February 3, 2012
Volume 56, Issue 5
WHA GME Task Force Studies Residency Issue
WHA will seek input from residency program directors, hospitals
Two organizations, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin School of Osteopathy, have announced their plans to study the feasibility of expanding or creating programs to educate more medical students in Wisconsin. Those announcements are welcome news, but they add to the urgent need to create more opportunities for medical students to complete their post-graduate training in Wisconsin. Residency programs were the focus of discussions at the first meeting of the newly-created WHA Graduate Medical Education (GME) Task Force.
"Whether you are in Amery or Beloit, the issue that is keeping hospital executives up at night is whether we will have enough physicians to meet the demand for patient care in our communities," WHA President Steve Brenton told Task Force members at the January 27 meeting in Madison. "The WHA GME Task Force was created to develop ideas and creative strategies for addressing the biggest challenge identified in the report, and that is the residency issue."
The WHA physician workforce report, "100 New Physicians a Year: An Imperative for Wisconsin" lays out a number of issues that must be addressed to ensure Wisconsin has an adequate supply of physicians.
Brenton said the GME Task Force, chaired by Chuck Shabino, MD, WHA senior medical advisor, is one of first groups that were formed following the release of the WHA workforce report. He anticipates that more workgroups will be developed to address specific issues identified in the report.
The Task Force identified a number of challenges and actions that will need to be taken to avert a physician shortage and foster new residency programs:
The Task Force also recommended developing a survey that would be distributed to residency program directors, hospitals and clinics to learn why organizations are now involved in GME and to find out why others are not involved which would help the Task Force identify and remove barriers. The group also discussed the importance of interviewing medical students and residents to discover the factors that they consider when selecting a place to complete their post-medical school training.
Shabino and George Quinn, WHA senior policy advisor, will continue to research and review the issues that were raised during the first meeting. At their next meeting on March 6, the Task Force meeting will look at GME funding and accreditation issues.
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The Medical College of Wisconsin announced their plans January 30 to study the feasibility of creating statewide community-based medical programs, a move that the Wisconsin Hospital Association said is a step toward helping the state meet the growing demand for physicians. (See announcement at: www.wha.org/Data/Sites/1/workforce/medicalcollegenewsrelease1-31-12.pdf.)
The WHA physician workforce report, "100 New Physicians a Year: An Imperative for Wisconsin," has helped foster a statewide dialogue among key stakeholders on how to increase the number of physicians. The report warned that unless 100 more physicians are recruited to Wisconsin each year for the next two decades, the state will face a shortage of 2,000 physicians by 2030.
"The Medical College has signaled an interest in and commitment to be a part of a solution by focusing their efforts toward educating more students interested in practicing family medicine, especially in urban and rural areas of the state," according to WHA President Steve Brenton. "We know educating medical students in the same communities where they eventually might complete their residency training dramatically increases the likelihood they will stay in Wisconsin."
After graduating from medical school, a physician must complete a 3-5 year residency program before they can treat patients independently. Where they complete that residency is one of the greatest predictors of where they will locate their medical practice. In fact, the WHA report showed that 86 percent of the physicians who attend medical school in Wisconsin—and complete their residency training here—stay in Wisconsin.
"We must seriously look at how we, as a state and as health care systems partnering with our local communities, can meet the demand for clinical rotations and create new residency programs in Wisconsin for the increased number of medical school graduates we could have here in the near future," according to Brenton.
WHA recently convened a task force comprised of representatives of Wisconsin’s two medical schools, physicians representing both urban and rural areas, and hospital executives to study the current system that is in place for providing post-medical school training. The task force ranked the creation of new residency programs as their top priority. (See related story in this issue of The Valued Voice).
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Sen. Shilling brings a passion for and a knowledge of health care issues that was heavily influenced by the area of the state that she represents. She’s completed several job shadow days in WHA member hospitals that took her into the board room, emergency department and operating room.
"I am extremely proud of the community hospitals in western Wisconsin. We are very fortunate to have innovative health care in our backyard," Shilling said. "The hospitals and health care systems in La Crosse County have a large footprint in the tri-state area. Sometimes I think I can bring a unique perspective to the policy debate in Madison because the borders of Wisconsin are not the end of the health care market that is served by our providers in La Crosse."
Shilling noted that the health care systems in La Crosse are models for national health-related legislation.
"We have a lot to brag about and a certain sense of pride when it comes to taking care of our friends and neighbors," she said. "Our health care delivery systems are innovative, and we have piloted some great programs."
