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STAY HEALTHY. STAY OUT OF THE ER.


We love interacting with the people of the Laredo community, but we’d much rather do it outside the ER than inside it. Keep up with the latest knowledge from our professionals to help keep yourself in the peak of health.




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04/Aug/2020

As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies throughout Texas, those with chronic conditions like asthma may be particularly concerned. Because the virus is still so new and scientists are having to learn about it in real-time, our understanding of COVID-19 grows over time, shedding new light on how it affects people both with and without chronic conditions. What we’ve recently come to understand about how COVID-19 affects those with asthma has come as a bit of a surprise because for many asthma sufferers, it is not as concerning as you might expect.

As it turns out, evidence is starting to emerge showing that it is only those with non-allergic asthma that are at any increased risk for more severe COVID-19 complications. These are people who experience asthma attacks triggered by exercise, stress, and other factors. Those who experience seasonal asthma flare-ups due to allergens, such as mold or pollen, do not appear to be at any heightened risk for COVID-19 complications or severity. This means that about half of adults and most children with asthma are at no increased risk for severe coronavirus complications.

What to do if you have asthma

Whichever of the types of asthma you have, you likely treat your condition with steroid medication. And because steroids can suppress the immune system, you may be tempted to stop your medication. Here at Laredo Emergency Room, our advice is: don’t. Keeping your asthma controlled is your best strategy for staying healthy and out of the emergency room. You also may be encouraged to know that some scientists think that because steroids work to reduce inflammation, they may actually help protect COVID-19 patients who use them. This means sticking with your medication and using your asthma spray at the first signs of asthma symptoms or an asthma attack.

During the pandemic, you can reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus in the first place by continuing to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, keep your hands clean, avoid touching your face, maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, avoid large crowds, and wear a face covering if you are able.

As someone with asthma, you’ll want to take some extra precautions, too. Talk to your treating physician and insurer about having an extra supply of emergency inhalers, allergy drugs, or other medications so that you can refill them less frequently and so that you have all you might need in case you need to avoid leaving home. Take extra care in avoiding the things that trigger an asthma attack. And take steps to reduce stress, such as by disconnecting from the news or electronic devices.

If you do experience asthma symptoms or an asthma attack during the pandemic, be sure to use your emergency medication ñ and to come to a fast ER like Laredo Emergency Room if needed. We’re taking extra precautions and making sure to keep our facilities clean so that we can safely care for you, no matter what.


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04/Aug/2020

The link between obesity and numerous health conditions has long been established. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Arthritis. High blood pressure. The list goes on. Unfortunately, there’s a new entry on this list: risk of death from COVID-19.

To be clear, obesity does not put a person at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. We well know by now that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and that together we can all reduce our risk of infection by wearing face coverings, social distancing, cleaning our hands, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. The problem instead is that once a person has contracted the virus, the risk of developing more severe symptoms and complications is seen as rising with the patient’s body mass index, which is a ratio of weight and height and used to estimate a person’s percentage of body fat.

It’s still unclear whether the problem is simply obesity by itself or rather due to the strong link between obesity and chronic conditions that make an obese COVID-19 patient suffer worse outcomes. Regardless, the bottom line is clear: obesity is linked to a higher risk of respiratory failure, other complications, and even death from the virus.

In fact, having a BMI of 40 or above is now listed as a risk factor for severe COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity is now considered a top risk factor for COVID-19 complications, second only to advanced age.

It’s news enough to get people who have been gaining their “quarantine 15” to think long and hard about their diets and lifestyles. But that’s easier said than done – and many people have long had good reasons to try to tackle their extra pounds but few or no resources to actually get the job done. In many cases, it’s an obesity-related chronic disease itself that prevents a patient from getting active and healthier. In others, the higher-quality food or resources needed to lose weight and get healthy are too expensive or unavailable within a community. Other times, patients view themselves as harmlessly overweight, not realizing that they are actually morbidly obese and at risk for health complications.

