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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and Web.

Iowa News

Design team hired for Cedar Rapids medical district
An urban design team has been hired to help define the streetscape, costs and other specifics for the proposed medical district near downtown Cedar Rapids. Anderson-Bogert Engineers & Surveyors of Cedar Rapids and Sasaki Associates of Boston were awarded the contract to provide urban planning and engineering services to help develop the district’s vision plan. (KCRG)

County board approves school nursing contract
The Black Hawk County Board of Health has approved a school nursing agreement with the Cedar Falls School District. County health director Bruce Meisinger said approving the contract Wednesday would allow an extra month to recruit, hire and train school nursing staff prior to August. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Survey: graduates want to work in Iowa
Kerry Koonce of Iowa Workforce Development said life-science and health-care industries have been the only sectors of the Iowa economy that have added jobs in the current recession. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Q-C unemployment rate drops to 9.2 percent
The job climate in the Quad-Cities is finally getting better. After months of rising unemployment numbers, there is a clear indication of a turnaround. The unemployment rate for April dropped to 9.2 percent in the Quad-City metropolitan statistical area, or MSA. The Quad-City metropolitan statistical area includes Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties in Illinois and Scott County in Iowa. (Quad-City Business Journal)

Iowa ranks 8th in economic performance, study says
Iowa’s focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and exports has led to an eighth-place ranking on a list of top economic-performing states compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Chamber Foundation. (Des Moines Register)

U.S. News

Employers urged to act now to expand health plans
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Thursday that employers should immediately offer or continue health insurance coverage for workers’ children up to the age of 26, at little or no additional cost. Employers will have to offer such coverage under the new health care law, and Ms. Sebelius said they should act sooner, without waiting for the requirement to take effect. (New York Times)

House approves pared-back tax and spending bill
The House on Friday approved legislation extending unemployment benefits to people mired in joblessness, but only after dumping programs from last year’s economic stimulus bill to save tens of billions of dollars. (Associated Press)

Johnson & Johnson slow to act on problem drugs, FDA says
An agency official tells the House oversight committee that it had urged the company to improve practices well before the recall of children’s Tylenol and other medications. (Los Angeles Times)

If Massachusetts is a bellwether, insurers may soon cut payments
Once again, Massachusetts is providing a testing ground for national healthcare policy. While the U.S. Congress is only beginning a debate about regulating and capping insurance premium increases, the Massachusetts government has already denied proposed rate hikes, and insurers’ reactions in the state may foreshadow what’s to come at the national level. (HealthLeaders News)

Printers, copiers pose medical data security threat
A recent television news report about secondhand copy machines that contained patient medical records highlights a problem that all healthcare providers should consider, experts say. (Modern Healthcare)

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On May 13, a tragic accident near Carroll claimed the life of Sheryl Stoolman, a well-known and highly respected health care worker. Stoolman was a dedicated nurse who had worked at St. Anthony Regional Hospital for more than 25 years.

In 2007, Stoolman was named one of that year’s Iowa Hospital Heroes at the IHA annual meeting. On May 18, Stoolman was recognized at a National EMS Week event at Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines.

The Iowa Hospital Association dedicates the video below to the life and work of Sheryl Stoolman, a true Iowa Hospital Hero.

YouTube link:

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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and Web.

Iowa News

From D.C.: mastering the triple aim
Recognized in July 2009 by the Institute of Healthcare Initiatives, Cedar Rapids was named at that time as one of 10 regional  models in providing the right formula towards serving its community with  better care and better health at a lower cost, otherwise known as The Triple Aim.  Our two hospital CEOs, Ted Townsend and Tim Charles, along with Dr. Jim Levett, were present at that tribute last summer. (Eastern Iowa News Now)

Mercy-Cedar Rapids to start non-profit center at former PennySaver building
Mercy Medical Center, using a $600,000 grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation, is creating a non-profit community center in the former PennySaver building at 621 Fourth Ave. SE. The building will be named the Sister Mary Lawrence Community Center, in honor of the former Sister Mary Lawrence Hallagan, a well-known and influential member of the Sisters of Mercy order. (Eastern Iowa News Now)

Medicaid contractor plans call center
A Florida company that won a state contract to provide transportation services to Medicaid recipients says it will open a call center in Iowa that will employ 100 people. TMS Management Group, a transportation broker based in Clearwater, Fla., won a three-year state contract to arrange nonemergency transportation for Medicaid recipients in Iowa. (Des Moines Register)

Mercy adds outpatient anticoagulation clinic
Mercy Medical  Center on Thursday announced the opening of a new outpatient anticoagulation clinic. The pharmacist-managed service, which provides anticoagulation management and education to patients, allows for point-of-care testing, which enables the pharmacist to adjust the warfarin dose immediately, based on a protocol. (Sioux City Journal)

U.S. News

Uncertainty over Medicare pay sets doctors on edge
For the third time this year, Congress is scrambling to stave off a hefty pay cut to doctors treating Medicare patients — even as the Obama administration mails out a glossy brochure to reassure seniors the health care program is on solid ground. The 21.3 percent cut will take effect June 1 unless Congress intervenes in the next few days. (Associated Press)

