News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Kaiser joins hospitals promising healthier food for patients, staff
Los Angeles Times

Kaiser Permanente will join 17 other hospital systems across the country to give hospital food — the stuff that arrives on trays, is sold in vending machines and offered in cafeterias — a nutritional make-over aimed at fighting obesity and putting their stomachs, well, where their mouths are. Kaiser Permanente, which operates 37 hospitals across California, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, will join other hospital systems in throwing out their deep-fryers, stocking their vending machines almost exclusively with low-calorie drinks and healthier snack foods, and devising new “wellness meals” that could replace overcooked green beans, colored gelatin and white-bread sandwiches with fresh fruit and vegetables and whole-grain offerings.

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Small Hospital Cuts Patient Falls By 95%
Health Leaders Media

Despite already being below the national average on ­patient falls, Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center’s staff and leadership still felt falls were happening too often. The small but busy 25-bed critical access hospital pulled together to implement many tried-and-true methods, and in the process earned a national patient safety award and proved that a combination of methods, along with a new culture, works best for success.

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Obama, Romney differ sharply on fixing Medicare
Sacramento Bee

They are two of the largest parts of the federal government. They’re growing. And they’re heading toward financial problems that will touch tens of millions of Americans unless something changes.

Medicare is the nation’s biggest buyer of health care, spending $550 billion last year to provide care for 48.7 million Americans. The problem is that the taxes paid by workers and employers to finance the program aren’t covering the full cost, and the government since 2008 has been drawing off its trust fund to make up the difference.

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AHRQ developing consumer info rating system
Modern Healthcare

HHS‘ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is developing a rating system for the growing amount of health information directed at patients. The agency’s Health Information Rating System, discussed in a Federal Register posting, will focus especially on patient data provided by electronic health records.

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John Muir Health, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital partner to offer children’s services
The Mercury News

John Muir Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford are teaming up to offer children’s specialty services in Contra Costa County and surrounding communities. The organizations already have partnered in urology and a growing number of surgical and medical services. The collaboration will now expand to include outpatient, inpatient, neonatal and emergency care.

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UCR Medical School receives accreditation
U.C. Riverside

After months of anticipation, the UCR School of Medicine has been approved to open its doors and will begin student enrollment in the summer of 2013. The Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME), the organization in charge of authorizing medical schools across the United States and Canada, granted preliminary accreditation to the school on Tuesday, Oct. 2. UCR has been looking into the possibility of constructing a medical school for over 10 years. In 2002, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and UCR began the process of establishing a medical school, according to the Press-Enterprise.

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Historic election for 2 new SVMH districts
The Californian - Salinas

For the first time in 60 years, and with the advice of a consultant and the United States Department of Justice, two members on the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital District’s Board of Directors will be elected in November by district instead of at large.

After about a year of study and so that the large Salinas Hispanic population “are getting represented the way they should be,” the consultant “recommended the board go to elections by zone instead of at large,” said SVMH president and interim Chief Executive Officer Lowell Johnson.

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Drug expert explains how generics do and do not differ from brand-name drugs
Washington Post

Consumer Reports recently talked with Vinod P. Shah about generic drugs. He’s a pharmaceutical scientist and consultant for the U.S. Pharmacopeia who worked for 30 years at the Food and Drug Administration, where he developed guidelines for testing and approving generic drugs. Are generic drugs truly the same as their brand-name equivalents?

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S.F. kids’ well-being ranks in top third
San Francisco Chronicle

When it comes to health, academics and overall well-being, the 125,000 children living in San Francisco are typically better off than their peers in California’s 57 other counties, according to a statewide survey released Tuesday. The report, by Oakland’s Children Now, measured the status of children across 28 quality-of-life indicators ranging from whether newborns were exclusively breastfed in the hospital to the percent of classrooms with high-speed Internet access.

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Insurers offer new programs to help disabled return to work
Washington Post

After completing radiation for lymph node cancer, Bill Henderson was so fatigued that he spent his days in his living room recliner, doubtful that he’d ever resume anything approaching a normal life.

But that was before his disability insurance carrier, Cigna, informed him of a road race that teams people with disabilities with volunteer runners who encourage and support people like Henderson — and hopefully help them get and stay healthier.

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Los Olivos delivers for more than 40 years
The Mercury News

Competitors were known to refer to it as the “OK Corral.” Employees frequently used to joke about their “rat room.” In its 40-year history, Los Olivos Women’s Medical Group has guided approximately 40,000 infants into the world. Today, Los Olivos is home to the largest–and arguably most prestigious–collection of obstetric and gynecological practitioners in the South Bay area. But when the clinic was founded in a rural area of Los Gatos four decades ago, women’s reproductive care was still in its own infancy.

