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

Iowa News

State warns about misleading insurance ads
Iowans looking at annuities and other insurance products should be wary of potentially deceptive advertisements, a state agency said this week. The Iowa Insurance Division has seen more marketing companies that work with insurance firms use misleading ads to try to attract customers, the division said in a bulletin. Those ads, the division said, give a false sense of the payout consumers could receive from products such as annuities, which provide a steady stream of income after an initial investment period. (Des Moines Register)

Concerns growing over future of EMS service in rural Iowa
In the state of Iowa, police and fire services are considered essential – no matter where you live. EMS services are not. In theory, that means if you call 911, a paramedic is not guaranteed to show up. It’s not a state law. Of course, they do but in many parts of rural Iowa, they say they’re worried about the future of EMS services. A forum in Floyd County Thursday about rural ambulance service showed concerns about fewer volunteers, increased costs, and longer ambulance runs. (KWWL)

New coating, researched in Iowa, could make hospitals safer
A research team at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is preparing to present a new coating that could make hospitals safer for patients and doctors. The coating has small silver particles that actively kill bacteria and fungi on hospital surfaces. The researchers say it works like spray pain and would stay on surfaces months after being applied. (KGAN)

Mercy Iowa City wins Blue Zones challenge
An Iowa City hospital is number one when it comes to keeping people healthy and it’s all about the timing. The Blue Zones Project will be presenting a trophy to Mercy Hospital in Iowa City Thursday for being the first ever winners of the Time to Move Walking Challenge. Iowa City organizations told their staff to clock the number of minutes they walked every day for two weeks. In the end, Mercy came out on top, walking, a combined more than 12,000 miles. (KGAN)

The consequences of CPR
Three years ago, Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City made Five Wishes available for patients and their families. The document, which acts as a legal living will for anyone over the age of 18, is changing the way people talk about and plan for end-of-life care. More than 18 million copies of Five Wishes are in circulation across the nation, distributed by more than 35,000 organizations. Five Wishes meets legal requirements in 42 states including Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Administration: 7.3M now enrolled in Obamacare
A total of 7.3 million people were paid enrollees in ObamaCare by the end of the summer, the head of the federal health care program said Thursday. Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), provided the latest enrollment figures during a hearing of the House Oversight Committee. The figure represents a drop-off of about 700,000 people from the Obama administration’s initial enrollment estimate this spring. (The Hill)

How much money do we waste on useless health care?
“States where the incidence of diabetes is high,” Louise Sheiner argues in her paper, “are likely to be in worse health, on average, than in states where the incidence of diabetes is low.” Armed with this data, Sheiner argues that the Dartmouth Atlas has made the task of cutting health-care spending seem too easy. She says it explains why, even 16 years after the Atlas launched, the high-spending states haven’t become more like the low-spending states. “Cross state variation isn’t telling us much,” Sheiner says. “I don’t say we can’t cut spending, but I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as Dartmouth has suggested.” (Vox)

CDC: Hospitals, others increase worker flu vaccinations
An estimated 90 percent of hospital workers report receiving a flu vaccine for the 2013-14 flu season, up from 83 percent in 2012-13, according to a survey released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coverage for health care workers in all settings was 75 percent, up from 72 percent in 2012-13. Coverage was 98 percent among workers in hospitals requiring vaccination, compared with 80 percent in those that promoted but did not require vaccination. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

U.S. aims to curb peril of antibiotic resistance
The Obama administration on Thursday announced measures to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, outlining a national strategy that includes incentives for the development of new drugs, tighter stewardship of existing ones, and improvements in tracking the use of antibiotics and the microbes that are resistant to them. (New York Times)

For decades, organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes have been promoting the importance of full-term pregnancies – those naturally reaching at least 39 weeks gestation – yet early elective deliveries in many states account for 10-15 percent of all deliveries.

Numerous studies show early elective deliveries are associated with increased maternal and neonatal complications for both mothers and newborns, compared to deliveries occurring beyond 39 weeks and women who go into labor on their own.

Babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have feeding and breathing problems and infections that can result in admissions to neonatal intensive care units than those who are born later, studies show.  The elective deliveries can also cause developmental problems that show up years after birth.  Inducing labor early also carries risks for mothers because it increases the chances they will need cesarian sections.

