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Today’s NewsStand (June 30, 2011)

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

Iowa News

Report: proposed Medicaid cuts put Iowa jobs ‘at risk’
A national nonprofit group is claiming Iowa could lose more than 13,000 jobs as a result of proposed Medicaid cuts in the House Republican budget. Families USA executive director Ron Pollack says his organization’s economic impact study also shows as much as $1.3 billion in state business activity would be placed at risk. “Cutting Medicaid funds not only hurts seniors, people with disabilities and children – who count on Medicaid as their lifeline, but it also results in fewer jobs and stunts the economic recovery,” Pollack said.  (Radio Iowa)

Concerns about GOP Medicaid reforms mount
State and federal Democratic lawmakers Tuesday criticized a budget put forward by Congressional Republicans that would cut billions in Medicaid funding to states. The House-adopted budget, introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., switches Medicaid reimbursement to a block grant program for each state. It also cuts Medicaid by 5 percent in 2013 and 15 percent in 2014. The Iowa Senate passed a resolution Tuesday on a party-line vote denouncing the plan as fundamental change that would hurt the poor, disabled and elderly. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Fort Dodge adds ambulance service
The Fort Dodge Fire Department is going to act as a backup to Trinity Regional Medical Center’s ambulance service. That is how the Fire Chief David Luers described the action taken by the Fort Dodge City Council Monday night. The council approved an ordinance having the city provide emergency medical transport services for the City of Fort Dodge. Trinity Regional Medical Center will remain the primary transporter of patients. (Your Fort Dodge)

Jackson County hospital makes deal with Maquoketa doctors
Jackson County Regional Health Center soon will offer an outreach clinic for obstetrics and gynecology patients. Administrator Curt Coleman said the hospital has entered into an agreement with The Group in the Quad-Cities for doctors to travel to Maquoketa once a week to offer services for women. “They will not be doing any deliveries in Maquoketa,” Coleman said. “But they will provide prenatal care to pregnant women. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Fuzzy math in health law formula
Older adults of the same age and income with similar medical histories would pay sharply different amounts for private health insurance due to what appears to be an unintended consequence of the new health care law. Aware of the problem, the administration says it is exploring options to address a potential disparity that could mean added controversy for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The law expands coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people and would require most Americans to carry insurance. (Associated Press)

Appeals court declares health law constitutional
President Obama’s healthcare overhaul survived its first test before a federal appellate court, as the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati concluded that the law’s insurance requirement is constitutional. “We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause,” a 2-1 majority of the panel concluded, rejecting a challenge by the conservative Thomas More Law Center. (Los Angeles Times)

The time is now for ACOs, former CMS administrator says
With the prohibitive and rising cost of healthcare, there has never been a greater need for accountable care organizations, according to Mark McClellan, MD, former administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. McClellan’s comments came by way of a plenary speech given Monday at the National Health IT and Delivery System Transformation Summit, held in conjunction with Second Annual National Accountable Care Organization Summit. (Healthcare IT News)

Health care costs vary widely, study shows
Patients pay as much as 683 percent more for the same medical procedures, such as MRIs or CT scans, in the same town, depending on which doctor they choose, according to a study by a national health care group. “There’s been a barrage of studies that show differences from region to region,” said Christopher Parks, founder of Change:healthcare. “That makes sense — California’s more expensive than Alabama. But this is within a 20-mile radius in your own town.” (USA Today)

FDA panel votes against Avastin for breast cancer treatment
A Food and Drug Administration panel took a major step Wednesday toward ending use of the best-selling drug Avastin for treating advanced breast cancer in the United States, despite appeals from distraught patients and the company manufacturing the drug. “I think we all wanted Avastin to succeed, but the reality is that these studies did not bear out that hope,” said Natalie Compagni Portis, who represented patients on the panel. (Washington Post)

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Featured Employee: Kristi Perrin, RN


Kristi Perrin
Registered Nurse
Mary Greeley Medical Center, Ames

Why did you choose nursing as a profession? After receiving my bachelor’s degree in community health education, I worked for a while, but most positions required a teaching certificate or an RN degree. Because I love to figure out disease processes and how to prevent diseases, I decided on a nursing degree. This was the best decision I have made!

