Health Care – Open Mind http://open-mind.org/ Thu, 17 Nov 2022 19:22:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://open-mind.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/icon-6-150x150.png Health Care – Open Mind http://open-mind.org/ 32 32 Intermountain Healthcare appoints new President https://open-mind.org/intermountain-healthcare-appoints-new-president/ Thu, 17 Nov 2022 19:18:14 +0000 https://open-mind.org/intermountain-healthcare-appoints-new-president/ Intermountain Healthcare’s longtime chief operating officer, Rob Allen, was announced Thursday as the company’s new president and CEO. (Melissa Majchrzak) Estimated reading time: 2-3 minutes SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare on Thursday named its longtime chief operating officer as the healthcare system’s new president and CEO. Rob Allen was selected by Intermountain’s Board of […]]]>

Intermountain Healthcare’s longtime chief operating officer, Rob Allen, was announced Thursday as the company’s new president and CEO. (Melissa Majchrzak)

Estimated reading time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare on Thursday named its longtime chief operating officer as the healthcare system’s new president and CEO.

Rob Allen was selected by Intermountain’s Board of Trustees following a search process that included senior healthcare executive candidates from across the country.

“Rob embodies Intermountain’s values ​​and will provide steady, servant leadership to the organization. He has always put our patients and caregivers first,” said Mike Leavitt, chairman of the Intermountain Healthcare Board, in a statement. Leavitt is a former Utah governor and former US Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Allen was CEO of hospitals in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wyoming before joining Intermountain in 2008. He has served as Regional Operating Officer, CEO of Intermountain Park City Medical Center, and Regional Vice President. According to the company, he has more than 25 years of managerial experience in the healthcare sector.

“I am humbled and proud to have this leadership opportunity and to work with our incredible team of caregivers and providers,” Allen said in a statement. “Each of us is privileged to build on Intermountain’s legacy and continue our mission and mandate to be a model healthcare system that inspires the world. Intermountain is a place for big ideas and even bigger hearts. I am confident that we will continue to help people live as healthily as possible.”

Allen will take over the leadership from Lydia Jumonville, who has served as interim president for the past few months. Jumonville became interim president in August after former president Marc Harrison accepted an executive position to oversee a healthcare platform business for General Catalyst.

Jumonville plans to retire in late 2023 and will serve as Executive Sponsor of Integration for Intermountain until then.

Allen will assume leadership of Intermountain Healthcare on December 1st.

The company announced in September that it plans to change its name to Intermountain Health in 2023.

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Spotsylvania Nurse Practitioners aim to alleviate the lack of medical care https://open-mind.org/spotsylvania-nurse-practitioners-aim-to-alleviate-the-lack-of-medical-care/ Sun, 13 Nov 2022 02:00:00 +0000 https://open-mind.org/spotsylvania-nurse-practitioners-aim-to-alleviate-the-lack-of-medical-care/ After treating patients in the ER for the crisis that got her there, Jenn Thompson urges them to call their GP in a week or two. But more and more, up to three out of four people the nurse sees tell her they don’t have a GP. Thompson ponders what to do next. Should she […]]]>

After treating patients in the ER for the crisis that got her there, Jenn Thompson urges them to call their GP in a week or two.

But more and more, up to three out of four people the nurse sees tell her they don’t have a GP.

Thompson ponders what to do next. Should she prescribe drugs to treat high cholesterol or blood pressure, knowing that patients are unlikely to have blood tests later to check the drug’s effects on their organs? Can she send newly diagnosed diabetics out of the hospital when she realizes they may not see anyone to monitor their condition and provide follow-up care?

“It tugs at my heart every day when I see people who are in such dire need of help,” Thompson said. “There are so many people who come into the emergency room so sick that it is imperative that they be seen within at least a week of our visit, and there is no one who can see them. I mean nobody.”

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Thompson was a registered nurse in the Fredericksburg area for 28 years, earned her master’s degree and became a registered nurse 19 years ago. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who can treat patients, order tests, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe medications.

Thompson has worked in primary care and emergency medicine, and she pulls many shifts in the ER at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

Like others in healthcare, she has seen staffing issues that were problematic before COVID-19 become absolutely critical in the aftermath. Thompson said primary care practices in the Fredericksburg area are so understaffed and in high demand that it can take months to get an appointment if the practices are even accepting new patients.

As a result of the crisis, Thompson Advanced Primary Care has opened in the Breezewood area of ​​Spotsylvania County. Nurse Practitioner Laura Sullivan-Simenson will also treat patients there. Both will accept Medicaid, and Sullivan-Simenson will also focus on treating addiction, another problem of epidemic proportions.

At a recent appointment, Thompson reviewed patient Trish Williamson, a Spotsylvania woman who is in the process of becoming a nurse. As part of her clinical rotations, Williamson has worked in four Fredericksburg practices over the past year, including with specialists, and has seen the same issues Thompson described.

“There are countless patients that come in and they don’t have a family doctor,” Williamson said. “They call, they can’t get an appointment. It really is a huge problem and it’s not just a problem in Fredericksburg, it’s a national problem.”

