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

Iowa News

Why more psychiatric beds aren’t the solution
The United States is in the midst of health care reform. As a part of this reform, many states — including Iowa — are redesigning their mental health care delivery systems to provide the best patient care in the least restrictive setting. While placing mental health patients in institutions was once considered the standard of care, clinical research has proven that non-institutional, community-based care provides better patient outcomes for most patients while reducing the cost of that care. (Des Moines Register)

County seeking mental health fund changes
An unfair taxing method may occur for mental health services if the Iowa Legislature doesn’t take action to solve the funding basis. According to Jones County Community Services Administrator Deborah Schultz, the Legislature’s failure to act could change mental health funding for Jones County and other counties in the region, which could result in fewer services. Schultz attended the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to discuss fiscal year 2018 funding for mental health services within the region. (Anamosa Journal-Eureka)

SMCH Announces Participation In Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative
Stewart Memorial Community Hospital (SMCH) will be implementing changes in its clinics as part of the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative as a member of the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC). IHC and its partners will receive up to $32.5 million during the four-year initiative to provide technical assistance to help equip clinics in Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The initiative intends to increase the quality of care, patients’ access to information and help clinics spend health care dollars more wisely. (KCIM)

Spencer Hospital offering tours of new birth center
After months of anticipation, Spencer Hospital’s labor and delivery team is anxious to move into their new location on the west side of Spencer Hospital’s campus. Yet, first the public will get an opportunity to tour the new center prior to expectant moms moving in. “Just like new babies often start off as just a tiny idea then develop and grow into something wonderful, so did this project,” Jeannette Hasley, Spencer Hospital’s director of the birth center/women’s health, said. “And, after months of planning, design and construction, we’re thrilled to be moving in and opening our new birth center.” (Spencer Daily Reporter)

University of Iowa to close Sigourney clinic
University of Iowa (UI) Health Care will close its Sigourney clinic on July 27 after about 20 years of operation. “The decision was made to focus on providing specialty services for cardiology, orthopedics, pulmonary and urology in the area, with an eye toward expanding specialty care options there,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said. “It was also determined that staff from Keokuk County Health Center (KCHC) had the capacity to take on the primary care services for patients who elect to switch to KCHC’s care.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Lack of Medicaid expansion adds to stresses in Southeast Kansas county
Kansas is one of 19 states that have not expanded eligibility for Medicaid. In Kansas, only adults with dependent children are eligible for KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Sheldon Weisgrau of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved in Topeka said Montgomery County has more than 3,600 uninsured residents, including about 1,400 who would be eligible for Medicaid under expanded eligibility. (Kansas Health Institute)

Texas hospitals to get more than $9.5 million to expand health care workforce
Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University is one of nineteen organizations in the state that will receive federal funding to bolster training for health care professionals. More than $9.5 million in grants will be distributed to hospitals, health systems and other groups statewide. The awards announced Thursday are meant to help improve access to care in high-need areas, and are part of $149 million national effort of the Health Resources and Services Administration. Texas is one of several states facing a looming physician shortage and smaller counties have struggled to provide services to residents. (Dallas Morning News)

Mystery surrounds ‘micro-hospitals’ planned in Indianapolis area
A Texas company is planning to build at least four “micro-hospitals” around central Indiana but isn’t sharing many details about what to expect from the health care facilities. The micro-hospital model has been gaining popularity nationwide, and Indiana offers a good environment for them to crop up, said Brian Tabor, executive vice president of the Indiana Hospital Association. “There are a lot of models like this developing in a number of states across the country, so time will tell whether the ones we see in Indiana are similar,” Tabor said. (USA Today)

A look at rural hospital closures and implications for access to care
The number of rural hospital closures has increased significantly in recent years. This trend is expected to continue, raising questions about the impact the closures will have on rural communities’ access to health care services. To investigate the factors that contribute to rural hospital closures and the impact those closures have on access to health care in rural communities, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the Urban Institute conducted case studies of three hospital closures that took place in 2015. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