Decreasing the rate of early elective deliveries means more mothers get safe, evidence-based care and infants improve their chances for good physical and developmental health.  Additionally, it means lower costs for public and private payers because they’re performing less caesarian sections for failed inductions, they have less neonatal intensive care unit admissions and less associated complications for the newborns.

In Iowa, hospitals and physicians working through the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative and the national Partnership for Patients initiative have made a concerted effort to reduce early elective deliveries.  In fact, “hard-stop” policies implemented by Iowa hospitals have all but eliminated such deliveries, as the video below discusses.


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

Iowa News

Enterovirus still sickening Iowa kids, but no epidemic
A nasty virus continues to sicken Iowa children, but it does not appear to be causing a major epidemic here, officials said Wednesday. “We’re hearing about respiratory illnesses across our state, but we’re not hearing that any of our health care communities are overwhelmed with cases,” said Ann Garvey, deputy state epidemiologist. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa doctor returns from helping fight Ebola outbreak
An Iowa doctor who has been working with the Iowa Health Department has just returned from assisting with the Ebola outbreak in Africa. He spent almost a month in Sierra Leone working with the Centers for Disease Control. His job was to help track Ebola patients. Many go into hiding because they are afraid once they leave for the hospital, they will never return and their family won’t know what happened to them. (KCCI)

No severe cases of respiratory virus seen in Siouxland
Health officials believe a virus causing respiratory illness in more than 10 states is likely present in Siouxland but that people hit with it have had only mild cases. The enterovirus D68 has sickened people, especially children, through the Midwest and the South. There have been some confirmed cases in central Iowa, but none in the Sioux City area. (Sioux City Journal)

County’s transition to mental health region on track
Jasper County’s transition into folding its mental health services into the Central Iowa Community Services Region is going smoothly, according to Jody Eaton, who informed the Jasper County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The region was formed after the state mandated all mental health services be conducted through a regional format to ensure all Iowans receive adequate coverage and was operational by the 2013-2014 fiscal year. (Newton Daily News/IsuranceNewsNet)

National News

Report: Hospitals spend average 12.3% of expenses on community benefits
According to a new analysis by Ernst & Young, not-for-profit hospitals spent an average 12.3 percent of their total expenses on benefits to their communities in 2011, an increase from 11.5 percent in 2010. AHA worked with Ernst & Young to collect and analyze the data from 587 Schedule Hs to better understand the diverse ways hospitals serve their communities. The results are based on information from hospital and health care systems and single hospitals of varying size for the most recent tax year for which data is available. (American Hospital Association)

Coverage gap leaves rural Tennessee hospitals on life support
Four rural hospitals have closed and dozens are at risk of shuttering: That’s the fallout, some say, from Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision not to join the Affordable Care Act in 2013 and tap into millions in promised federal funds for Tennessee’s financially-strapped health care institutions. Of some 125 hospitals statewide, three facilities closed in West Tennessee since the governor rejected conventional Medicaid expansion. (Memphis Daily News)

High cost to states not expanding Medicaid
Evidence continues to mount to support the importance of each state developing a plan that takes advantage of expanded federal funding to provide health insurance for low-income individuals. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute published a study in August titled, “What Is the Result of States Not Expanding Medicaid?” The study examined the 24 states that have so far refused to consider Medicaid expansion. (Wichita Eagle)

End-of-life care needs sweeping overhaul, panel says
The country’s system for handling end-of-life care is largely broken and should be overhauled at almost every level, a national panel concluded in a report released on Wednesday. The 21-member nonpartisan committee, appointed by the Institute of Medicine, the independent research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, called for sweeping change. “The bottom line is the health care system is poorly designed to meet the needs of patients near the end of life,” said David M. Walker, a Republican and a former United States comptroller general, who was a chairman of the panel. (New York Times)

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

Iowa News

Mercy-Sioux City hosts Iowa Hospital Association forum
The hospital hosted the Iowa Hospital Association forum at its downtown campus, with the goal of raising awareness about the quality of care provided by Iowa hospitals to the local community and local businesses. “They’re kind of the three legs of the stool that they all work together and integrate well together to achieve the results not only business and industry are looking for, for their employees, but all individuals,” said Mercy Medical Center’s Dave Smetter. (KMEG)

