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El Camino cuts dangerous infection rates
Mountain View VOICE

El Camino Hospital has seen a significant drop in reported cases of a serious infection commonly found in hospitals and nursing homes across the country, hospital officials said. In May of this year, Dr. Eric Pifer, chief medical officer at El Camino, began a concerted effort to reduce the instances of Clostridium difficile, or “C. diff,” a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, fever, bowel irritation, and in severe cases has been known to be fatal.

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Hospitals Fight To Reduce Deadly Infections
KPBS

Hospital-related infections like sepsis often have deadly consequences. That’s why San Diego hospitals are involved in a statewide initiative to prevent these infections.

At Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, the fight to reduce hospital-related infections starts here: in the region’s busiest emergency room.

Three out of four people admitted to Grossmont come in through the ER.

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District Seeks State’s Approval for Hospital Building Projects
San Diego Business Journal

The government agency that acts as the landlord for Sharp Grossmont Hospital could move dirt on major building projects next year, while it could also begin remodeling one of the dominant structures on the hospital campus.

Barry Jantz, CEO of the Grossmont Healthcare District, said the timing of construction depends on several variables, including when state officials have a chance to review and approve hospital building plans.

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Cedars-Sinai to cut most psychiatric services
Los Angeles Times

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center will close its in-patient and outpatient psychiatry programs over the next year, a move prompted by significant shifts in the healthcare system, hospital officials said.

The decision, which was announced Wednesday, was driven by hospital finances and changes to the delivery and organization ofhealthcare services nationwide.

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Medi-Cal problems examined at hearing
Chico Enterprise Record

Medi-Cal has received approval to cut payments to providers by 10 percent although a lawsuit is blocking those cuts from taking effect. The cuts and other problems surrounding Medi-Cal and health care in rural California were discussed at an “informational briefing hearing” for a group of state legislators Wednesday at Chico State University. Dr. Richard Thorp, a Paradise physician who spoke, said he knows of no physicians in private practice in Butte County who are accepting new Medi-Cal patients.

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HHS extends a meaningful-use deadline
Modern Healthcare

HHS will extend by one year—until 2014—the deadline for meeting Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements for hospitals and eligible professionals that qualify as Stage 1 meaningful users in 2011.

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More Money, More Needy Patients for County Health Care
Voice of OC

Orange County — by virtue of California’s early implementation of the nation’s expansive new healthcare reform law — will see its budget for providing health care to its indigent citizens jump from $86 million to $120 million in the coming year. The influx of new money means the county Health Care Agency’s Medical Services Initiative (MSI) will be overhauled and by June will serve 15,000 to 20,000 more people than the 40,000 it does now, according to Ronald Norby, director of the MSI program.

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Sutter finishes rehab center expansion
Sacramento Bee

Sutter Health’s rehabilitation center in Roseville has a new look after an expansion project doubled the size of the facility.

Crews completed the project at the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute at Sutter Roseville Medical Center this week, adding 15 patient rooms to increase the number of beds from 40 to 55, and adding a full kitchen and a second dining room. Sutter officials said donors covered nearly a quarter of the project’s $8 million price tag, contributing more than $1.6 million to the expansion.

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Advantage plan premiums fall; enrollment rises: GAO
Modern Healthcare

Medicare Advantage premiums fell while enrollment in the program rose from 2010 to 2011, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (PDF). The report’s findings showed that between April 2010 and April 2011, enrollment in MA plans increased by about 6% to 8.4 million beneficiaries from 7.9 million, with enrollment in HMOs accounting for about two-thirds of total enrollment.

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Majority of Seniors Postpone Doctor Visits Due to Financial Concerns
Sacramento Bee

A survey of more than 1,200 seniors revealed that 51 percent of respondents put off visiting a doctor or getting outpatient medical services due to concerns about costs. The results were released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), one of the nation’s largest nonpartisan seniors advocacy groups, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

The survey also found that due to financial concerns:

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Vote may be near on bill to curb regulation
Modern Healthcare

Despite a recent Obama administration veto threat, supporters of a bill that seeks to limit future regulations plan a House of Representatives vote on it as soon as Thursday. The bill, which would require more transparency in the regulatory process and that regulators select the least costly alternative to regulations when appropriate, drew a veto threat Tuesday because of Obama administration concerns that it would create “needless” hurdles to new regulations.

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Hospital program dispenses healthy dosage of cheer
Daily Breeze - Los Angeles

People stop and stare as she makes her way through the hallways. Some are even snapping a few pictures.

Her green wig and handmade costume are hard to miss, not to mention the crowd of clowns lingering in her shadow.

Her name is Joy the Magic Clown, and she’s on a mission.

As chairwoman of the volunteer clown unit at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, it’s her responsibility to train the new graduates on how to be a hospital clown.

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HIV, AIDs rates rise sharply among blacks, Hispanics
California Watch

The profile of HIV and AIDS patients in California has shifted significantly since the disease first made headlines 30 years ago, reflecting the success of drugs to extend patients’ lives and the failures to stem the spread of the disease in diverse communities.

