News Clips

News Clips

VHHA will update News Clips each weekday with relevant national and statewide health care news. Click on a headline below to view the article on that news organization’s website. Please note that access to some articles will require registration on that website, most of which are free. If you have items of particular interest you would like to see posted here, please contact VHHA.

April 19, 2023

VIRGINIA

Bonded for life to her work ‘family,’ VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital staff member donates kidney to colleague
(VCU Health – April 17, 2024)

Sometimes there is nothing better than supportive coworkers. The Food and Nutrition Services at VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital know this firsthand. Some might say they are a work family, not just colleagues. Kim Nelson has been with Tappahannock Hospital for more than 45 years. As the hospital’s director of Food and Nutrition Services, she helped create a close-knit staff. Their work requires a united team approach to feed patients, hospital team members and visitors each day and to support hospital special events requiring extra hours. “We are just like a family. A lot of [the people in the department] have been here long-term, like myself, 25 or 30 years,” Nelson said. “Actually, we know more about each other than we tell our spouses and family.”

Brain boost: Top 5 foods for cognitive health
(Riverside Health – April 16, 2024)

What’s the latest on brain enhancer food? Good brain food can protect our brains as we age. Get details on super brain foods from Hiliary Muse, RD CNSC, Medical Nutrition Therapy. Understanding cognitive health: Cognitive health involves a person’s ability to learn, remember and think clearly. It can decline as people age. Lower cognitive health can lead to problems performing everyday activities, including living safely and independently in your own home. Some people with low cognitive health have conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Business Briefcase
(The Winchester Star – April 15, 2024)

Valley Health System President and CEO Mark Nantz has been elected vice chair of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association’s board of directors for 2024-25. The board is comprised of hospital and health system leaders from across Virginia. VCU Health Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Elliott was elected chair and HCA Healthcare Capital Division President Dr. William Lunn was elected secretary-treasurer.

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare Negotiates Contract with Anthem
(Chesapeake Regional Healthcare – April 12, 2024)

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare recently announced that the local, independent health system is negotiating the organization’s contract with insurance company Anthem. Following ongoing financial challenges stemming from inflation and the pandemic aftermath, the nonprofit system is seeking fair terms to protect the hospital’s sustainability and preserve access to the doctors and care teams its patients know and trust.

Colorful Pinwheel Garden Highlights Donate Life Month at UVA Health
(UVA Health – April 17, 2024)

To celebrate Donate Life Month in April and the gift of life provided by organ donation and transplantation, the UVA Health Transplant Center has installed approximately 1,300 colorful pinwheels outside UVA Health’s West Complex. Virginia’s only comprehensive transplant center, the UVA Health Transplant Center has performed more than 7,000 organ transplants since its founding more than 50 years ago. During Donate Life Month this year, UVA Health’s transplant team is emphasizing the importance of living kidney and living liver donations to help the more than 100,000 people on waiting lists for transplants across the United States.

Getting to know Dr. Duane Williams, chief of critical care medicine at CHoR
(Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU – April 16, 2024)

Dr. Duane Williams – often referred to as “Dr. D” around the halls of CHoR – was previously a physician in our PICU. After a few years out of state, there was a collective cheer upon learning he’d be returning to Virginia last September as chief of critical care medicine in the new Children’s Tower. As a doctor and a dad, caring for kids is his specialty. “I am grateful to be back at CHoR and I hope to serve our kids and our team well,” said Dr. Williams. We asked Dr. Williams several questions to learn more about him and why he chose to return to ChoR.

Most Empowering Chief Nursing Officers Making an Impact in 2024 | Crystal Farmer
(Augusta Health – April 17, 2024)

Crystal Farmer, MBA, MSN, RN, FACHE is the Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Nursing Officer of Augusta Health. She balances the organization’s financial realities with delivering high-quality patient care. Her role is all about providing personalized care and maintaining effective communication with an unwavering focus on patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Pediatric Health Care Visits
(Inside NOVA – April 18, 2024)

When looking at data spanning the first quarter of 2020 through the second quarter of 2023, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association found that emergency department visits with anxiety and depression diagnoses increased in pediatric patients.

