Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|December 16, 2022

Iowa news

Considering all things: a freestanding ED for Keokuk

Since the closure of Blessing Hospital in Keokuk, the city has struggled to determine its next health care move. Weighing all the options and considering the facts has been difficult, as so much has changed in health care over the past two years. The rural emergency hospital provider classification has now passed federal regulations and needs to be regulated on a state level in the Iowa Legislature. Another option for emergency health care is the freestanding emergency department. (Mississippi Valley Publishing)

Rural hospitals in Iowa struggle to find beds as RSV, flu and COVID-19 tie up urban care

The same surge of respiratory illnesses including RSV, flu and COVID-19 that is jamming up urban health care systems has trickled down to Iowa’s smallest hospitals, resulting in even longer wait times for some patients. Infected patients have crowded local clinics and emergency departments, resulting in long patient wait times for care at outpatient settings and for inpatient beds at hospitals. The latest report from the state public health department shows a significant uptick in activity among respiratory viruses. To date, 200 Iowans have been hospitalized for influenza. With Iowa hospitals filling up quickly, rural health care providers say it’s a challenge to find available beds for patients who need a higher level of care. As a result, those patients are having to wait in small hospitals’ emergency departments for hours — or in the worst cases, even days. (Des Moines Register)

MercyOne chief medical executive focused on workforce shortages

Workforce shortages are the biggest challenge at Clive, Iowa-based MercyOne, the health system’s chief medical executive says. Hijinio Carreon, D.O., MBA, was named chief medical executive of MercyOne in May 2021. At the time he was elevated to the chief medical executive role, Dr. Carreon had been with the organization for more than 13 years, starting as an emergency medicine physician. Before being named chief medical executive, he had served as chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs for MercyOne Central Iowa. HealthLeaders spoke with Carreon recently about a range of issues, including physician burnout, clinical challenges now that the crisis phase of the coronavirus pandemic has passed, workforce shortages, and patient safety. (HealthLeaders)

National news

COVID-19 flexibilities apply to flu, RSV response efforts

States and health care organizations can use regulatory flexibilities permitted under the COVID-19 public health emergency to address capacity challenges stemming from a severe respiratory virus season, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. Such flexibilities include a blanket waiver that allows hospitals to screen patients off site, provide care in temporary expansion sites and easily transfer patients between facilities. “These flexibilities remain available to address emerging concerns, including the spread of RSV and flu, when a provider determines that — because of the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency — standard regulatory requirements could not otherwise be met,” HHS wrote in a letter to governors. (AHA News)

Feds warn against cybersecurity risks associated with automation in health care

HHS has issued a brief warning health care organizations about the cybersecurity risks associated with automation. Examples of automation in cybersecurity include machine learning and artificial intelligence, penetration testing and automated intelligence collection. HHS said using automated technologies can help health care organizations detect threats more quickly and fill gaps in the cybersecurity workforce. But hackers also could find automation useful in their exploitation of health care organizations. (Becker’s Health IT)

The ripple effect of rural hospital closures

Rural hospitals may be geographically isolated from their urban counterparts, but when they shutter, the effects are felt for miles. A study by the Penn State College of Medicine has quantified those impacts. Researchers analyzed the average rate of change for inpatient admissions and emergency department visits at bystander hospitals — those within 30 miles of a selected 53 hospitals that closed between 2005 and 2016 — two years before and two years after the nearby closure. Researchers found that two years before a rural hospital closure, bystander hospitals’ emergency department visits increased an average of 3.59%. Two years following a closure, emergency department visits increased an average of 10.22%. Similarly, two years before a rural hospital closure, bystander hospitals’ average admissions fell by 5.73%. Average admissions rose by 1.17% in the two years following a closure. (Penn State University)

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