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

Iowa News

Health care law changes hospital focus to life cycle
While Jones Regional Medical Center hasn’t been on the receiving end of a financial windfall since parts of the nation’s new healthcare law have been implemented, the conversation about patient care has changed. You can unequivocally say that it [the Affordable Care Act] has changed the conversation for the better,” Jones Regional Medical Center CEO Eric Briesemeister said. (Anamosa Journal-Eureka)

Study offers suggestions to bolster Iowa economy
Iowa’s economy is struggling more than it should and the state needs to simplify its tax code, find cash for roadway projects and establish incentives to lure workers to Iowa, the Battelle Memorial Institute found in an 18-month study. The governor-appointed Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress commissioned Battelle to update a decade-old look at Iowa’s approach to economic development. This time, Battelle found a state with a dozen promising industry clusters and solid growth, but lagging pay, worker shortages and a complex and pricey corporate tax system. (Des Moines Business Record)

Flu activity expected to increase
As of Thursday morning, the flu was considered widespread in Illinois. Meantime in Iowa, health officials in Iowa have classified it as regional at this point. In the Quad Cities, there have been several reports as well. A doctor at Genesis Health System told TV6 that doctors are seeing a lot of patients with influenza at this time. Symptoms include body aches, fevers, coughing, running nose and sore throat. (KWQC)

National News

Home care for the holidays
An innovative team-based model of patient care keeps frail and elderly patients at home, reduces costs, builds trust between providers and patients, and reduces emergency department visits. Fifteen years in, the results are clear. A study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, looks at the middle five years of a program that began in 1999 at MedStar Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, a 926-bed hospital that is part of the MedStar Health system. (HealthLeaders Media)

How the high cost of medical care is affecting Americans
Over the past two years, the New York Times series Paying Till It Hurts has examined the high costs of ordinary medical care in the United States, exposing the reasons and chronicling the human fallout behind the nation’s extraordinary $2.9 trillion medical bill. But how does a collection of often heartbreaking, often startling tales reflect national experiences and attitudes? The available data did not answer all of my questions. So, using reader comments as a starting point, The Times designed a questionnaire with CBS News and conducted a national poll this month. (New York Times)

AMA ‘appalled’ by scale of meaningful use penalties for EPs
The recent announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that more than 257,000 eligible professionals would be subjected to Medicare payment adjustments in 2015 has the American Hospital Association “appalled,” according to an official statement released midweek. Yesterday, CMS revealed that more than 257,000 EPs would soon be receiving letters informing them of upcoming 2015 Medicare payment adjustments as well as information about petitioning the federal agency to reconsider its evaluation. (EHR Intelligence)

Doctors dole out prescriptions for exercise
Doctors are working exercise counseling into office visits and calling exercise a “vital sign” to be measured when they take readings like pulse and blood pressure. Rather than just explain the dangers of inactivity, they suggest the right amount of exercise, and in some cases refer patients to certified trainers or physical therapists who can design regimens for different medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes that might limit certain activities. (Wall Street Journal)

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

Iowa News

Adair County Health System joins Mercy, partners for innovation award
Effective Jan. 1, Adair County Health System will officially be a participant member of Mercy Accountable Care Organization (ACO). In July 2012, Mercy ACO became a recognized Accountable Care Organization under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. With the program’s focus of improved quality of care and increased patient value, the shared savings program was a logical next step in the evolution of Mercy’s health care model. (Creston News Advertiser)

Mercy Iowa City acquires Coralville facility
Mercy Iowa City has purchased a medical office building in Coralville that houses several of its clinics and affiliates, the hospital announced this week. Mercy acquired the Coral West Health Center, at 2769 Heartland Dr., a three-level, 68,000-square-foot building that opened in 2011. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Veterans and suicide
As a psychologist, Dr. Dan Courtney with the Mental Health Center of North Iowa knows all too well how scary suicide can be. “The emotional complications in their lives becomes too much,” said Dr. Courtney. Dr. Courtney says that can ring true for those who are coming home from serving overseas. “Research shows that the majority of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from war is referred to as moral PTSD. People have had to do things that are just so inconsistent with their sense of who they are, what their values are.” (KIMT)

National News

CDC: 12.2% of U.S. residents uninsured, down from 14.4% last year
An estimated 12.2percent of U.S. residents (38 million) were uninsured when interviewed in the first six months of 2014, down from 14.4percent (44.8 million) in 2013 and 16percent (48.6 million) in 2010, according to a report released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The 2014 estimate includes 17percent of adults under age 65 and 6.1percent of children. The report updates estimates for 15 selected health measures based on the January-June 2014 National Health Interview Survey and presents estimates for 1997 through 2013 for comparison. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

For cash-strapped rural hospitals, survival is uncertain
The local hospital in Milan, Missouri, Sullivan Country Memorial, has been around since 1953. Joe McCarty, a local resident and now patient in Sullivan’s long-term care unit, has lived in Milan almost his entire life – he’s turning 100 this year. Joe made his living as a cartoonist and up until just a few months ago he worked for the local newspaper. Joe also happens to be one of the hospitals original board members. (Missouri Public Radio)