Healthcare strategies for obesity are scarce as well, with most physicians simply addressing the concern with a brief comment during a patient’s checkup, rather than introducing specific weight-loss recommendations. Instead, problems related to obesity are more often addressed when associated chronic and even life-threatening conditions crop up. Too often, those patients end up at Laredo Emergency Room in need of lifesaving care.

While self-isolation can make matters worse, this extra time we have on our hands can also give us the opportunity we need to take control of our community’s obesity problem. A few minutes a day is all we need to fit in the moderate exercise that can make a big difference over time – and to explore healthy lifestyle and food options, rather than a fad diet plan that doesn’t last. Here at Laredo Emergency Room, we also encourage you to seek out specific recommendations for weight-loss and healthy diet strategies from your primary care physician and to make weight control a health priority, before winding up here. For anyone suffering from obesity, a goal to lose weight is about more than simply looking and feeling better. It’s an achievement that may ultimately save your life, even in a pandemic.


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04/Aug/2020

Let’s face it: pregnancy doesn’t get put on hold just because of a pandemic. And even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of yourself and your pregnancy is just as important now as in so-called “normal” times. We understand that you likely have additional concerns about getting prenatal care and even caring for your newborn during a pandemic, so we’ve put together some frequently asked questions that can help you in your pregnancy through these uncertain times.

Q: Should I still go to prenatal care appointments?

A: Yes! While some physicians limited appointments and access early in the pandemic, most have worked out processes for keeping you and your unborn baby safe now. You can expect your OB/GYN to have implemented a number of safeguards, including facemasks, extra sanitation of exam rooms, and social distancing. Skipping your regularly scheduled prenatal care visits can mean you miss identifying complications, risk factors, or problems with the development of your baby that, if caught early, can be better addressed. For this reason, it’s still important to keep up with your regular visits. If you have early pregnancy bleeding or go into early labor, contact your OB/GYN immediately.

Q: Is it still OK to deliver in a hospital?

A: Again, yes. Hospitals are isolating all coronavirus patients into separate wings or facilities in order to keep other patients safe. And as with your OB/GYN, you can expect your hospital to be taking extra precautions to ensure your and your baby’s safety. You will want to contact the hospital where you plan to deliver to learn of any unique restrictions they are implementing during this time, such as stricter limits on visitors and extra health screenings.

Q: What if I get sick with COVID-19 while I’m pregnant?

A: There is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is passed in utero to your fetus, so you can put that worry aside for now. But pregnant women do need to be extra cautious about any symptoms experienced while pregnant. If you start to have any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your OB/GYN and seek out testing as soon as possible. Rest assured that even if you have the illness, you should be able to receive the prenatal care and delivery experience you’ve planned unless your illness becomes severe – which is statistically unlikely, since the majority of COVID-19 cases are mild.

Q: If I have COVID-19 after my baby is born, can I still care for my newborn?

A: Yes, as long as you take extra precautions. Wear a face mask, sanitize surfaces frequently, and wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially before touching your baby. During times when you are frequently coughing, minimize close contact with your newborn and get the rest you need. When you feel up to it, you can still practice skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeed, as there has been no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is passed to a baby through the new mother’s milk. If you experience severe COVID-19 complications while pregnant, please know that it is safe to come to Laredo ER, where we are taking every precaution for our patients. We can give you the emergency care you need and work with your OB/GYN to protect the health of your baby going forward.


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04/Aug/2020

The coronavirus hot topic of the moment – or at least one of them – continues to be face masks. It’s no wonder some have been confused about the effectiveness of face protection, given that early in the pandemic when the virus was little understood, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) didn’t feel that face masks would be effective in slowing the spread.

It didn’t take the CDC long to change its guidance, however, once the transmission of COVID-19 was better understood. Now, given that it has been confirmed that people can spread the virus through exhaled droplets even without symptoms, wearing face masks is one of the top recommended ways the CDC and other health organizations say we can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

But how much protection face masks offer depends on one very important factor: mass adoption of the strategy.

