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

Iowa News

Ebola screening ramped up locally
Des Moines-area hospitals and clinics, which are ramping up Ebola screening efforts, have started asking patients if they’ve been to West Africa in the past three weeks. If the answer was yes, and if patients had symptoms such as fever, headache and diarrhea, they would be given masks and ushered into a room while staff members donned protective clothing and contacted public-health officials. (Des Moines Register)

Health officials: ‘Be concerned about getting flu shots, not Ebola’
Outside of missionaries and reporters brought here specifically to receive treatment, the United States to date has reported three confirmed cases of Ebola, the deadly virus ravaging West Africa. But experts in Eastern Iowa and elsewhere say another condition is infecting many — fear. “People are often very affected by salient events — even if they are extremely rare,” said Jodie Plumert, professor and chair of the University of Iowa Department of Psychology. “They tend to exaggerate the effects for themselves. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Influenza is bigger threat but Mercy prepares for Ebola
Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa is preparing staff members for the possibly of Ebola in North Iowa. “Although influenza poses more of a threat to Iowans, in today’s mobile society we are taking steps to assure we are prepared — under the assumption that Ebola could occur in North Iowa,” according to the hospital spokesperson. Mercy said identifying those who are at risk is key. It has begun screening individuals who have traveled to active Ebola areas or have been in close contact with an infected individual. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

CoOportunity pulling out of Iowa Medicaid expansion plan
The insurance carrier CoOportunity Health is pulling out of an Iowa program that provides government-financed coverage to moderate-income residents. The Iowa Department of Human Services announced today that CoOportunity has decided not to continue covering participants in the Marketplace Choice Plan next year. The program is an integral part of Iowa’s version of Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Pentagon plans Ebola response team to assist U.S. hospitals
The Pentagon plans to train a 30-person response team to assist hospitals in the event of a more serious Ebola outbreak in the U.S., officials announced Sunday. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said forming the team is a “prudent measure” to assure the Defense Department can respond quickly to a domestic outbreak if needed. U.S. Northern Command will form the team, expected to include 20 critical-care nurses and five doctors specializing in infectious diseases. (Wall Street Journal)

U.S. to issue new Ebola care guidelines, watch lists to shrink
The United States will issue strict new guidelines telling American health workers to cover their skin and hair when dealing with Ebola patients, a top health official said on Sunday, while some of the dozens of people being watched for possible exposure to the virus are expected to be cleared. In Texas, a lab worker who spent much of a Caribbean holiday cruise in isolation tested negative for the deadly virus and left the Carnival Magic liner with other passengers after it docked at Galveston early on Sunday morning. (Reuters)

Georgia’s rural hospitals teeter as solutions are debated
Eight rural hospitals in Georgia have closed or downsized and another 15 are teetering on the brink of closure and could be gone in the next year or two, according to a group representing rural hospitals. While some say expanding Medicaid could help, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he is against expanding “entitlements” and would rather see more poor people get subsidies to buy private insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (August Chronicle)

Mental health issues put 34,500 on New York no-guns list
A newly created database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to roughly 34,500 names, a previously undisclosed figure that has raised concerns among some mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous. The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act. (New York Times)

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

Iowa News

Dubuque’s Mercy Medical Center introduces “Big and Loud” therapy
A new type of therapy at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque is helping patients who have Parkinson’s disease. “Big and Loud” therapy is a research-based treatment that requires stroke, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis patients to perform big, exaggerated versions of typical daily movements. (KCRG)

Radiothon for Children’s Miracle Network
Several local radio stations are making a push to help one charity make miracles happen for local children and their families. The Children’s Miracle Network is hosting a radiothon at UnityPoint Health Saint Luke’s. Listeners of KG-95, Z-98 and KISS 107.1 can pledge any dollar amount to support the Caring for Kids Radiothon. Representatives hope to raise more than $150,000 this year. (KITV)

Spencer Hospital prepared for Ebola
With two cases of Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States, Spencer Hospital and its staff are taking steps to prepare for the possibility of the virus reaching Iowa. “Ebola is scary and while at this time, our risk in northwest Iowa is quite low, we take that risk seriously as is the case with all infectious diseases,” Brenda Tiefenthaler, Spencer Hospital vice president of patient care services, explained. (Spencer Daily Reporter)

