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

Iowa News

Manchester hospital CEO named Iowa Grassroots Champion
Lon Butikofer, RN, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Regional Medical Center, has recently been named Iowa’s 2012 Grassroots Health Care Champion by the Iowa Hospital Association and American Hospital Association. This prestigious annual award recognizes one hospital leader from each state who has effectively delivered their hospital message to elected officials in order to broaden the base of community support for their hospital or local health care system. (Regional Medical Center)

Passion for job drives male nurse
When he was taking classes last year at Iowa Western Community College, Nick Kuster stood out. The Neola, Iowa, resident — who now works in the emergency department at Council Bluffs’ Mercy Hospital — was one of just four men among the dozens of women working on their nursing degrees. Kuster, 33, said he’d never considered nursing as a career path until a few years ago, when he was looking for a new line of work. (Omaha World-Herald)

Ottumwa Regional cuts ribbon at new walk-in clinic
Ottumwa Regional Health Center held the official ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon at its new walk-in clinic located in the Quincy Place Plaza. When Ottumwa Regional Health Center CEO Phil Dionne took this position last year, he realized there was a definite need for additional access to the health care system in Ottumwa. (KTVO)

National News

CMS identifies recovery auditor findings
For the first time since it began publishing a quarterly Medicare compliance newsletter, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released official guidance on problematic billing errors. Unlike all of the preceding releases, the April issue of the Medicare Quarterly Provider Compliance Newsletter, CMS’s seventh issue, contains comprehensive error rate testing findings in addition to recovery auditor findings. (HealthLeaders Media)

Clinical goals drive paperless hospital’s IT choices
Designing an all-digital hospital needs to involve more than just selecting the right technology, said the IT lead for a new, paperless academic medical center being planned in Denmark. There need to be clear clinical goals instead of “technology for technology’s sake,” according to Jonas Hedegaard Knudsen, chief IT consultant for the new hospital in the works at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. The new hospital, to cover about 2.3 million square feet of floor space, will be 20 percent to 30 percent smaller than the building it will replace, according to Knudsen, so design and workflows will both have to be more efficient. (InformationWeek)

IT could end up being health reform’s highest hurdle
Even states that are solidly committed to pursuing an exchange are facing major logistical challenges in building the computer systems that will be able to handle enrollment when exchanges open for business in 2014. That’s largely because the system that will actually connect people to the right coverage will have to “talk” to many other systems, and the systems don’t use a common language. (Politico)

Hospital-at-home programs for intensive-care patients spread
Hospital-at-home programs refashion care for chronically ill patients with acute medical issues, testing traditional notions of how to treat people who become seriously ill. Only a handful of the initiatives exist. The concept is getting more attention with increased pressure from the national health overhaul to improve the quality of medical care and lower costs. Hospital-at-home programs do both, according to research led by the concept’s pioneer, Bruce Leff, director of geriatric health services research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. (USA Today)

Accretive exec apologizes if its tactics were offensive
An executive from Accretive Health Inc. apologized Wednesday to Minnesotans who were offended by aggressive debt-collection tactics at Fairview hospitals but offered the company’s first public defense, saying its mission is to help patients pay their bills and help nonprofit hospitals improve their finances. Accretive Senior Vice President Greg Kazarian came under intense questioning at a field hearing in St. Paul called by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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

Iowa News

Creston hospital reopens additional services
Greater Regional Medical Center has announced the reopening of the 200 wing of the patient care floor. Recovery efforts have now made it possible for Greater Regional to have the capacity for a total of 14 inpatients. Tentative plans are to reopen the 300 wing within the next couple of weeks, which will allow Greater Regional to return its former patient capacity of 25 inpatient beds. (Creston News Advertiser)

Mental health reform healthy change?
Iowa’s governor recently signed a bill to reform the state’s mental health system. It shakes up the current county-based format in favor of one based on “regions.” The move may also put some of the people it means to help, out of work. Supporters say the bill will equalize the quality of mental health care across Iowa. One change, the state will pick up the county’s share of Medicaid costs. Officials here in Woodbury County call that a bad move. (KTIV)

