News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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1 in 3 Providers Avoid Flu Shots as Stakes Rise
Health Leaders Media

One in three healthcare workers didn’t bother getting immunized against influenza during the 2011–2012 flu season, prompting government and infectious disease organizations to push for more aggressive efforts from healthcare organizations.

Even though last season’s overall healthcare worker immunization rates were 3.4% higher than in 2010–11, in hospitals, nearly one in four (23.1%) workers weren’t immunized, in physician offices one in three (32.3%) were not immunized, and in long-term care facilities, nearly half (47.6%) of workers failed to get their flu shots.

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A Duty of Health Care Workers
New York Times

Health care workers should know better than anyone that it is important to get vaccinated against the flu virus to protect their own health and prevent the possibility of infecting patients. There were some encouraging signs in an analysis issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doctors and nurses are beginning to get the message.

But other health care workers — a broad group that includes clinical personnel like nurse practitioners and physician assistants and various nonprofessional aides and assistants — show remarkable indifference to performing what ought to be considered their civic duty.

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Stakeholders: Medicare Should Cover Care Received in ‘Observation’
California Healthline

Patients and health care providers are calling attention to what they perceive as a hole in Medicare coverage that affects what patients pay out-of-pocket for skilled nursing care. What a patient will pay for skilled nursing care is decided at a hospital, before the Medicare beneficiary arrives at the nursing facility. Medicare beneficiary Loretta Jackson sought care at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on April 18, 2009, when she had trouble walking. The diagnosis? Trouble with her sciatic nerve, said her husband Carl Jackson.

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Area leaders: Strengthen health system before federal changes take effect
Sacramento Bee

Citing severe shortcomings in the Sacramento region’s threadbare safety net, a broad nexus of area leaders on Thursday committed to strengthening the community’s health system by 2014, when the federal health care overhaul is scheduled to debut.

With the overhaul will come a virtual tsunami of newly insured patients – estimated at 225,000 – whose needs will have to be met by community clinics or other providers.

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Flu vaccination rate hits 66% for healthcare workers
Modern Physician

A significantly higher percentage of physicians and nurses compared with other healthcare workers received flu vaccines in the last flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Just over two-thirds of all healthcare personnel (66.9%) received the influenza vaccine in the 2011-12 season, marking a 3.4 percentage-point increase from the season before, according to CDC statistics released Thursday.

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Health officials push for more people to get flu shot
Visialia Times-Delta

There are plenty of flu shots available this year, and health officials urged Americans on Thursday to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated — if not for their own sakes, then for the health of their communities.

About 85 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed, part of a total of 135 million doses for this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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$224 million in exchange grants awarded
Modern Healthcare

As a Nov. 16 deadline approaches for states to submit their health insurance exchange plans, HHS announced that the total number receiving implementation funds has reached 34. The latest round of about $224 million in so-called establishment grants went to Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Minnesota, according to the HHS tracking site.

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FDA warning public of risks of online pharmacies
The Mercury News

The Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. consumers that the vast majority of Internet pharmacies are fraudulent and likely are selling counterfeit drugs that could harm them. The agency on Friday launched a national campaign, called BeSafeRx, to alert the public to the danger, amid evidence that more people are shopping for their medicine online, looking for savings and convenience. Instead, they’re likely to get fake drugs that are contaminated, are past their expiration date or contain no active ingredient, the wrong amount of active ingredient or even toxic substances such as arsenic and rat poison.

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Free healthcare clinic at L.A. Sports Arena draws 4,800
Los Angeles Times

On one side of the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Thursday morning, doctors treated patients for swollen feet, breathing problems and high blood pressure.

On the other side, county health workers began enrolling them in a free coverage program in preparation for the federal healthcare overhaul.

Many of the 4,800 people seeking care at the annual massive free clinic this weekend will become eligible for health insurance in 2014 when the national law takes effect.

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Organizers see free clinic as opportunity to educate patients on health reform
Southern California Public Radio

Free medical, dental and vision care aren’t the only things patients are receiving at the four-day Care Harbor clinic at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

They’ll also be getting an education about what the Affordable Care Act has in store for them.

Howard Kahn is the boss at L.A. Care, the non-profit group that works to provide medical care to the uninsured in Los Angeles. The organization teamed up with Care Harbor to put on the clinic at the Sports Arena, which will provide health care for 4,800 patients through Sunday.

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30 New Hospital Private Rooms Benefits Community
Ventura County Star

The first part of the second expansion phase, providing 30 more private patient rooms at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, has recently been completed.

“We are very excited to reach our first milestone in our most recent construction phase,” states Greg Angle, President & CEO of Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center. “By providing 30 new private patient rooms as part of our ultimate goal of 90 new private rooms, we are able to answer the community’s need for privacy and comfort.

