Today’s NewsStand — April 28, 2020

Iowa news

UnityPoint Health CEO steps down

Kevin Vermeer, President and Chief Executive Officer of UnityPoint Health, stepped down Monday. Susan K. Thompson, UnityPoint’s Senior Vice President of Integration and Optimization, will take over the role on an interim basis. Vermeer assumed the role of President and CEO in January 2016. He’s been in leadership roles with the organization since 2000. (OurQuadCities.com)

Iowa now has more COVID-19 deaths than flu deaths

Iowa now has more COVID-19 deaths than flu deaths for the season. There are 107 COVID-19 deaths in the state and there have been 95 influenza-associated deaths. The influenza deaths span nearly six months while the first COVID-19 death in Iowa was announced one month ago. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa has 4,445 confirmed cases due to the novel coronavirus. So far, 31,973 people have been tested. (KCII Radio)

Local hospitals taking cautious approach to resuming elective surgeries

With the governors in both Iowa and Illinois soon allowing the resumption of some outpatient elective surgeries, local hospitals are taking a cautious approach with integrating them back into their daily procedures. Doug Cropper, President and CEO of Genesis Health System, released a statement saying that their hospitals “will not immediately ramp up to surgical levels before this pandemic began.” Instead they are going to proceed cautiously. He does say that some surgical procedures may begin as early as next week in Iowa. A statement from UnityPoint Health states that they have not yet established a timeline for the resumption of surgeries, “but have begun planning for resuming elective procedures that prioritize the health and safety of our team members, patients and communities.” (OurQuadCities.com)

 

National news

Scammers play on consumer fears as coronavirus spreads

Stay-at-home orders, for some, means more time online and more offers for treatment in these trying times. Often that means coming across advertisements and even videos on social media promising to help. On YouTube, one video is selling the drug touted at times by President Trump, though the FDA recently warned against it. Ads like this are rampant on YouTube. On Facebook, you may have come across ads selling portable ventilators it says are FDA-approved. A second look reveals the associated phone number has the country code, 234, for Nigeria. (KLEW-TV)

Hospitals urge HHS to cut interest rate on advance payments

The American Hospital Association and several other national hospital groups sent a letter to HHS urging the agency to make improvements to the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. CMS expanded the payment program to a broader group of healthcare providers in late March to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19. Most hospitals can request up to six months of advance Medicare payments through the program. The payments, which are loans that hospitals must pay back, have an interest rate of more than 9.6 percent. The hospital groups are urging HHS to waive the interest or lower the interest rate to no more than 2 percent. (Becker’s Healthcare)

We also must flatten the curve of rural hospital closings

Hiding in the shadows cast by big city outbreaks, the novel coronavirus quickly has spread to more than 1,000 rural communities. This pandemic’s sweep of our nation’s prairies and plains comes as hundreds of rural hospitals are on the verge of closure, potentially leaving tens of thousands of people without access to local emergency health services during the contagion’s peak and permanently devastating rural economies. (Abilene Reporter News)