The nationwide scene reflects what Thompson and Sullivan-Simenson found – that the workforce situation among nurses and other providers continues to deteriorate.

Problems abound: Healthcare workers have broadly left the medical field or taken jobs that don’t require bedside care to avoid bringing a virus home to their families. Others are burned out by longer schedules and more demands as fewer staff are left with more and more patients. Older providers nearing retirement have hung up their stethoscopes earlier than planned.

“I think the crisis is definitely the worst I’ve seen in 20 years,” Sullivan-Simenson said.

“I agree 100%,” Thompson added. “I haven’t seen the situation that bad in my whole career.”

Various reports estimate that the United States will need 1.2 million new registered nurses by 2030 to fill the existing shortage. In addition, the nation could be short of as much as 48,000 family doctors by 2034.

Something else interesting is set to happen in 12 years, according to the Census Bureau. Older adults are projected to outnumber children for the first time in 2034, and the elderly tend to need the most medical care.

The problem is that the therapists are also getting older.

“Probably about a third of active physicians will be over 65 (by 2034), so our physicians will — we’re aging,” said Dr. Sterling Ransone, who practices family medicine in Deltaville in the Middle Peninsula.

He is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and was quoted in an American Medical Association story about physician shortages.

Last week, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association launched a website listing medical job openings across the state in a bid to attract more healthcare workers to the Commonwealth.

More than 11,400 job offers were advertised nationwide, 371 of them in the Fredericksburg area. The positions on site ranged from pharmacists and paramedics to almost every imaginable type of nurse and therapist to general practitioners and neurologists.

This year, Mary Washington Healthcare launched a new Graduate Medical Education, or GME, program that allows medical school graduates to pursue their next level of training as residents at MWHC facilities.

The goal is to provide a pipeline of future physicians, particularly in the areas of family medicine and internal medicine, the “areas of greatest need,” said Dr. Stephanie Goldberg, general surgeon who leads the program.

The program was recently accredited and hopes to welcome 21 residents by July, 15 of them in internal medicine and the rest in family practice, according to a press release.

Goldberg said 1,800 people have applied to reside in internal medicine in Mary Washington and that the program will soon open applications to family medicine residents. The goal is to have more than 150 residents within five years and to expand the program to other specialties.

Thompson and Sullivan-Simenson have worked together as nurses for more than 20 years and have always said they would start a practice together and do it the way they wanted. Instead of seeing 25 or more patients a day — as is the case at some practices they’ve worked at — they would keep their “panels,” or patient counts, lower.

They have lower overheads than large practices and don’t have to pay off college loans like someone straight out of medical school.

“We’re both at that point in our lives where our children are growing up, and we have an opportunity to sit back and make that happen now,” Sullivan-Simenson said. “In my opinion, the crisis will not change at all in the next two to three years. I think it’s going to get worse.”

Because of this, Thompson wants to “leave a footprint so others can do the same because nurse practitioners can stand up and do this,” she said.

It’s also a “heartfelt thing,” Thompson said, adding that she needed to do more than “put band-aids to someone in the ER” and then send them knowing “there’s nothing really going on in their life changes. I want to change the lives of people who are unable to get care.”

Thompson is 53 and Sullivan-Simenson is 47. Both can practice independently, so they no longer need the supervision of a doctor. Virginia requires nurses to be supervised for five years and 9,000 hours.

Before starting her own practice, Thompson consulted with Nancy Lynn Sadler, who has a family practice in Manassas and is one of the first 100 registered nurses to have an autonomous practice in Virginia.

Medicaid patients, “the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick,” make up 90% of their practice, Sadler said. Even though she needs more care and Medicaid reimburses her less than commercial insurance, she can still pay her bills.

“I’m not going to get rich, but I’m very happy with my life,” Sadler said, adding that like Thompson, she believes nurses can help alleviate the lack of medical care.

“I think we’re going to be the saviors of the day,” Sadler said.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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Some suburbs vote on plan for expanded mental health services https://open-mind.org/some-suburbs-vote-on-plan-for-expanded-mental-health-services/ Sat, 05 Nov 2022 11:00:00 +0000 https://open-mind.org/some-suburbs-vote-on-plan-for-expanded-mental-health-services/ Some suburban voters in Tuesday’s election will be asked if they want to pay for better mental health services in their communities. Addison, Naperville, Lisle and Winfield Townships in DuPage County; Schaumburg and Wheeling Townships in Cook County; Township of Vernon in Lake County; and all of Will County will hold referendums on whether to […]]]>

Some suburban voters in Tuesday’s election will be asked if they want to pay for better mental health services in their communities.

Addison, Naperville, Lisle and Winfield Townships in DuPage County; Schaumburg and Wheeling Townships in Cook County; Township of Vernon in Lake County; and all of Will County will hold referendums on whether to introduce property tax levies to fund mental health, developmental disabilities and addiction services.

