Today’s NewsStand – October 7, 2019

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Costs forcing some hospitals to stop delivering babies
Last month’s closing of the obstetrics unit at the Marshalltown hospital was only the most recent in Iowa’s rural communities, which has forced some expectant mothers to skimp on prenatal care and undergo frantic trips when labor commences. Since 2000, 34 of Iowa’s 118 community hospitals have closed their birthing units, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. There have been two so far this year, down from eight closures last year — the most in a single year. Most of those closures have happened at smaller facilities than the 49-bed Marshalltown hospital. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s reunites NICU families and providers
One in 10 babies are born prematurely, many of those spend time in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit or NICU. UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s cares for nearly 400 babies each year in their NICU giving their tiniest patients and their families the best attention. Saturday night those families that spent time in the NICU were able to reunite with those nurses, specialists, and doctors that cared for their newborn babies. Director of St. Luke’s Children’s Miracle Network Anne Holmes says this was a chance for families to celebrate how far their kids have come. (KMEG)

Vaping-related illnesses increase in Iowa
According to the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, 23 cases of severe respiratory illness associated with vaping have been reported in Iowa. Ages range from 17-60, and 18 reported the use of THC. All of the Iowa cases are men. “Iowans should not use vaping and e-cigarette products since the cause of this outbreak is not yet clear and the long-term health impacts of these products are unknown,” the Board of Pharmacy said. Health care providers are asked to report severe respiratory illness in patients with a history of vaping or e-cigarette use to the Iowa Department of Public Health. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Alabama Hospital Association says new money helps hospitals hold on
Alabama hospitals will receive $78 million in extra reimbursements for treating Medicaid patients. However, some groups said this only puts a Band-Aid on the problem. In the last eight years, 13 Alabama hospitals have closed, with seven of those closures in rural Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey stated on Wednesday that she’s released an extra, conditional state appropriation of $22 million for Alabama Medicaid. This will allow the program to receive an additional $56 million in matching federal dollars. Alabama Hospital Association Executive Vice President Danne Howard said this is a bump for hospitals, especially in rural areas. (WTVM)

New Medicare Advantage plans in Omaha area could cover rides to the doctor
Seniors in the market for Medicare Advantage plans during the upcoming Medicare open enrollment season will find a new option in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Medica and CHI Health have partnered to offer new Medicare Advantage plan options — an HMO and a PPO — to eligible seniors in an 11-county area. The Medica and CHI plans include transportation to medical appointments and meal delivery after hospital and nursing home stays. Members are eligible to receive two meals a day for seven days. The program can be used up to four times per year. (Omaha World-Herald)

Why hospitals are getting into the housing business
Legally and morally, hospitals cannot discharge patients if they have no safe place to go. So patients who are homeless, frail or live alone, or have unstable housing, can occupy hospital beds for weeks or months — long after their acute medical problem is resolved. For hospitals, it means losing money because a patient lingering in a bed without medical problems doesn’t generate much, if any, income. To address the problem, hospitals from Baltimore to St. Louis to Sacramento, Calif., are exploring ways to help patients find a home. Many hospitals realize it’s cheaper to provide a month of housing than to keep patients for a single night. (Kaiser Health News)