This is because the benefit to wearing face masks is not in protecting the wearer against becoming infected – but in reducing the spread to others by those wearing face protection. The more people who wear them, the less likely it is you will get sick. In other words, it’s a group effort.

How face masks help in the fight against coronavirus

Imagine yourself working at home when suddenly you hear loud music coming from a family member’s room. You ask your relative to close the bedroom door. It doesn’t completely block the noise, but it helps enough for you to get back to work.

That’s how face protection helps.

When worn by people infected by the virus, face masks trap some of the droplets – and reduces the distance any droplets that do escape can travel – thereby reducing the chance of spread to others. They don’t completely block virus transmission, but they help enough to reduce and slow the spread.

What kind of mask is best?

One concern within the medical community has been that the use of N95 masks by the general public would make it harder for healthcare workers to obtain them – and this is true. But there’s also another important reason to avoid the use of N95 in the community: These masks are designed to release the wearer’s exhale unfiltered – so if the wearer has the virus, the virus will not be stopped by an N95 mask. These masks are specifically designed for use in contaminated environments where healthcare workers are caring for infected patients who are often unable to wear masks.

It is in this way that even a simple, homemade cloth mask can do a better job at helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 within a community. Multiple layers of tightly woven fabrics are best – and cloth face masks have the added benefit of being washable and reusable. A face scarf or tied bandana can also work in a pinch.

Other kinds of face guards are becoming popular, too – like safety face shields or face shield visors, which include a transparent guard over the entire face. These safety shields offer a few benefits over face masks in that they don’t inhibit speech and may be more comfortable.

Even when wearing a face mask, you should still take a variety of other precautions, too: clean your hands and high-touch household surfaces frequently, maintain distance from other people, and work from home if you can.

Here at Laredo Emergency Room, it’s our job to take care of our community. And we encourage you to help us in our effort to do exactly that – by wearing face masks. Together, and only together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.


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04/Aug/2020

Sitting at a desk for even just one hour can make your muscles feel tight, making it difficult to straighten up and get moving again. So sitting at a desk all day for eight hours or more and doing little more than looking at a computer monitor can really take a toll on your body and lead to stiff neck, upper back pain, tight shoulders, and more. At Laredo ER, we’ve seen our share of patients who come in for pain, so when we see an easy way to help you avoid it, we want to share it. And it starts with a stretch.

The human body was designed for movement. It’s why we have so many muscles and joints. So it’s important to use them throughout the day every day. Throughout the workday, you might not have many opportunities to leave our computer desk and go out for a quick jog. But you can complete some simple desk stretches.

Neck and Shoulders

Give relief to tight neck muscles by doing some shoulder rolls and neck tilts while you’re at your desk. Roll both your shoulders forward and then backward to loosen and warm them up. Then perform neck tilts by lowering your ear toward your shoulder and holding briefly while you feel the stretch. Do this both directions. Then lower your chin toward your chest to stretch the back of the neck and raise your chin to stretch the front of the neck.

Back

Relieve and prevent back pain and stiffness by simply standing up and taking a few steps once every 30 minutes. Before you sit back down, take a few seconds to perform a simple standing stretch. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, cross your arms in front of your chest, and pivot your shoulders, keeping your hips straight. You should feel a stretch in your back as you hold the position. Do this stretch the other direction to complete the set.

Legs and Hips

Standing and using a desk for balance, bring up one foot and grasp it with your hand, keeping your back straight. Pull upward on your foot to stretch your hamstring. Repeat on the other side. Then performing some slow lunges can stretch your hips and your calves.

Even with stretching you should be sure your office desk environment is set up optimally.  Make sure your chair is set to the proper height so that your feet rest comfortably and flat on the floor. Your arms should rest at a 90-degree angle on the desk and your neck and eyes should be straight when looking at the computer monitor.

