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After years of incremental health care reform, more than $200 million in budget cuts threaten to turn back time – The Nevada Independent

State officials presented to the Senate on Wednesday $233 million in proposed cuts from the health care budget that will slash key programs for low-income Nevadans and significantly pare back mental health services to ease a budget crisis caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the proposed cuts will roll back initiatives spearheaded by lawmakers and the Department of Health and Human Services over the last few legislative sessions in an effort to improve health care in the state, which ranks among the worst in the nation. Health officials also plan to sweep dollars from existing accounts, such as one fueled by tobacco settlement dollars, to help make up the budget shortfall.

The recommended reductions to the Department of Health and Human Services budget will, if approved, make up nearly 20 percent of the $1.2 billion shortfall projected by the governors office and more than 42 percent of the proposed $549 million in agency rate reductions.

The K-12 general fund budget which represents about 34.9 percent of total general fund spending, slightly more than the 33.5 percent that Health and Human Services comprises faces proposed cuts of about $166 million.

The proposed health care cuts come as the Department of Health and Human Services continues to play an integral role in the states response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Richard Whitley, the departments director, noted in his budget presentation the difficulty of cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in health services most of which go toward supporting the most vulnerable Nevadans in the middle of a global pandemic.

What is being identified here is were delivering direct services in one hand in a crisis and were having to reduce down our spend with the other hand, Whitley said. I am doing the best I can at doing that with the least amount of harm possible, but there will be harm, and Im not here to say that peoples lives wont be impacted by these proposed reductions.

Medicaid

The most significant cuts, $140.4 million, will come to the states Medicaid program, which has seen a 9 percent increase in its caseload since February as Nevadans lost their jobs and turned to the state for health insurance. No Nevadans will lose their Medicaid coverage as a result of the budget cuts in part because of a mandate from the federal government that states not terminate anyone from the program in order to receive additional federal matching dollars but the state is planning to limit or eliminate the services they can receive.

For instance, Medicaid plans to eliminate 12 services deemed optional by the federal government, to the tune of $18.7 million in savings. Those services include optometry, tenancy support, occupational therapy, basic skills training and psychosocial rehabilitation benefits that both lawmakers and state health officials noted Medicaid enrollees rely on and arent going to be able to get elsewhere.

The framework of mandatory versus optional is not, I mean its almost embarrassing to use those terms because theyre only relevant to a federal congressional act in terms of what governs Medicaid, not to the people who do need the health care service, Whitley said. So I do know that we will have impacts on people and their lives may be worsened by these services being eliminated. I cant quantify that for you today. I just know I have limited spaces to go to make the reduction in our general fund spend.

Medicaid has also proposed a 6 percent across the board rate decrease for all services, which will save the state $53 million, and eliminate hard-fought rate increases approved by the Legislature during the 2019 session for acute hospital services, neonatal and pediatric intensive care services and personal care services, a savings of about $12.4 million. Hospitals waged a long, public campaign for their increases and, along with doctors and other providers, have long argued that Medicaid rates overall in Nevada arent high enough as is.

Suzanne Bierman, Medicaid administrator, pointed to a Kaiser Family Foundation report that shows that Nevada has one of the highest Medicaid-to-Medicare ratios compared to other states,

Nevada Hospital Association CEO Bill Welch, during a public comment session Wednesday evening, said the cuts will cost Nevada hospitals more than $100 million a year in payments, with hospitals spending another $500 million on uncompensated care.

Medicaid additionally plans to eliminate adult dental and limit dental services for pregnant women and children, limit physical therapy for adults to 12 sessions and eliminate certain duplicative hospice services from being provided in the home, for a total savings of $30.2 million. Remaining savings will come from delaying risk mitigation payments to managed care organizations, the private insurers paid by the state to provide Medicaid services.

Medicaid could see an additional $30 million in savings should the federal government extend the enhanced federal matching rate through the end of the year, a decision that doesnt have to be made until July 25. Officials are hoping to delay implementation of the Medicaid changes to Oct. 1, at which point they would have more information about their funding situation.

Whitley, asked where Medicaid would put the extra $30 million, said that it was a difficult question to answer.

Doing math on the page may be simple for budgetary people, but does turning something down really amount to turning it off? Does reducing the rate lose providers? Whitley said. The nuance of all of that would be considered and well work day and night to provide if resources become available.

Public and behavioral health

Another $19.1 million in cuts have been proposed to public and behavioral health care programs in the state, with the majority coming from the Southern and Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services agencies.

Some of the savings will be achieved by freezing hiring vacant positions within both mental health agencies. But Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services also plans to stop providing residential services to 270 people, referring them instead to other organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Share Village, unless they receive additional funding through the federal CARES Act.

The state has shifted the way it provides mental health services over the past several years, putting the emphasis on enrolling people in Medicaid and directing them to private providers, instead of having the state directly provide services. But Sen. Julia Ratti noted during the hearing that stripping back direct mental health dollars, coupled with the cuts to Medicaid, could essentially mean the state will only be providing mental health services to its prison population.

With the cuts that were talking about here, and then you pair those with the cuts to substance use treatment and mental health that we talked about in the Medicaid budget, and then you overlay housing, and the tenancy support I feel like maybe were reverting back to a place where if you really need behavioral health services, you almost have to be part of the criminal justice to access them, Ratti said. It feels like we're heading towards a perfect storm.

Lisa Sherych, administrator of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, agreed.

These are extremely difficult decisions to make, Sherych said, choking up. I was very hopeful that this next session was going to be a great one based on last session. So, yes, our focus is primarily going to be the justice-involved population.

Other cuts to public and behavioral health will come in the form of $1.6 million in cuts to rural clinics, in the form of deferred start dates for staff, $1.5 million in tobacco prevention dollars approved last session, $1.6 million in problem gambling dollars and $2.3 million in sweeps from other funds.

Aging and disability services

State officials plan to find another $30.2 million by freezing caseloads for some of its Aging and Disability Services programs, including, notably, its Autism Treatment and Assistance Program, to the tune of about $5.7 million in savings.

The Legislature appropriated $17.4 million toward the program last session, including funds to reduce a roughly 800-child backlog in a program that was only serving about 200 children. Now, the program has 892 children enrolled in it, with 191 on the waitlist but those levels would be frozen under a proposed budget cut, though children will still be moved into the program at its current capacity as children age out or move.

Three other programs will also have their caseloads capped, including supported living arrangement services, which provide residential support to people so they can live in a community-based setting. The division has also proposed deferring a provide rate increase for SLAs, reducing payments for other programs, freezing vacant positions, eliminating travel and training and deferring maintenance on facilities.

Other cuts

Another $18.4 million in savings will come from Director Whitleys office, including $1.5 million of the $6 million in family planning dollars lawmakers appropriated in the 2019 session. The remainder will come from funds swept from the Healthy Nevada Fund, which was set up with tobacco settlement dollars to fund certain health grants.

The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services plans to contribute another $15.7 million in budget reductions, primarily through funding the salary cost for eligibility workers through December through the federal CARES Act, about $14 million in general fund savings. The rest is proposed to come from a reduced general fund match in child support and other administrative changes.

