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How Hospitals Can Become 'Upstreamists'

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:27

Leveraging existing resources and strengthening relationships with community-based organizations can lead to "huge ROI" for hospitals, says public health innovator, Rishi Manchanda, MD.

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How Top-Ranked MA Plans Earn Their Stars

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:10

High-ranking health plans in the Medicare Advantage program share the strategies that have led to their success.

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Pentagon plans Ebola response team to assist US hospitals

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:02

The Pentagon plans to train a 30-person response team to assist hospitals in the event of a more serious Ebola outbreak in the U.S., officials announced Sunday. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said forming the team is a "prudent measure" to assure the Defense Department can respond quickly to a domestic outbreak if needed. U.S. Northern Command will form the team, expected to include 20 critical-care nurses and five doctors specializing in infectious diseases. An additional five trainers will be on hand to teach hospital staff the proper methods for containing the spread of Ebola.

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Hospitals sweat potential Ebola liability

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:00

As public health authorities moved to calm fears about the risk from Ebola, lawyers last week urged health care and other clients to take precautions against spreading the potentially fatal disease ? and to mitigate attendant lawsuits. Since the Oct. 8 death in Dallas of Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, questions have surfaced about whether the hospital and the doctors and nurses who treated him followed adequate protocols. Two nurses who treated Duncan have been diagnosed with Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attempted to assure the public that the disease is under control, but its handling of the situation was assailed during a congressional hearing on Oct. 16. Meanwhile, hospitals and medical providers crafted contingency plans in case the virus arrives at their doorstep.

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CEO of TX hospital group apologizes for mistakes in Ebola cases

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:56

At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease. Mr. Duncan's fiancée, Louise Troh, who nursed him in their cramped apartment while he suffered from diarrhea and who was put under state-ordered quarantine, was set to be declared Ebola-free by officials at the end of Sunday. So, too, were the paramedics who drove an ailing Mr. Duncan to a hospital and health care workers who drew or processed his blood.

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'I can no longer defend my hospital': Dallas nurse says Texas Health Presbyterian unprepared for Ebola

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:52

A Dallas nurse who cared for a co-worker who contracted the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said the facility was unprepared to fight the disease and she would "do anything" to avoid being treated there if she were ever to fall ill with the potentially deadly virus. "I can no longer defend my hospital," Briana Aguirre said Thursday on NBC's "Today" show. Aguirre claims that before Thomas Eric Duncan arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian nursing staff had not been trained in how to treat an Ebola patient beyond being offered an "optional seminar."

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US to issue new Ebola care guidelines, watch lists to shrink

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:50

The United States will issue strict new guidelines telling American health workers to cover their skin and hair when dealing with Ebola patients, a top health official said on Sunday, while some of the dozens of people being watched for possible exposure to the virus are expected to be cleared. In Texas, a lab worker who spent much of a Caribbean holiday cruise in isolation tested negative for the deadly virus and left the Carnival Magic liner with other passengers after it docked at Galveston early on Sunday morning. The new guidelines for healthcare workers and the precautions taken for the cruise passenger reflected widespread anxiety over Ebola in the United States, including calls from some lawmakers for a travel ban on West Africa.

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Medicare patients pay more for rural hospital services

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:46

An electrocardiogram, used to monitor heartbeats, will cost a Medicare patient about $5 at the average hospital but nearly $33 at a rural, critical access hospital. ECGs and nine other frequently provided outpatient services cost from two to six times more for Medicare patients at the nation's rural, critical access hospitals compared to other hospitals, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General. Critical access hospitals are typically more remote, have fewer beds and require shorter stays. Ohio has 34 of them, or 1 in 5 hospitals in the state.

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GA's rural hospitals teeter as solutions are debated

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:42

Eight rural hospitals in Georgia have closed or downsized and another 15 are teetering on the brink of closure and could be gone in the next year or two, according to a group representing rural hospitals. While some say expanding Medicaid could help, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he is against expanding "entitlements" and would rather see more poor people get subsidies to buy private insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Rural hospitals have taken hits from every direction, from higher unemployment rates in their counties, to physician shortages, to Medicaid cuts that mean payment covers about 85 percent of costs, said Jimmy Lewis, the CEO of HomeTown Health LLC, which represents 70 rural hospitals in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

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Topeka hospitals look to partnerships to reduce supply costs

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:36

Topeka hospitals are looking for savings on the supplies they use every day through broader partnerships. Jan Ferdon, director of supply chain management at Stormont-Vail, said in a statement that the health system was one of the six first members of Mid-American Service Solutions, a purchasing group under Texas-based health company VHA that now includes about 120 Midwestern hospitals and health systems. MSS allows for contracts with larger groups, making it easier for hospitals to negotiate lower bulk rates and to consolidate services like distribution, reducing costs, Ferndon said.

