health care

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lewiston Tribune: Whooping Cough Break-Out in Idaho County

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:16 AM

Health officials in central Idaho are pointing to families whose children haven't been vaccinated for a breakout of whooping cough.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports Megan Wilson, a nurse practitioner at St. Mary's Hospital in Cottonwood and Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino said several diagnoses of pertussis—whooping cough—have been confirmed. Two new cases were reported this week.

"We've had several positive cases here in our community, Wilson told the Tribune, adding the  outbreak was occurring in families with children who aren't vaccinated.

"Idaho County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the entire state," Wilson said. "There is this population in Idaho County [that reads and hears negative reports] that are not evidence-based, but a lot of people take that as gospel."

Health officials remind the public that pertussis is a highly communicable disease that is spread through the air.
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Video: Spokane School District Prepared to Pull Hundreds of Children Out of Class For Immunization Non-Compliance

Posted By on Mon, Apr 13, 2015 at 9:12 AM

In a stunning report from KREM-TV, hundreds of students may be pulled out of public schools in Spokane, Wash., for not complying with Washington State's immunization status law. According to a spokesman from the Spokane Public School District, 3 percent of the student body have yet to submit proof of immunization or a certificate of exemption. School officials say parents of the 900-plus students have now received three or four phone calls and a physical letter explaining that their child is not compliant with state law.

Spokane School District spokesman Kevin Morrison told KREM-TV that students who arrived at school today that are still non-complaint "will be called to the principal's office, who will then call their parents and ask the parent to come pick up their child." According to Morris, the parents will be given the opportunity to fill out an exemption form or take their child to one of five free vaccination clinics being hosted by the school district this week. But until the student is in compliance, officials said the child will not be invited back to class.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Poll: Should the Saint Luke's Master Plan be Approved?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 11:03 AM

St. Luke's Health System has proposed a massive expansion of its Boise medical center, including new office complexes, a second hospital tower, and additions to its pediatric and cancer services. The catch is, the master plan would close a portion of Jefferson Street.

Proponents of the plan say that's a small price to pay for the expanded services, and St. Luke's officials suggest that should the Boise City Council reject it, those services may have to move outside of Boise. The plan's critics have been vocal, arguing that closing Jefferson Street would cut off residents in Boise's East End neighborhood and clog traffic in the area.

Boise Weekly is posing a simple question to readers: Should the St. Luke's master plan, including the permanent closure of Jefferson Street, be approved? 

Take our online poll here.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Benefits of Madison County (Idaho's Healthiest)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:31 AM

Idaho's healthiest county? That would be Madison, in eastern Idaho. Idaho least-healthy? That's Benewah, between Moscow and Coeur d'Alene in north central Idaho.  For the record, statistics were not available for Camas or Clark counties.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, is out with its annual health rankings for counties throughout the United States—measuring obvious health behaviors such as diet, tobacco and alcohol use, sexual activity and access to care; but the study also examines high school graduation rates, employment, income, housing and transit to configure the rankings. 

And based on equal weighting of length and quality of life, Madison County comes out on top, followed by Blaine, Lewis, Oneida and Adams counties. Madison County got very high marks for quality of life and health behaviors, where it came out first in the state.

Though statistics were not available for Camas or Clark counties, the bottom of the pack was Benewah County, with Lemhi, Shoshone, Clewater and Washington counties also ranking low.

Ada County ranked seventh overall, getting high marks (third highest in Idaho) for health factors such as its food environment and access to exercise opportunities. And Ada ranked first in the state when it comes to clinical care. But dragging Ada County (eighth in the state) was its physical environment, including air pollution, severe housing problems and the number of people who drive alone to work.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

State-of-the-Art Terry Reilly Clinic in Nampa Opens April 1

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2015 at 9:39 AM

Terry Reilly Executive Director Heidi Traylor shows off the clinic's new 30,000-square-foot, $6.2 million facility. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Terry Reilly Executive Director Heidi Traylor shows off the clinic's new 30,000-square-foot, $6.2 million facility.
In November 2014, Boise Weekly donned a hard hat and gingerly stepped around the construction site that would soon become a $6.2 million, state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot Terry Reilly Health Services' facility in Nampa.

"It's ahead of schedule on budget," said Heidi Traylor, executive director of Terry Reilly. 

What began as a makeshift clinic in May 1971, in Reilly's Nampa living room, has become one of the national models for community health caregiving. Reilly's "clinic" was moved into the old Square Deal Market grocery store at the corner of 16h Avenue North and Third Street North and was dubbed the "Nampa Clinic." Soon after, Terry Reilly clinics opened in Garden City, Parma and Homedale, and then throughout the Treasure Valley. Terry Reilly Health Services' most ambitious project to date will open its doors Wednesday, April 1.

Approximately 30,000 patients walk through the doors of Treasure Valley Terry Reilly clinics each year. The new Nampa facility will house multiple patient-care teams, a laboratory, full pharmacy, X-ray, mental health services and medical administration.

"It was really important that we stay close to downtown Nampa, giving our clients easy access and plenty of parking," said Traylor. "We like what's going on in downtown Nampa."
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

St. Luke's Eyes Nampa For New Hospital

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 9:39 AM

While officials with the St. Luke's Health System prepare for a crucial series of public hearings in front of the Boise City Council where hospital officials will argue for a huge master plan that includes new construction, a tremendous amount of renovation and the controversial closing of a portion of Jefferson Street, St. Luke's is also looking westward.

This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune is reporting that St. Luke's has filed an application to upgrade its Nampa facility to a new 76-bed hospital. The current facility opened in 2012 and includes urgent care and an emergency department, but the proposed build-out would turn the facility into a full-fledged community hospital. The proposed hospital could be the second of its kind for Nampa. Saint Alphonsus has said it also wants to build a new 100-bed hospital in the Canyon County city.