Shilling recognizes the critical role that hospitals have in fostering economic development, as well. Health care is an important component of the economy in Western Wisconsin.
"Hospitals are an essential part of a community’s identity and infrastructure," according to Shilling. "They are often one of the largest employers, but they also have an important role in fostering regional economic development. Businesses weigh a variety of issues when they locate in an area, but accessible, affordable health care close to home are critical factors in their final decision."
Sen. Shilling recently spent a morning at Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital. She was impressed that the hospital was so focused on finding ways to deliver high quality, efficient patient care at a lower cost.
"I admire Wisconsin health care providers because they pursue innovative ideas that lead to better patient care and lower costs," Shilling said.
Shilling also applauded the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s leadership on the physician workforce issue.
"I was pleased to see that WHA is taking a long view on this and is looking for ways to increase the number of slots for medical residents in Wisconsin," Shilling said. "The report provides a perspective and a long-term vision on workforce shortages."
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The Wisconsin Joint Legislative Audit Committee met February 1 for a hearing on the recently released audit of the Wisconsin Medicaid program. In December, the Legislative Audit Bureau recommended several areas of improvement in the state’s management and oversight of the program, and the need for better data and information to evaluate program expenditures. (See December 30 Valued Voice article)
Testifying at the hearing from the Legislative Audit Bureau were State Auditor Joe Chrisman, Deputy State Auditor for Program Evaluation Paul Stuiber and Sherry Haakenson, financial audit division director. They highlighted the report’s findings in enrollment, expenditures, administrative services, eligibility confirmation and managing service delivery.
The report attributed the program’s enrollment growth to the economic downturn and to changes in state law that expanded eligibility. The majority of the expenditure growth is attributed to increased enrollment, but also increased reimbursement rates for some services, like hospital services.
In his testimony, Dennis Smith, secretary of the Department of Health Services (DHS) noted that the audit was important for understanding and improving program management. Smith highlighted the initiatives the Department is pursuing around program reimbursement, and stated that the Department is interested in finding ways to pay for value and health outcomes, not volume. Secretary Smith’s testimony can be found here.
In discussing how the state pays for health care value, DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades specifically mentioned working with the Wisconsin Hospital Association on performance measures to ensure the measures are tied to hospitals’ ability to affect outcomes. The Department is expected to describe a new pay-for-performance program in more detail for hospitals at an upcoming WHA Medicaid Advisory Committee meeting.
Prior to the hearing, WHA submitted comments to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in response to the audit findings. WHA noted that, in addition to considering the overall growth in expenditures, additional information is needed as to whether that growth is reasonable. While annual Medicaid expenditures are over $7 billion, if one accounts for the unreimbursed costs incurred by providers for providing quality care for Medicaid patients, the program’s true value is actually much higher.
See the WHA memo to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in response to the audit findings here.
To see the full audit report, including the DHS response, go to: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lab/CurrentReportsByDate.htm.
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In a memo to the Legislature dated January 26, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) provided additional information about the new projection of the Medicaid shortfall that was released by the Department of Health Services (DHS) at the end of December (see 1/6/12 Valued Voice article). In December, DHS reported a significant improvement in the Medicaid shortfall from approximately $219 million in state GPR funding down to just under $93 million in the biennium.
The LFB memo notes that the revised projection is due to several factors including reduced estimates of fee-for-service inpatient and outpatient hospital payments, as well as a revised estimate of the amount of savings DHS will realize from no longer paying copayments and deductibles under Part A for dual eligibles. In the biennial budget the latter provision was expected to save the state—and cost hospitals—$16 million in state GPR funding. WHA is working with DHS to obtain more details on the new estimates.
In addition to these revised estimates, the memo notes a reduction in enrollment in the childless adults program to 29,260 in December 2011. The biennial budget assumed there would be an average of 43,000 adults enrolled in the program during the biennium. The caseload change is due to attrition that has occurred since the implementation of a waiting list for the program in October 2009 when the Department stopped enrolling new applicants into the program. The LFB memo notes that DHS does not plan to enroll new individuals into the childless adults program in the biennium.
