Health Care Blog
- Posted byon September 9, 2013 at 12:44 PM EST
Marion Kainer is being honored as a Champion of Change for helping Americans live healthier lives, reduce disease and contribute to lowering health care costs by focusing communities on public health and prevention.
I am an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist and work as director of the Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) and Antimicrobial Resistance Program at the Tennessee Department of Health. I have an awesome team and I love my job: making health care safer in Tennessee and nationwide.
Earlier in my career in Australia, a terrible outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections among surgical patients changed my career forever. Never again did I want to feel as powerless in an outbreak as I did during that experience. I was no longer satisfied with attempting to treat infections; I wanted to prevent them.
Last year, a fungal meningitis outbreak across the country devastated patients, their loved ones, and healthcare providers. Tennessee was right at the center and dealing with it required every tool in my toolbox as a clinician and epidemiologist.
More than 13,500 patients were injected with contaminated steroid injections from a compounding pharmacy. Nearly 750 patients developed meningitis and/or infections around the spine and 63 people have died. Many still struggle with complications. As horrendous as this outbreak has been, it could have been far worse without investments from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Affordable Care Act is helping public health departments prevent and fight infectious diseases by investing in tools like enhanced public health workforce training and improved information technology.
The six members of my HAI team, funded through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grants, not only quickly determined the cause of the outbreak, they also identified patients not yet ill but at the highest risk of getting sick. Lives were saved not only by halting the contaminated injections, but also by tracking down every affected patient and getting effective treatment to the sick without delay.
In Tennessee, 153 persons developed infections; 15 have died. Had we not acted as quickly as we did, and the use of contaminated medication gone unchecked by public health, we estimate that 368 additional Tennesseans would have been injected. An additional 99 would have developed serious infections and up to 69 more people may have died. Our success came from a massive team effort that required close collaboration among clinicians, clinics, hospitals, local and state health departments and federal agencies, as well as vital funding from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This collaboration must continue in order to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.
Dr. Kainer is an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist. She is the director of the healthcare associated infections and antimicrobial resistance program at the Tennessee Department of Health and helped identify the source of the 2012 fungal infection outbreak.
- Posted byon September 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM EST
Andrea Hays is being honored as a Champion of Change for helping Americans live healthier lives, reduce disease and contribute to lowering health care costs by focusing communities on public health and prevention.
As a child, I looked forward to visiting my grandparents every weekend because I could walk everywhere with Grandma – to the Church, playground, grocery store, post office and even the library.
As I work on obesity prevention efforts in Evansville, Indiana, I’m reminded of those days where walking was easy and accessible. Those of us focused on the area of active living often cite the positive health impact of having more walkable and bikeable communities. Yet, we know it adds up to benefits beyond increasing physical activity among our residents. Communities that embrace this notion of physical activity also place a high value on, well, community.
That is, having more people out on the street, interacting and getting to know one another creates a sense of togetherness and inspires innovation in other areas. The increase of nature play spaces, outdoor classrooms, community gardens, and farmers markets has motivated a new way of thinking in our community – one that embraces all of our residents.
These efforts are aligned with a growing evidence base that shows if we create a more supportive community environment that promotes healthy living where we live, learn, work, worship, and play, people will begin to thrive and our neighborhoods will come alive. Most important, people will see improved health outcomes and a higher quality of life.
It is easy to forget that the three leading causes of preventable death in the United States are tobacco use, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity. While these causes are lifestyle related, it is important to note that access and opportunity play a huge role in our residents’ ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The Healthy Communities Partnership of Southwest Indiana (HCP) is a collaborative process catalyzed by the Welborn Baptist Foundation over five years ago. We also have recently received funding from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund’s Community Transformation Grant.
Created by the Affordable Care Act, the Community Transformation Grant Program focuses on key public health and prevention goals, including tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, and clinical and community preventive services. With Affordable Care Act funding, the Healthy Communities Partnership of Southwest Indiana aims to improve the health of Southwest Indiana residents.
We are working to impact our region’s health through targeted strategies across the lifespan. These efforts start as early as newborns through the Baby Friendly initiative in two hospitals to utilizing a coaching model that helps low-income and medically underserved older adult patients monitor their chronic conditions at home. In addition to our settings based work, we are helping to increase access to healthy foods across our seven county area.
