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Health Notes: UF Health Jacksonville is among 89 hospitals involved in a national improvement collaborative for … – Florida Times

UF Health Jacksonville is among 89 hospitals involved in a national improvement collaborative for children seen in the emergency room or hospitalized with asthma. Asthma affects nearly 10 percent of American children and is a leading cause of pediatric emergency visits and hospitalizations.

Jennifer Fishe, associate medical director of the pediatric emergency department at UF Health Jacksonville, is leading the Pathways for Improving Pediatric Asthma Care initiative at UF Health Jacksonville, the only hospital in Florida participating in the program.

The project will provide resources that will help health care providers select and provide appropriate medications, choose appropriate tests and effectively counsel families. It will also offer continuing medical education and American Board of Pediatrics Maintenance of Certification credits to physicians who meet qualifying criteria.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT DEADLINE FRIDAY

The deadline to sign up for 2018 health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is Friday. It is six weeks earlier than last year.

The Florida Blue Centers at St. Johns Town Center and River City Marketplace will be open for people to sign up for coverage 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday. Florida Blue’s office inside the Winston Family YMCA, 221 Riverside Ave., is also enrolling people. Those hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday. People do not need to be members to enter.

Florida Blue recommends making an appointment online at floridablue.com to shorten wait time. People wishing to sign up for coverage should bring their last income tax return, a photo ID and a current insurance card if they have one.

MAYO GETS EEG ACCREDITATION

Mayo Clinic is the first medical center in Northeast Florida to achieve recognition and accreditation for critical neurological clinical services such as administering electroencephalograms, which record brain cell communications, among other laboratory and monitoring techniques. The American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists awarded the certification, which is based on stringent review of the technical quality of EEGs and laboratory policies and procedures.

ORANGE PARK VET OFFERS CANCER CARE

Stereotactic radiosurgery has emerged as a standard of care in human oncology over the last few decades, but has only recently become available in veterinary medicine. Less than 20 specialty centers across the country possess the technology and clinical expertise to provide it for pets. That list now includes Southeast Veterinary Oncology and Internal Medicine, which has an office at 204 Corporate Way in Orange Park. The upgrade was made possible by a partnership with national cancer care provider PetCure Oncology, an industry leader in radiation oncology for pets.

Health Officials, Hospitals On High Alert As Wildfires Burn Across California


Los Angeles Times:
Southern California’s Hospitals Prepare For The Worst As Embers Ignite Throughout The Region


Hospitals across Southern California reported that high numbers of patients with breathing problems caused by this week’s wildfires visited emergency rooms. Health officials in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties warned of high pollution levels caused by smoke. The microscopic particles in smoke can penetrate deep into the lungs, creating a hazard for those who already have heart or lung problems such as asthma, emphysema or COPD. (Karlamangla, 12/8)

Funding model able to cover needs of Hong Kong’s public hospitals, health chief insists

Hong Kong’s health chief on Saturday said community health care services must be strengthened to reduce hospitalisation rates, after the city’s public hospitals reported their first financial deficit in eight years.

But Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee insisted that the current funding model for the Hospital Authority would be able to meet the growing needs of health care service providers as the city’s population aged in the coming decades.

Public health care spending has been on the rise in recent years, with expenditure this financial year standing at HK$62 billion, up HK$3.2 billion from 2016-17.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced in her maiden policy address in October that an extra HK$2 billion of annual funding would be set aside for the Hospital Authority, starting from next year, to meet rising demand.

 Funding model able to cover needs of Hong Kong's public hospitals, health chief insists

The adjustment proved to be timely for the body, which manages the city’s 41 public medical institutions. According to its annual report submitted to the city’s legislature on Friday, it recorded a deficit of HK$1.52 billion in the year ending March 31.

It was the first time the authority had been in the red since 2009-10, when it lost HK$28.2 million.

Expenditure last year totalled HK$62.3 billion, representing a 6.6 per cent increase.

Most of the spending went on staff payrolls, which shot up 6.9 per cent to HK$43.1 billion, with the five highest-paid executives costing HK$27.1 million alone.

Easing the overcrowding in Hong Kong’s public hospitals starts with an informed public

The top earner was the authority’s chief executive, Leung Pak-yin, who got a 4.3 per cent pay rise to net HK$6 million.

The deficit was covered by the body’s reserves, which now stand at HK$13 billion.

Responding to the authority’s financial woes, Chan admitted it was inevitable that public hospital spending would only go up in future.

“With an ageing population and chronic diseases, [health care] services need to keep growing,” she said on Saturday.

 Funding model able to cover needs of Hong Kong's public hospitals, health chief insists

Apart from the extra HK$2 billion in public funding Lam has pledged, her predecessor Leung Chun-ying also suggested increasing recurrent funding every three years to tackle “population growth” and “demographic changes”.

Chan said another solution would be to strengthen primary health care services at the district level so as to reduce the need for people to rush to hospitals and emergency wards.

“If we do not boost primary services in the community, that is, focus on the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of care, the situation may become worse,” Chan said.

Hong Kong’s health priority should be elderly care in the community not more hospitals

According to the government’s Department of Health, primary care is the first point of contact for most patients along with health promotions, disease prevention strategies and rehabilitative services.

Secondary and tertiary care, meanwhile, includes specialist and hospital services.

Overcrowding at the city’s public hospitals has long been a problem.

During the peak flu season this summer, the occupancy rate at the city’s 17 hospitals with inpatient services reached 114 per cent on one night in July.

Funding model able to cover needs of Hong Kong’s public hospitals, health chief insists

Hong Kong’s health chief on Saturday said community health care services must be strengthened to reduce hospitalisation rates, after the city’s public hospitals reported their first financial deficit in eight years.

But Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee insisted that the current funding model for the Hospital Authority would be able to meet the growing needs of health care service providers as the city’s population aged in the coming decades.

Public health care spending has been on the rise in recent years, with expenditure this financial year standing at HK$62 billion, up HK$3.2 billion from 2016-17.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced in her maiden policy address in October that an extra HK$2 billion of annual funding would be set aside for the Hospital Authority, starting from next year, to meet rising demand.

 Funding model able to cover needs of Hong Kong's public hospitals, health chief insists

The adjustment proved to be timely for the body, which manages the city’s 41 public medical institutions. According to its annual report submitted to the city’s legislature on Friday, it recorded a deficit of HK$1.52 billion in the year ending March 31.

It was the first time the authority had been in the red since 2009-10, when it lost HK$28.2 million.

Expenditure last year totalled HK$62.3 billion, representing a 6.6 per cent increase.