Report: Pediatric emergency visits for depression, anxiety on the rise in Virginia
(Inside NOVA – April 18, 2024)

An analysis of hospital data shows statewide emergency department visits among patients under 18 for mental health treatment have increased in recent years. When looking at data spanning the first quarter of 2020 through the second quarter of 2023, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association found that emergency department visits with anxiety and depression diagnoses increased in pediatric patients. According to a news release from the association, the first quarter of 2023 saw the highest volume recorded, with numbers surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Room 707: Home Away from Home
(VCU Health – April 18, 2024)

The fog that swirls around San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge and shrouds the iconic landmark in legendary mist does not always warn of its impending arrival or roll in gradually and gently. Sometimes, it just appears. Just like that. In mere moments, visibility is zero. Sailors rely on fog horns to guide them safely through the channel. Even the most experienced nautical veterans face treacherous conditions. The unexperienced can fare far worse. A longtime California resident named Kriss, who now lives in Virginia, knows how quickly these changes can happen — and how one’s life can transform just as swiftly. This winter, he sat in the cozy library at The Doorways, a Richmond-based hospital hospitality house that provides accommodations for patients of VCU Health and other local hospitals and their families or caregivers. Next to him, Jessica, the love of his life, leaned in close.

Sentara Martha Jefferson HealthWise: Cancer Genetics Counseling
(CBS 19 News – April 17, 2024)

Cancer genetic testing is a test that is performed when a person has either a personal history of cancer, or a family history of cancer that suggests a risk of cancer could be passed on. A genetics counselor helps people learn more about their risks and assists them moving forward. Genetic testing for cancer risk, ordered by a doctor, will test for inherited genetic variants that are associated with a high to moderately increased risk of cancer. There are a number of factors that go into whether a person will undergo genetic testing. “Family history is one of the bigger parts of what we go through together,” said Dr. Paul Kwon, a Cancer Genetics Counselor with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.

SHINE Trial Sheds Light on Deadly Stroke Complication
(UVA Health – April 18, 2024)

An ambitious, nationwide clinical trial led by UVA Health’s Karen Johnston, MD, has provided doctors with long-needed insights into the importance of managing stroke patients’ blood sugar after treatment with clot-busting therapy. The findings will help improve stroke care and save lives. The SHINE trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (grant U01 NS069498), was conducted at UVA Health and 69 other hospitals around the country. The new analysis of the trial results, led by UVA Health’s Andrew Southerland, MD, found that high blood sugar shortly after thrombolysis – opening blocked arteries in the brain with a clot-busting drug – was associated with greater risk for potentially deadly brain bleeds, particularly in older patients with more severe strokes. These brain bleeds, known as symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhages, are considered one of the most dangerous complications of ischemic stroke treatment.

OTHER STATES

COVID-19 spread is ‘very low’ in Iowa
(Iowa Capital Dispatch – April 12, 2024)

The number of new weekly hospital admissions of people infected with COVID-19 in Iowa has been dropping steadily since the start of the year and is now among the lowest rates of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reported 41 of those admissions in a recent week, down from a peak of 411 in December, which was the highest rate in more than a year. A Friday report by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services classified the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa as “very low.” That report also listed no new deaths associated with the disease for the first time this year.

Florida issues Medicaid managed care awards booting out UnitedHealth, CVS and Molina
(Healthcare Dive – April 15, 2024)

Florida released long-awaited Medicaid contract awards on Friday, retaining Centene, Elevance and Humana as sole holders of market share in every state region while slicing UnitedHealth, CVS and Molina out of the state. Analysts said the awards were particularly beneficial for Medicaid giant Centene, which currently has the largest market share in Florida and was seen to be at risk of losing penetration. The contract loss isn’t expected to materially affect the earnings of UnitedHealth, CVS and Molina, though the insurers could still challenge the results. Florida’s contract runs six years and is expected to begin in October.

House panel passes background check bill for Pennsylvania nurses and doctors to practice in other states
(Pennsylvania Capital Star – April 15, 2024)

The FBI and Pennsylvania agencies involved in vetting people who apply for medical and nursing licenses have reached an agreement on how the state will perform criminal background checks to allow Pennsylvania doctors and nurses to practice in other states. The state House Professional Licensure Committee on Monday approved legislation to establish a process for the Pennsylvania State Police to obtain fingerprints from people applying for new or interstate licenses and forward them to the FBI for comparison with state and federal databases. The state police would then report the results to the Department of State, which oversees professional licensure. A communications breakdown between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice has prevented the state from conducting the criminal record checks necessary for Pennsylvania to fully implement the Nurse Licensure Compact and the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt testified in February.