The memo also mentions the recent Medicaid waiver request. It confirms that DHS currently does not intend to implement an across-the-board reduction in the eligibility income limit for Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (see 1/6/12 Valued Voice article). The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has preliminarily approved parts of the waiver request amounting to approximately $23 million in GPR savings. As required to implement those items, DHS has submitted a certification to the federal government that the state expects a budget deficit in the current year (see 1/20/12 Valued Voice article). The remaining items included in the DHS waiver request, which are estimated to save approximately $93.5 million GPR in the biennium, are still pending federal approval.
LFB also provided more details to legislators about the recent announcement to lift the Family Care enrollment cap. LFB estimates that without any additional changes, lifting the enrollment cap would cost approximately $71.8 million in state GPR funding in the biennium. However, DHS expects to reduce costs in the Family Care program through several initiatives. As shown in the memos, LFB questions the feasibility of some of the DHS cost-savings measures. Details of these measures can be found in the LFB memos at:
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/Miscellaneous/Documents/2012_01_26_WILeg_MA.pdf and http://www.wha.org/Data/Sites/1/medicaid/LFBfamilyCareMemo1-27-12.pdf.
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Wisconsin hospitals are demonstrating just how serious they are about raising the bar on quality performance even higher in a state that is already nationally recognized for the quality of its health care.
As of February 3, 123 hospitals—that is 96 percent of the hospitals in Wisconsin that are eligible to participate—have signed on to a national initiative aimed at preventing avoidable hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) and reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions. Hospitals can participate in only one quality improvement network. To date, 105 hospitals have signed up to participate in WHA’s "Partners for Patients" project and 18 more are participating in other networks. (See list of the 105 hospitals participating with WHA at www.wha.org/partnersforpatients.aspx and a list of the 18 hospitals participating with out-of-state networks at www.wha.org/partnersforpatientsnational.aspx.)
"It doesn’t matter whether a hospital is participating directly with WHA’s improvement effort, all our members will have access to the tools and resources that are developed as a result of this work at our Association," according to WHA Quality Improvement Officer Kelly Court. "All members will be invited to participate in teleconferences, attend meetings, and have access to our materials. Wisconsin is known for running some of the most successful collaboratives in terms of participation and outcomes in the country. This project will be no exception."
"Partnership for Patients" is a national initiative supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS awarded $218 million to organizations that will develop a "hospital engagement network." The American Hospital Association, who has been designated as a CMS primary contractor, has sub-contracted the hospital quality and safety improvement work in Wisconsin to WHA.
WHA has a track record of successfully fostering hospital participation in statewide quality and safety collaboratives. Since 2009, WHA has been the lead organization working with 42 hospitals across the state to implement clinical and cultural changes that will lead to fewer central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI). Wisconsin is part of the national On the CUSP: Stop HAI project, a national implementation of the Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP) designed to eliminate health care acquired infections.
WHA’s Jill Hanson has been the lead in the Association’s work on CLABSI and CUSP. Hanson, along with Stephanie Sobczak, will serve as the project managers of the WHA "Partners for Patients" initiative.
Sobczak has been deeply involved with acute care work of Aligning Forces for Quality since early 2009, launching the successful Quality Improvement Forums. These popular monthly webinars are geared toward QI leaders and provide brief highly-focused content that ranges from topics on culture, project management, flowcharting, measurement and other tools and techniques. In addition she manages the Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB) collaborative, and has traveled to other Aligning Forces states on behalf of the AF4Q Program Office to train hospitals at their TCAB Kick-Off events.
Court, Sobczak and Hanson have considerable experience leading improvement collaboratives in Wisconsin. WHA staff involved in quality improvement with member hospitals have gained a reputation for delivering brief, high value content devoid of "fluff," facilitating hospital-to-hospital connections and for making participation less burdensome and more valuable for member hospitals.
WHA will hold two identical organizational events to launch the project—one in Eau Claire May 1 and a second May 10 in Madison. Details on these two events will be shared soon with members.
"Wisconsin has the highest participation rate in the quality improvement networks of any of the states we have talked to," said Court. "We are confident the enthusiastic commitment to get enrolled in this project is going to carry right through to the end to put Wisconsin at the top of the list for the highest levels of improvement."
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Last April over 750 individuals—employees, volunteers and trustees—came to Madison for the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s annual Advocacy Day event. One of those busloads of attendees traveled from Aspirus-Wausau for the event. WHA asked Aspirus Director of Volunteer Services (DVS) Yolanda Voigt why she coordinated the busload of volunteers to Advocacy Day and why she thinks volunteers are a valuable asset to the event.
Q: When did you first begin attending Advocacy Day?