Iowa seeking to make food assistance more accessible at markets
New federal funds could make it easier for shoppers to pull out a card to pay for strawberries, fresh greens, home-baked bread and other farmers market food, but Iowa is scrambling to come up with a plan to use the money. An appropriations measure approved last year provides $4 million in funding to increase farmers market participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Legislation defines charity care for hospitals
Not-for-profit hospitals in Illinois facing the specter of paying millions in property taxes were granted a reprieve Tuesday when the state Senate passed legislation that will allow hospitals to apply a much broader definition for what qualifies as charity care. The legislation, embedded in a bill that seeks to raise about $700 million for the state’s underfunded Medicaid program through a $1-per-pack cigarette tax, sets a clear formula for how much free care and services hospitals must provide to qualify for tax breaks, ending nearly 10 years of wrangling on the issue. (Chicago Tribune)

Cloud-based EHRs, telemed come to rural Colorado
Via the Colorado Telehealth Network (CTN), which offers secure broadband connectivity, rural clinics and hospitals can use cloud-based electronic health records, obtain remote consults from big-city specialists, and connect online with the Colorado Regional Health Organization, a statewide health information exchange. Owned by the Colorado Hospital Association and the Colorado Behavioral Health Council, CTN began forming its network in 2010 and got its first 200 members up on the network at the end of last year. (InformationWeek)

Do patients really need to go the ER?
Eighty-five percent of Americans who have been to the emergency department said they couldn’t wait to see their regular medical provider, according to a recent Harris poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “The poll results show that emergency departments are filled with patients who feel they need to be there,” the ACEP statement said. “People are coming because they need care and if they have a non-urgent condition, such as a bladder infection, it’s because they have no place else to go and the problem feels like an emergency to them.” (Fierce Healthcare)

HCAHPS scores show wide variation
In general, hospitals that scored poorly indicate that they have a harder road to climb because of their demographics. But while a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spokeswoman acknowledges that smaller rural and specialty hospitals “tend to score more highly on HCAHPS compared to larger, urban and general hospitals” that’s not a reason to give the hospitals a statistical break or correct the data to reflect that.” And besides, many hospitals that are poor and large and in urban areas do well on the HCAHPS, and likewise, some hospitals that are small and in rural communities do poorly.

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

Iowa News

Algona hospital wins wellness challenge
The recent Live Healthy Iowa program turned out to be a win-win situation for Kossuth Regional Health Center all the way around. In addition to engaging more than 100 employees in the state-wide wellness challenge, KRHC also earned an incentive offered through the Iowa Hospital Association and scored in the top 20 in Live Healthy Iowa’s corporate cup challenge. Nearly 270 Iowa businesses and organization competed for the Live Healthy Iowa corporate cup, including 57 hospitals. (Kossuth Regional Health Center)

Hospital bakes up healthier eats
Mary Greeley Medical Center’s goal to improve the health value of the food it serves has gone futuristic in the kitchen, with a new high-efficiency oven. The medical center recently purchased a Rational brand oven that can cook multiple trays of food however the chef prefers — bake, steam, broil or fry. The chef enters the type of food being cooked and the method of cooking desired using the oven’s touch screen, and the oven self-calibrates to the correct temperature. (Ames Tribune)

Meiners’ legacy: Relay inspiration
With something as big as cancer, the real hope for a cure comes from banding together to support research and awareness; there is power in numbers. But one thing that cannot be forgotten in the process is the depth of impact made by a single person. It only takes one driven and dedicated individual to make a true difference, and Manning Regional Healthcare Center found its champion in Mary Meiners. (Carroll Daily Times Herald)

UIHC researchers work to solve premie puzzle
Every year in Iowa, one in nine babies is born premature. While the preterm birth rate has risen over the past decade, so has the survival rate of those babies. Sadie Hughes shares the story of one woman’s unique role in that effort at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. (KGAN)

Tour raises awareness of dementia’s effects
The Virtual Dementia Tour, created by Second Wind Dreams and presented at no cost by Right at Home staff, is meant to simulate the challenges an elderly person with early to mild dementia – as well as age-related physical conditions – might face as he/she tackles common household chores. “The point of it is to bring you folks a glimpse into what a person with dementia goes through every day just doing daily tasks,” said Dave Rutledge, owner of Right at Home Bellevue. Right at Home has taken the VDT to Hospice of Southwest Iowa and Jennie Edmundson Hospital in recent weeks. (Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil)

