hospital

One of the things I’ve noticed over the last few years is how many local hospitals seem to have been taken over by McLaren Health Care, a chain that originally started in Flint.

That in itself may not be bad; there have certainly been cases of local stand-alone hospitals that lacked the resources to properly serve their communities.

But it sometimes seems to me that while America once had wards between rival steel and railroad magnates, we now have hospital system wars. And we now have a case of sheer hospital arrogance.

Phil Incarnati, McLaren’s president and CEO, seems to believe the state’s rules for allowing where hospitals can expand are just fine – as long as they don’t apply to him. Over and over again, McLaren has been denied permission to build a new hospital near Clarkston, an affluent area in northern Oakland County.

Wikipedia.org

Since January, Michigan hospitals have been dealing with the effects of a nationwide shortage of a critical supply of intravenous fluid.

The fluid is used in a wide variety of intravenous therapy, including chemotherapy. The shortage is blamed on reduced production and increased demand during the winter flu season.

Laura Appel is with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. She says hospitals are working to share what fluid they do have.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says preventable dental treatment is taking a bite out of Michigan hospital emergency room budgets.

The Anderson Economic Group study says in 2011, about 7,000 people with cavities, abscesses, and other preventable dental problems showed up in Michigan ERs.  About 1,000 needed to be hospitalized.

midiman / Creative Commons

An increase of cases of the flu in Michigan is prompting some hospitals to limit who can visit sick patients. They hope it’ll help prevent the spread of the flu.

University of Michigan’s hospitals aren’t letting kids younger than 12 visit the most vulnerable patients.

At Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, there are similar restrictions, along with the number of visitors, or in some units, only immediate family members.

Dr. David Davenport is the medical director of  infection prevention and control at Borgess.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Flint’s Hurley Medical Center faced national media scrutiny when an African-American nurse was told not to care for a baby at a patient’s request. The case was settled outside of court.

Julie Gafkay represented that nurse and says she was not alone.

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new Michigan State University survey finds a growing number of school lunch rooms, hospitals cafeterias and other institutions are interested in filling their pantries with locally grown food.

MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems has been asking institutions about whether they buy locally grown fruits, vegetables and other food staples since 2004.

Center director Michael Hamm says the number of school cafeterias buying local has tripled in the last decade. But he says there’s only so much more local farmers can produce now.

UofMHealth.org

How much do you know about palliative care?

If your answer is, 'not a lot,' you're not alone.

Though palliative care can serve an important role in a patient's life, it doesn't get much attention. 

Let's start off with a definition from Dr. Sekaran. 

Dr. Nishant Sekaran is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan, and is the author of reports about the growing palliative care industry in Michigan that Michigan Radio is airing this week. 

"When I talk to my patients, we are going to be very aggressive about focusing on your quality of life," said Sekaran. "That doesn't mean that you can't also be aggressive with pursuing medical therapy that is consistent with your goals and wishes about your care. Palliative care is really about clarifying what the patient's goals of care are while focusing on the physical and psycho-social  aspects of illness."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a bill making its way through the state legislature that would require Michigan hospitals to reveal when they will withhold treatment from severely ill patients.

Many hospitals have ‘futility’ policies.   The policies outline when the hospitals will withhold treatment from a patient on the grounds that further care would be futile and would simply waste hospital resources.

The policies are mainly for internal use and not widely disclosed.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan hospitals could be among those hardest hit by automatic federal budget cuts this week.

Under the sequestration, Medicare reimbursements to doctors and hospitals would be cut by two percent.

Laura Appel is the vice president for federal policy and advocacy with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.  She says sequestration would add up to tens of millions of dollars a year in loss reimbursements to Michigan hospitals. 

Ninety-Four percent of hospitals suffer data breaches

Dec 7, 2012
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new study by Michigan’s Ponemon Institute reports hospitals are easy places for thieves to make off with a treasure trove of information.

