Visit our website ⇒
kid-hospital-photo

A toddler gets his heart checked at Monroe County Hospital & Clinics in Albia.

A national survey that each year measures major trends affecting children’s well-being ranks Iowa as the top state for health and in the top three overall.

The 2014 Kids Count Data Book released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation lists Iowa No. 1 for health, third place for children’s economic wellness and third overall. The survey compares data from 2005 to 2012, the most recent year that statistics are available.  Iowa also moved up from seventh place to third in the nation for overall children’s well-being.

Four indicators were used to measure the health of those up to 19 years old:  low-birth weight babies, children without insurance, child and teen deaths per 100,000 and teenage abuse of alcohol and drugs.

From the Quad-City Times:

Marcus Johnson-Miller, who works in the early childhood program run by the Iowa Department of Public Health, pointed to the state’s efforts to encourage better care for low-birth weight babies.

In the past year, the state has worked on a regional system that pairs up low-birth weight babies with the hospitals that can best care for them.

In other words, he said, “High-risk deliveries are now done at the facilities that can handle the high-risk babies.”

Further, the state is examining ways to ensure that women carry their babies to full-term, or 40 weeks, he said. The rate of early elective deliveries in Iowa has at least stabilized or gone down slightly, he said.

Actually, Iowa hospitals have been working diligently to reduce the number of early elective deliveries – and with great success.  Reports from the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative show these deliveries have been reduced by more than 90 percent.

Iowa hospitals do constant work to keep children healthy, from providing free bike helmets to teaching babysitting classes to helping parents properly install child seats in their cars. Hospitals also help sponsor “safety fairs,” like this one in Vinton and this one in Iowa City.

Hospitals also work hard to make sure children are properly immunized, as the Times noted:

To Dr. Louis Katz, Iowa’s lofty ranking is because of the hard work done by many public health workers.

Katz, the longtime medical director of the Scott County Health Department, mentioned the many screening and immunization programs now available, saying that they are central to good health and finding potential medical problems early.

One example is the Flu-Free Quad-Cities initiative of Genesis Health System that offered free inoculations to almost 10,000 schoolchildren in Scott, Clinton and Rock Island counties last year.

Finally, another big reason Iowa’s children are healthier than others is insurance. The Kids Count data shows only 4 percent of Iowa children were uninsured – almost half the national average. As the Des Moines Register reported:

Iowa has long had some of the lowest uninsured rates in the nation. Marcus Johnson-Miller, who oversees early childhood programs for the Iowa Department of Public Health, noted that state officials have aggressively worked in the past few years to let parents know about options such as Medicaid and Hawk-I. The publicly subsidized insurance plans are for children from poor or moderate-income families. Johnson-Miller said the Hawk-I enrollment efforts have been supplemented this year with expansion of other types of insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The rate of uninsured children has probably declined even further since 2012, he said.

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

Iowa News

Stewart Memorial Hospital and Lake City businesses discuss health care
Business leaders in Lake City and leaders of Stewart Memorial Community Hospital held a forum this past week to focus on the changes in health care and the impact it will have along with trying to find ways collaborate and navigate the changing system. They participated in a roundtable discussion talking about ways to create better health among the area population and better health care for the communities they serve. (KCIM)

Iowa tops in the U.S. for children’s health
An annual national survey that measures major trends of children’s well-being ranks Iowa as the top state for youngsters’ health and near the top overall. The 2014 Kids Count Data Book being released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, lists Iowa No. 1 for health, third place for children’s economic wellness and third overall. The survey compares data from 2005 to 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. (Quad-City Times)

Health official: Iowa received 122 illegal immigrant children
Iowa received 122 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children during the first six months of this year, according to a federal official. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the children were released to relatives or other sponsors. None was placed in a shelter. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s spokesman said the governor had not been notified of any placements and could not get confirmation from the federal government about the home countries and circumstances of the 122 children. (Omaha World-Herald)