It’s a question Lorri Grainawi, a mental health specialist with the League of Women Voters in Illinois, has personally asked since the death of her 24-year-old son Adam in 2016 when he was hit by a train.

Adam battled schizophrenia for years. He had no case manager or social worker to help implement his recovery plan. His mother believes his death was an accident but could have been prevented with follow-up care. She knows other families who have been through similar tragedies and some who have received more help and are doing well.

A municipal mental health committee, like the one proposed by petition in Tuesday’s election, would provide grants to local authorities to provide such potentially life-saving services. About 90 existing mental health agencies in Illinois pay for things like crisis center contact points, mental health screenings of youth, and social workers who help police departments deal with people in mental health crises.

“By doing it locally,” Grainawai said, “you can meet more local needs.”

Opponents counter that numerous agencies are already spending millions of dollars on such services. Federal Medicaid and Medicare, County Health Departments, and the Illinois Department of Human Services provide mental health services.

Dan Patlak, president of the Republicans of Wheeling Township and a former township assessor, said suburbs pay too much in property taxes. Local governments in Illinois had the second-highest property tax rate of any state, according to WalletHub.

Similar to some other townships, Wheeling Township already allocates about $575,000 in grants to social services, much of it for behavioral and mental health and intellectual disabilities, Patlak said.

“A lot of people, including myself, agree with the idea that mental health issues are serious and need to be addressed,” Patlak said. “It’s better to redistribute money that’s already there than to keep taxing people and affecting their ability to support their families and staying businesses and hiring people.”

Conservative business owner Richard Uihlein donated $25,000 to oppose the measure, Patlak said. Opponents sent out mailings to registered voters in Wheeling Township.

The proposed tax increase is small compared to most other government entities such as schools. Under state law, referendum proposals for mental health agencies have a maximum property tax rate of 0.15%. but such boards are usually taxed at a lower rate. Advocates in Wheeling Township are asking for a 0.026% tax rate to raise $1.5 million, which equates to an estimated tax of about $28 on a $335,000 home.

In Milton Township, voters narrowly approved a board for mental health in 2021. Geri Kerger, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in DuPage County, said her tax bill for the board is $21 for the year.

But each mental health committee would be appointed by the community leader, and no one knows what tax rate they will agree on, Patlak said. If they took the maximum rate in Wheeling Township, the tax bill would be much higher for an average $151 home or $375 for a business, he calculated.

However it is funded, the need for mental health care far outweighs its availability.

In Illinois, thousands of people with developmental disabilities have been on a year-long waiting list for services.

Nationwide, 14 million people suffered from a serious mental illness and 40 million from a substance use disorder last year — but only a fraction of them got help for those problems, a federal survey found.

Not coincidentally, drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed, and the nationwide suicide rate rose 4% to about 48,000 people in 2021 — more than double the number of homicides — with the sharpest increase among young adults.

Kerger said the nation is mired in a mental health crisis that has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. But she said programs funded by mental health agencies include recovery specialists who can help people create a recovery plan and connect them to the appropriate services.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s high school education programs, she said, include people living in recovery from substance abuse or mental illness.

“Kids know people who are sick and they think there’s nothing to do,” Kerger said. “They give you hope to recover.”

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Healthcare – Walgreens, CVS pays billions to settle opioid lawsuits https://open-mind.org/healthcare-walgreens-cvs-pays-billions-to-settle-opioid-lawsuits/ Wed, 02 Nov 2022 23:15:47 +0000 https://open-mind.org/healthcare-walgreens-cvs-pays-billions-to-settle-opioid-lawsuits/ On Tuesday, DC was snubbed for Taylor Swift’s US stadium tour. On Wednesday, the embattled owner of NFL team Washington Commanders said he was considering a possible sale of the team. Do you believe in coincidences? Today in the healthcare space, major pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens agreed to pay billions to settle opioid lawsuits […]]]>

On Tuesday, DC was snubbed for Taylor Swift’s US stadium tour. On Wednesday, the embattled owner of NFL team Washington Commanders said he was considering a possible sale of the team. Do you believe in coincidences?

Today in the healthcare space, major pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens agreed to pay billions to settle opioid lawsuits

Welcome to overnight health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news affecting your health. For The Hill we are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.

CVS and Walgreens to settle opioid lawsuits for $10 billion

CVS and Walgreens have agreed in principle to pay a combined $10 billion to settle opioid lawsuits, the pharmacy chains announced Wednesday.

According to a company statement, starting next year, CVS would pay $4.9 billion over 10 years to states and political subdivisions such as cities and counties, and about $130 million to tribes.

CVS’ interim settlement would resolve lawsuits and claims related to the addictive painkillers that date back a decade or more, though the company says the non-monetary terms have yet to be finalized.

Walgreens also announced Wednesday that it has agreed in principle to pay approximately $4.95 billion to states, subdivisions and tribes and settle all opioid claims against them, according to a press release. The funds would be disbursed over a period of 15 years.

