CHICAGO—Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison to pay for a variety of crimes committed while in office, including a kickback scheme involving the state's hospital planning board and what prosecutors described as the shakedown of a children's hospital executive for a $50,000 campaign contribution.
Regional News/Midwest: Blagojevich sentenced to 14 years, and other news
Blagojevich also was convicted of attempting to personally benefit from his authority to fill the U.S. Senate seat left open when Barack Obama became president, at one point envisioning an appointment as HHS secretary in exchange for naming Obama's pick.
During a two-day sentencing hearing last week, Dr. Deanna Monroe, a Chicago pediatrician, praised Blagojevich for creating All Kids, which expanded health coverage to uninsured children not eligible for Medicaid. The two-term Democrat told Judge James Zagel he had made “terrible mistakes.” Zagel, however, gave the 55-year-old a sentence close to the 15 to 20 years prosecutors had sought. “Whatever good things you did for people as governor, and you did some, I am more concerned with the occasions when you wanted to use your powers ... to do things that were only good for yourself,” Zagel said. Blagojevich was ordered to begin serving his sentence Feb. 16. An expected appeal is unlikely to affect when he reports to prison. According to federal rules, felons must serve at least 85% of the sentence a judge imposes, so Blagojevich wouldn't be eligible for early release until he serves nearly 12 years.
CLEVELAND—A former World War II pilot and Case Western Reserve University alumna pledged $2 million to her alma mater before her death last month, Modern Healthcare sister publication Crain's Cleveland Business reported. The gift from Dorothy Ebersbach will establish a center bearing her name that will expand a program that trains graduate-level nursing students in how to care for patients being transported by aircraft to medical facilities during emergencies. “Instead of just transporting patients to the hospital for treatment, acute-care nurse practitioners take the hospital to the patients for immediate intervention,” Christopher Manacci, clinical director of CWRU's flight program, said in a news release. “They work at 15,000 to 30,000 feet above the traditional clinical environment and have to think in non-traditional ways, which is something that Dorothy Ebersbach did throughout her life.” Ebersbach, a native of Pomeroy, Ohio, was one of more than 1,000 women selected to fly military aircraft for non-combat missions during the war. The missions included transporting new planes from factories to military bases. Ebersbach graduated in 1954 from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, which is part of Case Western Reserve, and worked for the Hillsborough County Health Department in Tampa, Fla., until her retirement in 1975.
OMAHA, Neb.—Doctors participating in Nebraska's statewide health information exchange now can electronically share data with the state's immunization information system. The Nebraska State Immunization Information System is a Web-based system used for sharing immunization data among public clinics, private physician offices, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, according to a news release from the Nebraska Health Information Initiative. Integrating the NESIIS into the NEHII exchange will help providers maintain more accurate and up-to-date records and could help reduce the rates of missed immunizations and overimmunization, according to the release. “This is not only a step in proving the value of electronic information sharing, but it is going to improve our vaccination rates and save more lives over time,” Dr. Joann Schaefer, chief medical officer for the state's public health department, said in the release. NEHII, founded in 2008, is a not-for-profit public-private collaborative that reaches more than 85% of Nebraskans.
BOLINGBROOK, Ill.—The state board that regulates healthcare construction denied proposals from two hospitals to build new facilities in Chicago's northwest suburbs, Modern Healthcare sister publication Crain's Chicago Business reported. By a 6-2 vote, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board turned down a plan by Janesville, Wis.-based Mercy Alliance to build a 70-bed hospital in Crystal Lake, and by a 4-4 vote rejected a proposal by McHenry, Ill.-based Centegra Health System to build a 128-bed hospital in Huntley. The board needed five votes to approve the project. In June, it voted to issue preliminary denials to both proposals. A recent report by the board's staff said there was not a need for another hospital in the northwest suburbs. Six existing facilities within 30 to 45 minutes of the proposed site now operate below the state board's target occupancy for surgery, obstetric and intensive-care services, the report said. Several nearby hospitals campaigned against Mercy's proposal, including Sherman Hospital in Elgin and Oak Brook-based Advocate Health Care, which includes Advocate Good Shepherd in Barrington, a suburb near both the proposed hospital sites.
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