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

Iowa News

Iowa law enforcement picking up the slack for a mental health care system in transition
Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald has seen a lot in 40 years on the job. “Mental health and having beds available and treatment facilities have always been issues that are a challenge for law enforcement,” said Fitzgerald. He has seen the effects of cuts and closures, including two of the state’s run mental health facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. And now his deputies and department feel the strain daily to help the mentally ill. Jails are now overcrowding, as many patients with mental health issues are booked on a daily basis and the responsibility to handle mental health cases is falling more and more on police officers. (We Are Iowa)

Grinnell hospital may join UnityPoint, UI Health Care
A financially struggling central Iowa hospital hopes to join forces with two of the state’s biggest health care systems. Grinnell Regional Medical Center announced Monday that it is negotiating an agreement with the UnityPoint Health System and University of Iowa (UI) Health Care. Chief Executive Officer Todd Linden said the negotiations could lead to a sale of the Grinnell hospital or an agreement under which it would be managed by UnityPoint, which is based in Des Moines. The talks also could lead to a less extensive partnership. (Des Moines Register)

Eastern Iowa experts weigh in on ‘birth control blues’
It’s not news that contraceptives have negative side effects as well, such as weight gain, increased risk of blood clots and changes in sex drive and mood — but a recent revealed a link between hormonal birth control and depression in women. The study found that women taking birth control pills with a mix of estrogen and progestin were 23 percent more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants than nonusers. “It’s an interesting article, but the overall change is relatively small,” said Dr. Alan Whitters, medical director of Mercy Medical Center’s behavioral medicine department in Cedar Rapids. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

WITCC honor society holds mental health issues assembly Monday
The Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) chapter of Phi Theta Kappa held its annual convocation on Monday. This year’s convocation, dubbed “Critical Issues in Mental Health for Siouxland and Beyond,” started after students in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society drew concerns after they looked at the number of homeless in Siouxland and the ways mental health, substance abuse and poverty tie into the numbers, a press release said. Members conducted research into the issues at a local and national level, and that led them to organize the education session on the topic. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Election clouds Medicaid expansion forecast in Kansas
Medicaid expansion advocates in Kansas say they’ll move forward with legislation despite national election results that signal a repeal of Obamacare. But they are a lot less optimistic about their chances than they were before last week. “Clearly, this changes the landscape,” said Tom Bell, president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association, which maintains that expansion is critical to stabilizing the finances of several struggling hospitals across the state. (Kansas Health Institute)

Hospitals asked to boost organ donor signups
The Health Resources and Services Administration wants to see hospitals host educational events to raise awareness and register organ donors. They’re looking to add a little friendly competition, with the help of a new scorecard. Hosting educational and donation registry events would earn participating hospitals a certain number of points; at the end of the year, top scorers would be recognized by the agency and its partners. But will a scorecard actually motivate hospitals to pick up their outreach efforts? (Federal Register)

Community paramedics work to link patients with mental health care
For Kelly Kjelstrom, plugging the gaps in mental health care can mean something as simple as a late-night taco and a friendly chat. Kjelstrom is a community paramedic in Modesto, California. Part of his job is to help psychiatric patients avoid winding up in the emergency room, where they can get “boarded” for days, until they are released or a bed frees up at an inpatient facility. When the local 911 system comes upon a patient with a potential mental health crisis, these specially trained paramedics are dispatched to the scene. They’ve learned to identify problems, intervene and de-escalate the situation. (Kaiser Health News)

Insurers still discriminate against mental health care
Although a 2008 federal statute requires health plans and insurers that cover mental health and substance abuse to treat those as they do other medical conditions, these requirements remain an “unfulfilled promise,” concludes a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released this week. “Despite federal law, discrimination still exists in health insurance coverage of mental health conditions when compared to other medical conditions,” said NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti. (NAMI)

Trump puts hospitals in the intensive care unit
Hospital companies are just as miserable about the election of Donald Trump as pharma companies are ecstatic. Obamacare repeal is one Trump’s few proposals amounting to more than a detail-free promise of something huge. It’s also one of the few areas of wholehearted agreement between him and GOP congressional leadership. If and when it will actually happen, to what degree and the structure of any replacement are all unknown. But just about any move in this direction will hurt health care providers that have benefited from the law’s efforts to make health care more accessible. (Bloomberg)

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