Spencer Hospital endowment campaign launched
The Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation has announced a fund development campaign to help sustain and enhance local health care provided at Spencer Hospital into the future. The foundation’s goal is to establish a permanent endowment fund in which the initial gifts are preserved and earnings are used to improve health care services. (Spencer Daily Reporter)

UI College of Medicine opens up tech to outside researchers
X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy may not mean much to most of us, but for scientists like Jerry Honts, it’s exciting stuff. Those are some of the high-caliber, high-dollar tools that Honts, an associate professor of cell and molecular biology at Drake University, has access to this summer during a unique program hosted by the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

National News

Federal appeals court panel deals major blow to health law
The three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with plaintiffs who argued that the language of the law barred the government from giving subsidies to people in states that chose not to set up their own insurance marketplaces. Twenty-seven states, most with Republican leaders who oppose the law, decided against setting up marketplaces, and another nine states partially opted out. The government could request an “en banc” hearing, putting the case before the entire appeals court, and the question ultimately may end up at the Supreme Court. (Washington Post)

Medicare modifies controversial hospice drug rule
In response to strong criticism, Medicare officials are modifying rules intended to prevent the agency from paying twice for the same prescriptions for seniors receiving hospice care. Under the rules that took effect in May, hospice patients or their families could not fill prescriptions through their Part D drug plans until first confirming that the prescriptions were not covered by hospice providers. Drugs related to palliative and comfort care are supposed to be covered under the fixed rate payments to the hospice. (Kaiser Health News)

How a team of doctors at one hospital boosted hand washing, cut infections
Dr. Gerald Hickson had two primary concerns after his wife’s double-knee replacement operation at Vanderbilt University Hospital in July 2008: making sure she received appropriate pain control and getting her moving as quickly as possible to avoid blood clots. But as he sat with her during her recovery, Hickson made a disturbing discovery. Most of the nurses, doctors and other hospital workers filing in and out of the room to care for his wife, who was at risk of contracting an infection after surgery, were not washing their hands. (Yahoo News)

Doctors upset over skill reviews
Besides holding a state medical license, about 75 percent of U.S. doctors are certified by 24 privately run boards, signifying that they have mastered their area of specialty, in fields ranging from internal medicine to orthopedics. The specialty boards require their physicians to pass rigorous exams, generally every 10 years, to stay certified. In recent years, those boards also have begun requiring doctors to enroll in official Maintenance of Certification programs in between exams to show they are committed to lifelong learning and quality improvement. (Wall Street Journal)

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

Iowa News

Rural Iowa hospital courts urban patients
A small-town northern Iowa hospital hopes Des Moines-area residents seeking weight-loss surgery will drive 90 miles to undergo the procedure in its new operating rooms.The Iowa Specialty Hospital in Belmond is partnering with a Des Moines surgeon to provide the operations, which reduce the size of patients’ stomachs so they can’t eat as much. The new business, called “Iowa Weight Loss Specialists,” is led by Dr. Todd Eibes, who worked at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines until earlier this year. (Des Moines Register)

Powell Center offers new recovery program for teens
Powell Chemical Dependency Center is offering a new recovery program for teens, modeled after its successful substance abuse treatment program for adults. Powell, located at Iowa Lutheran Hospital and part of UnityPoint Health-Des Moines, currently serves about 50 adults in its primary drug and alcohol treatment program. The new adolescent program is expected to serve eight to 10 teens, reviving a substance abuse program that had been previously offered through Lutheran’s behavioral health services. (Des Moines Register)

MedQuarter transformation continues in Cedar Rapids
Health and business leaders are moving ahead with plans to transform a 55-block area of Cedar Rapids just above downtown that encompasses Mercy Medical Center, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital from a place filled with concrete and parking lots into one that promotes wellness through green space and public art. And the final plan for the district, known as the MedQuarter, will help them do just that. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Iowa puts $5 million into autism program
Autism is believed to affect more than 1 percent of American children. In severe cases, children lack any speech ability and have frequent, physical outbursts. Most experts believe the main causes for the developmental disability are genetic, although environmental factors could play a role. Applied Behavior Analysis participants spend hours with therapists, who encourage any progress in speech and social skills and ignore disruptive behaviors unless they become dangerous. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Hospitals see troubles in red states that snubbed Obamacare’s Medicaid deal
While record numbers of Americans sign up for the larger Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, financial issues are emerging for medical care providers in the two dozen states that didn’t go along with the expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Reports out in the last week indicate the gap between those with health care coverage is widening between states that agreed to go along with the health law’s Medicaid expansion and those generally led by Republican legislatures and GOP governors that are balking at the expansion. (Forbes)

