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

Iowa News

Iowa public health announces first flu case
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received its first confirmed seasonal influenza report for the 2011-2012 season. The State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) confirmed the positive test result in a Polk County child (0 to 17 years of age), with no reported medical conditions. “Right now is a good time to get your flu vaccine,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “It’s not too late to be vaccinated for seasonal influenza, and it’s especially important for those with risk factors including heart diseases, lung diseases, diabetes, women who are pregnant, and the very young and very old.” (Iowa Department of Public Health)

No changes expected with merger of St. Luke’s and Visiting Nurse Association
Patients served by the Visiting Nurse Association of Linn County should expect the same care when the non-profit organization merges with St. Luke’s Hospital. St. Luke’s announced Tuesday, Nov. 15, that the VNA will merge with the hospital effective Jan. 1, becoming St. Luke’s Visiting Nurse Association. “The staff is actually very excited,” said Stephanie Anderson, executive director of the VNA. Anderson said no lay-offs are expected among the 55 nurses, aides and other staff, and in fact, all employees will receive raises after the merger due to greater efficiencies. (Eastern Iowa Health)

Iowa “punching above its weight,” Wells Fargo economist says
Iowa has weathered the financial crisis better than the rest of the nation, Wells Fargo economist Scott Anderson told 350 business leaders Tuesday in Des Moines. Unemployment in the state remains steady at 6 percent, well below the national average of 9.1 percent. Employment is growing in health, education and the service industries. “Iowa has been punching above its weight for some time now,” Anderson said. Corn and soybean prices, as well as growing markets for farm goods in the emerging world are carrying the Iowa economy, he said. Exports of machinery produced in Iowa were up almost 40 percent through June 2011. (Des Moines Register)

National News

National rural health day long overdue
The first annual National Rural Health Day aims to shine a light on rural health—what makes it great and its challenges—in an effort to “celebrate the power of rural,” as the event’s tagline says.  Spearheaded by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, the celebration encourages rural health organizations throughout the country to participate with conferences, events, and legislative proclamations declaring the third Thursday of November National Rural Health Day. (HealthLeaders Media)

Insurance mandate may be health bill’s undoing
As Barack Obama battled Hillary Rodham Clinton over health care during the Democratic presidential primaries of 2008, he was adamant about one thing: Americans, he insisted, should not be required to buy health insurance. Now President Obama may wish he had stuck to those words. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to take up a constitutional challenge to his landmark health care bill, and a decision could come in the midst of Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. (New York Times)

Super committee members face rising pressure from all sides
Top congressional leaders intervened Tuesday in “super committee” talks about the national debt, as negotiators faced mounting pressure from both parties to back away from any deal that requires tax increases and cuts to cherished social programs. With one week remaining before a Thanksgiving deadline, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) met briefly to discuss the panel’s deliberations. Aides described the 15-minute session as a “gut check” to determine whether the parties can reach an accord to slice at least $1.2 trillion from projected borrowing over the next decade. (Washington Post)

ECRI unveils top 10 health technology hazards
The incessant beeping, chirping, whirring, flashing and whooping of any number of patient monitors continues to be a top hazard in hospitals, as bedside providers either struggle to prioritize the noisy demands of the machines, or tune them out completely. That’s according to a study, Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2012, from the nonprofit ECRI Institute.  The organization is designated an Evidence-Based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (HealthLeaders Media)

Physicians push for more palliative care despite barriers
A poll released Tuesday found that an overwhelming majority of doctors support palliative care, with 96 percent responding that they believe enhancing the quality of life for seriously ill patients is more important than extending life as long as possible. The poll also found a dramatic “generation gap” in physicians’ education and training on palliative care. Seventy-three percent of physicians age 39 or younger report “a great deal” or “some” exposure to palliative care during medical school compared to 36 percent of those age 40-49, 23 percent of those age 50-59 and only 6 percent of those age 60 or older. (Kaiser Health News)

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