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Health care news from around the state and nation


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Sequoia half done with new hospital
San Francisco Business Times

Sequoia Hospital is about halfway done with its new 104-bed inpatient pavilion, set to open in the spring of 2013. Although earlier cost estimates put the price tag for the new tower at $240 million, Sequoia Hospital CEO Glenna Vaskelis said that delays getting approvals on the project from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, commonly known as OSHPD, have added to that total. She said the hospital is working to calculate an updated budget.

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Rule aims at averting drug shortages
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration issued an interim final rule requiring drug companies that are the sole producer of certain critical drugs to report all product manufacturing interruptions to the Food and Drug Administration. Prior to the interim final rule, legal notification was required when production of a critical drug manufactured by only one company was being discontinued. The announcement follows an executive order issued by President Barack Obama on Oct. 31 that encourages manufacturers to voluntarily notify the FDA about potential prescription drug shortages.

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U.S. gives CHW $8M to reduce hospital injuries, illness
Sacramento Business Journal

Catholic Healthcare West, parent company to local Mercy hospitals, has been awarded $8 million in federal funding to reduce patient injuries and complications from conditions they get in the hospital. The fifth-largest health system in the nation is one of the first designated under the federal Partnership for Patients initiative.

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Memorial IPA patients feel the effects of change
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Robert Knapp has had the same primary care physician through Memorial Healthcare IPA since 1998. Before that, the 65-year-old saw only one other doctor for years, until that doctor retired.

But because his insurance carrier, Blue Shield, has terminated its contract with Memorial Healthcare IPA, Knapp will no longer be able to see his doctor after June.

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Nurses at Marin General Hospital ratify new three-year contract
Marin Independent Journal

Registered nurses at Marin General Hospital on Wednesday approved a new three-year contract with the Marin Healthcare District, which oversees the hospital.

District negotiators backed off earlier proposals to reduce health and retirement coverage for the nurses, including one that would have cost nurses an additional $3,000 per year in health coverage for themselves and their families.

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SVMH nurses OK wage increase
Bakersfield Californian

Nurses at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital have agreed to wage concessions and an extension of their contract period in an amended contract that the hospital’s board of directors unanimously approved on Thursday afternoon.

In modifying the contract the California Nurses Association agreed to have their agreement extended for another year and will accept a 2 1/2 percent wage increase instead of 5 percent starting in March 2012 and will then receive another two and one-half percent in March 2013.

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Brain stimulation may help some stroke patients
USA Today

Stroke patients suffering from a condition that prevents them from sensing or reacting to anything happening to their left – whether it’s noticing food on a plate or recognizing a person sitting to that side — may recover faster with magnetic stimulation to the nerve cells in their brain, Italian researchers report.

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Bay Area drug maker seeks first-ever approval for drug to prevent HIV
Inside Bay Area

In a significant milestone in the battle against AIDS, Gilead Sciences (GILD) of Foster City on Thursday asked the government to make one of its drugs the world’s first approved medication to help prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that can lead to the deadly disease. Studies of the drug have shown it sharply reduces the risk of HIV infection in those who don’t have the AIDS virus but who often engage in risky practices that lead to the disease.

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HPV tests better than Pap for cervial cancer detection
USA Today

Which cancer screening is best? Amidst a variety of findings this past year, a new a new study in the Lancet Oncology journal found an HPV test is more effective for detecting cancer in women over 30. Researchers studied more than 45,000 women aged 29 to 56 in the Netherlands, who were given a combination of the pap test and the HPV test, or the Pap test alone.

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US Healthcare Costs Annual Growth Rates Increase in October 2011 According to the S&P Healthcare Economic Indices
Sacramento Bee

The S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index indicates that the average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 5.11% over the 12-months ending October 2011. This is a significant increase over the +4.74% annual growth rate posted in September 2011. As measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index, healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance increased by 6.91% over the year ending October 2011.

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Los Robles Hospital awarded for heart, stroke care
Camarillo Acorn

Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center recently earned national recognition. The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association named the hospital a Get With The Guidelines 2011Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award winner, their highest rating.

The award recognizes the hospital’s efforts to keep care consistent with the latest scientific guidelines developed within the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines program.

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St. John’s Regional Medical Center receives donation
Ventura County Star

St. John’s Regional Medical Center (St. John’s) in Oxnard and St. John’s Healthcare Foundation conducted a tour of the Labor and Delivery Department December 5, 2011 to honor and thank the Oxnard Auto Center Association (Auto Center) for the Auto Center’s generous donation to St. John’s of $10,000. The tour concluded with a check presentation in recognition of the donation, which will benefit the labor and delivery department at St. John’s in Oxnard.

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Poor lifestyles harming U.S. heart health
USA Today

Americans’ heart health is in a woeful state, says this year’s report card from the American Heart Association. And it’s largely because people just aren’t taking care of themselves. In the past three or so decades, women have upped their calorie consumption by 22 percent and men by 10 percent, with carbohydrates and sugar-sweetened beverages both major sources of unneeded calories.

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Good Samaritan Hospital Chosen to Investigate Novel Treatment Option for Peripheral Arterial Disease
Sacramento Bee

Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles is participating in the Levant 2 clinical trial to investigate a potential new treatment option for people with peripheral artery disease (PAD). The clinical trial will help doctors determine whether a drug coated angioplasty balloon will be more successful in keeping narrowed arteries open for longer compared to treatment with a non-coated standard angioplasty balloon.

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Births by C-section continue to rise in California, study finds
Sacramento Bee

Every year, more mothers in California deliver their babies by Caesarean section.

Thirty-three percent of births in California were performed by C-section in 2008, compared with 22 percent 10 years earlier. The upward trend is happening with mothers across the demographic spectrum, regardless of race, age or weight.

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Autism hidden in plain sight
Los Angeles Times

When autism researchers arrived at Norristown State Hospital near Philadelphia a few years ago, they found a 63-year-old man who rambled on about Elvis Presley, compulsively rocked in his chair and patted the corridor walls.

Ben Perrick, a resident of the psychiatric institution for most of his life, displayed what the University of Pennsylvania researchers considered classic symptoms of autism. His chart, however, said he was schizophrenic and mentally retarded.

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1 in 3 Dialysis Centers Subject to Medicare Penalties
Health Leaders Media

Nearly one third of 4,939 U.S. kidney dialysis centers will receive Medicare reimbursement penalties of between 2% and .5% starting Jan. 1 because of poor quality scores in anemia management and/or dialysis adequacy, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Thursday.

This is the first time quality scores for dialysis centers have been rated for financial penalties under this program, which was authorized by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.

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White House blasts new Medicare plan by GOP’s Ryan
San Francisco Chronicle

The White House says a new bipartisan Medicare proposal would cause the health care program for seniors to “wither on the vine.” Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said Thursday the overhaul proposed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, and Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden “would end Medicare as we know it” by shifting costs to retirees.