We can continue to accomplish health improvements through cross-sectoral partnerships that create opportunities to support tobacco-free living, healthy weight, and preventing chronic disease across the lifespan.
Andrea Hays is the Director of the move∙ment Initiative and the Upgrade campaign at the Welborn Baptist Foundation in Evansville, Indiana. These programs promote changes in the community that make healthy living easier for all residents.
- Posted byon September 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM EST
Erica Washington is being honored as a Champion of Change for helping Americans live healthier lives, reduce disease and contribute to lowering health care costs by focusing communities on public health and prevention.
To some consumers, “shared responsibility” in the treatment process may connote only the actions of physicians with their patients; however, “shared responsibility” in the realm of Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) is much more. It’s the responsibility of all professionals in any healthcare setting – whether doctors, nurses, or administrative leadership – to take an active role in ensuring that preventable conditions do not impede patient care. Patient safety has thus increased by having all persons in healthcare delivery take an active role in infection prevention.
As the HAI Coordinator for Louisiana, working in the Louisiana Office of Public Health, I have been able to synthesize Epidemiology with infection control in our state’s acute care, long-term acute care, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. These prevention measures include using CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) as a surveillance tool to readily identify HAI as well as produce statistics for the purposes of prevention. With invaluable investments from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, Louisiana is able to celebrate low rates of infections such as central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and we will continue to work toward a zero infection goal. Funding from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund is helping public health and health care leaders implement strategies to prevent healthcare-associated infections and improve the health and well-being of all Americans.
The success of the Louisiana HAI program is achieved by creating a symbiotic relationship between key stakeholders in patient safety such at the Louisiana Hospital Association, eQHealth Solutions (the state Medicare quality improvement organization), and our Consumer’s Right to Know Coalition. Additionally, our state has created prevention collaborative cohorts that focus on reducing infections by facilitating evidence-based prevention information exchanges between facilities and enhancing infection prevention education.
I am also fortunate to have the support of Association for Infection Prevention and Epidemiology (APIC) in Louisiana’s efforts to push toward zero infections. APIC has brought world-renowned leaders in HAI such as Dr. William Jarvis and Dr. Richard Wenzel to Louisiana to educate our infection preventionists and present evidence-based findings that may be incorporated into our patients’ scope of treatment.
Patients play a role in HAI prevention as well. Through working with other states to share and exchange information on the prevention of HAI, I was especially pleased to see consumer involvement in HAI awareness. By recognizing their role as stakeholders and advocates for safety, consumers have become more attentive to care provider actions, such as hand washing, environmental needs, and speaking up during their care plans if they notice actions that could lead to infections.
On any level of healthcare, whether delivery or administration, patient safety and infection control should be at the forefront of every action so that preventable conditions do not impede patient care. By working with stakeholders and consumers, we will achieve our zero infection goal.
Erica Washington is the Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Coordinator for the State of Louisiana and implemented the first state-based National Healthcare Safety Network Data Use Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will improve the Louisiana’s ability to track and prevent healthcare-associated infections.
- Posted byon September 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM EST
Janine Janosky, PhD. is being honored as a Champion of Change for helping Americans live healthier lives, reduce disease and contribute to lowering health care costs by focusing communities on public health and prevention.
I am Vice President at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) and head the Center for Community Health Improvement. I lead a multi-institution collaboration known as the Accountable Care Community (ACC). It expands the concept of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). This ACC initiative positively impacts the health of the local community and serves as a national model for collaborative, integrated, multi-institutional approach that emphasizes shared responsibility for the health of the entire community.
Our Accountable Care Community initiative is supported through a Community Transformation Grant from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Community Transformation Grant program, created by the health care law, supports innovative community-level efforts to collaborate to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Through the ACC, we have been successful in improving the health of those in our community by promoting healthier lifestyles through disease prevention and health promotion, reducing chronic disease, increasing access, and improving health equity. The ACC impacts population health by lessening the burden of disease, thus reducing health costs, and improving lives. One of the first ACC public health efforts was to zero in on diabetes since approximately 11 percent of adults in Akron have diabetes. In just 18 months we are already seeing positive result from the programs: More than half of participants lost weight, decreased body mass index (BMI), and reduced waist size; the average cost per month of care for individuals with diabetes was reduced by more than 10 percent per month, saving the program $3,185 per person annually; and we saw a drop in diabetes-related Emergency Department visits.
