare workers. They're over the age of seventy and a lot of cases a i. Yeah that's i would sort of take my baseline. But i have a feeling that hesitancy in existing categories is a lot lower obviously think the national number on nursing home hesitant or nursing home staff. Hesitancy is around fifty percent. And last time i heard that was about two weeks ago. That was about the number louisiana. Although again joe cantor said that they were every time they were returning to nursing homes uptake among staff was gone up by about ten percent. Do the hesitancy numbers are also kind of a moving target as people see other people getting vaccinated back to schools. Marta has the vaccine tracker that they launched. The new vaccine tracker been dormant this last week or have they had been moving at all. Now we're not gonna get any updates until monday disappointing to me as a reporter. But also i think to the community just because if potentially be tight thought that we were after winter break. It'd be nice to have some new numbers since week before kids actually back to the classroom. Did they say why. They're not updating the case numbers. This week is just the holidays. I think the general party line would be something like well. We update on monday. Now in monday was wendy grosso in a week or so. Will i mean. Even next week you wouldn't expect it to perhaps it'll reflect any new cases that have been diagnosed over the holiday break. Yeah i mean we. We're not going to see the full mardi gras that if there is any for a couple of weeks But you know. I think it would be it would be nice to know roughly what our baseline is as high school. Students are returning before we could expect a potential mardi gras bike right. We did have the district issue like three line. Press release yesterday saying you know school starts for monday which is kinda the same thing they did last break. But that that release didn't include any numbers about positively ear anything related to kovin and just it just after the mardi gras honda now. Obviously the city's the city's case tracker is still going and in many ways that you know has it provides more comprehensive information in a lot of ways though it doesn't actually it doesn't actually break which cases are are related to schools in some way but it does it does give you better information in other ways right and those those numbers have been trying to any a good direction but again it's a question of what is our testing capability bed during the holiday yet. The union representatives. That you speak to have you talked to them. At all about their response to the cassisi on their behalf from kamala harris and the biden administration that in contradiction to the cdc guidelines. Yeah without spoken specifically about that. I think i think nationally. There's august a big movement to get teachers vaccine before returning to the classroom and i think that's even more of a. It's a tough for controversial subject in places where teachers students had not returned classroom at all throughout this entire year. So here. I think it is a little bit less of a sticking point because we've been we have been back in the classroom and also the union doesn't have a platform they don't they know they don't have any. They're only a handful of collective bargaining contracts in the city. So it's it's not the same type of conversation how would happen here But at the union would absolutely. I think advocate for teachers to be back stated before they interact students right as far as the the presidential party. Line they they. They did advocate for teachers to be vaccinated before returning to classroom. A also acknowledged that. That's not part of the cdc guidelines. So it's pretty interesting interesting stance. Oh again in terms of cdc recommendations. I mean the cdc's stands at the moment and has been dead transmissions can be effectively controlled inside classrooms. Right right if you're if you're using a mask if your distance That i think our schools are pretty. Well set up to do that. Generally speaking especially when thirty to forty percent of the population was still staying at home. So they're more room and classrooms than a typical sized classroom. Right good point all right thanks. Marta an update on this story. Louisiana governor john. Bel edwards announced on thursday. That teachers will be added to the eligibility lists for the vaccine beginning next week. You're listening to behind the lens on. Caroline heldman my guest this week. Weaker education reporter mark juicin' health reporter philip kiefer and the lens editor charles maldonado. Hi i'm michael stein. And i covered new orleans. Cultural economy and local government. Here at the lens is to report stories that others aren't or can't increasingly traditional newsrooms are facing budget cuts and have been curtailing long-term investigative reporting because it tends to be the most expensive kind of work. We're here to fill that gap. Please consider helping us. do this. Important work by making a tax deductible donation. Now at the lens nola dot org slash donate. Thanks for your support philip. A two lane school of medicine administrator has been demoted from her position last week. She says the move was in retaliation for a discrimination lawsuit. She's filed against the university. Who is she. What's her background. What's going on here. So her name is. Dr princess dinar. She was an administrator overseeing a residency program within the tulane school of medicine Just by way of background. She was hired in two thousand eight as the medical director for a separate program within the med school within a year. So by two thousand nine she was hired to be the co program director of the medicine pediatrics residency at the tulane school of medicine which means she was overseeing residents people who graduated from medical school but still need to go through the process of getting hands on experience deferred completing their their education And pretty soon after that She became the program director. She was the first black women program director at the two lanes for medicine in the program was leading medicine. Pediatrics are meant Dishing substantially less white than other residencies according to her lot sear. It became nervous under her leadership which becomes sort of a key. Part of the discrimination lawsuit just a couple things. First of all that she is still employed School of medicine ride. This is kind of a demotion. She received last week exactly. Yeah and the second thing. Is that this that she filed was filed well-advanced Back in october. What was the sort of genesis of that suit. Your lawsuit filed october twenty twenty Alleges and gender discrimination the allegations Star basically from within a year of her initial hiring as the medical director for this other program while she was in that first year. Chill is that during the interview process with the dean of the school of medicine. Dr li ham handed told her that. Actually the program. Med pete's vir- surfer in the eyes of applicants. Applicants wouldn't want to come there if it had a block director. And so that's why she was given the job of rector Before being promoted to full directorship from this a ton of other stuff