CMS previews how hospitals will fare on new star ratings
Ahead of the release of its much-anticipated star ratings for overall hospital quality, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published data Thursday showing how those star ratings are distributed according to hospital characteristics, such as size and status. The agency said it planned to post overall hospital star ratings “shortly” on its Hospital Compare website. “We hope that by releasing our analysis of the impact of the overall star rating on different types of hospitals, we are able to clarify our ratings and address any questions or concerns about the data from stakeholders.” (Modern Healthcare)

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

Iowa News

Mental health is roundtable focus
The front lines of mental health in Iowa frequently aren’t in a psychologist’s office. They’re with emergency rooms and family doctors, and that’s a concern for professionals in the field. It’s a concern for United States Representative Dave Loebsack, too. On Wednesday he met with area health professionals at what was dubbed a children’s access to mental health services roundtable. Loebsack is pushing a bill that would accelerate funding for mental health to help underserved areas hire doctors and provide access. If anything, calling southeast Iowa underserved may be an understatement. (Ottumwa Courier)

Mental health care provider offering outpatient care to address ‘growing need’
Addressing a growing need for mental health resources in the Metro, Employee & Family Resources (EFR) has announced a new outpatient therapy program. The provider has offices both in downtown Des Moines and West Des Moines. Until now, EFR only offered counseling to students and employees of schools and businesses it partnered with. In addition, care was short-term, meaning those in need could only see a counselor for one-to-six sessions, before being referred to another, long-term provider. Now, EFR will accept any and all patients who are seeking treatment for a mental illness. (WHO)

New HIV diagnoses up 27 percent in Iowa
The Iowa Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) annual HIV Surveillance Report for 2015 finds there were 124 new HIV diagnoses last year, an increase of 27 percent from the 98 cases reported in 2014. “This increase marks a return to the levels we saw in 2013 and is a reversal from the drop in cases from 2013 to 2014,” said IDPH HIV/AIDS Surveillance coordinator Jerry Harms. IDPH and its community partners are currently creating Iowa’s 2017-2021 Comprehensive HIV Plan, which will be released this fall. (Iowa Department of Public Health)

National News

Illinois hospital’s three-pronged approach to quality care
Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois is paving a path toward high-quality, efficient patient care, by taking steps to reduce stroke deaths, cut costs and promote a patient-centered model. The hospital was able to lead the charge to quality care by emphasizing three culture changes: a culture of performance improvement, a culture of health care innovation and a culture that focuses on patient-centered care. (Fierce Healthcare)

Crew resource management training improves perceptions of safety in Ohio
Two years of training on team communication, leadership and decision-making practices raised the perception of a culture of safety among employees of one Ohio medical center. A study found that crew resource management (CRM) is one way to improve the perception of a culture of safety by hospital employees. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is an academic medical center with more than 1,300 beds. Two years after implemented CRM at its six hospitals and two campuses, employees’ perceptions of the organization’s patient safety culture showed improvement. (HealthLeaders Media)

Further Medicaid expansion depends on elections in 2016
Voters’ decisions in this fall’s elections could determine Medicaid expansion in three key states. Of the 19 states that haven’t expanded the program, three—Missouri, North Carolina and Utah—will elect a governor in 2016. Medicaid expansion was introduced as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and makes states eligible to receive increased federal funding for Medicaid services. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court said the federal government cannot require states to expand Medicaid, and the expansion became optional. But election of a new governor can make a difference in states grappling with expansion. (Bloomberg)

How are telemedicine companies aiding medical boards for proper use?
Some may not be happy with the pace of change surrounding health systems, especially since a lot of the change involves adopting telecommunications technology for remote treatments and diagnoses – also known as telemedicine. Generally, in the telemedicine industry there needs to be an understanding of guidelines and standards around the proper use of telemedicine. But the regulatory landscape of telemedicine can be tricky. State medical boards generally work with experts in a medical specialty to determine best practices for providing quality care using evidence-based research. (Healthcare Dive)