What is your greatest nursing accomplishment? My greatest nursing accomplishments are the personal ones where a patient has opened up to me so I could provide the best care that I was able for them. When someone confides in me it means that they trust me, and I am humbled and honored when this occurs.

How has the hospital supported your nursing career?  From the time I started at Mary Greeley Medical Center, I always felt there were many paths my career could take.  The hospital always had helpful nursing leaders in each department as well as co-workers that I felt comfortable asking and seeking guidance in each choice I have made in the medical center. The medical center also offered support in the area of educational opportunities to obtain CEUs, convenience to classrooms on our own campus and tuition reimbursement to further my nursing education. I feel extremely fortunate to work for an organization that is committed to its employees as well as the patients.

What advice would you give to someone considering nursing as a profession? It is a tough profession with lots of hard work. But the personal rewards you receive from patients, families and co-workers are worth it.

About Kristi Perrin:

Education: Associate’s Degree in Nursing; Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health Education; Master’s Degree in Public Administration

Years with the hospital: 17

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Today’s NewsStand (June 29, 2011)

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

Iowa News

Medical center, businesses try to stay connected without bridge
With the Decatur, Nebraska toll bridge closed because of flooding, the long detour creates concerns for Onawa medical providers and businesses that depend on that travel lifeline.  That’s why they’re doing what they can to keep the two connected. Burgess Health Center in Onawa serves the entire town of Decatur as its closest hospital and primary clinic. (KTIV)

‘LifeNet’ medical helicopter will be based in Cherokee
The Cherokee Regional Medical Center and LifeNet of Iowa, a critical care air medical transport company, announced today that a fully equipped, state-of-the-art medical helicopter will be based in Cherokee. According to CRMC CEO John Comstock, the aircraft will be tethered on the helipad at the CRMC, or in a leased hangar at the Cherokee Airport in the wintertime, or in the event of bad weather. (Cherokee Chronicle Times)

New Denison hospital finally opens
A hospital some six years in the making opened Monday morning with the transfer of two patients. The $31 million Crawford County Memorial Hospital at 100 Medical Parkway, just off Iowa Highway 59 on the west edge of Denison, signed on at 10:30 a.m. Monday as lights went black in the emergency room at the former hospital, a 1951 structure at 2020 First Ave., east of downtown. (Sioux City Journal)

Ceremony marks new long-term care center
“This is a project that we have talked about for at least six or eight years and every time we get close, there would always be a recession or health reform,” said Mark Richardson, Great River Health Systems CEO. “Great River Health Systems Board of Directors finally got to the point that this is something our community needs and it’s something that needs to get done.” The new center will replace the existing Klein Center but maintain the same name, much as the medical center kept the Mercy and Eastman names for its office plazas. The estimated cost for the new Klein Center is $25 million to $31 million. (Burlington HawkEye)

New technology option to digestive surgery
Using technology new to central Iowa - radiofrequency ablation – a patient was recently treated on an outpatient basis instead of through risky surgery. Two weeks later, he was catching walleye in Canada. Dr. Nagendra Myneni, gastroenterologist at the Iowa Digestive Disease Center, performed the procedure May 26 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Top Democrats reject new plan to cut Medicare spending
Leading congressional Democrats immediately recoiled Tuesday from a new proposal to cut $600 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade — in part by raising the eligibility age. Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) unveiled the proposal as part of a bipartisan effort to produce the kind of savings necessary to achieve the $2 trillion in debt reduction both parties say is needed to convince reticent lawmakers to vote to raise the debt ceiling. It would raise Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67 and assess higher premiums on wealthier seniors. (Washington Post)

In Massachusetts, some hospitals back price curbs
Support is building among some Massachusetts hospitals for temporary government limits on health care prices, a remarkable development in an industry that has long favored letting the marketplace determine how much providers are paid for treating patients. “Fundamentally, I believe in the market,’’ said Andrei Soran, chief executive of MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham. But “the market got out of hand,’’ he said. “Intervention will bring it back to the appropriate level.” (Boston Globe)

