I was telling a Bellamy family about Pest Island, near New Castle, where ships from Europe used to be stopped and checked for infectious diseases, then quarantined if the sailors were sick, so the diseases would not move inland on the tide and cause epidemics in Portsmouth, Dover and among merchants moving goods to other inland cities.

The context was my personal theory of flu epidemiology among elderly compromised people. Here is the short version for my friends with limited attention spans:

With a nod to Fibonacci, the Hopkins sequence is 10,3,1, meaning that for every ten cases of flu, there will be three that turn into pneumonia and one person will die.

Stay with me…the one who died was immune compromised but we don’t know who that is until s/he gets sick.

The pair who gets pneumonia and survive have immune systems (they all get flu shots, by the way). Chicken soup, Gatorade, etc. and oral antibiotics are good for the pneumonia. (I charge extra to explain how a flu virus becomes pneumonia). After four days of oral antibiotics, God and Darwin decide who will survive.

With a nod to Buddha, ponder this: all antibiotics work until they don’t and further, everybody gets the flu but not everybody gets sick. Stop by for more details, no charge.

I like old flus. The ones that come around every few years are less deadly that the new flues. My 101 year old guest has probably had the H1N1 17 times and has acquired some immunity.

In 2013, we got whacked by a new flu. Whether you went to the ICU for IV antibiotics or stayed at Bellamy for milk and cookies, the mortality was the same. Since then, the 10-3-1 ratio has been right on.

As I expand our palliative and hospice programs to keep pace with family expectations about care and comfort, I continue to be impressed with the Bellamy and Watson staffs’ understanding of our families.  Their abilities to find the terminology, mutual language of care and comfort and kind reassurance that we have the resources for gentle end of life care, have provided an important alternative to dying in a hospital.

I listened to staff at both Bellamy and Watson this week initiate the care and comfort conversations. It was genuine, thorough and thoughtful, like everything they do!