Most of the spending went on staff payrolls, which shot up 6.9 per cent to HK$43.1 billion, with the five highest-paid executives costing HK$27.1 million alone.

Easing the overcrowding in Hong Kong’s public hospitals starts with an informed public

The top earner was the authority’s chief executive, Leung Pak-yin, who got a 4.3 per cent pay rise to net HK$6 million.

The deficit was covered by the body’s reserves, which now stand at HK$13 billion.

Responding to the authority’s financial woes, Chan admitted it was inevitable that public hospital spending would only go up in future.

“With an ageing population and chronic diseases, [health care] services need to keep growing,” she said on Saturday.

 Funding model able to cover needs of Hong Kong's public hospitals, health chief insists

Apart from the extra HK$2 billion in public funding Lam has pledged, her predecessor Leung Chun-ying also suggested increasing recurrent funding every three years to tackle “population growth” and “demographic changes”.

Chan said another solution would be to strengthen primary health care services at the district level so as to reduce the need for people to rush to hospitals and emergency wards.

“If we do not boost primary services in the community, that is, focus on the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of care, the situation may become worse,” Chan said.

Hong Kong’s health priority should be elderly care in the community not more hospitals

According to the government’s Department of Health, primary care is the first point of contact for most patients along with health promotions, disease prevention strategies and rehabilitative services.

Secondary and tertiary care, meanwhile, includes specialist and hospital services.

Overcrowding at the city’s public hospitals has long been a problem.

During the peak flu season this summer, the occupancy rate at the city’s 17 hospitals with inpatient services reached 114 per cent on one night in July.

Millennials’ struggle with health bills could push hospitals to change

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a1384_104884108-image1.530x298 Millennials' struggle with health bills could push hospitals to change

Jonathan and Nikia Reynolds are still deciding on a new health plan for 2018, weighing the pros and cons of a high-deductible insurance plan to try to keep their monthly premium lower.

“How it’s supposed to work, I kind of get all that stuff. … In practice, it’s usually less clear,” said Jonathan, a 34-year old Atlanta-based freelance video photographer.

At least, that’s how he felt after a late-night trip to the emergency room a couple of years ago resulted in months of confusing bills in the mail.

“I would get bills way after the fact, and it was never clear exactly what the bills were from, and how they related to what the insurance covered,” he said.

As the first generation to come of age under Obamacare, millennials are finding the new rules of consumer-driven health care tough to navigate.

More than half of millennials, 57 percent, say they have little to no understanding of how out-of pocket health costs such as co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance work, according to a new report from consumer credit firm TransUnion. By contrast, about 40 percent of baby boomers admit to limited knowledge about their benefits.

“Millennials came into the health-care market at a really volatile time, when cost-shifting was really happening … [and] deductibles have quadrupled,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal at TransUnion’s health-care unit.

For hospitals and other health providers, millennial patients — born from 1980 to 1994 — are proving to be a challenge when it comes to collecting payment for bills.

Nearly 3 in 4 millennials, 74 percent, failed to pay their medical expenses in full when first billed in 2016; that’s up from 64 percent in 2014, TransUnion’s survey said.

The vast majority cited limited savings for not paying, but nearly half of those surveyed say they’d be more apt to pay if they could get a cost estimate up front.

“They don’t pay their bills on time because they don’t understand them. That’s pretty typical of that generation — they’re not going to pay until somebody explains it to them,” said Wiik, who consults with hospitals on bill collection.

He says hospitals are starting to change the way they have traditionally billed, by trying to prepare patients for what their out of pocket costs will be ahead of treatment, and working out flexible payment plans to allow patients to pay over time.

But the hospitals have a long way to go.

“I don’t think any millennial pays their bills on paper,” Wiik said. “That’s how hospitals are billing right now. … It’s a big gap that the industry’s going to have to help fill.”

Jonathan Reynolds is hoping not to see any hospital bills in the mail any time soon.

“I know health care is complicated,” he said, but it’s high time for real “simplification of how deductibles and co-pays are explained, and just the process of billing itself.”

a1384_104884108-image1.530x298 Millennials' struggle with health bills could push hospitals to change



Computer outages at hospitals, health centres ‘highest priority,’ says SNB

Computer outages at hospitals and health-care centres across the province that have forced staff to revert to paper files, cancel some services and turn some patients away have been escalated to Service New Brunswick’s “highest priority,” says a spokesperson.

Technical staff believe they have zeroed in on the “root cause” of the problem wreaking havoc for the Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network, SNB’s director of communications Valerie Kilfoil told CBC News early Tuesday evening.

She did not elaborate or offer any estimate on how long it might take to fix.

“A substantial number of systems are impacted and teams have been working through the day and will continue to work throughout the evening to recover systems and ensure data integrity across systems is maintained.”

The problem started around 6 a.m. Tuesday when Service New Brunswick’s data centre in Saint John experienced a “partial outage,” said Kilfoil.

“At 8:50, the incident was escalated to highest priority within SNB.”

‘Major outage’ at Horizon

The Horizon Health Network is dealing with a “major outage,” affecting “every conceivable department,” confirmed Brenda Kinney, executive director for the Saint John area, which stretches from Sussex to St. Stephen.

Horizon’s hardest-hit services include radiation oncology treatments, which are computer-operated, blood and specimen collection labs, community health centres and clinics, Kinney said.

‘The longer it goes, the bigger the impact.’
– Brenda Kinney, Horizon 

Nearly 100 radiation oncology patients who had appointments scheduled at the Saint John Regional Hospital, for example, had their appointments cancelled, she said.

But they will all be rescheduled within the next two or three days, she said.

So far, the impact on patient care has been “very minimal,” said Kinney.

“As it progresses, it causes more challenges” because having to write things down takes longer and slows everything, she said.

“The longer it goes, the bigger the impact.”

Plans are underway to bring in extra staff and possibly extend hours of operation to help with any backlog and to input data once the systems are restored to ensure electronic records are up to date, she said.

Vitalité Health Network officials did not respond to a request for an interview.

80-year-old’s fast was pointless

John Bone, an 80-year-old with diabetes, wondered why the media or affected patients like him weren’t notified.

He fasted for 13 hours to get some routine blood work done, but when he went to the Market Place Wellness Centre on Saint John’s west side around 9 a.m., he was told he couldn’t be served.

“They told me that all the computers were down. So I said, ‘Well cant you just go the old-fashioned way and just write it down on a piece of paper in a file?’

“They said, ‘No, we have to have a computer to put your name in and find out what everything is.'”

Bone and his wife of 50 years, Ann, who “wasn’t impressed” about having to get up early to drive him, weren’t pleased. Bone said he was “almost falling over” because of low blood sugar levels from fasting.  