The Division of Child and Family Services will be responsible for the rest of the budget reductions, about $9.4 million. The majority of that, $5.1 million, will come from changes to child welfare, including a reduction in funds to incentivize Clark and Washoe counties to innovate their child welfare funding streams. Another $3.7 million will come from freezing 53 vacant juvenile correction positions and reducing the number of beds at juvenile correction facilities from 224 to 160.

Even with the reduction, Ross Armstrong, the divisions administrator, said that there should be enough beds to meet the needs, with an average daily census for calendar year 2019 of 157.

Across the country now for about the last decade, there's been a big push in reducing the number of young people we have locked up in correctional air, and that has occurred in Nevada as well, Armstrong said. We made sure we didn't cut the funding to the counties that work on the prevention work, we didn't cut parole, who does the aftercare to prevent them from going back into the facility, and we also maintained all of our children's mental health beds.

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After years of incremental health care reform, more than $200 million in budget cuts threaten to turn back time - The Nevada Independent

Trump administration sued again over rescission of transgender health care protections – Washington Blade

Several advocacy groups on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to remove transgender protections from the Affordable Care Act.

Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth; Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; Campaign for Southern Equality; Equality California; Fenway Health and the Transgender Emergency Fund are plaintiffs in the lawsuit the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Transgender Law Center, the National Womens Law Center, the Harvard Law Schools Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and the private law firm Hogan Lovells filed on their behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of the LGBTQ organizations. Darren Lazor, a trans man who lives near Cleveland, is also named as a plaintiff.

The Obamaadministration under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act determineddiscrimination based on sex applied to trans people. The U.S. Department ofHealth and Human Services on June 12 announced the Trump administrations planto reverse the rule had been made final.

The U.S.Supreme Court three days later ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964bans employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

A pressrelease that announced the lawsuit notes the reversal of the Affordable CareAct policy violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contraryto law and arbitrary and capricious.

I have experiencedfeeling like a doctor doesnt care if I live or die which is justshameful, said Lazor in the press release. No one should be denied life-saving health care or bediscriminated against the way I have simply because of who they are. I hopethat sharing my story can help others understand that transgender people arewho we are, and we deserve to be treated fairly under the law.

Equality California ExecutiveDirector Rick Chavez Zbur added rippinghealthcare away from millions of Americans is wrong; to do so in the middle ofa global health crisis is just plain evil.

As long as President Trump keeps attacking transgender people like Darren and other LGBTQ+ Equality California members simply because of who they are, well keep fighting the Administration in court, he said.

The Human Rights Campaign and the D.C.-based law firm Baker Hostetler have filed a separate lawsuit against the policys rescission in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of two trans women of color. Lambda Legal has also challenged the Trump administrations decision in federal court.

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Trump administration sued again over rescission of transgender health care protections - Washington Blade

4th resident at Universal Health Care of Brunswick dies from COVID-19 – WWAY NewsChannel 3

BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) Brunswick County Health Services is reporting the death of an eighth county resident associated to the novel coronavirus.

The person was a resident at the Universal Health Care of Brunswick congregate living facility who received a positive test result for COVID-19. According to heath officials, the person was considered a person at high risk for severe illness as they were over the age of 65 and had underlying medical conditions.

This is the fourth positive resident at the congregate care facility to COVID-19 related death.

It is difficult to hear that we have lost another county resident to this virus, and we extend our condolences to those affected by this loss, Chairman Frank Williams said.

As of July 10, the county says there are 751 positive cases of COVID-19 among county residents (354 considered recovered, 377 isolating at 304 households, 12 hospitalized, 8 deaths) and 14 cases among non-residents (1 isolating in county, 8 considered recovered, 3 transferred monitoring to home county, 2 deaths).

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4th resident at Universal Health Care of Brunswick dies from COVID-19 - WWAY NewsChannel 3

Kelly Looks to Extend Paid Leave to Health-Care Workers – businessjournaldaily.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly introduced legislation Thursday that would extend paid leave to health-care workers and offer liability protections to hospitals and other medical providers from certain lawsuits during the COVID-19 emergency declaration.

When the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act was enacted, it exempted hospitals and other health-care facilities from the requirement to offer paid leave to health-care workers because the extent to which the pandemic would affect thehealth system was not yet known and the country needed its health-care workers on the job, according to a news release from Kellys office announcing the new legislation.

Kellys legislation House Resolution 7538, the Essential Workforce Parity Act would provide leave to health-care workers who contract COVID-19, the cost for which is eligible for reimbursement by the federal government under FFCRA. In addition, it would also offer specific targeted legal protections to health-care providers while they grapple with the complexity of treating COVID-19 patients.

Our doctors and nurses are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic risking their own health to treat the worst cases of COVID-19,said Kelly, R-16 Pa.The Essential Workforce Parity Act will guarantee that our health care heroes are treated fairly if they get sick while also ensuring their primary focus can be on helping patients, not fighting lawsuits.

The legislation received support in whole or in part from two key organizations, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Health Coalition on Liability Access.

Pennsylvania hospitals first priority is the safety of health-care workers and the patients they treat. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Andy Carter, president and CEO of HAP. During these difficult times where the situation and guidance is constantly changing we must allow health-care workers and facilities to focus on caring for every patient who needs care rather than worrying about the threat of meritless lawsuits.

HCLA specifically endorsed Section 3 of H.R. 7538. The limited and targeted protection from liability provided by Section 3 will help ensure that health-care professionals and facilities on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic can focus on helping patients without fear of getting drawn into unwarranted lawsuits, the organization said in a letter.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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Kelly Looks to Extend Paid Leave to Health-Care Workers - businessjournaldaily.com

Wallingford health care provider begins using new shoe disinfection technology amid pandemic – New Haven Register

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare announced this week that it had begun using a new technology from Patho3Gen Solutions to disinfect shoes during the pandemic. Here, Kristelle Caslangen, RN, uses the device.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare announced this week that it had begun using a new technology from Patho3Gen Solutions to disinfect shoes during the pandemic. Here, Kristelle Caslangen, RN, uses the device.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare announced this week that it had begun using a new technology from Patho3Gen Solutions to disinfect shoes during the pandemic. Here, Kristelle Caslangen, RN, uses the device.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare announced this week that it had begun using a new technology from Patho3Gen Solutions to disinfect shoes during the pandemic. Here, Kristelle Caslangen, RN, uses the device.

Wallingford health care provider begins using new shoe disinfection technology amid pandemic

WALLINGFORD Gaylord Specialty Healthcare announced this week that it had begun using a new technology to disinfect peoples shoes, as it takes further safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials said the organization was the first in New England to implement UVZone shoe disinfection technology from Florida-based PathO3Gen Solutions as part of an ongoing effort to protect patient and staff safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sanitation system uses an exclusive and multi-patented combination of Ozone and UVC light to eliminate the vast majority of pathogens, including any coronavirus residue on footwear in eight seconds, Gaylord officials said.

