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

Iowa News

Mercy-North Iowa launches new pathology tracking system
Chances are it has either affected you personally or someone you know. We’re talking about cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates more than half a million Americans will die from some form of the disease this year. Now a major north Iowa hospital is launching a new way to get potentially cancerous biopsies processed. Mercy-North Iowa’s pathology department is the first in the state to implement a new state-of-the-art biopsy tracking system. (KIMT)

Holidays are ideal time to discover family medical background
“It’s important because there are a lot of things we can watch for and prevent,” said Shana Coker, a nurse practitioner in oncology genetics at Mercy Medical Center’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center. For example, someone with a family history of high cholesterol can work on lowering it before it becomes a problem, Coker said. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers also tend to run in families. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

County wellness coalition meets
The Emmet County Wellness Coalition met to gear up for another winter wellness program Tuesday at the Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative community room. Jen Hough, Avera Holy Family Health community relations manager, said she and Regional Wellness Center director Bob Grems agreed they liked the Lifestyle Challenge program format used in previous years better than the 100 Day Iowa Wellness Challenge the coalition followed last year. She said she and Grems could work together to develop a program that would work. (Estherville Daily News)

Campus as obstacle course
“Wheelchair students like me usually get two principal accommodations: a handicapped-accessible residence and classes arranged on the first floor of a classroom building or a classroom building with an elevator,” said Alex Watters, a quadriplegic who was returning to Morningside College in Sioux City to help researcher Roger Martin, who was examining the challenges faced by students with a physical disability for a book he was writing on the first-year college experience.  “Since I was the first wheelchair freshman at the college in recent memory, we had some groundbreaking to do.”

National News

NE hospitals carry on in storm’s wake
Hospitals around the New York City area have been struggling with power outages in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with several evacuating completely and dozens relying on backup power sources to keep up curtailed operations. Some of the most dramatic scenes came when most of the backup power failed at NYU Langone Medical Center on Manhattan’s East Side, which had to transfer 300 patients, including prematurely born babies and adults and children in intensive care. The whole transfer stretched over 12 hours, with a constant stream of ambulances taking one patient at a time to several other area hospitals. The transfers were completed by 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to the medical center. (Wall Street Journal)

Baby delivered in truck during Sandy
During Hurricane Sandy’s high winds and heavy rain, a New Jersey woman gave birth to a baby boy in a hospital’s make-shift medical shelter to aid residents immobilized by flooding. Christine Schleppy, 34, was only 35 weeks into her pregnancy when she started having contractions on Monday near the height of the storm. When they became more frequent around 6 p.m., her husband called 911 and an ambulance arrived. “You hope you can get to the hospital,” David Schleppy, 38, said. “We knew there were many trees down and roads getting closed left and right.”(Yahoo)

Betting on value-based care
Where are you placing your bets in the new reimbursement game? As the shift to value-based purchasing of health care services nears, in fits and starts and at different speeds in different areas, leaders of hospitals, health systems, and physician practices know they need to rethink quality, safety, and reimbursement. Given the uncertainty of an array of carrot-and-stick incentives from federal and state payers, coupled with the vagaries of the regional or local commercial insurance and employer market, it’s little wonder that healthcare leaders are discussing their options in the language of gambling. (HealthLeaders Media)

Court rulings could squelch reports of errors
Providers may be more likely to keep quiet about near misses or medical mishaps if Kentucky lower court rulings, which hospital lawyers say violate the essence of a critical federal statute, are allowed to stand. That’s the view of the Kentucky Hospital Association, which represents 92 non-federal acute care hospitals in the state, and the American Hospital Association, who are together fighting the rulings with an appeal to the Kentucky State Supreme Court. (HealthLeaders Media)

