Visit our website ⇒

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

Iowa News

Mercy-North Iowa to be part of health information network
Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City is one of several health care providers that will be going live with a significant feature of the Iowa Health Information Network (IHIN), the Iowa Department of Public Health announced on Wednesday. IHIN is Iowa’s secure health information exchange. The feature is Patient Query, which enables authorized users to query secure electronic patient information for treatment purposes. This allows health care providers access to relevant patient information where and when it’s needed in real-time. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

Fund for school-based health clinics reaches $1M mark
Leaders from Mercy Hospital and the Iowa City Community School District on Wednesday celebrated surpassing the $1 million mark in donations for the district’s school-based health clinics. The clinics’ Healthy Kids Endowment fund now holds about $1.26 million for funding Healthy Kids Community Care Clinics in district schools that offer primary, mental health and dental care to underserved and uninsured populations, according to district and hospital leaders. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Mercy-Clinton oncology center brings treatment home
Oncology-certified nurse Beth Wirth said that without the options provided by the Mercy Oncology Center in Clinton, area breast cancer patients would have to drive for hours to receive treatment. “Our patients can have their treatment and continue with their daily lives,’’ Wirth said. “Many come on their lunch breaks or in the middle of the afternoon.” (Clinton Herald)

National News

After Ebola patient cured, Nebraska hospital takes cautions anew
Inside the seventh-floor biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center where Ashoka Mukpo’s life was saved, medical crews worked, gingerly, to remove any lingering trace of the lethal virus. They incinerated pounds of infectious waste. Their gowns and head coverings, and loose papers and personal belongings left over from their patient, were being decontaminated with blasts of high-pressure steam. For 48 hours, the 10-bed unit — the largest of its kind in the United States — will sit dormant as doctors hope for any remnants of the Ebola virus to dissipate on their own. (Boston Globe)

States to actively monitor all travelers from Ebola-outbreak countries
Public health authorities will begin active post-arrival monitoring of travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced. Beginning Monday in six states and later in others, travelers without febrile illness or symptoms consistent with Ebola will be followed up daily for 21 days from the date of their departure from West Africa. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

As virus spreads, insurers exclude Ebola from new policies
As the fear of Ebola spreads to developed economies, U.S. and British insurance companies have begun writing Ebola exclusions into standard policies to cover hospitals, event organizers and other businesses vulnerable to local disruptions. As a result, new policies and renewals will become costlier for companies opting to insure business travel to West Africa or to cover the risk of losses from quarantine shutdowns at home, industry officials told Reuters. (Reuters/Baltimore Sun)

Hospital patients rarely wash their hands, may spread disease
Although health care workers are urged to wash their hands often and hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere in hospitals, patients are less scrupulous and may be contributing to the spread of hospital-acquired infections, say Canadian researchers. After tracking hundreds of patients in a transplant ward for nearly a year, the study team found that hand washing followed less than a third of bathroom visits, and washing or hand-sanitizer use happened only rarely after patients entered or left a room. (Reuters/Business Insider)

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

Iowa News

Iowa’s hospitals work diligently to be ready for Ebola
The emergence of the Ebola virus in the U.S. has heightened awareness of all hospitals and health care workers about the importance of following strict infection control procedures. Throughout both Iowa and the nation, now is the time to share collective wisdom to stop Ebola from spreading further. (Des Moines Register)

Health officials monitor Ebola, update preparedness plans
Officials stressed on Tuesday that it is highly unlikely that Cedar Rapids hospitals will have to treat a patient with Ebola. But in the off chance that they do, they’ll be ready. “We wish to ensure the community that hospitals are working in partnership with (public health departments) to address any issues,” said Pramod Dwivedi, Linn County Public Health director. “The likelihood is small, but we are prepared.”

