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

Iowa News

Health reform objectives are starting to jell
If one considers the Affordable Care Act as two parts insurance reform (the public exchanges and Medicaid expansion) and one part payment reform, (non-payment for re-admissions, bundled payment and accountable care organizations), it’s increasingly clear that the intended objectives are beginning to jell, if not solidify. (Des Moines Register)

Waverly Health Center hires new CEO
Waverly Health Center soon will be under new leadership. The hospital has chosen Jim Atty as its new chief executive officer. Atty currently is CEO at Humboldt County Memorial Hospital in Humboldt. Atty is scheduled to take up his new job Sept. 8. He replaces Kyle Richards, who had filled the position from August 2011 to January 2014. Richards moved to a position at Regional Health in Rapid City, S.D. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

New insurance plan links Wellmark, Hy-Vee and UnityPoint Health
Three of the largest firms in Iowa announced Saturday that they are combining forces to offer a new health insurance option. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Hy-Vee Food Stores and UnityPoint Health say their cooperative venture will be strong on convenience and reward customers for healthy behaviors. The program is called Blue Rewards, and it will have plans named Bronze, Silver and Gold to provide different levels of coverage. (Quad-City Times)

Rain breeds many mosquitoes, but diseases not yet a big concern
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, said mosquitoes that carry diseases like the West Nile Virus enjoy small stagnant puddles of water that are warm. The constant rain has actually prevented those conditions. “This kind of rain is actually bad for them,” she said. “They don’t like this much water … certainly when there’s flooding it’s washing them all away, it’s not allowing them to have time to breed.” (Lincoln Journal Star)

National News

New script for health care: Choices expanding beyond hospitals
The availability of so many services in the community raises the question: Do we still need hospitals? Anyone who’s ever had a heart attack knows the answer is yes — but not necessarily hospitals as we know them today. “I think to a large extent if you say hospital, it is still the brick building that care goes on in (that people think of),” said Dr. John McCabe, CEO of Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. “But the nature of that care is changing, and I think more and more, you’re seeing movement from the hospital to a care system.” (Utica Observer)

Utah hospitals try the unthinkable: Get a grip on costs
Although U.S. hospitals account for the single largest chunk of the nation’s $2.7 trillion in health spending, few of them can say how much it actually costs them to care for every patient they admit. Today, the Utah health system is one of a handful in the nation with a data system that can track cost and quality of care for every one of its 26,000 patients. Those data are shared with doctors and nurses for further input about ways to streamline cost and improve care. (USA Today)

Demand for big data gets bigger
The more health information being generated by a growing contingency of apps, devices, electronic health records, mHealth sensors and wearables, the broader and stronger the desire for that data becomes. And those are just sources of health information. What about data not traditionally considered part of health care that could be used either for or against a patient? In numerous other industries, buying habits are already widely tracked by many social media sites and used for advertising. Though some have complained this is an intrusion, nothing much has been done to prevent this type of surveillance, so far. (Healthcare IT News)

Hospitals turning to data brokers for patient information
A new report this week describes how hospitals are buying information from data brokers to determine how likely you are to get sick and what it may cost to treat you. For more on this Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg News joins Hari Sreenivasan in New York. Hari Sreenivasan: A story published a few days ago caught our attention. It described how hospitals buy information about you to determine how likely you are to get sick and what it would cost to treat you. (PBS NewsHour)

Obama to tap former chief of Procter & Gamble to clean up VA
President Barack Obama will nominate Bob McDonald — a West Point graduate and former CEO of Procter & Gamble — to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, a White House official told CNN on Sunday. McDonald would take over a troubled department. The VA, a massive bureaucracy with more than 300,000 full-time employees, is under fire as it deals with allegations of alarming shortcomings at its medical facilities. (CNN)

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

Iowa News

New medical lab functioning at former Maytag headquarters
Health Enterprises of Iowa is a nonprofit company that strives to provide select medical services in a community-based manner. HEI is jointly owned by a group of more than 20 of the state’s hospitals — including Skiff Medical Center. About two years ago, the company got the idea to build its own state-of-the-art medical laboratory so it could provide Iowans with another valuable service. Newton was chosen to house this new laboratory, and just last month, after about a year of renovation, it finally became fully active. (Newton Daily News)