Costs of Zika among the many unknowns of the virus
History buffs and infectious disease experts have already drawn links between the rubella outbreak in the 1960s and the current spread of Zika. But drugmakers today face greater regulatory hurdles and the federal government has yet to dedicate funding to address the Zika epidemic. That means a vaccine and successful methods to stop transmission of the virus may be a long time coming — factors that affect how much the U.S. may end up spending on combating and dealing with the effects of the disease. (Modern Healthcare)

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

Iowa News

Celebrating 100 years: Cherokee Regional Medical Center
When Cherokee Regional Medical Center (CRMC) first opened, Hawaii and Alaska weren’t states yet, the Great Depression was still about 12 years away and the United States still hadn’t entered World War One. But since 1916, the hospital, back then named Sioux Valley Hospital, has been a part of the Cherokee Community for a century expanding and evolving into much more. Sioux Valley Hospital first opened its doors in July of 1916 and through the years has grown into a multi-building center serving the greater Cherokee community. To commemorate the century of medicine at this rural health care institute CRMC is throwing a celebration one hundred years in the making. (KMEG)

Finley to open three new clinics in August
Dubuque is going to have more health care options very soon as Unity-Point Finley Hospital prepares to open three new clinics on August 1. One urgent care clinic will open in Asbury Square off of JFK Road. Two more clinics will open at 4170 Pennsylvania Avenue. A fourth clinic, which will provide urgent care, will open October 1 on University Avenue. One clinic will focus on family medicine and the other is for women’s health. UnityPoint CEO David Brandon says they are opening the clinics because they realize there is a shortage of care in Dubuque. (KCRG)

National News

Report estimates impact of expanding Medicaid eligibility in remaining states
About 4.8 million uninsured adults would become eligible for Medicaid coverage if the 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act did so in 2017, according to a new report by the Urban Institute. Depending how successful states were at enrolling the newly eligible, the number of uninsured would fall by 4.1-5.0 million, the report estimates. The unemployed, African Americans and part-time workers would see the largest percentage increases in coverage. The report estimates the impact on the uninsured rate in each of the 19 states. (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

A kid-first approach to community health in North Carolina
In 2007, Reverend Richard Joyner founded the Conetoe Family Life Center in North Carolina, a nonprofit with a focus on youth development and improving health. “We have found that we can change the children by education and opportunity, and that equals change for the whole family,” relayed Joyner. One focus was partnering with area hospitals to decrease inpatient readmissions and emergency room visits. Through initiatives like smoking cessation classes, cooking classes, health fairs and lay health coaching, the center strives to make positive health improvements for area residents. (Rural Monitor)

A children’s hospital is using ‘Pokémon GO’ to help kids stay active
A children’s hospital in Ann Harbor, Michigan has jumped on the “Pokémon GO” bandwagon. CS Mott Children’s Hospital recently began using the augmented-reality app to help kids who spend most of their days bedridden find new reasons to roam the hospital floor. When they aren’t receiving treatment, the young Pokémon masters can check out local pokéstops (a Big Bird statue is a popular one) and battle at Pokémon gyms. Less than two weeks since its July 6 release, experts already agree that “Pokémon GO” does wonders for people’s mental health. (Tech Insider)

Tackling workers’ mental health, one text at a time
As employers seek to reduce the costs of untreated mental illness among staffers, more companies are trying mobile apps that help workers easily find and receive treatment. Some apps mine data about employees’ phone usage, or medical and pharmaceutical claims, to determine who might be in need of care. Others allow workers to text and video chat with therapists—in what are being called “telemental” health services. (Wall Street Journal)

Hospitals, systems play critical leadership role in boosting our national health security
America’s hospitals and health systems must be prepared for anything, but as the range of threats to health in communities becomes broader and the threats hit more quickly and frequently, provider organizations will need to play bigger roles in heading off problems before they spiral into crises. For hospitals and health systems, no single domain is more relevant than health care delivery. When under crisis conditions, hospitals must continue to deliver efficient, high-quality care, which not only serves patients but protects communities. (Modern Healthcare)