Online cancer info often too complicated for patients
The readability of most websites that describe prostate cancer treatment options is too complicated for at least one-third of Americans, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Urology. Researchers from Loyola University Medical Center in Proviso, Ill., determined the three most popular sets keywords related to the disease–“prostate cancer,” “prostate cancer treatment” and “prostatectomy”– out of more than 500 terms. They then identified 62 websites by searching for those terms on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and used a Flesch-Kincaid test to determine the readability of the sites on a grade level scale. (Fierce Health IT)

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

Iowa News

Delaware County Supervisors consider mental health region
Delaware County Supervisors voted unanimously at their Oct. 22 meeting to “participate in the planning and development” of a new multi-county region to provide mental health and disability services. The MH/DS Region would include Benton, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Johnson, Jones and Linn counties. The Iowa Legislature has mandated that such services be provided by regions rather than by single counties. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Kohl’s makes $93,378 donation to Blank Children’s Hospital
Kohl’s presented the hospital with the donation as part of its Kohl’s Cares program. The check presentation took place at the Waukee Family YMCA with Kohl’s associates and Blank Children’s Hospital employees present. As part of the donation, Iowa Health-Des Moines, Blank Children’s Hospital and the Waukee Family YMCA hosted a Healthy Halloween event, which provided a healthy, fun and safe alternative to outdoor trick-or-treating. (Blank Children’s Hospital)

National News

Hospital takes in babies after Sandy forces evacuation in NYC
Five sets of parents and their newborns made their first journey together in ambulances when Hurricane Sandy forced them to be evacuated Sunday from the New York Downtown Hospital in lower New York to a Bronx hospital on higher ground. Montefiore Medical Center took in the five families, setting up quarters for them to spend the night together, as well as 10 adults who were also being cared for at Downtown Hospital. (USA Today)

What kind of physician will you be?
When choosing a residency program, medical students typically consider the reputation and training curriculum of the institution, as well as their own geographical and lifestyle preferences. But there’s something else they should consider: The way academic medical centers deliver health care differs dramatically from one institution to the next. A new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project, led by physicians in training, found that 23 top academic medical centers vary markedly in the intensity of care they provide patients. (Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care)

Clearing up confusion on advance directives
The patient was near death when emergency physician Ferdinando Mirarchi, DO, was called into a hospital room by frantic medical staff. The man was in cardiac arrest and needed to be shocked with a defibrillator. But because he had a living will, the health professionals at his side were uncertain how to proceed. “Everyone was standing around frozen, saying, ‘We’re not supposed to treat the patient,’ ” Dr. Mirarchi said. They “assumed they shouldn’t treat him. I came in and shocked the patient.” (American Medical News)

The island where people forget to die
Ikaria, an island of 99 square miles and home to almost 10,000 Greek nationals, lies about 30 miles off the western coast of Turkey. Its jagged ridge of scrub-covered mountains rises steeply out of the Aegean Sea. Before the Christian era, the island was home to thick oak forests and productive vineyards. Its reputation as a health destination dates back 25 centuries, when Greeks traveled to the island to soak in the hot springs near Therma. (New York Times)

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(Over the next several weeks, the blog will feature IHA’s 2012 Iowa Hospital Heroes.  These outstanding hospital employees come from across the state and work at hospitals of every size.  They exemplify the courage, caring and community focus that are at the center of the hospital mission in Iowa.)

It is difficult to distill a lifetime of achievement into a few words. But, if you were to do it, the words would include “doctor, mentor, teacher, volunteer, friend…hero.” All of these terms describe Dr. Dennis Crabb and his 40-year medical career.

A native of Denison, Dr. Crabb has been a member of the medical staff at Crawford County Memorial Hospital since 1977 and has exhibited his passion for his patients, students and community ever since.  Through the years, his patients commonly respond, “… Dr. Crabb is the best doctor and surgeon I know and I am lucky enough to call him my friend.”

Despite his enormous responsibilities as sole practitioner in operating his family medical and surgical practice, Dr. Crabb has eagerly mentored many high school and college students as they consider careers in medicine.  According to one former student, now a successful plastic surgeon in Virginia, “He simply changed my life. I would not be a physician without his guidance and direction.”