  • “We are pleased to resolve these long-standing claims and it is in the best interests of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders, to put them behind us,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy Officer of CVS Health.
  • “As one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, we remain committed to being part of the solution, and this benchmark will allow us to remain focused on the health and well-being of our customers and patients, while making positive contributions to addressing the opioid crisis ‘ Walgreens said in a statement.

Both companies stressed that the payments were not an admission of liability or wrongdoing. But if the deals go through, the settlements could be among the biggest related to the opioid crisis.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the companies, who are accused of downplaying the risks associated with opioid painkillers and failing to detect incorrect prescriptions, thereby worsening the opioid epidemic.

Read more here.

HHS extends public health emergency for monkeypox

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Wednesday renewed the national public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak, with officials saying the virus is still very present in the United States even as cases continue to fall.

Still not over: Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra cited the “ongoing fallout from an outbreak of monkeypox cases in multiple states” and a “consultation with public health officials” for his decision to renew the public health emergency.

LGBTQ public health experts who spoke to The Hill shortly before announcing Becerra’s decision expressed their support for a renewal of the public health emergency.

  • “One of the biggest things we keep hearing about is really disproportionate access to vaccine distribution, which is particularly affecting our Black, Hispanic and people living with HIV,” Vanessa Castro, associate director for HIV and Health Equity for Human Rights Campaign said.
  • An HHS spokesman told The Hill that the decision to extend it was due to the need to keep the flow of data from states and jurisdictions and to allow studies on vaccine efficacy to be conducted.

The public health emergency for monkeypox was first signed on August 4th. HHS public health emergencies expire after 90 days unless renewed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September expressed “moderate confidence” that monkeypox cases would remain flat or continue to decline going forward, although the agency said it was unlikely that monkeypox would be completely eliminated in the United States

Read more here.

TOXIC METALS AIR POLLUTION WORSE IN SEGREGATED COMMUNITIES

Residents of the most racially segregated communities tend to breathe higher concentrations of toxic metals in air pollution compared to residents of more integrated areas.

That’s according to new research from Colorado State University evaluating air levels of toxic metals like lead, cadmium and nickel in various communities across the country. The values ​​were recorded between 2010 and 2019.

“While concentrations of total particulate matter are twice as high in racially segregated communities, concentrations of metals from anthropogenic sources are nearly 10 times higher,” the authors write, adding that these pollutants are toxic and can cause cancer.

  • The results showed that industrial regions in the Midwest and shipping ports in coastal cities tend to have higher concentrations of human-emitted metallic pollutants such as lead. These areas also had high levels of racial segregation.
  • These health inequalities are largely due to systemic racism, including historical redlining. In the 1930s, laws allowed discriminatory lending to residents based on the desirability of their neighborhood. This practice was banned in 1968 but perpetuates today’s inequalities as it forced populations of color to live closer to pollution sources.

Read more here.

OFFICIALS PAY 13 BILLION USD READY TO HELP LOWER ENERGY BILLS

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $13 billion in funding to provide low-income Americans with winter heating bills, including $4.5 billion through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

In addition to LIHEAP funding provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House announced $9 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding for energy efficiency upgrades for low-income homes.

“As energy prices remain high, this administration is working to bring down costs for working families and businesses through historic investments in consumer rebates for more efficient home improvement and energy-efficient appliances across the country,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

What is paid: The funds are enough to install 500,000 heat pumps and modernize 500,000 homes, according to a White House call with reporters Tuesday night.

The White House said this would include separate discount programs for upgrades and appliances across the House. White House officials said the initiatives are part of a broader goal of deploying at least 12 million heat pumps by the end of the decade.

Read more here.

Panel finds pulse oximeters less accurate on darker skin

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel said Tuesday it’s clear that pulse oximeter devices don’t provide accurate readings for people with “darker skin pigmentations.”

In a day-long session, the panel reviewed the published literature, medical device reporting (MDR) data and clinical evidence from studies of the accuracy of blood oxygen measurements from pulse oximeters in people with darker skin pigmentation.

Accuracy concerns have long existed, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the issue into the mainstream

The panel discussed the concerns about the devices and made recommendations for healthcare providers, labeling for patients, and study design and analysis.

  • Inaccurate readings pose a clinical risk in hospitals; For example, a patient may not be transferred to intensive care units when necessary.
  • However, the panel disagreed on recommendations on how to limit the inaccuracies in the future.
  • The panel recommended further studies to understand the issue and that device manufacturers include skin pigmentation as a potential factor affecting labeling accuracy.

Pulse oximeters, designed to detect low blood oxygen levels, work by shining a light source through a fingertip and analyzing the light that passes through.

Read more here.

WHAT WE READ

  • Hospital investigated for allegedly refusing emergency abortion after patient’s waters ruptured (Kaiser Health News)
  • CDC wants to change “antiquated” rules that impede the agency’s ability to fight Covid, polio and other diseases (CNN).
  • A flood of overseas abortion pills dampened the impact of government abortion bans (The New York Times)

STATE BY STATE

  • Nebraska was an unlikely safe haven for abortion rights — that could all change in the midterms (Vanity Fair)
  • Missouri Senate Race Shows How Difficult It Is To Promote Abortion In The Heartland (Statistics)
  • Drug overdose deaths in New York rose 68% during COVID pandemic (ABC News)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and reports. See you tomorrow.

