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

Iowa News

Mental health system shortcomings ‘can’t change if we don’t talk about them,’ Dubuque mom says
Karla Dawe believes that if the public were less squeamish about mental illness, her son might not have wound up on top of a railroad car last April, wearing blood-spattered pants and hollering that he had killed his family. If people were more willing to discuss their own struggles, she said, the mental health system wouldn’t have fallen into such a mess — and her son might still be alive. “Things can’t change if we don’t talk about them,” she said. “It’s time for mental illness to come out of the closet.” (Des Moines Register)

Those who worked on Perinatal Patient Safety Initiative project lauded at banquet
The banquet recognized Mercy Medical Center-Clinton employees and physicians for achievements in the Perinatal Patient Safety Initiative, a multi-year project that centered on providing the highest quality and safest care for mothers and infants during labor and birth.  In March, Mercy was awarded the overall Patient Safety Award at the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative Patient Safety Conference held in Des Moines. (Clinton Herald)

Iowa medical center ramps up process improvement efforts
Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah recently brought in a new performance improvement engineer to help facilitate process improvement and eliminate waste. “It’s really looking at processes in healthcare and finding out ways to improve efficiencies and drive out waste,” said Dave Rooney, chief administrative officer of the facility. “There’s also a big focus on staff: helping them understand what their job is, expectations for performance, doing evaluations, getting roadblocks out of the way,” added chief medical officer Susan Halter. (Guidon)

Countdown to Blue Zones decision
If Ottumwa isn’t chosen to be a Blue Zones demonstration site, it could be due to its biggest weakness: community engagement. That answer was easy for Lynelle Diers, Wapello County Public Health’s clinical director. She said without more individuals indicating their support, Ottumwa could fall in the pack of communities vying for a spot. (Ottumwa Courier)

Share your medical wishes before it’s too late
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Allen Health Systems and Cedar Valley Hospice are partnering to encourage eastern Iowans 18 and older to get an advance directive.  “It really is a team effort between physicians and family members to make these decisions and so without having those discussions beforehand we don’t know what your wishes are,” said Dr. Paul Franke, Chief Medical Officer. Hospital officials say a durable power of attorney or a living will qualify as advance directives in Iowa, but extra legal steps should be taken. (KWWL)

Jack Morlan is a ‘doctor of hair’
Jack Morlan does more than make women look their best. He also helps them regain their identities. He’s been a hairdresser for 43 years, 17 of which he has specialized in wigs for medical purposes. Most of his clients have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. “Yes it’s a business, but this is about helping people get through a hard time in their life. I look at it as what can I do to help this individual who’s facing death to get through this,” he said. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Health care jobs activity surging on social media
Hospitals and other health care facilities looking to hire more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals may want to add Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter to their recruitment efforts. A survey from AMN Healthcare, a San Diego-based recruitment firm, finds that people employed in healthcare have increased their use of social media to look for jobs, apply for new positions and network with colleagues. According to the survey, healthcare professionals spent more time on social media sites and/or mobile devices in 2011 compared to 2010, and reported receiving more job interviews, job offers, and new positions through the use of mobile job alerts. (HealthLeaders Media)

Are women less satisfied with hospital care than men?
In a study published this year in the journal Health Services Research, researchers analyzed the results of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or Hcahps (pronounced “H-caps”). The survey consists of 27 questions about topics ranging from communication with nurses and doctors and responsiveness of hospital staff to general cleanliness and noise levels. When the researchers divided the questionnaire results by the patients’ sex, they discovered that men tended to be more positive over all about their hospital experiences. (New York Times)

States seek curb on patient bills for costly drugs
Spurred by patients and patient advocates, lawmakers in at least 20 states, from Maine to Hawaii, have introduced bills that would limit out-of-pocket payments by consumers for expensive drugs used to treat diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and inherited disorders. Pharmaceutical companies would also benefit from such legislation because high co-payments discourage patients from taking their medicines. The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been helping the legislative drive behind the scenes, even drafting some of the bills, according to legislators and patient advocates. (New York Times)

Did Utah’s failure to protect health data violate federal law?
The hacking of a Utah server containing Medicaid data has exposed a weakness—and a double-standard—in how the state handles sensitive health information. Until now, officials blamed the March 30 pilfering on human error. A state Department of Technology Services employee didn’t follow protocol when placing a test server online and hackers exploited a weak password, they said. But on Thursday, they acknowledged data exposed in the breach was not encrypted—in possible violation of federal law. In jeopardy is the personal information of 780,000 Utahns. (Salt Lake Tribune)

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