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

Iowa News

Medicaid forum reflects system issues
Kathy Alexander’s daughter, who requires specialized care, was on Medicaid when Iowa privatized the program April 1 and switched to a managed care model. It wasn’t a smooth transition for the Council Bluffs girl. “For a month, she had no primary care at all,” because her primary physician and specialists had contracted with different managed care organizations, Alexander said at a Medicaid forum Thursday at The Center hosted by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and Representative Charlie McConkey (D-Council Bluffs). (Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil)

Painkiller, heroin epidemic draws governors’ resolve
Governors gathered in Des Moines vowed Friday to rein in the rampant abuse of prescription painkillers, heroin and other narcotic drugs. “Our states and our country are in the midst of a heroin and opioid crisis that is the most serious public health and public safety issue of our time,” New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan told reporters at the National Governors Association conference. Hassan, a Democrat, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, led a discussion of the topic with 14 other governors Friday afternoon. (Des Moines Register)

Genesis team first In U.S. to use new stent
Dr. Nicolas Shammas and a catheterization team at Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street inserted a new vein stent for the first time in the United States last Thursday. Before Thursday, Shammas said he would have used a stent designed for heart procedures and adapted it for use to open blood flow in the leg vein. Instead he became the first cardiologist in the U.S. to use the Bard Venovo venous stent specifically designed for leg veins. Shammas was the third cardiologist in the world to use the Venova scaffolding in a clinical trial. (Dispatch/Rock Island Argus)

Mercy Medical Center chef aims to please patients, help fight food insecurity
Daniel Dennis’s whole family has worked in health care. His dad was a longtime doctor at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids and his sister is a nurse. So it made sense for him to one day work at Mercy, too. But Dennis, 33, is caring for people in a different way — he’s the hospital’s new head chef. The hospital has made a big push to purchase local produce, dairy and meats over the past several years. Dennis is also helping organize a July 30 event outside NewBo City Market that focuses on food insecurity. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

With two weeks left, Connecticut Medicaid transition reaches 26 percent
Over the last two weeks, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has helped another 1,400 low-income individuals transition from their state-sponsored Medicaid plans as they prepare to lose them after July 31. State lawmakers approved legislation two years ago that would make eligibility levels more stringent for parents and caregivers on HUSKY A, which is the state-sponsored Medicaid program for low-income children, parents and caregivers. The change in the eligibility level will cause about 14,000 parents and caregivers to lose coverage at the end of July. (CT Mirror)

New federal grants to help train rural doctors to fight addiction
The Obama administration is committing $9 million to rural health officials in three states that are testing the waters of telemedicine as they try to stem the rising tide of overdose deaths. The latest set of federal grants, which was announced at a meeting of the National Governors Association, will go to Oklahoma, Colorado and Pennsylvania over the next three years. All three states have committed to using a telemedicine-style training program to help expand treatment in areas that have been historically underserved by health care providers. (The Hill)

Sometimes tiny is just the right size: ‘Microhospitals’ filling some emergency room needs
Eyeing fast-growing urban and suburban markets where demand for health care services is outstripping supply, some health care systems are opening tiny, full-service hospitals with comprehensive emergency services but often fewer than a dozen inpatient beds. These “microhospitals” provide residents quicker access to emergency care and they may also offer outpatient surgery, primary care and other services. They are generally affiliated with larger health care systems, which can use the smaller facility to expand in an area without incurring the cost of a full-scale hospital. (Kaiser Health News)

Mobile devices speed and streamline pre-hospital care
Smartphones and tablets often come with the promise that advanced technology and more powerful cellular networks will lead to better connections and faster streaming video. But those promise could mean a lot more in a medical emergency. Clearer pictures and reliable connectivity are making telemedicine more mobile and more reliable. The result: better tools for pre-hospital providers and the emergency department teams they work with. (HealthLeaders Media)

Wellness programs take aim at workplace stress
Stress has long been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a number of mental health problems. And a recent poll finds that a substantial number of working adults say stress is a critical health issue they face at work. Fifty-one percent of the people in the poll said their workplace has a formal wellness or health improvement program. Such plans might include weight management, diet and nutrition, exercise, gym discounts, quit-smoking programs, assistance with alcohol or drug rehabilitation or disease-management programs for diseases like asthma or diabetes. (Iowa Public Radio)