Meanwhile, Boise Weekly has learned that the debate over St. Luke's master plan for downtown Boise could attract so many members of the public that the hearing has now been scheduled to take place over two evenings, Tuesday, April 7 and Tuesday, April 14, before the Boise City Council.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

City Club of Boise: Panelists Discuss Improving the Lot of Idaho's Middle Class

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 11:46 AM

(Left to right) Jeff Sayer, Rod Gramer and Ted Epperly - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • (Left to right) Jeff Sayer, Rod Gramer and Ted Epperly

At a Feb. 24 City Club forum concerning strategies for protecting the middle class, two out of three panelists said that raising the minimum wage in Idaho is a "no-brainer."

Friday, Feb. 27, a bill will be introduced in the legislature that aims to raise Idaho's minimum wage to $8.25 in 2015, $9.25 in 2016, and pegs the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index from there on out. The state's current minimum wage "locks [people] into a hierarchy of the haves and have-nots," said speaker and physician Ted Epperly.

Panelists Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, Idaho Business for Education President and CEO Rod Gramer and Epperly batted about policy options for shoring up what is widely seen as the embattled center stratum of Idaho's economic spectrum. While Epperly and Gramer discussed ways Idaho can increase its number of college graduates and expand Medicaid, Sayer indicated that the key to saving Idaho's middle class is bringing outside capital to the Gem State.

"We will never be able to pay for all the things that we need with tax revenue," Sayer told attendees from the podium at the Owyhee.

Creating a business-friendly environment, Sayer said, is a matter of having a low cost of doing business and having infrastructure to meet the needs of today's high-paying jobs. That infrastructure isn't just roads and bridges, however, and Sayer mentioned that improving access to Idaho via air travel, expanding broadband access across the state and investing in community amenities like parks, greenbelts and open spaces, will help attract the business that pay higher wages.

He said one barrier to investing in such amenities—and here he broke with the official position of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter—is the high barrier communities face when trying to fund them. In Idaho, two-thirds of voters must approve municipal debt. In Republican-led Utah, that barrier is a simple majority.

But Gramer said that Idaho faces an education crisis: In Idaho, those with just a high school diploma make 62 percent of what college graduates earn, and the vast majority of Idahoans—about 60 percent—do not hold four-year bachelors degrees. 

"We're falling behind," he said. 

Meanwhile, approximately 18 percent of Idahoans taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) are college-ready, he told the crowd, with many students requiring remediation in reading and mathematical skills. 

"We need to connect the dots between education in our state and the economic wellbeing of our state," he said.

As for solutions, Gramer was ready with three: Idaho must implement and adhere to Idaho CORE Standards, see education as an investment rather than an expenditure, and target education funding to improve education outcomes.

Idaho's uninsured rate has dropped significantly in the last year, but according to Epperly, that doesn't mean Idaho is out of the woods in terms of the impact health care is and will have on the middle class. 

"Your zip code has a greater impact on your health than your genetic code," he said. 

Taking action on income inequality could take time, he said, but what Idaho can do right now to save money and improve the lot of its middle class by expanding Medicaid, which could save Idaho $17.3 million over existing program costs and create jobs. He also stressed personal responsibility: People with health care coverage still need to have a "usual source of care."

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Video: Things Get Testy During Vaccine Debate at Spokane Council Meeting

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 10:51 AM

The vaccine debate spilled into a meeting of the Spokane, Wash., City Council Feb. 12 with some council members calling for the resignation of a fellow lawmaker. 

Spokane councilman Mike Fagan, who also sits on the Spokane County Health Board, is an open critic of vaccinations and in a recent Facebook slam, likened vaccinations to global warming. KREM-TV reports that things got a bit out of hand when supporters of Fagan say they weren't allowed to speak.

Fagan has shared several articles on social media, insisting that vaccines aren't safe.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Deadline for Purchasing Health Insurance Through Your Health Idaho: This Sunday, Feb. 15

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 11:42 AM

Folks seeking health insurance through Your Health Idaho, the Gem State's ACA health insurance exchange, have a big deadline coming up.

The open enrollment period for 2015 ends Sunday, Feb. 15, at 11:59 p.m. After that, residents seeking health insurance through the exchange will have to wait until the next enrollment period or apply for a special enrollment period. These special enrollment periods are given to people who have recently married, had children or moving to another state. For more information about special enrollment, click here

"If you haven't started shopping for health insurance for you and your family because you think it will be too expensive, don't rule it out until you've visited with an agent or broker to discuss your options," wrote Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly.

Idahoans who have completed their insurance applications by Feb. 15 will receive "a few extra days" to finalize their plans, since processing customer eligibility and determining tax credits can take several days. 

In January, Your Health Idaho reported more than 83,000 customers had purchased insurance coverage or renewed insurance plans through the program.
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Saint Al's Interim President, CEO Reider Accepts Permanent Position

Posted By on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 1:24 PM

In an announcement made by Executive Vice President of West and Midwest Group at Trinity Health Sally Jeffcoat, and Mike Reuling, Chairman of the Board for Saint Alphonsus Health System, Saint Alphonsus has a new president and CEO.

Rodney Reider has previously served as president of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. He has also served as Saint Alphonsus' interim president and CEO since July 2014, when Jeffcoat was promoted to her current position.

"We are pleased that [Reider] has accepted the permanent appointment to this important role, as we know that his dedication to the communities we serve in Idaho and Oregon is unwavering," wrote Reuling in a prepared statement.
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