U.S.: West Africa travelers must arrive at select airports
The following questions about Ebola were answered by Dr. Loreen Herwaldt, the hospital epidemiologist for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

First flu of season spotted
A definite number is not available because the disease does not have to be reported when diagnosed by doctors or laboratories, said Tara Geddes, Floyd Valley Community Health manager. She estimates that in Floyd Valley Hospital and clinics alone, there have been three to four cases of influenza identified. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

Flu the real threat to the bottom line
Although the nation is preoccupied with the Ebola threat, another type of virus is much more likely to cause billions of dollars in lost productivity, according to the CEO of global outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. “We are far more likely to see a flu outbreak, which certainly is mild when compared to Ebola,” John Challenger said in a release. “However, the impact on business can be anything but mild.” (Des Moines Business Journal)

National News

Ebola outbreak: Get up to speed with the latest developments
Texas Health Presbyterian admits fault. A hospitalized cameraman is Ebola-free. And the U.S. Ebola czar starts his new job. With multiple developments under way, here’s the latest on the Ebola outbreak. (CNN)

Still wrong Ebola Rx
Texas Health Presbyterian, a highly regarded 900-bed Dallas hospital, couldn’t handle Ebola. Why is the CDC betting on other hospitals to fare better? A safer strategy would be to expand capacity at the nation’s four bio-containment hospitals, which have treated Ebola patients successfully without the virus spreading to a single health-care worker. (New York Post)

AHA, nursing groups collaborate to protect patients and hospital workers
In a blog post yesterday, American Hospital Association (AHA) CEO Rich Umbdenstock discussed how hospitals are working to keep staff safe. “The evolution of our knowledge about Ebola, based on the experiences of the brave nurses, doctors and other caregivers who have cared for patients, is leading to better protocols for all hospitals,” he wrote. “Nurses with their expertise are an integral part of putting the best protocols into practice in order to keep our patients and the health care workforce safe.” (American Hospital Association)

Could virtual care heal the health system?
How many times have you been sick and tried to get an appointment with your doctor, only to find out that he or she had no openings for the next three days? Or maybe you got sick over a weekend or in the middle of the night, when your doctor’s office was closed, and had to make your way to an emergency room or urgent care clinic, where you then had to wait for hours before a physician could see you. (Wired)

Health care’s age of enlightenment
Copernicus was the initiator of the Scientific Revolution. In turn, a result of the Scientific Revolution was the Enlightenment. The health care providers who have over-achieved on the Triple Aim have in common what can be called their Copernican Moment. That is, the recognition that when the individual (aka the patient…not the provider) is at the center of the healthcare universe, the system realizes its full potential. (Forbes)

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

Iowa News

Oskaloosa volunteer receives IHA volunteerism award
Dorothy Vos of Oskaloosa was named Mahaska Health Partnership’s 2014 Hospital Auxiliary member and Volunteer Shining Star by the Iowa Hospital Association. Vos has been an active member of the Mahaska Health Partnership Hospital Auxiliary since 1997. (Oskaloosa News)

Focus Ebola concern on Africa
More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola. That’s the magnitude of the disease in the United States. Texas officials announced Monday that dozens of people exposed to the first infected patient diagnosed in the United States have been cleared and are not at risk of developing the often-fatal disease. (Des Moines Register)

National News

CDC issues new guidelines for Ebola care
Federal officials announced new guidelines on Monday evening for the protection of hospital workers caring for patients infected with Ebola–guidelines that might have prevented the infection of two nurses had they been in place a month ago. The new guidelines, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, follow broad revisions announced just last week. The new recommendations provide considerably more detail, however, and have been reviewed by specialists at American hospitals that have successfully cared for Ebola patients. (New York Times)

Readmission: No quick fix to costly hospital challenge
Two recently released studies on costly hospital readmissions of seriously ill, elderly patients draw the same conclusion: Fixing this vexing problem is far from easy. With hospitals under mounting financial pressure to reduce readmissions in the form of Medicare reimbursement penalties, the search is on to find intervention strategies that work. The studies released this month deliver a sobering message. (HealthLeaders Media)

Uninsured still know little about health law as second enrollment period approaches
Almost nine of 10 uninsured Americans – the group most likely to benefit — don’t know that the law’s second open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, according to a poll released Tuesday. Two-thirds of the uninsured say they know “only a little” or “nothing at all” about the law’s online insurance marketplaces where they can buy coverage if they don’t get it through their jobs. Just over half are unaware the law might give them financial help to buy coverage, according to a new poll. (Kaiser Health News)

New doctors site rates for experience, quality
The first comprehensive physician rating and comparison database launches Monday in time for open enrollment on federal and state health exchanges, as well as for many employer-provided plans. The new version of the website uses about 500 million claims from federal and private sources and patient reviews to rate and rank doctors based on their experience, complication rates at the hospitals where they practice and patient satisfaction. (USA Today)

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)