Remember, kids also can experience stiffness from sitting in classrooms for hours on end, so encourage them to stretch during breaks or between classes to start good desk work habits early.

Taking a few moments throughout the day to do these stretches can be a simple way to feel refreshed, energized, and pain free – and also help with stress relief. By staying stretched and flexible even in an office environment, you will be more likely to feel up to engaging in the physical activity you need to stay your best – and that has benefits that last a lifetime. Time to get up and move!


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04/Aug/2020

Many of us, even still, are sheltering in the safety of our homes more often in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s an important part of social distancing that’s designed to help ensure that healthcare resources are available to those who need it most and to protect our own physical health as much as possible. The problem is that the steps we’re taking to protect our physical health may result in feelings of isolation and boredom that can ultimately take a toll on our mental health. The self-isolation that has become so important during the COVID-19 pandemic has become integrated within our behavioral health routines – the habits that can affect our mental health.

Here, we’re defining mental health as our psychological, emotional, and social well-being, and it matters every bit as much as our physical well-being. When our mental health is good, we are better able to work, handle stress, and enjoy our lives and relationships. When we are in poor mental health, our physical health can suffer and we are at greater risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

During the pandemic, we’re faced with a number of new worries ranging from health to social and financial. In uncertain times like this, people can experience sleep difficulties or irregularities, poor eating habits that can worsen other health problems and affect self-esteem, and even engage in self-destructive behaviors such as excessive drinking or drug abuse. So it’s no wonder that as the pandemic continues to create uncertainty in our communities, a mental health crisis is brewing.

Having good mental health awareness is key in making sure you engage in the routines and behaviors that support optimal mental health. Even in times of self-isolation – whether for a pandemic or any other reason – we can engage in routines and behaviors that support better mental health:Unplug from sources of discouraging news.Take time for exercise, which is a great natural stress reliever.

-Connect with others on the phone or video conference calls.

-Establish a predictable sleep routine, even if you are out of work or working from home.

-Eat a well-balanced diet and resist the temptation to snack throughout the day even as you have increased access to food.

-Start a new hobby with the help of instructional online videos or engage in a long-loved pastime you can do from home.

-Seek out opportunities to help others, whether friends, neighbors, or family members.

-Find time for quiet reflection and gratitude. Meditation, relaxation exercises, or journaling are great ways to do this.

-Care for your physical health by staying up to date on caring for any chronic conditions.

If you feel that your mental health is suffering during this time, the sooner you take action the better. You may be able to find helpful advice in books on self-help or from depression support groups (contact psychiatric hospitals for help finding one near you). Many counselors and therapists are seeing patients, and you’ll likely be able to find help via telemedicine if you prefer.

Remember, taking care of our mental health is important, now more than ever. And if you find yourself thinking suicidal thoughts, call 911 or seek out emergency room care right away.


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04/Aug/2020

When you’re as flexible as you should be, it means you can take advantage of your full range of motion. And with greater flexibility comes a variety of health benefits, like better posture and balance, fewer muscle injuries, and better physical performance and strength. But for most of us, we need baby steps and reasonable goals for becoming more flexible. So if becoming a contortionist isn’t really your goal – but being more flexible is – then we have some simple steps you can take to help you get there.

Warm up first. Before you stretch, you should warm up the muscles you plan to stretch so that they don’t become injured. Muscle aches and strains are a common reason many people visit a doctor and even come to Laredo ER. And a common cause is tight muscles that aren’t properly warmed up and then stretched for exercise and other physical activity.

Stretch evenly, actively, and gently. This means making sure to stretch both sides of your body the same way for the same amount of time and using a dynamic stretching routine that keeps your body in motion throughout the stretch. These include stretching exercises that focus on muscle groups you’ll be working out. For example, if you’ll be playing baseball, tennis, or any sport that requires a wide range of upper body motion, be sure to do some shoulder exercises like shoulder rolls. When you stretch, do it gently, without bouncing, which can cause injury to muscles.

