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Health commissioner lauds Mower County initiatives – Post

Regional Reporter

Hannah has covered Dodge, Fillmore, and Mower Counties as a regional reporter since June 2015. She originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio and is a 2015 graduate of Ohio University.

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Colorado losing a major headquarters as Catholic Health Initiatives merges with Dignity

Catholic Health Initiatives, which jointly operates Colorado’s largest hospital group, Centura Health, has signed a merger agreement with Dignity Health that will create a new nonprofit Catholic health group based in Chicago.

CHI, based in Arapahoe County near the Interstate 25 and E-470 interchange, employs about 720 people in the metro area, not counting Centura Health workers, and is one of the largest headquarters in Colorado based on revenue. Dignity Health is headquartered in San Francisco.

The two systems will bring together hospitals and clinics across a 28-state region. Chicago was chosen as the base for handling the integration because of its central geographic location and flight access, a CHI spokesman said Thursday.

“We are joining together to create a new Catholic health system, one that is positioned to accelerate the change from sick care to well care across the United States,” Kevin Lofton, chief executive officer of CHI, said in a statement issued Thursday.

CHI spokesman Michael Romano said it’s too early to know what impact the combination will have on specific jobs, departments, or services.

“We expect integration to take place over one to two years after the combination is complete, during which time we will operate in some ways as separate organizations,” he said.

CHI’s existing offices in metro Denver; Erlanger, Ky.; and Fargo, N.D., will remain open and employees at those locations won’t be required to move during the integration, Romano said.

But some streamlining will occur at some point, he added.

CHI was formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems. That same year, CHI teamed with Adventist Health System to jointly operate Centura Health, which has 17 hospitals in Colorado and is based in Centennial.

CHI operates 100 hospitals and 30 critical care facilities in 17 states. It reported $15.5 billion in revenues and owned assets valued at $21.9 billion in its most recent fiscal year.

Dignity Health got its start in 1986 when two congregations of the Sisters of Mercy combined. It has 400 care centers and a network of more than 9,000 doctors across a 22-state region. The 39 hospitals it operates are located in California, Arizona and Nevada.

Dignity Health generated $12.9 billion in revenues and owns assets valued at $17.4 billion. Both nonprofits provided more than $2 billion each in charity care the past year.

St. Luke’s Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health merging

  • 5f7ad_920x920 St. Luke's Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health merging



Keep going for a look at how Houston hospitals rate.

Keep going for a look at how Houston hospitals rate.

Photo: Houston Chronicle

Catholic Health Initiatives, the owner of St. Luke’s Health System, and Dignity Health have merged, the two Catholic institutions announced Thursday.

The agreement will create the largest non-profit health system in the country.

“We are joining together to create a new Catholic health system, one that is positioned to accelerate the change from sick-care to well-care across the United States,” Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives, said in a statement. “Our new organization will have the talent, depth, breadth, and passion to improve the health of every person and community we serve.”

Many businesses are looking to expand with monumental deals and acquisitions.

Media: Houston Chronicle

Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity, added that “by combining our ministries and building upon our shared mission, we will expand our commitment to meeting the needs of all people with compassion, regardless of income, ethnicity, or language. “We foresee an incredible opportunity to expand each organization’s best practices to respond to the evolving health care environment and deliver high-quality, cost-effective care.”

The new entity will comprise 139 hospitals and employ 159,000 people. Its combined revenue will be $28. 4 billion.

It is still unclear exactly what the merger will mean for CHI’s Texas division, which includes St. Luke’s in Houston. Catholic Health Initiatives acquired the venerable Houston hospital system in 2013.

Gov. Larry Hogan announces tech education initiatives for Maryland public schools

Gov. Larry Hogan plans to ask state lawmakers to set standards for computer science training in public schools, one of several steps he says will help create a more tech-savvy workforce in Maryland.

The Republican governor said Thursday that he’ll work with teachers, school system officials and business leaders in the coming months to develop goals for what children should be taught and a timeline for working the lessons into the curriculum.

He plans to propose legislation on the computer science standards in the next General Assembly session, which convenes Jan. 10.

The curriculum legislation was among several computer science training initiatives Hogan announced during a State House news conference. He called his plan ACCESS: “Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide.”

Rural broadband initiatives include internet speed test

BLUEFIELD — Both statewide and regional initiatives are underway to bring high-speed broadband services to underserved areas in West Virginia, and residents can help.

On the state level, the Broadband Enhancement Council, formed in 2016, is asking residents to test their internet speed.

According to the council’s website, the test will generate a statewide broadband coverage map to identify the presence and levels of broadband service around the state.

