“Google engineers and other workers at the internet giant’s offices around the world walked off the job Thursday morning to protest its lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.
It is the latest expression of a backlash against many men’s mistreatment of female employees across the business landscape and in politics….” (A)

“The healthcare industry is not exempt from sexual harassment; in fact, over 50% of female nurses, physicians, and students report experiencing sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct, on the basis of gender, that affects a person’s ability to do his or her job (or complete studies), including unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and requests for sexual favors. Although most claims of sexual harassment are made by females, there have been increasing charges of sexual harassment of males.” (B)

“More than 3,000 employees at medical and surgical hospitals filed sexual harassment charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) between 1995 and 2016, reported BuzzFeed News.
The site highlighted more than 170,000 sexual harassment claims across multiple industries.
Other sectors of healthcare also faced sexual harassment claims, including nearly 2,000 in ambulatory healthcare services, more than 1,500 in nursing care facilities and more than 380 claims in physician offices…
The claims about sexual harassment in healthcare aren’t new. Last year, a JAMA study found nearly one-third of women in academic medical faculties reported having experienced workplace sexual harassment. In that report, women also perceived and experienced more gender bias than men.” (C)

“Some of the incidents of harassment that physicians, nurses, and PAs described were rather extreme. A couple described physical assault—someone grabbing their breast. In one case, another physician held a female physician while he fondled himself. Some physicians say they were offered a promotion in exchange for sex and were threatened if they didn’t comply. Many nurses reported aggressive and distressing sexual behavior from physicians and also colleagues. Do you find it surprising that healthcare professionals would do things like this, especially at their place of work?” (D)

“In his Health Law column, Francis J. Serbaroli discusses the long and unfortunate history of sexual harassment in the health care workplace. Given the recent spate of high-profile career-ending sexual harassment charges, he urges all health care employers to have comprehensive policies and procedures for handling complaints, to educate everyone in the organization about sexual harassment, and to promote a culture of respect for all employees.
In recent months, many prominent persons have had career-ending allegations of sexual harassment brought against them. Those accused in these high-profile cases have come from media and entertainment, education, sports, government, finance, the arts, and other areas. The organizations with whom they were affiliated are scrambling to investigate these allegations, to do damage control, and to implement new policies and processes to demonstrate their zero-tolerance for such harassment. Questions are being raised as to whether the leadership of these organizations and their governing boards knew about the harassment, and if so, why appropriate action was not taken to stop it and prevent its recurrence.” (E)

““Like other aspects of a dysfunctional work culture, sexual harassment in healthcare can adversely affect employee health and, by extension, patient safety…
… there is every reason for an emphasis on training workers and implementing sexual harassment prevention programs in healthcare. The continuing revelations about nationally known figures exposed by the #MeToo movement is adding further impetus. Given the available data and anecdotal reports, it appears that a similar movement in medicine would generate a substantial number of personal accounts of sexual harassment. If nothing else, this is a teachable moment.
Though nurses have power in numbers as the predominant workforce in healthcare, they have long experienced sexual harassment from both colleagues and patients. A contributing social factor is thought to be the “sexy nurse” stereotype in pop culture and annual Halloween costumes. The author of an article on the issue concluded by urging nurses to “stop the line” and point out the behavior when it occurs.
“Report any incidents of harassment that you see occur or experience yourself,” the author concluded. “Involve your supervisors and peers in reporting. Empower all professionals to be able to say without fear, ‘No! This behavior isn’t okay,’ or ‘I feel uncomfortable with this conversation.’”…
Supervisors also can be found liable if they don’t step in when they become aware of harassment, as there is a responsibility and accountability in the hierarchy of the workplace…” (F)

“Many factors make an organization prone to sexual harassment: a hierarchical structure, a male-dominated environment, and a climate that tolerates transgressions — particularly when they are committed by those with power. Medicine has all three of these elements. And academic medicine, compared to other scientific fields, has the highest incidence of gender and sexual harassment. Thirty to seventy percent of female physicians and as many as half of female medical students report being sexually harassed…
The efforts of many healthcare organizations and medical centers tend to go little further than avoiding litigation. This needs to change. We propose a number of actions institutions must take to eliminate sexual harassment and create a safe environment that allows everyone in the health care workforce to do their best work on behalf of their patients.
Quantitative and qualitative assessment. The first step is for healthcare organizations to commit to understanding the problem. They must thoroughly and repeatedly measure the nature, prevalence, and severity of harassment and discrimination. Since this is unlikely to happen spontaneously, boards of directors and trustees should require open reporting of aggregate data, forums where employees can share ideas on how to reduce or eliminate harassment, and tying compensation of executives, deans, and chairs to outcomes…” (G)

“But the ultimate goal should be preventing harassment before it occurs. Physicians’ Practice offers three recommendations:
In meetings, make sure there’s a witness who’s the same gender as the employee. This is especially important in cases where a reprimand, discipline or termination is involved.
When possible, have a woman in the room (e.g., a nurse or medical assistant) if a male doctor is performing an exam, and vice versa. Patients may feel more comfortable if someone else is in the room, especially if the exam or treatment involves breasts or genitals. And if possible, if a patient requests a provider of a specific gender, honor that request.
Create a positive, harassment-free culture. Pay attention to comments being made in the cafeteria or break rooms, and call out employees who may be making others feel uncomfortable. If suggestive or inappropriate comments are being made, shut them down, and make it clear to others they should feel empowered to do the same.
Training employees about how to recognize sexism and sexual harassment when it occurs can also go a long way toward preventing upsetting incidents. Inappropriate jokes or conversations about sex might make others feel uncomfortable, even if that’s not the intent.” (H)

“When it comes to reporting, organizations should provide multiple avenues for those who believe they’ve been subjected to sexually harassing behavior, at least one of which is anonymous, according to Eaton.
One area of training that’s often neglected is bystander training — teaching employees who may not experience sexual harassment but witness someone else being harassed how to respond and whom to tell.
“Effective and interactive training in sexual harassment should be given to supervisors and support staff alike, including training on how bystanders may intervene when witnessing such behavior,” Eaton says. In healthcare, it’s also important to address how to respond to unwanted patient behaviors, he adds.
Healthcare workplaces need to demonstrate zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
It should be part of an organization’s culture that certain behaviors are not acceptable, according to Ballard. Senior leaders need to model acceptable behavior to create a safe and healthy workplace environment, he added.
With sexual harassment on the national radar right now, it seems a good time for organizations to revisit their policies and procedures around handling complaints and ramp up trainings to prevent abuse.
“I think we are seeing a national catharsis,” Quick wrote. “Everyone has known it’s there. Now it’s on the table and I am optimistic that we will make progress, but not straight-line linear [progress]. There will be setbacks and challenges, but this appears an inflection point.”” (I)

“What made Weinstein’s behavior so reprehensible is the aspect of the power differential associated with his actions. The women he targeted were struggling actresses who knew that success in Hollywood often comes from a lucky break and impressing powerful producers, directors, company heads.
Nurses are often in similar situations when hospital administrators value doctors and surgeons more than nurses. In 2009, Janet Bianco, a nurse from Flushing Hospital in New York was awarded $15 million after being sexually harassed by Dr. Matthew Miller for years that ultimately led to two violent attacks in 2001.
Despite complaining to her supervisors, no action was taken, even though the doctor was previously sanctioned by the state medical board for what they called, “moral unfitness to practice medicine.”
What is most disturbing about the Weinstein case is that for decades, everyone knew about it, but no one did anything about it. The same was true for Nurse Bianco. In fact, the harassing doctor tried to force his tongue down her throat as the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Peter Barra looked on.
Nurses who are sexually harassed at work face frustration, emotional consequences, and professional setbacks. Many leave the field altogether. That’s why it’s important that all of us watch out for each other, report inappropriate behavior, and make our hospitals safer places to work.” (J)

“The medical field, like popular culture, reinforces the physician-as-hero trope. Having answered their “life’s calling,” physicians are trustworthy, objective, selfless — even godlike. Doctors certainly do not rape, assault, or molest their patients.
But they do. The harrowing experiences of several hundred gymnasts who exposed Dr. Larry Nassar’s history of molestation under the guise of medical treatment demonstrates how he was able to sexually assault these young women because he was a doctor — using his trusted position and the safe confines of a doctor’s exam room.
Other doctors enabled Nassar’s predatory behavior. There was Dr. Gary Stollak, a clinical psychologist who heard about Nassar’s abuse from a former victim 14 years ago but did not report it; Dr. William Strampel, dean of the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, who imposed protocols for Nassar — including wearing gloves and having a chaperone for sensitive exams — but failed to enforce them; and Dr. Brooke Lemmen, who resigned from Michigan State after failing to tell the university that Nassar had informed her he was under investigation by USA Gymnastics…
We must confront the culture of medicine that dissuades physicians from reporting our colleague’s “bad behavior,” including conduct much less egregious than sexual assault. We must also advocate for independence in systems that hold physicians accountable.
At the same time, we must be respectful of survivors of sexual assault by strengthening our training around caring for them and ensuring that they feel comfortable seeking care in an environment that may have previously betrayed their trust. …”(K)

