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

Iowa News

Medical community looks to keep expansion momentum going
Hospital facilities around the Cedar Valley are continuing to grow as they strive to enhance the region’s position as a major health care center. Both Allen Hospital and Covenant Medical Center have been expanding their physical plants and reach in recent years, and that continued in 2013. Allen’s newest addition is a family clinic at the hospital. It opened Jan. 6. It’s part of the hospital’s effort to reach residents who might otherwise not get the care they need. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Iowa business leaders express cautious optimism for growth
Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson said Iowa’s economy is in better shape than the U.S. economy, but even here the pace of recovery varies greatly between metropolitan and rural areas. Part of the problem is the depth and length of the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. David Miles, CEO of Miles Capital in West Des Moines, said recessions caused by financial crises are always deeper and longer than those resulting from other factors, with an average recovery time of seven years. (Des Moines Register)

St. Luke’s one of three hospitals using new technology
A Cedar Rapids hospital is using new technology to treat patients with heart rhythm problems. Saint Luke’s is one of just three centers in the world to use electrophysiology catheters. “My pulse averaged about a hundred all the time and normal is about 60,” said Mike Strope. For him, one procedure is all it took to get his rhythm back. “I had no idea that they had this new procedure. I didn’t know it until I met with the doctor.” (KGAN)

Corridor hospitals, dialysis centers deal with dwindling saline supplies
Hospitals and dialysis centers around the country and in the Corridor are experiencing a shortage of intravenous saline, a solution used to treat dehydration. A statement on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website linked the shortage to a “range of factors, including a reported increased demand by hospitals, potentially related to the flu season.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

CMS announces Medicare ACO savings, new bundled payment participants
Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) generated more than $380 million in savings in the first year of the Shared Savings and Pioneer ACO programs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced. Hospitals, physicians and other Medicare providers participate in the ACOs, which share with Medicare savings from lowering the growth in health care costs while coordinating care for patients and meeting certain quality and performance standards. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Opting out of Medicaid expansion: The health and financial impacts
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to increase access to health insurance by: 1) requiring states to expand Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) ($19,530 for a family of three in 2013), with the cost of expanded eligibility mostly paid by the federal government; 2) establishing online insurance “exchanges” with regulated benefit structures where people can comparison shop for insurance plans; and 3) requiring most uninsured people with incomes above 138 percent FPL to purchase insurance or face financial penalties, while providing premium subsidies for those up to 400 percent of FPL. (Health Affairs)

Time for a dress code for doctors, group says
The American Hospital Association is encouraging hospitals nationwide to embrace a new dress code if they haven’t already.  The new standards include short-sleeves for doctors, nurses and health care workers.  The guidelines also advise against wearing wristwatches or jewelry below the elbow that could come into contact with patients.  “White coats are something you might not see depending on how a health system implements these guidelines,” said Eve Humphreys, executive director of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Rep. Waxman leaves behind a legacy of health laws
During his 40 years in the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman focused on passing legislation. The list of passed bills would be impressive for a half-dozen people. It includes health laws like the Affordable Care Act, the Ryan White AIDS law, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; consumer laws requiring nutrition labels and tobacco warning labels; and environmental laws including updates to the Clean Air Act and to the Safe Drinking Water Act. (National Public Radio)

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

Iowa News

Britt hospital, local pharmacies making medications more affordable
With the high cost of medical expenses, local north Iowa pharmacies are doing what they to be more cost-friendly. Hancock County Health System is partnering with Elizabeth’s Pharmacy in Britt and Clear Lake Pharmacy to provide discounted prescription drugs to low-income families. It’s part of the federal government’s 340B program created to expand access to affordable medications. (KIMT)

National News

Pledges reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing rates
Clinicians are less likely to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics if they sign and display “commitment” pledges—with photos of themselves—on their exam room walls, says a paper by researchers in Boston and Los Angeles. “We found this is a new way to improve health care through medicine,” says one of the authors, Jason N. Doctor, a health economist at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. (HealthLeaders Media)

San Francisco thinks Obamacare can cut costs, crime rates
Across the country, an estimated 90 percent of those in county jails don’t have health insurance. About the same number would qualify for subsidized health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And those prisoners are more susceptible to chronic illnesses that, without treatment once they are freed, cost millions in emergency room visits. Now, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department thinks it can help cut costs — and reduce recidivism rates — by signing up many of the 31,000 people it books in jail every year for coverage under Obamacare. (Washington Post)