Kinney could not speak to what Bone was told but did say switching to a paper-based system at some of the smaller centres, such as blood clinics, “slows things down to the extent that they really can only do priority patients … those that it’s absolutely urgent that they have their blood tests done.”

“In some areas, they did stop doing specimen collection altogether.”

Affected patients will be rescheduled, but the scheduling system is also down, so staff could not immediately provide new appointments, said Kinney. Patients will be contacted at a later date,” she said.

‘Almost impossible’ to notify patients

Kinney said she understands the frustration some patients may be feeling.

But it would be “very challenging … almost impossible,” to contact the “hundreds and hundreds” of patients individually with existing resources, she said.

And without knowing how long the outage would last, the system could be back up and running by the time patients arrive for their appointments.

“We don’t want to cancel a whole day if the system’s only going to be down for a short period of time,” Kinney said.

Most patients have been “quite understanding,” she said. They know “we’ll do our best to get their care done as soon as we’re able to.”

“It’s definitely an inconvenience to everyone.”

Horizon officials started noticing around 6 a.m. that “several” of its computer applications either weren’t working or were intermittent, said Kinney.

Technicians, vendors on site

They were notified by their IT department through Service New Brunswick that they “in fact were experiencing a major outage,” she said.

That’s when staff were advised to go to manual processes, which is normal procedure during any computer downtime.

By mid-morning, vendors and SNB technical staff were onsite to conduct diagnostics and repairs, said Kilfoil.

The team is following the “incident management process,” to resolve the issue, she said.

Service New Brunswick has been in regular communication with the regional health authorities, said Kilfoil, “and this will continue until the issue is fully resolved,” she added.

Coordinated care with doctors and hospitals can improve health and save money

 

Robin Gladden’s most traumatic moments weren’t due to her being raised by abusive, drug-addicted parents in a violence-plagued community. Instead, she says it was because of mistakes and neglect by the health care system. 

Gladden, 62, is a thyroid cancer survivor who also has diabetes, bursitis, high blood pressure, acid reflux and sciatica. She’s now a satisfied patient of Kaiser Permanente, a more established form of accountable care organization (ACO) that both treats and insures its patients. 

7408a_636476822964254416-AshaneaKP-2 Coordinated care with doctors and hospitals can improve health and save money

More typical accountable care organizations are groups of doctors and hospitals that coordinate the care of patients. Kaiser Permanente employs all of Gladden’s doctors and is the insurer she pays her insurance premiums to each month. That means Kaiser loses money if her conditions aren’t managed correctly. 

This financial incentive is supposed to lower the cost and improve the quality of care. 

ACOs are a big part of the Affordable Care Act’s strategy to focus health care more on quality than the quantity of services provided. But it’s one that ‘s far more likely to survive efforts to undermine and replace the law. Although the Trump administration has rolled back or delayed other ACA reforms, such as paying orthopedic surgeons a lump sum for some surgeries, ACOs remain popular with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  

“The idea is good: To give the doctors and hospitals a reasonable pot of money and put them, not insurers, in charge of how it is used to help patients,” says physician Adams Dudley, director of the Center for Healthcare Value of the University of California San Francisco. “This has led to some very beneficial interventions, like patient education programs to help people monitor and control their own diabetes, which can save money and improve outcomes.” 

But sometimes, especially for organizations with a short-term view, giving doctors and hospitals a fixed budget has just resulted in them doing what some insurers do: “Deny needed care,” says Dudley, also a professor at UCSF’S medical school.

Kaiser Permanente health plans were top-ranked for controlling high blood pressure, breast cancer screening and 19 other measures for commercial insurance plans, according to quality data out last year by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. 

In September, the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings for 2017-18 rated Kaiser Permanente health plans as among the nation’s top performers for consumer experience, prevention and treatment.  NCQA’s annual report rates more than 1,000 health plans, including Medicare, Medicaid and Private (commercial), on a 0-to-5 scale, with 5 being the best. 

Only 15 health plans in the country — about 1% — were given a five out of five this year. Kaiser Permanente had six of them, which was more than any other organization. All of Kaiser’s plans scored 4.0 or higher for overall care.

Dudley is more guarded in his take on Kaiser and other ACOs, which he says haven’t been able to “break sharply from the mainstream of American medicine.” 

“As a result, the performance of Kaiser and similar organizations (overall) isn’t much different than average,” he says.  

7408a_636476822964254416-AshaneaKP-2 Coordinated care with doctors and hospitals can improve health and save money

Caravan Health, a health care consulting firm that provides services to ACOs, released data recently showing that its clients saved more than $28 million in 2016 while others that weren’t Caravan’s clients in a Medicare pilot program increased spending by $23 million. 

More similar to the Kaiser model where the insurer is part of the group, nearly 20% of Medicare patients are in ACOs that are either part of a permanent CMS program or in federal pilot projects. says Tim Gronniger, who was chief of staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Obama administration. 

More:

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New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

Overall, ACOs have “been successful in important ways,” says Gronniger, Caravan’s senior vice president for strategy.

There have been dramatic increases in quality almost uniformly across ACOs, says Gronniger.  That includes an increase in, among other things, preventive services provided, seniors getting their flu shots and the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, he notes. Among quality measures tracked by CMS, the three-year average score increased 15%. 

“If you had expectations that they were going to solve American health care costs in five years,” that hasn’t happened, Gronniger acknowledged. But there’s been progress, including big jumps in the quality of care Medicare patients receive and unprecedented collaboration between health care providers, he says and “that to me counts as successful.”  

7408a_636476822964254416-AshaneaKP-2 Coordinated care with doctors and hospitals can improve health and save money

Gladden has nothing but good things to say about the quality of her Kaiser care. It’s her experiences outside of Kaiser that have turned her into a believer in both Kaiser and wellness. She even hopes to publish a healthy eating cookbook. 

Before she received treatment under the Kaiser ACO, Gladden’s care depended on the often-contradictory advice of various doctors, which led her to develop diabetes, she said. She also experienced a very painful medication error in a non-Kaiser hospital when she went to have her thyroid removed because of her thyroid cancer. 

“I know what it feels like to be dying a painful death,” says Gladden. 

But the care provided through the Kaiser treated Gladden’s health holistically, not episodically. 

Primary care physician, Sos Mboijana has treated Gladden at Kaiser Permante’s Capitol Hill office for the past 10 years. When she first went to him, Gladden sat down with 10 pages of notes she had taken about her various conditions. After all of her mishaps, she wasn’t taking any chances. 

Now, thanks to his treatment and attention to detail, all of her conditions are under control.