Voigt: I have been a Director of Volunteer Services (DVS) at Aspirus for ten years and have attended Advocacy Day each year with several others from Aspirus. Three years ago our volunteer group decided to rent a bus and invite any interested volunteers to join us.
Q: As a DVS, why do you think it’s important to engage your volunteers in Advocacy Day? What value does this provide your group?
Voigt: As a DVS, attending Advocacy Day is a great way to help volunteers learn more about health care related issues and also grassroots opportunities. The Aspirus volunteers group has a public policy representative on our volunteer board, and our volunteers are very interested and concerned about issues at the state and federal level that affect our hospitals. Our Aspirus logo states—"Passion for excellence and compassion for people"—and learning more about public policy keeps our volunteers aware of what is happening and gives them a chance to offer feedback.
Q: How do you facilitate bringing volunteers to this event?
Voigt: Our group leaves early—6 a.m.—to make it to Madison. We make it fun, have snacks, and also do a pop quiz on the way down with questions about Wisconsin politics. We even give out prizes during the bus trip.
Q: Would you recommend other DVSs coordinate/bring their volunteers to Advocacy Day this year?
Voigt: Advocacy Day provides education, speakers, a wonderful lunch and your group can go across the street to visit with your own representatives. Advocacy Day is a great way to offer a fun day trip for your volunteer group while also helping your volunteers know their concerned efforts make a difference with legislators.
2012 Advocacy Day takes place on April 24 in Madison at the Monona Terrace. WHA has a great lineup of speakers, including morning keynote and nationally-known pollster Kellyanne Conway, who will discuss the "pulse of the nation" as we move into this important and volatile 2012 election cycle. Luncheon keynote will be Governor Scott Walker (invited) and our legislator panel discussion will round out the morning sessions.
The highlight of Advocacy Day is always the hundreds of attendees who take what they’ve learned during the day and then meet with their legislators in the State Capitol in the afternoon. WHA schedules all meetings and provides briefing materials.
For a complete program and online registration, go to http://events.SignUp4.com/AdvocacyDay12. For registration questions, contact Lisa Littel at email@example.com or 608-274-1820. For Advocacy Day questions, contact WHA’s Jenny Boese at 608-268-1816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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As of February 1, a new requirement for physician licensure is in effect. Physicians seeking to be licensed for the first time in Wisconsin will need to complete a fingerprint criminal background check as part of the application process. The process is fully outlined on the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) website.
Wisconsin is directing a federally-funded project involving multiple jurisdictions in the Midwest with a goal of creating an expedited process for physician licensure by endorsement among the participants. Ten jurisdictions in the region have been involved in this effort to reduce the time and effort required of physicians seeking licensure within the region while maintaining high standards. As part of the process, licensing requirements were compared across the involved states. States are most likely to proceed with an expedited process if they believe other states’ requirements are as rigorous as their own. Seven of the involved jurisdictions already require a fingerprint background check.
The current health care environment makes reduction in the time and effort for licensure in adjacent states highly important to WHA members. Electronic ICU practice, patient visits to specialists across state lines, and telemedicine practices all expand the need for physicians to be easily and quickly recognized by another state jurisdiction.
The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) has outlined very specific instructions on how to meet the fingerprint requirement. DSPS has posted the application and card instructions for physician applicants on their website at http://drl.wi.gov/prof_docs_list.asp?profid=33&locid=0. Click on the Form entitled, "Information for Completing Medicine and Surgery Application Form."
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On January 31, WHA submitted comments to the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a bulletin it released in December on the Essential Health Benefits, a key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
By releasing a bulletin, HHS created concern among stakeholders that the normal regulatory process for review and input, as well as requirements for HHS to complete a cost-benefit analysis, would be sidestepped. In its comment letter, WHA urges HHS to release further clarifications on all topics related to the essential health benefits through the normal regulatory process.
Additionally, WHA suggests that further guidance is needed to ensure transparency in the benefit plan design, provide stakeholders the opportunity for review, and provide information about the affordability of each of the benefit design options.
The December HHS bulletin (see 12/22/11 Valued Voice article at www.wha.org/pubArchive/valued_voice/vv12-22-11.htm#5), requires states to select one of the following existing plans in the state to set the benchmark for what is included in the essential health benefits package for the state:
"We all know that it is a balance—providing adequate coverage that is affordable," noted Joanne Alig, WHA vice president of payment, policy and reform. "In order to evaluate the coverage and affordability of the benchmark option, we need to know specifics about the plan design, and the reality is that information isn’t currently available."