The multi-institutional partners within the ACC are diverse and include Akron Children's Hospital, Akron General Health System, Summa Health System, The University of Akron, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Summit County Public Health, Community Legal Aid, Akron Metropolitan Housing Association, Akron Public Library, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, United Way, Akron Urban League, and over 60 other community organizations, institutions, and agencies. The ACC framework improves population health through community and practice-based interventions for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention and care management for chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, and others.
The ACC serves as a national model by providing and managing health and patient care across different institutions, expanding the efficiency of budgets and resource needs and uses while creating methods to monitor and evaluate health and performance indicators. The ACC is aligned with the integration of public health and healthcare, namely the movement toward population health.
Janine Janosky, Ph.D., serves as Vice President and Senior Fellow for the Center for Community Health Improvement at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Ohio. The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) is leading a community-based integrated health and wellness initiative.
New Data: Most of the Increase in Employment is in Full-Time Positions Since the Affordable Care Act Became LawPosted byon September 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM EST
Ed. Note: This post was updated on October 25th, 2013 in order to reflect new data.
New data out today in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Employment Report show that of the increase in employment since the Affordable Care Act became law, more than 9 out of 10 positions have been full-time.
The Affordable Care Act continues to improve the functioning of labor markets in a range of ways including helping to slow the growth of premiums, creating affordable new options for small businesses, reducing the “job lock” that can keep workers from taking the best job for them, and generally improving health outcomes and reducing absenteeism. We are already seeing tangible changes in affordability, including premium growth at less than one-third the rate of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Businesses owners who are looking to take advantage of tax credits, and other benefits under the law aimed at making coverage more affordable are encouraged to visit Business.USA.gov/healthcare for more information.
Moreover, to date there is no economy-wide evidence that the employer responsibility requirement, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2015, is increasing part-time employment. In fact, a range of labor market data shows that our patterns of part-time employment are typical given our current economic recovery. Five charts make five key points in this area:
1. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the economy has created 5.7 million full-time jobs, while the number of part-time jobs has been essentially unchanged. Over the 42 months since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the number of employed people has increased by 5.6 million, reflecting a 5.7 million increase in the number of people with full-time jobs and a 0.1 million decline in the number of people with part-time jobs. The net increase in employment over this period is therefore due entirely to an increase in full-time work. While measures of part-time employment can be volatile month-to-month, over the last three years, the share of total post-ACA employment growth accounted for by full-time jobs has never fallen below 85 percent.
- Posted byon September 6, 2013 at 10:07 AM EST
Fall isn’t just the time when kids go back to school; it also means enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. Starting on October 1, people without health care insurance -- including 10.2 million Latinos -- will be able to shop through the new health care marketplace to compares prices and plans and get covered. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Health insurance covers these costs and protects you from very high expenses.
With open enrollment less than a month away, this is a great opportunity to review some of the key components of the Affordable Care Act and the health care marketplace that are important to know before October 1.
How does the health care law affect me?
- If you already have health insurance, you now have access to expanded preventative services like checkups, cancer screenings, mammograms and contraception at NO additional cost.
- Young adults, including nearly one million young Latinos, can now remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26.
- Many seniors will save hundreds of dollars each year on their prescription drugs.
- Health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage or charge you more because of a pre-existing health conditions, including pregnancy or disability.
- Beginning 2014, most people are required to have health coverage. If they don’t, they may have to pay a fee.
- If you need help finding a plan, several kinds of help will be available to give you personalized assistance with the process.
What is the new Health Insurance Marketplace?
The Marketplace, also known as the insurance “exchange,” is a new, simple way to find health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs. With one application, you can see all your options and enroll. You can comparison shop in an online marketplace, just like you would for cell phone plans or plane tickets. This tool will help you save money on your monthly premium for private health insurance and you will be able to find out if you qualify to reduce out-of-pocket costs. You can learn more about the new health insurance marketplace through live chat online or calling toll-free 24/7 at 1-800-318-2596.