“A…Perspective by Victor J. Dzau, MD, of the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, and Paula A. Johnson, MD, of Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, called upon medical leadership to help institute these changes, including:
Aligning and embedding the values of diversity, inclusion, and respect into institutional policies
Reducing hierarchical power structures
Providing alternative reporting options
Protecting victims from retaliation
Ensuring transparency and accountability in institutional investigations”
“Sexual harassment in academic medicine is a symptom of systematic failures that prevent the medical workforce from operating at its fullest potential,” Dzau and Johnson wrote. “As leaders, we ignore this problem at our peril.”” (L)

(A) Google Walkout: Employees Protest Over Sexual Harassment Scandals, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/local/google-walkout-employees-protest-over-sexual-harassment-scandals/ar-BBPeGMb
(B) Sexual Harassment in Healthcare, WWW.RN.ORG, www.rn.org/courses/coursematerial-236.pdf
(C) Data shows breadth of sexual harassment in healthcare, by Les Masterson, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/data-shows-breadth-of-sexual-harassment-in-healthcare/512434/
(D) Sexual Harassment in Healthcare: Doctors and Nurses, by Leslie Kane and Susan Strauss, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/898027_2
(E) Sexual Harassment in the Health Care Workplace, by Sexual Harassment in the Health Care Workplace, by Francis J. Serbaroli, https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2018/01/22/sexual-harassment-in-the-health-care-workplace/
(F) #MeToo in Medicine? Sexual Harassment in Healthcare, by Gary Evans, https://www.reliasmedia.com/articles/142185-metoo-in-medicine-sexual-harassment-in-healthcare
(G) Sexual Harassment Is Rampant in Health Care. Here’s How to Stop It, by Jane van Dis, Laura Stadum, Esther Choo, https://hbr.org/2018/11/sexual-harassment-is-rampant-in-health-care-heres-how-to-stop-it
(H) Is there a Weinstein in your hospital? Dealing with sexual harassment, Kelsy Ketchum, http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/sexual-harassment/
(I) Health industry not immune to workplace sexual harassment, by Meg Bryant, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/from-med-school-to-practice-sexual-harassment-in-healthcare/515061/
(J) Sexual Harassment In Nursing – It’s More Common Than You Think, https://nurse.org/articles/harvey-weinstein-and-harassment-against-nurses/
(K) Larry Nassar isn’t the only doctor accused of molesting patients. We need to do more to stop it, by Altaf Saadi, https://www.statnews.com/2018/02/05/larry-nassar-doctors-sexual-assault/
(L) Treat Sexual Harassment in Medicine on a Systemic Level, by Molly Walker, https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/medicaleducation/75064

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Tomorrow morning’s Emergency Preparedness meeting (just scheduled for 8AM)

October 28, 2018

FROM: CEO, Northern New Jersey Regional Medical Center
SUBJECT: Tomorrow morning’s Preparedness meeting (just scheduled for 8AM)

Over the last few days there has been a convergence of preparedness challenges. We need to set priorities, confirm assignments, allocate resources, initiate communications plan.

Assessment. Review SuperStorm Sandy rapid response (A) (B) (C)

“Hospital active shooter response programs are essential for healthcare facilities to stay prepared for shootings on their campus or in their communities. Hospitals with the ability to receive patients from an active shooter attack have a responsibility to be prepared.
The new National Fire Protection Association Standard, NFPA 3000: Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, gives details on what that preparedness should look like.
Specifically, chapter 19 of the NFPA 3000 standard describes different aspects of an effective, scalable hospital active shooter program.
John Montes, an NFPA emergency services specialist who helped write NFPA 3000, believes active shooter response plans should be distinct from hospital officials’ general emergency plans.” (D) (E)

“New Jersey Department of Health officials said this week that in addition to an investigation of an outbreak of adenovirus that has killed seven children at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Passaic County, they are investigating four cases of Acinetobacter baumannii in the neonatal intensive care unit of University Hospital in Newark, following the death of a premature baby.” (F) (G)

“Acute flaccid myelitis, the polio-like syndrome leaving some children partially paralyzed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it doesn’t know what’s causing a sudden rise in cases of a frightening, polio-like condition that leaves children paralyzed or with weakened limbs.
The No. 1 suspect had been a virus called enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. In 2014, a wave of cases of acute flaccid myelitis coincided with outbreaks of EV-D68 across the country.” (H)

“New York City on reported its first flu-related death of the season Thursday, and the health department urged everyone over 6 months of age to get a flu shot.” (I)
“Surge” capacity
Mandatory staff vaccinations? (J)

“Scientists have created an artificial intelligence (AI) system that could help treat patients with sepsis by predicting the best treatment strategy.
The system developed by researchers from Imperial College London in the UK analysed the records of about 100,000 hospital patients in intensive care units and every single doctor’s decisions affecting them.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, showed the AI system made more reliable treatment decisions than human doctors.” (K)

“Preparedness for emerging infectious diseases threats saw a marked improvement at U.S. hospitals after an Ebola outbreak scare in 2014, according to a new report from a federal watchdog agency.
The challenge now? Keeping that level of preparedness in the midst of competing priorities.
According to the HHS Office of Inspector General, 71% of hospital administrators reported their facilities were unprepared to receive Ebola patients in 2014. But after scrambling to update emergency plans, train staff to care for patients with emerging infectious diseases (EID), purchasing additional supplies and conducting drills, 86% of administrators said their facilities were prepared in 2017.” (L)

Halloween Health and Safety Tips (M)

Emergency Preparedness and Response, CDC. https://emergency.cdc.gov/planning/index.asp
Emergency Management Resources, The Joint Commission, https://www.jointcommission.org/emergency_management.aspx
Is Your Hospital Prepared? CHA. https://www.calhospitalprepare.org/
Hospital Surge Evaluation Tool https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/hpp/surge/Pages/default.aspx

(A) Five years after Superstorm Sandy, NYC hospitals may be as ready as Houston’s were for Harvey, by Rachel Z. Arndt, https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170909/NEWS/170909889
(B) Hurricane Sandy: A Tale of 2 Hospitals, by Marc Lallanilla, https://www.livescience.com/40734-hurricane-sandy-shorefront-center-coney-island-hospital.html
(C) Bracing for the Worst, https://today.duke.edu/2018/09/bracing-worst
(D) What Hospital Active Shooter Response Programs Should Look Like, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/now-an-ai-system-could-help-treat-patients-with-sepsis-by-predicting-best-treatment-strategy/articleshow/66331925.cms
(E) Children’s Medical Center Dallas boosts ER preparedness with active shooter drills, by by Paige Minemyer, https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/hospitals-health-systems/children-s-health-children-s-medical-center-dallas-active-shooter-training
(F) 8th death reported at North Jersey pediatric care facility, by NICOLE LEONARD, https://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/wellness/deadly-viral-and-bacterial-cases-strike-nj-children-at-health/article_0a4912c9-820f-5890-b2ae-6bcfe558f751.html
(G) STATE TO GIVE FAST TRAINING ON INFECTION CONTROL AT THREE OTHER FACILITIES, by LILO H. STAINTON, https://www.njspotlight.com/stories/18/10/25/state-to-give-fast-training-on-infection-control-at-three-other-facilities/
(H) CDC says polio-like disease is puzzling. These doctors disagree, by Maggie Fox, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/10/afm-polio-like-illness-thats-paralyzing-children/573982/
(I) NYC Health Dept. Announces First Child Flu Death Of Season, https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/10/25/child-flu-death-nyc-department-of-health/
(J) Menu of State Hospital Influenza Vaccination Laws, https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/docs/menu-shfluvacclaws.pdf
(K) Now, an AI system could help treat patients with sepsis by predicting best treatment strategy, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/now-an-ai-system-could-help-treat-patients-with-sepsis-by-predicting-best-treatment-strategy/articleshow/66331925.cms
(L) U.S. hospitals improved infectious disease preparedness in response to Ebola threat, federal watchdog says, by Tina Reed, https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/hospitals-health-systems/u-s-hospitals-performed-well-response-to-ebola-threat-federal-watchdog
(M) https://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/halloween_tips.pdf

We don’t know what we don’t know” (1) The challenge to emergency preparedness….., http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2017/08/we-dont-know-what-we-dont-know-1-the-challenge-to-emergency-preparedness/
“..in a severe (flu) pandemic, the U.S. healthcare system could be overwhelmed in just weeks., http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/01/let-there-be-no-mistake-in-a-severe-flu-pandemic-the-u-s-healthcare-system-could-be-overwhelmed-in-just-weeks/
The new Jersey City Medical Center (2004) was constructed above the 100 year flood plain – then came Sandy, Harvey & Irma, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2017/11/the-new-jersey-city-medical-center-2004-was-constructed-above-the-100-year-flood-plain-then-came-sandy-harvey-irma/

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Nothing is certain but death and taxes, and “preexisting conditions”!

