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Health Highlights: June 10, 2020

Italian Woman Stuffs Olive During Brain Surgery Study Will Assess Drugs Used to Treat Young COVID-19 Patients VA May Not Have Enough Protective Equipment for Second Coronavirus Wave: Official Some U.S. Nursing Homes Taking Residents' Stimulus Checks

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Italian Woman Stuffs Olive During Brain Surgery

An Italian woman made 90 stuffed olives while she had a tumor removed from her brain.

The 60-year-old patient pitted the olives, stuffed them with meat and cheese and then rolled them over bread crumbs in less than an hour during the surgery to remove the tumor from her left temporal lobe, CBS News reported.

The "Ascoli-style" olives are a local specialty of Italy's Marche region. The operation took place in the region's capital of Ancona.

Surgeon Roberto Trignani has performed about 60 similar operations in the last five years. The patients are awake and perform an activity during surgery in order to monitor their brain functions, CBS News reported.

The activity performed by a patient is based on what part of the brain is undergoing surgery. In this latest case, the surgery involved the area that controls speech and complex movements on the left side of the body.

One patient who required surgery on the part of the brain that controls vision watched cartoons during the procedure, while others have sung or played instruments such as the violin or trombone, CBS News reported.


Study Will Assess Drugs Used to Treat Young COVID-19 Patients

A study to assess several drugs currently being used to treat COVID-19 in infants, children and teens has been announced by the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The drugs, including antiviral and anti-inflammatory medicines, are being prescribed off-label to children, meaning they haven't been specifically tested or approved for use in children.

Drugs will be added or removed from the list of drugs given to patients younger than 21 with COVID-19 as researchers learn more about the treatment of these patients, according to the NICHD, which is funding the study.

The study -- which will be conducted at 40 sites nationwide -- isn't a clinical trial with a control group. Instead, healthcare providers who are already treating young patients with drugs on the list will enroll patients whose parents or guardians have given their consent.

As well as analyzing blood samples to determine how the drugs move through the bodies of young patients, the researchers will collect information on potential side effects and patient outcomes.

Study findings will be used to refine drug dosing and improve safety for young patients with COVID-19, but it's not designed to determine which drug is the best treatment for these patients.

"As we search for safe and effective therapies for COVID-19, we want to make sure that we do not overlook the needs of our youngest patients who may respond differently to these drugs, compared to adults," Dr. Diana Bianchi, NICHD director, said in an institute news release.


VA May Not Have Enough Protective Equipment for Second Coronavirus Wave: Official

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it may not have enough personal protective equipment for medical staff if there's a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the peak of the pandemic, the VA's 170 medical centers were using 250,000 N95 masks a day, which was a "daunting amount," the department's top health official, Dr. Richard Stone, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Currently, the VA has about a 30-day supply of masks, gowns and other protective gear. But the agency needs a 60-day supply to meet growing demand as the VA starts to fully reopen its medical centers, and it would require a six-month supply to cope with a second wave of COVID-19, according to Stone.

"A future pandemic wave may test all of us in our preparation," Stone told the committee, the AP reported.

In preparation for a possible second wave, Stone said the VA has added more than 18,000 medical staff and will hire more, and is preparing four "readiness centers" that will be stocked with personal protective equipment.

He also noted that the VA is currently spending $100 million a month on personal protective equipment, compared with $10 million a month before the pandemic, the AP reported.


Some U.S. Nursing Homes Taking Residents' Stimulus Checks

Some U.S. nursing homes are ordering low-income residents to hand over their $1,200 economic stimulus checks, and lawmakers want to put a stop to it.

The Health and Human Services inspector general's office should warn nursing homes and assisted living facilities that such practices are "improper and unlawful," Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to tell nursing homes that the stimulus checks are not considered income that the homes can legally claim to defray the cost of care, Reps. Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said.

Low-income Medicaid recipients must not be "coerced into wrongly handing over their checks for fear of being kicked out of their homes," Neal and Pallone wrote, and said any such funds taken by nursing homes must be returned to recipients, the AP reported.

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