RWJ launches health care quality data website
To better prepare hospitals and doctors for the scrutiny they will get from public reporting in the next few years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Tuesday launched a website that compiles state, federal, hospital and health plan quality data from across the country: 224 separate sites and growing. The foundation says the database is the “nation’s most comprehensive online directory for patients (and others) to find reliable information on the quality of healthcare provided by physicians and hospitals in their communities.” (HealthLeaders Media)

Administration halts survey of making doctor visits
The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had shelved plans for a survey in which “mystery shoppers” posing as patients would call doctors’ offices to see how difficult it was to get appointments. “We have determined that now is not the time to move forward with this research project,” the Department of Health and Human Services said late Tuesday. (New York Times)

The most commonsensical and hopeless reform idea ever
What these two men are advocating is simple: hospitals should offer the same level of professional staffing and patient care on weekends as during the rest of the week. They should do this, the two men write in the Health Affairs blog, because trying to cram seven days of care into five leads to a cascade of problems that harm and even kill patients. It also costs a lot of money. (Kaiser Health News)

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Today’s NewsStand (June 28, 2011)

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

Iowa News

For infection prevention, try duct tape
Members of the infection team at Trinity Regional Health System, a four-hospital network with 504 beds on the Illinois/Iowa border, say they’ve found a solution that is amazingly low tech: Duct tape. They call the solution the “Red Box” safe zone, a three-foot square area of space from the threshold of the patient’s room, marked off with red duct tape purchased at a local hardware store. (HealthLeaders Media)

More help on way to waterlogged region
President Obama late Monday signed an order directing federal assistance to six flood-stricken counties along the Missouri River, including Woodbury, Monona and Harrison. The authorization comes on the eve of Obama’s visit to eastern Iowa to promote his economic agenda. Prior to the announcement, the Republican Branstad had pledged to personally lobby the Democratic president during his visit today to a factory in Bettendorf. “We want to make sure that local governments that have expended a considerable amount of resources can get the help that they need,” Branstad said at a news conference at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce offices Monday. (Sioux City Journal)

NRC: Nebraska nuke disaster risk ‘low’
The Missouri River has moved in on Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, but it hasn’t reached any part of the plant that would compromise the safety of the reactor or spent fuel pool. The marooned plant poses no immediate threat to public health and safety, the nation’s chief nuclear power regulator said after a first-hand look. (Omaha World-Herald)

National News

Some hospitals think ‘lean’ when it comes to health care
Of all the indignities that befall us at the doctor’s office or in a hospital, the interminable wait is probably the most universal. It costs you time, money, agony. And guess what? It costs the hospital time and money, too. You’d think a solution to this constant and unsustainable economic problem would have revealed itself long ago. But David Weinberg tells us the wait may be over — based on lessons learned from a car manufacturer. (National Public Radio)

Concerns about costs rise with hospices’ use
Providing dying patients with palliative care in their own homes, or in a hospice facility or nursing home, is far less expensive than continuing to order up futile medical treatments, studies have shown. Indeed, advocates say more patients should be receiving hospice services earlier in the course of their illness. The median time spent in hospice care now is just 17 days. But as hospice has moved into the mainstream — it is now serving 1.1 million Medicare patients a year — concerns about excessive costs and misuse have mounted. (New York Times)

Study finds mammograms reduce cancer deaths
The longest study yet to examine women who undergo mammography shows that it reduces deaths from breast cancer by at least 30 percent, a finding that many doctors say may help ease the recent controversy surrounding the procedure. The three-decade study in Sweden showed that one breast cancer death can be prevented for every 414 to 519 women who are screened, a much lower number than the 1,000 to 1,500 that had been projected in previous studies. (Los Angeles Times)

Why Google Health really failed – it’s about the money
As reported on TechCrunch, Google shut down its medical records and health data platform. Since then, there’s been a lot of bits spilled offering explanations, but they all missed the most critical item. Money. Or in the language of health care—Reimbursement. I explain more below regarding why Google Health was doomed to fail in light of the legacy reimbursement model. (Washington Post)

The five steps of social media grieving (for hospital execs)
While many hospital marketers have already accepted and/or embraced the use of social media, there continue to be holdouts in the “C-suite” who struggle to accept social media as a valid strategic tool. Why this reluctance? I have a theory. By now most of us are familiar with the “five stages of grief” identified by psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. I suspect that as modern marketers struggle with the “death” of outdated marketing strategies, the same five stages can be applied to their reluctance to embrace the new medium of social media. (Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media)

