KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Ariz.’s Doctor Shortage Reflects National Crisis; Nurses Strike Continues At Tufts Hospital

Media outlets report on coverage from Arizona, Massachusetts, D.C., New York, California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Kansas and Louisiana.

NPR: Rural Arizona's Doctor Shortage A Symptom Of 'Forgotten America'
For Heather Gijanto, going to the doctor means taking a day off work and driving at least 60 miles round trip from her home in McNeal, Ariz., to the town of Bisbee. And that is assuming there is a primary care doctor available in Bisbee to get her in. "You select one doctor and then you find out a few months later that that doctor is no longer going to be available," Gijanto says. "So then you have to start the whole process over again. And then you find that doctor and, for whatever reason, that doctor leaves as well." (Siegler, 7/14)

Boston Globe: Tufts Hospital Officials Say Buses Carrying Replacement Nurses Were Attacked
As Tufts Medical Center nurses and their supporters began a fifth day of picketing outside the hospital Sunday, some protesters allegedly confronted replacement nurses at hotels miles from the facility... The protesters appeared at a hotel near Logan International Airport and another in the Boston suburbs, where the substitute nurses were being put up, Hynes said, and tried to block buses preparing to take the nurses to the hospital. (Fox and Salinas, 7/16)

USA Today: Steve Scalise Hospital Rates Low Among Level 1 Trauma Centers
The trauma center where Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise has been treated since his gunshot wounds last month is ranked low even when compared to other level 1 trauma centers, including some in other diverse urban areas like Washington, D.C. Patients who are taken to a level 1 trauma center have about a 25% better chance of survival over other hospitals, according to a 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). These hospitals, including Scalise’s Medstar Washington Hospital Center, treat the most seriously injured patients. (O'Donnell, 7/16)

San Jose Mercury News: Some Bay Area Doctors Learning To Navigate California's Physician-Aid-In-Dying Law
Based on Oregon’s experience with its two-decade-old law, Compassion & Choices, a group that advocates nationally for aid-in-dying laws, had predicted that about 1,500 lethal prescriptions would be written in California during the law’s first year — and that about two-thirds of the medications would actually be ingested. Bay Area physicians of all stripes — both those participating in the new law and those who vehemently object to it — point to a confluence of factors that might explain the relatively low number of Californians using the law. (Seipel, 7/16)

Los Angeles Times: An Overdose, A Young Companion, Drug-Fueled Parties: The Secret Life Of Then-USC Med School Dean
In USC’s lecture halls, labs and executive offices, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito was a towering figure. The dean of the Keck School of Medicine was a renowned eye surgeon whose skill in the operating room was matched by a gift for attracting money and talent to the university.There was another side to the Harvard-educated physician. (Pringle, Ryan, Elmahrek, Hamilton and Parvini, 7/17)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: GE Healthcare Puts 'Disruption' Teams In Jefferson Hospitals
GE Healthcare has begun moving 100 staffers into 13 area hospitals of the Jefferson Health network and its Abington and Aria facilities, under a deal the partners say should generate more than $500 million in savings and new revenue over the next eight years through increased use of GE data systems and health-care machinery...About 70 Jefferson radiology workers and biomedical staff will transfer over to work as GE employees. Jefferson hospitals, colleges, and affiliates employ about 29,000, second only to the University of Pennsylvania and its health system among the area’s private employers. (DiStefano, 7/17)

Seattle Times: Seattle Startup BloomAPI Helps Health Clinics Phase Out Faxes 
Fax machines have been largely phased out of many offices, but health clinics still rely on them. One Seattle startup wants to change that and help clinics modernize how they electronically share medical records. BloomAPI, founded by Seattle entrepreneur Michael Wasser, develops technology that lets doctors send medical records directly from one computer system to another — no faxing required. (Lerman, 7/16)

San Francisco Chronicle: Thousands Pack Golden Gate Park For AIDS Walk SF
More than 10,000 people turned out at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park on Sunday for the annual AIDS Walk San Francisco, where organizers implored the crowd to fight for health care for all Americans, not just those living with HIV and AIDS. Before the event began, many participants were handed fill-in-the-blank signs distributed by organizers that read, “My Pre-Existing Condition Is ______.” (Ioannou, 7/16)

Kaiser Health News: Calif. Hits Nerve By Singling Out Cardiac Surgeons With Higher Patient Death Rates
Michael Koumjian, a heart surgeon for nearly three decades, said he considered treating the sickest patients a badge of honor. The San Diego doctor was frequently called upon to operate on those who had multiple illnesses or who’d undergone CPR before arriving at the hospital. Recently, however, Koumjian received some unwelcome recognition: He was identified in a public database of California heart surgeons as one of seven with a higher-than-average death rate for patients who underwent a common bypass procedure. (Gorman, 7/17)

KCUR: Mindfulness, Yoga And A 40-Foot Jump: KC Veterans Group Teaches Holistic PTSD Healing 
“Kansas City has PTS,” says Justin Hoover, director of marketing at Warriors’ Ascent. “Our warriors do, our first responders do.” “And if they do, so do we.” PTS, or post-traumatic stress, occurs in some people who have experienced a traumatic event, such as a terrorist attack, combat situation or even a traffic accident. Symptoms include hypervigilance, painful flashbacks and depression, among others. For veterans and first responders, extreme circumstances like these come with the job. (Campbell, 7/14)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: 2 Slidell Residents Sentenced In $25 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
Two Slidell residents who owned psychological services companies received long prison terms for their involvement in $25 million scheme to defraud Medicare by charging for nursing home services that were unnecessary or never performed. Rodney Hesson was sentenced Thursday (July 13) to 15 years in prison and Gertrude Parker to seven years behind bars for health care fraud by U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. (Chatelain, 7/14)

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