Nevada: State commits nearly $200 million for overhaul of behavioral health care system
(The Nevada Independent – April 15, 2024)

The state is making a historic commitment of nearly $200 million during the next three years to “transform” its behavioral health care system for children in foster care and with significant behavioral health needs. The investment, greenlit during the Thursday meeting of the Interim Finance Committee, marks a significant stride in bringing the state into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the U.S. Department of Justice found that the state had violated by “failing to provide services to children with behavioral health disabilities in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs.” News of the violation came in a 25-page report the Department of Justice published in October 2022 detailing the state’s failure to provide therapy, crisis support and behavioral support programs that led to hundreds of children being “isolated in residential treatment facilities each year” often far away from home and many in states outside of Nevada “though they could remain with their families if provided necessary, community-based services.”

MISCELLANEOUS

‘Forever chemicals’ have been linked to many diseases. Are they connected to breast and gynecological cancers, too?
(The Hill – April 15, 2024)

Loreen Hackett suffered two bouts of cancer before she turned 50. Cancerous cells were discovered in her cervix when she was in her 20s, leading her to undergo a hysterectomy when she was just 28. Less than two decades later, she was diagnosed again — this time with breast cancer. Hackett, a longtime activist, said she now believes both her cancers were connected to “forever chemicals” contamination in the drinking water in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., where she has lived for most of her life and where state agencies detected problematic levels of a certain type of the compounds, known as PFOA, in the community’s groundwater supplies and private wells in 2016. Scientists are researching the possibility of such a link between exposure to the substances, known as PFAS, and breast and gynecological cancers — though they have yet to find a definitive connection.

Drug shortages reach all-time high
(Axios – April 11, 2024)

With 323 medicines in short supply, U.S. drug shortages have risen to their highest level since the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists began tracking in 2001. This high-water mark should energize efforts in Congress and federal agencies to address the broken market around what are often critical generic drugs, the organization says. The Biden administration last week issued a drug-shortage plan that called on Congress to pass legislation that would reward hospitals for maintaining an adequate supply of key drugs, among other measures. As a “first step,” Medicare yesterday proposed incentives for roughly 500 small hospitals to establish and maintain a six-month buffer stock of essential medicines.

Elevated mpox cases spur efforts to avoid summer spread
(The Hill – April 11, 2024)

Mpox cases have been elevated since October, with an average of roughly 200 monthly cases detected per month, spurring efforts to avoid a summer surge like what was seen in 2022. Recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed a startling difference between the first quarter of 2023 and 2024, with the first three months of this year seeing nearly double the rate of cases seen the same time last year. Federal health officials have cautioned against making year-to-year comparisons. When reached for comment on the current situation, a CDC spokesperson told The Hill that while the U.S. is seeing more cases than a year ago, there is still a “low level of risk for most people.”

Former rival becomes kidney donor for Pennsylvania man
(Good Morning America – April 11, 2024)

Two pool players who were once competitors in a high stakes pool tournament have become lifelong friends after a kidney transplant brought them together. James Harris Jr. of Glen Burnie, Maryland, and Russ Redhead of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, first met about a decade ago at The Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Maryland, where they were playing against each other in an American Poolplayers Association tournament. At the time, the two were vying for the top prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, allowing the winner to compete further in the tournament for a bigger reward.

Here’s what worries scientists about bird flu’s spread among cattle
(NPR – April 11, 2024)

The outbreak of bird flu in dairy cattle is still unfolding. On Wednesday, North Carolina became the seventh state to detect the virus in a dairy herd. The unlikely spread among cattle and one dairy worker has scientists looking through the data to better understand this spillover. They say the risk to humans hinges on whether the virus can evolve in key ways to better infect mammals. So far, there’s some reassuring news: At a recent meeting, scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the virus is not presenting like a respiratory illness in cattle – meaning the animals don’t appear to be shedding large amounts of virus from their nose or mouths.