Study: Little evidence of better care at expensive hospitals
A study of autoworker claims found that hospitals with the highest prices tended to have the strongest reputations and tight holds on their local markets yet showed little evidence of providing better quality care. The actual prices insurers pay hospitals are closely guarded secrets in health care. That has made it hard for health researchers to study one of the most important issues: whether patients get better treatments from more expensive hospitals. (Kaiser Health News)

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aed locationUnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids has donated three automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to the Cedar Rapids Public Library and Linn County Fair.  The donations are possible through the hospital’s Heart Safe Community program, which has donated more than 70 AEDs to various public locations throughout Linn County since 2002.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 383,000 Americans experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year.  CPR and early defibrillation with an AED more than doubles a victim’s chance of survival.  AHA’s latest statistics show that 23 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are “shockable” arrhythmias or those that respond to a shock from an AED, making AEDs in public locations very important.

Sudden cardiac arrest is usually caused by an electrical malfunction of the heart called ventricular fibrillation.  The heart muscle quivers and is unable to pump blood through the body.  Once the blood stops circulating, a person quickly loses consciousness and the ability to breathe.  Defibrillation is the only effective treatment for ventricular fibrillation.

In 2002, as part of its Heart Safe Community program, St. Luke’s donated 20 AEDs to some of Cedar Rapids’ largest public facilities.  In 2010, the hospital’s foundation donated 50 AEDs to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, making it possible for every squad car to be equipped with an AED.

“Many of these deaths are preventable,” said Dr. Ryan Sundermann, medical director of St. Luke’s Emergency Department.  “For every minute that ticks by without CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease.  With these AED donations we continue to make Cedar Rapids a Heart Safe Community by building a cardiac safety net.”

“We are grateful to St. Luke’s for its donation of two AEDs,” said Bob Pasicznyuk, Cedar Rapids Library director.  “The hospital also provided training for our staff on how to use the equipment – so this is a very generous donation.  Many people use the library on a daily basis and it gives us a peace of mind knowing we have this life-saving equipment on hand.”

Unlike the models of defibrillators intended for use by health care professionals, AEDs do not require extensive medical knowledge to understand or operate.  The expertise needed to analyze the heart’s electrical function is programmed into the device, enabling non-medical professionals to respond to cardiac emergencies.

AEDs provide clear voice prompts and screen displays that instruct the user to attach electrodes and then stand away while the device analyzes the patient’s heart rhythm.  If the AED’s computer determines the patient’s heart is in a shockable rhythm, the rescuer is again prompted to remain clear of the patient while defibrillation shock is delivered.

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

Iowa News

Iowa health care insurance plans reaching target groups
State officials believe they are reaching their target for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, but say it may be two years before they see a complete enrollment picture. More than 61,000 Iowans now are enrolled in the new health care coverage plans offered by the state and federal government. The bulk of them, however, were auto-enrolled when the state replaced its IowaCare program with the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. (Sioux City Journal)

Health advocates say e-cigarette bills fall short
Subcommittees in the House and Senate advanced separate bills Tuesday restricting sales and use of the devices to adults 18 and over, setting up further discussion by full committees in coming weeks. Advocates for tobacco producers, marketers and consumers voiced support, while organizations that for years have lobbied against smoking worried that the legislation would allow e-cigarettes to skirt regulations on tobacco products and undermine years of successful anti-smoking campaigns. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Ex-Microsoft exec brings lists and whiteboard for Obamacare website overhaul
Kurt DelBene came from the other Washington, after President Barack Obama named him healthcare.gov’s new fix-it guy — the successor to “tech-surge czar” Jeff Zients. DelBene is here to shore up the famously flawed Obamacare website, not decorate an office. The most telling evidence of his arrival is on the wall to the right of his workstation, where a large whiteboard is covered with scribbled notes about databases, security features, website capacity, and the like.  It’s a big list of lists.  (Kaiser Health News)