It was paid for through a $35,000 grant from The Greater New Haven COVID-19 Community Fund, a joint effort from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the United Way, officials said.

With the CDC recommendation that all persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of areas with COVID-19 patients, obtaining the best form of protection for our staff and patients was a priority for Gaylord, said Dr. Stephen Holland, chief medical officer of Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. We are appreciative to the Greater New Haven COVID-19 Community Fund for making this a reality.

In the announcement, PathO3Gen Solutions said it was pleased to see its product put to use.

The goal of PathO3Gen Solutions is to prevent infections and save lives by creating cleaner and safer environments. There is nothing more rewarding for us than seeing our UVZone shoe disinfection technology on the ground, when and where it really matters the most, said Scott Beal, chief operating officer of PathO3Gen Solutions.

william.lambert@hearstmediact.com

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Wallingford health care provider begins using new shoe disinfection technology amid pandemic - New Haven Register

The ‘new normal’ in health care needs to go beyond clinical care – STAT

This is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a physician. As the leaders of state medical societies and board members of The Physicians Foundation, we represent primary care physicians and specialists across the country, in blue and red states. Weve witnessed the Covid-19 crisis cost hundreds of thousands of lives and endanger many of our colleagues.

In the midst of this deadly pandemic, the U.S. health delivery system is facing its own economic instability. To an unprecedented degree, physician practices are on the brink of collapse, with patients staying home and telehealth reimbursements plagued by delays and other challenges. Hospitals, too, are teetering financially, laying off physicians or cutting their salaries.

And this is just the beginning.

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Covid-19 is a multidimensional health crisis. In Louisiana, for example, five parishes account for 56% of Covid deaths (as of June 16) and 78% of housing evictions. How can we ask our sick patients to shelter in place if they have no shelter?

In time, patients will return to their doctors offices and hospitals for routine checkups, deferred elective procedures, prescription refills, and more. But they will do so with their health compromised even if they never had Covid-19 presenting with diabetes, heart disease, mental health, and other conditions made worse by lost jobs and the struggle to afford food or rent. This will have a massive impact on physicians practices as they accept greater economic and physical risk and struggle with new practice challenges.

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Over the past decade, state and federal governments, health insurance companies, health care delivery systems, and physicians have struggled over who should bear the cost when patients get sick. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and private insurance companies have increasingly shifted this risk to physicians, holding physicians responsible for patients health through quality measures and financial rewards and penalties.

The problem is that these measures, incentives, and risk models focus almost entirely on clinical care. Yet social and environmental factors, such as access to healthy food, safe housing, and other social determinants of health, drive 70% of health outcomes.

And that was before Covid-19. How does our notion of risk change when more than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past three months and nearly one-quarter of U.S. households are reporting that the food we bought just didnt last, and we didnt have money to get more?

Millions of patients will show up in clinics exhibiting the physical toll of skipping meals to feed their children. They will have made impossible tradeoffs between refilling their heart medicine or buying food. They will carry the stress of spending weeks trying and failing to find a job as bills pile up and they fear losing their homes as the rent or mortgage goes unpaid and eviction bans get lifted.

The way that CMS and health plans quantify and allocate risk to physicians is simply irrelevant in the face of our countrys post-Covid-19 realities. It is clear that we cannot return to normal.

Now is time to do what we should have done long ago: make CMS and private insurers account for the realities of patients lives in risk models, quality measures, and financial incentives.

Health care providers capture their patients disease burdens and account for that risk through billing and diagnosis codes. Without these codes, a condition cannot be documented or factored into risk models that influence the type of care patients receive and how physicians get reimbursed. Nearly overnight, CMS implemented codes so it could pay physicians to diagnose and treat Covid-19 and account for the risk of complications.

If CMS can do this, surely it can do the same for patients living in a food desert or those who have recently been evicted. A patient with heart disease who is also food insecure costs $5,144 more per year to care for on average than a patient who is not food insecure. Right now, that risk and cost which will only grow in Covid-19s wake is not factored into risk-adjusted payments to physicians. If it were, it could arm practices with the resources they need to hire staff or partner with others to connect patients to community resources, like healthy meal delivery programs or affordable housing.

We must also ensure that patients have access to quality health care and the basics they need to be healthy. CMS created the medical loss ratio (MLR) as an incentive for insurance companies to spend dollars on medical care not on administrative costs which is especially important now that so many physician practices are struggling to stay open and provide care for their patients.

At the same time, CMS must adjust the medical loss ratio to create incentives for health insurance plans to invest in the health of their members. Currently, if an insurer buys healthy food for a patient with diabetes, it counts as an administrative cost and the insurer is penalized even though buying that food is good for patients and for their physicians, who bear the economic risk of managing their disease.

Before Covid-19, CMS proposed a new rule that would lift this penalty for Medicare Advantage plans, incentivizing them to invest in these supplemental benefits (like healthy meals or transportation to the grocery store) for their chronically ill members. By extending this rule to all insurance plans and members, CMS would reward insurers for investing in clinical care and unlocking additional dollars to help patients get and stay healthy, thereby avoiding huge costs to the health care system. States could do the same by activating their departments of insurance to make similar changes.

Covid-19 has caused enormous suffering for Americans while shaking the foundations of our health care delivery system. In the midst of all this, the Physicians Foundation sees a path forward to a better health care system one that recognizes the realities of patients lives and rewards and invests in health. We cannot be afraid to seize this opportunity to improve health outcomes and our health care system.

Michael Darrouzet is the CEO of the Texas Medical Association. Jennifer Hanscom is the executive director and CEO of the Washington State Medical Association. Philip Schuh is the executive vice president and CFO of the Medical Society of the State of New York. All are board members of The Physicians Foundation.

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The 'new normal' in health care needs to go beyond clinical care - STAT

Health insurers call on Congress to provide new funding for coverage amid pandemic | TheHill – The Hill

Health insurance companies are calling on Congress to provide more funding to help people keep coverage, citing the more than 44 million who have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus crisis started.

The two main health insurance lobbying groups, Americas Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, wrote a letter to congressional leaders on Friday making a range of requests for the next coronavirus response package, expected later this month.

The adoption of each of these recommendations is critical to assuring that health insurance providers are able to deliver coverage that is reliable and high value in all markets, the letter states.

Health insurershave benefited financially from the cancellation of costly elective procedures during the coronavirus pandemic, which they have no longer had to pay for. Theyargue they are not asking for direct financial assistance for themselves, unlike many other industries, but for support to help people keep insurance. That assistance would eventually flow up to health insurers as well.

The recommendations include increasing government subsidies under the Affordable Care Act that help people afford their premiums, and providing financial assistance to employers to help them keep employer-sponsored health coverage for their workers.

A possibly more politically palatable recommendation, which is also included in the letter, is for the government to pick up the full cost to workers who lose their jobs through a program called COBRA. That program allows people who lose their jobs to keep the health insurance that the job provided, but it is usually very expensive for workers, unless the government steps in to pay the cost.