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Tri-City profits have tamed of late
San Diego Union-Tribune

Tri-City Healthcare District CEO Larry Anderson was winning awards as recently as February for “the remarkable financial turnaround at the Oceanside Hospital,” as a news release put it.

Shortly after, the public hospital agency’s numbers started showing signs that the turnaround is losing steam.

The agency — which serves Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista — has lost money two out of the past five months.

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Nurses ratify contract at Mills-Peninsula
Sacramento Business Journal

Registered nurses and ratified a three-year contract with Mills-Peninsula Health Services, an affiliate of Sacramento-based Sutter Health. A tentative agreement was recently reached after more than a year of negotiations. The new contract runs from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014. The contract covers about 750 registered nurses in the health system, which has facilities in Burlingame and San Mateo.

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Dignity Health forms group-purchasing organization
Modern Healthcare

Dignity Health has formed its own group-purchasing organization, months after Ascension Health and Highmark announced separate initiatives to establish GPOs as they seek to better control supply costs within their organizations. The Dignity Health Purchasing Network was registered in June as a limited liability corporation in California, according to state documents. Dignity did not respond Monday to a query about the new entity.

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Hospitals Overspend on Blood Transfusions
Health Leaders Media

Hospitals can do a lot to reduce how much blood their surgeons use for transfusions, especially since blood products are scarce, carry risk of adverse events and are extremely costly, says the fall edition of Economic Outlook, a report by the hospital purchasing and quality alliance, Premier. Premier looked at 7.4 million case-mix adjusted patients with common DRGs discharged from 464 hospitals over four years. Its analysts did the math and found an enormous variation among hospitals across the country.

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Health, well-being of California’s children varies widely based on where they live
Contra Costa Times

The health and well-being of California’s children varies widely based on where they live, their race and other factors, a new study reveals. Children Now released its annual score card today showing problem areas and bright spots for young people in each of the state’s 58 counties. Major differences exist, the study reveals. “Our public policies should work equally well for all children, but this report shows they’re not,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now.

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Alzheimer drug shows some promise in mild disease
San Francisco Chronicle

Combined results from two studies of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug suggest it might modestly slow mental decline, especially in patients with mild disease. Taken separately, the studies on the drug — Eli Lilly & Co.’s solanezumab — missed their main goals of significantly slowing the mind-robbing disease or improving activities of daily living. But pooled results found 34 percent less mental decline in mild Alzheimer’s patients compared to those on a fake treatment for 18 months.

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A tale of two hospitals
The Daily Titan

A bald man wearing clown makeup in bloodied doctors scrubs stares creepily at you from a billboard on a busy Los Angeles road.

You wonder to yourself, is this an ad for Knott’s Scary Farm? For Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights? As you get closer to the billboard, the fine print becomes easier to read—“Thursdays, Midnight. Adult Swim.” You realize that the ad is very obviously a promotion for a television show.

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Things employers need to think about for health care reform
Sacramento Business Journal

Federal health reform is big, confusing — and coming fast — a Massachusetts lawyer told Sacramento employers at a compliance seminar Monday. The Affordable Care Act also looks like full employment for lawyers and benefit professionals. “You guys may all meet the requirements, but you will stub your toe and have to pay some penalties,” said Peter Marathas, a partner with Proskauer Rose, a leading employee benefit and compensation law firm.

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Reimbursement and the Law of Unintended Consequences
The Health Care Blog

We’re starting to see some funny economics emerge as healthcare payment reform truly takes shape. Recently, I saw two interesting, unrelated articles that give us a glimpse into the effects of the law of unintended consequences, when it comes to changing the way we pay for healthcare. The first is from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This article describes the penalties hospitals will have to pay as of October 1 because of changing Medicare regulations related to readmissions.

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3 in 5 Physicians Would Quit Today If They Could
The Health Care Blog

Being a doctor isn’t a happy profession in 2012: 3 in 5 doctors say that, if they could, they’d retire this year. Over three-fourths of physicians are pessimistic about the future of their profession. 84% of doctors feel that the medical profession is in decline. And, over 1 in 3 doctors would choose a different professional if they had it all to do over again. The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of doctors, sent a survey to 630,000 physicians — every physician in the U.S. that’s registered with the AMA’s Physician Master File — in March-June 2012.

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