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Personal healthcare option is the right prescription https://open-mind.org/personal-healthcare-option-is-the-right-prescription/ Sun, 30 Oct 2022 22:04:37 +0000 https://open-mind.org/personal-healthcare-option-is-the-right-prescription/ Through Johann Wedelich Updated: 1 an hour ago ^ Released: 1 an hour ago ^ How long before we have a healthcare system that meets people’s needs? I am still shocked at how much healthcare costs and how hard it is to see prices in advance. Our current system is so full of bureaucracy that […]]]>
Through Johann Wedelich

Updated: 1 an hour ago ^ Released: 1 an hour ago ^

How long before we have a healthcare system that meets people’s needs? I am still shocked at how much healthcare costs and how hard it is to see prices in advance. Our current system is so full of bureaucracy that forces people like me to jump through hoops just to get a little grooming and then surprise us later when the bill comes. There has to be a solution for the majority of Americans who think getting healthcare should be as easy as shopping at Walmart or Amazon. We deserve more choice and control.

We need a system that makes healthcare more affordable, transparent and responsive for patients and consumers. It does this by putting individuals and families in control of their healthcare spending. It’s about putting people ahead of big insurance companies. The problem with government approaches — “Medicare for All” or the “public option” — is that government bureaucrats have far too much leverage over our healthcare, increasing costs and making it harder for people like me to get the care we do to need.

A personal healthcare option is the antidote to these awful proposals, because it would mean everyone has access to tax-free health savings accounts, insurance-free direct primary care plans, and 24/7 telemedicine, saving us time and money. Also, I can still see my long-time providers. We don’t need a complete gutting of the current system. But we need lawmakers to push and enact these kinds of changes that will benefit all Americans. A personal option in health care just makes sense.

– Johannes Wedelich

Anchorage

Do you have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here submitted via any web browser. Letters less than 200 words have the best chance of being published. Authors should disclose any personal or professional ties to the subject matter of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

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As lawmakers head for the polls, $100 million in mental health care remains elusive https://open-mind.org/as-lawmakers-head-for-the-polls-100-million-in-mental-health-care-remains-elusive/ Fri, 28 Oct 2022 10:41:32 +0000 https://open-mind.org/as-lawmakers-head-for-the-polls-100-million-in-mental-health-care-remains-elusive/ The decision to add $100 million in mental health funding to this year’s state budget was a sign of help on the horizon for Pennsylvania counties and their mental health service providers. But those agencies, struggling to meet demand for mental health care in the wake of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, will […]]]>

The decision to add $100 million in mental health funding to this year’s state budget was a sign of help on the horizon for Pennsylvania counties and their mental health service providers.

But those agencies, struggling to meet demand for mental health care in the wake of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, will have to wait at least a few more months before they see any of the money.

The General Assembly left the city on Wednesday for an Election Day recess on Wednesday without approving a spending plan for the money stemming from the Commonwealth’s share of funding America’s bailout plan the $45.2 billion budget.

Lawmakers involved in developing recommendations for how the money should be used say they are disappointed their peers have not reached consensus on how it should be distributed.

“My guess is that it was because, without question, this wasn’t made a priority when it should have been,” said Sen. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery.

Despite a handful of voting days on the calendar in November, House Democrats accused Republican leaders of failing to address the issue, which will not be revisited until January at the earliest, when a new legislative session begins.

“Unfortunately, Republicans’ failure to prioritize this measure perpetuates the impact of Pennsylvania’s chronic underfunding of mental health and mental illness programs, delaying funds from getting to the facilities that need them,” said the House Democrats in a statement.

Jason Gottesman, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said House Republicans have been working with the other parliamentary groups and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office to evaluate a report on mental health needs and a bill prepare for a vote this week.

“However, given the broad nature of the recommendations in the report, we were unable to reach consensus on legislative details within our limited number of meeting days. We expect to continue working on this over the coming weeks and months so we can respond at the next meeting,” Gottesman said.

The legislation accompanying the budget this summer established the Behavioral Health Commission to meet with members of the mental health community to determine how best to use the $100 million in one-time funding.

The commission included Collett; Rep. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks; and Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, who is open about his mental health issues and has campaigned to increase funding, as well as more than 20 mental health stakeholders.

The commission held hearings in Center and Dauphin counties, where it collected testimony from providers to determine mental health needs in rural and urban parts of the state.

It recommended distributing the money as follows:

  • $37 million for workforce development to train and retain mental health employees;
  • $23.5 million to provide care for people in prison or for community re-entry, creating diversionary programs as alternatives to prison for people with mental illness or substance use disorders;
  • and $39 million for services including crisis centers, integrating mental health into primary health care, and societal health determinants such as housing.