Wanted: Hospital CEOs without health care experience
When Carlos Migoya was hired in May 2011 to run Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade County’s safety net hospital system, he had no health care experience. A career banker, Migoya took over a system that bled $428 million over the previous four years. “Our cash supply was in the six- to-eight -days range,” says Migoya, who came directly to Jackson after a one-year stint as Miami city manager. He found Jackson lacking budget accountability, expense controls and unable to collect on certain revenue streams. “Basically, there was no business plan going forward,” he says. (U.S. News & World Report)

This 15-year-old absolutely nails what ‘patient centered’ is – and isn’t
Ever tried to get sleep in a hospital? Ever wonder if anyone even taught them what care is? Some hospitals are great, but some sure aren’t. Fixing that is the idea behind patient-centered care, which the Institute of Medicine calls “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” Patient-centered care is a Big Thing in medicine today, as new payment incentives emphasize patient satisfaction. But too often it’s still a mystery. So medicine, learn from 15-year-old Morgan Gleason. (Forbes)

What patients will share to improve care
A survey of patients with chronic conditions showed that most are willing to share their health information with physicians, other patients, researchers, and drug companies to improve the quality and safety of care. In this respect, a second survey revealed, their attitudes are not too different from those of the general population. The two polls were conducted by PatientsLikeMe, a social network for patients with medical conditions, and Consumer Reports National Testing and Research Center. (InformationWeek)

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

Iowa News

Iowa needs more skilled workers, Business Council says
Iowa has to focus on recruiting new talent and further educating its current workforce to remain economically competitive, according to an organization representing the state’s major employers. The Iowa Business Council released an economic report Monday that showed the state’s overall economic competitiveness remains unchanged from past years, due, in part, to a lack of workers who have advanced skills. (Des Moines Register)

Cedar Rapids hospital donates more AEDs to community
St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids has donated three automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to public areas in Linn County. Officials say the new Cedar Rapids Public Library is getting two of the devices. The Linn County Fair is getting one. The donations come from the hospital’s Heart Safe Community program, which has donated more than 70 defibrillators to public locations in the area since 2002. (KGAN)

Spencer Hospital ready to showcase new ICU
Spencer Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit underwent extensive renovation over the past year to create a spacious, modern ICU.  “We’re excited to share our newly renovated ICU with the community,” hospital president Bill Bumgarner said. “The ICU is where our most critical patients receive care. More space was needed to accommodate the latest in health care technology and to provide enhanced privacy and comfort for our patients and their guests.” (Spencer Daily Reporter)

Group seeks to prevent TV tip overs
TV tip overs are preventable and Saturday, February 1st is a national day designated for TV safety by a group called Safe Kids World Wide. Janna Day with Safe Kids Great Des Moines says, “The idea behind it is it kind of coincides with Super Bowl when a lot of us will be in our homes watching TV, so it gets you thinking about how important it is to be sure your TV is safe.” (WHO-TV)

National News

Key senate Republicans offer their plan to replace Obamacare
The GOP plan would end the expansion of Medicaid to include all people below a certain income level. It would cap Medicaid’s currently unlimited funding, except for the elderly and disabled. States would instead get payments based on the number of low-income families and children, described by staffers as the program’s “traditional populations.” But there apparently would be no plan to continue insurance for people who are currently signing up for Medicaid in the half of states now expanding the program. Instead, those people would be offered tax credits. (National Public Radio)

Little threat to specialists’ revenue in “Choosing Wisely” recommendations
Treatment guidance from medical specialty groups varies widely in terms of its potential financial impact on providers, acknowledges the head of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, which backs the Choosing Wisely initiative to promote evidence-based care. (HealthLeaders Media)

With Community Health deal done, two hospital firms are tied for largest
Two of the nation’s biggest hospital chains — Community Health Systems Inc. and Health Management Associates Inc. — formalized their merger on Monday, with the newly combined entity now at the top of the health-care heap along with industry leader HCA Holdings Inc. Community acquired Health Management, which formerly traded under the symbol HMA. That now leaves Community and HCA as the nation’s two-largest hospital chains. (Market Watch)

How parents and the Internet transformed clubfoot treatment
The casting technique was developed by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti at the University of Iowa in the 1950s. The Spanish physician discovered that if an infant’s feet were slowly turned out over the first few months of life, the foot could be coaxed into a normal position. Unlike the traditional surgical method, the Ponseti method is pretty much painless, and patients who receive it usually have a complete recovery, with no long-term discomfort. It also costs less. (National Public Radio)

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