“Healthcare is the top issue for many heading into the midterm elections, and particularly for Democratic voters, according to a new report.
In the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest tracking poll of about 1,200 people, 30% said healthcare was the most important issue in this election. By comparison, 21% said the economy and jobs was their top issue, while 15% said gun laws or immigration were their biggest concerns…
Even with the partisan split, though, healthcare is a hot-button issue. More than 70% of those polled said it was at least “very important” to them in the upcoming election. KFF has “regularly found healthcare among the top issues voters want to hear candidates talk about during their campaigns,” the researchers said.” (A)

“Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in U.S. elections next month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, calling a failed 2017 push to repeal the healthcare law a “disappointment.”
In a forecast of 2019 policy goals tempered by uncertainty about who will win the congressional elections, McConnell also blamed costly social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, for the fast-rising national debt.
On Nov. 6, Americans will vote for candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives.
McConnell’s Republicans now hold majority control of both chambers. Democrats will try to wrest control in races for all 435 House seats and one-third of the 100 Senate seats.
Despite their dominance of Congress and the White House, Republicans dramatically failed last year to overturn former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare. McConnell called it “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”
He said, “If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks… We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”” (B)

“In advertisements, in debates and on the campaign trail, Republican candidates are abandoning their promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act and are swearing that they never voted to undo protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions — and never will….
…Some of the campaign claims have been audacious — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, in a debate this week with his Democratic rival, Representative Beto O’Rourke, said he had never taken aim at pre-existing conditions, even though the “Cruz amendment,” offered during the Senate debate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, expressly permitted insurance companies to offer plans with none of the protections of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, including those for pre-existing conditions.
In the House, dozens of lawmakers who voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act have introduced or signed onto resolutions affirming the importance of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, even though such protections would have been weakened or removed by their votes.” (C)

”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in new remarks Thursday that he backs the Trump administration’s decision to join a lawsuit that would undo Obamacare’s protections for the sick.
“It’s no secret that we preferred to start over,” the Kentucky Republican said about Obamacare, which included new protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. “So no, I don’t fault the administration for trying to give us an opportunity to do this differently and to go in a different direction.”..
The suit could result in all of Obamacare being thrown out, or just its protections banning health insurers from turning away sick people or charging them more. GOP efforts to overhaul Obamacare failed in 2017 after the party fell short by one vote in the Senate…
“Nothing wrong with going to court. Americans do it all the time; we can do it too,” McConnell said…
Adding to the political sensitivity of the issue, the Trump administration did not defend the law in court, but rather agreed with the plaintiffs, though it asked to toss only the rules on pre-existing conditions…
McConnell told Bloomberg that Republican candidates were able to handle the attack ads.
“There’s nobody in the Senate that I’m familiar with who is not in favor of coverage of pre-existing conditions,” he said.” (D)

“For months, Democratic candidates have been running hard on health care, while Republicans have said little about it. In a sign of the issue’s potency, Republicans are now playing defense, releasing a wave of ads promising they will preserve protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.
The ads omit the fact that the protections were a central feature of the Affordable Care Act and that the Republican Party has worked unceasingly to repeal the law, through legislation and lawsuits.
Republicans in Congress have recently come forward with limited legislative proposals to ensure some pre-existing conditions protections if the health law is overturned. One, a House resolution, would have no force of law, even if adopted. The other would contain a significant loophole: Insurers would have to cover those with pre-existing illnesses, but would not have to cover care for those particular illnesses. (Neither is on track to become law.)..
Protection of pre-existing conditions is popular, and surveys suggest that voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on health care. A few months ago, Republican candidates were happy to focus their messages elsewhere — on the economy, or immigration policy. They are now defending themselves on less friendly territory.” (E)

“Simply put, protecting preexisting conditions is really popular. In its most recent poll, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 75 percent of Americans say it’s very important to them that the rule prohibiting insurers from denying people coverage remain law.
You’ll notice independent voters overwhelmingly support that provision and the ban on charging people more based on their medical history. That has to be the most worrying finding for GOP candidates, especially in races that are likely to be determined by swing voters.
Yet even a majority of Republicans support those ideas in this poll. Some minds might genuinely be changing about preexisting conditions. Last year’s Obamacare repeal fight really brought this issue to the fore, and people might be reassessing their prior beliefs.
But that’s what makes the Republican position so perplexing. Rather than simply concede Obamacare has solved an important problem and proposing ways to improve it, they want to maintain total opposition to the ACA while also claiming they support the most popular parts of the law…
The politics of health care, so advantageous to Republicans for most of this decade, have been turned upside-down in 2018. No single issue makes that more clear than preexisting conditions and the Republican contortions to counter the Democratic attacks against them.” (F)

“Republicans have released legislation that would amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to require insurance companies to sell plans to people with pre-existing conditions and not charge them more because they have been, or are, sick. Insurers, however, would be able to deny coverage for specific illnesses. In other words, insurers would have to sell coverage plans to people with pre-existing conditions, say diabetes, but would not have to cover their diabetes. Insurance companies could also increase premiums based on age, gender, or occupation.
Another Republican approach, discussed during the “repeal and replace” debate, would make available subsidized plans, such as the ACA, but increase premiums over time if individuals failed to purchase them at the outset. In theory, healthy individuals would jump into the pool to avoid paying a penalty at a later date. This is an approach used under Medicare Part B, a voluntary program that covers outpatient services, that has been fairly effective and politically acceptable.
Whether it would work outside of Medicare and avoid the need for more intrusive government intervention remains to be seen. The elderly are much more likely to feel that they need insurance and to respond to incentives to get it earlier rather than later, while younger, healthier people may be more reluctant to buy and then end up priced out of the insurance market.” (G)

“But in our distorted political combat, “pre-existing conditions” is standing in for “access to affordable health insurance.” The real crux of the Republican assault on the ACA last year was shrinking support for the poor and near-poor. The ACA repeal bill that passed the House in May 2017 would have rolled back the Medicaid expansion, reducing Medicaid enrollment by 14 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would have slow-strangled federal funding for all Medicaid programs, which cover 75 million Americans. It would have eliminated the Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies that make coverage affordable for more than 5 million enrollees in the ACA marketplaces, raising their deductibles by thousands of dollars.
Democrats are fighting first and foremost to protect insurance access for low-income Americans, but they’re focusing on the more relatable goal of protecting access for people with medical conditions. Is this the most effective way to hold Republicans accountable for their efforts to uninsure tens of millions? Maybe you go to war with the spear your opponent hands you.” (H)

“President Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking to conservatives at a private dinner on Wednesday night, said the administration had no plans to touch large entitlement programs, but would address deficits by going after Obamacare, adding work requirements to smaller entitlement programs, and spurring economic growth…
“We have no plans to tackle the large entitlement programs,” Kudlow acknowledged, referring to Medicare and Social Security. But he went on to explain three ways be believed the Trump administration would address deficits, including by targeting Obamacare.
His comments come as Democrats, on offense on the healthcare issue during the 2018 midterm elections, are seizing on comments made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the importance of addressing entitlements and of his willingness to have another go at repealing Obamacare if he has the votes.” (I)

(A) Healthcare remains a top issue for voters as midterms approach, KFF says, by Paige Minemyer, https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payer/healthcare-top-issue-for-voters-kff-says-mcconnell-another-aca-repeal-attempt-possible
(B) McConnell says Senate Republicans might revisit Obamacare repeal, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/17/mcconnell-says-senate-republicans-might-revisit-obamacare-repeal.html
(C) Republican Candidates Soften Tone on Health Care as Their Leaders Dig In, by Catie Edmondson, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/us/politics/republicans-health-care-pre-existing-conditions.html
(D) Mitch McConnell defends Trump administration’s anti-Obamacare lawsuit, by Kimberly Leonard, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/healthcare/mitch-mcconnell-defends-trump-administrations-anti-obamacare-lawsuit
(E) Republicans Are Suddenly Running Ads on Pre-existing Conditions. But How Accurate Are They?, by Margot Sanger-Katz, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/upshot/republicans-health-care-ads-midterms.html
(F) The real Republican record on preexisting conditions: GOP is trying to roll back protections, byBy Dylan Scott, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/10/11/17955688/2018-midterm-elections-preexisting-conditions-obamacare
(G) Coverage for pre-existing conditions lives on, even though the Affordable Care Act seemed doomed, by DAVID BLUMENTHAL, https://www.statnews.com/2018/10/10/coverage-preexisting-conditions-lives-on-aca/
(H) Republicans hand Democrats an election-year gift on health care and it’s a winner, by Andrew Sprung, https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/10/09/republicans-gave-democrats-health-care-winner-2018-election-column/1437280002/
(I) Larry Kudlow: ‘We’ll continue to go after Obamacare’ but won’t touch big entitlements, by Philip Klein, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/trump-adviser-larry-kudlow-well-continue-to-go-after-obamacare-but-wont-touch-big-entitlements

CONSULTANTS are the one big winner of the Obamacare wars, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/07/consultants-are-the-one-big-winner-of-the-obamacare-wars/
“This would appear to be Republicans’ last-ditch attempt (well, their latest last-ditch attempt) to repeal Obamacare.”, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/this-would-appear-to-be-republicans-last-ditch-attempt-well-their-latest-last-ditch-attempt-to-repeal-obamacare/
From REPEAL & REPLACE to WRECK & REJOICE (from Obamacare to Trumpcare), http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/04/from-repeal-replace-to-wreck-rejoice-from-obamacare-to-trumpcare/
“It leaves us with two laws… Call the first one Obamacare… Call the second one Trumpcare”, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2017/12/it-leaves-us-with-two-laws-call-the-first-one-obamacare-call-the-second-one-trumpcare/

