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    By now, corporate medicine has milked about all the 'efficiency' it can out of the system. With mergers and streamlining, it has pushed the productivity numbers about as far as they can go. But one resource that seems endless-and free-is the professional ethic of medical staff members,' said Dr. Danielle Ofri, an author and physician at Bellevue Hospital and New York University, from a New York Times guest editorial on June 9, 2019, 'Is Exploiting Doctors the Business Plan?' We are fortunate, within my immediate and extended family, to have the benefit of several medical professionals. My sister, Tanya, is a Nurse Practitioner, my god-daughter, Dr. Martha Cohen-Slade is an ObGyn and a close family cousin has not only been a career long operating room nurse, but also served as Chair of its global professional association, the Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses, AORN. Their career experience and insights have helped form my opinions on the status of the industry.  My god-daughter, herself also recently a new mother, delivered five babies the same day her own labor was later induced before giving birth to her first son. My sister, who has worked all over the country, while continuing her own medical studies as well as serving as an educator and nursing faculty member, routinely works through holiday weekends, continuous 30-hour shifts and in both private and hospital based practices, always delivering beyond the call and assigned 'hours' of her paycheck.  As I have also often seen these behaviors in many of my own medical advisers and professionals, I can only assume it to be part of the work ethic and 'patient needs first' ingrained during years of study and preparation for a career in health care. Hopefully, this aspect of the profession will continue forward, but not to the long term detriment of the practitioners.  Patients, particularly in an in-patient setting, are generally sicker these days. Greater severity and complexity of chronic conditions, more over-lapping illnesses or infections to treat, as well as more medications to handle, manage and assess for side-effects or treating at cross-purposes. And yet the average length of time treatment spent with each patient is expected to be shrinking, or remain the same, aided by technology and that particularly vexing plus/minus of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). The EMR is now omni-present and 'tunneled-in' to nearly every aspect of the medical system, and though few would wish a return to the pounds-heavy paper charts and copies, the EMR is now remotely accessible 24/7, awaiting updates, notes and provider input, and many providers are now doing just that, using evening, weekend and sleep-hours, off the clock, to update and re-check EMR charts. The average provider/physician spends roughly two-hours of EMR maintenance/updates time per each hour of actual face to face patient care.  Hospitals and provider employers also know this, and in effect consider this a benefit of employing well-paid and ethically driven professionals. But all of this 'no-down time' doesn't add up to everything remaining just fine. Health care professional burn-out is an increasingly real threat to their own health as well as ongoing performance. And despite doctor and nursing shortages nationwide, which increasingly require HB1 Visas and U.S. health care employers to recruit and import medical professionals from other nations, domestic medical and nursing school slots remain in tight supply, while a significant number of Baby Boomer era providers are fast approaching retirement. In addition to the higher error levels one might associate with long-term fatigue, clinical depression and suicide rates among physicians and nurses are now also significantly surpassing those of the general population they care for.  I am no fan of a single payer, government-based health care system. I don't have to look any further than our troubled Veteran's Administration system to see what happens when a bureaucracy manages all the keys to the kingdom, but with all the great minds and innovation present in American health care, still considered the world leader in numerous arenas, there simply has to be a better way.  From 1975 to 2010, the number of health care 'administrators' within both the for profit and non-profit medical sectors, has increased by 3200 percent. If we considered converting back less than half that personnel hike towards clinical care and more direct patient support, we might be well on our way to closing the provider service gap, as well as better recognizing that the priority should remain getting and keeping patients well, versus processing piles and piles of electronic records and yes, still more paperwork. Hospitals...heal thyself.