Minnesota hospital CEO won’t take pay until nurses settle
The chief executive of Allina Hospitals and Clinics is voluntarily working without pay until the Twin Cities’ biggest hospital chain reaches an agreement with its nurses. After Twin Cities nurses voted overwhelmingly to authorize a one-day strike last week, Ken Paulus sent an e-mail to all Allina employees saying he had asked his board to suspend his pay as a way to “align our leadership with you.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Study of health care law rebuts state protests on Medicaid costs
The federal government will bear virtually the entire cost of expanding Medicaid under the new health-care law, according to a comprehensive new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that directly rebuts the loud protests of governors warning about its impact on their strapped state budgets. (Washington Post)

$5 billion in federal funding for high-risk pools may not be enough
In one of the marquee benefits of the health overhaul, the federal government will spend $5 billion to subsidize so-called high-risk pools to provide coverage for people who have trouble getting insurance because of preexisting health problems until 2014. But a new report suggests that amount may not be enough to cover their needs. (Kaiser Health News)

California insurance rate hikes for small businesses could hurt economic recovery
Small businesses in California are being hit this year with double-digit hikes in health insurance costs that could hurt the state’s economic recovery as companies curtail plans for hiring and expansion to pay their insurance bills. Five major insurers in California’s small-business market are raising rates 12 percent to 23 percent for firms with fewer than 50 employees, according to a survey by The Times. (Los Angeles Times)

New breed of specialist steps in for family doctor
Because hospitalists are on top of everything that happens to a patient — from entry through treatment and discharge — they are largely credited with reducing the length of hospital stays by anywhere from 17 to 30 percent, and reducing costs by 13 to 20 percent, according to studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association. (New York Times)

Not your parents’ pharmacy
Kohll’s Pharmacy & Homecare is going beyond its traditional menu of filling prescriptions and offering home medical devices, with its newest Omaha location offering Botox injections and medical-grade skin peels, a weight-loss program and hormone replacement therapy designed to combat age-related diseases such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. (Omaha World-Herald)

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Iowa News:

Gov. Culver: Announces new jobs and state savings up to $1 million
Governor Chet Culver announced today that a company specializing in arranging transportation for Medicaid enrollees will locate its Midwestern headquarters in Des Moines this fall, creating up to 100 jobs and saving the state about $1 million annually. (Iowa

Hancock County Memorial Hospital receives $25,000 bequest
Hancock County Memorial Hospital in Britt is the recipient of a $25,000 bequest from the estate of the late Raymond O. Barnes, who passed away in October 2009. Barnes left the bequest to the HCMH Board of Trustees to be used for “benevolent purposes.” (Forest City Summit)

U.S. News

$400M CU hospital expansion breaks ground in 2011
The University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora will break ground early next year on a $400 million expansion that the hospital’s board approved last month, according to an announcement Tuesday. (Denver Business Journal)

Target: Reducing costly hospital readmissions in SE PA
On Wednesday a group of hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, nursing home workers and others will gather at the Union League in Philadelphia to launch an initiative aimed at reducing costly readmissions by 10 percent in over the next 18 months. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Insurers paying doctors faster, despite inefficiency
US health insurers are paying doctors seven days faster, on average, and denying 12 to 18 percent fewer claims than last year, but the claims reimbursement system remains saddled with inefficiency, according to a new ranking of payers set to be released today. (Boston Globe)

Settlement ends last legal challenge to balanced billing of patients
A settlement between state regulators and Southern California-based hospital company Prime Healthcare Services has ended the last legal challenge to California’s ban on balanced billing of patients.

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Lucas County Health Center

IHA staff will be in Chariton today to celebrate the staff at Lucas County Health Center (LCHC).  As is the case in much of Iowa, LCHC is the county’s only hospital.  It is also one of the county’s largest employers.  Hy-Vee’s main distribution hub, one of the largest companies in south-central Iowa, is the only employer that is bigger.

LCHC has 185 employees and a payroll exceeding $7.1 million.  But the impact is more than the hospital’s employees and their salaries.  The hospital also creates local jobs and businesses to the tune $9.4 million, not to mention the LCHC employees purchasing more than $1.5 million in retail goods in the county each year.

The jobs offered at the hospital are the kind that attract and keep young people in the area.  They are the kind of jobs people can build a family, home and life on.  There are several LCHC employees who have been with the hospital 25, 30 and even 40 years.

The hospital itself is also in for the long-term.  The community began pursuing a fully equipped hospital in the mid 1950s.  A public vote allowed $200,000 in bonds to be sold and an additional $180,000 was secured in federal Hill-Burton funds, which helped many Iowa communities establish their first modern hospitals.  The community further voiced its support by donating $170,000 to the effort.  Construction commenced in the fall of 1959 and the hospital opened its doors on May 1, 1961.

As LCHC approaches enters its 50th year of service, it has become much more than a hospital.  For example, Lucas County Health Center Foundation purchased in 2001 the former corporate headquarters of Hy-Vee, Inc.  The purchase was made possible through a donation from the Vredenburg Foundation, with support from Hy-Vee, Inc.  The building encompasses 55,000-square feet on two stories.  A large portion of the second story was remodeled to house LCHC’s Kids’ Life Discovery Center and Discovery Preschool.  Other parts of the building are leased to various tenants.  In December, 2008 ownership of the Vredenburg Center transferred to the Lucas County Health Center.  By 2009, Kids’ Life Discovery Center had created a Nature Explore Classroom for playground use.

This is one example of how hospital leadership and resources identified a community need and addressed.  It is something that LCHC does every day, as do Iowa’s other 117 hospitals.

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