Discussions on that front have been complicated, however, by a partisan dispute in Congress overpotentialrestrictions on funds going to plans that cover abortions.

Progressives such as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Ex-Sanders campaign manager talks unity efforts with Biden backers The Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention MORE (I-Vt.) have criticized the COBRA proposal. The move would allow health insurance corporations [to] make massive profits off the plan, Sanders wrote in a Politico op-ed in April.

Sanders and other progressives have instead proposed expanding government programs like Medicare to cover those who become uninsured due to the coronavirus economic crisis. But those proposals will go nowhere with Republicans, meaning COBRA has a better chance of the bipartisan support needed for passage.

On the key issue of coronavirus testing, insurers are calling for additional federal funding to cover testing and help workplaces and people go back to work. The Trump administration issued guidance last month saying that insurers do not have to cover surveillance testing at workplaces, a decision insurers support, but that congressional Democrats blasted as letting the companies off the hook and skirting the requirements Congress set in previous response packages.

In the letter Friday, insurers said Congress should provide additional funding to cover that testing.

We know that Americans are anxious to maintain their health coverage, keep that coverage stable, ensure access to widespread and reliable testing, and ensure the resources needed to overcome COVID-19,they said.

Asked whether insurers need action from Congress given their financial benefits from the cancellation of elective procedures, Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for AHIP, wrote in an email that it is too soon to know what the real financial impact of the virus will be.

We arent through this crisis yet, she added. And as elective and nonurgent procedures resume, those procedures must be paid for. It is possible that the care required will be more complex and costly because care and treatment were delayed."

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Health insurers call on Congress to provide new funding for coverage amid pandemic | TheHill - The Hill

Georgia nurse highlighted by InStyle Magazine as a health care worker saving the day – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Every year,InStyle magazine recognizes change makers and groundbreaking women in an annual list. Over the years, the list has included people likeSerena Williams, Nancy Pelosi, Janelle Mone and many others.

But this year, the list looks a little different. In its August issue, InStyle recognized health care workers across the countrywho are saving the day, including a nurse here in Georgia.

RELATED:How does asthma affect COVID-19 severity? New research weighs in

From Alabama to Wyoming and everywhere in between,InStyle spoke to 50 health-care professionals across the country about not only what theyve done in these extraordinary times, but who they are as women, shining a light on the people behind the PPE, according to the magazine.

Santana Sims, an Atlanta-based registered nurse, was included on the list of 50 female front-line workers who have been combating the coronavirus.

Sims co-founded the nonprofitNurses Support 911 to create mentorships and events to care for health care workers.

No matter what type of day I've had, no matter what type of patients I've had to take care of, no matter how tired I am or how bad my feet hurt, the next day I'm going to come back to give my all and save lives, Sims told InStyle.

RELATED:WHO now says theres emerging evidence of airborne transmission of coronavirus

Read more about Sims and the womenfeatured on the list here.

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Georgia nurse highlighted by InStyle Magazine as a health care worker saving the day - Atlanta Journal Constitution

July 16 Police Procession to Honor Hospital, Healthcare Workers During Pandemic – Signals AZ

By Staff | on July 10, 2020

The Prescott Valley Police Department will participate in an emergency vehicle procession Honoring Our Super Heroes event with 12 other local agencies on Thursday, July 16 beginning at 10 a.m. The procession will include 13 Quad City first responding agencies with lights and sirens activated.

The event, spearheaded by the Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System, will recognize the relationships between local communities hospitals and front-line healthcare staff who have been battling the Covid-19 pandemic. The VA Healthcare System Police Service has invited area first responders to pay tribute to these heroes with the emergency vehicle procession at all three medical centers The Northern Arizona VA Hospital and Yavapai Regional Medical Centers West in Prescott and East in Prescott Valley.

The healthcare providers in our hospitals and clinics have displayed an unwavering dedication to provide care and treatment for our patients throughout this difficult time. The first responders representing their respective agencies in this event wish to show our gratitude, VA Chief of Police Brian Schuman said.

Participating agencies include the Prescott Veterans Affairs Police Department; Prescott Police Department; Prescott Valley Police Department; Yavapai County Sheriffs Office; Yavapai College Police Department; Chino Valley Police Department; Prescott Fire Department; Central Arizona Fire Department; Life Line Ambulance Services, Inc.; Yavapai Prescott Tribal Police Department; Arizona Department of Public Safety; Arizona Fish and Game; and United States National Forest Service Fire.

The procession on July 16 will stage at 9:30 a.m. at the Findlay Toyota Center parking lot in Prescott Valley and visit YRMC East before traveling to Prescott. Traffic control will be provided by the Prescott Valley and Prescott Police Departments, and the VA Police while on VA property. Police ask that residents not be alarmed at the emergency lights and sirens while this event is taking place, and exercise caution and patience as this procession honors the work and sacrifices of our health care professionals and first responders during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For more information on the procession in Prescott Valley, please contact Prescott Valley Police Department at 928-772-9261.

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July 16 Police Procession to Honor Hospital, Healthcare Workers During Pandemic - Signals AZ

Bayside Corners: Contrast and compare the French and U.S. healthcare experience – Mad River Union

Its a slow Bayside news week, so I thought Id share a personal tale from some Bayside residents.

My husband Tom and I went out for our first restaurant meal together since early March. El Chipotle, in the Sunny Brae Center, is open every day for dine-in lunch and dinner. It has a sheltered outside patio, a huge indoor space, all of the recommended COVID precautions, and it felt very safe. What a small special pleasure in this strange time.

That got me thinking about things that we take for granted. This time last year, Tom and I were headed to southern France for a vacation with family. Three days in, on a very quiet Sunday morning in a small town along the Canal du Midi, Tom began feeling unwell... short of breath, pain in his upper arm. I was able to call Frances version of 911 and a short time later, an ambulance arrived, with a doctor (!), nurse technician and driver, and a second back-up vehicle.

Tests performed on site told them that he should go straight to hospital, and we were given the option of the closest, smaller hospital, or larger facility about 30 minutes away. We chose the latter.

Long story short, Tom was in various health care facilities for the next six weeks. He spent the first nine days at a hospital in Carcassonne. They did the angiography and all of the necessary tests so he could be assessed for surgery. He felt perfectly well during all of this time (in the U.S., Im sure he would have been discharged), but the French doctors wanted him supervised.

We were sent by medical taxi to consult with the cardiac surgeon and then transferred to a huge university hospital with a cardiac specialty unit in Toulouse, where he spent two weeks. He had quadruple bypass surgery, was five days in Cardiac ICU and then a regular cardiac unit. He was then transferred by medical taxi to a rehab facility where he spent another two weeks (they wanted him to stay a full month, but we needed to get home).

Throughout all this I stayed nearby and visited every day (by bus and metro) and, toward the end, on the weekends, we went out for excursions in the beautiful city of Toulouse. By this time, Tom was easily able to walk many miles a day, navigate stairs, and so on.

So what was so unusual about all this? Almost everything.