“That’s someone who’s engaged,” she says. “That’s someone who is connected.” 

Wells is a fellow with the Urban Health Media Project, which O’Donnell co-founded. UHMP fellow Louis Steptoe contributed to this report

Maine Voices: Proposed unification of hospitals about balance sheet, not health care

BELFAST — Between a rock and hard place: That’s where Waldo County General Hospital sits amid an impending decision about its unification with the MaineHealth system.

As a board member first of Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, and then of Coastal Healthcare Alliance following a partnership with Rockport-based Penobscot Bay Medical Center, I’ve watched Waldo County General Hospital being squeezed and pressed in its uncomfortable position for the past year. Next week it will finally be irrevocably reshaped, and I don’t yet know how.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JB Turner is president of Front Street Shipyard and a Coastal Healthcare Alliance board member.


2ae28_photostore-icon Maine Voices: Proposed unification of hospitals about balance sheet, not health care

My fellow Coastal Healthcare Alliance board members and I each will cast a vote Tuesday to either become part of the growing MaineHealth machine or remain a semi-independent entity. For months our board meetings have been consumed by deep discussions regarding the merits of unification. We’ve hosted supplemental workshops and outreach programs for both the Waldo and Pen Bay areas. Each of us has struggled alone and as a group with the predicted financial, health and community repercussions of unification.

I regularly voice my opinion to my fellow board members that this decision about unification is actually a choice about control of the balance sheet, not health care. If our two hospitals are part of MaineHealth, our two revenue streams – and deficits – are also part of MaineHealth. Funds from all of MaineHealth’s hospitals will move around the entire state to create a balanced budget. For Pen Bay, which suffers annual losses, MaineHealth’s control will be a benefit, zeroing out its debt. For Waldo County General Hospital, which enjoys a healthy surplus, MaineHealth’s control will result in a huge loss of the funds that could benefit its immediate community.

This imbalance in the bottom lines of the two Coastal Healthcare Alliance hospitals helps to divide the votes across our board. Members with closer ties to Pen Bay are much more likely to support the unification, which would ease its financial burden. Many of us who hail from Waldo County feel like Waldo County General Hospital’s surplus – the result of the leadership’s careful navigation of the health care system’s regulations – will be appropriated unfairly by organizations that haven’t been as forward-thinking as ours.

During our deliberations several months ago, we considered dissolving Coastal Healthcare Alliance so the two hospitals could vote independently about unification with MaineHealth. That motion never made it to a board vote, so we remain together, yet slightly divided.

When we look beyond the dollars and cents, we see other potential bureaucratic costs that we can’t forecast. Will our local hospitals lose control of their destinies when MaineHealth exerts its control? Will we need approval for every new piece of life-saving equipment, new doctor or new facility? And what happens to the quality of our hospitals if we don’t get it?

These fears are shared by many of our doctors and health staff. Our board can’t appease their anxieties; we have no clear vision of a “unified” future. We either take the chance with MaineHealth and believe in the good intentions of its executives, or we push back and see if we can make it on our own without the corporate safety net.

I often struggle to believe in those good intentions when our ongoing negotiations with MaineHealth fall flat. As part of the unification, MaineHealth has guaranteed that Waldo County General Hospital and Pen Bay each will have a MaineHealth board representative for five years. After that period, no hospital – other than Maine Medical Center – is guaranteed a seat at MaineHealth’s decision-making table. Our Coastal Healthcare Alliance board has asked MaineHealth multiple times to reconsider our board seats, but it won’t budge.

What if we at Coastal Healthcare Alliance decide not to budge? We wouldn’t be thrown out of MaineHealth, but we would begin an uncharted course. Our hospitals would become outliers in the system. Just as our doctors are concerned they might not get much-needed equipment if we unify with MaineHealth, our board is concerned we might not get critical support for our hospitals if we don’t unify.

Should next week’s vote support unification, our organizations will move into a very expensive planning phase for the merger, which will take a significant amount of time and resources. Should the vote be against unification, we’ll begin our daunting journey into the future of health care alone.

As both a Waldo County resident and as a Maine business leader, I’m squeezed between that rock and hard place with little room to breathe before next Tuesday’s vote.

— Special to the Press Herald


2ae28_photostore-icon Maine Voices: Proposed unification of hospitals about balance sheet, not health care


2ae28_photostore-icon Maine Voices: Proposed unification of hospitals about balance sheet, not health care


2ae28_photostore-icon Maine Voices: Proposed unification of hospitals about balance sheet, not health care


2ae28_photostore-icon Maine Voices: Proposed unification of hospitals about balance sheet, not health care


Send questions/comments to the editors.

This is Government Health Care – discounted medicines for hospitals, but no discounts for you. Enough!


Survey: 43 say health care is causing them the most stress

Fox Biz Flash: Wednesday, 11/1

It is no secret that federal health programs are growing at an unwieldy and ultimately cataclysmic rate. ObamaCare, Medicaid expansion, growing entitlements and new mandates are all contributing to the unchecked expansion of government controlled health care and the increasing liability for taxpayers.

In simple terms, the solution is to institute policies that will allow free-market principles to foster an environment where the individual patient is empowered just as customers are in virtually every other market. Such a market would allow consumers to choose medical care and insurance based on value and cost, rather than allow market participants and providers to rig the system to reap windfall profits due to government patronage.

This consolidation of medical services at the expense of patients shockingly underscores what government intrusion ultimately means for health care – less access, fewer choices and increased costs for patients, and taxpayers.

Case in point, a number of hospitals are taking advantage of a program that provides discounts on medications for low-income patients by turning it into a rich, unwarranted source of  new cash. As established, hospitals can qualify for substantial discounts on medications through the Medicare 340B program without necessarily providing care to low-income patients. Even worse, hospitals are not required to pass along the discounted rates to the patients themselves.   In fact, under our current health care and insurance systems, patients are largely powerless consumers.

The reason certain hospitals exploit the 340B program is a basic lack of price transparency. Hospitals are not required to post prices for treatments or medications. As a result, price disparity is staggering. For example, prices for nuclear stress tests across the New England area can range from $1,450 to over $7,000.

Because the 340B discounts extend to medications administered in clinics and outpatient facilities owned by the hospital, the program incentivizes hospitals to purchase small physician practices and convert them into hospital facilities. Not only does this mean that consumers face fewer choices due to this consolidation, care administered by hospitals is in many cases much more expensive than that administered in a doctor’s office.  Not only do patients fail to receive the discounts that hospitals do, they also face a price increase for the same treatment.