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“The youngest child to come before the bench in federal immigration courtroom No. 14 was so small she had to be lifted into the chair…


“Even the judge in her black robes breathed a soft “aww” as her latest case perched on the brown leather.
Her feet stuck out from the seat in small gray sneakers, her legs too short to dangle. Her fists were stuffed under her knees. As soon as the caseworker who had sat her there turned to go, she let out a whimper that rose to a thin howl, her crumpled face a bursting dam.
The girl, Fernanda Jacqueline Davila, was 2 years old: brief life, long journey. The caseworker, a big-boned man from the shelter that had been contracted to raise her since she was taken from her grandmother at the border in late July, was the only person in the room she had met before that day.
“How old are you?” the judge asked, after she had motioned for the caseworker to return to Fernanda’s side and the tears had stopped. “Do you speak Spanish?”
… there are more children showing up more often to federal immigration courtrooms like Judge Zagzoug’s, at hearings that could determine whether they will be deported, reunited with their parents, or granted the asylum that their parents desperately want for them. They often sit at counsel tables alone, unaccompanied by any family and sometimes without even a lawyer.” (A)

“ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said Immigration and Customs Enforcement isn’t always providing advance notice before sending children back to their parents in Central America. That means the children end up stranded in airports, with their parents sometimes days away in distant villages.
Gelernt said ICE flew a five-year-old boy to Guatemala City without notifying the ACLU or the parents, so he would have to “spend the night in a strange shelter.” (B)

“A top Health and Human Services official told Congress on Tuesday that he and others repeatedly warned the Trump administration that its policy of separating immigrant families apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border would not be in “the best interest of the child.”
“During the deliberative process over the previous year, we raised a number of concerns in the (Office of Refugee Resettlement) program about any policy which would result in family separation due to concerns we had about the best interest of the child as well as about whether that would be operationally supportable with the bed capacity that we have,” Jonathan White, with the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing…
The latest number of immigrant children who remain in detention and apart from their parents stands at 711, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The parents of 431 of those kids have already been deported, while the parents of 120 children waived their right to reunify with them. Sixty-seven other children had parents or guardians that raised a ‘red flag’ about their fitness for the child following background checks.” (C)

“The Department of Homeland Security was not ready to carry out the Trump administration’s family separation policy, and some of the government’s practices made the problem worse, according to a report issued Tuesday by the department’s inspector general…
“DHS was not fully prepared to implement the administration’s zero-tolerance policy or to deal with some of its after-effects,” said John Kelly, the acting inspector general.
Tuesday’s report said Customs and Border Protection held children for long periods in facilities intended to be used for only short terms, lacked the ability to reliably track children separated from their parents, and in some cases failed to adequately inform parents about the separation policy…
Computer systems used by CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lacked the ability to share data about parents whose children were separated from them. And those systems were not integrated with the resettlement agency…
In a separate DHS inspector general report dated September 27, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, a detention center housing up to 1,940 ICE detainees in California, was cited for serious violations including nooses found hanging in detainee cells, “improper and overly restrictive segregation,” and “untimely and inadequate medical care.” “ (D)

“ICE agents detaining children needing emergency care, targeting immigrants visiting sick family members and deporting patients as they exit hospitals are putting healthcare workers in precarious positions. Some are finding their professional purpose compromised by federal immigration policies and fear patient health will suffer.
A recent survey from the advocacy group Children’s Partnership found about 40% of immigrant patients in California are skipping appointments and scheduling fewer visits with their providers for fear of confrontation with ICE. One recent study of 545 Mexican women in the United States concluded that fear of deportation could be a cardiovascular risk factor for the country’s ethnic minorities…
The American Hospital Association does not have a specific policy on the removal, detainment or apprehension of immigrant patients from medical facilities, so hospitals have largely been navigating their own way through murky immigration laws…
As a law enforcement body, ICE must go through a subpoena process to get a patient’s information. But what happens when ICE agents camp on hospital property while a person of interest is being treated, as was the case with a critically ill woman from El Salvador who last year was bound in her wheelchair by federal agents who moved her from the Texas hospital where she was awaiting emergency brain tumor surgery and into a detention center?” (E)

“The U.S. government has deported hundreds of migrant parents without their children in the aftermath of President Trump’s now-defunct family separation policy. But now administration officials are arguing that it’s the responsibility of the American Civil Liberties Union, not the federal government, to find those deported mothers and fathers.
Justice Department lawyers wrote in a court filing Thursday that the ACLU should use its “considerable resources,” its network of advocacy groups, and information from the government to locate parents removed to foreign countries. The Trump administration added, however, that the State Department has made contact with foreign governments to assist in facilitating family reunions…
ACLU lawyers pushed back against the Trump administration’s demands to find the deported parents, saying that they will do “whatever they can” but that the government must bear the ultimate burden.
The government told a federal court judge that non-profit groups, rather than government officials, should take the lead in reunifying immigrant families…
The ACLU wrote that “there is no blueprint for finding deported parents,” who are scattered in various cities across Central America and who, in many cases, left behind minimal address information.” (F)

“In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.
Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases…
But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited…
The camp in Tornillo operates like a small, pop-up city, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexico border, complete with portable toilets. Air-conditioned tents that vary in size are used for housing, recreation and medical care. Originally opened in June for 30 days with a capacity of 400, it expanded in September to be able to house 3,800, and is now expected to remain open at least through the end of the year.” …
The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training.
The tent city in Tornillo, on the other hand, is unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, schooling is not required there, as it is in regular migrant children shelters…
The longer that children remain in custody, the more likely they are to become anxious or depressed, which can lead to violent outbursts or escape attempts, according to shelter workers and reports that have emerged from the system in recent months.” (G)

“It doesn’t take a psychologist to understand that ripping children from their beds in the middle of the night, tearing them from anyone they’ve forged a connection with, and thrusting them into uncertainty could damage them…How to best handle the cases of unaccompanied minors has perplexed authorities since the Obama administration. But the current crowding is not a result of some sharp increase in children stealing across the border — the influx is no greater now than it has been for the past two years.
Instead, the Trump administration’s own draconian policies are to blame. Around the same time that it began separating immigrant children from their parents as they crossed into the United States, the Department of Homeland Security also established strict requirements for the relatives and friends who might care for these children while their cases are sorted out. Prospective sponsors are now required to submit fingerprints, and to share their information with federal immigration officers. Because most of them are undocumented immigrants themselves, they have been scared off by these requirements. And with good cause: Dozens of applicants who took the chance of applying to be sponsors have been arrested on immigration charges. As would-be sponsors shrink away, more children are stranded in federal custody”… (H)

“Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, says a federal watchdog agency that found a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted.
A report released Monday by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office found that about 1 in 3 foster kids from a sample of states were prescribed psychiatric drugs without treatment plans or follow-up, standard steps in sound medical care.
Kids getting mood-altering drugs they don’t need is only part of the problem. Investigators also said children who need medication to help them function at school or get along in social settings may be going untreated.
The drugs include medications for attention deficit disorder, anxiety, PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Foster kids are much more likely to get psychiatric drugs than children overall.
“We are worried about the gap in compliance because it has an immediate, real-world impact on children’s lives,” said Ann Maxwell, an assistant inspector general.” (I)

“Traditionally, most sponsors have been undocumented themselves, and therefore are wary of risking deportation by stepping forward to claim sponsorship of a child. Even those who are willing to become sponsors have had to wait months to be fingerprinted and otherwise reviewed.
Federal officials say their vetting procedures are designed to safeguard the children in their care.
“Children who enter the country illegally are at high risk for exploitation by traffickers and smugglers,” Ms. Stauffer said in her statement.
But the longer children are detained, the more anxious and depressed they are likely to become, according to Mr. Greenberg, who oversaw the program under Mr. Obama. When that happens, children may try to harm themselves or escape, and can become violent with the staff and with one another, he said.
Stories of such behavior have emerged through reporting in recent months as the shelter system has faced intense criticism by members of Congress and the public…
The separated children injected a new degree of chaos into the facilities, according to several shelter operators, who spoke anonymously because they are barred by the government from speaking to the news media. The children were younger and more traumatized than those the shelters were used to dealing with, and they arrived without a plan for when they could be released or to whom.” (J)

“These are kids who fled some of the most violent countries in the world. Many have experienced trauma … rape, robbery, all kinds of exploitation,” said Bob Carey, who ran the HHS office overseeing child detention at the end of the Obama administration.
“The question I would ask is, are measures legitimately enhancing the security situation?” added Carey, who’s now a leadership and government fellow with the Open Society Foundations. “The ultimate security is not releasing any child to a sponsor, because then nothing would happen to them. But how much harm are you causing by keeping kids in custody indefinitely in settings that were never designed for that?”
In September 2017, then-ICE acting Director Tom Homan said at a public event that his agency would arrest undocumented people who came forward to care for the children.
“You cannot hide in the shadows,” Homan said at a Washington border security event, adding that parents should be “shoulder-to-shoulder” with their children in court. “We’re going to put the parents in proceedings, immigration proceedings, at a minimum. … Is that cruel? I don’t think so.” (K)

