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idph_emsThe Iowa Department of Public Health – Bureau of EMS is seeking applications from individuals who are interested in receiving initial EMS education.  In return, individuals will agree to provide needed EMS staffing for underserved areas in Iowa.

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age at the time of application
  • Have a high school diploma or its equivalent if enrolling in an EMT-I, EMT-P or PS course
  • Be able to speak, write and read English
  • Hold a current course completion card in CPR if enrolling in an EMT-B, EMT-I, EMT-P or PS course
  • Be currently certified, as a minimum, as an EMT-B, if enrolling in an EMT-I, EMT-P, or PS course

Funds will be awarded to applicants to assist with expenses associated with initial EMS education and training. Allowable expenses include course tuition, training program fees, books and course supplies, and testing and certification fees. Applicants may apply for up to $4,500.

Applications will be accepted now through the closing deadline of June 1, 2010, or until all program funding has been awarded. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and Web for August 22-28.

Iowa Headlines

Forum debates local health care issues
The hot button issue nationally over the last several weeks has been national health care coverage.  The debate took a local tone as several officials involved in providing and paying for health care took center stage at a forum sponsored by the Benton County Advocates.  V irginia Gay Hospital Administrator Mike Rigge, Dr. Brian Meeker, insurance salesman Bob Moen and pharmacist Jon Clingman spoke about how the current system affects their jobs. (August 24, 2009, Cedar Valley Daily Times)

The great health care debate
Russell Knight, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque, hopes health care reform addresses a problem that has plagued Iowa’s health system for years.  “Iowa hospitals and physicians produce one of the best combinations of cost and quality in the country,” Knight said. “We’d like to see the payment system take that into account. Right now, Medicare payments are based on the volume of service provided, not on the value of those services.”  John Knox, president and chief executive officer of The Finley Hospital, cautions against rash decisions.  “Our health care system has become incredibly complex, and it will take considerable thought to design changes that will create meaningful reform,” (August 24, 2009, Erik Hogstrom, Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Latham backs reform, but no public option
The nation already has a form of universal health care, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham said to a sometimes contentious crowd at a town hall meeting this week.  “One of the huge costs we have in health care today is the fact that anyone who has a problem that they don’t have insurance - it doesn’t matter whether they’re documented or undocumented - if they go to the emergency room, we have to provide service if that facility takes one dollar of taxpayer funds,” Latham said.  “In effect, we have a very expensive form of universal health care today. Nobody is denied, but it’s the most expensive way you can possibly provide those services.” (August 27, 2009, Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register)

King sees benefits for illegal immigrants in proposed health legislation
U.S. Rep. Steve King argued this week that loopholes in health care legislation in Congress would allow illegal immigrants access to federal health benefits, despite language in the bill specifically banning undocumented residents from participating.  King’s comments drew a sharp rebuttal from U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat on the committee that wrote the bill, who called his Iowa colleague’s comments “ridiculous.” (August 26, 2009, Thomas Beaumont, Des Moines Register)

Sioux City hospital to reverse pay cuts
A Sioux City hospital is reversing pay cuts made last spring to help cut costs and close a budget shortfall caused by the sour economy.  St. Luke’s Health System announced Monday that salaries, which were cut in April, will return to previous levels by next month.  President Peter Thoreen said the reductions helped the hospital save about $300,000. (August 26, 2009, Des Moines Register/Associated Press)

See Inside New Mercy West Hospital
Central Iowa’s newest medical center is less than two weeks from opening for business.  Mercy Medical Center West Lakes features state-of-the-art patient rooms that are geared toward getting people healthy and keeping them happy. Big-screen TVs with movies and Internet connections are just one of many features in open patient rooms with big windows. (August 26, 2009, KCCI-TV)