  • Speaking recently to Reuters, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said, 'It would be very difficult for the company to do business in Georgia if the new abortion law takes effect.'Like or loathe the entertainment industry, in less than a decade they have become a significant player in and contributor to Georgia's economy. The last year for which data is available, 2017, puts that impact at $9.25 billion, with direct and indirect employment exceeding 100,000. Iger was not the first, nor will he be the last prominent industry voice to warn Georgia leaders about the potential impact of the new fetal heartbeat law, HB 481, signed into law on May 7, 2018, and intended to take effect on January 1, 2020 if not delayed or overturned by the courts.Many of the industry’s major players have each issued statements indicating production halts, draw downs or departures...if the law goes into full effect, including Warner Media, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Sony, CBS and AMC thus far. That said, as of this writing, Georgia remains exceeded only by the entire nation of Canada, in current motion picture and television film productions.
  • Today the president acknowledged he was going to fulfill his promise to these disaster victims and have their backs, and I think today, in a bipartisan way, Congress backed him up on that,' said U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), in announcing the long-delayed Senate vote on a $19.1 billion disaster recovery bill which passed 85-8 on May 23, 2019.Hurricane Michael crashed ashore in Mexico Beach, Florida on October 10, 2018, with winds estimated at 160 miles per hour. Michael is one of only four known Category 5 hurricanes to make U.S. landfall. Within hours the charming vacation, retirement, and beachfront residential community was all but obliterated. That was seven months ago, and with thousands of residents having left their homes and business behind, there are still families, seniors and longtime area residents living in tents, houses without fully functioning utilities or tarped roofs and businesses unable to return to their prior locations.
  • The man had a penchant for martyrdom. This allowed him to cling to his belief that he was cruelly beset, deeply under-appreciated, wholly persecuted and denied the respect that he rightfully deserved,' said historian and author Brenda Wineapple speaking of President Andrew Johnson in her new book, 'The Impeachers.'Congress had twice previously impeached a sitting President. President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat who ran on a unity ticket with President Abraham Lincoln during his re-election campaign, and then nearly 150 years later, President Bill Clinton. Neither Impeachment was successful, both did not receive the required votes for removal from office in the U.S. Senate. And in both of those cases, the party NOT in control of the White House held majorities in both chambers of Congress. That is not currently the case in Washington, D.C. Democrats have control of the U.S. House, where impeachment proceedings might be considered or begin.
  • When I think of Georgia football I immediately think of Coach Dooley...,” Most people think of him as a coach, but he was also a great Athletic Director who brought life to all the sports at Georgia. It wasn’t just about football, he had a great influence on the whole university. I think everyone involved with Georgia would be proud to have the field named after Coach Dooley.” said Kevin Butler, former UGA Bulldog kicker and member of Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears in 1985, now a post-game radio host for the Georgia Bulldogs. Sanford Stadium in Athens was named for a great gentleman and scholar, Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, who first arrived at UGA as an English professor, before taking on leadership roles on the faculty and athletics committees. Sanford would become UGA President and later Chancellor of the entire University system, and in 1911, he moved UGA's football venue from the small and cramped, but scenic Herty Field in the old north campus, to a valley and the stadium’s current location.  The original stands only sat 30,000, and the field sat atop Tanyard Creek, now encased in a cement culvert under the stadium running east to the Oconee River. A reasonably complex drainage and irrigation system on that natural turf field helps to maintain the grass as well as that historic, football shaped hedge.  Vince Dooley arrived as a young head football coach in 1963, and went on to win the NCAA National Championship in 1980 as well as six SEC Championships. Dooley is still Georgia's winning-est football coach (1963-1989), also serving an over-lapping tenure as Athletic Director, and then continuing in that role through 2004, with Georgia teams in a variety of sports winning 23 national championships and 78 SEC titles during his time as A.D.  Vince and his wife Barbara Dooley have also become generous donors to UGA academic and scholarship pursuits. There are now a Dooley Library Endowment Fund and a Dooley Professorship in Horticulture, both made possible by their generosity. And the only subject that Coach Dooley will talk longer on than football is gardening...  