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Doctors, patients connected: Robot improves access to neurologist
Merced Sun-Star

Patients at Mercy Medical Center will soon have access to a neurologist 24 hours a day every day. The hospital recently got a medical robot that will help connect patients with a neurologist in Sacramento within a matter of minutes. The robot will be primarily used in patients who are presenting warning signs and symptoms of a stroke, said Amanda Lantzy, accreditation manager and stroke program coordinator at Mercy.

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Healthcare Job Growth Up in November
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare created 17,200 jobs in November—a healthy increase from the 11,600 jobs created by the sector in October.

Healthcare remains a leading source of job creation in the overall economy, and was responsible for 14.3% of the 120,000 new jobs across all sectors in November, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows.

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A growing number of registered nurses in California, U.S.
Los Angeles Times

Lauren Mills’ counselor in college pushed her to consider nursing. She heeded the advice, graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2007 and now works with cardiac patients at an Orange County hospital. It’s proved a challenging and gratifying choice, said Mills, now 27.

“You are using your brain and in a way you are using your heart too,” she said. “You feel good when you go home. You feel you made a difference.”

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Americans urged to put flu shots on holiday to-do lists
USA Today

This year’s flu season is off to a mild start, but confirmed cases have been seen in 30 states so far — and January and Feburary are often the peak. Which is why health officials on Monday urged Americans to get their flu shots or flu nasal sprays now, so “you’re protected before the holiday season begins, when you get on that plane, train or bus to go see loved ones,” says Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

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Hospital plans for the future
Sonoma Index-Tribune

Administrators at Sonoma Valley Hospital are looking at how to make the most out of the next three years, and are seeking community input on what the public wants out of their district hospital.

The hospital is inviting the general public to submit ideas and comments during a meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.

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Study finds surge in young nurses over past decade
USA Today

A surge in young nurses may ease forecasts of coming shortages as their baby-boomer coworkers retire. The past decade brought a 62 percent increase in the number of younger registered nurses entering the workforce, researchers reported Monday in the journal Health Affairs. A young influx is noteworthy because at least 900,000 of the nation’s roughly 3 million nurses are older than 50, meaning they’re nearing retirement.

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County Improves Health Care for the Very Poor, But Stops There
Voice of San Diego

This year, San Diego County accepted $50 million from the federal government to launch a new program to improve health care for the county’s poorest uninsured residents. Under the program the county started in July, poor singles and couples can now get health care through Medi-Cal, the state’s safety net program that used to be only for poor, disabled people and families with children.

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New healthcare rule says no tax for consumers who obtain rebates from insurers
Live Insurance News

A new healthcare rule now means that consumers who receive a discount from an insurer as a part of the healthcare reform overhaul in 2010, known as the medical loss ratio portion of the Affordable Care Act, won’t need to pay taxes on those rebates. The new rules were announced by acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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Hospital may name new CEO Tuesday
Porterville Recorder

The Sierra View Hospital District Board of Directors may name a new CEO during a special meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The hospital has been searching for a new chief executive officer since current CEO Dennis Coleman announced he was retiring. Coleman, who will leave Jan. 31, 2012, made his announcement in late July.

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Petaluma Health Center: A welcoming new place for doctor and patient
North Bay Business Journal

When the Petaluma Health Center opened the doors to its brand new, 52,000-square-foot location this June, an immediate impact was felt by both staff and patients working in and getting treatment at the federally qualified health center.

The new medical center, at 1179 North McDowell Blvd., more than tripled the size of its previous location on Southpoint Boulevard, thus enabling the safety-net center to treat a constantly increasing number of patients.

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Feds to allow use of Medicare data to rate doctors
USA Today

Picking a specialist for a delicate medical procedure like a heart bypass could soon get easier. The government announced Monday that Medicare will finally allow its extensive claims database to be used by employers, insurance companies and consumer groups to produce report cards on local doctors and hospitals. By analyzing masses of billing records, experts can glean such critical information as how often a doctor has performed a particular procedure and get a general sense of problems such as preventable complications.

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Medical students sought by local physicians; local doctors to teach third- and fourth-year medical students
Times-Standard

Tara Bartlett fingered the muscles on Stephanie White’s back, demonstrating a technique she learned from McKinleyville doctor Kate McCaffrey. Bartlett found the right spot and pressed hard. A crack and a groan escaped from the woman on the exam table. A contented smile spread across her face. Bartlett, who grew up in Santa Barbara and graduated from the University of California Los Angeles, is in her third year at Western University of Health Sciences — a medical school in Pomona.