The Institute is in Traverse City and studies information security.  In the “Third Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security”, Ponemon found 94 percent of hospitals have suffered data breeches.

Stateside: Dr. Jack Kevorkian's legacy

Dec 3, 2012
Greg Asatrian / wikimedia commons

Twenty-two years ago today, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was first charged with murder.

He was charged with the death of Janet Adkins, an Alzheimer's patient who traveled from Oregon seeking Kevorkian’s assistance in ending her life.

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry knew Kevorkian and extensively covered his trial.

“Kevorkian was more of a scientist than a doctor. He was obsessed with death and obsessed with the idea of organ transplants. He was presented by Geoffrey Fieger as concerned with alleviating peoples’ suffering,” said Lessenberry.

Lessenberry found Kevorkian to be both impatient and strikingly intelligent.

“He was brilliant; he probably had an IQ of 200. He was a restless person and a self-destructive person. He was a very different individual,” said Lessenberry.

user ronnieb / MorgueFile.com

Health officials say a traveling medical technician accused of infecting 30 patients with hepatitis C in New Hampshire may have worked at several Michigan hospitals.

A New Hampshire U.S. Attorney's Office media advisory released earlier this week says the charges against Kwiatkowski relate to suspected thefts of the anesthetic Fentanyl.

The University of Michigan Health System will house a new center for HIV research.
UM

U.S. News & World Report has identified 34 high-performing hospitals in Michigan out of more than 175 hospitals statewide. The rankings were released earlier this week.

Regional rankings around the country are based on how hospitals compare nationally in 16 medical specialties.

Doctors are already required to send immunization records to the State of Michigan. With the new system, the data will arrive in real time with no extra steps for the doctors or hospitals.

The system was launched by a non-profit called Michigan Health Connect. Executive Director Doug Dietzman says eventually the data could travel both ways – so doctors could avoid giving patients shots they don’t need. He outline tetanus as a common example. 

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear legal arguments over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The federal health care law has come under fire for a variety of reasons, including changes to the way Americans will get their health care.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State health officials are putting a 140 bed emergency field hospital to the test today just south of Lansing.      They're preparing for the kind of medical needs that may follow a catastrophic natural or man-made disaster.  

“Never had a seizure before?" 

Doctors and nurses scramble to try to understand why a child suffered a seizure during an earthquake that rattled southwest Michigan.      They are real doctors and nurses, but their patient is actually a dummy, and the earthquake is just a scenario. 

Ingham Regional Medical Center in Lansing will start laying off about 7 percent of it’s workforce this week.

Interim hospital CEO Patrick Salow says a 10 percent decline in patient numbers over the past year is forcing the staffing cuts. He says the layoffs will affect the hospital’s nursing staff, but the layoffs will also affect other divisions like the finance department.

“If we’ve got fewer patients, so there’s fewer bills to send out, do we need as many people to process bills for example."

The total layoff will be between 100 and 150 hospital employees.

Battle Creek Health System
Courtesy BCHS

Patients at Battle Creek Health System are expected to have more services and physicians available to them after a deal with a larger hospital is completed.

Bronson Health Group of Kalamazoo is buying a 51% stake in the smaller BCHS.

Denise Brooks-Williams is president and CEO of the Battle Creek facility. She says the two hospital systems have common goals.

CT scan machine
user NithinRao / Creative Commons

No doubt CT scans have improved a doctor's ability to make diagnoses. The ability to see inside the body without cutting it open has meant better treatment.

But CT scans can deliver high doses of radiation, which can lead to cancer later in life, or in severe cases, can cause severe burns and even death.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 Federal and state prosecutors are suing Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan.

 The non-profit health insurance company is accused of violating anti-trust laws. 

When Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan negotiates a contract with a hospital, it includes a provision giving it a discounted rate compared to other health insurance companies. 

Blue Cross insists that allows it to provide its members with discounted hospital stays.    But the US Justice Department and Michigan’s Attorney General’s office disagree.