Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|April 10, 2023

Iowa news

As bird flu outbreak persists into second year, so does concern it could jump to humans

To contain the bird flu virus, U.S. producers have culled a record 58.7 million chickens, turkeys and other poultry, including 16 million domestic birds in Iowa. But the virus is now infecting foxes, bears and other mammals across 23 states, including Iowa. Iowa lies along a major migratory path for wild birds, and ducks and geese descend in vast clouds on Iowa lakes each spring. Wild waterfowl along with killdeer and other shorebirds can carry bird flu without apparent symptoms, spreading it to U.S. domestic flocks. Iowa, with about 58 million laying hens and 11.7 million turkeys, has been the epicenter of the outbreak, which began during the spring wild bird migration in 2022 and hung on through the winter. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa lawmakers unlikely to extend Medicaid to new mothers beyond 60-day window

Iowa is in a shrinking minority of states that does not offer coverage under Medicaid to new mothers for 12 months after giving birth, and lawmakers are not likely to extend the coverage this year. New mothers in Iowa have 60 days of postpartum care if the birth is covered by Medicaid, the federal minimum. A provision in the 2021 American Rescue Plan allowed states to extend their Medicaid postpartum care to 12 months. Nearly 40 states have implemented the extension or are in the process. But, though bills have been filed to implement the extension in Iowa, those aren’t likely to advance this year. House Health and Human Services Committee chair Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, supports extending the coverage but wants to ensure there is enough support to make it law. (Globe Gazette)

New home medical supply store will open at KRHC

Kossuth Regional Health Center has entered into a joint venture agreement with MercyOne North Iowa to open a home medical supply store at KRHC. The KRHC Board of Trustees recently gave approval for the agreement. “The store will have items insurance will pay for or patients can come in and self-pay for. It will have things like ostomy supplies, wound care products, oxygen, wheelchairs and walkers. Patients have to leave town now for these items so that will be an important thing,” KRHC CEO Dar Elbert said. The store is expected to open in July on the first floor of the hospital near the cafeteria in the former medical records department space. (Kossuth County Advance)

National news

Hospitals faced ‘worst operating year’ ever in 2022: Fitch

Last year is shaping up to be “the worst operating year we’ve ever seen” in the hospital sector, with 2023 set to be a “make-or-break year” for many, Fitch Ratings Senior Director Kevin Holloran said. Several financial challenges contributed to hospital margins suffering steep declines last year, including labor costs and staff shortages, inflation, higher cost of capital, investment losses and the end of federal pandemic-related funds. Although the need for high-cost travel nurses has declined, basic wages have increased and inflation remains at elevated levels. Fitch doesn’t expect much respite for hospitals this year either. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Microsoft receives court order to disrupt infrastructure from ransomware groups targeting hospitals

Software giant Microsoft received a court order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York that will allow the company to disrupt infrastructure used by ransomware gangs during hospital attacks. The court order allows Microsoft to cut off communication between hackers and a fake version of the cybersecurity software Cobalt Strike, used by hackers to breach hospital systems. The abuse of the cybersecurity software is a tactic used by Russian-speaking ransomware gangs Conti and LockBit. (Becker’s Health IT and CIO Report)

COVID-19 caused brain damage in two babies infected during pregnancy, study shows

Researchers at the University of Miami reported what they believe are the first two confirmed cases in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus crossed a mother’s placenta and caused brain damage in the infants they were carrying. Physicians previously had suspected this was possible, but until now, there was no direct evidence of COVID-19 in a mother’s placenta or an infant’s brain. The babies were born to young mothers who tested positive for the virus during their second trimester at the height of the pandemic’s Delta wave in 2020, before vaccines were available. The case studies were published in the journal Pediatrics. (NBC News)

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