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

Iowa News

Guttenberg celebrates hospital
Five years ago, Bill Menner, state director of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, was part of the group that named the city of Guttenberg as one of Iowa’s “Great Places.” “Wow. Had I known about how nice this hospital would be … we would have elevated you to ‘greatest places,’” Menner said Friday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. (Dubuque Telegraph-Herald)

Burgess Health Center offering mental health first aid program
Burgess Health Center Mental Health has piloted the first Mental Health First Aid program in Monona County. Certified trainers from Burgess Mental Health will train members of the public to improve mental health literacy – helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness. The first training session is set to be offered June 24 and 25 in the Burgess Family Clinic in Mapleton, Iowa at no cost to the participants. (Danbury Review)

UI cancer researcher to receive $50,000 ‘Hope on Wheels’ grant
Natalie Kamberos, D.O., a hematology, oncology and immunology fellow at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, will be presented with a $50,000 Hyundai Scholar Grant on Wednesday, June 29. Patients from University of Iowa Children’s Hospital will use colorful paint to place their handprints on a Hyundai Santa Fe to commemorate their battles with cancer. Kamberos is receiving the grant for her work on novel treatments of childhood lymphomas and leukemias. (Eastern Iowa Health)

Branstad continues volunteer award program
For Delores Peterson, honored for her service to Grundy County Memorial Hospital in Grundy Center, it was because of her free time after her great-grandchildren moved away. For Beveridge Nickerson, who at age 85 has logged over 1,000 hours of volunteering, it was his desire to give back after his open-heart surgery. He works at the Grundy hospital welcome desk. “I like to help people come in. I’ve been in a strange place and didn’t know where I was going,” he said. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Van Buren County Hospital celebrates 60 years of service
Hundreds of people turned out Sunday afternoon at the campus of Van Buren County Hospital to celebrate its 60th birthday; but that was not the only reason for celebration. The hospital also broke ground on a new community center. “We’ve been waiting for this day, actually for 21 years,” said Lisa Schnedler, CEO and Administrator of Van Buren County Hospital. (KTVO)

Just what the doctor ordered: Dogs
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ Furry Friends Program allows patients to experience the joy of a visiting pet, either their own or a dog certified for hospital visits. Research shows that interacting with animals can have a positive influence on health, according to the volunteer services website. And since the program began in 2003, it has done just that, therapeutic recreation specialist Sue Tietz said. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

National News

Overlapping health plans are double trouble for taxpayers
As the U.S. wrestles with rising health expenses, one group of patients stands out for government-paid care that is both ultra-costly and plagued with problems. They are the people who receive both Medicare, the program for those 65 and older or disabled, and Medicaid, the one for the poor. Statistics on these 9.7 million “dual eligibles” are stark. (Wall Street Journal)

‘RomneyCare’ — a revolution that basically worked
A detailed examination of voluminous health care and financial data, and interviews with key figures in every sector of the health care system, makes it clear that while there have been some stumbles — and some elements of the effort merit a grade of “incomplete’’ — the overhaul has, after five years, worked as well as or better than expected. (Boston Globe)

Research security standards before storing medical data with a business
Federal and state efforts are now underway to develop statewide health information exchanges to securely share patient medical data. In the interim, new companies are cropping up to fill the gap. Experts say the biggest concern is whether the individual company you choose to hold onto your records is one you can trust. “Lots of people have a product,” says Stephen M. Stewart, chief information officer with Henry County Health Center in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. “The question is who are they and what are their security standards?” (Los Angeles Times)

U.S. plans stealth survey on access to doctors
The administration says the survey will address a “critical public policy problem”: the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates. (New York Times)

What happened to the family doctor?
Primary-care doctors take care of the young, the old and the in-between; the sick, the well and the dying. Ideally, they’re familiar with us and our family history, have a comprehensive overview of our various ailments and medicines and provide us continuity in the world of fragmented medical specialties. But their trade, they say, is getting trickier and more time-consuming, and that’s fast making them an endangered species. (Los Angeles Times)

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