Ottumwa Regional Health Center hosts ladies night
The Ottumwa Regional Health Center is putting on an event for all the ladies in the community. Dr. Elizabeth Tigges will be hosting a lecture and crafting event to talk with women about the best way to navigate life’s transitions. (KTVO)

National News

HHS sets enrollment rules for year two of Obamacare
The Obama administration proposed new rules Thursday to let most Americans with health plans in the federal health insurance marketplace be enrolled automatically in a second year of coverage, but the approach prompted swift questions about how it would work and who would benefit. Under the method proposed Thursday by federal health officials, the government will renew people in their current health plans as long as their incomes and covered family members are not changing — and as long as the plan will be offered through the federal marketplace for 2015. (Washington Post)

U.S. healthcare profit outlook brightens on Obamacare, drug prices
U.S. healthcare companies are winning higher profit forecasts, bucking a wider trend on Wall Street, as pricey new biotech drugs hit the market and insurance enrollment rises under the Affordable Care Act. Analysts’ profit expectations for the group have risen sharply since the start of the year, while estimates for most of the other nine Standard & Poor’s 500 macro sectors have fallen, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reuters)

Health Care System Needs To Prepare For Global Warming
Climate change is happening, and with that will come more deaths from heat-related illness and disease, according to a report released Tuesday. The report, spearheaded and funded by investor and philanthropist Thomas Steyer, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, examines many of the effects of climate change for business and individuals. (Kaiser Health News)

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

Iowa News

MMSC in design phase for new Toledo Clinic
Plans for the new Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center Clinic to be built in Toledo are currently in the design phase according to Liz Zuercher, MMSC vice president of Administrative Services. “Wertzberger Architects from Marshalltown (are working) on that design. Staff, administrators, physicians and nurses are all involved in that process,” Zuercher wrote in an email. She told The Chronicle groundbreaking is now expected in the spring of 2015. (The Toledo Chronicle)

Winneshiek Medical Center clinics offering reduced-rate athletic physicals for students
Families are busy with sports year round. That’s why Winneshiek Medical Center Clinic (WMC) in Decorah and its satellite clinics in Ossian and Mabel offer reduced-rate athletic physicals year-round to all area athletes for only $30. This is a reduced-rate service. If one chooses to submit the costs to insurance, the regular office fee will apply and WMC will submit it for you. The clinic encourages everyone to check with their insurance provider for benefits that may or may not be available for athletic physicals. (Bluff County News)

National News

Hospital Networks Are Leaking Data, Leaving Critical Devices Vulnerable
Two researchers examining the security of hospital networks have found many of them leak valuable information to the internet, leaving critical systems and equipment vulnerable to hacking. The data, which in some cases enumerates every computer and device on a hospital’s internal network, would allow hackers to easily locate and map systems to conduct targeted attacks. (Wired)

Healthcare spending falls despite ObamaCare enrollments
Spending on healthcare actually decreased in the first three months of the year despite the flood of enrollments in ObamaCare, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported on Wednesday. An earlier estimate of the gross domestic product (GDP) found healthcare spending had actually increased by 10 percent in the first quarter, boosting overall growth. Some experts interpreted that figure as a sign that people were using their new coverage under ObamaCare. But the final GDP report paints a far different picture, finding healthcare spending decreased and subtracted 0.16 percent from economic growth as the economy shrank by 2.9 percent. (The Hill)

Shortage Of Saline Solution Has Hospitals On Edge
Hospitals across the country are struggling to deal with a shortage of one of their essential medical supplies. Manufacturers are rationing saline — a product used all over the hospital to clean wounds, mix medications and treat dehydration. Now drug companies say they won’t be able to catch up with demand until next year. (Kaiser Health News)

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

Iowa News

Blue Zones Project Oskaloosa Announces Designated Blue Zones Restaurant
Today, Blue Zones Project® Oskaloosa announced Hunters Gifts & Coffee Café, as a Blue Zones Restaurant®. Hunters, located downtown off of High Avenue, achieved designation after completing the necessary items in the Blue Zones Restaurant pledge. The public is invited to join in celebrating their designation at Hunters on Thursday, June 26, at 11:30 a.m. Hunters fulfilled the pledge by offering freshly cut fruit as the default side with meals, serving meals on 10-inch plates and promoting healthier sandwich selections to its menu, among other things. Hunters also does not have a fryer in the kitchen, and serves patrons a glass of water upon arrival. (Oskaloosa News)

