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Health care news from around the state and nation


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Two Faces of Mental Health Treatment in California
California Healthline

At the acute end of the mental health care spectrum in California, contraction and reorganization are changing the way public and private hospitals care for patients. At the other end of the spectrum, where a recent report shows that many Californians who need mental health care aren’t getting it, community and local providers are cautiously optimistic that treating less acute mental health problems may get easier.

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Study: C-sections increase in Calif. by 50 percent
Southern California Public Radio

Surgically-delivered babies, or cesarean births, increased by 50 percent in California during a 10-year period, according to a new study released Monday.

The report, issued by the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, focused on the decade from 1998 to 2008, during which the cesarean section rate in the state climbed from 22 percent to 33 percent of all births.

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Here we go again: CNA plans new one-day strike at Sutter hospitals
San Francisco Business Times

The California Nurses Association is taking another stab at a short strike against bete noire Sutter Health, in a planned 24-hour walkout set for Dec. 22. The Oakland-based union, led by longtime Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro, gave Sutter the legally required 10-day notice on Friday.

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Medicare may penalize hospitals that readmit too many patients
Washington Post

It’s a return trip nobody wants to take: You are discharged from the hospital, only to find yourself readmitted a few days later.

More and more people are finding themselves in this revolving door — at a cost to both hospitals and patients. A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital had to be readmitted within 30 days; 34 percent were back within 90 days. Those return trips cost the health-care system more than $17 billion over one year.

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S.J. General Hospital wants in on the trauma

San Joaquin General Hospital has taken a step toward becoming a designated trauma center, a move officials said could shore up the county hospital’s finances while giving local residents a better chance of surviving serious injuries.

The county Board of Supervisors last week gave the hospital the go-ahead to invest $2 million toward hiring staff and buying equipment in an effort to become the county’s sole, designated trauma center by June 2013.

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Many elderly screened for cancer despite risks
USA Today

Many older Americans get screened for colon, breast, prostate and cervical cancer even though guidelines recommend against routinely screening the elderly, a new study finds. As the population of the United States continues to age, balancing good health care with costs will be a continuing battle, experts say.

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SVH gets community input on strategic plan
Sonoma Index-Tribune

The community turned out last Wednesday for a special Sonoma Valley Health Care District board meeting to discuss Sonoma Valley Hospital’s Strategic Plan for 2012-14 and to listen to the public’s views.

Many of the 10-to-5 community members attending voiced appreciation for the progress of the hospital and offered suggestions ranging from ideas for coordinated healthcare throughout the community, to the suggestion that the hospital host a similar informal exchange every year.

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Hoag unveils new ‘hybrid’ cardiac surgery center
OC Metro

This afternoon, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian opened its new technologically advanced cardiac operating suite. The Bob and Marjie Bennett Hybrid Surgical Suite was made possible by a $2 million donation by the Newport Beach couple for whom it is named. The facilities include a state-of-the-art medical robot and will provide a new Edwards Lifesciences heart valve to patients.

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SVDH appoints new President/CEO
Porterville Recorder

After an extensive search process, the Board of Directors of Sierra View District Hospital announced Monday the appointment of Joseph A. Stewart as the next President/CEO of Sierra View District Hospital during a short press conference held in the SVDH Boardroom.

“The decision we had to make, without a doubt, is the biggest decision the board has ever had to face,” Chairman of the board Richard Hatfield said to Stewart during a special gathering at the SVDH Board Room to announce the hospital’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.

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Sutter nurses plan strike in Bay Area
Sacramento Business Journal

Up to 4,000 registered nurses may walk off the job Dec. 22 at eight Sutter facilities in the Bay Area. The one-day strike was called by the California Nurses Association /National Nurses United, which is in protracted contract negotiations with Sutter Health in the Greater Bay Area. The locations — for now, while other strike votes continue — are Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Sutter Delta Medical Center and Sutter Solano Medical Center.

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Ready or Not, Reform Under Way
Health Leaders Media

As a topic, healthcare reform is almost too big to fully evaluate. There’s a reason the legislation runs 900 pages. Further, most of the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won’t reach maturity until 2017. And it’s not even certain that the law will survive that long, what with many Republican candidates vowing to repeal it if they are elected.

But healthcare leaders have to worry about what is, not what might be, and right now, PPACA is the law of the land.

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Calif. nurses set date for one-day strike
Modern Healthcare

The California Nurses Association and National Nurses United announced a one-day strike at eight hospitals next week, including the Bay Area hospital where a patient died in September under the care of a nurse hired to replace striking union nurses. The walkout, scheduled for Dec. 22, could involve as many as 6,000 nurses, 4,000 of which work at Bay Area hospitals, and the other 2,000 at 420-bed Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in southern California, according to a union news release.

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Kaweah Delta works to grant credentials to new anesthesia personnel
Visialia Times-Delta

A new anesthesiology group took over at Kaweah Delta Medical Center early today, bringing with them nurse anesthetists who will do some of the work formerly done by doctors.

On Monday, the Medical Staff Office at Kaweah Delta was scrambling to grant credentials to new doctors hired by Somnia Anesthesia Services.

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Inside a Leapfrog Group Top-Ranked Hospital
Health Leaders Media

Each year more than 1,000 hospitals voluntarily complete an extensive nine-part survey that they hope will lead to them being named to The Leapfrog Group’s top hospital list.

The survey, launched in 2001, focuses on four critical areas of patient safety: the use of computer physician order entry (CPOE) to prevent medication errors; standards for performing high-risk procedures such as heart surgery; protocols and policies to reduce medical errors and other safe practices recommended by the National Quality Forum; and adequate nurse and physician staffing.

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Supreme Court orders briefings ahead of health care showdown
Live Insurance News

In November, the Supreme Court announced that it would be hearing cases regarding the Affordable Care Act. Appeals from 26 states regarding the matter will come to a conclusion once the high court determines whether the health care law is constitutional. Before judicial proceeding can commence, however, the Supreme Court has ordered briefings regarding the issue. Those involved in the case are being called to explain their position and offer their perspective on the constitutionality of the health care law.


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Medicare Advantage Quality, Savings, Access and Satisfaction: Can We Have It All?
The Health Care Blog

Imagine a Medicare Advantage (MA) policy which increases the quality of health care for seniors, saves the government money, brings MA to the few remaining places that don’t have it, and puts checks in the hands of senior citizens. What you are about to read should do all that, in theory. However, I’m sure there are practical issues that I am overlooking, and I am hoping to attract comments noting those issues that, as Woody Allen once said, can take this from being a notion to an idea, and eventually a concept.

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Seven Reasons to be Thankful for Health Reform this Holiday Season
The Health Care Blog

This holiday season you may be surprised to find some gifts from the Affordable Care Act (aka health reform) in your stocking. I say “surprised” because a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that the American public still doesn’t know what is in the health reform law and what is not. If you haven’t been sick this year or are not included in the following categories of people who are benefiting from health reform, it makes sense that you won’t have paid much attention.