Physician does his part to help people in Uganda
Dr. Charles Holt is a physician at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, but he’s also trained in tropical medicine, which he puts to use during two to three trips each year to Uganda. He just left for another month-long trip. “The first year was an eye opening experience and watching all these 20 year olds in front of you die when here they could be healthy,” said Dr. Holt. (KWWL)

Fifty years a priest, chaplain keeps walking the floors
Rev. Richard Sitzmann did a bit of work at Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City and found he liked it, taking over when his predecessor at Mercy decided to go back into parish work. “I kind of like the focus of the hospital ministry. It sort of pared things down so you didn’t have to do so many things for so many people, as far as preparing them for sacraments and the like. It’s just a more focused ministry, and I find it very satisfying and somewhat easier for me than parish work,” he said. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

In Louisville, aging care becomes key area of economic growth
This city of 570,000 people is generally associated with the Kentucky Derby, mint juleps and bourbon. But few outsiders know that it also hosts the largest concentration of nursing-home and extended-care companies in the nation. The city didn’t start out with a central plan to win over the long-term-care industry, said Ted Smith, Louisville’s director of economic development and innovation. He attributed the growth, which helped spark the city’s turnaround, to one of the buzz phrases in urban economic development: clustering. (Washington Post)

Patients crusade for access to their medical device data
Each year, tens of thousands of Americans are implanted with tiny battery-controlled devices that regulate the beating of their hearts. Those devices transmit streams of medical data directly to doctors. But some patients, like Hugo Campos of San Francisco, fear they’re being kept out of the loop. … That’s because even though Campos’ ICD can wirelessly transmit data twice a day about his heart and the ICD itself, that information goes only to his doctor. Campos has to make an appointment and ask for a printout. And that, he says, just doesn’t seem fair. (National Public Radio)

Physician engagement: It’s about relationships and structure
With the advent of healthcare reform’s accountable care organizations, readmission penalties and emphasis on moving from volume- to value-based compensation, consultants are fanning out all over the country trying to teach organizations how to engage physicians. This has caused great anxiety among many hospital administrators, some of whom have spent their careers avoiding physicians or, through chief medical officers and vice presidents of medical affairs, insulating themselves from direct interaction with physicians. (Hospital Impact)

Many hospitals, doctors offer cash discount for medical bills
A Long Beach hospital charged Jo Ann Snyder $6,707 for a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis after colon surgery. But because she had health insurance with Blue Shield of California, her share was much less: $2,336. Then Snyder tripped across one of the little-known secrets of health care: If she hadn’t used her insurance, her bill would have been even lower, just $1,054. (Los Angeles Times)

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Members of UIHC's Cherished Portraits team gather for their award in Washington, D.C.

An Iowa hospital’s volunteer program that provides photos for families of infants and children who have died or have life-threatening illnesses has earned national recognition from the American Hospital Association (AHA).  The “Cherished Portraits” program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) provides private, caring, professional portrait sessions on-site by professional photographers who volunteer on an on-call basis.  The portraits are individualized to reflect each patient and their family.

Earlier this month in Washington, D.C., Cherished Portraits was among the programs from all around the U.S. to receive the Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE) from AHA.

“The Cherished Portraits program has truly made a difference to countless grieving families in their darkest hours by creating positive memories for them to treasure forever,” said UIHC CEO Kenneth Kates.

A photograph from the Cherished Portraits program.

A special group of hospital volunteers helps triage the calls and ensures requests are divided equally among the photographers.  The volunteers, recruited from those serving in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), carry pagers from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (the photographers call the volunteers “Pager Angels”).  Staff volunteer supervisors and nurses coordinate the program and recruit professional photographers as volunteers.  At no cost, each family receives an archival CD of the images which they can use to print portraits or create other mementos with the image of their child.  More than 175 portrait sessions have been offered since the program started in 2007.

“The time, talent, and compassion they share is a perfect example of why we are so proud of our volunteers,” Kates said.

For the photographers, being part of the program takes the best of their professional eye — and the full strength of their hearts.  Emily Crall, a photographer in North Liberty, wrote on her blog that Cherished Portraits is “a tough job. More emotionally tough than technically challenging.”