Collett said the most frustrating aspect of the inaction on the commission’s recommendations was that its members had not received any feedback from lawmakers.

“With feedback we might have been able to optimize a few things. We could have made adjustments to make an even bigger impact,” said Collett.

In the meantime, vendors will maintain the status quo, Collett said.

But Karin Annerhed-Harris of Resources for Human Development, a Philadelphia nonprofit human resources firm, said the delay means programs that are ready to launch are being put on hold until funding for training and hiring is available.

“We need these funds to support the most vulnerable people in our society,” Annerhed-Harris said.

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COLUMN: Now is the time to improve behavioral healthcare | opinion https://open-mind.org/column-now-is-the-time-to-improve-behavioral-healthcare-opinion/ Tue, 25 Oct 2022 23:00:00 +0000 https://open-mind.org/column-now-is-the-time-to-improve-behavioral-healthcare-opinion/ The first week of October was Mental Health Awareness Week and for a few days we observed together the crisis exposed by the ongoing fallout from COVID-19: access to mental health care is challenging at best; For marginalized and underserved communities, this can be nearly impossible. dr Jeffrey Geller, co-chair of the nonprofit Integrated Center […]]]>

The first week of October was Mental Health Awareness Week and for a few days we observed together the crisis exposed by the ongoing fallout from COVID-19: access to mental health care is challenging at best; For marginalized and underserved communities, this can be nearly impossible.

dr Jeffrey Geller, co-chair of the nonprofit Integrated Center for Group Medical Visits (ICGMV), a national leader in the group medical care model with strong roots in Lawrence, said he and his staff frequently see large numbers of patients in need of psychiatric care but just can’t find it.

“Our group members come to our clinic and cannot sleep at night for fear of disaster. They talk about sleeping on friends’ couches, giving up dreams to graduate school, losing everything and losing loved ones,” he said.

Better access to mental health and behavioral health care has always been crucial. But key public discussions that have recently begun to weaken the stigma surrounding mental illness combined with a post-COVID surge in care demand have created a new environment for reflection and reform.

We have been heartened in recent weeks by increased calls for behavioral health funding and investment in local care systems, by pressure from government regulators on health plans to cover more mental health services, and talks aimed at improving measures to strengthen the sector’s workforce pipeline , which is facing burnout and attrition in the wake of the pandemic. (According to an Oct. 11 report by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, hospitals north of Boston reported the second-highest number of patients in the state “boarding” emergency rooms (116) while awaiting psychiatric admissions. And that’s largely the case due to staff shortages.)

And while raising awareness of this simmering crisis was indeed an important first step to turning it around, we must now look at ways we can collectively take action to ensure that access to mental health care is easier and more widely available. But this work must be done in parallel with efforts to continually investigate the social, political, and economic instability that can often exasperate so many of our friends and neighbors—our children, educators, health care workers, and underserved populations.

Across Essex County, organizations are doing just that.

At the Integrated Center for Medical Group Visits, Dr. Geller is hiring a psychologist and a clinical social worker who will provide behavioral health services as part of the organization’s group model.

“Through group mental health services, more people can receive support and treatment than when there are only individual visits,” he said.

Salem-based nonprofit Lifebridge employs a Community Health Navigator who will address the lack of medical care for homeless residents. Pettengill House in Salisbury is embarking on a similar programme. Beverly’s Northshore Education Consortium is expanding Connections, its full-service program for students and families experiencing substance abuse and mental health problems, to break away from the historical punitive impact on public schools. Greater Lynn Senior Services is developing programs within its Phoenix Food Hub to address the link between nutritional deficiencies and behavioral health. Each and every one of these nonprofits works with other organizations—schools, hospitals, communities, community health centers, businesses, and more—to strengthen a sustainable support system.

The Essex County Community Foundation has recently invested philanthropic dollars in these and other programs through our Behavioral Partnerships Grants Program, a funding partnership between ECCF’s COVID-19 Response Fund, the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the Evelyn Lily Lutz Foundation, the North Shore Community Health Network and other anonymous donors. A total of nearly $600,000 in grants were awarded.

This winter, ECCF will launch a second round of Behavioral Health Partnership grants in partnership with the North Shore Community Health Network and Congressman Seth Moulton. This new round of funding will specifically address behavioral health workforce issues and its design is the result of continued learning and testing of an evolving system.

Our goal with all of these grants is to encourage the collaboration that is critical to making innovative, lasting changes in local behavioral health systems—changes that not only expand immediate access to care, but also take shape in organizations that are also addressing issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness and other injustices that affect the health of thousands of Essex County residents.

And in Essex County there is a desire to do this work together. A recent Behavioral Health Think Lab hosted by the ECCF brought together 120 stakeholders – all eager to network, devise collaborative solutions and form cross-sector partnerships that will ultimately fill the gaps in a system that currently fails to provide equitable care.

