Visit our website ⇒

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

Iowa News

Coalition goal: Reduce stigma of mental illness
As mental illness knows no season, local efforts continue year round in advocating for those persons with a mental illness. In April of 2012, the United Way of North Central Iowa and the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) formed a partnership. The goal of this partnership is to provide advocacy on behalf of persons with a mental illness while also working to break the stigma associated with mental illness. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

A better fit: UnityPoint Health a case of re-branding
When Kristin Casotti answers the phone at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s, she has a couple additional words to recite. The hospital, formerly known as just “St. Luke’s,” adopted UnityPoint Health, its parent health system’s new brand, on April 16. UnityPoint Health was previously called Iowa Health System. “After a couple times it just rolls off the tongue like I’ve been saying it forever,” Casotti, an executive assistant at the hospital, said. (Sioux City Journal)

Charity classic makes Blank maternity nursery donation
For many the Principal Charity Classic is a cool opportunity to see some good golf, but the tournament is about more than just golf.  In the last six years they have donated nearly $4 million to central Iowa children’s charities, some of that has gone to Blank Children’s Hospital. Thursday the players’ wives toured the neo-natal intensive care unit and OB unit.  They also got to meet the family of a set of premature twins born at just 28 weeks. (WHO-TV)

Redesigned St. Anthony Clinic opening Monday
The newly renovated space which now houses the St. Anthony Clinic at St. Anthony Regional Hospital will open and begin seeing patients on Monday, June 3. The clinic redesign took special care to make navigating to doctors’ offices easier and that meant knocking down a few walls. The space was completely gutted and remodeled. Now the clinic area creates a sense of flow with visual cues including local photographs on waiting area walls and contrasted carpeting paths which help lead patients to the correct location. (KCIM)

National News

CDC: 1 in 5 adults used ER in 2011
The federal agency’s findings, other data, and practical experience suggest that hospitals should brace for a pronounced increase in ED use in 2014 when the ranks of the insured are expected to expand, says a board member of the American College of Emergency Physicians. (HealthLeaders Media)

More than 100 insurers sign up for Obama healthcare exchanges
The White House, seeking to show early success for President Barack Obama’s health care reforms, said more than 120 insurers have applied to sell plans on federally-run online marketplaces that begin offering subsidized coverage in just over four months. Based on a memo released by senior administration officials, about 5 million consumers could be able to choose from a variety of plans from at least five insurance companies with coverage that meets new quality standards set down by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Each insurance company applicant would offer 15 separate plans on average. (Reuters)

For new doctors, 8 minutes per patient
Doctors-in-training are spending less time with patients than ever before. How interns and residents spend their time has been of interest to academic researchers for more than 50 years, but in the late 1980s, as training programs came under increasing pressure to limit the work hours of young doctors, one study in particular raised concerns.  The researchers trailed 15 doctors-in-training over five nights and found that residents spent only about 20 percent of their time with patients, with the bulk of their nights at the hospital devoted to paperwork, tasks that did not have to be done by a doctor like drawing blood and inserting intravenous catheters, and frequently interrupted attempts at sleep. (New York Times)

Leave a Comment

Pella Regional Health Center can add “get me to the church on time” to its list of medical services. At least that’s the experience for recent groom Nathen Deppe of Kellogg, who married Pella native Jenna DeJong in November.

Copyright Stacia's Photography / Designer Images Photography

Nurse Jodi Wilson prepares Nathen Deppe for discharge just hours after his appendectomy.

Deppe experienced stomach pain on Friday during rehearsal but believed it was just nerves. The pain became progressively worse during the night and at 4 a.m., about 12 hours before the ceremony, he drove himself to Pella Regional’s emergency room.  A short time later, Dr. Matt Doty announced an unexpected wedding gift:  acute appendicitis.

When Deppe explained that it was his wedding day, Dr. Doty set plans in motion to assure the best medical care and to meet the groom’s desire to walk down the aisle that afternoon.  Dr. Doty contacted surgeon Timothy Breon in Oskaloosa, who performed the emergency appendectomy at 9 a.m.

“Everyone worked together to help this patient get to his wedding,” said Dr. Breon. “Fortunately, everything fell into place, and it was special to know that we could help him.”