Many hospitals have figured out how to reap the rewards from the program and are applying to participate in the program at an alarming rate. In fact, between 2005 and 2011, the number of hospitals and affiliated sites participating in 340B quadrupled, according to the GAO. This expansion was acutely exacerbated by the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, which made even more hospitals eligible for the program. As of 2013, over 10,000 entities are participating in 340B.

This consolidation of medical services at the expense of patients shockingly underscores what government intrusion ultimately means for health care – less access, fewer choices and increased costs for patients, and taxpayers.

The research–and-development based drug innovators and scientists are investing billions to bring critical new medicines to patients that need them. The hospitals, PBM’s and insurance companies have been in affect incentivized to take advantage of the obsolete ObamaCare program via murky regulatory and legislative loopholes at the expense of patients.  This includes failing to publicly acknowledge – and pass on to consumers – steep discounts that are negotiated between themselves and drug makers.

It is critical for policymakers at both the legislative and regulatory levels to pursue changes that increase choice and boost consumerism in our medical care market. Tackling the flaws in a program that ostensibly was established to lower costs for low-income patients, but too often doesn’t, seems a pretty good place to initiate reforms such as transparency in pricing and passing on drug cost savings to consumers.

Fortunately, both Congress and the Trump Administration have taken some steps in that direction on the 340B program in recent months. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is examining oversight and utilization of the program. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would be reducing some Medicare reimbursement rates for drugs administered by 340B hospitals to help curb abuse of the program.

And in a clear indication that they’re on the right track to cancelling the blank check hospitals have been exploiting, several hospital associations immediately threatened to sue CMS over the change.  Good! Let them do so and they will then have to defend their indefensible  practices in full view of the public.

Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity”.

As Health Care Changes, Insurers, Hospitals and Drugstores Team Up

Given the uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act and the potentially limited appeal of the core insurance business, insurers are looking to follow the strategy pursued by UnitedHealth Group. The big insurer, which acquired a chain of outpatient surgery centers earlier this year, has a wide array of profitable health care businesses like its own pharmacy benefit manager and various consulting arms through its Optum unit.

While the companies promote these partnerships to employers and consumers as one-stop shopping, they could also put customers at a disadvantage by limiting their choices and increasing medical costs.

Under these arrangements, people may not be able to see doctors outside the organization’s own medical group. In addition, patients may worry that their doctor will decide not to order an expensive test to exact savings for the business partners — the insurer and the health organization. An in-house pharmacy benefit manager could direct customers to certain drugs because its manufacturer offers hefty rebates even if the medicine is more expensive or does not work as well as a competitor’s.

And the combined clout of the companies could push consumers’ expenses higher.

Employers that purchase coverage on behalf of their workers may also have difficulty determining how much they are paying for a given medicine or a particular service, said Edward A. Kaplan, a senior vice president at Segal Consulting. There’s already a lack of transparency when it comes to drug prices, and employers may have even less information if the insurer and the pharmacy benefit manager are the same entity. “It’s going to be harder for us to get behind the curtain,” Mr. Kaplan said.

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b21c8_merlin_127164188_4f9354e3-79bc-4384-8af1-daa08cbbe310-master675 As Health Care Changes, Insurers, Hospitals and Drugstores Team Up

Aetna started offering joint plans with Inova in 2013, and the partnership now covers more than 193,000 people in Northern Virginia.

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Becky Harlan for The New York Times

Companies are actively looking for partners that will provide an entree into new businesses or a new supply of customers. CVS Health, which started as a drugstore chain, operates a large pharmacy benefit manager as well as walk-in clinics in its drugstores. By combining with Aetna, which covers about 22 million people, CVS would be able to direct members to its own mail-order and pharmacy business and to its walk-in clinics, located in its drugstores, for much of their care.

“It’s a sign of the continued integration in health care,” said Tom Robinson, a partner for Oliver Wyman, a consultant that estimated there have been about 200 partnerships created between insurers and large health groups in the last five years. By sharing in the profits or losses of these ventures, the parties say they work more closely to make sure a patient gets the right medicine or has access to a doctor at a nearby clinic instead of resorting to an emergency room.

The savings can be tangible. Anthem, which recently announced that it plans to start its own pharmacy benefit manager, estimated it could save $4 billion a year, the bulk of which it said would result in lower drug costs for customers.

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These partnerships can also represent a dramatic departure from the status quo. In many situations, an insurer and a hospital group would barely talk to each other outside a meeting every year or so to haggle over how much to pay for a knee replacement or an overnight hospital stay. The discussions rarely include how to better manage the care of a patient whose asthma goes untreated or has back pain that would be better treated with physical therapy.

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The contract negotiations between insurers and hospital systems tend to be “a zero-sum game,” said Brigitte Nettesheim, a senior executive with Aetna. Once the contract is signed, and a conflict arises over the cost or choice of a treatment, the patient is the one often caught in the middle.

Aetna started offering joint plans with Inova, a large organization in Northern Virginia, in 2013. The partnership now covers more than 193,000 people. Patients see a doctor who belongs to a special network of primary-care physicians and specialists, most of whom are not employed by Inova but work together closely with the system to coordinate care for patients.

Inova was able to finance the creation of this network through the joint venture, and it is now experimenting with new ways of paying the network’s doctors so they bear more responsibility for the overall effectiveness of the care they deliver. If they save money by caring for the patient more efficiently, they share in the savings.

Patients in these joint ventures are also assigned a nurse who helps them navigate the system. When a cardiologist prescribed a new cholesterol medicine that required a $200 co-payment, the nurse was able to call the doctor to find a less expensive alternative, saving the patient nearly $2,300 a year, Ms. Nettesheim said. “It’s about these open lines of communication,” she said.

When Banner Health, a large group based in Phoenix, partnered with Aetna to offer a joint health plan, it decided to add 35 retail clinics where people could get care after-hours or closer to their homes rather than show up in the system’s emergency rooms. The clinics “are lower-cost options for our members and more convenient,” said Chuck Lehn, the president of the Banner Health Network.

It’s too soon to tell whether these new combinations will succeed in delivering on the promises made when they join forces. “They just tied the knot,” Mr. Robinson of Oliver Wyman said. “Now they have to build the relationship.”


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Should Hospitals Be Punished For Post-Surgical Patients’ Opioid Addiction?

e3086_1010_hospital-accountability-opioids01-1000x666-62a1dfee72d4f0c79bbf9c36e4743adb7c75eda1-s1100-c15 Should Hospitals Be Punished For Post-Surgical Patients' Opioid Addiction?

After two weeks of recovery from an addiction to opioids prescribed by her surgeon, Katie Herzog takes a walk with her dog, Pippen.