As a result, WHA suggests that HHS do more work to identify the potential benefit plan designs for each state. Once that is complete, HHS should ensure that stakeholders have the ability to comment on the benchmark approach overall. If the benchmark approach is adopted, it is also critical that there be a process in each state for providers and other stakeholders to have a say in which plan option is chosen in the state.
Finally, WHA notes a significant shortcoming of the HHS bulletin is that the question of cost is not addressed. Plan options should balance meaningful coverage with affordability. If premium costs are too high, we could potentially see greater numbers of uninsured. WHA urges HHS to provide a cost-benefit analysis of the plan options to determine the likely impact on premiums and overall affordability to consumers.
To access the WHA comment letter, click here.
To access the HHS bulletin, go to http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/files/Files2/12162011/essential_health_benefits_bulletin.pdf
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The biennial Worker’s Compensation "agreed to" bill has been introduced in the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly as SB 409 and AB 499 respectively. The bills reflect the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council’s (WCAC) agreement reached late last year, which, as previously outlined in The Valued Voice, includes the following changes in provider reimbursement:
The Senate and Assembly labor committees held a joint hearing this week on the bills. WCAC co-chairs James Buchen, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and Steffanie Bloomingdale, AFL-CIO, provided joint testimony to the labor committees. A copy of their testimony is available at: www.wmc.org/PDFfiles/WC-Joint-Testimony_2-1-2012.pdf. Traditionally, the Legislature passes and the Governor approves the "agreed to" bill without amendment.
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Tiffanie O’Hara is the new administrative assistant with WHA’s government relations department. In her new role, O’Hara will coordinate the staffs’ work with WHA’s councils, regions, and task forces. She also will work with WHA members and staff on various issues and projects.
O’Hara brings more than six years of administrative, website and graphics experience to WHA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Prior to joining WHA, O’Hara worked for three years with Sundial Software Corporation as their business office manager. She reports directly to WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding.
"WHA is fortunate to add a valuable team player with Tiffanie’s experience and commitment to our government relations team," according to Borgerding. "We’re pleased Tiffanie is on board helping us serve our members."
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Suzanne Staudenmayer recently joined the WHA Information Center (WHAIC) as administrative assistant. Staudenmayer assumes the administrative responsibilities for WHAIC’s Board of Directors and assists in working with WHAIC and WHA members on the W-ICD10 Partnership and annual surveys sponsored by WHAIC.
Staudenmayer brings more than 11 years of administrative and technical computer experience. She holds an associate degree from MATC in applied science and marketing and she is attending classes for her bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior and leadership. Prior to coming to WHA, Staudenmayer worked in the Wisconsin State Senate and for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce as a legislative aide and member relations coordinator.
"We are very happy to have Suzy join our team in the Information Center," said WHAIC Senior Director Debbie Rickelman. "Her skills are of great value as we work through our ICD-10 transition, develop new training materials for the hospital staff submitting survey information, and expand uses for the Information Center data, particularly for quality reporting. As we grow it is gratifying to have a new employee like Suzy who can grow with us."
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William "Rick" Abrams, JD, has been named the Wisconsin Medical Society’s new chief executive officer/executive vice president. Abrams, who has served as executive vice president/executive director of the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) since 2004, will join the Society staff in early April.
Abrams has nearly 25 years of experience in health policy, including eight years addressing federal and state issues that specifically impact physicians. Before joining MSSNY, he served as chief operating officer of the American Health Care Association from 2000 to 2003. Prior to that, he spent 10 years as vice president and then president and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Health Care Facilities. Abrams also worked for New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean in a variety of assignments, including ombudsman for the institutionalized elderly, director of government relations in the New Jersey Department of Health, deputy attorney general and assistant counsel to the governor. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and his juris doctor degree, cum laude, from Seton Hall University School of Law.
"On behalf of the members and staff of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, I’m pleased to welcome Rick to Wisconsin," said WHA President Steve Brenton. "His expertise in health care policy at both the state and federal levels, coupled with his legal background, will be valuable assets to the health care community in these uncertain times. We look forward to working with Rick."
Abrams succeeds Susan L. Turney, MD, who became CEO of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) in October after serving seven years as the Society’s CEO/EVP.