Following surgery and recovery, Drs. Breon and Doty assured Deppe and his family that they would do all they could medically for his timely discharge, providing he made continued improvement.  As the bride and wedding party readied for the ceremony, Deppe received expert and expedient care from Registered Nurse Jodi Wilson, who noted that his was one of the fastest in (patient) and out (patient) processes she’d ever been a part of.

Nathan and Jenna Deppe

Nathan and Jenna Deppe

Once he’d received the necessary intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain medications, Deppe carefully slipped out of his hospital gown and into a tuxedo, with local photographer Jeff Bokhoven documenting everything.  Minutes later, Deppe’s parents chauffeured the groom to the church, where he arrived with a half hour to spare.

Because of the compassionate, team-oriented and timely care from emergency room, operating room and floor staff at Pella Regional, the ceremony was a beautiful celebration and demonstration of Nathen’s commitment to Jenna.

“I just can’t say enough about the care and concern I received from Dr. Doty, Dr. Breon, Jodi and all of the other great staff at the Pella hospital,” Deppe said.  “They really made our big day possible with their quick decisions, compassion and expertise. We are very, very grateful to everyone at Pella Regional who helped us on our wedding day.”

Leave a Comment

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

Iowa News

Iowa Health and Wellness Plan: It’s a winner
“Lawmakers consider special session” read the headline at the top of the May 20 Journal’s front page. In the Associated Press story, some Iowa lawmakers suggested the state’s first special legislative session in seven years might be necessary to settle contentious debate over expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. By the end of the week, not only was a deal struck, but the deal seems to have satisfied lawmakers of both political parties, including Gov. Terry Branstad, as well as nearly all impacted constituencies. Its achievement was, in a word, remarkable. (Sioux City Journal)

Mercy-Cedar Rapids wins state honor as recycling project of the year
Mercy Medical Center has earned the 2013 Award for Excellence as the Recycling Project of the Year in recognition of the hospital’s expanded commitment to reducing trash significantly by using cutting-edge technology. Mercy is the only facility receiving the top honor in this category from the Iowa Recycling Association. City Carton Recycling of Cedar Rapids, Mercy’s recycling service provider, nominated Mercy for the award for the hospital’s commitment to recycling and other “impressive” green business practices. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Immigrants contribute more to Medicare than they take out
As Congress mulls changing America’s border and naturalization rules, a study finds that immigrant workers are helping buttress Medicare’s finances, because they contribute tens of billions a year more than immigrant retirees use in medical services. “Immigrants, particularly noncitizens, heavily subsidize Medicare,” the researchers wrote in the journal Health Affairs.  “Policies that reduce immigration would almost certainly weaken Medicare’s financial health, while an increasing flow of immigrants might bolster its sustainability.” (Kaiser Health News)

Trouble for Obamacare in New Hampshire
If a health insurance marketplace launches in the woods with exactly one insurance carrier, does it count as a marketplace at all?  This is not an odd health policy riddle (although that sounds fun as well!). It is actually the situation in New Hampshire, where its increasingly looking like just one health insurer, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, will compete on the exchange – if that counts as competing at all. (Washington Post)

How three small firms are coping with health law
Small employers across the U.S. are struggling to get a handle on their health-care costs under the Affordable Care Act. Many of them say they expect their operating expenses to jump in 2014, when the law’s employee health-insurance requirements take effect. But they acknowledge that their forecasts are back-of-the-envelope calculations based on only partial information. Here’s a look at how three small employers are bracing for the change. (Wall Street Journal)

Leave a Comment

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

Iowa News

Hospitals in Iowa help break Medicaid expansion impasse
Iowa hospitals were key players in a last-minute “hybrid” deal to expand Medicaid, the second such legislatively approved deal in the country. The Iowa Medicaid expansion compromise, dubbed the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, passed the Legislature on May 23—its final day—and awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. The deal overcame a legislative impasse between Senate Democrats—who wanted a standard expansion to add more than 150,000 residents to the state’s Medicaid program—and House Republicans and Branstad—who favored a smaller expansion of a more limited state-funded health program. (Modern Healthcare)