Jesse Costa/WBUR


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After two weeks of recovery from an addiction to opioids prescribed by her surgeon, Katie Herzog takes a walk with her dog, Pippen.

Jesse Costa/WBUR

In April this year, Katie Herzog checked into a Boston teaching hospital for what turned out to be a nine-hour-long back surgery.

The 68-year-old consulting firm president left the hospital with a prescription for Dilaudid, an opioid used to treat severe pain, and instructions to take two pills every four hours as needed. Herzog took close to the full dose for about two weeks.

Then, worried about addiction, she began asking questions. “I said, ‘How do I taper off this? I don’t want to stay on this drug forever, you know? What do I do?’ ” Herzog says, recalling conversations with her various providers.

She never got a clear answer.

When none of her providers explained to Herzog how to wean herself off the Dilaudid, she turned to Google. She eventually found a Canadian Medical Association guide to tapering opioids.

“So I started tapering from 28 [milligrams], to 24 to 16,” Herzog says, scrolling through a pocket diary with red cardinals on the cover that she used to keep track.

About a month after surgery, she had a follow-up visit with her surgeon. She had reached the end of her self-imposed tapering path the day before and at the doctor’s, she recalls feeling quite sick.

“I was teary, I had diarrhea, I was vomiting a lot, I had muscle pains, headache, I had a low-grade fever,” Herzog says.

The surgeon thought she had a virus and told her to see her internist. Her internist came to the same conclusion.

She went home and suffered through five days of what she came to realize was acute withdrawal, and two more weeks of fatigue, nausea and diarrhea.

“I had every single symptom in the book,” Herzog says. “And there was no recognition by these really professional, senior, seasoned doctors at Boston’s finest hospitals that I was going through withdrawal.”

Herzog did not name any of the providers who had something to do with her pain management or missed signs of withdrawal. She said she sees this as a system-wide problem. Herzog did share medical records that support her story. After the withdrawal, she did not crave Dilaudid and she manages any lingering pain with Tylenol. She has since returned to her providers, who’ve acknowledged that she was in withdrawal.

Not an isolated incident

Herzog’s story is one doctors are hearing more and more. “We have many clinicians prescribing opioids without any understanding of opioid withdrawal symptoms,” says Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University’s Heller School. One reason, Kolodny says, is that doctors don’t realize how quickly a patient can become dependent on drugs like Dilaudid.

Sometimes that dependence leads to full-blown addiction. The majority of street drug users say they switched to heroin after prescribed painkillers became too expensive.

Now, a handful of doctors and hospital administrators are asking, if an opioid addiction starts with a prescription after surgery or some other hospital-based care, should the hospital be penalized? As in: Is addiction a medical error along the lines of some hospital-acquired infections?

Writing for the blog and journal Health Affairs, three physician-executives with the Hospital Corporation of America argue for calling it just that.

“It arises during a hospitalization, is a high-cost and high-volume condition, and could reasonably have been prevented through the application of evidence-based guidelines,” write Drs. Michael Schlosser, Ravi Chari and Jonathan Perlin.

The authors admit it would be hard for hospitals to monitor all patients given an opioid prescription in the weeks and months after surgery, but they say hospitals need to try.

“Addressing long-term opioid use as a hospital-acquired condition will draw a clear line between appropriate and inappropriate use, and will empower hospitals to develop evidenced-based standards of care for managing post-operative pain adequately while also helping protect the patient from future harm,” said Schlosser in an emailed response to questions.

Kolodny said it’s an idea worth considering.

“We’re in the midst of a severe opioid epidemic, caused by the over-prescribing of opioids,” Kolodny says. “Putting hospitals on the hook for the consequences of aggressive opioid prescribing makes sense to me.”

Potential addiction vs. pain management awareness

But penalizing hospitals for patients who become addicted to opioids conflicts with payments tied to patient satisfaction surveys. Hospitals that do not adequately address patients’ pain may lose money for low patient satisfaction scores. In response to the opioid epidemic, patient surveys are shifting from questions like, “Did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?” to questions that emphasize talking to patients about their pain. But physicians may still prescribe more, rather than fewer, opioids to avoid retribution from dissatisfied patients.

“This is a real concern that patients who may feel that their pain is under-managed may take that out in these patient report cards,” says Dr. Gabriel Brat, a trauma surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who studies the use of opioids after surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Most patients leave the hospital with more pain meds than they need. Studies show that between 67 and 92 percent of patients have opioid pills left over after common surgical procedures.

One reason that may contribute to over-prescribing is that patients vary a lot. Brat said about 10 percent of patients need intense pain management, while the others, not so much, but it’s difficult to identify that 10 percent.

“Many surgeons are still prescribing opioids for the subset of patients that have higher requirements, as opposed to for the majority of patients who are taking a very small percentage of the pills that they are prescribed,” Brat explains.

There are no firm guidelines for which opioids to prescribe after surgery, at what dose or for how long. The CDC released opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain in 2016, but it included only brief references to acute pain.

Some opioid prescribing guidance for surgeons is emerging. A study published in September reviewed surgical records for 215,140 patients. It found that the optimal opioid prescription following general surgery is between four to nine days.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, WBUR and Kaiser Health News.

Banner’s Tucson hospitals, clinics in ‘painful period’ with computer system

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Feds investigating Cook County Health and Hospitals System exposure of patient data

The federal government is investigating a security lapse that exposed the personal information of more than 700 patients at Cook County Health and Hospitals System this year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has listed the data exposure among its current investigations.

The hospital system publicly acknowledged the incident in a news release in October, saying that it was notified by Experian Health in August that Experian mistakenly sent patient information to other health care facilities during a computer system upgrade in March.

That information included names, account numbers, medical record numbers and birthdays. Addresses, Social Security numbers and clinical information were not exposed in the incident, according to the hospital system.

Hospitals strained by ailing mental health system

MANKATO — An Essentia Health hospital in Brainerd was recently criticized for turning away certain patients with severe mental illnesses from its psychiatric units, but it’s far from the only health center in Minnesota feeling the strain of the state’s ailing mental health care system.

The controversy in Brainerd revolves around patients who’ve been court ordered to receive mental health care. The hospital highlighted in a recent Star Tribune story opted to only take in patients who voluntarily sought treatment to its 16-bed psychiatric unit.

With capacity at a minimum in psychiatric units, the hospital argued the civilly committed patients were taking up beds that could be used for other patients.

Hospitals in southern Minnesota have reported similar challenges, although none has gone as far as to divert certain patients in favor of others.

Bruce Sutor, clinical practice chair for psychiatry and psychology for Mayo Clinic, said even hospitals without psychiatric units are impacted by a mental health system that isn’t keeping up with the needs.

