Millions of Americans are losing access to maternal care. Here’s what can be done.
This year’s report on maternity care by the nonprofit March of Dimes found 35 of Iowa’s 99 counties were considered maternity care deserts in 2020. The counties have no hospitals providing obstetric care, no birth centers, no OB/GYNs and no certified nurse midwives. The report marks a 21% increase in Iowa counties considered maternity care deserts from 2018 to 2020. Access to maternity care is decreasing in the parts of the U.S. that need it the most, affecting nearly 7 million women of childbearing age and some 500,000 babies. (Iowa Public Radio)
State has learned from previous Medicaid transition missteps, agency director says
Kelly Garcia said the state has learned from missteps made during the transition to private management of the state’s $7 billion Medicaid program and pledged that those hard lessons are being applied as the state once again brings on a new private partner. The state recently contracted with California-based Molina Healthcare to become the third managed care organization for the state’s roughly 800,000 Medicaid recipients. In previous transitions between Medicaid managed care organizations, some Iowans complained of confusion and frustration. (The Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Costly but critical: Nurses travel the nation to blunt staffing shortage
The mother-baby floor — famous for its infant coos and cries and first meetings and feedings — is supposed to be the “happy floor.” But even that unit at MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines has been hit by one of biggest problems in health care: a critical nursing shortage and its fraught fallout. Even with all the rushing through long shifts over nights and on weekends, the mother-baby unit for decades was a popular destination for nurses. Then the pandemic arrived. And like a gust of wind toppling a house of cards, nurses near retirement, looking for better pay or smoldering toward burnout submitted two-week notices in droves. (The Cedar Rapids Gazette)
‘Escape variants’ gain traction in U.S.
The days of the orderly succession of individual dominant variants (alpha, beta, delta) are likely over, with the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to be marked by the splintering of a single strain, or what experts call “convergent evolution.” Right now, that’s exactly what’s happening with omicron. Omicron subvariants are competing for dominance in different corners of the world. Of the dozens being tracked, the U.K. Health Security Agency has identified BA.2.75.2, BF.7 and BQ subvariants as the most concerning because of their growth advantage over other strains and their ability to evade immunity. (Yahoo! News)
Nurse recruitment and retention is top of mind for every hospital and health system executive in 2022, particularly those responsible for ensuring health systems’ financial stability. The 2022 NSI National Health Care Retention and RN Staffing Report features input from 272 hospitals in 32 states about registered nurse turnover, retention, vacancy rates, recruitment metrics and staffing strategies. It found the average cost of turnover for one staff RN increased 15% from 2020 to 2021, to $46,100, among other dollar figures and statistics that are helpful to understand the financial implications of one of health care’s most-challenging labor disruptions. (Becker’s Hospital Review)
The risks of ‘medium COVID-19’
A plethora of research suggests the risk of severe health complications is highest in the weeks — not months — after a COVID-19 infection, yet this crucial period is often lumped into the broader term “long COVID-19.” The most serious COVID-19 complications occur in the first 12 weeks after an initial infection. This period of time is so menacing, in fact, that it should have its own, familiar name: medium COVID-19. Numerous studies suggest these health risks may lessen as time advances. For example, Swedish researchers found the risk of developing a pulmonary embolism was 32 times higher in the first month after detecting COVID-19 and fell to just two times higher after 60 days. (The Atlantic)