In addition to his private practice, Dr. Crabb has also served as the Crawford County medical examiner for the past 20 years and as the volunteer medical director for all Crawford County fire, ambulance and first responder services.

Perhaps no other experience serves to demonstrate his dedication to serving others than his involvement in the Boy Scouts of America. As the Scoutmaster for Troop 55 in Denison since 1990, Dr. Crabb has helped 64 young men earn the coveted honor of “Eagle Scout.”

He was serving as the chief physician at the Pahuk Pride National Youth Leadership Training course at Little Sioux Scout Ranch when a tornado struck the camp on June 11, 2008, resulting in four fatalities and 48 Scouts injured. For his courageous and brave actions in the aftermath of the storm, Dr. Crabb was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America, Iowa Governor Chet Culver, the Military Department of Nebraska and the American Red Cross.

Doctor, mentor, teacher, volunteer, friend and hero.  Good words, but even those are not enough to describe what Dr. Crabb means to his patients, students and community.

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

Iowa News

Mercy leaders recognized for achievement, leadership
Two Mercy Medical Center leaders were recently recognized with achievement awards at the Iowa Hospital Association annual meeting held in Des Moines. Mercy President and CEO Sean Williams was named the recipient of this year’s IHA Young Executive Achievement award and Mercy Director of Maternal Child Services Colleen Meggers received the Iowa Organization of Nurse Leaders Nurse Leader recognition for 2012. (Clinton Herald)

Former teacher is a magician with hospital volunteers
Candy Moore was nearly 40 years old when she became director of volunteers at what is now Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. It was a revelation to the former school teacher. “When I took this job, I finally knew what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said with a laugh. “This is what I was meant to do.” What she does is manage the activities of 350 volunteers whose average age is 65, some of whom only work once or twice a month. “The first ones arrive at 5:15 in the morning; the last ones leave at 8 o’clock at night,” she said. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

ISU engineering alum finds success in health care
Dan Varnum didn’t know when he started in Iowa State’s industrial engineering program more than 30 years ago that he’d end up in the health care field. The journey that would take him there started during a co-op as an undergraduate and recently landed him in the position of chief executive officer at Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa. Varnum has always had a strong interest in math, science, and analytical processes. After he graduated from Roland-Story City High School, he immediately set his sights on Iowa State. Having learned about engineering from his older brother who was in the university’s mechanical engineering program, Varnum knew Iowa State was the place for him. (Iowa State University, College of Engineering)

Sioux City hospitals warn of ‘purple crying’
When a baby cries incessantly but nothing seems to be wrong, parents may lose their patience and turn “purple-faced” with frustration. Those difficult spells in the early weeks of a baby’s life are known as the Period of Purple Crying, and Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City and St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center are educating new parents about it. The hospitals emphasize the year-round program in November. “Purple crying is the biggest cause of shaken baby syndrome,” said Serena Sigears, Mercy Family Center nurse. “We want to assure parents that their baby is not sick and they are not going crazy because of the crying.” (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Hospital M&A activity plunging
In a potential sign that healthcare transaction mania may be cooling off, the number of hospital-related mergers and acquisitions during the third quarter of this year dropped considerably compared to the third quarter of 2011, according to a new report from Irving Levin Associates. The industry saw 11 hospital-related deals during the quarter, down 31 percent from the 16 transactions announced during the third quarter of 2011, according to the report. And the volume of hospital deals is down 52 percent from the second quarter of this year, which had 23 deals announced. (Fierce Healthcare)

Organized medicine unveils plan to overhaul Medicare delivery
More beneficiary choices, infrastructure investments and payments that reflect the costs to physicians of providing services are the major principles the physician community will use as guideposts as lawmakers look to transition to a new Medicare delivery system. That’s what the American Medical Association and other organized medicine groups stated in an Oct. 15 letter to Congress. The national and state medical and specialty societies identified the core elements they will support to move from the one-size-fits-all Medicare fee-for-service system to one offering an array of options to seniors and physicians. (American Medical News)