First, continuity of care. When the emergency occurred I contacted our medical provider and insurances at home. But I couldnt get any information. No one could tell me what would happen if I transferred Tom back to the U.S. for care. Where should we go? How would the surgery get authorized and scheduled? When could it be done? What would it cost?

That lack of clarity led us to stay in France where all of this was absolutely seamless. The French doctors themselves urged us to stay as they didnt trust this aspect of the U.S. system.

Second, the style of care. I was immediately struck by the difference in how medical staff interacted with patients. There was a lot less time spent looking at computer screens and entering information. Patients were encouraged to move around as much as they were able. It was common to see patients toting IV poles down in the cafeteria with family.

When I later saw Toms medical records, I was astonished at how concise and clear they were. When I once requested my own records from a two-hour $3,500 ER visit here at home, I received about 30 pages of gobbledly-gook.

Third, the cost. I was able to put the cost of the first nine days stay on a credit card while I sorted out the details. Would your credit card cover that in the U.S.?

We have long kept an emergency travel medical policy, renewed annually, which covers emergency medical evacuation (which could have been used in this case) or treatment. (Frequent travelers out there, I strongly recommend such policies which are incredibly cost-effective and the staff at ours was amazing in working with us to cover costs and get us home safely.)

When all was said and done, the total cost of all of Toms care, from ambulance to diagnosis to transfer to major surgery to rehab (six weeks in all) was less than $50,000.

The care was state-of-the-art. There was no process of authorizing and tracking every procedure, lab test and medication. If the doctors felt it necessary, it happened, and it was included in a flat daily rate for the level of care. The fee schedule for the first hospital was one half-page long.

When we were ready to go home, our insurance covered first class flights to San Francisco. The cost for those two tickets for a half-day plane ride was over $32,000!

It really makes me wonder about priorities... and to realize how lucky we were that Toms emergency happened in France... even if we did miss out on our vacation.

This column is normally about Bayside news (or the activities of Bayside residents). Got something to share? Contact bayside[emailprotected] or (707) 599.3192.

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Bayside Corners: Contrast and compare the French and U.S. healthcare experience - Mad River Union

Prime Healthcare Hospitals Named Among the Nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by IBM Watson Health, Five Receive Everest Award – GlobeNewswire

Ontario, Calif., July 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Six Prime Healthcare hospitals have been named to the Fortune/IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals list, which recognizes the top performing hospitals in the nation. With this years recognition, Prime Healthcare hospitals have ranked among the nations 100 Top Hospitals 53 times.

Five of the six hospitals honored this year have received an Everest Award, which recognizes hospitals that have earned the 100 Top Hospitals designation and ranked among the top 100 hospitals in the nation for rate-of-improvement during a five-year period.

The six Prime Healthcare hospitals on this list demonstrate a relentless commitment to high value, patient-centered care and innovation, said Ekta Punwani, Leader, 100 Top Hospitals Program. Year over year, Prime Healthcares staff, nurses and physicians demonstrate their focus on providing the highest-quality and safest care that results in this national recognition. This year, unlike any other, the COVID-19 crisis will be a catalyst for reinvention, and we believe these top performing Prime hospitals are positioned to emerge stronger and smarter out of this crisis.

East Liverpool City Hospital in East Liverpool, OH, is a three-time 100 Top Hospital honoree and recipient of the Everest Award for the third year in a row. Mission Regional Medical Center in Mission, TX; Saint Marys Regional Medical Center in Reno, NV; Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, KS and St. Marys Medical Center in Blue Springs, MO also received the Everest Award. Sherman Oaks Hospital in Sherman Oaks, CA, is a four-time 100 Top Hospital honoree.

The Everest award is a remarkable recognition and for five of our hospitals to earn this award speaks to the unwavering dedication to service excellence and patient centered care of our staff and physicians,said Sunny Bhatia, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Prime Healthcare. Many of these hospitals have been transformed as members of Prime, and this national recognition reflects our model and mission of saving hospitals and ensuring they deliver the highest quality of care to their communities. This mission has been especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are committed to emerging better and stronger and grateful to all those that commit themselves to providing exceptional care.

Compared to similar hospitals, the hospitals included on the list had better results on performance indicators intended to measure clinical outcomes, operational efficiency, patient experience and financial health.

The outcomes include survival rates, patient complications, healthcare-associated infections, 30-day mortality and 30-day hospital-wide readmission rates, length of stay, throughput in emergency rooms, inpatient expenses, profitability, and ratings from patients.

Performance by these hospitals, when extrapolated to all Medicare inpatients, could result in:

To determine the hospitals included on the Fortune/IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals list, IBM Watson Health researchers evaluated 3,134 short-term, acute care, non-federal U.S. hospitals.

All research was based on the following public data sets: Medicare cost reports, Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MEDPAR) data, and core measures and patient satisfaction data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website.

About the IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals Program

The IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals Program's annual studies result in the Fortune/IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals list, IBM Watson Health 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals list and IBM Watson Health 15 Top Health Systems list. Organizations do not apply or pay for this honor or pay to promote their award. Award-winning hospitals and health systems serve as a model of excellence for the industry. Visit http://www.100tophospitals.com/ for more information.

About Prime Healthcare

Prime Healthcare is an award-winning national hospital system with 45 acute-care hospitals and more than 300 outpatient locations providing nearly 40,000 jobs in 14 states. Fifteen of the hospitals are not-for-profit and members of the Prime Healthcare Foundation, a 501(c)3 public charity. Based in California and one of the largest hospital systems in the country, Prime Healthcare is committed to ensuring access to quality healthcare. Prime Healthcare and its hospitals have been recognized as among the "100 Top Hospitals" in the nation 53 times and among the "15 Top Health Systems" three times. For more information, please visit http://www.primehealthcare.com.

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Prime Healthcare Hospitals Named Among the Nation's 100 Top Hospitals by IBM Watson Health, Five Receive Everest Award - GlobeNewswire

Patients want to continue using telehealth even after pandemic ends – Healthcare Finance News

Patients have embraced virtual care and telehealth at very high rates as a result of COVID-19, and nine out of 10 said the quality of care was as good as or better than before, according to findings of a global Accenture survey of 2,700 oncology, cardiology and immunology patients.Sixty percent said that, based on their experience during the pandemic, they want to use technology more for communicating with healthcare providers and managing their conditions in the future.The survey was conducted in May across China, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. at a time when all participating countries were under some degree of government restrictions as a result of the global pandemic.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT?As restrictions came into effect, patients faced difficult choices about whether and how to continue their treatments. Many healthcare providers cancelled appointments, and transportation options were shut down. Patients were afraid to risk exposure to COVID-19 by going to their healthcare providers for regular treatment, and as many as 70% deferred or cancelled at least some elements of their treatment.

But nearly half of all patients also started getting some treatment at home instead of going to their provider's office, and they began using virtual telehealth tools such as video conference calls, online chat and apps. Sixty-three percent of those who used video conferencing said it was very good or excellent an impressive response given 70% were using video conferencing for treatment for the first time. By using technology to support communication and care, providers were largely able to maintain or even improve on the patient experience.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said they received better, more personalized responses; 41% said responses were quicker;and 40% said it was more convenient to access care through new communications channels.Also, overall trust in the healthcare system has increased. Sixty percent of patients surveyed said their trust in healthcare providers has increased, and 45% said their trust in pharmaceutical and medical device companies has increased.