Both Dooley’s call Athens their adopted home, raising their son and two daughters there, son Derek is now a college football coach as well, and the charmed couple have become walking icons for Bulldog Nation, both known for their southern charm, hospitality and enduring love for all things Georgia football.  Recognizing these and so many other contributions to the University, both in the academic and athletic arenas as well as becoming true pillars of the Athens community, UGA President Jere Morehead and Athletic Director Greg McGarity (whom Dooley first hired), recently informed a surprised Coach that the field he spent a quarter century coaching atop would soon be named in his honor.  Coach is now 86, and remains active on more boards and non-profits than most folks half his age. I have the pleasure of serving on the Board of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia with Coach. He attends most every meeting, often offering insightful guidance and advice, and then hops in his Kia and drives himself back to Athens. Vince and Barbara introduced me to Bulldog Kia in Athens, and that's Barbara's face saying 'See y’all at Bulldog Kia' to a few hundred thousand Bulldog fans on billboards around Athens each fall.  The Dooleys are both warm, genuine and class acts devoted to UGA. And another one like them, UGA's current President Jere Morehead said as much when he responded to efforts by more than 450 former Bulldog players calling for naming Sanford Stadium's field in honor of Coach Dooley. Current Dawgs Coach Kirby Smart played for Coach Dooley, as did former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and hundreds of other NCAA and later NFL stand-outs.  The Athletic Association and University System Board of Regents are adding their voices to that chorus, singing a tune now long over-due. Normally each fall UGA home opener tends to be a light schedule game, and sometimes the stands don't even fill, into the now 92,000+ seats which expanded around that field during Dooley's tenures.  But I expect for this year's opener, on Saturday, September 7th against Murray State, there will be a packed house, and a later standing ovation and applause perhaps not equaled since that national championship season, when that 100-yard stretch of privet and Georgia green officially becomes Dooley Field, an honor truly and duly long over-due. The Dooley’s and their family are expected to be there for the honor and a special half-time tribute. Congratulations Coach! Go Dawgs!!
  • An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy,' Old Spanish proverb.  If you are reading or being told of this column, you also at some point had a mother, or if you are blessed, you are a mother, grandmother or other in the raising of children and shaping of lives in your family, with each trying to make sense and make their way on this planet of ours.  Each day, 10,000 American Baby Boomers reach the age of 65. By 2050 the number of living Americans at or above that anniversary milestone is projected to reach 82-million. Only the Millenial generation at that point are expected to out-number seniors, in a nation of then projected population of roughly 400-million. Georgia remains a top tax and location friendly state for retirees, as ranked by Kiplinger in 2017, and our capital city of Atlanta is the nation's #1 rapidly aging city (in terms of core population).
  • The fact is, John Chapman might well be the best-known figure from our national past about whom most people know almost nothing at all.” ― Author Howard Means, “Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story.” As a child in DeKalb County Elementary Schools, as well as later in college, I was blessed to have studied under several gifted educators and teachers who made me a better person, as well as a stronger scholar. In first grade, Miss Rice, and than later in 4th grade, Mrs. Morris each vastly expanded my vocabulary and world view. Just as my parents and family helped form me as a person, loving and gifted teachers helped to shape my mind, and build a lifelong desire for learning.  My oldest daughter, Barclay Carson, is herself a teacher, in Gwinnett County, leaving her own indelible and lasting mark on 1st and 2nd graders, and beginning next fall, a promotion to the 4th grade. Barclay is following in the footsteps of her mother, Nancy Lowery Powell, also a fellow educator at Trip Elementary in Loganville.  My youngest child, Olivia, is following a path more similar to my own, with an elementary education in the DeKalb County School District. After some struggles at our prior school, we moved Olivia this past fall and she is now flying high as an Oak Grove Eagle. Olivia has developmental delays and Down syndrome, and is now in a special education classroom setting, presided over for the past three decades by Mark Manganello. Mr. Mark has become both a leader and a fixture of the school, after-care, summer school and the community, completing his 31st year at Oak Grove this spring, and 40 years as an educator.  For much of that time, Mr. Mark has taught a multi-grade class, 3rd grade through 5th, joined by several para-professionals, Mark navigates the learning disabilities and challenges, specific to each child, modifying their grade level curriculum, while also rewarding and recognizing the spark of learning in each child.  