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

Iowa News

Medicaid managers are slow to pay bills, agencies say
Iowa’s shift to private management of its Medicaid program continues to spark complaints, especially from agencies that provide services to the 560,000 Iowans covered by the public insurance. Many agency leaders say they’re going into debt because many of their bills continue to be rejected for trivial or unclear reasons, more than three months after private firms took control of Iowa’s Medicaid program. (Des Moines Register)

Providers’ Medicaid nightmare becomes reality
Governor Terry Branstad insisted his plan to privatize administration of Medicaid would save the state money. It made no sense that handing billions of public dollars to for-profit companies would miraculously reduce spending in the health insurance program for 560,000 Iowans. His administration provided no meaningful details about how savings would be achieved. The public was just supposed to have faith and hope for the best. Now perhaps it is becoming clear how the Medicaid belt will be tightened: by not paying health care providers for services. (Des Moines Register)

Future of health care is here in Iowa
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell visited UnityPoint Health in Fort Dodge last week which is leading the way on providing quality care to people in rural communities. It’s an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and it’s found it can lower health costs while offering patients better care. People who visit and ACO like UnityPoint are less likely to experience duplicative tests because their health care providers communicate with each other. ACOs also check up on their patients. (Des Moines Register)

Area hospitals are not the place to go to treat your Pokemon fever
Officials from the two major Quad Cities health systems are thrilled people are getting more exercise through the explosive popularity of the Pokemon Go craze. But they would rather players steer clear of area hospitals and clinics in their quest to “catch ’em all.” UnityPoint Health Trinity and Genesis Health System sent out a rare joint press release urging Pokemon players to be respectful of people trying to get well and medical personnel’s working environment. (WQAD)

National News

Medicaid expansion covers nearly 500,000 Ohioans for mental health, drug treatment
Nearly 500,000 low-income Ohio adults, most of them uninsured, received mental health and addiction services under the state’s hard-fought Medicaid expansion. About 100,000 of the new beneficiaries have severe mental illnesses, including psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Terry Russell, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio, said Medicaid expansion gave many people access to care for the first time in their lives. (Columbus Dispatch)

Applications for Florida telehealth taskforce rolling in
A committee tasked with investigating the best way to implement telemedicine in Florida is starting to take shape. Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) has sponsored bills setting up a regulatory framework for the service of telemedicine for several years. The practice involves doctors diagnosing patients from a distance, usually using webcam technology. With the passage of a law this year though, those decisions have been largely delegated to a panel of 19 experts within the Agency for Healthcare Administration. Senator Bean said applications for a spot on the board are rolling in. (Health News Florida)

More hospital patients can access medical records, perform key tasks online
Hospitals are offering individuals more electronic access to their medical information than ever before, according to a new American Hospital Association (AHA) TrendWatch report highlighting patient access-related results from the AHA Annual Survey Information Technology Supplement. For example, 92 percent of hospitals last year offered patients the ability to view their medical records online, up from 43 percent in 2013; 84 percent allowed patients to download information from their medical record, up from 30 percent in 2013 and 70 percent allowed a referral summary to be sent to a third party, up from 13 percent in 2013. (TrendWatch)

AMA guidelines offer roadmap for ethical use of telemedicine
Following two years of debate, the American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted ethical guidance on how doctors should interact with patients when they do so through telemedicine, rather than in a medical office or hospital. AMA’s House of Delegates guidelines approved the addition of the ethical guidelines on the practice of medicine to the group’s constitution and bylaws on June 13. By providing guidance on key ethical issues in telemedicine, AMA is offering telehealth providers a clear framework for negotiating the digital doctor-patient landscape. (Healthcare Dive)

Hopes dime for mental health deal
Hopes are dimming for passage of a mental health bill in the Senate this year. The House this month overcame years of delay to pass a mental health reform bill on a broad bipartisan vote, but a tougher battle has emerged in the Senate over the politics of guns. Senate staff in both parties have told lobbyists that legislation offered by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) may have to wait until 2017, particularly given a closing legislative window to get anything done. (The Hill)