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In a continued effort to assist with your ICD-10-CM readiness, WHA is offering a 10-part monthly webinar series, February through November 2012, designed specifically for coders and documentation improvement specialists, to provide them with the anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, medical terminology, ICD-10-CM coding convention, and practical exercises to accurately assign ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes.
Taught by an AHIMA Certified ICD-10-CM trainer, this series follows the general format of ICD-10-CM chapters. Detailed and comprehensive presentations in anatomy and pathophysiology for each body system are designed to provide each participant with the clinical background to correctly assign the appropriate ICD-10-CM code. The series will also cover the general ICD-10-CM coding conventions and guidelines as well as chapter-specific coding rules.
Full series information and online registration can be found at http://events.SignUp4.com/12ICD-10-CMCoding. Participants can register for individual sessions or for the full series at a discounted fee, and hospitals are encouraged to have multiple coders participate through one registration. For registration questions, please contact Lisa Littel at email@example.com or 608-274-1820.
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Register today for the physician documentation improvement seminar the best fits your schedule:
Each session will be presented by Lynn Kuehn, an AHIMA Certified ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer and Certified Coding Specialist for Physicians (CCS-P). Identical curriculum will be offered at each session.
More information and online registration can be found at: http://events.SignUp4.com/UnlockICD10.
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The Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Executives (W-ONE) will host its annual convention for nurse leaders and managers on March 28-30 in Elkhart Lake. With a focus on its theme of "Inspired Leadership…Inspired Care," the convention will open with a keynote presentation from Rich Bluni, RN, a nationally-recognized Studer Group speaker and best-selling author of "Inspired Nurse."
The agenda also includes a variety of concurrent sessions including a legislative and advocacy update, nurse leader succession planning, and managing difficult people. The convention will also include opportunities to network and share with other nurse leaders and managers. A full convention brochure is included in this week’s packet and available online, along with online registration, at: http://events.SignUp4.com/WONE12.
The convention will be held at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. Anyone who has responsibilities for leading and managing RNs will benefit from the educational agenda and is welcome—you do not need to be an RN or a member of W-ONE to attend. For registration questions, contact Lisa Littel at 608-274-1820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hospitals do what they can to move health care services out of the clinical setting into the heart of the community. Community health screenings and education classes help raise awareness of steps that individuals can take to improve their health. When people learn more about how their lifestyle decisions affect their health, they make changes that ultimately lead to better health, which raises the health status of the entire community.
Transportation program helps patient along the road to recovery
The Subsidized Medical Transportation Program at Community Memorial Hospital provides transportation to and from the hospital service locations for eligible persons who have difficulty arranging their own transportation and lack the financial resources to purchase transportation.
The program, which began in 1997, is limited to hospital patients and their immediate families with income at or below 200 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines. Patients who participate in the program must be coming to the hospital for treatment, diagnostic appointments, family visits, support meetings or educational programs.
Dawn Stanislewski found herself in need of the transportation program to get to her weekly wound care appointments. Dawn, who lives in Hartford, doesn’t drive and was unable to arrange alternate transportation.
Community Memorial contracts with area transportation services to provide rides to patients who qualify for the program. Dawn utilizes the medical transportation made available by Community Memorial and said the drivers are on time, friendly and helpful.
"If I didn’t have transportation through Community Memorial Hospital, I would have had to find a way to pay for cabs to and from home," Dawn said. "It’s great. It’s been a lifesaver."
Froedtert Health Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls
Helping Educate and Link the Homeless (HEALTH)
Helping Educate and Link the Homeless (HEALTH) was developed by Dr. Cate Ranheim, a Meriter hospitalist, after encountering many homeless or transitionally housed patients who repeatedly returned to the emergency room for illnesses and health conditions that would best be handled in a primary care setting. The program seeks to eliminate or reduce several of the barriers through recurring health outreach programs at shelters, meal programs and resource centers and one permanent site at St. Vincent de Paul. Through the program, patients have access to free care, including basic health screening, disease and medication education, prescription updates, basic health supplies, help with disability, Medicare/Medicaid and housing applications, health counseling, assistance linking to local resources, and coordination with local primary care providers to establish a medical home.
"Finding a service like Meriter HEALTH …was a lifeline when I was certain of drowning."
"When I moved to Madison, I’d just gotten out of a treatment center for alcoholism and moved to Porchlight on Brooks Street. My alcoholism had taken its toll on my family, and I had exhausted my resources. It was time for me to get back on my feet by myself.
