New UW consortium will lead to a broader, deeper study of ocean health
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New UW consortium will lead to a broader, deeper study of ocean health

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Editor’s note: Today’s guest editorials comes from The Seattle Times and the Yakima Herald-Republic. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

The University of Washington’s selection to host a new research consortium is a testament to the school’s well-earned reputation. It will help advance understanding of climate, ocean dynamics and marine ecosystems, building on the school’s track record of excellence in the field.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week that the UW will lead a new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies, which includes Oregon State University and University of Alaska Fairbanks. The designation comes with up to $300 million in funding for research into areas such as climate and ocean variability, the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, aquaculture and polar studies, in conjunction with the NOAA labs.

The selection is a testament to the UW’s research prowess: The commitment is nearly triple the last NOAA Cooperative Institute award to UW and formalizes longstanding collaborations among researchers along the West Coast.

Such cooperative agreements augment NOAA’s research capabilities, allowing the federal agency to operate more efficiently while enabling researchers to tackle a broader range of integrated research challenges. The UW has long been a leader in such collaborative work. For decades, the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean has been at the vanguard of ocean sciences, partnering with research institutions, nongovernmental and government agencies like NOAA to expand the depth and breadth of its research capabilities. This new agreement formalizes those longstanding relationships, said the institute’s Executive Director John K. Horne, a professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

About 250 research scientists were involved in putting together the proposal, said Horne, who will also lead the new cooperative institute.

“The more we understand and increase our knowledge, the better we can adapt and manage those resources, the more we can minimize our detrimental impacts and ensure sustainable marine ecosystems,” he said.

By building on complementary research interests, resources and expertise, the consortium can more aggressively tackle some of the more vexing questions and concerns about climate change, fisheries and ocean ecosystems.

It is a well-earned point of pride that UW has been selected to lead the charge.

Return of elective medical procedures is good for all

The recent news that elective medical procedures can resume in Washington as long as providers follow safety guidelines is good news not just for prospective patients. The May 18 announcement from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, which laid out common-sense precautions to protect patients and health care workers, should be a much-needed financial shot in the arm for health care providers, many of whom saw a considerable money stream dry up when Inslee halted all nonurgent medical and dental procedures March 19.

Inslee’s proclamation instructs medical and dental practices to assess their own readiness and gauge the level of COVID-19 activity in their area, then decide whether they will reopen, and to what degree if they do.

Providers must have enough personal protective equipment for workers, enforce social distancing and elevated levels of hygiene, screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms, protect their employees and seek feedback from them, and use their best clinical judgment regarding what is and isn’t necessary.

Inslee also noted the importance of reacting to local spikes in infection and hospitalization. Regional hospitals and health care providers must be prepared for sudden demand, the proclamation said.

Health providers statewide have shared tales of woe regarding the financial hit they’ve taken because of the lack of elective procedures.

From provider to provider, there will be decisions to make and logistical issues to iron out. Consultations and surgeries stopped more than two months ago, guaranteeing patient backlogs and the need for heightened triage as these procedures are renewed. In addition, providers must be certain to follow the new guidelines to the letter, not just for the sake of patients but for their own medical and support personnel.

For would-be patients, patience will be a virtue in the weeks ahead. At the same time, they should not wait to discuss previous or new medical issues with their providers should the need arise.

“We support the restart of these procedures in a safe manner that recognizes the ongoing national shortage of personal protective equipment, the need to maintain the safety of nurses and other health care workers and the prudent maintenance of surge capacity for a potential resurgence of COVID-19,” said Sally Watkins, executive director of the Washington Nurses Association, according to Inslee’s announcement.

With its stubbornly high infection rate, Yakima County is having a rough go during the pandemic, so it’s nice to see at least a bit of a bright spot coming our way. Medical providers must move ahead with confidence in our county’s ability to react to crises — and yet with deliberation, always focusing on the health and safety of patients and personnel with every decision they make. We can’t let this chance slip through our collective nitrile glove-clad fingers.

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