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Unable to meet the deductible or the doctor

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:31

Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring. But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year's brain scan and hoping for the best. "To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn't grown?" said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. "I don't have that money."

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Obama Names 'Ebola Czar'

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 07:57

President Obama on Friday named Ron Klain, a seasoned Democratic crisis-response operative and White House veteran, to manage the government's response to the deadly virus as public anxiety grows over its possible spread. Mr. Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joseph R. Biden Jr., is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political challenges. He is currently the president of Case Holdings and the general counsel at Revolution LLC, companies that were founded by Steve Case, the former chief executive of AOL.

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CMS Offers Some ACOs $114M for 'Upfront' Costs

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:55

The loans target accountable care organizations that serve rural and underserved communities and which joined the Shared Savings Program in 2012, 2013, or 2014. ACOs joining in 2016 are also eligible.

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CDC admits to mistakes in Ebola protocol

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:33

For weeks, health officials reassured the public about Ebola, saying the nation's health care system would contain the virus. But now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is admitting that mistakes were made, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. The CDC has gotten a lot of criticism, especially from nurses in Dallas who said they had neither the proper training nor equipment to treat Ebola patients. Even the agency has criticized its own initial response and is now taking steps to correct its mistakes. When Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola on September 30, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden was confident about containing the Ebola threat.

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Poll: Most Americans confident in CDC to handle Ebola

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:32

The majority of Americans have confidence in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contain the spread of the Ebola virus within the United States, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 73 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the CDC to control the virus. That was true across party lines: 70 percent of Republicans said that they were confident in the CDC, as did 79 percent of Democrats. The poll was completed prior to Wednesday's reports that a second nurse who had treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. had been infected.

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AHA defends Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:28

A national group on Thursday defended the Dallas hospital at the center of three confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is a "fine organization" with a "long and distinguished history of delivering quality care in its community," American Hospital Association President Rich Umbdenstock said in a statement. "Their staff has worked tirelessly to conquer this challenge and to continue to deliver high-quality care to their patients and community under extraordinary circumstances. They have and deserve our complete support and admiration," he added.

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What should Ebola healthcare workers wear?

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:27

As two nurses from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who helped care the first U.S. Ebola patient now battle the deadly virus themselves, federal and state health officials are trying to determine how to more effectively keep health care workers safe. This requires extensive training and the right personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. There are a number of different PPE options that offer different levels of coverage and risk. More is not always better, and there are a number of potential pitfalls. Dr. Michael Reilly, director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at New York Medical College, told CBS News that many hospitals are wrestling with what type of gear to provide to their medical staff.

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Poll: Many unaware how Ebola is spread

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:25

A new survey finds the public has a lot to learn about how the Ebola virus is transmitted, which could help explain the growing fears of the disease. The survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that while nearly all adults (97 percent) know a person can become infected through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of someone who is sick with Ebola, there are still misconceptions. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) One third of respondents are unaware they cannot become infected through the air. About 45 percent are unaware they cannot contract Ebola by shaking hands with someone who has been exposed to the virus but who does not have symptoms.

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Hackensack University Medical Center announces merger with Meridian Health

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:20

Hackensack University Medical Center and its parent company are merging with Meridian Health and its six hospitals in Ocean and Monmouth counties to create the state's largest hospital network. The new organization, to be called Hackensack Meridian Health, will employ 23,400 people and have more than $3.4 billion in revenues, eclipsing Barnabas Health, currently the state's largest health care system. The "combined organization would serve a much broader geography, expanding access to services and developing a vast array of new non-hospital services to conveniently serve area communities," Robert C. Garrett, president and CEO of Hackensack University Health Network, said. The plan to merge was announced Thursday.

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When doctors and nurses work together

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 06:19

Not long ago, I heard a respected senior colleague recount to a group of medical students and trainees the story of a patient who had died under his care some 15 years earlier. Afterward, he had spent hours talking with the family, trying, he said, "to be as kind to them as I possibly could." The family had been grateful for all his efforts, but my colleague still struggled even to tell the story. "Were you afraid of getting sued?" one of the students suddenly asked. My colleague's eyes widened, and he answered slowly, the tone of his voice shifting from grieving to professorial. "In medicine, malpractice isn't something we just think about when a patient dies.

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