Busy doctors, wasteful spending
Of all the ways to limit health care costs, perhaps none is as popular as cutting payments to doctors. In recent years payment cuts have resulted in a sharp downturn in revenue for many hospitals and private practices. What this has meant for most physicians is that in order to maintain their income, they’ve had to see more patients. When you reduce the volume of air per breath, the only way to maintain ventilation is to breathe faster. (New York Times)

Doctors, nurses relying more on tablets in hospitals
At the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, doctors are just as likely to store iPads in their white coat pockets as stethoscopies. The center’s clinicians use mobile devices — tablets, smartphones, and occasionally wearable computers such as Google Glass — to access electronic medical records, both at the patient’s bedside or in the operating room. Sometimes they use the devices to show patients their X-rays or other images. (Daily Herald/Washington Post)

Any level of midlife exercise may keep dementia at bay
Two studies conducted by investigators at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, demonstrated that physical activity, whether mild, moderate, or vigorous, in midlife appeared to protect cognitively normal adults from progressing to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as they aged. In addition, any level of physical exercise appeared to prevent those with MCI from progressing to dementia. (Medscape)

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

Iowa News

New concierge approach means the doctor can see you now
An Iowa physician who was bothered by the rapid-fire pace of treating patients has started a new family practice in West Des Moines that’s among the first of its kind in the state. The biggest distinction: Concierge Medicine Iowa will serve just a few hundred patients, rather than the 3,000 to 4,000 that typically support a family medicine practice. Patients of Dr. Trae Ingram will have same-day or next-day access for appointments that last an hour if needed. (Des Moines Business Record)

Study reports fewer Americans suffering from strokes
Sioux City’s St. Luke’s hospital admits stroke patients on a weekly basis. With advancements in technology, hospitals say there are able to lower the stats when it comes to strokes. “A lot of the centers in the United States are becoming primary stroke centers that are certified, so they have the best protocols to treat strokes, and that’s one of many factors of not seeing many strokes or deaths from strokes,” said Deb Juffer, St. Luke’s stroke coordinator. (KCAU)

National News

Are hospitals responding to a health reform that hasn’t happened yet?
The money America spends on health care has been growing at a historically slow pace over the past five years. Some of the slowdown is surely due to the economy—after people lost jobs and their health insurance, they went to the doctor less. But it turns out that Medicare spending per enrollee, adjusted for inflation, has also dropped over the past three years—a sign that the deceleration in health spending is happening independently of the ups and downs of the economy and that policy changes might be at work. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

New challenge for Obamacare: Enrollees who don’t understand their insurance plans
Nonprofit organizations across the country are being swamped by consumers with questions. Many are low-income, have never had insurance and have little knowledge of the health-care system. The rampant confusion poses a potential hurdle for the success of the health law: If many Americans don’t understand how health insurance works, that could hurt their ability to use their benefits — or to keep their coverage altogether. (Washington Post)

Largest U.S. insurer’s move signals industry shift
The nation’s largest health insurer expects to play a much bigger role in the health care overhaul next year, as the federal law shifts from raising giant questions for the sector to offering growth opportunities. UnitedHealth Group said Thursday that it will participate in as many as 24 of the law’s individual health insurance exchanges in 2015, up from only four this year. (Associated Press/Washington Post)