National News

Ron Klain, chief of staff to two vice presidents, is named Ebola czar
President Obama will appoint Ron Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joseph R. Biden Jr., to manage the government’s response to the deadly virus as anxiety grows over its possible spread, a White House official said on Friday. Mr. Klain, who is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political crises, will be responsible for coordinating the government’s overall response to the Ebola epidemic, including efforts to contain the virus in Africa and the response to its arrival in the United States. (The New York Times)

CDC admits to mistakes in Ebola protocol
For weeks, health officials reassured the public about Ebola, saying the nation’s health care system would contain the virus. But now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is admitting that mistakes were made, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. The CDC has gotten a lot of criticism, especially from nurses in Dallas who said they had neither the proper training nor equipment to treat Ebola patients. (CBS News)

When doctors and nurses work together
A study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has revealed that a group of doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital has been quietly working to change the culture of “defensive medicine” that so many have come to accept as inevitable. Taking a cue from the airline and defense industries, the leaders of the safety initiative trained their physician and nursing colleagues to communicate better, resolve conflict and work in teams. (The New York Times)

Poll: Most Americans confident in CDC to handle Ebola
The majority of Americans have confidence in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contain the spread of the Ebola virus within the United States, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 73 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the CDC to control the virus. That was true across party lines: 70 percent of Republicans said that they were confident in the CDC, as did 79 percent of Democrats. (The Hill)

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

Iowa News

Mercy awarded $221,000 for mental health crisis stabilization program
Mercy Medical Center-Centerville has been awarded a $221,000 grant to support the Appanoose County mental health crisis stabilization program, a program that the hospital through its association with the Appanoose County Mental Health Coalition has helped to develop. The grant is provided by the Mission and Ministry Fund of Catholic Health Initiatives, the national health care system that includes Mercy-Centerville. (Centerville Daily Iowegian)

Remembering young lives lost
It’s an incredibly emotional situation, and any parent would agree it would be devastating to lose a child. There is support for parents going through loss in Iowa.  People across the state are asked to light a candle in honor of babies who have died, and Mercy Medical Center North Iowa Birth Center is hosting an event to gather those who are grieving. (KIMT)

National News

Obama Cancels More Travel to Oversee Ebola Response, Urging ‘Aggressive’ Action
President Obama on Wednesday night canceled his planned travel on Thursday, for the second straight day, so he could stay at the White House to oversee the government’s response to the Ebola crisis, officials said.  Mr. Obama had been scheduled to travel to Rhode Island on Thursday for an economic-themed speech before continuing on to New York City to raise money for Democratic candidates in next month’s midterm elections. (New York Times)

Spike in ER, Hospitalization Use Short-Lived After Medicaid Expansion
While the Medicaid expansion may lead to a dramatic rise in emergency room use and hospitalizations for previously uninsured people, that increase is largely temporary and should not lead to a dramatic impact on state budgets, according to an analysis from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released Wednesday. (Kaiser Health News)

It’s not just Ebola; health care is pretty dangerous work
The Ebola outbreak shows that being on the front lines of disease can be particularly dangerous business for health-care workers.  More than 230 workers have died overseas trying to battle the deadly virus, and the infection of a Dallas nurse treating the first U.S. patient diagnosed with Ebola is a reminder that health-care workers put themselves at risk to treat the sick. (Washington Post)

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

Iowa News

First flu cases just confirmed in Iowa
Iowa Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday that the first cases of the flu have been confirmed in Iowa. The State Hygienic Laboratory identified three cases of influenza in the state. It’s an early start to the flu season in Iowa, officials said. They are advising all Iowans to get a flu vaccination shot now. The flu cases announced Tuesday were in Henry, Johnson and Polk counties. (KCCI)

Dubuque doctor killed in crash remembered for contributions
In addition to being an emergency medicine physician, Dr. Doug Butzier was serving as president of Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque’s medical staff and served on the hospital’s board of trustees at the time of his death. Mercy President and CEO Russell Knight said in a statement: “Dr. Butzier was one of the pillars of the emergency department for the past 17 years. His influence was felt throughout the hospital, as he led one of our key quality-improvement teams with skill, knowledge, and enthusiasm.” (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Ebola’s other toll: Food supplies threatened
Walter Gwenigale Jr. has seen Ebola firsthand. A trip to his home country of Liberia this summer brought him a clearer picture of the virus and its effects. More than 4,000 people have been diagnosed there. More than 2,300 have died. Gwenigale’s father, the Liberian minister of health, is trying desperately to fight the spread of the disease. From Des Moines, Gwenigale Jr. is doing what he can. (Des Moines Register)