Bring in the nurses, stat
Some of the largest health care systems in America do not have any nurses serving on their boards of directors. That is a huge oversight, especially in a time of rapid change in health care delivery, when consumers and providers would benefit from having nurses’ frontline perspective present in boardrooms as health care policy decisions are made. (McClatchy DC)

Copper bedrail could reduce hospital infections
The World Health Organization estimates that “each year, hundreds of millions of patients around the world are affected” by health care-acquired infections. In the United States, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the Health and Human Services Department estimates that 1 in 25 inpatients has a hospital-related infection. In developing countries, estimates run higher. Hospital bed safety railings are a major source of these infections. That’s what Constanza Correa, 33, and her colleagues have found in their research in Santiago, Chile. They’ve taken on the problem by replacing them, since 2013, with railings made of copper, an anti-microbial element. (National Public Radio)

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

Iowa News

Demand for food assistance rises in Des Moines
The growing demand for food assistance is expected to “increase substantially” next year while resources from area nonprofits are moderately declining, according to the report released Thursday. The 20 percent jump in Des Moines was the second-highest, behind a daunting 56 percent increase in Washington, D.C., out of 25 U.S. cities that participated in the hunger and homelessness survey. (Des Moines Register)

New program hopes to take impaired drivers off the roads
Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City, the Sioux City Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol have teamed up to try to get impaired drivers off the road this holiday season. With so many people headed to their holiday destinations over the next few weeks, Mercy’s “Reality Education And Prevention” program, or ‘REAP’, is focused on drunk, or drugged, drivers. “Too many times, and it’s often when we deal with someone with impaired driving, we hear the answer ‘I thought I was okay to drive’,” said Officer Eric Davis, Sioux City Police Department. “It’s not the case. If you think you’re okay to drive, you’re probably not.” (KTIV)

National News

Nearly 2.5 million consumers select health plans on federal marketplace
More than 1 million people selected a health plan during the fourth week of the health law’s open enrollment and nearly 2.5 million have done so since it began Nov. 15, federal officials said Tuesday. “And this was before an extremely busy weekend,” said Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal online marketplace used by 37 states. (Kaiser Health News)

CMS awards $665 million in state health care innovation grants
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today awarded more than $622 million to help 11 states test and evaluate health care payment and delivery models to improve care and lower costs for Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries under the State Innovation Models initiative. The states are Iowa, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Mass. doctor Vivek Murthy OK’d as surgeon general
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Harvard professor whose nomination for surgeon general was held up because of his support for gun control and his political activity in President Obama’s campaign, was confirmed Monday by the Senate, more than a year after he was nominated. As surgeon general, Murthy will be the nation’s chief public health advocate. Prior surgeons general have used the position to bring attention to health threats, particularly smoking and AIDS. (Boston Globe)

Can government policies correct race and ethnicity disparities in child health?
When Dolores Acevedo-Garcia and Pamela K. Joshi set out to study the racial and ethnic equity of federal policies impacting child health, they didn’t expect it to be terribly difficult. After all, they figured, there are federal mandates that require agencies to collect data on race and ethnicity. But finding the data that the researchers from Brandeis University wanted to analyze was difficult. It was buried in reports or tied up in semantics. (PBS NewsHour)

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

Iowa News

ACA enrollment working well in Iowa
Americans have been signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for a little more a year now, and the numbers so far are telling a pretty positive story. The Center for American Progress is saying more people are signing up in Iowa, saving more money on coverage and costing hospitals less in charitable care. (KGAN)

Flu shots urged as mutated variety spreads
Local health department officials are still urging residents to get flu shots, even though the vaccine may not be as effective against one of the influenza strains it is meant to ward off. “We know the vaccine is less protective,” said Bruce Meisinger, Black Hawk County Health Department director. “It is still good to get vaccinated because of the other strains circulating,” he said. “But it is less certain this vaccine is going to prevent people from getting the flu.” (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Iowa urged to help more disabled gain mainstream jobs
Iowa is violating federal law by failing to help enough people with disabilities gain jobs at everyday businesses instead of at sheltered workshops, an advocacy group alleged Monday. The group, Disability Rights Iowa, said 88 percent of the $39 million that state and county authorities spend annually on work activities or “habilitation” services for people with disabilities goes to activities that segregate clients from the general population. (Des Moines Register)

National News

With hospitals under stress, Tennessee’s governor pursues Medicaid expansion
Under mounting pressure from financially strapped hospitals, Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee proposed on Monday an alternative plan for expanding Medicaid. Mr. Haslam, a Republican, made clear that he still opposed President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Nonetheless, he proposed using federal Medicaid funds available under the law to cover some 200,000 low-income residents through their employer’s health insurance plan or the state’s Medicaid program. (New York Times)

2014 was a bad year for mumps, a nearly forgotten virus
Mumps sickened nearly 1,100 Americans this year, causing outbreaks among college students and professional hockey players. Nearly twice as many Americans have developed mumps this year as in all of 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourteen players in the National Hockey League have been infected with mumps since October. A spring outbreak at Ohio State University and the surrounding community, now over, sickened 484 people. (USA Today)