A statewide analysis of health data [PDF] completed in recognition of World AIDS Day, celebrated today, reveals the changing face of patients in the state, including an increase in older patients and rising rates of infection among blacks and Hispanics.

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An end to AIDS? In USA, complacency is a major barrier
USA Today

Is it too soon to imagine an end to AIDS? Maybe not. Three decades into the AIDS pandemic, health officials say they have the medicines and other tools to stop the spread of HIV, the AIDS virus. But one of the biggest barriers is complacency. “We are no longer in crisis mode after 30 years of HIV,” says Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Medicare anti-obesity initiative triggers treatment debate
USA Today

The decision that Medicare will pay for screening and counseling services to help obese patients lose weight has opened an old debate about who can best help people slim down. Top national weight-loss experts salute the ruling as good news, but they are concerned that many doctors and their staffs are ill prepared and haven’t the time to help obese patients.

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Medicare extends coverage for obesity
Los Angeles Times

Medicare, the nation’s medical safety net for seniors, on Wednesday announced it would extend its coverage for obesity screening and “intensive behavioral therapy,” ensuring that roughly 30% of the 42 million people insured by the program can undertake a weight-loss program supervised by their doctor.

The decision by the federal government to cover face-to-face doctor visits as an aid to weight loss is likely to prod private insurers, many of whom have been reluctant to cover medically supervised obesity treatments, to follow suit.

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Kaiser Permanente making progress on $1 billion flagship Oakland medical center
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente ’s estimated $1 billion rebuild of its flagship Oakland Medical Center is well under way. The project is a major element in roughly $2 billion in hospital construction work that is adding jobs, new facilities and modern technology to economically challenged Oakland. In 2009, Kaiser started demolition work to clear the way for the new hospital tower and affiliated medical office buildings/clinics. It laid the hospital foundation in April 2010.

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Hospital care includes Hospice care
Redlands Daily Facts

While the Redlands Community Hospital generally concentrates on saving lives, its Home Health and Hospice Services department focuses on the other side of things – making sure that people are comfortable at the end of life. On a regular visit to check on their Hospice patients, Hospice case manager Angella Waller and Hospice and Home Health director Gerry Smith paid a visit to a Hospice care facility in Redlands on Wednesday afternoon.

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Lawmakers seek answers to drug shortage
Modern Healthcare

Examining drug-pricing strategies, developing a contingency plan, passing pending legislation and stockpiling generic drugs were among the suggestions that experts offered lawmakers Wednesday to address the nation’s drug shortage. At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s health subcommittee, witnesses testified about the causes that have led to a shortage of life-saving drugs.

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Pelvic health program launches at El Camino
Mountain View VOICE

A new program at El Camino Hospital aims to provide the most comprehensive women’s pelvic health services in the region. The Women’s Pelvic Health Care Program, which will offer a range of services at both the Mountain View and Los Gatos campuses, is the first of its kind in Silicon Valley, according to Dr. Sari Levine, a urologist and chair of the Women’s Hospital Medical Advisory Board at El Camino.

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Oakley clinic opens for low-income patients
The Mercury News

The equipment has arrived and the exam rooms are ready for a long-awaited clinic that’s opening Friday in Oakley. Residents with little or no insurance will be able to get basic medical care at the storefront facility that the Oakland-based nonprofit organization La Clinica will operate. Located in one corner of the Raley’s shopping center, the clinic is next to a dry cleaner’s and across the parking lot from a Taco Bell restaurant.

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Long Beach center helps women get heart healthy
HealthyCal.org

For every minute that a women’s heart beats in the United States, another women’s heart will succumb to heart disease. Heart disease is now considered the leading cause of death among women in the United States. Nearly five times as many women will die from a heart attack than breast cancer, according to the American Heart Association.

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CMS expanding competitive-bidding program
Modern Healthcare

The second phase of a competitive-bidding program for certain Medicare durable medical equipment will launch on July 1, 2013, and expand the types of equipment included and the geographic areas where it is required. The CMS program—expanded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—aims to use supplier bids to set lower payment rates for certain medical equipment and supplies than the Medicare fee schedule.

The CMS will expand the cost-saving initiative to 100 metropolitan areas from the nine geographic areas where it launched in January.

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Survey: Most like health care reform provisions
ABC News

As GOP presidential candidates rail against what they call “Obamacare,” there is a survey out tonight that shows most Americans actually like much of what the law provides. The survey of 1,200 Americans from across the country was designed and commissioned by Palo Alto-based Kaiser Family Foundation and shows most people don’t know much about the healthcare law.

Opinion/Editorial

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A critical issue in health care reform: Too few health workers
Capitol Weekly

If every meteorologist in the state warned of torrential downpours all weekend, would you keep your plans for a picnic? No, you’d grab your umbrella, rain jacket and plan accordingly. California’s policymakers, health providers and educators would be wise to heed the forecast for another brewing storm that will last longer and adversely affect millions of people throughout the state. For years, researchers, economists and health providers themselves have warned that much of the state will have too few health workers for patients who need care.

  

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