Health care reform then, health care reform now
The 1990s’ attempt at health care reform didn’t work out too well for many hospitals and health systems because both patients and physicians rebelled against managed care and its blanket preauthorization rules. Will history repeat itself? (HealthLeaders media)

Crucial test for an outpost of healthcare
There are 1,250 federally funded clinics nationwide that provide healthcare and social assistance, surviving on a mix of grants, fundraising and reimbursements from government insurance plans. With the major elements of President Obama’s healthcare reform set to begin in 2014, they are being tested like never before. Millions of low-income Americans are expected to begin seeking out doctors and routine healthcare when they become eligible for insurance coverage. (Los Angeles Times)

Health insurance industry dislikes health law but finds its repeal unnerving
Major health insurance companies such as, UnitedHealth Group and BlueCross Blue Shield, stand to rake in billions of dollars from new customers who’ll get health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The companies already have invested tens of millions to carry it out. If Mitt Romney were elected, insurers would be in for months of uncertainty as his administration gets used to Washington and tries to make good on his promise repeal Obama’s law. (Washington Post)

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

Iowa News

UIHC plans to build another clinic in Coralville IRL
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics already is looking to expand its presence in the Iowa River Landing by purchasing the lot across the street from the facility it opened in early October. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Regional mental health treatment concept takes shape
The State of Iowa is restructuring its mentally handicap and developmental disability services and is asking county CPCs to for regions instead of each county doing individual programs. (The Daily Gate City)

Grassley tours Trinity Bettendorf
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley spent an hour touring Trinity Bettendorf this morning, his first visit to the newest Quad-City hospital. The Iowa Republican posed questions on medical practices and cost containment to the employees he met. Grassley toured six departments in the hospital that opened in 2005, including: obstetrics, a medical/surgical unit, internal care, the emergency department, the Wound Care Clinic and the residency program’s clinic. (Quad City Times)

Hospital long-term debt decreased 10 percent
Floyd Valley Hospital officials are working hard to pay the facility’s long-term debt — and succeeding. The hospital’s long-term debt decreased by 10 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to an annual audit performed by Denman & Company, of West Des Moines. (LeMars Daily Sentinal)

Clarinda High School students explore healthcare careers
More than 125 high school students from 11 Southwest Iowa schools participated in the first “Health Related Careers For Tomorrow Conference” held Monday, Oct. 15, in Shenandoah.  (Clarinda Herald-Journal)

National News

Cyber Crooks Target Healthcare For Financial Data
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the vast majority of hackers targeting healthcare IT systems are searching for financial information, not snooping for personal health data or targeting individuals, a new study suggests. That, according to Verizon Communications research, makes healthcare not much different than any other industry.  (InformationWeek)

Medicaid spending is slowing. Yes, really.
The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed all states on their Medicaid spending this year. The biggest takeaway might surprise you: Medicaid spending growth hit a “near-record low” in 2012, with similar trends expected in 2013. (Washington Post)

Maryland Remains Ahead In Implementing Health Care Reforms
For supporters of the Affordable Health Care Act, getting the bill through Congress was just a small part of the battle. Since President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010, the bill went to the Supreme Court, which upheld it following a 5-4 decision in June. Now, advocates say, comes the next step in the process: implementing the reform. (Baltimore Jewish Times)

Health law has saved seniors $4.8 billion on Rx drugs, HHS says
Seniors have saved nearly $5 billion on prescription drugs because of President Obama’s healthcare law, the Health and Human Services Department said Thursday. HHS regularly touts the savings seniors have seen from new discounts on prescription drugs, and the latest update comes just two weeks from a presidential election in which healthcare — and Medicare in particular — loom large. (The Hill)

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