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

Iowa News

Iowans with mental illness find courage to take the stage
Hillary Hippen-Leek put out a casting call last winter for a public storytelling event about mental illness, she was overwhelmed with volunteers. Sixteen plan to take the stage Friday at the Temple Theater in downtown Des Moines. For several participants, this will be the first time they have ever talked publicly about these things. And they’ll be speaking to a full house. The 300 seats are already sold out. Friday’s event is part of a national effort encouraging people to talk openly about mental illnesses. A “This is My Brave” event was held in Iowa City last year and one is scheduled for Cedar Rapids April 22. (Des Moines Register)

Safe haven bill approved by Senate
Iowa’s Safe Haven law would be expanded under a bill approved by the state Senate yesterday. The law currently allows parents — or another person who has the parent’s authorization — to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment. Senate File 360 would expand the safe haven time period to 30 days. Also, a person could call 911 to have first responders pick up the baby. The new law would allow for the infant would be taken to the nearest health facility with no repercussions for the person relinquishing the child. (KIMT)

How Iowa’s midsize cities have been left behind
Since the recession, metropolitan areas in Iowa have grown, gathering political influence and government funding. But micropolitan areas, with 10,000 to 50,000 population, such as Clinton, Keokuk, Fort Madison and Mason City, have collectively suffered population and job loss and have not recovered as well as their larger counterparts. Eleven of Iowa’s micropolitan areas have lost jobs since 2008, and nine of them have lost population. Christine McManus of Clinton takes a free sack lunch and food bank items given by the Franciscan Peace Center. “But mental health keeps getting cut by the government, and people can’t get jobs if they have mental health problems,” she said. (Des Moines Register)

UIHC, nursing school faces nurses short
The nursing shortage has not only affected the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), the UI College of Nursing has also felt its effects in faculty. “We would like to address the nursing shortage by educating as many nurses as we possibly can, but the problem is there’s even a greater nursing-faculty shortage,” said Mary Dirks, a UI clinical professor and assistant dean for Graduate Practice Programs. UIHC has around 200 positions that are vacant or will be in the near future, said Emily Wynn, an interim co-chief nursing officer at the UIHC. (Daily Iowan)

Robotic surgery benefits colorectal cancer patients, surgeons
Back in 2000, only about 1,000 surgeries world-wide were done robotically, but since then, the number has skyrocketed. Mercy Medical Center obtained Siouxland’s first robot in 2008. Seven years later, the hospital upgraded to the da Vinci Xi, the newest surgical robot on the market. The da Vinci Si is a computer-enhanced surgical system often used for colorectal surgeries. St. Luke’s acquired its first robot, the da Vinci Si, in the fall of 2012 and added single-site technology to it in 2014. Patients who undergo robotic surgery spend less time in the hospital and recover faster. (Sioux City Journal)

Pella Regional expansion to be finished in fall
The Pella Regional Health Center (PRHC) relocated and expanded their Obstetrics Unit to accommodate for the influx of patients and the increase of births as reported since 2010. Pella Regional Health Center delivered 539 babies in the Obstetrics Unit in 2016, and births have continued to increase by more than 40 percent since 2010, according to PRHC. Plans for the new addition include seven labor rooms, three postpartum rooms and two triage rooms. (Knoxville Journal-Express)

From surgery to student: Former patient returns to UI, pursuing medical career
In 2005, New Jersey native Jesse Weiss was referred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) for a brain-related diagnosis. After staying several months in Iowa City, Jesse returned home to Glen Rock, New Jersey, but the relationships he forged during his time in Iowa City brought him back at least once a year. Those friendships and the medical care played a major role during college consideration. Jesse was recently hired by the Ronald McDonald House, and now works as a night manager in the place he once called home for two months more than a decade ago. (CBS2Iowa)

National News

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback vetoes Medicaid expansion bill
Governor Sam Brownback has vetoed legislation that would have expanded Medicaid to cover 150,000 low-income Kansans. Brownback’s veto, which was announced Thursday morning on Twitter, had been highly anticipated and comes amid speculation that he will take a job in President Donald Trump’s administration. Kansas has missed out on nearly $1.8 billion in federal aid since 2014 by not expanding Medicaid. The closure of a hospital in Independence, Kansas in 2015 was largely blamed on the state’s failure to expand the program. (Kansas City Star)

Celebration and frustration as Georgia legislative session closes
The final day of the Georgia General Assembly brought last-minute approval of some health care bills Thursday. The hospital industry was among the winners early in the session when the Legislature swiftly approved the renewal of the “provider fee,’’ a funding mechanism that draws an extra $600 million in federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program. And the industry successfully fought off challenges to the state’s certificate of need regulatory apparatus for health care facilities. Additionally, a bill that would raise the tax credit from 70 percent to 90 percent for individuals and corporations who donate money to rural hospitals was created. (Georgia Health News)

Florida universities plead for mental health funding
Florida’s universities say they need more money to hire additional mental health counselors and law enforcement officers. University officials said they’re seeing a dramatic rise in students needing help coping with anxiety, depression and academic stress. Board of Governors Chairman Tom Kuntz said the university system needs $30 million over two years to hire more than 100 mental health professionals and police officers. Its goal is two officers and one mental health counselor per 1,000 students. (Health News Florida)

Psychiatric services ‘crisis’ spurs call for reform
Psychiatric services are in a state of crisis nationwide and stakeholders across the health care industry have roles to play in fixing the multifaceted problem, the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH) says. A report released this week was prepared by the nonprofit’s Medical Director Institute and a 27-member expert panel drawn from providers, payers, government agencies and psychiatric organizations. In 77 percent of US counties, health care officials are reporting a severe psychiatrist shortage and the aging psychiatrist workforce also poses a daunting challenge. (HealthLeaders Media)

Six changes the Trump Administration can still make to Obamacare
Although Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week, that doesn’t mean the health care drama is over. “There are things the Trump administration might do that could prop up the markets, and there are things they might do that could help the markets explode, if that’s what they want to happen,” says Cynthia Cox, who studies Obamacare’s effects on private insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Making changes to regulations and how Obamacare is administered doesn’t even require Congress’ help. And those changes could make or break the health law. (NPR)

Tom Price defends proposed cuts at NIH, citing ‘indirect’ expenses
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price on Wednesday defended the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to medical research, saying that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget is plagued by unnecessary expenses. Republicans and Democrats alike questioned Price on the nature of the cuts at a health appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. Members of Congress from both parties have expressed either skepticism or flat unwillingness to support President Trump’s initial 2018 budget recommendations. (STAT)

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