“It’s the case really statewide,” he said. “So it’s Rochester, it’s Mankato, in fact it’s every hospital that has an emergency department whether they have a psychiatric unit or not.”

Hospitals are typically obligated to care for patients who come in reporting a mental health crisis. A 2013 law, however, also requires the state to transfer inmates found to have mental illnesses to a state psychiatric  bed. The idea was these patients would be far better served in state facilities or hospitals than in jail. 

The problem is there aren’t enough beds at state-operated facilities to handle all these civilly committed patients, according to a 2016 Minnesota Hospital Association report on “avoidable” mental health days spent in hospitals. As much as 19 percent of bed stays at hospitals included in the study — Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato among them — were found to be avoidable.

If the private hospital doesn’t have a psychiatric unit, or they can’t find another unit to transfer the patient, an emergency room bed is sometimes the only option — Essentia later announced it would still treat civilly committed patients in their Brainerd ER if needed. Critics contend that, just like jails, this isn’t an ideal venue to treat the patient.

Sutor and other health care officials said they see the 2013 law as just a symptom of an underlying mental health problem facing the state. It started decades back as Minnesota shifted away from larger state mental health hospitals. The state rightly stopped “warehousing” patients by closing these facilities, Sutor said, but not enough beds were added elsewhere to make up for the loss. It left a shortage of beds that still hasn’t been addressed.

At Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, the psych unit consists of 14 beds. Other hospitals in the region with psychiatric units include Allina Health’s 10 beds each at New Ulm Medical Center and Owatonna Hospital.

Sutor said Mayo’s psychiatric beds are consistently 90 percent full. Paul Goering, vice president for the mental health and addiction clinical service line with Allina Health, cited the same percentage for his health care system’s 300 beds statewide.

These capacity issues led the Minnesota Hospital Association and Minnesota Department of Human Services to create a mental health service locator website. When no beds are available for a patient, this resource is used to find one elsewhere. It can result in a Bemidji patient being transported to Mankato and vice versa.

“It’s not uncommon that all the beds for Allina will be full and all the beds in the metro will be full, and then we do find alternates,” Goering said. 

Being so far away from their support systems back home raises a whole new set of issues, but it at least connects them with care.

One of the concerns surrounding St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd’s September decision to stop admitting certain patients to its psychiatric units was how it could further burden other hospitals.

“I have heard from health care executives and seen firsthand the real strain that these highly challenging patients put on hospitals across our state,” said Emily Piper, the state’s human services commissioner in a statement. “But denying them treatment will only shift the problem to other hospitals, whose emergency rooms and psychiatric units will be even more overtaxed.”

She also expressed fear other hospitals might follow suit. Sutor for Mayo, and Goering for Allina, confirmed their health systems have no such plans.

“All of our facilities are committed to continuing to work with these folks,” Sutor said.

No other health care systems in the state have publicly indicated otherwise. Without solutions, though, the strain won’t disappear on its own.

Goering said St. Joseph’s decision should be seen as another example of the troubled state of Minnesota’s mental health care system. He and Sutor both serve on the governor’s mental health task force.

Sutor suggested more mental health resources in schools, continued police training for dealing with people with mental illnesses, and establishing more permanent funding streams rather than five-year grants for mental health programs are among the first steps needed to fix the issue. 

Goering said he just hopes the Brainerd hospital situation spurs continued focus on the problem, rather than fleeting interest. 

“If this helps us garner attention and pick up momentum for gaining better services, that would be the one good outcome that could come of this,” he said. 

University Hospitals’ Otis Moss Jr. Health Center to prescribe healthy food to the Fairfax community (photos)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fairfax is a proud community, a God-fearing community, a community of neighbors, workers there say. It’s also a community in need.

On the city’s East side, bordering Hough and Woodland Hills, the Fairfax neighborhood is one of the areas the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program and the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission have identified as a food desert, an impoverished area with limited access to a grocery store. Sixty-six percent of residents are living below the poverty line, according to U.S. Census numbers, and some live up to 2 miles from a grocery store.

As many as 450,000 people in the county live in food deserts; group wants to increase access to supermarkets 

To meet that nutritional need, University Hospitals’ Otis Moss Jr. Health Center early next year will launch a food pharmacy. A new concept to the Cleveland area, the food pharmacy will provide patients with healthy food to try to combat systemic health problems.

For example, a nutritionist will give those with diabetes or hypertension prescriptions for a week’s worth of healthy food. The patient will then take the prescription to the food pharmacy upstairs and be given free food.

“Obviously, there’s a relationship between diet-related issues and access to healthy foods,” said Amanda Osborne, a community development educator for OSU Extension-Cuyahoga County, who has worked with local partners on food access in the county. “We have increasing rates of diabetes and hypertension and obesity. All of that is related to access to food, particularly access to healthy food.”

Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, chair for clinical excellence and diversity at UH, said food distributions at nearby Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, one of the center’s partners, have shown the need for healthy food in the Fairfax community.

“The food pharmacy, it’s a novel idea. People have bounced around ways to get rid of these food deserts,” Larkins-Pettigrew said. “The need definitely is there.”

The health center already serves as more than a medical office; it has a chapel, in tribute to the spiritual strength of the community and to its namesake, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., the former pastor of Olivet. And it offers legal and social services to the community.

It is because of these deeper ties to the community that Dr. Vera Paul-Jarrett, a nurse manager at Otis Moss, thinks the food pharmacy will work.

“This is a proud community. To say, ‘I need food,’ is a major issue to them,” Paul-Jarrett said. “Instead of having to be embarrassed by whatever system you may be in, you come here and it’s family. You’ve got your church. You’ve got your doctor. You’ve got your healthcare. Everything that you need, and everything that you primarily relate to is right here.”

Larkins-Pettigrew underscored the importance of Olivet’s involvement.

“The church is an icon in itself to the city,” Larkins-Pettigrew said. “To have them as the partner, to say, ‘we need to lead this effort, we need to be part of this partnership, to be involved in this effort,’ is significant.”

The addition of the food pharmacy on the second floor is part of a larger expansion effort planned for the health center in partnership with Olivet and the Olivet Community Development Corp.

Construction is set to begin in January to add a walk-in clinic, specialty services like mental health and addiction care and to create a center for men’s health. UH officials say they expect the walk-in clinic to serve roughly 2,500 people in its first year and about 4,500 annually by its fifth year.

“We want to take care of the uninsured and the poorly insured, as well as the insured,” Larkins-Pettigrew said.

The goal is to transform the health center, which has served the Fairfax community for 20 years, into an even greater resource for the community, the UH employees said. 