Like tending a small fire into a roaring flame, it’s a joy to watch Mark's rapport grow with each student, from educator to friend, to life mentor. I have noted children no longer matriculating at Oak Grove walking towards Mr. Mark with a beaming smile, ready for a life update and probably a hug, this teacher makes connections with his charges which appear to be life-long.  As we watched Olivia's mind open and rapidly expand, her vocabulary nearly doubling, cognition and reading comprehension more than trebling and grasp of other subjects ranging from social studies to math and science each rolling clearly into view and reality, there is little doubt in my mind of where to lay the credit. Mark Manganello has created and maintains a safe and supportive learning environment, where it is both 'okay' to be different and learning, at all levels is celebrated.  A year ago when I would pick Olivia up at her school, I often found her walking towards me with head bowed, and the body language of defeat. Now as she again runs towards me, with head up and a smile on her face, I know that the lessons of this classroom and school are more than coming off the pages of a textbook, or a lesson online.  Noting how Mark has for decades played the unintentional role of 'Johnny Appleseed' planting the seeds of learning in the minds of so many children, otherwise often discarded by our public education system, we wanted to find an appropriate way to thank and recognize his legacy. Oak Grove has an incredible organic garden within its courtyard, tended over by an extremely gifted and active volunteer, Kendall Xides. Ms. Xides presides over the green-space and children across all grade levels help to tend the garden. And now that little Oak Grove utopia has its first apple tree.  It is our hope that this apple tree will bear fruit for the teachers and students at Oak Grove for many generations to come, just as the seeds of learning which Mark Manganello long ago planted so lovingly continue bearing their own fruit as perhaps his most lasting legacy. And Mark's passion for special education has also taken root in his own family, as his daughter Jennifer Manganello also teaches special education at Oak Grove, so Mr. Mark's legacy will last on there in more ways than one.  So from your the many little apples in the orchard, and their grateful parents friends and family, thanks to Mr. Mark for being our own 'Johnny Appleseed,' and may you find your coming semi-retirement as pleasant and rewarding as you have found your decades in the classroom. Cheers with a nice glass of hard cider.
  • We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback in New York City,' said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking to the city's emergency powers in matters of public health during a press conference on April 9, 2019. There are limits to my belief in modern medicine. Currently only taking one prescription drug for elevated blood pressure, lots of supplements and CBD oil to deal with a chronic inflammatory illness. I'm a big believer in wellness, prevention, chiropractic, exercise and a near daily yoga practice to help maintain good health.  But the evidence is indisputable, that vaccines have prevented serious illness among hundreds of millions, saved lives and shrunk the world of many killer diseases into a deep freeze in petri dishes secured within vaults at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Undoubtedly, preventative vaccines have spared both my children most of the once more severe illnesses of childhood.  Yet I did note a significant increase in both the type and number of required vaccinations from the birth of daughter #1 in 1992 to daughter # 2 in 2007, both children have been spared the pleasure of the measles and its German cousin, chicken pox, mumps and many other maladies too numerous to mention.  And yet, in many parts of the first world, parents are increasingly vacillating or in many cases simply saying NO to childhood vaccinations. Some believe vaccinations harbor small amounts of heavy metals like mercury and other toxins as preservatives. Thiomersal, and it's trade name, Merthiolate (patented by Eli Lily in 1928), are a preservative, derived from Mercury, used in the manufacture of many medical vaccinations.  A not small number in the scientific community, thousands of parents and families, and several well-regarded studies have indicated that Thiomersal may contribute to or cause autism and other illnesses, including cancer, SIDS and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  While parents have the right to make these decisions for their families and children, we are at the same time, more and more congregating in cities, where population density and commonly used surfaces and gathering places are also more and more the societal norm, in the United States and elsewhere. A current resurgence of the measles in New York City, originating reportedly within Orthodox Jewish communities who do not vaccinate as a matter of faith, has moved into the broader public school system population.  New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio is leading a public awareness effort, 'Don't Wait...Vaccinate,' to slow the measles outbreak, already resulting in hundreds of hospitalizations, from developing into a pandemic. The Mayor and City Council have mandated the measles vaccine for school-age children within several Zip codes in Brooklyn where out-breaks first occurred. Prior to the public health emergency declaration, Orthodox Jewish families in the impacted neighborhoods and communities were simply urged to keep sick children at home.  