That silver lining—that willingness to come together—suggests that the time is right for change. As public discourse continues to simultaneously legitimize and destigmatize mental health, we must continue to harness the strength and power that comes with working together. Share your ideas. Representation of interests for federal, state and municipal funding. Promote the work of non-profit organizations and organizations seeking equitable solutions. Spread the word about new opportunities for funding and collective action.

Together we can create the care system that Essex County needs and deserves.

Carol Lavoie Schuster is ECCF Vice President for Programs and Community Services. Michelle Xiarhos Curran is the Foundation’s communications writer.

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Mary Henderson: Choose Gov. Mills, protect health care for Mainers https://open-mind.org/mary-henderson-choose-gov-mills-protect-health-care-for-mainers/ Sun, 23 Oct 2022 04:00:38 +0000 https://open-mind.org/mary-henderson-choose-gov-mills-protect-health-care-for-mainers/ When Paul LePage was governor, Mainers suffered by denying them health care. He vetoed and blocked the 90-100% state-funded expansion of MaineCare to 70,000 Mainers, even after voters passed it in a referendum. Before that, he cut 65,000 people out of MaineCare entirely (see Portland Press Herald, December 7, 2011). I knew a person who […]]]>

When Paul LePage was governor, Mainers suffered by denying them health care.

He vetoed and blocked the 90-100% state-funded expansion of MaineCare to 70,000 Mainers, even after voters passed it in a referendum.

Before that, he cut 65,000 people out of MaineCare entirely (see Portland Press Herald, December 7, 2011).

I knew a person who was recovering from their addiction and was cut off from their prescription treatment. A friend of a friend’s breast cancer came back and died. She might have died anyway, I was told, but she was suffering needlessly and was afraid to seek treatment for fear of the cost.

Republicans denied with unreal political fervor that this cruelty would result from their cuts. But it was very real.

gov. Janet Mills expanded MaineCare on her first day in office, and many more people are now covered.

For the good of the people of Maine, voters should keep LePage and his supporters out of office.

Mary Henderson, Topsham


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Patrick County Hospital expanded to include psychiatric care https://open-mind.org/patrick-county-hospital-expanded-to-include-psychiatric-care/ Thu, 20 Oct 2022 06:05:00 +0000 https://open-mind.org/patrick-county-hospital-expanded-to-include-psychiatric-care/ A potato farmer in Idaho, a miner in West Virginia, and a rancher in Texas—what could these three people possibly have in common? On the surface, the three workers listed appear very different in terms of geography, potential salary, and cultural upbringing, but they share a common theme. The mental health challenge is not limited […]]]>

A potato farmer in Idaho, a miner in West Virginia, and a rancher in Texas—what could these three people possibly have in common? On the surface, the three workers listed appear very different in terms of geography, potential salary, and cultural upbringing, but they share a common theme. The mental health challenge is not limited to a specific subset of people; it touches us all. And especially in rural areas, the stigma of mental illness screams through the deafening silence of care-seekers.

A 2020 study by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that nearly 53 million — almost one in five — adults in the United States are living with a mental illness. Of those suffering from this disease, rural residents are more likely to a serious mental illness, with suicide rates among people in rural areas nearly double those in major metropolitan areas.

Mental health is essential to a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, some people do not recognize mental illness as a disease. What a person struggles with most can be perceived as a kind of chink in armor or inadequacy. Put simply, a mental illness is an illness—one that can be as devastating as cancer or heart disease. As with many other disorders, the sick person is not responsible for the illness they are facing. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental illness is coupled with the misguided and unfair shame that becomes an added burden for someone who is already suffering.

People in rural areas often have demanding blue-collar jobs that can be exacerbated by economic insecurity, weather vulnerabilities, and labor problems. The COVID-19 pandemic caused even more stress on these people’s social lives by disrupting their everyday routines. The inability to attend church services or meet friends for breakfast at the local diner led to an increased sense of loneliness. Despite all of this, men and women in these areas are less likely to seek help from a doctor to help them with their mental health.

One of the best ways we can address the health crisis in rural America is to build a better system of care for people with mental illness. Healthcare professionals and government officials need to better integrate mental health services with primary care to ensure everyone has an opportunity to get the treatment they need.

This is the driving force behind Foresight’s investment in Patrick County Hospital. For too long, individuals in the community have been neglected in the care they receive – particularly in mental health care. We strive to create an atmosphere where each individual feels cared for. Providing critical access to health care in an area where they are currently lacking is one of the first – and most important – steps in continually improving the health care system in Patrick County and Southside Virginia and restoring trust with residents who care may have felt forgotten.

Introducing systems that build trust between primary care providers and their patients, while providing critical support from a trained behavioral health practitioner, is a critical element in supporting rural communities. In a familiar setting, patients can benefit from a range of mental health treatment options. Providing medication, offering behavioral therapy, and having a mental health counselor follow the patient’s progress are tools to combat this ever-present struggle. Being at the forefront of technological advances and providing innovative solutions enables medical professionals to gain a foothold in potential treatment options.

