Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|August 31, 2022

Iowa news

Youth suicides underscore state officials’ concerns for pandemic’s impact on children’s mental health in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health, in partnership with Polk County public health officials, has formally requested assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study youth suicide patterns and offer insight on how to respond. At the same time, officials involved with community-based mental and behavioral health services took a closer look at the state of Iowa’s crisis response services for youth at a regional and local level. Some gaps were identified, particularly around education and awareness for suicidal ideation among youth. Increased access to mental health care was identified in Iowa before COVID-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated that demand as more youth — as well as adults — grapple with the elevated stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic. (The Gazette)

Iowa introduces new Health and Human Services agency, but merger is still far from over

There’s a new state department in Iowa — the massive Department of Health and Human Services. The state unveiled its creation this week, the result of a merger between the Iowa Departments of Public Health and Human Services. Why did the Iowa Departments of Public Health and Human Services merge? Human Services Director Kelly Garcia said earlier this year many of the agencies’ services overlap, but would be more effective if they were more closely knit together. For example, the public health department looks to improve the health of all Iowans, while the human services department oversees Medicaid, which finances health care for nearly a quarter of the state’s population. (Des Moines Register)


State OKs University of Iowa’s 33% budget hike for North Liberty hospital

University of Iowa Health Care got state approval to continue building a massive 469,000-square-foot hospital campus in North Liberty as planned — despite a more than 33% cost overrun, bringing the total project budget to more than half a billion dollars. The State Health Facilities Council — which in August 2021 approved a “certificate of need” for the $230 million, 300,000-square-foot hospital portion of the larger campus — voted 3-1 during a Tuesday morning meeting to allow the project to continue with a revised $307.1 million budget. In total, UIHC reported inflation has driven up the budget for its full North Liberty project — which includes an academic, research, and clinic building — to more than $525.6 million, an increase the Board of Regents approved in July. (The Gazette)

National news

FDA authorizes Pfizer’s and Moderna’s updated COVID-19 booster shots

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized updated versions of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 booster shots that target the highly contagious BA.5 omicron subvariant. The FDA authorized Pfizer’s modified booster for people ages 12 and older; Moderna’s shot was authorized for those 18 and up. People who’ve received the two-dose primary series of either vaccine and those who’ve received the initial two doses plus one or two boosters are eligible for the updated shots as long as two months have passed since their last shot. (NBC News)

Epic building a ‘nationwide health IT infrastructure’

Judy Faulkner, CEO of Epic, discussed the company’s vision to build a nationwide health IT infrastructure last week at the annual Users Group Meeting. She talked about new technologies and expectations for Epic and its data platform, Cosmos. Epic has moved from locally installed software to a web-based platform to increase access and make upgrades easier. In the first half of 2022, the company has worked with health system clients, including Boston-based Tufts Medicine, to transition Epic EHR to the cloud. But the digital transformation is far from over. (The Cap Times)

Travel nurse pay trends for health care leaders to know

The COVID-19 pandemic intensified hospitals’ reliance on travel nurses to address staffing shortages and highlighted the gap between full-time workers’ pay and lucrative temporary contracts. In the third year of the pandemic, hospitals continue to rely on travel nurses and grapple with workforce shortages for a variety of reasons. But some organizations have reduced their reliance on travel nurses, and pay overall is lower compared to certain points of the pandemic. Vivian Health, a national health care hiring marketplace used by about 800,000 clinicians, and AMN Healthcare, a medical staffing firm, developed a report detailing seven trends  with travel nursing. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

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