Vaccinations, on a global scale, have all but eradicated the threats of small pox and polio...and yet without continued vaccinations among our new population, these crippling and fatal diseases may likely make a return just as measles, chicken pox and other ailments considered less threatening are occurring, even to the extent that some parents hold 'measles/pox parties' to intentionally expose their offspring, in hopes of naturally strengthening their immune systems.  The annual flu vaccine, as an example, is often administered without any preservatives, while still sparing millions of Americans from the serious and in some cases fatal malady of the flu. And yet, with that vaccine both inexpensive and almost universally available, thousands of adults continue to choose to avoid it, and Georgia was among the most flu-infested states in the nation yet again this year.  The pharmaceutical industry, coming off another year of near record profits, would do well to make the common sense decision to research and deliver other preservative options. Protective mothers, like bears and lionesses are not likely to simply accept assurances and admonitions of 'trust us.' Trust, once lost or broken must be earned. Let's not gamble again with global public health. Drugs are tweaked and re-patented every day at the molecular level by big pharma when seeking the protections of a new patent. It's time to step up, so that you help remove the doubts of thousands of families refusing to roll up their sleeves and point their child's foot, upper arm, thigh or other body part at the business end of a needle. How about a little bit of self-directed financial pain for a significant confidence and consumer trust gain? Don't vacillate, make the smart and easy choice.
  • Welcome to Arlington National Cemetery, Our Nation's Most Sacred Shrine. Please Remember: These Are Hallowed Grounds,' greeting inscribed at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. The American Civil War ended 154 years ago this week as Appomattox treaty meetings got underway on April 8, 1865. This ended five years of conflict, resulting in more than 1,000,000 U.S. casualties and 655,000+ deaths (Union troops - 364,000+, Confederate troops - 290,000+). The war gave America its greatest loss of life in the history of our nation, and the Confederacy lost what was then just under 25 percent of its white male population.
  • At Goodwill, we try and meet our clients where they are...and then with training and the tools we have developed, we help them get to here they want to be, and hopefully on their way to a successful career,' said Keith Parker, CEO Goodwill of North Georgia, at a Goodwill “Atlanta Works” panel discussion at the Commerce Club of Atlanta.   Long-standing legacy charitable organizations have their challenges. Public attention and favoritism are often fickle, and many local and regional charities and non-profits now also compete for limited resources with their own national chapters.  Missions change, expand and shift, and often competition arises, sometimes within the same space, from newer, smaller and even hyper local entities, with the same good intentions, but little of the long term experience or success in delivering results.  One of those most visible, and in Georgia, among the largest in the non-profit arena is Goodwill. You most likely have seen and possibly shopped in their thrift stores. They collectively generated nearly $150-million in revenue during 2018. Goodwill received more than 3-million donations during the same period, interacting with 7.5 million customers, donors and clients. Most stores are now staffed and managed by former Goodwill clients. Long known for offering job-training for the developmentally disabled and in some markets sheltered-workshops (where the disabled could be trained and respectfully employed in a safe, albeit somewhat segregated surroundings), providing a modest income, the self-respect which comes from regular employment and the measured independence which follows.  Goodwill of North Georgia (45-county service territory) is led by its CEO, Keith Parker, until recently the man who turned around metro Atlanta's long-troubled mass transit system, MARTA. At MARTA, Parker stabilized finances (now more than a quarter-billion in operating reserves), improved morale and overall operational efficiency, strengthened a police force which has helped MARTA become one of the nation's safest transit systems, as well as won the confidence of the state's business leadership, statehouse and numerous city halls. If this Parker had chosen to stay at MARTA, I would have wagered heavily in favor of the recent unsuccessful transit expansion referendum in Gwinnett County to already be counting that new penny of sales tax revenue this week. Parker is a catalytic leader and change agent. He also walks the factory floor...at MARTA he road those trains to and from work himself, most every weekday.  