Worryingly, many clinical trials were disrupted by COVID-19. Seventy-seven percent of patients said their clinical trials were suspended or delayed, which could have an effect on the speed with which new treatments come to market.But for trials that continued, the use of telehealth was critical for consultations, treatment and monitoring. Case in point: 61% of patients whose trials continued used some form of virtual communication or care.

Patients said they want to be consulted more, but they are currently far from the center of the clinical-trial-design process. As decisions were being made on how to modify clinical trials due to COVID-19, only 14% of surveyed patients were asked about what changes would work for them. This held true across all therapeutic areas and geographies.

THE LARGER TREND

For insurers to continue covering telehealth after the public health emergency ends, policymakers should allow for flexibility in benefit designs, America's Health Insurance Plans said this week.

Telehealth visits should also be clinically comparable to in-person care and be countedtoward network adequacy requirements, risk adjustment calculations and quality measurement, the group said.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said Thursday morning that the agency is doing what it can to maintain telehealth in the healthcare system, for which the Trump Administration has expressed support.

Regulatory barriers to telehealth access include restrictions around geography, originating sites and state licensure requirements.

Federal policymakers have enacted more than 30 changes to enable greater access to telehealth, and,in a June hearing, members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions examined how many of those changes should be made permanent and how to make sure the most vulnerable won't get left behind.

Twitter:@JELagasseEmail the writer:jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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Patients want to continue using telehealth even after pandemic ends - Healthcare Finance News

Hyundai Donates Over 20000 Face Masks to Montgomery Area Healthcare Providers and Community – Alabama News Network

Posted: Jul 10, 2020 10:48 AM CDT

Updated: Jul 10, 2020 2:25 PM CDT

by Alabama News Network Staff

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) has donated 20,000 face masks to the Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), as well as 400 acrylic face shields to Montgomery area health care providers.

HMMA donated 20,000 form-fitting, washable fabric face masks to the Montgomery County EMA for community distribution via the Montgomery city council and the Montgomery county commission. Each city councilor will make the masks available for community events, neighborhood associations, and citizen requests.

Additionally, 200 acrylic face shields were donated to Baptist Health and 200 were donated to Jackson Hospital. With a national shortage of face masks available for medical personnel, plastic face shields serve as an extra layer of protection for doctors and nurses wearing surgical or fabric face masks.

Together, we will come out of this crisis stronger than ever, said Robert Burns, HMMA vice president HR & administration. While navigating the impact of COVID-19 , team member safety has been a top priority in getting us back on our feet producing high quality vehicles for the entire North American market . We feel it is our duty to help get our home community of Montgomery, which has been so severely impacted, back on its feet as well.

Montgomery has always been stronger together, and public-private partnerships with community stakeholders like HMMA are the bedrock of our success, said Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed. These relationships will be integral in building out our vision for a better Montgomery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this donation, Hyundai again demonstrates its commitment to our people. We commend HMMAs leadership and hardworking team members for standing steadfast with our city as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. We cannot thank them enough for another outpouring of generosity with the donation of 20,000 masks to those in need in Montgomery and central Alabama.

Montgomery Emergency Management Agency humbly thanks our continued HMMA partnership as our Montgomery Community mitigates the spread of COVID-19, said Christina Thornton, Montgomery County EMA director. The more we come together the stronger our Montgomery will be. Please help stop the spread and Mask-Up!

We are so grateful for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama for recognizing the continued need to promote precautionary masking in our community, said Tommy McKinnon, Baptist Health vice president of community engagement.

We are equally appreciative of HMMAs contribution of protective face shields to our hospitals, which will greatly help with ongoing personal protective equipment needs.

Earlier this year HMMA donated 450 box lunches to Montgomery area front line health providers,1,000 surgical masks to the Alabama Dental Association and 10,000 COVID-19 tests to Montgomery and surrounding counties to support drive through testing in Alabama.

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Hyundai Donates Over 20000 Face Masks to Montgomery Area Healthcare Providers and Community - Alabama News Network

Trump Health Secretary Says US Healthcare Workers ‘Don’t Get Infected’ With Covid-19 (94,000 Have Contracted the Virus) – Common Dreams

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday falsely claimed that healthcare workers "don't get infected" with Covid-19 "because they take appropriate precautions" as he attempted to make the case for reopening schools in the falleven with coronavirus cases surging across the United States.

"If we don't have enough PPE for the healthcare workers on the front lines, how can we possibly have enough PPE for all of the country's teachers to take the same precautions?" Sarah Karlin-Smith, Pink Sheet

"There's no reason we can't do any of this," Azar, a former pharmaceutical lobbyist and executive, said during an event at the White House. "We have healthcare settings. We have healthcare workers, they don't get infected because they take appropriate precautions. They engage in social distancing, they wear facial covering, they use good personal hygiene. This can work, you can do all of this. There's no reason schools have to be in any way any different."

In addition to noting that Azar's claim about healthcare workers not getting infected is wildly falseaccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 94,000 healthcare workers have contracted Covid-19 and at least 500 have diedmedical professionals rejected the argument that precautionary measures taken in healthcare settings can easily be replicated in the nation's schools.

"We are trained in infection control and have used [personal protective equipment] for years," tweeted Prasad Jallepalli, MD, a professor at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. "This is almost as dumb as the 'give teachers guns' proposal."

Sarah Karlin-Smith, a reporter with Pink Sheet, asked: "If we don't have enough PPE for the healthcare workers on the front lines, how can we possibly have enough PPE for all of the country's teachers to take the same precautions?"

Watch Azar's remarks:

In response to widespread criticism of Azar's comments, HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo tweeted that the secretary "is keenly aware of and grateful for the sacrifices #HealthcareHeroes have been making throughout this pandemic" and added that it would be "foolish" to suggest he "doesn't believe these warriors get sick and die."

Kaiser Health News and The Guardian, in a collaborative investigation titled "Lost on the Frontline," identified more than 760 healthcare workers who have likely died of Covid-19 in the U.S.a death toll significantly higher than the CDC's official count.

"In some states, medical personnel account for as many as 20% of known coronavirus cases. They tend to patients in hospitals, treating them, serving them food, and cleaning their rooms. Others at risk work in nursing homes or are employed as home health aides," the outlets reported. "Some cases are shrouded in secrecy... Many hospitals have been overwhelmed and workers sometimes have lacked protective equipment or suffer from underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to the highly infectious virus."

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Trump Health Secretary Says US Healthcare Workers 'Don't Get Infected' With Covid-19 (94,000 Have Contracted the Virus) - Common Dreams

Health-care unions considering political action over Ontarios emergency act – The Globe and Mail

Unions representing Ontarios health care workers say theyre consulting with their memberships about taking political action in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said that under the emergency orders, their collective bargaining agreement with the province is suspended.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill earlier this week that would allow the province to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

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Michael Hurley, president of the OCHU, said that while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, its now a detriment to health care workers.