Study: Iowa 13th-best state for student debt
Iowans have among the lowest levels of student debt relative to their incomes compared with their peers in other states. Iowa ranked fifth-best among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for student debt as a percentage of income, according to WalletHub’s 2014’s Best and Worst States for Student Debt. In Iowa, that percentage of student debt to median income was 34.44 percent. (Des Moines Business Record)

National News

Ebola: CDC offers rapid response to hospitals
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it will put a team on the ground at any U.S. hospital with a confirmed Ebola infection case “within hours.” “I’ve thought often about it,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient (Thomas Eric Duncan) was diagnosed. That might have prevented infection” of Texas Health Presbyterian nurse Nina Pham, who provided some of Duncan’s intensive care. (HealthLeaders Media)

Telemonitoring cuts readmissions nearly 50 percent
A Geisinger Health Plan study has found the use of remote monitoring of patients with congestive heart failure ultimately leads to as much as a 44 percent reduction in readmissions. According to MobiHealth News, the study also found remote monitoring generated a return on investment of $3.30 on the dollar. (Health IT Outcomes)

Growing economy increases Medicaid returns for some providers
With an improving fiscal climate, many states are increasing benefits for Medicaid recipients and paying their providers more. The trend is continuing into fiscal year 2015 for those who rely on Medicaid, the state and federal health insurance program for the poor, according to a survey of 50 state Medicaid programs released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Association of Medicaid Directors. (Healthcare Finance News)

Stolen medical data is now a hot commodity
This last year has been brutal in terms of breaches involving the theft of credit and debit card data. Oh sure, it’s been tough for retailers, but how has it been for criminals? With such a glut of card data on the carder market, the prices are being gutted. How are thieves supposed to turn a profit in light of this oversupply? Fear not, gentle reader! There is plenty of valuable data out there for an enterprising miscreant to sell to make the payment on his or her beloved BMW. (InformationWeek)

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

Iowa News

Obamacare is “here to stay,” GOP candidate Young says
The Affordable Care Act is a bad law, but it’s not likely to be repealed, Republican congressional candidate David Young said Monday. Young, who is running for Iowa’s Third District seat, said it might be possible to make “some tweaks here and there. But I think this law is going to be here to stay. … The president is not going to allow his keystone legislation to go by the wayside. So we’re going to have to work to make it better.” (Des Moines Register)

Spencer Hospital plans for future expansion
The Spencer Hospital is in the process of purchasing the Spencer Surgical and Laser Center, currently owned and operated by Dr. Dennis Gordy, located at 1721 W. 18th Street across from the Spencer Golf and Country Club. The purchase of the surgical center will allow for potential future expansion. The price tag will be approximately $4 million. (Spencer Daily Reporter)

Ronald McDonald House is ‘home away from home’ for many
Families of sick children are worried, tired and stressed when they arrive on the Ronald McDonald House’s doorstep. Over the past 20 years, the two-story beige house with white trim at 2500 Nebraska St. has served as a home-away-from-home for 2,500 families. Although the charity has a licensing agreement with McDonald’s, it raises nearly 100 percent of its operating budget, which is close to $400,000 annually. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Dedicated Ebola hospitals sought after nurse’s infection
U.S. and local health officials want to set up dedicated hospitals in each state for Ebola patients, part of a new emphasis on safety for health-care workers after a nurse caring for an infected patient in Dallas tested positive for the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also reconsidering its existing infection control protocols and will boost health-worker training with a series of calls and online seminars, officials said yesterday. (Bloomberg)

How the new stacks up with the old, the website for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, has been revamped as its second enrollment season approaches. But things are still complicated, since other major provisions of the Affordable Care Act are taking effect for the first time. A look at website and program changes just ahead. (Associated Press/Washington Post)

Study: Most health insurance markets highly concentrated
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. health insurance markets are highly concentrated, based on guidelines used by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to assess market competition, according to a study released yesterday by the American Medical Association. In 90 percent of the 388 metropolitan areas studied, at least one insurer had a commercial market share of 30 percent or more, and in 17 states, a single insurer’s share was at least 50 percent. (American Medical Association)

How family planning programs save taxpayers billions of dollars each year
Publicly-funded family planning services help low-income Americans avoid serious health conditions while saving billions of dollars each year, according to a new analysis — benefits that go beyond providing contraception that can prevent unintended pregnancies. Past research from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports publicly funded family programs, already found that family planning services helped prevent an estimated 2.2 million unintended pregnancies in 2010, which would have resulted in about 1.1 million unplanned births. (Washington Post)