Called the Speed Test Portal, residents can visit the website, at, and click on the red icon that says “Take the speed test.” The test accurately measures their internet speed and records it.

“Folks in West Virginia can go to the website and put in their information, their address, take a speed test that’s provided by a third party that has nothing to do with the state of West Virginia and see what kind of speed they’re receiving as a user,” said Bob Hinton, chairman of the council.

State residents can then share their internet speed information on the portal.

“They can post those test results on our portal and we can then aggregate that data and cross check that data with the FCC data to get a really good idea of where broadband service is and what level of service is actually getting to the end customer,” Hinton said.

Mercer County Commissioner Bill Archer said having effective broadband access is a must now.

“To have greater broadband access I think is a great thing,” he said. “We are looking at increasing our internet speed in our system at the courthouse itself.”

Archer said funding is coming in from grants to expand and improve the service.

The commission recently approved a “memorandum of understanding” to be a participant in a Region One Planning and Development Council (PCD) plan to study broadband service in Southern West Virginia.

“We are all for it,” he said of Region One’s project. “It is a positive step.”

Jason Roberts, executive director of Region One, said $125,000 is being sought from Housing and Urban Development Community Block Grant (CDBG) funding that will be made available through the West Virginia Development Office.

“The CDBG application was submitted last week,” he said. “If awarded, the $125,000 will be used as a match to apply for another $125,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.”

Roberts said the funding will be used to hire a broadband engineering firm to perform a detailed study of the six-county region (McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming).

“The consultant will identify existing providers and technologies, as well as to map those locations that are unserved or underserved,” he said. “They will then engineer solutions for the provision of broadband based upon current technologies as well as anticipated growth patterns. Once the planning is complete, implementation funding will be sought from a variety of sources.”

Roberts said Region One is working “collectively” with the Region Four PDC (Fayette, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas and Webster counties) to “have a true regional plan that will provide the service necessary for regional economic development.”

Another tool related to the state’s enhancement effort is this year’s House Bill 3093, the Broadband Enhancement Expansion Policies, which was signed by Gov. Jim Justis and became effective last month.

Co-sponsored by Del. John Shott (R-Mercer County), the bill authorizes the creation of “cooperative associations” in remote areas.

The cooperatives would pool resources and be used as a “mechanism for folks that are not being served to work together” to gain access, Shott said, adding that at least 20 users, either businesses or individuals, would be needed to create a cooperative.

Rural areas have in the past been left out of obtaining high speed internet service from carriers for basically economic reasons.

“Part of the problem is the big carriers like Frontier say it’s not worth their investment,” he said, referring to extending the service into more remote areas by running the needed fiber optic cables. “They just can’t recoup their costs.”

Cooperatives would be eligible for federal grants, he said, which help create the “last mile infrastructure” of providing broadband access to virtually everyone.

That includes helping to pay for “microtrenching,” burying the fiber optic cables that are necessary to provide the service from carriers.

“Then Frontier (or another provider) can basically connect them (members of the cooperative) to the fiber optic network they have in a way that can be cost-effective,” he said.

Shott said it also provides a way for cooperatives to negotiate reasonable prices with carriers.

“The places (that are remote) where we do have the service, it’s extremely expensive, more so than in other areas,” he said.

State Sen. Chandler Swope supported the bill, saying, ““We have a tremendous need for broadband and I think the cooperative approach is one of the better ways to solve that. I’m totally in favor of it.”

That need is also echoed by Jim Spencer, economic development director for the City of Bluefield.

“Without access to broadband, our businesses cannot compete on a global scale,” he said recently, explaining that products are now marketed all around the country and the world.

“Broadband access is crucial as an economic development tool,” he added.

That “crucial” component is not lost at the federal level either.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued a joint statement earlier this week addressing a budget shortfall for the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF). That shortfall, they say, is limiting access to reliable and affordable broadband in rural communities.

The USF provides subsidies for telecommunication services in rural areas.

“A lack of resources to meet our (shared national broadband) goals is undermining investment and consumer access to affordable broadband across much of rural America,” the statement said. “For this reason, we write to encourage the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to take the much-needed step of addressing the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF) budget shortfall.”  

The senators said providers serving rural areas already have difficulty dealing with “an arbitrary budget cap” on USF support.

“We urge the FCC to take action as quickly as possible to ensure the High-Cost USF program provides sufficient and predictable support to help deliver affordable, high-quality broadband to rural consumers,” the statement said.

— Contact Charles Boothe at

Georgia Tech president creates fund for student mental health initiatives

Videos show the student pleading for police to “shoot me.” Tyler Beck, the officer who shot Schultz, had not undergone Crisis Intervention Training, which trains police on how to handle mentally ill suspects.