The act makes it clear that the emergency is over thats explicit in the legislation, Mr. Hurley said. The case count in Ontario has dropped dramatically. The number of cases is perhaps a fifth of what it was in March when the emergency was declared.

As of Friday, there were 117 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, down from a peak of 1,043 in March. There were 4,309 active cases in the province, according to the Ontario government.

Mr. Hurley said that with the emergency orders in place, nurses and other care workers can have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site or have vacation requests denied. He also pointed out that the act applies to the entire province, but many public-health units are out of an emergency situation.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Friday that 30 of the provinces 34 public-health units every region except Peel, York, Toronto and Windsor-Essex are reporting five or fewer new cases, with 17 of them reporting no new cases at all.

The health care worker unions said they will have meetings with executive board members, stewards and members over the weekend and on Monday to decide on a course of action by Tuesday. Options available to the membership range from wearing stickers to work, organizing a rally or even an interruption of work.

What is the most painful thing of this is that no one wants to turn their attention from providing patient care to having to defend some basic workplace rights, Mr. Hurley said. Thats the last thing anyone wants to do, so were hoping that the government reconsiders its position.

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The union also said the Ontario government announced its plans to extend the act without consulting them.

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Health-care unions considering political action over Ontarios emergency act - The Globe and Mail

Help for health care workers facing stresses on the job – WKOW

MADISON (WKOW) -- As some communities begin to return to normal, we'll still be fighting COVID-19 for months and the stress over the virus hasn't gone away.

An April poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found one in five adults believes the ongoing crisis has had a negative impact on their mental health.

Health care workers are seeing how it impacts patients every day, working harder than ever right now to keep everyone safe.

"When these COVID patients are the ICU they're very, very sick," said SSM Health respiratory therapist Kristie Reilly. "You're with them a lot. They're very tenuous. Simple things like repositioning their head can make their blood pressure drop, can make their oxygen saturation drop."

That kind of pressure can add to the stresses for these essential workers. Plus, the fears of the virus itself.

"Not that I didn't think about what I was going to bring home to my family [before the pandemic], but now it's definitely on my mind," Reilly told 27 News. "As soon as I get home, before my kids can talk to me, before my husband talks to me, I take everything off and I take a shower, wash my hair, just to make sure that I don't give them anything."

Experts say they're seeing more health care workers seeking counseling because the pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health.

"People get in survival mode and you just think, what do I need to do today to get to the job, to meet my family obligations. And we can really neglect our own mental health needs," said Dr. Lisa Baker, a psychologist at SSM Health.

Dr. Baker says the healthcare system is working on ways to help frontline workers get through the challenges. SSM launched a new virtual collaborative space, where people across departments can get together online and talk about what's going on.

"It's definitely something new in our system, really in reaction to the needs of healthcare workers at this time," she said. "It's been really an opportunity to collaborate with different disciplines across our system and it's been really rewarding to be a part of."

SSM Health is also providing more guidance for department leaders and educating staff to spot signs of stress among their coworkers.

"That is one way to mitigate, is having people look out for each other, giving each other breaks, normalizing, utilizing time for self care and really encouraging people to take care of themselves," Baker told 27 News.

It's that support from colleagues that's helping Kristie Reilly.

"We're really great at being there for each other, helping each other. We laugh a lot. We really are like a family," she said.

That family shares in the extra workload and keeps an eye out for each other on the job.

"We help each other a lot and I think that gets you through it, that builds morale when you know that you can count on your coworkers," said Reilly.

She also makes sure to relax when she gets down time at home, going for walks with her family or watching TV to ease her mind.

Plus, the public showing of support through thank you messages, meals and parades, helps them through one more day on the frontlines of the crisis.

"It really makes you feel good. It makes you feel appreciated," she said. "To know you have that community support, to know that you can go home and that people are behind us, I think it's really cool. It was definitely not something that we ever expected, but it's been a really neat thing to see that the community has come together."

Experts say everyone should take time to focus on their mental health right now. That may mean prioritizing a good night's sleep, getting exercise and eating well.

Many workplaces offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which can provide mental health services. An April survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found 15 percent of employers have added services to their EAP since the pandemic began. 17 percent now have more coverage for mental health and 15 percent added telepsychiatry options.

Click here for resources and information on mental health services.

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‘Noble Army’ Makes Thousands of Face Shields for Health Care Workers – WTTW News

They have already made and delivered nearly 8,000 face shields to health care workers in the Chicago area for free.

Now, they want to make it easy for groups around the country to replicate their success, and theyve created a website with everything you need to start a socially distant face shield factory.

It all began on March 25, when retired Oak Park resident Rob Parks saw a story on Chicago Tonight about a mother and son making face shields for health care workers using a 3D printer. Parks tried it out on the printer in his basement and showed it to his neighbor, Lisette Verhagen Metman, an ICU nurse, who had expressed concern about supplies of personal protective equipment. When she showed the shield to her bosses, the intensivist and the manager said immediately order 72! Metman said. Basically all the nurses and the intensivists and the respiratory therapists would use them.

That threw me into a bit of a panic, Parks said with a smile, because it took me three hours to print that first one.

Rob and Susan Parks hold face shields made by the Noble Army. (Courtesy of Rob and Susan Parks)

Employees of the Dr. Lucy Lang-Chappell Housing Complex in Chicago wear face shields provided by the Noble Army. (Courtesy of Rob and Susan Parks)

Parks put out a call on an Oak Park email list, asking for anyone with a 3D printer to help out. Inside of a day I had 20 people signed up to print, he said. He dubbed his eager recruits the Noble Army. After they completed that first order they easily found other institutions that needed face shields. Soon there were 40 people cranking out more than 200 face shield frames a day.

So obviously, there is a hidden but very powerful force in the community that was like waiting to be tapped. All these people are so generous and they are so dedicated and they really want to help they want to find a way to help, Parks said.

Parks, and his wife Susan Parks, both have business backgrounds and they created the necessary systems to handle the volume.

I will be glad when what we do is not necessary anymore, said Susan Parks, because that means that people will not need this type of protection. But while it is there we will fill the need.

And as long as the need exists, they hope others will use what they have learned and follow in their footsteps.

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'Noble Army' Makes Thousands of Face Shields for Health Care Workers - WTTW News

Microsoft targets health-care industry with new cloud offering – CNBC

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gestures as he speaks during a Bloomberg event on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 21, 2020.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoftis targeting the health-care sector with a new Cloud for Health Care bundle a customized solution incorporating existing products like the Azure cloud and the Teams communication app for businesses.

The move shows that Microsoft intends to deliver more growth in Azure as it competes with Amazon:by tailoring its wares to the needs specific industries. In 2017, the company announced an initiative to focus on health care and five other industries, such as manufacturing and retail. It added media, communications and automotive last year

Industry customizations are already available in Dynamics 365 and Power Platformproducts, like a patient portal. Now Microsoft is keen to ensure they work together to provide the best possible experience for customers.