Besides working on living sober, I was trying find a job but I was strapped with depression so severe it knocked me to my knees. Porchlight offered me a place to live through the sober living PTO Program and supported my other goals.
As a result of alcohol abuse, mental illness and aging, I was reliant on medications to function. Because I had no job and very little money, the work of "getting well" was daunting. I was told to go to the "Med Hut" across from St. Vincent’s on Fish Hatchery Road for help. There I met Dr. Cate and Nurse Barb.
Even though I arrived unannounced, I was greeted warmly. There was no judgment about my alcoholism or mental illness. Nurse Barb took care of my physical and medical needs, and she showed me great care and compassion. I left the "Med Hut" with more than a voucher for my medications – I also left with a glimmer of hope.
For years I was sick, scared, tired, and hopeless all the time. I didn’t have any idea how to move forward. It was there when I fell asleep; it woke me at 2:00 in the morning like a two-by-four between my eyes; it was my first thought in the morning. To find a service like Meriter HEALTH and people like Dr. Cate and Nurse Barb in the midst of that terror was a lifeline when I was certain of drowning.
The changes didn’t happen overnight. I had setbacks. Finding the medication to manage my mental illness took time, and that struggle was harder than I ever imagined. Staying sober was not an easy task. Finding a job was a challenge. Meriter HEALTH and the PTO program at Porchlight didn’t give up on me and helped me solve each of these problems systematically. We just chipped away at it. I couldn’t have done this alone and luckily I didn’t have to.
In AA we call that place of desolation and hopelessness "the jumping off place," and I have been there more than once on this journey. Visiting the jumping off place is miserable, but I LIVED in this place. With Meriter’s help, I don’t live there anymore.
Today, I am now employed as an administrative assistant with full medical and dental benefits. I have had to take small steps, but with Meriter’s HEALTH and the PTO program’s help, those steps have taken me there today.
When you drive down Fish Hatchery, please take a moment to look at the Hut across from St. Vincent’s. It looks like a plain old Quonset hut, but look closer. You’ll see it is truly a place of miracles."
Meriter Hospital, Madison
Fighting cancer through screening
Why wonder if a mole or discoloration on your skin could be skin cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.
Overall, the best defense in the fight against cancer is through early detection.
In April, St. Nicholas Hospital provided 80 people with an opportunity to receive a free skin screening. Each screening consisted of an educational session and examination of a person’s specific area of concern with a physician. Fifteen people were referred on to receive additional follow-up with a physician.
St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan
The roots of ProHealth Care’s community-based nursing program go back to 1995. ProHealth Care funds, either fully or in part, the placement of nurses in 52 sites within our community. The impact of this program continues to provide examples of how the creation of trusting relationships has led to meaningful wellness interventions.
One such example is the team of Lee Clay, a parish nurse, and Brett Linzer, MD, who have worked collaboratively to assist a man in need of health monitoring.
Parish nurse Lee Clay met George through her outreach work at St. Mary’s Church in Palmyra and began seeing him in his home nearly two years ago. The regular home visits included blood pressure monitoring as well as spiritual, social and health support. Within the first few visits, Lee identified a trend of serious hypertension. Upon addressing this with George, she discovered that he was not under the care of a primary physician and had not had his medication reviewed for several years.
Following a referral to ProHealth Care physician Brett Linzer, MD, George has been able to reduce his elevated blood pressure and has been incident-free since. With George’s permission, Lee and Dr. Linzer have developed a collaborative relationship, with Lee acting as the eyes and ears for the doctor while visiting George in his home. After each home visit, Lee uses an electronic charting system to notify Dr. Linzer of any abnormal assessment. Relying on that timely information, Dr. Linzer makes treatment decisions and contacts George directly for follow-up.
ProHealth Care – Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital
Independence is in the cards
Greg and his wife love the home they bought 60 years ago. Despite health issues, they are not ready to give it up. That’s how St. Mary’s Adult Day Health Center fits into their lives. As Madison’s only daytime care facility for adults needing skilled nursing oversight, it plays a major role in maintaining their independence and happiness. Greg can get the care he needs while also enjoying life to the fullest. In addition, enrollment is affordable. Payments to the center fall short of covering St. Mary’s expenses, resulting in, essentially, a discount for all clients and their families.
St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison
Submit community benefit stories to Mary Kay Grasmick, editor, at email@example.com.
Read more about hospitals connecting with their communities at www.WiServePoint.org.
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