Ames hospital employee named senior athlete of the year
Rollerblading. Hiking. Biking. Running. Swimming. Cross-country skiing:  Cindy Hauber does it all.  “Whatever I can do to get my heart rate up,” Hauber said. Hauber, an Ames resident who has a doctorate in physical therapy and works at Mary Greeley Medical Center, has competed in the Iowa Games, the Ames-based statewide sports festival held each summer, for 21 of the 23 years in which the Games has been in existence. (August 26, 2009, Ben Gouldsmith, Ames Tribune)

BCHC Wins Obesity Prevention Grant
This fall, Independence preschoolers will have the opportunity to participate in a new program geared at preventing obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles.  The program, called “SPARK– Igniting Health in Kids,” is a partnership between the four local preschools (Kidsville, Wee Care, Independence Schools Early Childhood Center and St. John’s), the Therapy & Wellness Connection at the Buchanan County Health Center and the Buchanan County Health Trust. (August 27, 2009, Independence Bulletin-Journal)

U.S. Headlines

White House enlists help of doctors in health care overhaul
The White House is asking doctors to help promote its drive to overhaul health care, marking another effort by President Obama to regain momentum on one of his top-priority issues. White House health advisers held an hour-long conference call with nearly 3,000 physicians and officials of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Surgeons in which they tried to drum up support by answering questions and describing the administration’s goals, participants said.  (August 27, 2009, Alan Fram, Associated Press)

Cooperatives’ record weighed in health-care debate
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a pivotal lawmaker in the health-care debate, wants to deliver coverage to the uninsured by starting up new cooperatives modeled on rural electric cooperatives that were founded during the Great Depression.  But after 75 years, the rural electric cooperatives still rely heavily on federal credit subsidies, have weak balance sheets and, some studies suggest, operate less efficiently than privately-owned utilities. (August 27, 2009, Steve Mufson, Washington Post)

Democrats could learn from LBJ’s Medicare push
One of the big fears among those crowding town hall meetings this summer is that their coverage under Medicare will be cut back.  The debate was just as passionate 45 years ago, when Congress was considering creating Medicare during the Lyndon Johnson administration.  James Morone, co-author of The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office, tells National Public Radio that Johnson’s Medicare push is “one of the great untold stories.” (August 26, 2009, Renee Montagne, National Public Radio)

Competition lacking among private health insurers
One of the most widely accepted arguments against a government medical plan for the middle class is that it would quash competition - just what private insurers seem to be doing themselves in many parts of the U.S.  Several studies show that in lots of places, one or two companies dominate the market. Critics say monopolistic conditions drive up premiums paid by employers and individuals. (August 22, 2009, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press)

Healthy San Francisco rates high in satisfaction
Ninety-four percent of participants in San Francisco’s unique universal health care program are at least somewhat satisfied with it, and 92 percent would recommend it to a friend and think other cities should create similar programs. Four in 10 participants said their care was considerably better since joining the program. (August 26, 2009, Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle)

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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and Web for August 15-21.

Iowa Headlines:

Dr. Gawande’s View Of Cutting Health Costs
One man who has the ear of President Obama on health care is Dr. Atul Gawande. He’s a surgeon who also teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health. He says the debate over how to pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured has focused on only two options, raising taxes or rationing care. (August 15, 2009, Guy Raz, National Public Radio)

Grassley says status of ‘public option’ is unclear
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said Monday that he was unsure what to make of suggestions that President Barack Obama would drop proposals for a new government-run insurance plan. “We’re finding that it’s like a lot of … trial balloons that are put up,” the Iowa Republican said in an interview.  (August 18, 2009, Tony Leys, Des Moines Register)

Boswell may not vote for health care reform
Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, says there’s a chance he may not vote for health care reform.  Boswell held a town hall meeting in Sigourney and a man from Norwalk asked him whether he would vote “yes” or “no” on the health care reform plans which have cleared three House committees. (August 15, 2009, O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa)

Hospital officials have concerns on health reform
Area hospital administrators have serious concerns with the health reform legislation being considered by Congress. Their fears have nothing to do with socialized medicine or death panels, as some have worried about in town hall meetings across the country. (August 14, 2009, Christina Crippes, The Burlington Hawkeye)

U.S. Headlines:

Senators Investigate Hospital Purchasing
Lawmakers eager to broaden health care coverage while holding down costs are examining the institutional market for medical supplies, a largely unseen $60 billion-a-year realm where things like bedpans and heart implants change hands.