Medical errors third leading cause of death, senators told
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s role in quality of care should be greatly expanded to reduce many more types of patient harm, several leading health care quality leaders told members of a Senate subcommittee Thursday. “There’s no reason to think what [the CDC] has been able to do around [health care-associated infections] they can’t do in other areas like venous thromboembolism and medication errors, and they can partner with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said Ashish Jha, MD, founder of the Initiative on Global Health quality at the Harvard School of Public Health. (HealthLeaders Media)

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

Iowa News

Cedar Rapids one step closer to being named a Blue Zone
The Gazette Company was announced as the 10th top community-identified worksite in Cedar Rapids to join the Blue Zones Project. The designation means Cedar Rapids has completed another step in its certification process to become a Blue Zone. The Blue Zones Project is a nationwide initiative that aims to create healthier communities by changing the environment, policies and social networks. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Medical workers say ‘golden hour’ boosted Flight 232 survivor numbers
Two factors combined to help ensure that survivors outnumbered victims in the United Airlines Flight 232 crash at Sioux Gateway Airport. David Greco, the Sioux City doctor who headed the triage unit and determined who got sent first to the hospital after the July 19, 1989, crash, said it was “incredible luck” that 300 members of the 185th Air National Guard unit headquartered nearby were participating in drills that day. Additionally, the crash occurred in daylight, which helped emergency responders find survivors in a half-mile stretch of wreckage in a cornfield. (Sioux City Journal)

Manchester hospital celebrates start of expansion project
Regional Medical Center celebrated the start of its expansion project with a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday. CEO Lon Butikofer says this is an exciting time for the hospital. RMC is breaking ground this summer on its new two-story hospital addition overlooking the Maquoketa River in Manchester. The 40,000-square-foot facility is the hospital’s single largest expansion in history. (KMCH)

Waverly Health Center prepares for RAGBRAI
For the first time in 15 years, Waverly is hosting an overnight stop. The 20,000 RAGBRAI participants will triple the size of the community. Waverly Health Center is gearing up for the town’s overnight stop. The plan is to have a first aid tent set up at Wartburg College all day Thursday and Friday morning with six people on staff at all times. Extra employees will also be on hand at the health center. (KWWL)

National News

Wisconsin releases new Medicaid enrollment numbers
More than 60 percent of the people who lost state Medicaid coverage earlier this year did not purchase private insurance through the online marketplace, according to official data released Wednesday. Gov. Scott Walker has defended his administration’s attempts to reach out to the nearly 63,000 people who lost coverage under the more limited income requirements he put in place. But the new numbers released by the Department of Health Services fueled criticism from opponents who argue it was wrongheaded of Walker to reject federal money. (Associated Press/Walworth County Today)

Hospital operator HCA touts health care reform benefits
HCA Holdings Inc. said admissions to its hospitals rebounded in the second quarter and greater-than-expected benefits from the health-care reform law contributed to sharply stronger results than estimated. “Results for the second quarter of 2014 exceeded our internal expectations, both in terms of our core operations and health-care reform,” Chief Executive R. Milton Johnson said, while raising the company’s outlook for the year as well. (Wall Street Journal)

Illinois lawmakers approve medical marijuana rules
A panel of lawmakers have signed off on rules governing Illinois’ entrance into the legalized marijuana business. On a unanimous vote, members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved a lengthy and detailed set of regulations that will guide the pilot medical cannabis program, including how and where patients will be able to get the drug. It could be next spring before the highly regulated product is ready to be sold. (Quad-City Times)

State health insurance exchanges limp toward relaunch
More than nine months since the rocky launch of the nation’s public health insurance marketplaces, the state-level exchanges are still a work in progress. Collectively, more than 8 million people have signed up through the state marketplaces and the federal site, HealthCare.gov, since their inception, according to the Obama Administration’s April tally. (InformationWeek)

The case for concierge medicine
Physicians go into medicine because they want to make a difference, and it is the daily opportunity to help patients that keeps many of them going. Yet today many worry that their contribution is diminishing, and more and more physicians are reporting burnout. Many factors are responsible: increasing productivity demands, decreasing amounts of face time with patients, and a growing awareness that they are spending more time on activities such as record-keeping that don’t enhance their patients’ health. (The Atlantic)