“Deep within the fine print of a newly proposed federal rule change is an admission of its disastrous health consequences. The Department of Homeland Security’s plan would deny legal immigrants permanent residency status if they accept government assistance to which they are entitled, allegedly an effort to “promote immigrant self-sufficiency” and ensure “they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers” or “public charges.”
But the certain collateral damage of this misguided policy, which greatly expands an existing principle to make its application downright punitive, reveals it’s not about promoting self-sufficiency at all.
In describing the impact of this effort, the Department of Homeland Security states, “Disenrollment or foregoing enrollment…by aliens otherwise eligible for these programs could lead to:
“Worse health outcomes, including prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants or children…
“Increased use of emergency rooms and emergency care as a method of primary health care due to delayed treatment
“Increased prevalence of communicable diseases, including among members of the U.S. citizen population who are not vaccinated.”..
The rule change, if implemented, will cause legal immigrants, their spouses and children, including U.S. citizens, to withdraw from government assistance programs out of fear that it would endanger the chances for a family member to obtain a green card and become a legal permanent resident. Washington will, in effect, force individuals to choose between their welfare and a family member’s legal residency status…
Some children will not receive necessary vaccines, making them susceptible to preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, Hepatitis A and B, and polio. Illnesses will not be addressed when they are easily treatable. Without proper prenatal and perinatal care, there will be an increase in birth complications.” (L)

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” President Trump said on June 20, when he signed an executive order halting his administration’s depraved practice of separating migrant children from parents seeking asylum at the nation’s southern border. “This will solve that problem.”..
With its zero-tolerance barbarism, the Trump administration managed to do an impressive amount of damage in a very short time. In the six weeks the policy was in effect, more than 2,600 children were taken from their parents, with zero thought or planning for how the families might eventually be reunited…
Predictably, the Trump administration has shown less enthusiasm for cleaning up this mess than it did for making it. Earlier this summer, it tried to weasel out of a big chunk of its reunification responsibilities by asserting that it was the A.C.L.U.’s job to locate all of the parents who had been deported by the administration without their children. Once again, Judge Sabraw had to step in and call foul, ordering that the government coordinate with the A.C.L.U.
Complicating matters, the administration has decreed that reunifications must take place in the family’s country of origin. Which means that, once contacted, parents face an excruciating choice: give up their children’s asylum claims and have them returned home, or leave the children in the United States to try to navigate the asylum process on their own.” (M)

“The Trump administration wants to change how the government defines who is or is likely to become a “public charge.” The Department of Homeland Security released a draft regulation on Sept. 22, in which it proposed that any immigrant who is likely to use or who has already used Medicaid, public housing or a rent voucher, cash assistance or food stamps could be barred from the country or kept from getting permanent resident status.
The proposed rule change is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s hostility to immigrants. But it’s also about more than that. The administration would remake the idea of self-sufficiency, admitting only those who never need to turn to the public safety net, but instead rely solely on “their own capabilities” or the resources of their families and private charity. It even asserts that people who use public programs “in a relatively small amount or for a relatively short duration” are still considered dependent on the welfare state.
This redefinition of self-sufficiency ignores the way that most people use these programs. Even people with jobs often cycle on and off assistance as work comes and goes, or to plug the gaps when it just doesn’t pay enough. These programs allow people to remain healthy and solvent — supporting their independence. This rule therefore hurts everyone, not just immigrants, by stigmatizing the safety net funded by all of us to help people survive when they fall on hard times.” (N)

“Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras…
Helen had been brought to Baytown, a shelter run by Baptist Child & Family Services, which the federal government had contracted to house unaccompanied minors…
..in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.
An uncounted number of separated children in shelters and foster care fall outside the lawsuit’s current purview—including many like Helen, who arrived with a grandparent or other guardian, rather than with a parent. Many such children have been misclassified, in government paperwork, as “unaccompanied minors,” due to a sloppy process that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General recently critiqued. Chavez believes that, through misclassification, many kids have largely disappeared from public view, and from official statistics, with the federal government showing little urgency to hasten reunifications…. “(O)

Next Episode:
The Trump administration is mulling plans to renew family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the number of migrant families entering the country illegally has skyrocketed in recent months.
One policy under consideration would be to give asylum-seeking parents a “binary choice” after spending 20 days in detention with their families: either stay in a detention center for months or years awaiting an immigration trial, or allow children to be taken to government shelters while other relatives try to seek custody for them. The Washington Post first reported that this option was being considered…
The option to give families a choice about staying together was endorsed by the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union in a court filing in July. The motion stated that if a parent chose to stay with their children, the parent would waive the child’s “rights with regard to placement in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the minor’s age and special needs.” If a parent did not make any decision, the motion said that the government would keep the family detained together.” (P)

(A) Migrant Children in Search of Justice: A 2-Year-Old’s Day in Immigration Court, by Vivian Yee and Miriam Jordan, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/us/migrant-children-family-separation-court.html
(B) (B) More Than 200 Immigrant Children Remain Separated From Their Parents, by Jean Guerrero, https://www.kpbs.org/news/2018/oct/09/more-200-immigrant-children-remain-separated-their/
(C) (C) Top HHS official warned Trump administration against separating immigrant families, by Eliza Collins, Alan Gomez, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/31/trump-administration-official-warned-family-separations/874963002/
(D) (D) DHS not prepared for family separations under Trump zero tolerance policy, watchdog finds, by Pete Williams and Jacob Soboroff, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/dhs-not-prepared-family-separations-under-trump-zero-tolerance-policy-n915916(
(E) When ICE comes knocking, healthcare workers want to be prepared, by Tony Abraham, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/when-ice-comes-knocking-healthcare-workers-want-to-be-prepared/531058/
(F) (F) Trump administration puts burden on ACLU to find deported parents separated from children, by Samantha Schmidt, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/08/03/trump-administration-puts-burden-on-aclu-to-find-deported-parents-separated-from-children/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d4c8f475919f
(G) Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City, by Caitlin Dickerson, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/30/us/migrant-children-tent-city-texas.html
(H) Hundreds of Children Rot in the Desert. End Trump’s Draconian Policies. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/opinion/migrant-children-tent-city-texas.html
(I) Thousands of foster children may be getting psychiatric drugs without safeguards, watchdog agency says, by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, https://www.statnews.com/2018/09/17/thousands-of-foster-children-may-be-getting-psychiatric-drugs-without-safeguards-watchdog-agency-says/?utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=fab0f6340f-MR_COPY_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-fab0f6340f-149527969
(J) Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever, by Mike Blake, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/migrant-children-detention.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top
(K) ICE arrested undocumented immigrants who came forward to take in undocumented children, by Tal Kopan, https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/20/politics/ice-arrested-immigrants-sponsor-children/index.html
(L) One sick immigration rule: The ‘public charge’ regulation will make America less healthy, by KENNETH L. DAVIS, http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-one-sick-immigration-rule-20181009-story.html
(M) The Continuing Tragedy of the Separated Children, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/30/opinion/family-separation-trump-zero-tolerance.html
(N) (N) Trump Wants to Turn the Safety Net Into a Trap, by By Bryce Covert, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/opinion/trump-wants-to-turn-the-safety-net-into-a-trap.html
(O) The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights, by Sarah Stillman, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-five-year-old-who-was-detained-at-the-border-and-convinced-to-sign-away-her-rights?mbid=nl_Daily%20101218&CNDID=50144682&utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20101218&utm_content=&spMailingID=14422852&spUserID=MjAxODUyNTc3Mjk4S0&spJobID=1500966416&spReportId=MTUwMDk2NjQxNgS2
(P) Trump administration considering new family separation policy for undocumented immigrants, by GRACE SEGERS, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-administration-considering-new-family-separation-policy-for-undocumented-immigrants/

..The HHS needs to review thousands of case files by hand for clues to which children were taken from their parents…

“Most immigrants facing deportation wouldn’t climb onto a table during their court hearings. But then again, most 3-year-olds don’t go to court without parents or lawyers.

“President Trump has moved on from caring about the migrant children in cages

“Only a dead heart is unstirred by the intentional infliction of suffering on children and babies as a weapon of deterrence.”

“In 6 Days, Trump Admin Reunited Only 6 Immigrant Children With Their Families”, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/in-6-days-trump-admin-reunited-only-6-immigrant-children-with-their-families/

“…the only way parents can quickly be reunited with their children is to drop their claims for asylum… and agree to be deported.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the government was starting to
“run out of space” to house people apprehended crossing the border

Trump’s policy “could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S.”, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/trumps-policy-could-be-creating-thousands-of-immigrant-orphans-in-the-u-s/

Tender-Age Immigrant Children. “They need bilingual workers. Some kids speak indigenous languages, so that’s an issue as well. http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/tender-age-immigrant-children-they-need-bilingual-workers-some-kids-speak-indigenous-languages-so-thats-an-issue-as-well/

“The idea of pulling a child out of a parent’s arms, or identifying a parent but still keeping them separate—it isn’t right.”

“The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is not a multimillion-dollar business. It’s a billion-dollar one…

“If it could happen to them…why can’t it happen to us?”…separating children from their parents,

“…Trump’s (family separation) policy amounts to “government-sanctioned child abuse.””,

“The Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border will have a dire impact on their health, both now and into the future.” (C)

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DON’T DEPEND ON ANYONE ELSE TO BRING THE COFFEE! & other Lessons Learned as a junior hospital CEO back in the day….