At Goodwill, Parker understands that that humble worker or disabled adult who walks through their doors may not know where they are heading...or just how they will get there. Fortunately Goodwill does know, and provides the tools, hand up (versus hand-out) and help to identify opportunities to begin that climb up a career ladder and hopefully to a middle-class or better lifestyle and standard of living. Parker believes that wage inequity is a challenge for most urban areas, and at Goodwill, he is trying to do something about that as well. But during Goodwill’s “Atlanta Works” panel discussion, Parker was not suggesting massive taxation or re-distribution of wealth. He was simply suggesting greater investment in human capital and more work force training, in this case privately funded.  Along with Metro Atlanta Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta CEO Raphael Bostic and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms...Parker and the panel agreed it is incumbent upon all of the business community to help lift and hire those most challenged and vulnerable, as an employed worker is not only productive and contributing to society, but also no longer a potentially dependent burden, living life on the edge in the safety net or on the streets. This was not only a noble calling to hear, but impressive to note again, that Parker, less than a year into his new gig, is already shifting the landscape, changing the conversation and building community consensus while defining the new mission to lead. The man who re-opened MARTA for business is now going to try and re-open business minds to not only employing, but training and promoting non-traditional employees.  Having a child with Down syndrome, who is blossoming more recently in school thanks to a gifted educator, we are already looking ahead to transitioning to adulthood, higher education and later employment opportunities. I don't know if Mr. Parker will still be running this show by the time our child graduates high school, but if he is, I have faith and confidence that the developmentally disabled seeking employment opportunities in north Georgia have their future in good hands...and that is more than goodwill.

News

  • Romance author Judith Krantz, best known for writing 'Scruples' and nine other best-selling novels, has died at age 91, multiple news outlets reported Sunday. >> Read more trending news According to The Associated Press, Krantz died of natural causes Saturday afternoon at her home in Los Angeles' Bel-Air neighborhood, said one of her sons, producer Tony Krantz. Before she published the racy 'Scruples' at age 50 in 1978, Krantz wrote for women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan, McCall's and Ladies' Home Journal. She eventually wrote 10 novels that sold more than 80 million copies around the world, CNN reported. She also published a memoir, 'Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl,' in 2001. Several of Krantz's books, including 'Scruples,' 'Princess Daisy' and 'Mistral's Daughter,' were adapted into television miniseries in the '80s and '90s. A remake of the 'Scruples' miniseries was 'still in the works' when she died, Tony Krantz told the AP. Krantz was preceded in death by her husband, producer Steve Krantz. She is survived by their two sons and two grandchildren, the AP reported. Fellow authors took to Twitter after learning of Krantz's death, calling her a 'legend.' Read more here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • One person was killed and two others were injured in a shootout Monday morning at a College Park apartment complex, Channel 2 Action News reported.  College Park police Chief Ferman Williford told the news station investigators believe there was an exchange of gunfire near the back of the complex in the 2600 block of Charlestown Drive. When officers arrived around 4 a.m., one person was found dead at the scene. The other two victims were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. One is critical, Channel 2 reported. The other is stable. “All we know right now is some sort of gun battle ensued,” Williford said from the scene. “We don’t have any identifications yet.” Police are still in the early stages of their investigation. It is possible one or two of the victims are residents of the apartment complex, he said. — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • Police are investigating a shooting that left one person dead and two hurt in a South Fulton County apartment complex.  Channel 2’s Kristen Holloway is at the scene, where she talked to neighbors who say they heard about 12 gunshots.  The shooting happened at the Avery Park Apartments in the 2600 block of Charlestown Drive in College Park Monday. We’re at the scene talking to police about the shooting and the victims, for LIVE reports on Channel 2 Action News This Morning. BREAKING: Just got the scene of shooting at an apartment complex in College Park. Stay with @wsbtv for updates. pic.twitter.com/HE0HjejFRP — Kristen Holloway (@KHollowayWSB) June 24, 2019  
  • The search for a missing New York girl came to a sad end late Sunday when authorities found her body in Ontario's Casey Park. >> Read more trending news According to New York State Police, Zyvette Marquez-Rivera, 3, was found dead 'in a small body of water' about 11:43 p.m., nearly five hours after she was reported missing. Emergency crews, including an underwater rescue unit, responded to the park to look for the girl. The Monroe County Medical Examiners' Office will perform an autopsy on the child to determine her cause of death, authorities said. The investigation is ongoing.  If you have information about the case, call New York State Police at 585-398-4100. Read more here.