Adjust your diet. Be sure to get plenty of water every day to keep your muscles, as well as your entire body, hydrated and at their best. Eating high-quality protein after exercise can help alleviate joint pain and help in healing so that you’re better able to keep up your active lifestyle.  

Use heat. Whether you love indulging in a warm bath or shower or using a heating pad, these ways of applying heat are natural muscle relaxers, helping you to maintain your flexibility.

Keep going. The key is to make small steps so that you become more and more flexible over time.Find an activity that promotes flexibility and that you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it. Some favorites include activities like yoga, tai chi, and Pilates. And remember that even if you don’t have access to a specialty gym, you can learn some basics online for any one of these practices. Most importantly, remember that becoming more flexible is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Overstretching your muscles to the point of pain can mean that you’ve suffered a muscle strain, sprain, or tear – something we see a lot of at Laredo ER. But working gently and persistently toward a more flexible you can help you avoid injury and actually succeed in becoming more flexible. It just takes patience.


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04/Aug/2020

We all experience pain – but some of us deal with it day in and day out. From knee pain and lower back pain to neck pain and more, chronic pain can come from many causes, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine, to name a few, so it’s something that tens of millions of Americans must learn to live with. But how people with chronic pain manage it can have a huge effect on quality of life, so we’re sharing some tips on how you can live well with chronic pain.

Start with the basics.

It may sound obvious, but making sure that you are getting enough sleep can help diminish the intensity of chronic pain During sleep, your body can rest and restore itself, and without it, you’re unlikely to feel up to taking good care of yourself each following day. Yes, it can be difficult to achieve sleep when you’re in pain, but once you’ve been able to develop a good sleep routine, both pain management and sleep will get easier. Avoid screens, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine late in the day, indulge in a relaxing activity, such as a warm bath, and limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes.

Exercise also is an amazing way to relieve chronic pain. It is difficult to feel motivated to exercise in the first place when you’re in pain, but getting up and moving in whatever way you can should release endorphins and lessen your sensation of pain. Over the long term, exercise builds muscle strength, which is especially helpful for pain management of osteoarthritis.

Be mindful.

Studies have shown that the practice of “mindfulness” can be an effective way to manage chronic pain. Practicing mindfulness can start with meditation. It’s something you can do almost anywhere. Simply sit in a comfortable position with your arms relaxed. Relax each muscle in what is called a “body scan” to make sure you release tension throughout your body. Then focus only on the now and on your breathing. You can also visualize yourself pain free during this time.

Manage stress and mood.

Pain can get you down, but pain, stress, and depression can also turn into a vicious cycle. Getting yourself out of the cycle takes work, but it’s work that can pay off. Try deep breathing and stretching to manage the physical feelings of stress. Schedule time to relax each day. Build a social network for emotional support and opportunities for activities you enjoy. Even laughter among friends is a great pain management tool. Seeking out professional help from a cognitive behavioral therapist can also help you better cope and live with chronic pain.

Distract yourself.

Getting started or back into the habit of engaging with a hobby or activity you love can get your mind off of pain and help you to lead a fuller life. Read a good book. Start a journal. Begin a collection. Get your mind engaged and off your chronic pain and onto something you love.

However you choose to live with your chronic pain, be sure to involve a trusted medical professional who can offer advice and support – before your pain sends you to Laredo Emergency Room.


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04/Aug/2020

Think about it. If your feet don’t feel their best, especially as you age, a cascade of health-damaging events can happen. You might slow down – or, even worse, become truly sedentary. Then comes the weight gain, the slower metabolism, the reduced strength, and so on – all of which have the potential to lead to life-threatening conditions like cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, and diabetes that have patients coming to Laredo ER.

