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California’s mobile hospitals are running out of money and time
Sacramento Bee

In a cool, 18,000-square-foot warehouse tucked in an industrial Sacramento-area neighborhood sits millions of dollars in equipment California leaders hope never to use.

Giant crates house the skeleton of a football field-sized mobile tent hospital. Fifty heart monitors line a wall, their green lights indicating they remain charged in the chance that somewhere, someday, a devastating earthquake or flood will strike California.

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Fresno ambulance a pricey taxi ride for ‘frequent fliers’
Fresno Bee

Two homeless men in Fresno have called for an ambulance an average of nearly twice a day for more than a year, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and even more when they get to a hospital.

They are Fresno County’s highest-volume ambulance users — “frequent fliers” as they are called in the business — and their 1,363 combined trips made up 1.34% of all American Ambulance calls in the county last year.

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Crowding hampers L.A. County hospitals’ handling of mentally ill
Los Angeles Times

The psychiatric emergency services at two county-run hospitals are so overcrowded that mentally ill patients have to sleep on mattresses on the floor, health officials acknowledged this week.

The packed conditions at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center make it more difficult to de-escalate the emotions of patients who arrive at the hospital agitated and anxious, said Christina Ghaly, deputy director of strategic planning for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

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Obama’s budget plan to cut more than $360 billion from healthcare
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget proposal will cut more than $360 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other healthcare programs over the next 10 years, according to a brief summary of the plan (PDF) the president will submit to Congress on Monday.

The financial blueprint—which does not call for major reforms to the nation’s entitlement programs—is “very similar” to the plan Obama submitted to Congress last September, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew told host Chris Wallace on the television program “Fox News Sunday.”

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Panel suggests health-worker vaccine mandate
Modern Healthcare

HHS‘ National Vaccine Advisory Committee approved a recommendation that healthcare employers that haven’t achieved 90% influenza vaccination compliance after following other recommendations to boost flu vaccination rates “strongly consider” an employee requirement for flu vaccination. Along with four other related recommendations, the vaccine committee also urged the assistant secretary for health at HHS, Howard Koh, to ensure that the recommendation be implemented in HHS facilities and services, including the Public Health Service, HHS staff who are healthcare employees and at feder

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Kaiser 2011 profit held steady at $2B, revenue rose 8.3%
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente’s net income held steady at roughly $2 billion last year, officials said Friday, the second straight year it’s been below 2009’s profit total of $2.1 billion. Meanwhile, operating revenue jumped 8.3 percent in 2011 to $47.9 billion from the prior year’s total of $44.2 billion. Last year’s level of profitability held steady “at levels that are appropriate to invest in infrastructure,” such as seismic rebuilds and high-technology investments, according to Tom Meier, Kaiser’s senior vice president and treasurer.

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California Hospital Patient Safety Organization Selects ECRI Institute PSO for Patient Safety
Market Watch

Program designed to improve safety and quality in California hospitals

ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization announces an agreement to provide patient safety services to the California Hospital Patient Safety Organization (CHPSO). ECRI Institute PSO will support CHPSO with a patient safety data collection and reporting system and by analyzing adverse events and other information from participating hospitals and health systems.

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New Modern Healthcare index tracks medical technology prices
Modern Healthcare

Spending on medical technology, supplies and devices is a key driver of escalating healthcare costs in the U.S. To assist healthcare executives in monitoring how much they’re spending on these items, Modern Healthcare has partnered with the ECRI Institute to develop the Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index. The TPI is a monthly index of the prices hospitals and other providers pay for medical technology, supply and device items. Specifically, the TPI will track 30 items:

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Report offers recommendations for IT infrastructure of ACOs
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare information technology infrastructure for accountable care organizations should be flexible, secure and able to support analysis and care coordination, an eHealth Initiative report (PDF) says. The report was compiled by the eHealth Initiative’s accountable care council.

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‘Model’ dental program proves painful for kids
Sacramento Bee

Almost two decades ago, the state made Sacramento County the testing ground for a new model of delivering dental care to poor children. Officials envisioned a managed care system that would control costs and improve children’s ability to see a dentist.

Today that model persists – but state data show that the county has consistently produced one of California’s worst records for care.

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Death of midwife program gives birth to Yuba City clinic
The Appeal-Democrat

The quiet end for the prenatal/midwife program Great Beginnings has led to a new beginning for one of the program’s midwives. Last month, certified nurse and midwife Angela Kreider opened Women’s Circle Nurse & Midwife Services in Yuba City, with some of the same goals the not-for-profit Great Beginnings had, and some new ones.

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Kaweah Delta District Hospital to get UC residency program
Visialia Times-Delta

Tulare County’s first graduate medical program is a sure thing now that Kaweah Delta Healthcare Center has been given initial three-year accreditation for one of its five proposed programs, the family residency medicine program.

The district has been working for more than two years to get a program started in affiliation with University of California, Irvine.

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Hospitals certified for heart attack patients
RecordNet

Saving lives is what emergency medicine is all about, and Stockton’s two acute-care hospitals both took a big leap forward in that direction Friday when they passed site surveys to become preferred destinations for heart attack patients.

A team from the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency visited St. Joseph’s Medical Center and Dameron Hospital on Friday and determined both facilities met the strict criteria to become designated STEMI receiving centers.

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Biomedical job growth stalls in California, study finds
Sacramento Bee

Job growth in California’s biomedical industry has stalled as uneasy investors wait out a shaky economy and an uncertain regulatory environment.

Employment in the sector has dropped to pre-recession levels statewide, according to a recent California Healthcare Institute report.

The biomedical sector shed 2.3 percent of its workforce – about 6,300 jobs statewide – between its 2008 peak and 2011, according to the institute.

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Injured boomers beware: Know when to see doctor
San Francisco Chronicle

It happened to nurse Jane Byron years after an in-line skating fall, business owner Haralee Weintraub while doing “men’s” push-ups, and avid cyclist Gene Wilberg while lifting a heavy box. “It” is that pop, strain or suddenly swollen joint that reminds active older adults they aren’t as young as they’d like to think.

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FDA issues draft guidance on biosimilars
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration issued three draft guidance documents on the development of drugs known as biosimilars.

The guidance documents outline some of the scientific (PDF) and quality (PDF) issues with developing biosimilars as well as industry questions about the implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (PDF), part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Opinion/Editorial

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Medical research funding threatened
San Francisco Chronicle

Diagnosed cases of autism in the United States have skyrocketed in recent decades, confounding doctors and frustrating families. But thanks to medical research, hope is on the horizon. At the UC Davis MIND Institute, our researchers recently conducted a study showing that a woman who takes a certain prenatal vitamin immediately before and during the first month of pregnancy may have a significantly reduced risk of her child later being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

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Health reform not government-run care
San Bernardino Sun

When I read Paul Chabot’s Point of View (“VA health care is a disaster,” Feb. 5) regarding the conditions at Loma Linda Veterans Hospital, I was astonished to hear of the deplorable conditions as he described them. If true, we as a nation should be ashamed at the way we take care of our wounded warriors. It was a compelling article until Mr. Chabot unfortunately ended it with a boldfaced, partisan misrepresentation. He stated, “This is Obamacare – this is government run health care.” Obviously, Mr. Chabot has an agenda here.

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UCLA Medical Center loses its Blue Shield
Los Angeles Times

Blue Shield of California has suspended its relationship with UCLA Medical Center, one of the state’s top hospitals, in a dispute over the cost of treating patients there. It’s a disturbing sign of things to come in the healthcare industry, as insurers become increasingly resistant to the cost increases that they routinely passed along in previous years.

  

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