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Health Insurers Betting on Urgent Care Centers
Health Leaders Media

As insurers seek ways to control the price point at the entry level of the healthcare system, health plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pittsburgh are turning to developing urgent care center networks.

This month, for example, the NC Blues announced that it is investing an undisclosed amount in FastMed Urgent Care, a North Carolina-based company with 29 locations throughout the state.

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FDA to re-examine medical-device security risks
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration will begin looking at external security vulnerabilities of the software in medical equipment after inquiries from congressional investigators. A report issued Thursday by the Government Accountability Office found that for wireless medical devices, the FDA “did not consider information security risks from intentional threats as a realistic possibility until recently.” Agency officials told the authors of the GAO report that they plan to re-examine their evaluations of software used in medical devices and add an assessment of “information security risks.”

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Surgeons issued guidelines for seniors’ care
Modern Physician

Prompted by statistical findings that the growing population of seniors in the U.S. is aging increasingly with complex and advanced medical conditions, the American College of Surgeons and the American Geriatric Society developed a set of 13 guidelines to steer the preoperative care of surgical patients age 65 and older.

Among the key preoperative issues that surgeons should evaluate are cognitive function—looking out for signs of cognitive impairment or dementia—and decision-making capacity as well as alcohol or substance abuse and risk for post-operative delirium.

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Program to help mothers prevent childhood obesity
Lodi News-Sentinel

San Joaquin County Public Health Services has a new program, Mothers Invested in Baby/Madres Invertidas en Bebe (MI Baby/MI Bebe). The goal of the program is to decrease childhood obesity through support group sessions with mothers. Sessions are provided for free in English and Spanish, through a First 5 San Joaquin grant. The program is open to mothers with children age five and younger in San Joaquin County. Topics include healthy eating and active living tips.

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Law may encourage mammogram alternatives
San Francisco Chronicle

A new law that will require California doctors to tell women if they have highly dense breast tissue is expected to increase demand for alternatives to mammography to screen patients for breast cancer. The potential market is huge: About 40 percent of women have tissue that is dense enough that cancer may be missed through conventional mammography. The law says that beginning in April, patients must be told a “range of screening options” are available, but it does not specify those methods or require health insurers to cover them.

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CMS initiative aims to improve SNF care
Modern Healthcare

Organizations in seven states will partner with the CMS on a new initiative intended to improve quality of care and reduce hospitalizations among skilled-nursing facility residents at 145 sites nationwide. The Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation, Alegent Creighton Health in Nebraska, the Curators of the University of Missouri, the Greater New York Hospital Foundation, HealthInsight of Nevada, Indiana University and UPMC Community Provider Services in Pennsylvania will work with nursing facilities in those states and state Medicaid programs to improve the quality of care and work toward lowering rehospitalizations. The efforts will work toward HHS‘ goal to reduce hospital admissions by 20% by the end of next year as outlined in the Partnership for Patients initiative. The CMS estimates that the total costs of potentially avoidable hospitalizations for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees last year were between $7 billion and $8 billion.

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Lindsay Hospital District continues to provide health care
Porterville Recorder

Lindsay has not had an operating hospital since 2000, but it has a local hospital district which funds health care in the community of 11,800 people

“It enables us to keep a few $100,000 in the community,” said Greg McQueen, the president of the Board of Directors at the (LLHD). “It funds local projects.”

This is news to some residents.

“I had no idea what it was,” said Felix Garcia.

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Tenet negotiating to buy Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock
Modesto Bee

Emanuel Medical Center and Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. are engaged in exclusive negotiations that could result in the for-profit company buying the 209-bed church-owned hospital, officials confirmed Thursday. Emanuel made the announcement some 2½ months after its leaders said they were exploring affiliations with larger health care organizations, with options including sale of the hospital. An independent hospital founded in 1917, Emanuel faces increasing difficulties in the turbulent health care arena.

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Program has impact on Late Life Depression

The brash exuberance of flyboys in the 1986 hit movie “Top Gun” became a cultural phenomenon, a testament to youthful bravado, the ideal representation of a society enchanted with adrenaline and speed. So when Tony Scott, the film’s 68-year-old director, committed suicide last month it illuminated an otherwise shadowy world of despair: elder depression.

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Analysis: Access to Health Care Starting to Resemble Access to Air Travel
KQED Radio

The old axis of access ­in U.S. health care — insured or uninsured — is being replaced by the kind of gradations and complexity in determining who-gets-what-when-for-what-price for which the airline industry has become famous. Some recent data and reactions to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act reinforce the trend. Here’s an overview: Being able to afford any kind of seat. Sure, the number of Americans left standing at the gate because they can’t afford a health insurance “ticket” is declining.