Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|December 9, 2022

Iowa news

Iowa reports first flu deaths this season as respiratory viruses fill hospitals

Iowa has reported the first influenza deaths of the season, which comes as other respiratory viruses are widely circulating statewide, especially among its youngest residents. The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced two elderly people from northern Iowa were the first to die because of influenza during the 2022-23 season. The two people, who were not identified, were older than 81 years. Both had underlying conditions. Iowa is reporting moderately high flu activity: To date, there have been 31 patients hospitalized for the flu since the season started Oct. 3. Iowa hospitals have reported packed emergency departments and high patient admission rates in recent weeks because of a rapid spread of other respiratory viruses. (Des Moines Register)

2022 Catalysts interview – UnityPoint Health

As one UnityPoint Health patient stated, “Getting a person’s gender wrong in the rush of medical care may seem like a small thing, but to a person who has fought most of their life to have others identify them as their actual gender, it means the world.” So, to answer that call and serve its patients as best as possible, UnityPoint Health has made important changes to its electronic health record, creating a culture of inclusion by using tools to provide patients with the opportunity to accurately identify themselves while also allowing for providers to learn the skills necessary to enhance the care experience. (The Technology Association of Iowa)

How new federal help could save rural Midwest hospitals — and why some don’t want it

In the wake of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many rural hospitals are on track to experience their worst financial year in decades. About 30% are at risk of closing in the immediate or near future, according to a recent report from the think tank Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. This is where the newly created federal rural emergency hospital licensure designation comes in. Federal lawmakers created the new designation, set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, as a lifeline for rural hospitals. It’s aimed at saving rural hospitals that are struggling and on the brink of closure. It would allow them to end all inpatient care and operate just as an emergency room with outpatient services. The designation would also provide benefits like higher reimbursements through Medicare and Medicaid. (Iowa Public Radio)

National news

RSV cases may be peaking, CDC says, but flu hospitalizations remain at a decade high

According to the CDC, the spread of RSV appears to be slowing, though COVID-19 cases have risen since Thanksgiving and flu hospitalizations remain at a decade high. Approximately 78,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu since the start of October. Around 19,500 were newly hospitalized the last week of November, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services — nearly double the number of flu hospitalizations reported the week prior. The CDC estimates the flu has already caused 8.7 million illnesses since Oct. 1. That’s close to the 9 million cases estimated for the entire 2021-22 flu season. (NBC News)

The nursing shortage keeps getting worse, and foundations and major donors are pouring in millions to stem the tide

As more nurses leave their jobs in hospitals and health care centers, foundations are pouring millions of dollars into efforts to ensure that more stay in the profession and get more out of the job than just the applause and pats on the back they got during the bleakest days of the pandemic. More than 100,000 nurses left the field in 2021, according to an April study published in the journal Health Affairs. The flight from the profession wasn’t a case of older nurses retiring. Most nurses leaving were under 35, and more are headed for the exit, according to a study from consulting firm McKinsey and Company, which found that 22% of front-line nurses planned to leave their positions in the next year — an increase from the 16% who said that in 2019. (Fortune)

The FDA clears updated COVID-19 vaccines for kids under age 5

U.S. regulators have cleared doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 5. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision aims to better protect the youngest children amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases nationwide when children’s hospitals already are packed with tots suffering from other respiratory illnesses including the flu. Omicron-targeted booster shots made by Moderna and rival Pfizer already were open to everyone 5 and older. The FDA now has authorized use of the tweaked shots starting at age 6 months — but who is eligible depends on how many vaccinations they’ve already had, and which kind. Only about 5% of youngsters under age 5 have gotten the full primary series since vaccinations for the youngest began in June. (Iowa Public Radio)

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