LOS ANGELES-Coram Healthcare, a Denver-based home-care company, said it has signed a three-year agreement to provide services for 220,000 enrollees in HealthCare Partners Medical Group in Los Angeles. Under the agreement, Coram will provide home care, home infusion therapy and durable medical equipment. HealthCare Partners offers healthcare services to more than 250,000 patients through 18 HMO and 23 PPO plans. It also serves another 40,000 seniors enrolled in HMOs, making it the largest provider of prepaid healthcare services for seniors in California.
PHOENIX-If Arizona State Hospital does not hire more staff, it could lose up to $1.5 million a year in federal funding. Medicare reviewers said recently that the hospital, which cut 100 jobs in October, does not have enough staff to provide a safe environment for patients or employees. "They are saying that the hospital is dangerous and that patients don't have enough to do," said John Migliaro, chief executive officer of the hospital, which is home to some of the state's most dangerous mentally ill patients. Administrators cut the 100 jobs in anticipation of reducing the patient population to 25 from 350 by June 30. However, staff members said the population has not fallen as quickly as expected, and many new patients have criminal backgrounds or are violent. Fewer staff members in the units mean patients get bored because there are fewer supervised activities. "They begin to act out," said David Coons, M.D., a state hospital psychiatrist. The number of assaults against patients and employees rose to record levels in October and January. Thirty employees were assaulted by patients in October; 50 patients were injured by other patients in January. The Medicare reviewers said they would recommend the federal agency stop paying Arizona $1.2 million to $1.5 million for treating Medicare patients at the state hospital. If Medicare agrees, the state still can appeal. The reviewers warned in December that the hospital did not have enough staffing or adequate record keeping. Since then, the hospital has run ads and conducted job fairs to hire enough people to bring staffing to an acceptable level. But it can't hire people fast enough to replace the ones who are leaving. The hospital, for example, hired five nurses since December but 12 have left. There's also a shortage of licensed practical nurses and psychiatric technicians as well, hospital administrators say.
PHOENIX-Liver and kidney transplants will be offered at the new Mayo hospital beginning late next year, officials said last week. The hospital in northeast Phoenix is scheduled to open in mid-1998. "Phoenix is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a liver transplant program," said David Douglas, M.D., medical director of Liver Transplantation at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. Liver transplants in Arizona are currently performed at the University Medical Center in Tucson. In 1996, 23 liver transplants were performed in Arizona, according to the Donor Network of Arizona. The new Mayo hospital anticipates performing about 25 kidney transplants a year by the fourth year of operation, said Raymond Heilman, M.D., Mayo's associate medical director. "Although there are a few other centers in the Valley that offer kidney transplants, there is still a large demand," Heilman said. In 1996, 77 kidney transplants were performed in Arizona, according to the Donor Network of Arizona.
SALEM, Ore.-The Oregon Progress Board says more children in the state are covered by health insurance today than in 1990. The results are encouraging, but a population survey shows the number of children covered differs significantly by region, the board said. Statewide, 8% of Oregon youngsters lack health insurance, compared with more than 20% in 1990. But children from eastern Oregon counties are less likely to be insured than western Oregon kids. For instance, 17% of youngsters in Baker, Malheur, Union and Wallowa counties did not have insurance coverage in 1996. That compares with 8% without insurance in Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln and Tillamook counties. The board and its benchmarks program were launched in 1988 by then-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt to measure the success of government programs by requiring that they achieve a number of goals from boosting average income statewide to learning a second language or getting Oregonians to exercise more. Decreasing the percentage of Oregonians of all ages without health insurance to 9% by the year 2000 and 4% by the year 2010 is an Oregon benchmark. The recent survey found 11% of Oregonians lacked health insurance in 1996, an improvement from the 15% rate in 1990. Oregon's percentage of children without health insurance outpaces the U.S. average of children without coverage-14%. The 60,000 Oregon children still without health insurance make up nearly one-fifth of the 340,000 uninsured Oregonians. Most of them live in households earning less than $25,000. It appears the cost of coverage is a significant hurdle, the board reported. Nearly half the uninsured children live in homes where one or both parents have refused health insurance coverage offered by an employer. Minority Oregon children are more likely than white children to be uninsured, the survey found. The Progress Board said the increase in insured children is accompanied by other improvements in the health of Oregon's children. The number of 2-year-olds who are fully immunized has increased to 67% from 47% since 1990. And the infant mortality rate fell to 6.2 per 1,000 births in 1995, from 8.3 per 1,000 in 1990, according to the Oregon Health Division.
SEATTLE-Harborview Medical Center has opened a new trauma wing, the first phase of a capital improvement project that will add 440,000 square feet to the medical center, nearly doubling its size. Owned by King County and managed by the University of Washington, Harborview is the only Level I trauma center for Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Washington state. That represents one-fourth of the nation's land mass, Harborview officials note. The new center features the latest patient-care technology, including radiology services located inside the emergency department; intensive-care units with radiolucent beds, which allow X-rays to be taken through the patient's bed; and movable carts holding computers that can access patient charts, lab results and e-mail. The capital improvement project, begun in 1994, cost $176 million. It was funded by $131 million in bonds and $45 million from hospital reserves.