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

Iowa News

When Iowa’s mental health crisis lands next door
On April 7, Mark and Charla Nicholson, and their 24-year-old daughter Tawni, had been murdered by their son Chase, who had long struggled with mental illness. The unpleasant truth is that the Nicholsons were living in a state that ranks last for state-run psychiatric beds and has reduced overall state funding for mental health treatment for years. And Chase will now be treated for his mental illness in the Iowa penal system, not the Iowa mental health system. Therein lies the tragic irony of it all: Chase is finally getting the help his family fought so hard for and, ultimately, died for. (Des Moines Register)

Lutheran Services in Iowa to host mental health event
James Guentherman has seen his share of people suffering from mental illness. And he knows there are many other such sufferers out there needing help. “A lot of people are unwilling to seek treatment for mental health problems because they do feel embarrassed or ashamed,” said the licensed mental health coordinator and service coordinator for therapy and behavioral health services at Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI). He’s hoping such people will be drawn to the LSI’s Community Mental Health event on April 25. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

National News

10 years after the Virginia Tech massacre, Virginia still falls short on mental health care
It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since the horrific day at Virginia Tech when 32 students and faculty were killed and many others were injured by a young student with untreated mental illness. At the time, Virginia’s community mental health system was stretched extraordinarily thin and was severely underfunded. After the tragedy, lawmakers responded swiftly and decisively. Although progress has been good, Virginia sits in the bottom half of states in overall ranking for mental health care per person. (Washington Post)

A crisis in rural health care puts mothers-to-be on a risky road
Financial pressures, insurance problems and doctor shortages forced more than 200 hospitals to close their birthing units between 2004 and 2014, according to the University of Minnesota’s Rural Health Research Center. That’s left millions of women of reproductive age facing longer drives to deliver babies — who sometimes arrive en route. The long drives, understandably, increase anxiety. They also make mothers and babies less safe; studies show these distances bring with them increased rates of complications and infant deaths, as well as longer stays in neonatal intensive care units. (STAT)

In Alaska, anxiety grows as debate over health care rages
Going without health insurance is a risk. Going without it in Alaska can be a gamble of a much higher order, for this is a place unlike anywhere else in the US, a land of pitiless cold, vast expanses and dangerous, back-breaking work such as pulling fishing nets from the water or hauling animal carcasses out of the woods. And yet many people on the Last Frontier do not carry insurance. In the meantime, many of those who gained coverage under the law or have affordable plans are fearful about losing their lifeline. (Associated Press/Raleigh News and Observer)

How Medicaid expansion saved one Ohioan
In four years of dealing with cancer and its consequences, Richard Cotterill, of Springdale, Ohio has relied on a good attitude, his parents, his old dog Ranger and the mechanisms of the Affordable Care Act. “Without this health insurance, my parents and I would probably be in massive debt, or I would be dead,” Cotterill said. “Some of the medicine I would need, if I did not have this health insurance, would cost thousands of dollars. And we just don’t have that kind of money.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Medicaid expansion in Kansas may come up again when legislative session resumes
Democrats are preparing for another run at Medicaid expansion when lawmakers return, hoping they can offer changes to conservatives to gain their support. But opponents vow to fight, saying there are no modifications that would win them over. The Legislature will reconvene May 1. Supporters of expansion mounted an unsuccessful effort earlier this month to override Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill that would have increased eligibility for the program. And recent news about a struggling Kansas hospital may intensify efforts to expand. (Wichita Eagle)

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