Senators from committees like finance, judiciary and aging are investigating the practices of companies that represent big networks of hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions. These group purchasing organizations select “preferred” manufacturers and negotiate the prices of medical products, which are a closely held secret. They then use a variety of carrots and sticks to make sure their hospitals buy those brands at the contracted price. (August 14, 2009, Mary Williams Walsh, New York Times)

Lack of Medicare Appointee Puzzles Congress
President Obama has made health care his top priority. He says the cost of Medicare and Medicaid is “the biggest threat” to the nation’s fiscal future.  But to the puzzlement of Congress and health care experts around the country, Mr. Obama has not named anyone to lead the agency that runs the two giant programs. (August 17, 2009, Robert Pear, New York Times)

Doctor shortage looms as primary care loses its pull
Longer days, lower pay, less prestige and more administrative headaches have turned doctors away in droves from family medicine, presumed to be the frontline for wellness and preventive-care programs that can help reduce health care costs.  The number of U.S. medical school students going into primary care has dropped 51.8% since 1997, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). (August 18, 2009, Janice Lloyd, USA Today)

Medicare Test Pays for Hospital Performance
A pilot project by Medicare that links hospital payments to the quality of care has helped prevent infections in pneumonia patients and cut death rates in heart-attack patients, according to data to be released Monday.
In the project, hospitals compete for cash incentives from Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled. On Monday, Medicare officials are expected to announce that 225 hospitals will divide $12 million in bonuses; three poor performers will be penalized. (August 17, 2009, Jane Zhang, The Wall Street Journal)

Obama administration hints that public option is not only way to go
Racing to regain control of the health-care debate, two top administration officials signaled Sunday that the White House may be willing to jettison a controversial government-run insurance plan favored by liberals. (August 17, 2009, Ceci Connolly, The Washington Post)


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About a month ago IHA wrapped up its 2009 Swinging for Scholars event, the major fundraiser for the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Fund. This year the fund awarded $72,000 in scholarships to 24 college students from all parts of Iowa.

Out of the 24 students receiving awards, four of them were able to attend the event to be presented with their “big” checks and to talk about what the scholarship meant to them.

In the video below we spoke to Pam Delagardelle, the IHERF Board Chair, as well as the four recipients:

  • Sara Fleecs, St. Anthony Regional Hospital
  • Peggy Black, Iowa Health - Des Moines
  • Deanna Robey, Blank Children’s Hospital
  • Beth Van Maanen, Pella Regional Health Center

(Video link for RSS subscribers).

If you missed the submission deadline this year, head over to the IHERF section of our website so you can start working on your application for 2010.

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On August 18 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the availability of $13.4 million to support loan repayments for nurses who agree to practice in facilities with critical shortages. The funds for these efforts were made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed by President Obama in February of this year.

These funds come from two programs under HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): the Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program and the Nurse Faculty Loan Program.

  • $8.1 million will go to the Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), which will help 100 registered nurses pay their debts accumulated during their nursing education. The program repays 60 percent of the loan balance for an individual in exchange for two years of service working in a facility with a critical shortage of nurses.
  • $5.3 million goes to the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP), being awarded to schools of nursing to support 500 masters and doctoral nursing students planning to become nurse faculty after completing their schooling. Upon graduation, recipients may cancel up to 85 percent of the loan principal and interest in exchange for four years of service as a full-time nursing faculty at a school of nursing.

The program assisting with loan repayments for nurses practicing in facilities with critical shortages is similar to one pursued by Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley in June, called the Frontline Providers Loan Repayment Act. Braley’s bill sought loan repayment options for medical professionals working in areas that have a shortage of frontline care services.

For additional information about the Loan Repayment Program and other Recovery Act programs for health care professionals, see

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