Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the web.
One by one, COVID-19 outbreaks popped up in April and May at meatpacking plants across the country, fanning fears that the infectious coronavirus could spread rapidly into rural states. Plants closed temporarily in small metro areas like Waterloo, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but also smaller Iowa towns like Tama, Columbus Junction and Perry. (KCCI)
MercyOne Iowa City is working with Rural Health and Safety of Eastern Iowa to offer free COVID-19 testing across eastern Iowa. The goal is to help identify cases of the virus as it continues to spread in Iowa. A mobile clinic will be set up for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or think they might have been exposed to the virus to get a free check. (KGAN-TV)
The US Secretary of Health and Human Services was in Des Moines last week, warning the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Iowa is “concerning.” Secretary Alex Azar advised against “casual household gatherings” among relatives, neighbors and friends. Dr. Theresa Brennan is chief medical officer for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the first facility in the state to treat COVID-19 patients last March. Dr. Brennan said her hospital is averaging between 20 and 30 COVID-19 patients each day. (Radio Iowa)
Rural areas are seeing some of the fastest spread of COVID-19 in the US, taxing already stressed rural health care systems. The Community Health Systems Development team of the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University is providing and evaluating technical assistance to rural health care providers and organizations nationwide. Over the past months, they surveyed around 120 rural health care providers about the challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they are adapting to meet those challenges. (The Conversation US)
Judges for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seemed likely last week to uphold CMS’ rule that forces hospitals to disclose prices they negotiate with insurance companies. Under a final rule issued in November, hospitals are required to disclose the standard charges, including payer-specific negotiated rates, for all services beginning next year. (Becker’s Hospital Review)
Rural Jerauld County in South Dakota didn’t see a single case of the coronavirus for more than two months stretching from June to August. But over the last two weeks, its rate of new cases per person soared to one of the highest in the nation. As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections. (KSTP)