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UCSF, GE Healthcare program seeks to expand disease-fighting cord blood cells
San Francisco Business Times

A group of UCSF scientists will seek chemical compounds that can be added to blood-forming stem cells and progenitor cells in cord blood to increase their population and boost cord blood treatments for adult patients. The $841,000, three-year program, funded by GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ cell technologies unit and the University of California ’s Office of the President, initially will screen about 120,000 chemicals to find those that could expand the population of hematopoietic, or blood-forming, stem cells and progenitor cells.

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Leapfrog recognizes top-performing hospitals
Modern Healthcare

The Leapfrog Group has recognized 65 hospitals as top performers for 2011, based on quality and safety data gathered in its yearly hospital survey. This year’s total list of honorees tied last year’s record number, according to a news release from the Washington-based quality-improvement organization, formed by large employers.

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Few parents recall doctor saying their child was overweight
USA Today

Pediatricians are supposed to track if youngsters are putting on too many pounds — but a new study found less than a quarter of parents of overweight children recall the doctor ever saying there was a problem. Does that mean doctors aren’t screening enough kids, or aren’t frank enough in these tough conversations? Or is the real story parent denial? The research published Monday can’t tell, but makes it clear the message too often isn’t getting through.

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Medicare penalizies people who don’t enroll when they become eligible
Washington Post

Throughout Robert Joseph’s career, the Alvin, Tex., electrician always understood his health insurance policies. “I’ve never had a problem,” Joseph says, “until I tried to sign up for Medicare.”

The chief reason: Joseph didn’t sign up when he turned 65. He was still working, receiving health insurance from his employer. And when his company went bankrupt at the end of 2009 — Joseph was then 67 — he received 18 months of severance pay.

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State hospital association: Report cards outlived usefulness with federal data
FierceHealthcare

State volunteer reporting of hospital quality, such as patient satisfaction, mortality from complications, and infection rates, may have outlived its usefulness, according to California Hospital Association Jan Emerson-Shea about California’s hospital report cards. In light of Medicare’s mandated public reporting on a federal level, voluntary state efforts may be duplicative in this administrative–oftentimes, burdensome–task.

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18 Kaiser California hospitals make top 65 list, including 10 in NorCal
San Francisco Business Times

Ten of Kaiser Permanente ’s Northern California hospitals have been named to the Leapfrog Group’s list of the nation’s top hospitals in terms of quality, and 18 Kaiser hospitals statewide made the 65-hospital quality list, according to Kaiser officials. Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group annually lists the hospitals nationally that have the best results on metrics such as using electronic health records to reduce medication and other errors, lowering infection rates, maintaining appropriate physician and nursing staffing ratios, and other measures of safety and efficiency.

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Enrollment in nurse assistant training program soars as program expands
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Ashley Mora says her job as a nurse assistant is neither easy nor glamorous.

She’s at the entry level of the health care industry, providing hands-on care — bathing, dressing, grooming and feeding — for elderly people who can do little for themselves.

“You need to have an interest in other people’s welfare,” said Mora, 22, of Santa Rosa, who works at the Spring Lake Village senior living community. “It’s definitely not a glorious job.”

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Study: Californians not getting proper mental health care
Sacramento Business Journal

Nearly 2 million adults in California — including more than 122,000 in the Sacramento region — need mental health treatment, but the majority receive inadequate services or none at all, despite a state law that requires health insurers to cover mental health care, a new study shows. One in 12 Californians reported symptoms consistent with severe psychological distress and experienced difficulty functioning at home or work, according to a report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy and Research.

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Employers consider cutting health-insurance premiums for lower-paid workers
Washington Post

At most companies, employee health insurance premiums vary only by family size and type of plan. At a small percentage of firms, however, another variable is taken into account: salary. At these companies, workers’ premiums are pegged to how much they earn. Workers who earn less, pay less.

Now, as employers look toward 2014 — when companies that don’t offer affordable coverage to their workers may begin to face penalties — experts say more are considering this strategy.

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State Officials, Health Providers Join Forces to Increase Flu Vaccination Rates Among Health Care Workers
Sacramento Bee

Highlighting the importance of flu vaccinations in reducing the risks of illness and infections among patients, state public health officials have joined with a group of statewide health care providers to urge all health care workers to get their annual flu shots.

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CMS to drop price of Medicare provider data
Modern Healthcare

The CMS will lower the planned price of Medicare provider data under a final rule issued today, after the regional groups that wanted the data to create quality reports complained that previously proposed prices would keep them from participating. The final rule implements a program—authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—that allows qualified organizations to access patient-protected Medicare data and produce public reports on physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers.

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Putting Health Care Analytics in the Hands of Patients
iHealthBeat

Despite the health information revolution and health care consumerism that the Web has ignited, many decisions in medicine today are still made without reliable comparative information. The analytics methodology that can address patients’ and physicians’ needs for comparative information does exist. However, it is not consistently applied and it is not easily accessible at the point of care.

  

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