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

Iowa News

Cyclospora outbreak: the good and bad news
In the past 20 years Iowa has had only 10 confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis, a parasite that causes severe diarrhea. So far this year we`ve had more than 70 cases of this unusual food borne illness. It has a long incubation period and Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, state epidemiologist, says a unique test is required to detect it. “Most of the time even if these people were sick and went to their doctors and had testing done, this wouldn’t have been found,” Quinlisk says. (WHO-TV)

Cedar Rapids St. Luke’s named Blue Zones Worksite
St. Luke’s officials say they started pursuing the Blue Zones Worksite designation in February. A St. Luke’s wellness committee worked with St. Luke’s Dining Services to identify healthy menu options in its cafeteria. Dining Services employees created a nutritional awareness booklet for meals. And the cafeteria is looking to remove the fryers from the kitchen. Quarterly activities are planned, which encourage exercise and wellness. Employees receive free yearly health screenings and free wellness coaching with a financial incentive for participation. (KGAN)

He has a lot of helping hands
Adam Drawbaugh, who has worked at Trinity Muscatine hospital for seven years, applied for and was accepted as an ambassador for the Direct Care Workforce Initiative. That initiative, led by the Iowa Department of Public Health, aims to improve professional education opportunities for people who work directly with patients and help ensure a qualified and stable direct care workforce in Iowa. (Muscatine Journal)

Unsung Heroes: Ames hospital volunteer does more than expected
Vickie Newell never will forget the email she received from Darrel Rensink. When Newell, manager of volunteer and older adult services at Mary Greeley, thanked Rensink for all his volunteer work at the hospital, Rensink replied with a simple, “If you do just a bit more than what’s expected of you, you don’t have to worry about your future.” That message is one Rensink still stands by, and part of the reason he was selected as one of this year’s Ames Tribune Unsung Heroes. (Ames Tribune)

Cerro Gordo health department launches smart dining app
The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health has launched a free smart dining app for smart phones and tablets, county health officials announced. The new app, the first launched by the Health Department, will allow users to search county restaurants based on a healthy dining score obtained using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Restaurants. The survey is produced by Pennsylvania University, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

National News

Health care job growth supports economy
“Health care is a strong and growing industry compared to others,” said Martha Ross, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. She is the author of the program’s Healthcare Metro Monitor Supplement, which tracks the role of the health care industry in the economy and the economic recovery. “The health care industry actually accounts for more than one in 10 jobs in the country,” she added. “We’re actually more health care intensive now than before the recession.” (Healthcare Finance News)

Mixed results in health pilot program
Lowering health-care costs is tougher than improving the quality of care, according to first-year results from a key pilot program under the federal health law. All of the 32 health systems in the so-called Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program improved patient care on quality measures such as cancer screenings and controlling blood pressure, according to data to be released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But only 18 of the 32 managed to lower costs for the Medicare patients they treated—a major goal of the effort. (Wall Street Journal)

Hospitals hope newly insured will help offset Medicare cuts
Uninsured Hoosiers will soon be able to start signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Indiana Hospital Association spokesman Brian Tabor says many of the 160 facilities his organization represents will begin rolling out programs next month. He says the goal will be to balance $4 billion in Medicare cuts over the next 10 years with services to new patients. “To be able to balance those cuts, we’ve got to get as many uninsured Hoosiers signed up for whatever insurance they may be eligible for as soon as possible,” says Tabor. (Indiana Public Media)

Dementia rate dropping, as forecast
A new study has found that dementia rates among people 65 and older in England and Wales have plummeted by 25 percent over the past two decades, to 6.2 percent from 8.3 percent, the strongest evidence yet of a trend some experts had hoped would materialize. Since some dementia is caused by ministrokes and other vascular damage, it made sense that as populations control these risk factors better, dementia rates might drop. But few studies were rigorous enough to put the hypothesis to a test.  (New York Times)

Inside doctors’ prescribing habits
Your doctor hands you a prescription for a blood pressure drug. But is it the right one for you? You’re searching for a new primary-care physician or a specialist. Is there a way you can know whether the doctor is more partial to expensive, brand-name drugs than his peers? Or say you’ve got to find a nursing home for a loved one. Wouldn’t you want to know whether the staff doctor regularly prescribes drugs known to be risky for seniors or overuses psychiatric drugs to sedate residents? For most of us, evaluating a doctor’s prescribing habits is just about impossible. (Los Angeles Times)

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