It makes sense, then, to keep your feet and legs in good shape – because healthy feet make for healthy living. What’s more, it’s thought that strong legs are linked to better brain health. And research shows that foot massage techniques can help relieve a variety of ailments, including anxiety and back pain.

But we at Laredo Emergency Room understand that building and maintaining strong legs and caring for your feet can seem like just something else to add to your to-do list, or maybe you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, it’s easier than you may think – and it starts with a few simple adjustments.

Start with supportive shoes. We know that in footwear, style is often a primary consideration, but with so much at stake, it’s much more important to select footwear for their comfort and support. Routinely wearing shoes that don’t properly support your feet – or, worse, pinch them into abnormal positions – can cause a variety of foot injuries and conditions ranging from bunions, corns to plantar fasciitis, and more. For healthy feet, choose well-fitting shoes with wider toe boxes, arch support, and low heels.

Prep them for exercise. Begin by warming up your feet with some brisk walking first. Then use your hands to pull your toes upward in a stretch, repeating 10 times for each foot, and then pull your toes downward toward the bottoms of your feet. You can also roll a tennis ball with your foot for a gentle, massaging stretch.

Try exercises that promote feet and leg health. Yoga and Pilates are great exercises for gently building strength in the leg muscles and can improve feet and leg circulation. Tai chi is a type of exercise that offers similar benefits and also has been shown to improve balance and reduce the incidents of falls in seniors. For targeted leg workouts, set aside a few minutes three to five times each week to do some tried-and-true leg exercises like lunges, squats, and leg lifts.

Lose weight if you need to. Excess weight can put a lot of stress on your lower body – and that includes your feet, which do the hard job of supporting your entire body. So, if you need to lose weight, make now the time you start working at it. Reducing your weight offers a host of health benefits for your entire body, from the feet up. And of course, if you’re already suffering from painful foot conditions that have affected your ability to stay active and strong, see your primary care physician. She will be able to advise you on next steps to take to get your feet in better health – and to ultimately keep you out of the emergency room


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04/Aug/2020

With the coronavirus pandemic, most of us now are faced with something we’ve never experienced before, so it’s understandable that most of us also have questions about what to do and what not to do. Laredo ER is here for you – not only for the emergency treatment you need, but also with the prevention information you need to stay safe and informed about COVID-19.

DO prepare. For most people, this simply means having enough household supplies and food to last for extended periods of time in quarantine. This includes medications you need during that time, as well as cleaning supplies and hygiene items like tissues and antibacterial soap.

DON’T panic. We understand the temptation to go overboard and panic-buy items once you’ve seen they are in short supply. However, this spiral of fear-driven hoarding behavior is resulting in important items not being available for other people who need them. Remember that for the average American, your risk of contracting the coronavirus is still low.

DO wash your hands. Laredo ER recommends you follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for handwashing, which is to use warm water and soap and to scrub your hands well for at least 20 seconds – which is about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” When you are done soaping up, rinse well and use a clean towel to dry. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, before eating or cooking, and after using the bathroom, touching animals, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

DO keep your surroundings clean. The coronavirus can live on surfaces several days, so it’s important to practice good sanitizing at home. Wipe down frequently used surfaces and objects, like countertops, doorknobs, remotes, and phones, with disinfecting wipes or cleaning sprays.

DON’T touch your face. This one is hard because we don’t really think about it, but every little scratch of the nose or touch of the lips is an opportunity to spread or pick up germs.

DO stay at home as much as possible. As schools and many businesses and special events are being shuttered, this is the time to practice “social distancing” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. The purpose is to slow the infection rate so that our healthcare system can keep up with the demands presented by the pandemic.

DO know the symptoms. The most prevalent symptom of coronavirus is fever, followed by a dry cough. Some patients also report fatigue, a wet cough, and shortness of breath, along with other symptoms. And if you start feeling ill with any of these symptoms, again, don’t panic. Call Laredo Emergency Room, and we’ll walk you through any next steps you need to take for treatment. Whether it’s just a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, we’re here for you.


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