In the grip of a heart attack: How to recognize the signs and react
(Texas Public Radio – April 9, 2024)

A heart attack, a terrifying event where blood flow to the heart is blocked, can feel like an elephant sitting on your chest. This crushing pressure, often in the center or left side, can be accompanied by tightness, squeezing, or dull pain. It may linger for minutes or come and go. But the discomfort isn’t the only indicator. Shortness of breath, like struggling to catch your breath after a sprint, can arise. Cold sweat may dampen your skin, and nausea or lightheadedness might add to the growing sense of unease. These are warning signs you shouldn’t ignore. Every minute counts in a heart attack. Call 911 immediately. It’s recommended, while waiting for help, chew aspirin if you’re not allergic – it can help thin the blood.

Measles elimination in the U.S. is under ‘renewed threat,’ CDC warns
(NBC News – April 11, 2024)

Measles has spread at a rapid clip this year. From January to March, the U.S. recorded around 30% of the total cases seen since the beginning of 2020. From 2020 through 2023, the U.S. recorded an average of five measles cases in the first quarter of each year. Those low numbers were due, in part, to the Covid pandemic, when fewer people were interacting in person. By contrast, this year’s first-quarter tally was 97, according to a report the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday. “The rapid increase in the number of reported measles cases during the first quarter of 2024 represents a renewed threat to elimination,” the authors wrote. Measles has been considered eliminated in the U.S. since 2000, meaning the disease is no longer constantly present, though there are still occasional outbreaks.

They’re young and athletic. They’re also ill with a condition called POTS.
(The Washington Post – April 10, 2024)

Kaleigh Levine was running drills in the gym with her lacrosse team at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio, when everything turned black. “The coach wanted me to get back in the line, but I couldn’t see,” she remembered. Her vision returned after a few minutes, but several months and a half-dozen medical specialists later, the 20-year-old goalie was diagnosed with a mysterious condition known as POTS. First described more than 150 years ago, the syndrome has proliferated since the coronavirus pandemic. Before 2020, 1 million to 3 million people suffered from POTS in the United States, researchers estimate. Precise numbers are difficult to come by because the condition encompasses a spectrum of symptoms, and many people have still never heard of it. Recent studies suggest 2 to 14 percent of people infected with the coronavirus may go on to develop POTS.

Three studies spotlight long-term burden of COVID in US adults
(CIDRAP – April 10, 2024)

Three new studies shed new light on long COVID in the United States, with one finding that two thirds of severely ill patients reported persistent impairments for up to 1 year, another showing that US veterans were at three times the risk of preventable hospitalization in the month after infection, and the last revealing that one third of COVID-19 survivors had lingering symptoms at one time.

REFORM

CMS proposes 2.6% bump to inpatient pay in fiscal 2025
(Fierce Healthcare – April 10, 2024)

The Biden administration is proposing a 2.6% increase for inpatient hospitals’ payments for the coming fiscal year, a $3.3 billion increase over the current year’s payout, as well as other policy adjustments intended to shore up surgical care coordination, drug supply, emergency preparedness monitoring, maternal health and care for the underserved. The potential updates came under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) proposed Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital pay rule, which were unveiled Wednesday afternoon.

Lawmakers mull telehealth quality, reimbursement as extension deadline looms
(Healthcare Dive – April 11, 2024)

Lawmakers lauded the benefits of telehealth during a hearing Wednesday, but House members also raised questions about cost, quality and access that still need to be answered as a year-end deadline looms. As a December deadline draws closer, legislators are working to hash out details about extending or making pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities in Medicare permanent. During an hours-long House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, lawmakers considered 15 different legislative proposals surrounding telehelath access, noting changes in Medicare will impact decisions of private insurers. “There’s an urgent need to extend these flexibilities because it’s going to run out,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. “We need to take action on this.”

Medicare floats incentive for hospitals to offer new sickle cell treatments
(Axios – April 11, 2024)

Hospitals within months could get extra federal money to administer pricey new gene therapies for sickle cell disease, including the first CRISPR-based treatment. The Medicare proposal would provide more incentive to offer the multimillion-dollar gene therapies when about half of those living with sickle cell are lower-income people on Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday proposed paying hospitals an extra 75% of the estimated costs of the treatments on top of what Medicare already pays for the therapy. That’s above the typical 65% add-on payment hospitals can get for using new technologies.