Today’s NewsStand — May 21, 2020

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

Iowa news

Iowa experts agree: Telehealth can transform health care system for the better

If there are bright spots brought about by this COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth is certainly one of them. Telemedicine is most commonly known as a form of urgent care, such as calling a practitioner when your kid is sick in the middle of the night, but the use of telehealth — or telemedicine, as we called it back in the day — surfaced decades ago. (Des Moines Register)

More than $500M in federal aid heading to Iowa hospitals would cover only half their COVID-19 losses

Iowa hospitals received $190.3 million in CARES Act relief fund payments in April and were expecting as much as $360 million more in a second round of federal relief aid underway now. Some of the state’s 118 hospitals also received in April advance Medicare payments worth $900 million in an accelerated payment program that requires the hospitals to pay back those funds with future Medicare billings. But the hospitals will have to repay the balance, potentially with interest, if those billings don’t cover the whole amount that was advanced. (Oskaloosa News)

MercyOne offers virtual prenatal care, breastfeeding classes

MercyOne Clinton Medical Center is offering virtual versions of its Healthy Expectations: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond and Breastfeeding classes free of charge in the coming weeks. Virtual Healthy Expectations: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, will be offered free to expectant mothers and their support persons. This is a four-part course offered through Zoom that covers physical changes during pregnancy, the labor process, the delivery process and life with baby following delivery. (Clinton Herald)

National news

Medicaid clinics and physicians have been last in line for COVID-19 relief funding

Casa de Salud, a nonprofit clinic in Albuquerque, N.M., provides primary medical care, opioid addiction services and non-Western therapies, including acupuncture and reiki, to a largely low-income population. And as with so many other health care institutions that serve as a safety net, this clinic’s revenue — and its future — are threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Iowa Public Radio)

Nursing homes should be virus-free for 28 days before opening, feds warn

Federal authorities are urging governors to use “extreme caution” in deciding when to resume visits at nursing homes, saying it shouldn’t come before all residents and staff have tested negative for the coronavirus for at least 28 days. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ criteria for relaxing restrictions at nursing homes come more than two months after the agency ordered homes to ban visitors. Instead of firm dates, it lists a variety of factors state and local officials should consider, such as adequate staffing levels at homes and the ability to regularly test all residents and workers. (WeAreIowa.com)

The 25 rural counties with highest infection rates

Coronavirus hot spots at meatpacking plants – especially in the Midwest – are a major source of COVID-19 in most of the rural counties with the worst infection rates. Fourteen of the 25 counties with rural America’s highest infection rates link the spread of the virus back to food-processing facilities. Prison and nursing homes were the other major sources of infections in the 25 rural hot-spot counties. The Daily Yonder calculated the infection rate for the nation’s 1,977 rural counties. For the 25 rural counties with the highest rates of coronavirus infection, we searched local and state news sources for reports on those counties. (The Daily Yonder)