Kids try being a “Doctor for the Day”
A day at the doctor’s office can be scary when you’re young, so area physicians are changing that by offering a hands on day at the hospital. Hancock County Health System, the Iowa State University Extension and the North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) co-hosted more than 20 kids on Tuesday for their “Doctor for a Day” summer camp. The day included a trip to an exam room, the physical therapy gym and even the emergency room. Family Physician Dr. Mark Lloyd was one of the many health experts the kids had the opportunity to meet. He says that while this day is not only a good way for kids to get out of the house and keep their minds active, but he believes this will be a helpful way to keep them calm during their own trips to the doctor’s office. (KIMT.com)

National News

House, Senate begins compromise talks on vets bill
House and Senate negotiators opened compromise talks Tuesday on legislation to expand health care for veterans, and said they hope for quick response to a scandal that has uncovered long wait times, false record-keeping and accusations of criminal activity at the Department of Veterans Affairs. At their core, the bills passed by the House and Senate would allow millions of former members of the armed forces to seek health care outside the government’s veterans system if they were unable to get a timely appointment inside it. (Miami Herald)

Sick Drawn to New Coverage in Health-Law Plans
People enrolled in new plans under the health law are showing higher rates of serious health conditions than other insurance customers, according to an early analysis of medical claims, putting pressure on insurers around the country as they prepare to propose rates for next year. Among those health-law marketplace enrollees who have seen a doctor or other health-care provider in the first quarter of this year, around 27% have significant health issues such as diabetes, psychiatric conditions, asthma, heart problems or cancer, the data show. That is sharply higher than the rate of 16% for last year’s individual-consumer market over the same time frame, according to the data, which was supplied by Inovalon Inc., a health-technology firm that receives medical claims directly from nearly 200 insurers that are its clients. (The Wall Street Journal)

At These Hospitals, Recovery Is Rare, but Comfort Is Not
These facilities often are tucked out of sight, and even many doctors do not know they exist. This one sits on the edge of a decaying industrial town. “People don’t want to think about us,” said Dr. Paul Scalise, chief of medicine at the Hospital for Special Care. “I don’t want to think about us, either.” But more experts and policy makers are likely to have to start thinking about them soon. The cost of long-term acute care is substantial, about $26 billion a year in the United States, and by one estimate the number of patients in these facilities has more than tripled in the past decade to 380,000. (The New York Times)

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(From time to time, the blog features recipients of the IHA Iowa Hospital Heroes Award.  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.)

tammy johnson headshotMethodist Jennie Edmundson is proud to have Tammy Johnson, a registered nurse and Certified Breast Patient Navigator, as a part of our family.  Through Jennie’s Breast Health Center, Tammy offers patients comfort and direction at a time in their lives when neither seems to come easily.  She literally takes newly diagnosed cancer patients by the hand and gently guides them and their families through the oncology care system.

Tammy is an expert at establishing relationships with breast cancer patients and assists them in getting the health and support services they need.  Those services are not limited to the health care they receive at Methodist Jennie Edmundson. Often times, Tammy will arrange for things like consistent patient transportation to treatments or assist with various survivor programs that are located within the community.

Tammy' Johnsons Family at Pink Out 2012“The Methodist Jennie Edmundson family is so proud of the work Tammy does,” said President and CEO Steve Baumert.  “Not only for her professionalism and knowledge, but for her unique ability to communicate with patients whose lives have just been turned upside down. It is rare to find someone who is so gifted in both education and compassion.”

Tammy stands out in the local nursing profession by being the first person in the Methodist family to achieve the Certified Breast Patient Navigator designation.  She uses her experience and expertise to educate patients about their breast health concerns while striving to make each patient’s experience through the Breast Health Center a positive one.

It is Tammy’s warm, compassionate approach to people that make her uniquely effective in her position. She is a hero here at Jennie and throughout southwest Iowa.  Tammy was recently recognized as a 2013 Nurse Excellence Award winner for exemplifying the core values of the Methodist organization: patient focus, honor and respect, excellence and teamwork and service to the community.

Tammy also tirelessly gives of her time and talents by volunteering for many worthwhile causes including free local cancer screenings, the Wings of Hope Cancer Support Center, Bosom Buddies and Pink-Out events.

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