“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

Vignette 1
One summer Friday early afternoon I was in my car heading off for the weekend when the New Jersey Commissioner of Health called and told me he was closing the Jersey City Medical Center Trauma Center for failure to get renewed State approval.
Our new Trauma Service Director had told me that we were at risk for non-approval so we should have an American College of Surgeons consultation visit before the ACS certificationvisit, a prerequisite for State approval. But apparently he did not know that State approval had an absolute re-approval date of three years no matter what preparatory steps we chose to take.
The call was on the re-approval deadline date so the Commissioner shut the TC down but the radio stations said the ER was shut down, making the matter even worse.
To make a long story short, we got approval to reopen the TC on Monday after an early morning compliance visit by the State, and three months to get re-approval. Which we did with no contingencies, conditions or recommendations.
And what would you do about the Trauma Service Director?

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford

Vignette 2
Bariatric Surgery was the rage and our new Chairman of Surgery said we had to be in the game. So he recruited a team of bariatric surgeons to branch out to Jersey City Medical Center, and spent time at their home base training to be an Assistant Bariatric Surgeon (and thus able to bill for this role).
We staffed up, lots of prospective patients came to orientations, but no cases were ever done. Why? The prospective patients were mostly our own employees who “chose”, we were told, to have the surgery at the team’s home base for “privacy concerns.” So we not only paid for the programs fixed costs but also for the insurance impact when our employees had the surgery elsewhere.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Vignette 3
Each of our three hospitals had different protocols to avoid “wrong site/ wrong side” surgery (e.g., a wrong kidney removal actually happened). Some surgeons operated at 2 or 3 of our hospitals (as well as at other non-system hospitals) and thus had to navigate the different protocols. We called a meeting to establish one standard protocol for our system, to be approved by each hospital’s medical staff.
Only to find out months later that our two community hospital medical staffs amended the protocol rather than simply adopt it. So as CEO of all three hospitals I mandated the standard protocol, it rose to the level of the Boards of Trustees, but common sense prevailed.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

Vignette 4
Three full time Chairmen told me they were in the final stages of building a free-standing surgi-center a half mile away from the hospital, and that the previous President had promised to buy it. Nothing in writing. I demurred. So they partnered with two competing hospitals. One Wednesday morning I went to a Chamber of Commerce showcase event only to find the three Chairman at their surgi-center booth. All three ran residency training programs and Wednesday was Grand Rounds for all three. They told me they were using vacation time. I said that was not appropriate. They said it was none of my business. I told each of them they had a choice, either sell their shares of the surgi-center or be fired. Two sold, one “left” and took his residents with him to one of the competing hospitals.

Vignette 5
The Mystery of the Hospital CLAUSTROPHOBIA CLUSTER
Recently a friend was told by his doctor he needed an MRI and said that he could get it at the hospital on the campus where the doctor’s office was located, or at a private imaging center two blocks away.
This reminded me of the mystery of the Claustrophobia Cluster about twenty-five years ago, in Greenville Hospital, a member hospital of LibertyHealth.
Our Teaching Hospital, Jersey City Medical Center had just acquired a new state-of-the-art MRI, GH was only a little over a mile away, there was an MRI transfer protocol in place, and we ran a robust county-wide EMS transport system.
But almost every insured patient at GH who needed an MRI was referred to a “private” free-standing Imaging Center due to CLAUSTROPHOBIA. Somehow, also mysteriously, Medicaid patients and the uninsured made it to JCMC.
The problem was compounded by the fact that we were under a DRG reimbursement system where we got reimbursed an all-inclusive rate for every diagnosis, and had to pay for “outside” MRIs out of that bundled payment. These very expensive outside MRIs often meant that GH and the system lost money on many of these patients.
Whichever entity provides the service tacks on a Facilities Fee to the professional fee charged, for example, by a radiologist.
This raises the question of whether self-referral is a purely clinical recommendation or might “ownership” and the Facilities Fee be an influence.
We never solved the CLAUSTROPHOBIA CLUSTER mystery, because the outside MRI was buried in a myriad of corporations, although we felt somewhere this was the case of physicians referring patients to a facility they owned.
But it ended as mysteriously as it started when we started tracking referrals.

Vignette 6
The DOH issued a CN “call” for inpatient rehabilitation beds. This was an excellent opportunity for Meadowlands Hospital with all single bedded rooms and flagging admissions.
The Meadowlands medical staff wanted a patient care model where any physician could admit to the rehab unit and the physiatrist was a consultant. The best practice at academic medical centers as well as rehab hospitals in New Jersey was a “closed unit” where the physiatrist managed the patients and other physicians could consult on other medical conditions such as COPD, UTI, and coronary disease.
This was not a battle over best patient care but a battle over money. We adopted the “closed unit” model but the major Meadowlands attending staff members punished Liberty by never referring patients to Jersey City Medical Center, the closest tertiary care hospital, again unless they were uninsured.
Parenthetically two MH urologists covered the Urology Clinic at JCMC. Patients with insurance were transferred to MH for surgery while those without insurance were treated medically at JCMC. When the urologists were fired MH/ JCMC animosity increased.

Vignette 7
Jersey City Medical Center had “free-standing” residency training programs in medicine, obs/gyn, and pediatrics. After JCMC became a teaching affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine the programs could be either be affiliated, sponsored, or integrated. “Affiliated” was a euphemism for “free-standing”, “sponsored” meant over sight by the Mount Sinai Dean for Graduate Medical Education, and “integrated” was the “gold standard” or one set of residents rotating between Mount Sinai, JCMC and other Mount Sinai affiliated hospitals.
Our chiefs wanted “affiliated” so no one would be looking over their shoulders but I mandated “sponsored” as a step toward “integrated.”

Vignette 8
In the early 1990’s Jersey City Medical Center was the only hospital in Hudson County to have a diagnostic cardiac catheterization lab. Interventional cardiac catheterization was highly regulated with on-site cardiac surgery back-up required, so there were no interventional labs in the County.

When I was a member of the State Health Planning Board, DOH staff were against a hospital in Trenton getting a CN for open heart surgery, and just assumed the Board would agree. Under-the-radar we garnered support for the application and to the amazement of the DOH staff, it was approved – setting the stage for JCMC in the future.

Then the New Jersey Department of Health issued a Certificate of Need “call’ for a demonstration project allowing a handful of community hospitals to have cath labs for primary angioplasty without cardiac back up, but each applicant had to have a transfer agreement for elective angioplasties. Nearby Bayonne Hospital put in an application including an agreement with JCMC for patient transfers, so we provided a letter of support and together we lobbied the DOH. We were trying to position JCMC as a referral center so we could apply for cardiac surgery, anticipating a “call” down the road. Bayonne got its cath lab and then immediately sign a new transfer agreement with a hospital in Newark.

Later the DOH essentially deregulated primary cath labs and in a period of about one year over 20 new cath labs opened across the State, including three in Hudson County, one being at Meadowlands Hospital. I was against the MH lab but the parent Liberty Board supported the MH Board. Most of the new labs closed within a few years, including all three in Hudson County.

In 1999 JCMC had the opportunity to apply for a CN to start a cardiac surgery program. Everyone on the senior staff was against it except for the CMO. The CFO may and end run to the Board, and the Board chairman told me it was my decision but my “job was on the line.”
We were in the process of building a total replacement hospital on a new site. It was impossible to become a Top Tier New Jersey Hospital without cardiac surgery/ interventional cardiology.
The payer mix at the old hospital was 70% Medicaid/ Charity Care/ self-pay.
We opened the cardiac surgery program at the new JCMC just two months before the CN expired.
Several factors helped the program and saved my job. The American College of Cardiology protocol channeled many insured patients to JCMC mostly those candidates for stenting within the one hour “golden” hour (only JCMC did stenting then). The cardiac surgery payer mix eventually becoming 75% insured, 25% Medicaid, uninsured.

“Cardiac department at Jersey City Medical Center reaches milestone with 503rd open-heart surgery, looks to future expansion.” Saturday, April 09, 2011 By RHEA MAHBUBANI, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
“Although each surgery costs between $30,000 and $50,000, there has been a constant demand for both elective and emergency operations. On most days, the cardiac surgery team can expect one such four-to-five hour procedure, while some days bring none and others, two or three.
The first 500 operations were representative of the efforts being made to establish a high-quality program, which could serve as a backbone for the Hudson community, they said.
Having reached nearly 550 surgeries by late-March, the team is no longer focused on simply the basic, daily functioning of their department. “Now its time to start expanding,” “

Vignette 9
Three baseball umpires are at a continuing education program on Barbados, the subject “What’s a ball, and what’s a strike?” The rookie umpire says “There are balls, and there are strikes and I call them as they are.” The mid-career umpire says: “There are balls, and there are strikes and I call them as I see them.” The veteran umpire, about to retires, says” “There are balls, and there are strikes and they ain’t nothing ‘til I call them.” (source unknown)

Vignette 10
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. (Donald Rumsfeld)

Vignette 11
“Don’t depend on anyone else to bring the coffee! There’s nothing worse than starting the day at a meeting where they don’t provide coffee. It’s better to have two cups than none.”
I started every new course with this “early morning meeting” aphorism. But students took this as something much more “strategic” and started using it in presentations, papers etc. as a metaphor.
What do you think they were thinking?

