Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|November 18, 2022

Iowa news

Hospitalizations drop, but cases are ticking up

Two years ago, on Nov. 17, 2020, Iowa reported 1,527 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state’s hospitals. That was the most reported at any point in the pandemic. Two years later, on Nov. 16, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 137 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa — the fewest in a weekly update in more than six months. The health department reported 1,980 new cases this week, or about 283 per day — up from 266 per day the week before. That’s the most reported in one week since late September, but still lower than the new case rate throughout most of the summer. (Des Moines Register)

Sanford-Fairview merger back on the table

Sanford Health and Minneapolis-based Fairview Health have approved negotiations for a merger — nearly one decade after their first attempt fell through. Both Sanford, which operates 47 medical facilities in North and South Dakota, western Minnesota and northwest Iowa, and Fairview, which operates 10 inpatient hospitals, 80 clinics and 36 pharmacies around The Twin Cities, have signed nonbinding letters of intent to merge. The health systems said consolidation would aid in innovation — such as expanding virtual care in rural areas — and help them overcome financial challenges. If the deal makes it past regulatory reviews, the joint system would manage 78,000 employees and more than 50 hospitals, making it among the largest providers in the upper Midwest. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

University of Iowa seeks temporary help for state Hygienic Lab

The University of Iowa is seeking help hiring temporary workers for the State Hygienic Lab that — like many other industries — is facing a labor shortage stretching its staff thin as it aims to process an average of 1,000 tests a day for things like COVID-19, newborn and maternal screenings and tuberculosis. The university earlier this month issued a call for proposals from temporary staffing agencies capable of finding workers to fill up to 10 positions “depending on the volume of testing needed.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National news

Increased RSV infections are not because of ‘immunity debt,’ but failure to protect public health

The increases in pediatric respiratory syncytial virus infections and related hospitalizations are not because of an “immunity debt” created by masking and stay-at-home orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. So-called immunity debt is a flawed conjecture that is not based on science. Articles saying that children have not been exposed to RSV since the beginning of the pandemic because of stay-at-home orders are inaccurate. Many children were already exposed to and infected with RSV in 2021. The positivity rates for RSV were higher in 2021 than they are now in the U.S. Additionally, RSV infections only provide partial immunity, and people remain susceptible to repeat infections throughout their lives. (National Nurses United)

Payers, providers ditch the hushed voices in their fights

If payer-provider disputes were a reality TV show, just a few years ago viewers would have been hard to come by. The occasional conflicts that emerged during contract negotiations were hardly discernible to the public, shrouded behind closed doors and backroom deals. To industry insiders, information about impasses was dressed in corporate speak, void of meaningful detail and communicated with an air of coolness by both parties. If the stalemates over reimbursement rates dragged on for long enough or presented enough risk to patients and consumers, they’d warrant headlines for several weeks before outside pressure drove the parties to compromise. Today, the acrimony in payer-provider disputes is increasingly palpable and recasts what were once sterile, short-lived plotlines into a series of drawn out sagas. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Violence against health care workers is on the rise. They deserve protection.

There is no place for violence in civil society. Yet stabbings, shootings, threats and other violent attacks have become frighteningly common, including in America’s hospitals and other health care settings. As leaders of national associations representing hospitals and emergency physicians, we know the intimidation and violence endured by medical professionals every day. Making it a federal offense could help prevent it. Nurses, physicians and other staff on the front lines of care in U.S. hospitals and health care systems experience high rates of violence. A new survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians found that more than eight in 10 emergency physicians believe the rate of violence in emergency departments has increased, with 45% saying it has greatly increased over the past five years. (STAT)

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