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

Iowa News

Mental Health services in Cherokee updated
Dawn Mentzer, the Rolling Hills community services region director, updated the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors last week on developments in mental health and disability services. As of 2012, mental health and disability services in Iowa underwent a redesign process that is still ongoing. “We are almost one year into our crisis stabilization service, which is called Turning Point. It is located in Sac City and is operated by Plains Area Mental Health,” Mentzer said. She explained that the Turning Point service provides stabilization for those in a mental health crisis in order to avoid an acute care facility. (Cherokee Chronicle Times)

Vaccine bill risks health for freedom
A bill working its way through the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature casts public safety concerns aside, and relies on “freedom” as justification for putting children’s health at risk. On Thursday, a three-member House subcommittee approved a bill sponsored by Iowa Representative Ken Rizer (R-Cedar Rapids). The bill inserts a “personal conviction” clause into state law regarding childhood vaccinations. If passed, no parent will be required to vaccinate children enrolled in care facilities or public schools. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

UnityPoint Health — Fort Dodge thriving
Michael Dewerff, president and CEO of UnityPoint Health — Fort Dodge, has good news for area residents. Trinity Regional Medical Center (TRMC) has completed major enhancements in 2016 and is on course to strengthen further its ability to provide top-notch care to residents of north central Iowa. TRMC’s well-being is important for the broader community not only because of the health care it provides. The medical center is also one of the county’s largest employers. With more than 1,000 employees, it contributes roughly $63 million to the Webster County economy each year, according to data provided by officials at Trinity and the Iowa Hospital Association. (Fort Dodge Messenger)

National News

Restoration Center: San Antonio’s answer to mental health
he plan was simple: instead of arresting the mentally ill for crimes, treat them for their illness. Keep them out of the jails and emergency rooms and instead provide them with a one-stop shop where they can be treated with psychiatric care, counseling and rehabilitation. The plan in this Texas city was to help them heal. This happened in 2008 when the Roberto L. Jimenez M.D. Restoration Center opened in Texas. Since that time, close to 50,000 people have been treated, saving the law enforcement more than 100,000 manpower hours that can now be spent on the streets, and saving taxpayers more than $50 million. (Montgomery Advertiser)

Spend Virginia’s $4.5 million on mental health programs, not consultants
Social workers and other mental health advocates specifically question Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s $4.5 million budget proposal for a study and redesign of the structure of the behavioral health system that would be contracted out to consultants. The proposal was one of many intended to improve mental health services in Virginia. “I think the money needs to be spent on many things, but my priority would be … taking mental illness out of the Dark Ages,” said Alexandra Kedrock, whose son has experienced a psychiatric crisis. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kansas bill would allow Medicaid funding for mental health “clubhouse” programs
Some Kansas lawmakers hope allowing community-based rehabilitation programs to bill Medicaid for their services will help more people with mental illnesses find work. Representative Dan Hawkins, introduced a bill earlier this month that would allow the psychosocial rehabilitation programs known as “clubhouses” to claim reimbursement from Medicaid as allowed by federal law. Some states already allow clubhouses to receive Medicaid funds. Clubhouse programs are designed to supplement the medication and therapy a client receives from a community mental health center. (KCUR)

Hospital beds often unavailable for people needing psychiatric care in Massachusetts
With a shortage of facilities for patients who require intensive, in-patient mental health care in Massachusetts, people who experience urgent and sometimes dangerous psychiatric crises are often left to languish for hours in noisy emergency departments. The practice, known as “boarding,” has been recognized as a major problem in the state’s mental health care system for years, but little has been done to stop it and emergency departments continue to report long wait times for psychiatric patients. (Quincy Patriot Ledger)

Broad worries about potential health care loss
A majority of Americans worry of losing coverage if Obamacare is repealed. A new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 56 percent of U.S. adults are “extremely” or “very” concerned that many will lose health insurance if the health overhaul is repealed. That includes more than eight in 10 Democrats, nearly half of independents and more than one in five Republicans. Another 45 percent of Republicans say they’re “somewhat” concerned. Overall, Americans remain divided, with 53 percent wanting to keep the law in some form, and 46 percent favoring its repeal. (Associated Press/U.S. News & World Report)

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