NewsStand, Dec. 5, 2023

NewsStand, Dec. 5, 2023

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|December 4, 2023

Iowa news

Pella Regional Health Center continues to meet demand with new birthing center amenities

Pella Regional Health Center recently began construction of a cesarean section operating room in its birthing center to help meet the growing demand for obstetrics services in the area. Over the past 20 years, there has been a steady decrease in the number obstetric units in Iowa. Over half of Iowa’s 99 counties do not have OB units, and eight of those counties are in or next to areas served by Pella Regional. Despite these trends, Pella Regional has invested in care for pregnant women and their families. Pella Regional has the largest number of births for any critical access hospital in Iowa, delivering 579 babies in 2022 and 544 already in 2023, with more than 600 expected by year-end. (KNIA/KRLS)

UnityPoint Health begins knocking down two downtown buildings for redevelopment

Two neighboring downtown buildings will soon be gone as UnityPoint Health Center prepares to clear the properties for redevelopment. Demolition of the former Care Inn began last month. The process of clearing the site will continue through the end of the year. Site prep is underway at the Woodland Center, which faces the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance building. The health care provider has “no concrete plans” for how the space will be used going forward, but UnityPoint notes a commitment to providing the best possible health care services to its community, which includes preparing its campus for future growth, being a good neighbor and keeping its environment beautiful and safe. (Des Moines Register)

Miller-Meeks supports effort to ban fees that cost hospitals millions

A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives, including Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D., have introduced a bill that would ban fees on electronic health care payments that cost hospitals millions of dollars. The No Fees for EFTs Act would outlaw payers from tacking on fees for providers to be reimbursed electronically. The Accountable Care Act required payers to offer electronic payments to providers, but payers and middlemen charge as much as 5% for the transactions. (

National news

States with the most rural hospital closures

Since 2005, 104 rural hospitals have closed and more than 600 additional rural hospitals — 30% of all rural hospitals in the U.S. — are at risk of closing in the near future, according to the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. Rural hospitals, 37 of which have closed since 2020, continue to be at risk of closure because they lose money providing services to patients. Historically, many hospitals have received grants, local tax revenues or subsidies from other businesses that offset these losses, but there is no guarantee that these funds will continue to be available or sufficient to address their financial challenges amid persisting workforce shortages, rising costs and leveling reimbursement. (Becker’s Hospital CFO Report)

Two years in, Omicron’s mystery remains

Omicron is circumventing precedents set up by earlier COVID-19 strains, alpha and delta, and the two-year anniversary of its arrival is teaching a new lesson on why one mutation is continuing to dominate. The variant first appeared in November 2021 when researchers in Botswana and South Africa found a COVID-19 strain that was quickly emerging and spreading. The World Health Organization named it omicron, and virologists expected its path to follow the trend of previous variants by spiking then falling off after a few months. It has since evaded expectations and immunity through dozens of mutations. (Becker’s Clinical Leadership)

New COVID-19 hospitalizations increase for third week in a row

New coronavirus hospitalizations have increased for the third week in a row. Over 19,400 new COVID-19 hospital admissions were reported last week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the numbers are a fraction of the massive surges the U.S. previously saw during the pandemic, it still means that the country is entering winter with elevated coronavirus levels. (U.S. News and World Report)

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