“I made a lot of mistakes in my time but didn’t waste any time making them.”
(attributed to Gustave Levy, Goldman Sachs)

“TRUST, BUT VERIFY.” (Ronald Reagan)

“If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.” (Arthur Goldberg)

“Never, never, never give up.” (Winston Churchill)

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DISCLOSURE. I am a member and Interim Chairman of the IRB* at Stevens Institute of Technology.

“There are many varieties of conflicts of interest, and they appear in different settings and across all disciplines. While conflicts of interest apply to a “wide range of behaviors and circumstances,” they all involve the use of a person’s authority for personal and/or financial gain. Conflicts of interest may involve individuals as well as institutions. Furthermore, individuals, in certain circumstances, may have conflicts occurring on both an individual and an institutional level, as may be seen among members of an Institutional Review Board (IRB).
Conflicts of interest are broadly divided into two categories: intangible, i.e., those involving academic activities and scholarship; and tangible, i.e., those involving financial relationships.” (A)

“In an article in the May 2014 issue of Compliance Today, Bill Sacks, Vice President and co-founder of HCCS, a HealthStream company, describes how new NIH regulations are forcing academic medical centers (AMCs) to examine and update their conflict-of-interest policies. He lists the 15 best practices for management of conflicts of interest that have been proposed by the Pew Charitable Trust and discusses how some of these recommendations are enjoying wide acceptance, as others are being met by serious objections. The Pew “Best Practice” recommendations are summarized below.
1. No gifts or meals should be accepted from industry sales representatives…
2. Faculty must disclose all conflicts of interest. All academic medical centers must have a process in place to manage conflict of interest (COI) disclosures.
3. Industry-funded speaking should not be allowed…
4. Industry-funding of continuing medical education (CME) should be severely limited or prohibited…
5. Faculty, students, and trainees should not attend industry-supported promotional or educational events…
6. Limit or prohibit pharmaceutical sales representative access in academic medical centers…
7. Limit medical device representative presence in academic medical centers to what is necessary…
8. Conflict-of-interest education should be required for all clinical staff and students
9. Conflict-of-interest policies should apply to everyone with a relationship to the academic medical center—paid, volunteering, affiliated, etc…
10. Industry-supported clinical fellowships should be available for scientific training only…
11. Ghostwriting and honorary authorship are strictly prohibited…
12. …Consulting arrangements must require written contracts with clear deliverables, to ensure that inappropriate payments are not involved…
13. Consulting relationships for marketing purposes are prohibited.
14. Pharmaceutical samples can be accepted and used only when they don’t become marketing tools.
15. Members of pharmacy and therapeutics committee cannot vote on formulary or treatment changes involving a company or product in which they have a financial interest… (B)

“Open Payments gives the public more information about the financial relationships between physicians and teaching hospitals and applicable manufacturers and GPOs. Specifically, the program:
Encourages transparency about these financial ties
Provides information on the nature and extent of the relationships
Helps to identify relationships that can both lead to the development of beneficial new technologies and wasteful healthcare spending
Helps to prevent inappropriate influence on research, education and clinical decision making. (C)

“Community Catalyst offers this Policy Guide to Academic Medical Centers and Medical Schools to assist leaders, faculty, staff and medical students in successfully adopting and improving policies to address conflicts of interest and interactions with the pharmaceutical and device industries. Policies such as these and their effective implementation are of critical importance to the integrity of medical education and patient care…
Toolkit on Transparency and Disclosure. Toolkit on Relations with Sales Representatives. Toolkit on Promotional Speaking. Toolkit on Continuing Medical Education. Toolkit on Ghostwriting and Name-Lending. Toolkit on Samples. Toolkit on Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committees. Toolkit on COI Policy Implementation. Conflict of Interest Curriculum Toolkit (D)

“Papers in medical journals go through rigorous peer review and meticulous data analysis.
Yet many of these articles are missing a key piece of information: the financial ties of the authors.
Nearly two-thirds of the 100 physicians who rake in the most money from 10 device manufacturers failed to disclose a conflict of interest in their academic writing in 2016, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery.
The omission can have real-life impact for patients when their doctors rely on such research to make medical decisions, potentially without knowing the authors’ potential conflicts of interest…
They did this by sampling 10 large surgical and medical device manufacturers. This list includes Medtronic, Stryker Corp., Intuitive Surgical, Covidien, Edwards Lifesciences Corp., Ethicon, Olympus Corp., W.L. Gore & Associates, LifeCell Corp. and Baxter Healthcare.
The researchers also pinpointed the 10 physicians who received the highest compensation from each company. They then searched for articles published by these physicians between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, and reviewed the full text of each article for COI disclosure.
According to their findings, those 10 companies paid more than $12 million in 2015 to the 100 doctors included in the study. The median payment to these physicians was $95,993.” (E)

“Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center launched a conflict of interest task force in the wake of the resignation of its chief medical officer, Dr. José Baselga, who failed to disclose connections to medical industry…
The Manhattan-based cancer center said the task force will assess its internal policies and processes for reporting and managing outside activities and industry-supported clinical trials.
The task force was announced by President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Craig Thompson. It will be chaired by Debra Berns, MSK’s Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer.
Among its objectives, the task force will: Review MSK’s policies, procedures, and training on conflicts of interest; Identify best practices in COI, including monetary and commitment limits; Assess new or improved processes to support timely and thorough disclosure; Identify medical societies and journals with whom to partner in improving public disclosure at meetings and in publications. (F)

“One of the world’s top breast cancer doctors failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies in recent years, omitting his financial ties from dozens of research articles in prestigious publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet.
The researcher, Dr. José Baselga, a towering figure in the cancer world, is the chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He has held board memberships or advisory roles with Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb, among other corporations; has had a stake in start-ups testing cancer therapies; and played a key role in the development of breakthrough drugs that have revolutionized treatments for breast cancer.
According to an analysis by ProPublica and The New York Times, Baselga did not follow financial disclosure rules set by the American Association for Cancer Research when he was president of the group. He also left out payments he received from companies connected to cancer research in his articles published in the group’s journal, Cancer Discovery. At the same time, he has been one of the journal’s two editors in chief.
At a conference this year and before analysts in 2017, he put a positive spin on the results of two Roche-sponsored clinical trials that many others considered disappointments, without disclosing his relationship to the company. Since 2014, he has received more than $3 million from Roche in consulting fees and for his stake in a company it acquired.” (G)

“Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, resigned on Thursday amid reports that he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from health care companies in dozens of research articles…
Thompson echoed comments he made to the hospital staff on Sunday, saying that the cancer center had “robust programs” in place to manage employees’ relationships to outside companies, but that “we will remain diligent.” He added, “There will be continued discussion and review of these matters in the coming weeks.” (H)

“An artificial intelligence start-up founded by three insiders at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center debuted with great fanfare in February, with $25 million in venture capital and the promise that it might one day transform how cancer is diagnosed.
The company, Paige.AI, is one in a burgeoning field of start-ups that are applying artificial intelligence to health care, yet it has an advantage over many competitors: The company has an exclusive deal to use the cancer center’s vast archive of 25 million patient tissue slides, along with decades of work by its world-renowned pathologists.
Memorial Sloan Kettering holds an equity stake in Paige.AI, as does a member of the cancer center’s executive board, the chairman of its pathology department and the head of one of its research laboratories. Three other board members are investors…
Hospital pathologists have strongly objected to the Paige.AI deal, saying it is unfair that the founders received equity stakes in a company that relies on the pathologists’ expertise and work amassed over 60 years. They also questioned the use of patients’ data — even if it is anonymous — without their knowledge in a profit-driven venture.” (I)

“…The AAMC is continuing to work with member institutions, other associations and societies, journals, and the continuing education community to develop tools and resources to help institutions and individuals manage the disclosure of conflicts of interest.
Institutions looking for immediate steps to take could:
Remind faculty of the importance of full disclosure, not only to your institution, but in other writing, speaking and teaching situations, as well as grant applications.
Use relevant current events as an opportunity to recommit to the institution’s obligation to facilitate transparency about the ways in which faculty and industry may be collaborating, and the processes that are in place to review and manage those relationships.
Encourage faculty to review the information posted about them publicly on the Open Payments website, and to ensure its accuracy as well as consistency with complete disclosures in all aspects of their professional responsibilities.” (J)

* “Under FDA regulations, an IRB is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, an IRB has the authority to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or disapprove research. This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.
The purpose of IRB review is to assure, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research. To accomplish this purpose, IRBs use a group process to review research protocols and related materials (e.g., informed consent documents and investigator brochures) to ensure protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects of research.” (K)