Too early to celebrate Medicaid compromise
This is far from a done deal. Iowa will need both the federal government’s money and its approval to implement the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. The state will need to secure at least one federal waiver to proceed, and that process that can take several months. There is no guarantee the Obama administration will agree to the changes approved by the Legislature. If the waiver is not approved, state officials are faced with convening a special session of the Legislature later this year. If that were to happen, Iowa should expand Medicaid as proposed under the federal health insurance reform law. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa No. 5 for seniors’ health
Iowa scores well on a new report of senior health because older Iowans tend to volunteer a lot, have prescription-drug coverage and are relatively unlikely to have their activities limited by arthritis pain. The report, released this week by the United Health Foundation, ranked Iowa fifth for senior health. The report indicated that Iowa seniors had the nation’s best rate of volunteerism and its second best rate of insurance coverage for medication. The state ranked fourth for low prevalence of activity-limiting arthritis pain. (Des Moines Register)

Music therapy helps soothe, comfort patients
At just 10 years old, little Pammie Quintero-Rodriguez has already spent much of her life in and out of University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. She’s had more than 13 surgeries, mostly for heart and lung ailments, and has been admitted several times with respiratory problems. Many days she feels tired and prefers to sleep. But that’s not the case when Kirsten Nelson knocks on Pammie’s door and walks into the room with a guitar slung over her shoulder. (University of Iowa)

Community walkability assessment conducted
Howard County Public Health conducted a walkability assessment of Cresco on Wednesday, May 15 starting at Crestwood High School. Students of Karen Steffen’s 11th grade science class assisted with the assessment, as well as Carolyn Noe, from Regional Health Services of Howard County and Rod Freidhoff, the City of Cresco Public Works Director.  The goal is to encourage more citizens to walk and bike to community destinations by identifying and removing safety barriers. (Cresco Times Plain Dealer)

National News

What the “e” in e-patient really means
Patients today are empowered, engaged, equipped, and enabled. Healthcare providers should respond, and should help patients with another important “e”: expectations.  By now, you’ve probably heard of e-patients. But it means much more than “electronic patients.”  “Our culture assumes doctors know everything and patients can’t possibly add anything useful,” writes Dave deBronkart, better known as “e-Patient Dave,” in his new e-book, “Let Patients Help!” (HealthLeaders Media)

Medicare spending variations mostly due to health differences, study concludes
The new paper is one of the sharpest attacks yet on the work of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, whose three decades of research has popularized the theory that the unexplained regional differences in spending are due to the aggressiveness of some physicians to do more, in large part because it enriches them.  Dartmouth strongly disputed the study, which they said they could not replicate. Jonathan Skinner, a Dartmouth economist, called the study “fatally flawed” in an email. He noted that the Institute of Medicine’s preliminary report stated that “although a non-trivial amount of geographic variation can be explained by specific demographic and, potentially, health status variables, a substantial amount of variation remains unexplained.” Skinner also noted that Dartmouth researchers have never endorsed the idea of adjusting Medicare spending by region. (Kaiser Health News)

Hospitals to doctors: Can we still be friends?
Hospitals can’t survive without a cadre of doctors who have a real stake in the hospital’s success. Most doctors can’t survive in small private practice. But the obvious way to mesh their interests? physician employment by hospitals or practice acquisitions ? is losing its luster in many corners, so a new strain of strategic creativity is blossoming. The goal: how to work together without living together. “More sophistication is coming to the market place,” said Steve Messinger, a hospital strategist and managing partner at ECG Management Consultants Inc. in Arlington. (Washington Business Journal)

Fake drugs undercutting malaria battle in Africa
When customs officials in Luanda, Angola, searched a cargo container from China, they found something hidden inside a shipment of loudspeakers: 1.4 million packets of counterfeit Coartem, a malaria drug made by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The discovery, last June, led to one of the largest seizures of phony medicines ever. The fakes—enough to treat more than half the country’s annual malaria cases, had they been genuine—are part of a proliferation of bogus malaria drugs in Africa that threatens to undermine years of progress in tackling the disease. (Wall Street Journal)

Leave a Comment

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

Iowa News

Iowa Legislature rediscovers art of compromise
All in all, it was a momentous legislative session. Somehow, the little stuff that typically clogs up the process was set aside to allow lawmakers to focus on the big stuff. They focused, and they acted, and while none of their handiwork is perfect or exactly what everybody wanted, it definitely looks like progress. It’s refreshing that Iowa is a place where elected officials are still interested in doing big things designed to improve the lives of their constituents. (Ames Tribune)