Outcome Health investors receive DOJ subpoenas as Chicago-area hospitals back away

The Justice Department is subpoenaing investors in Chicago-based Outcome Health in the wake of a lawsuit accusing the prominent health information and advertising startup of committing fraud to secure nearly $500 million in funding.

The orders from federal investigators, revealed in court documents filed by investors Thursday, come as hospitals and health care advertisers back away from the fast-growing company, which places interactive screens and tablets in doctors’ offices. The court filing indicates investors also anticipate inquiries from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The investors — including units of Goldman Sachs and Google and a fund co-founded by gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker — sued Outcome Health, CEO Rishi Shah and President Shradha Agarwal on Tuesday in New York. The lawsuit followed a Wall Street Journal report last month that said some Outcome Health employees charged pharmaceutical companies for ads on more video screens than the company had installed.

Outcome Health has denied the lawsuit’s allegations and has hired former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb to review issues raised in the Journal’s story.

Health Notes: Five Jacksonville hospitals get A safety grades from the Leapfrog Group – Florida Times

Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, the Mayo Clinic, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Southside and St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County all received A grades in the latest survey by the Leapfrog Group, a non-profit created by large employers and other purchasers of health insurance that issues annual safety reports.

Baptist Medical Center South, Baptist Medical Center Beaches and Baptist Medical Center Nassau all received B grades. Memorial Hospital, Orange Park Medical Center and the Southeast Georgia Health System’s Camden Campus received C grades. UF Health Jacksonville got a D grade.

Of the 2,632 hospitals receiving grades in this year’s survey, 832 earned an A, 662 a B, 964 a C, 159 a D and 15 an F.

MAYO TEAM TO STUDY DEMENTIA

Researchers have long known that genetics play a role in causing the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease, but genes, it turns out, are only part of the story. What’s come to light over the last several years is the incredible complexity of the disease, which involves not only genetic factors but also the vasculature of the brain.

A team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has received a grant of $3.5 million from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health to better understand the interconnected genetic and vascular pathways involved in Alzheimer’s. The grant follows a previous grant of $5.8 million.

Both grants went to a team led by co-principal investigators Guojun Bu, the Mary Lowell Leary professor of medicine and a professor of neuroscience, and Nilüfer Ertekin-Taner, professor of neurology and professor of neuroscience. Studies from the first grant laid the groundwork by establishing large-scale data sets of Alzheimer’s genomics, intended to increase the amount of information available and open up some new avenues of research. The latest grant aims to accelerate the path to developing treatments for the disease and novel biomarkers for diagnosis.

BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER NASSAU CITED

The Florida Hospital Association has awarded Baptist Medical Center the Community Benefit Achievement Award for hospitals under 150 beds for 2017. The honor was presented to Baptist Medical Center Nassau for its support of Barnabas Center, a safety net provider for lower-income individuals and families in Nassau County.

In 2005, when Barnabas Center began providing basic health services, caregivers from Baptist Nassau, a 62-bed community hospital, began seeing patients every Tuesday and Thursday evening. A large majority of the patients who were seen at the free, walk-up clinic were suffering from chronic diseases and needed a comprehensive medical home.

In 2014, Barnabas expanded its health services to offer primary medical care and chronic disease management to low-income or uninsured adults five days a week. Baptist Nassau pays the salary of a Baptist Nassau hospitalist who serves as the clinic’s medical director. Baptist Health pays the salary of one of the clinic’s part-time physician’s assistants.

RUN/WALK EARNS NATIONAL AWARD

Borland-Groover Clinic is the recipient of the 2017 Service Award for Colorectal Cancer Outreach, Prevention and Year-round Excellence Award for Most Vibrant Community Event. The award recognizes the impact of Borland-Groover Clinic’s 2017 March to Get Screened. The annual 5k run/walk is organized by Borland-Groover Clinic to spread awareness of colon cancer and raise funds to support research. The 2017 March to Get Screened saw nearly 600 attendees raise more than $50,000 for the cause.

MAYO’S MURRAY VOTED PRESIDENT OF ORTHOPAEDIC BOARD

Peter M. Murray, professor and chair of orthopaedic surgery for the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, has been elected president of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery for a one-year term. Murray, who does hand microsurgery, was elected to the board in 2011. His is currently co-chair of the Joint Committee on Surgery of the Hand.

BAPTIST HEALTH EARNS MAGNET DESIGNATION

Baptist Health has been notified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center that it has been re-designated as a Magnet Health System. Magnet is considered the gold standard among health care organizations that meet standards for quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice. Fewer than 7 percent of all registered hospitals in the United States enjoy Magnet designation, according to the American Hospital Association. This designation was earned simultaneously by all five Baptist hospitals and Baptist’s home health care division.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center, which is an independently governed organization within the American Nurses Association, first granted Baptist Health the Magnet designation in 2007. Baptist earned its second consecutive designation in 2012.

OPEN HOUSE AT FERNANDINA DIALYSIS CENTER

Fresenius Kidney Care, the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, will hold an open house 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at its new Fresenius Kidney Care Amelia Island Dialysis clinic, 960144 Gateway Blvd., Fernandina Beach. The clinic can treat a maximum of 72 patients a week.

Capital Health’s hospitals moving to ‘Tier 1’ in Horizon plan

TRENTON — Capital Health has announced that their two Mercer County hospitals will be classified as ‘Tier 1’ hospitals in the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey OMNIA health insurance plan.

The change takes effect Jan. 1, 2018 at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, in Trenton, and Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell.

The hospitals had been Tier 2 since the plans were introduced in late 2015, causing controversy and public debate.

Tier 2 hospitals, in OMNIA, had more costs associated with them, versus Tier 1 hospitals, which have lower put-of-pocket costs in the plan.

“This is a win-win-win for Capital Health, Horizon and most importantly, our patients,” Capital Health CEO Al Maghazehe said in a statement.

Capital Health had been one of a group of hospitals that sued Horizon after the OMNIA plans were announced and they were put into the Tier 2 status. The company dropped out of the suit in July 2016.

Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Health systems at odds over new hospitals proposed in Troy, Middletown

Kettering Health’s Troy hospital will have inpatient beds, and services like an ER, lab and imaging, surgery center and a medical office building. The Middletown site will have a full ER, imaging, and a medical office for physician practices, including primary care, and pending approval there will be 20 short stay beds.

Health systems at odds over new hospitals proposed in Troy, Middletown

Kettering Health’s Troy hospital will have inpatient beds, and services like an ER, lab and imaging, surgery center and a medical office building. The Middletown site will have a full ER, imaging, and a medical office for physician practices, including primary care, and pending approval there will be 20 short stay beds.




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