  • A New York man died unexpectedly while visiting the Dominican Republic last week, becoming the latest of at least 11 Americans who have died in the popular tourist destination since June 2018. According to Fox News, 56-year-old Vittorio Caruso, a recently retired pizzeria owner from Glen Cove, Long Island, died June 17 after he fell sick at Santo Domingo's Boca Chica Resort.  >> Read more trending news 'We found out he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something,' Lisa Maria Caruso said of her brother-in-law, who had gone to the island nation alone. She said family members learned of Caruso's death via phone just minutes after officials had called to say he was sick, News 12 Long Island reported. However, Dominican Republic National Police told CNN that Caruso had begun 'receiving medical attention' six days earlier, on June 11. Caruso 'was not a sick person' and had been in good health, Lisa Maria Caruso told Fox News. A doctor said Caruso's cause of death was respiratory failure, but officials are still awaiting autopsy results, CNN reported.  Caruso's case appears to be similar to the other American deaths reported recently in the island nation. Most of the travelers died from respiratory failure, pulmonary edema and/or a heart attack, officials said. Some had taken drinks from a hotel minibar before falling ill, family members told multiple news outlets. According to CBS News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation 'is assisting Dominican authorities' as they look into the deaths. So far, investigators reportedly have not found any evidence that the incidents are connected.  'There are no mysterious deaths here,' Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Javier Garcia told Fox News. ''Mysterious' implies that things happened that science cannot explain.' Although the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory in April urging American tourists to 'exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime,' officials have not revised the notice to include any health warnings. In fact, the department said last week that it has 'not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths' in the popular vacation destination, ABC News reported. 'The overwhelming majority travel without incident,' a department spokesperson said of the 2.7 million Americans who go there each year.
  • Cardi B, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino and the late Nipsey Hussle won top honors at the 2019 BET Awards, held Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. >> Read more trending news Here's the complete list of winners:  Album of the year: Cardi B, 'Invasion of Privacy' Best new artist: Lil Baby Best female hip-hop artist: Cardi B Best male hip-hop artist: Nipsey Hussle Coca-Cola viewers choice award: Ella Mai, 'Trip' Best collaboration: Travis Scott feat. Drake, 'Sicko Mode' Best international act: Burna Boy (Nigeria) Viewers' choice: Best new international act: ShoMadjozi (South Africa) Best female R&B/pop artist: Beyoncé Best male R&B/pop artist: Bruno Mars Young stars award: Marsai Martin Best group: Migos Video of the year: Childish Gambino, 'This Is America' Video director of the year: Karena Evans Best actress: Regina King Best actor: Michael B. Jordan Dr. Bobby Jones best gospel/inspirational award: Snoop Dogg feat. Rance Allen, 'Blessing Me Again' Sportsman of the year: Stephen Curry Sportswoman of the year: Serena Williams BET HER award: H.E.R., 'Hard Place' Best movie: 'BlacKkKlansman' Lifetime achievement award: Mary J. Blige Ultimate icon award: Tyler Perry Humanitarian award: Nipsey Hussle