I brace my emotions and give everything I have to the time I have with the child and family, documenting this moment in time for them. A few days later, the family receives a disc of the images to keep, to print, to put into an album, but, mostly, as a tangible witness of their child…It’s more than a camera, a skill, a photograph; it’s about touching lives and preserving moments. It’s about being a blessing.

Earlier this year, Cherished Portraits received the Health Care Hero Award for volunteers from the Corridor Business Journal in Cedar Rapids. Photographer Laura Steele Eckert accepted the award and tried to explain “how I can do what we do.”

People’s immediate reaction to hearing about Cherished Portraits is “Oh, I could NEVER do that!” And to be honest, when I was originally approached by Jane about being part of the team, that was my reaction too.  But something kept me from just rejecting the idea all together.  You see, the reason Jane (Wilkins, the staff supervisor for Cherished Portraits) knew me was because she had been one of our nurses when I was experiencing complications throughout my last pregnancy.   We spent a lot of time at the U being evaluated and undergoing procedures, and my baby eventually spent eight days in the NICU after he was born. I now have a healthy three year old, but I couldn’t help thinking that if our situation had taken a turn for the worse, that I would have wanted photographs of our baby.  It seemed like the least I could do to give back to the hospital and to these families experiencing loss.

Speaking on behalf of all the UIHC staff, volunteers and photographers involved with the program, Eckert said, “This award really is dedicated to the families that we have served and will continue to serve through Cherished Portraits, and to those precious babies we have been honored to photograph.”

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

Iowa News

Hospital CEOs take challenge to next level, with water
The CEOs of Sioux City’s two hospitals took on a new weight-loss challenge in support of the Blue Zones Project at a public weigh-in on March 28. Bob Peebles, CEO of Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City, and Peter Thoreen, CEO of St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, said they would work to lose 10 percent of their body weight in three months. And the biggest weight loser will receive a $500 check from the lesser loser, to be contributed to charity. (Sioux City Journal)

Mason City Hospital, other businesses receive Patriot Award
Three Mason City organizations were honored Thursday for their efforts in supporting employees who serve in the Iowa National Guard and Reserve. Curries, Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa and the Mason City Chamber of Commerce each received the Patriot Award from the Iowa Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an agency of the Department of Defense. “The Patriot Award was created to publicly recognize those who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees,” according to a news release from the organization. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

National News

Direct-care workforce growth reflects shift from inpatient care
Direct-care workers will outnumber healthcare facility workers more than two-to-one by 2020, according to an analysis by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute. In 2011, there were at least 4 million nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides, with most working in home and community-based settings. Those direct-care workers represented almost 31 percent of the entire U.S. healthcare workforce, according to the analysis. (Fierce Healthcare)

Class action suit filed against Tenet Health System
John and Patricia Thomas of St. Louis have filed a class action lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court against Tenet Health Systems. The lawsuit seeks to recover the amounts that Saint Louis University Hospital and Des Peres Hospital, both owned by Tenet, have charged for what the suit alleges are misleading and undisclosed “hospital” facility fees for non-hospital services at doctors’ offices and outpatient clinics affiliated with those hospitals, according to a press release by the Thomases’ lawyer, the C. Marshall Friedman Law Offices. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Urologists ‘outraged’ over PSA test challenge
The nation’s leading urology associations are fuming over a federal panel’s report this week that discredits the widely used prostate-specific antigen screening test for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said in a report that the PSA test is too inaccurate, creates needless anxiety for patients, and can lead to costly and potentially harmful follow-up procedures. “It’s an absurd recommendation. It is ill-researched and ill-conceived,” said Sanford J. Siegel, MD, a board member with the Large Urology Group Practice Association. (HealthLeaders Media)

Doctors report rise in kids eating detergent packs
Miniature laundry detergent packets arrived on store shelves in recent months as an alternative to bulky bottles and messy spills. But doctors across the country say children are confusing the tiny, brightly colored packets with candy and swallowing them. Nearly 250 cases have been reported this year to poison control centers. Though they remain a tiny fraction of the thousands of poisoning calls received every year, doctors are concerned. (Associated Press/Quad-City Times)

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