Can identifying mental illness stop terror attacks?
New studies have challenged several decades of thinking that psychological problems are only a minor factor in the making of terrorists. The research has instead found a significant link between mental problems and “lone wolf” terrorism. Now academics and law enforcement officials are working to turn that research into tools to prevent deadly attacks. (Associated Press/KWWL)

White House issues report telling hospitals how to deal with climate change
The White House is warning hospitals and other health care facilities to be prepared for climate change, issuing a report Monday for dealing with severe weather. “Despite progress in some regions of the U.S., challenges remain with health care infrastructure resilience,” the report says. “While the weather itself and its direct effect on the health care system are uncontrollable, some elements of the system’s vulnerability can readily be improved. The difficulty lies in sharing and coordinating the information.” (The Blaze)

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

Iowa News

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics designated as Ebola treatment facility
As part of the state’s preparedness efforts, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has agreed to work as an Ebola treatment facility if someone were to contract the virus, while two Des Moines-based hospitals will act as screening facilities, public health officials announced today. The Iowa Department of Public Health said on Monday it is collaborating with the Iowa State Hygienic Lab, multiple emergency medical service providers and the three hospitals for testing, screening or treatment of an Ebola patient, if required. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Teen birth rates plummet with more contraceptive use
Teen birth rates are plummeting in Iowa and across the country, and experts say it’s mainly because young people are being more careful about sex. Despite rosy memories about how wholesome kids were in the good old days, the fact is that American teens were three times more likely to become parents in the late 1950s and early 1960s than they are today. (Des Moines Register)

Heartland mental health program receives state funding
The Integrated Health Home program is a new mental health program in southern Iowa. The program threw the Christmas party to get families out to have fun and learn more about the program. IHH is a program through Title 19 to assist adults and children with mental health problems. Funding for mental health seems to be an issue across the state. (KTVO)

How to carry out change, improve your life
Kevin Carroll, executive director of behavioral health services at Unity Point Health-Des Moines, said the holidays are a perfect time for folks to reflect on the past year and prepare for the upcoming one. Many individuals have the opportunity to contemplate those issues in their faith communities during the holidays, and seeing friends and loved ones may be remind us about what’s important in our lives. Keeping a journal or writing a letter to yourself can help keep goals in mind, he said. (Des Moines Register)

Guidance for other gestational carriers penned in Iowan’s book
Knowing how fortunate she was to get pregnant and bring healthy children into the world, Staci Mason didn’t hesitate when she offered to carry a baby for a young cancer survivor she hadn’t even met. After months of preparation, Mason became a gestational carrier and eventually gave birth to twins – the biological children of another couple. She details the complicated journey in the recently released book, “Helping Jamie: My Journey as a Gestational Carrier.” The book was adapted from a journal Mason kept during the pregnancy more than two years ago. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Community hospitals becoming endangered species
Over the last few years, two different community hospitals closed in Gibson County in West Tennessee and another closed in Brownsville, said Bill Jolley, executive director for the Tennessee Rural Partnership and a vice president of the Tennessee Hospital Association. The double-whammy of dwindling reimbursements and rising costs contributed to the hospitals’ demise. (Memphis Daily News)

The hidden benefits of rural hospitals
The closure of hospitals in any community, but especially in rural areas, will have immediate negative health impacts at the local and regional level. Rural residents would be forced to travel longer distances to receive care, which is not only an inconvenience, but a danger in emergency situations. This would also create roadblocks to active or preventive treatments which increases the risk of long-term ailments. (Edmonton Journal)

State, federal insurance sites seem ready for late rush
The first big Affordable Care Act 2015 open enrollment deadline is here and this time it looks like it won’t be a bust. The federal HealthCare.gov website and state sites seem to be working well enough to get people enrolled or re-enrolled by midnight Monday if they want coverage to be effective on Jan. 1. The final deadline for enrollment for coverage in 2015 — and to avoid penalties at tax time in 2016 for not having insurance — is Feb. 15. (USA Today)

Tennessee governor announces program to expand Medicaid
In a major policy move, Gov. Bill Haslam has announced the new Insure Tennessee plan, a two-year pilot program that would provide health care coverage to tens of thousands of Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options. The plan would be leveraged with federal dollars, said Haslam, who has been working for more than a year on a Medicaid expansion plan that could gain approval from both federal officials and the Republican-dominated state legislature. (Nashville Tennessean)

U.S. health care lags worldwide for those over 65
The Commonwealth Fund has been publishing surveys comparing health care in industrialized countries since 1998, a continuing report card in which the United States has usually fared poorly because of its high proportion of uninsured people. But its latest report – an early anniversary tribute to Medicare, which turns 50 next year – focuses on those over 65, the one segment of the American population with nearly universal coverage and access to care. (New York Times)

A year later: Hospitals boost security after shooting
Armed security guards are coming to Renown Health’s two hospital campuses in Reno after last year’s shooting that left a Urology Nevada doctor dead and two others injured before the gunman killed himself. It’s part of Renown’s ongoing enhanced safety program that includes more staff training, more control over building access and faster lock-down capabilities if needed, said Dawn Ahner, Renown chief financial officer. (Reno Gazette-Journal)