Alleged that she says created a hostile indiscriminately climate against her end the residents she oversaw and against her program in general to some of those elements. Are she alleges that she was locked. Out of key internal software that she needed to see her resident evil to schedule them for For rotations that she was locked out of screw by list-serve Other sort of key communication platforms to the lawsuit says that her students were prevented from taking shifts that they need to gain a beam experience and that the same was not happening to residents in other programs end importantly also alleges that she was forced to use a software flow ranking applicants to her pergram but specifically discounted the education of students from each vcu's. We're lawsuit is alleging that the software if they graduated from an hugh it knocked down in the ranking that is my understanding and my understanding is that there was this software program called klis. It's used for on some level automatically ranking applicants to the program there's this in the residency application process. There's this matching system and initial are made on the basis of mutual high rankings and so an element of the ranking process through the med peds pergram allegedly res- software that ranked applicants and specifically discounted gave the ranks to applicants from hp. We explain the other two lawsuits against the university. There two other lawsuits alleging gender. Racial discrimination against the school of medicine or halibut faculty in the school of medicine read. Now that i know of one of them is very closely related to dr dinars now series. It's actually a resident in the mid. Pete's pergram dr k. Who in february of twenty twenty in this went under reported at the time. sued the school of medicine and named another fallible administrator. Who's news named dr dinars. Basically over some of the allegations that dr dinar makes her lawsuit regarding Students being given harder rotation students in residence in mid kids being given harder rotations not being given elective rotations and the students specifically alleges that she was given. I believe a year without any vacation time which was given to two other residents and actually dr dinar services a witness in this residents sued end dr dinars lawsuit alleges that the retaliation became more intense after after that went forward. The one is related. Only in broad it's a suit filed I a rheumatology researcher who studied autoimmune disorders. As matter standing. And it's it names again. The dean of the school of medicine. Dr late ham and another high level administrator. This suit was filed in twenty nineteen after the researcher was let go and basically alleges that that was based on the fact that she was a woman who had been discriminated against on the basis of gender through research. It alleges that Her research funding was sapped by this administrator. Given to other male researchers around her and that she was then terminated because she had been unable to secure funding and do her research effectively which the lawsuit then says stemmed back from the fact that she was being undermined the entire time through her research. But that soon feels like important context because it also name's dean of the school of medicine at says that this researcher went to him with her concerns that the dean said that he would investigate and then did not. He knew the allegations and didn't do anything. So what's the university's position. The university's position is that they are committed to fostering equitable and inclusive community. And discrimination in any form has no place and is not tolerated they say about this suspension is the an external review body. The ac gm came to tulane to review the med peds program and a warning status. It's called about the status of the program. They say that this status change triggered an automatic review of the program by an internal body called the graduate medical education committee which is comprised of diverse to in faculty and medical residents and individuals from other institutions. They say that that committee recommended. The suspension of dr dinar rinse gets really confusing at heart to parse out. Is that review by the outside. The jemmy according to dr dinars lawsuit came to evaluate the program because of allegations from her residence of racial discrimination on the part of the administration so her lawsuit essentially says yes. My residents brought in this outside. Which the spoiler ben says led to the review of her. There's some contention Exactly the c. Jammie found when they went there on the lawsuit says essentially that it could not rule out discrimination as contributing to the warning. Status of the program is folks. -person for those. Scroll sent me an email saying that. No in fact. They couldn't substantiate claims of racism. I'm waiting for more to come out of this lawsuit before i know. Exactly what what they said. That's still not to my knowledge but the extra exchange about this so you have this outside body come. In apparently at the behest of students who said they were experiencing racism. This automatic review happens. The automatic were view. Appears to been under the purview of one of the high level administrators named as antagonists. Dr dinars law. Seared and i haven't gotten any answer on what his involvement was in that but none of the people named in the lawsuit was the dean of graduate medical education in the ross. It says that he oversees internal education standards of residents and then the statement to lynn says. The doctor denies suspension was handed down by a committee within the graduate medical education division. I don't know what to make of that. I should say that. The case with the researcher who alleged gender discrimination in her firing that had a summary judgment issued in favor of two lane on december thirty first. But it's an appeal right now and briefs are being filed to the fifth circuit court. March are they. Are they represented by the same attorney or a couple different attorneys. And i haven't managed to get one of them on the phone that yeah this one guy Mickey always is involved in teams of all three. And he's definitely the lead attorney for okay dinar and i think is one of several filler researcher. Who do any other fallout yet. From this to alumni is writing an open letter abou- about the lack of transparency. That they think is happening as for this lawsuit. There's a student group that has popped up calling themselves slam. That also has demands. I mean it's it's definitely causing a huge amount of turmoil within the school medicine. Yeah well philip. It's a big messy story and you'll keep your eye on it okay. In full disclosure. My husband is a practicing physician and educator at tulane university school of medicine. Thanks for your time thank you. This is behind the lens. Podcast from the lens. New orleans first nonprofit nonpartisan public interest. Newsroom i'm caroline heldman. Thanks to our guests this week martyr. Juicin' philip kiefer and lens editor. Charles maldonado you can read all the weeks other news along with opinions at our website. The lens nola for listening

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