(A) https://ori.hhs.gov/education/products/columbia_wbt/rcr_conflicts/foundation/#1_1
(B) 15 Conflict-of-Interest Best Practices for Academic Medical Centers, https://www.healthstream.com/resources/blog/blog/2014/06/04/15-conflict-of-interest-best-practices-for-academic-medical-centers
(C) Open Payments Data in Context, https://www.cms.gov/OpenPayments/About/Open-Payments-Data-in-Context.html
(D) Conflict of Interest Policy Guide for Medical Schools and Academic Medical Centers, https://www.communitycatalyst.org/initiatives-and-issues/issues/prescription-drugs/conflict-of-interest-policy-guide
(E) Financial Ties That Bind: Studies Often Fall Short On Conflict-Of-Interest Disclosures, by Rachel Bluth, https://khn.org/news/financial-ties-that-bind-studies-often-fall-short-on-conflict-of-interest-disclosures/
(F) Memorial Sloan Kettering launches conflict of interest task force after CMO’s resignation, by David Robinson, https://www.lohud.com/story/news/health/2018/09/21/memorial-sloan-kettering-conflict-interest-task-force/1381042002/
(G) Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals, by Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas, https://www.propublica.org/article/doctor-jose-baselga-cancer-researcher-corporate-financial-ties
(H) Top Official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Resigns After Failing to Disclose Industry Ties, by Charles Ornstein, and Katie Thomas, https://www.propublica.org/article/memorial-sloan-kettering-official-jose-baselga-resigns-after-failing-to-disclose-industry-ties
(I) Sloan Kettering’s Cozy Deal With Start-Up Ignites a New Uproar, by Charles Ornstein, and Katie Thomas, https://www.propublica.org/article/sloan-kettering-cozy-deal-with-start-up-paige-ai-ignites-new-uproar
(J) Conflicts of Interest and Transparency Initiatives, https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/research/coi/
(K) Institutional Review Boards Frequently Asked Questions – Information Sheet, https://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm126420.htm
(L) Facing Crisis, Sloan Kettering Tells Exec to Hand Over Profits From Biotech, by Katie Thomas and Charles Ornstein, https://www.propublica.org/article/facing-crisis-sloan-kettering-tells-exec-to-hand-over-profits-from-biotech(M)

“A vice president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has to turn over to the hospital nearly $1.4 million of a windfall stake in a biotech company, in light of a series of for-profit deals and industry conflicts at the cancer center that has forced it to re-examine its corporate relationships…
The move to hand over his stake is one of several steps now underway as the cancer center tries to contain a crisis that has already led to the resignation of its chief medical officer and a review of its conflict-of-interest policies. Several board members and some executives of the nonprofit institution have maintained close ties to the health and drug industries at a time when stunning cancer breakthroughs are generating excitement among investors and spawning a flurry of biotech startups.
At other cancer centers and research institutions, employees are barred from accepting personal compensation when they represent their institution on corporate boards. But Memorial Sloan Kettering had no such prohibition until now.” (L)

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When “googling” for hospital information we often wind up at hospital web sites.
Hospital web sites are marketing based so how does one find and aggregate key elements and then do comparative analysis?

You can use these web sites for this exercise, all hospitals with which I have been involved

City Hospital Center at Elmhurst (I was the Administrator of Mount Sinai Services, 1975-1979)

Mount Sinai Hospital (I held various positions at the medical school and medical center from 1979-1989, leaving as an SVP)

LibertyHealth/ Jersey City Medical Center (I was President & CEO from 1989-2006. Now, Jersey City Medical Center/ RWJ Barnabas Health)

Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center (was part of LibertyHealth with Jersey City Medical Center; has changed ownership several times in the last ten years, now Hudson Regional Hospital)

CarePoint Health/ Hoboken (I was on the Board of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority for three years; now owned by CarePoint Health)

or better yet, compare hospitals in your medical service area!

Ok, let’s get started:
Find ABOUT US. This is the picture painting how the hospital wants to be envisioned.
Find the MISSION STATEMENT, a formal summary of the aims and values of the hospital, as approved by the Board of Trustees and required for accreditation.
Compare ABOUT US and the MISSION STATEMENT. Are they clear and consistent?
Find ACCREDITATION. This gets trickier. A long list of certifications is not in of itself important. What is important is are they evidenced-based, completed by an arms-length review, and for a fixed period of time then must be renewed. You can google the agency and find the methodology used.
Find QUALITY. Again quality recognition awards should be evidenced-based, completed by an arms-length review, and for a fixed period of time then must be renewed. You can google the agency and find the methodology used.
Find AFFILIATIONS. A medical school affiliation is an excellent benchmark, however is it robust or ceremonial?
Go to LEADERSHIP/ BOARD OF TRUSTEES. Are Board member recognized community leaders?

And then go to

HOSPITAL COMPARE https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html
at this MEDICARE site you can compare hospital performance metrics

what over 3000 U.S. Hospitals billed Medicare for the top 100 Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) along with what Medicare actually reimbursed

OPEN PAYMENTS/ CMS.gov https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/
search payments made by drug and medical device companies to physicians and teaching hospitals.

THE LEAPFROG GROUP http://www.leapfroggroup.org/compare-hospitals
an independent organization where you can compare hospital quality metrics

ranks hospitals regionally in both states and major metro areas

An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

AGENCY FOR HEALTHCARE RESEARCH AND QUALITY http://archive.ahrq.gov/consumer/qnt/qnthosp.htm
Choosing a Hospital Worksheet

Then take a look at:
NQF measures and standards serve as a critically important foundation for initiatives to enhance healthcare value, make patient care safer, and achieve better outcomes.

AVOID for-profit “hospital quality” web sites like Healthgrades.
“Partnering with Healthgrades doesn’t just give you access to our talented marketing services group — it’s more accurate to say it becomes an extension of your own marketing department. Our team is dedicated to your success and available when you need us.”

“At his surgery center near San Diego, Rodney Davis wore scrubs, was referred to as “Dr. Rod” and carried the title of director of surgery. But he was a physician assistant, not a doctor, who anesthetized patients and performed liposuction with little input from his supervising doctor, court records show.
So it was perhaps no surprise, in 2016, when an administrative judge stripped Davis of his license, concluding it was the only way to “protect the public.” State officials also accused two former medical directors of Pacific Liposculpture of enabling Davis to act as a doctor.
One powerful authority in California took a different view. The state-approved private accreditation agency that oversees the center left its approval in place. So the center is still operating and Davis remains an owner and administrator, state records show.
California is the only state with more than 1,000 surgery centers that has given private accreditors a lead role in oversight. Those accreditors are typically paid by the same centers they evaluate.
That approach to oversight has created a troubling legacy of laxity, an investigation by Kaiser Health News shows. In case after case, as federal or state authorities waved red flags, state-approved accreditation agencies affixed gold seals of approval, according to a KHN review of hundreds of pages of doctors’ disciplinary records, court files and accreditor reports — which are public only for California surgery centers.” (A)

The next challenge is reconciling accepted metrics with data connected on the internet!
A recent report..
“Crowd-sourced ratings of the “best overall” hospitals produced scores similar to Hospital Compare’s ratings, but crowd-sourced ratings were less reliable as indicators of clinical quality and patient safety, according to recent research.
The study in Health Services Research examined hospital ratings on Facebook, Google Reviews, and Yelp. The findings showed crowd — sourced ratings reflected patient experience rather than other factors…
The research examined data from nearly 3,000 acute care hospitals. Perez’s group found that:
• For best-ranked hospitals on the crowd-sourcing sites, 50% to 60% were ranked best in Hospital Compare’s overall rating.
• For best-ranked hospitals on the crowd-sourcing sites, 20% ranked worst in Hospital Compares overall rating.
• For clinical quality and patient safety, hospitals ranked best on crowd-sourced sites were only ranked best on Hospital Compare about 30% of the time.
Perez said Hospital Compare, which combines as many as 57 metrics for patient experience and clinical quality, was used to gauge the accuracy of the crowd-sourcing sites for several reasons.
“The clinical quality and patient safety measures are based on Medicare claims data, which means there is a lot of information about patients, and they can do risk adjustment,” she said of Hospital Compare.
Risk adjustment is crucial when comparing hospitals, she added. “Rather than being concerned that some hospitals are treating a sicker pool of patients, and have worse outcomes as a result, the Hospital Compare data can be adjusted for the health of the patient mix.”
The crowd-sourcing sites are more prone to bias, she said. “A concern when you look at social media is that people only write reviews when they have really good or really bad patient outcomes,” she pointed out.” (B)

“Medscape asked over 11,000 physicians to rank their preferences for care and treatment for themselves or family, assuming no barriers, such as transportation or cost.” (C)

(A) Despite Red Flags At Surgery Centers, Overseers Award Gold Seals, by Christina Jewett, https://khn.org/news/despite-red-flags-at-surgery-centers-overseers-award-gold-seals/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202018-09-20%20Healthcare%20Dive%20%5Bissue:17208%5D&utm_term=Healthcare%20Dive
(B) Crowd-Sourced Ratings Rely Heavily on Patient Experience, by Christopher Cheney, https://www.medpagetoday.com/hospitalbasedmedicine/generalhospitalpractice/75111?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2018-09-19&eun=g1223211d0r&pos=11111&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Headlines%202018-09-19&utm_term=Daily%20Headlines%20-%20Active%20User%20-%20180%20days
(C) Medscape Physicians’ Choice: Top Hospitals for Key Conditions and Procedures (Non-cancer), https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/top-hospitals-key-conditions-6010216?faf=1#1

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