Both sides come away winners at end of long legislative session
Both sides swept away things the other side hated. Iowa Senate Democrats and House Republicans refused to pass many of each others’ bills, but on the big stuff, there was extraordinary accord. “Unlike the two previous years where there was a stalemate on many high-profile issues, this year was different,” said Matt Eide, a 20-year lobbyist who tracks state issues closely. “All sides gave,” he said. After arguing and sweating over a whole salad of bills for 130 days, the 2013 session of the Iowa Legislature rolled to a close Thursday, just three weeks over schedule. (Des Moines Register)

2 lawmakers credited for role in Iowa health deal
After months of partisan bickering seemed to have stalled negotiations on how to provide low-income health care in Iowa, two no-nonsense lawmakers from northern Iowa are credited with figuring out a compromise. Democratic Sen. Amanda Ragan, of Mason City, and Republican House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, of Clear Lake, led talks to develop the health care plan that won passage in the Legislature before lawmakers adjourned Thursday. (KWWL)

Interpreter helps patients understand disgnosis
Ana Chism helps Spanish-speaking patients at Broadlawns Medical Center understand the medical care they receive. She is a full-time Spanish interpreter and translator, working alongside colleagues who assist with Bosnian, Vietnamese, Karen and Burmese languages. The hospital also hires a sign language interpreter and language companies to aid patients. Interpreters go to every department, including pharmacy and financial services. (Des Moines Register)

Sleep sacks replace blankets for babies in most Iowa hospitals
The way newborn babies are cared for in Iowa continues to evolve in the effort to make them safer. One of the changes involves using what’s called a “sleep sack” instead of a blanket to wrap up the babies. Michell Atlmaier works at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. “It’s kind of like a little snuggie for babies, it’s got a zipper that goes down and then two wings that actually wrap around the baby so they can be swaddled. And they’re lot safer than a loose blanket,” Altmaier says. Mercy partnered with a company called HALO that provides the sleep sacks to hospitals for free. (Radio Iowa)

National News

Health law critics seek to gut it by attacking exchanges
Opponents of President Barack Obama’s health-care law are gearing up for a new round of attacks, this time targeting the legislation’s insurance exchanges that would expand coverage to millions of Americans. Heritage Action for America, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, and the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks will push Congress to cut off funding for the exchanges in the debate later this year over raising the debt ceiling, the Washington-based groups said. The chairman of the advocacy group Restore America’s Voice, Ken Hoagland, said he plans to warn people through advertising about the “dysfunctional” exchanges. (Bloomberg)

Patients who helped with medical choices had higher bills
Many patients like having a say in their medical care. But according to a new survey, the people who say they want to take a relatively aggressive, hands-on approach may also wind up with longer hospital stays and higher bills than their peers who leave the decision making up to their doctors. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago School of Medicine reported on the survey’s findings Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. In the background section of their report, the team noted that shared decision making has been widely endorsed as a model for making complex medical decisions and may have many advantages, including improved patient satisfaction and health outcomes. (Los Angeles Times)

Medical errors are hard for doctors to admit, but it’s wise to apologize
In 2007, I published a story in my local paper in which I confessed to having made a medical error years earlier. I’d mistakenly prescribed an antibiotic for a patient whose chart indicated an allergy to the drug. Thankfully, the story had a happy ending. My patient recovered and took no legal action after I explained to her what had happened. I ended my article vowing to take greater care to prevent errors and urging doctors to take responsibility for their mistakes, even when a patient hasn’t been harmed. (Washington Post)

In case of tornado, EHRs can be just the prescription
Everyone expects a hospital to be ready to jump into action when disaster strikes. But what about when the disaster devastates the hospital itself? Turns out, it helps a lot to have an electronic medical record system in place. At least that was the case at Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma, a small hospital right in the path of the tornado that ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City on Monday. Three-hundred people — staff, patients and community members — hunkered down in the cafeteria, stairwells and chapel as 200-miles-per-hour winds demolished the building around them. (Kaiser Health News)

Leave a Comment