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is available to customers in public preview with a six-month free trial, Microsoft corporate vice presidents Tom McGuinness and Greg Moore said in a blog post Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how pricing for the bundle will differ from the standard fee for individual products in the bundle. Microsoft will provide more details in the fall, a spokesperson told CNBC in an email.

Azure derives a greater portion of its revenue from large enterprises than market leader Amazon Web Services, RBC analysts led by Alex Zukin said in a note to clients on Sunday. Go-to product collections for various industries could yield more widespread enterprise adoption. Azure revenue growth slowed to 59% in the first quarter from 62% one quarter earlier, although it continues to grow faster than other parts of the company. Microsoft does not specify Azure revenue in dollars.

Google's cloud organization is also targeting health care and other individual industries, and Salesforce offers a Health Cloud.

Microsoft offloadedhealthassets in 2012 with the formation of Caradigm, a joint venture with GE. Microsoft said last week it's working with UnitedHealthCare to bring out an Azure-powered app that can help companies in their efforts to return their employees to offices.

WATCH: FedEx announces strategic partnership with Microsoft

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NetWalker Ransomware Expands Operations, Targeting Healthcare – HealthITSecurity.com

May 22, 2020 -The NetWalker ransomware threat actors a serious threat to the healthcare sector has ramped up its business model, transitioning into a Ransomware-as-a-Service (Raas) model in an attempt to partner with other seasoned cybercriminals, according to a recent Advanced Intelligence report.

The healthcare sector has been a prime target for NetWalker through the pandemic. The hacking group was behind the ransomware attack on the website of Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in Illinois in mid-March.

In March, Microsoft detailed some its tactics alongside other human-operated ransomware groups, such as Maze and REvil. These groups all rely on similar techniques, such as credential theft and lateral movement, before later deploying a ransomware payload.

In the last two months as the impact of the pandemic increased, NetWalker has become extremely active. And its new business model will allow the group to collaborate with other cybercriminals whove already gained access to large networks and have the capability of disseminating ransomware.

Members of the hacking group began posting advertisements for a ransomware affiliate program, on March 19. NetWalker appears to be looking for groups that prioritize quality, not quantity. The researchers noted this preference is vastly different than typical Russian-based ransomware operations that commonly leverage brute-force attacks and mass production.

To gain further interest, NetWalker shared some of its victim-focused material, such as IP addresses, administrator access, and network-attached storage access, among other key elements. A month later, the group refreshed its advertisement asking for experienced hackers in an effort to create an exclusive group of top-tier network intruders to execute its new RaaS business model.

Trend Micro researchers recently reported NetWalker is now also leveraging fileless ransomware, written in PowerShell, and executed directly in memory without storing the virus on the disk. As a result, these attacks allow the hackers to maintain persistence and easily evade detection by abusing system tools.

NetWalker is also actively leveraging the COVID-19 crisis for its phishing campaigns, targeting individuals interested more information about the virus, as well as healthcare industry individuals and entities.

The hackers primarily distribute their ransomware through phishing schemes or spam emails, or through large-scale network infiltration. The group claims theyre able to first exfiltrate data from its victims and posts it online: a model made notorious by the Maze hacking group.

Further, the group will typically ask for a significant ransom demand from its victims, from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Researchers explained NetWalker is rapidly evolving and highly credible, especially to the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 crisis. And its likely there will be more attacks and updates from the group in the coming weeks.

NetWalker now claims a singular preference for network infiltration, which is novel to the Russian-speaking ransomware community, researchers explained. As a result, the threat actor is requiring its new affiliates to have pre-existing access to large networks.

NetWalker poses a significant threat, as it has been carrying out these high-profile attacks while simultaneously posting on the top-tier Russian-language DarkWeb forums in order to expand its operations and capabilities, they added.

As ransomware attacks on healthcare providers rose 350 percent during Q4 2019, healthcare organizations should review key ransomware resources, paying particular attention to the human-operated methods, including insights from Check Point, Microsoft, the FBI, the NSA, the Office for Civil Rights, and other security leaders.

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Scripps, Sharp HealthCare Voice Concerns Over County Reopening Plan – KPBS

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: The driveway entrance to the emergency room at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, May 14, 2020.

As San Diego County officials move forward with plans to reopen restaurants for dine-in service and retail stores, two local health care systems say they wanted more of a say in the final plan.

"We want to see businesses open too Scripps like every health care system is losing a ton of money but we need to do it in the right way," said Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder.

Van Gorder said Scripps was given the county's 180-page plan to reopen more businesses the morning of Tuesday's supervisors' vote.

"Didnt give us enough time to really look it over discuss it with them, they are elements in the triggers that we have deep concerns about," Van Gorder said.

Van Gorder said the curve isnt flattening everywhere. Scripps has been at or near capacity at their Chula Vista hospital for weeks and he said reopening businesses could make that situation even worse.

"Weve had to transfer 56 patients from Chula Vista up to our northern hospitals," Van Gorder said. Scripps is also starting to take patients from Imperial County.

Sharp HealthCare also said Tuesday they had not reviewed the plan before the vote and were only shown an outline the night before. Sharp and Scripps officials say currently they are handling about 60% of the countys presumed COVID-19 cases Both health care giants are concerned about the triggers that could lead to restrictions coming back.

"One of the triggers is the hospitals reach 80% capacity," Van Gorder said. "The County always talks about the 6,051 beds. Thats total beds in the county. Thats not intensive care unit beds, thats not negative pressure isolation rooms. So wed be in deep trouble long before we ever filled all 80% of our beds if our ICU beds were full and our negative isolation rooms were full in a COVID situation."

While Scripps and Sharp might not have seen the plan prior to Tuesday's vote, UC San Diego Health and Palomar Health officials both said they supported it after meeting and going over it directly with county health doctors.

"I wanted to thank Patty Maysent from UCSD and Dianne Hansen from Palomar from two large hospital systems that came down and took the time to work with our CAO and our team," County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said during Tuesday's board meeting.

After Scripps and Sharp officials raised their concerns, county supervisors unanimously passed the plan to reopen more businesses.

KPBS asked county health officials Wednesday why Scripps and Sharp were not briefed on the plan in advance. Public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said no one was left out.

"It was completed over the weekend and we had our partners review it on Monday and we submitted it Tuesday evening so no one was left out," Wooten said.

Wooten said health care providers got the reopening plan after it was completed.

"Weve reviewed the application with them and different people have different opinions," Wooten said.

Sharp issued a statement to KPBS Wednesday saying they are reviewing the reopening plan.

"We have now received the 187-page proposal for accelerated implementation of Californias road-map to modify the stay-at-home order, and we will be reviewing the document and providing our thoughts to county staff and the supervisors," a Sharp spokesperson said via email.

Scripps is currently conducting a similar review of the proposed plan.

The reopening outline was unanimously passed by supervisors Tuesday and is currently awaiting state approval to be implemented.

Aired 5/21/20 on KPBS News

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Matt Hoffman General Assignment Reporter

I am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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