It is imperative that the stigma of mental illness in rural areas is removed and that quality mental health services are provided to those living there. People with mental illness should not have to suffer in silence or feel alone. Our focus should start with opening up the conversation about mental illness, but it shouldn’t end there. To get through this crisis, we must also invest in proven health policies and start providing the help that so many people need. There are no silver bullets or magic words that will stop the problems we face; The healthcare industry has to make an effort. More Americans than ever are facing the reality of mental illness; Now is the time to reshape our communities and the future of mental health care in our country.

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DOD civilians in Japan should plan for off-base medical care, Defense Health Agency chief says https://open-mind.org/dod-civilians-in-japan-should-plan-for-off-base-medical-care-defense-health-agency-chief-says/ Tue, 18 Oct 2022 04:52:48 +0000 https://open-mind.org/dod-civilians-in-japan-should-plan-for-off-base-medical-care-defense-health-agency-chief-says/ Military hospitals at Yokosuka Naval Base, homeport of the 7th Fleet, and Yokota Air Force Base, the headquarters of US forces in Japan, said this year some civilians are having to seek treatment from Japanese providers. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes) Civilian Defense Ministry employees in Japan should have “a plan” for medical care from a […]]]>

Military hospitals at Yokosuka Naval Base, homeport of the 7th Fleet, and Yokota Air Force Base, the headquarters of US forces in Japan, said this year some civilians are having to seek treatment from Japanese providers. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes)

Civilian Defense Ministry employees in Japan should have “a plan” for medical care from a local provider in case military hospitals can’t see them, the head of military medical care in the Pacific said Monday.

The Defense Health Agency is required by law to prioritize active-duty members and their families, Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Heck, director of DHA’s Indo-Pacific region, Stars and Stripes said during a video call. DOD civilians and anyone not covered under the military’s Tricare-Prime medical plan will be screened at military hospitals, where space is available.

Military hospitals at Yokosuka Naval Base, homeport of the 7th Fleet, and Yokota Air Force Base, the headquarters of US forces in Japan, said this year some civilians are having to seek treatment from Japanese providers.

In response, the Japan Medical Forum, a group of DOD civilians, started a petition on change.org on Oct. 10, urging Congress to restrict civilians’ access to routine health care in military hospitals and to protect them from denial to protect external providers. The petition had received 1,026 signatures as of Monday.

Heck said the DHA, which manages military medical facilities in the armed forces, is trying to make room for civilian patients, but they should be prepared if those efforts fall short.

“It’s really up to the unregistered population to have a plan in place to get the care they may need outside of the military treatment facility,” he said.

Finding medical care in a foreign country may be difficult, Heck said, but the responsibility for meeting those challenges rests with these civilians.

“We regret and understand the difficulties they may have in getting the health care they need for themselves or their families,” he said. “And we encourage them to work with their recruitment agency and human resources department to try to take care of the economy during this time when they can’t get into the military treatment facility.”

Military hospitals at Yokosuka Naval Base, homeport of the 7th Fleet, and Yokota Air Force Base, the headquarters of US forces in Japan, said this year some civilians are having to seek treatment from Japanese providers.

Military hospitals at Yokosuka Naval Base, homeport of the 7th Fleet, and Yokota Air Force Base, the headquarters of US forces in Japan, said this year some civilians are having to seek treatment from Japanese providers. (Alex Wilson/Stars and Stripes)

Alexandra Cummings, a civilian wife of the Defense Ministry in Yokosuka and a forum member, said the DHA was negligent in imposing a sudden, blanket ban on treating civilians without an agreement with Japan to provide them with medical care.

Many DOD civilians arrived in Japan after a cursory medical evaluation and have medical issues that would preclude active duty military personnel from serving abroad, Cummings told Stars and Stripes by Facebook Messenger Monday.

“I think we were largely uninformed,” she said. “Circumstances have changed so drastically on the ground that we have people who are healthy [crises] and they can’t even get into a Japanese medical provider. Nobody talked about that.”

Heck said that under Chapter 55 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code, Section 1071, and a 2018 DHA policy statement, the agency is required to prioritize the care of active duty members.

DHA medical facilities “are expected to provide primary care services with minimal or no available space, as per the procedural order.” Routinely offering discretionary appointments to civilian patients implies that there is ample space for active duty patients.

Appointment availability can change quickly depending on the number of providers or patients, he said. Personnel turnover is at the root of the recent lack of civilian appointments in Yokota, where civilian pediatric patients have been turned away from the base, and in Yokosuka, where all civilians without Tricare Prime have been diverted to local providers for specific services, such as pediatrics, mental health or family medicine .

However, the DHA is working with US Naval Hospital Yokosuka and other military providers to reopen available places to civilians, Heck said. When that will be, he could not estimate.

The DHA has “no concerns” about open appointments at military hospitals other than Yokosuka, DHA spokeswoman Whitney Trimble told Stars and Stripes via email Monday.

However, the number of appointments available depends on how many appointments are left after seeing active duty members and their loved ones, Trimble said.

“Because of this fluidity, there is no way of predicting how many available dates we will have [a military treatment facility] at some point,” she said.


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