UI officials say police presence at UIHC helps with workplace safety
If you’ve spent time in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics emergency room, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a UI police officer making their presence known. That’s because, nearly two years ago, the UI Department of Public Safety began posting on-duty officers in the emergency room to quell violent behavior that can accompany the high-stress atmosphere often found in an emergency room setting. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Number of gamblers jumps in Iowa
The number of Iowans who gamble jumped 9 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to a study published Tuesday. People dealing with substance abuse or mental health issues were more likely to be at-risk for “problem gambling,” the study also showed. In 2013, more than 78 percent of adults said they had gambled in the past 12 months, according to the report. That was up 9 percent from the 2011 study. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Uninsured rate decreases sharply as Obamacare kicks in
The ranks of the uninsured plummeted in early 2014, as millions gained health insurance coverage through Obamacare, new government data released Tuesday found. There were 41 million Americans lacking coverage in early 2014, down from 44.8 million last year, according to the National Health Interview Survey, the first official government look at the uninsured after Obamacare policies kicked in on January 1. The uninsured rate fell to 13.1 percent, from 14.4 percent. (CNN/WHO-TV)

Wisconsin needs $760 million more for Medicaid
The state is already projected to have a nearly $1.8 billion shortfall heading into the next budget, without taking into account new expenses like the additional request for Medicaid. Walker rejected accepting money under the federal health care overhaul law to help pay for Medicaid expansion, and instead tightened income eligibility while also broadening the program to include everyone at poverty level. (Associated Press/Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Enterovirus cases investigated in 12 states
Respiratory illnesses caused by an enterovirus are sending hundreds of children to hospitals throughout the Midwest and Southeast, health officials say. Twelve states are reporting clusters of enterovirus illness: Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Utah. Six of those states — Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa — have confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68. (CNN)

President announces new resources to fight Ebola in West Africa
President Obama has announced new resources to confront the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. These include an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces who will be stationed in Liberia to help coordinate relief efforts, build additional Ebola Treatment Units, and establish a site to train up to 500 health care providers per week. (The White House)

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

Iowa News

Floyd Valley to offer flu clinics
Influenza season is right around the corner and folks are encouraged to protect themselves. Flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February — but it can start as early as October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts note the best protection against contracting influenza is obtaining a flu vaccine. Floyd Valley Community Health Service is getting on board again this year to help that cause. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

How to get your brain in gear
Just because you’re not getting on the school bus each day doesn’t mean you should stop flexing what is arguably the most important muscle — your brain. You help your heart by eating right and working out, you love your lungs by not smoking — and you benefit your brain by flexing it with exercises. “Really, the health of your brain is a full-body issue,” said Valerie Stickel-Diehl, a case manager at the Ruan Neuroscience Center at Mercy Medical Center. One of her roles is to provide information for patients with any brain-related diagnosis. (Des Moines Register)

Dr. Travels from Africa to Iowa to talk Ebola
An Epidemiologist who has been working to battle the outbreak with the CDC in Sierra Leone is on his way to Iowa. Dr. Samir Koirala will be meeting with the Iowa Department of Health on Wednesday to explain the conditions there and tell Iowa health leaders what he’s seen the virus do in West Africa. (KGAN-TV)

National News

Number of Americans Without Health Insurance Falls, Survey Shows
Federal researchers reported on Tuesday that the number of Americans without health insurance had declined substantially in the first quarter of this year, the first federal measure of the number of uninsured Americans since the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to millions of people in January. (The New York Times)

Challenges for Obamacare ahead of second open enrollment
The Obamacare open enrollment season begins in just two months. While is unlikely to melt down like last year, consumers still may face some complications. Getting those who signed up this year enrolled again for 2015 won’t be as easy as it might seem. And the law’s interaction between insurance and taxes looks like a sure-fire formula for confusion. (CBS News)

Administration threatens to cut off Obamacare subsidies to 360,000
The Obama administration announced Monday it will cut off tax subsidies to about 360,000 people if they do not offer proof of their income in the next two weeks. Officials will send final notices this week to individuals who signed up for ObamaCare with income levels that didn’t match government records. The announcement marks the administration’s first move to tackle the politically charged issue of income verification, which has remained a key GOP argument against the healthcare reform law. (The Hill)