Health

Friday, February 6, 2015

UPDATE: Former Memorial rep tagged for health foundation

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 1:34 PM

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UPDATE: We just received a message telling us that Davis's salary will be $115,000 a year.

——ORIGINAL POST FRI., FEB. 6, 2015, 1:34 p.m.—————

Cari Davis, former communications director for Memorial Health System, has been nominated to head the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, which was created with proceeds from the lease of Memorial to University of Colorado Health.

Recently returned from Rwanda, Davis also served as executive director of TESSA, an agency that provides services to domestic violence victims. She also was a member of Memorial's board of trustees.

Here's the news release, announcing her nomination:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Board of Trustees for the Colorado Springs Health Foundation has nominated Cari Davis as Executive Director for the Foundation, subject to approval by Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and City Council confirmation Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015.

Davis, who was unanimously selected by the Board from a nationwide pool of qualified candidates, has extensive experience in the healthcare industry and serving the diverse needs of our community. Cari recently served as Hospital Management Senior Associate for Yale University-Global Health Leadership Institute where she taught hospital leadership and management skills to healthcare professionals in Rwanda. Cari served as Director of Communications and Marketing for Memorial Health System managing all communications and marketing efforts for the $600M/year hospital system. Prior to that position, Cari was the Executive Director of T.E.S.S.A. in Colorado Springs providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Cari holds a double Masters Degree in Business Administration and Public Health from Yale University.

“Cari is a proven leader in the health care and human service sectors with particular expertise in nonprofit organization leadership and management which will help the Foundation navigate a large variety of effective and innovative approaches to generate the greatest impact in Colorado Springs and surrounding communities,” said Lynette Crow-Iverson, Board Trustee and Chair of the search committee.

As the first Executive Director, Cari will focus on many areas during her initial months, including creating the organization’s website, establishing grant making processes and working closely with community partners to assess the community’s health needs.
The Colorado Springs Health Foundation is a non-profit public foundation committed to finding and filling voids in the Colorado Springs area where health and wellness services are not as easily accessible as they should be. The foundation was established by the City of Colorado Springs for the purposes of receiving, holding, and managing all funds received from the City’s lease of the operations of Memorial Health System to the University of Colorado Health, as well as for holding the responsibility of creating grants and distributing funds for the purpose of addressing health issues in the City and Memorial Health System service area. Fully realizing the potential to positively impact the health and wellness of Colorado Springs and surrounding communities, the Colorado Springs Health Foundation has set its standards high in becoming dedicated to the mission of making “El Paso and Teller the healthiest counties in Colorado”.

Cari’s first day of employment will be early March 2015.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

UPDATE: DaVita settles in kickback scheme

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM

A representative of DaVita called to say that despite a press release from the Colorado Attorney General's Office that seems to indicate otherwise, the settlement with the states is "nothing new," and was in fact a part of the original $389 million U.S. Attorney's Office settlement. DaVita's Skip Thurman says that the states were simply given a payout from the federal settlement.

“There was a state payout in conjunction with the federal agreement,” he says.

Representatives from the Attorney General's Office, however, say that while the federal and state investigations were done jointly and based on the same facts, this is a new settlement of $11.5 million. The $22 million mentioned in the press release represents the total Medicaid money lost by the states. But Medicaid is paid for by both the states and the federal government — and the federal government already got its share of that loss in the first settlement. So the $11.5 million in new money is what the states will retain. 

 
——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 2:07 P.M. ——-

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock

Denver-based DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc., known for its national dialysis business, has become a big player in Colorado health care. 

In recent months, it's acquired the Pikes Peak region's largest medical practice, Colorado Springs Health Partners, and partnered with Englewood-based Centura Health, which owns 15 hospitals, including Penrose-St. Francis. (Read more about that here.) 

But that's not the only reason that DaVita has been making the news. In October, the company settled with the U.S. Attorney's Office for $389 million to resolve charges that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks in order to garner referrals to its dialysis clinics. And today, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced that DaVita has reached a $22 million settlement with five states regarding kickbacks made between 2008 and 2013. Colorado will recover more than $3 million through the settlement.

“This represents a significant recovery for Colorado’s Medicaid program,” Suthers stated in a press release. “Colorado will not tolerate any arrangement that appears to compromise the objectivity of physicians and the efficiency of the Medicaid program.”

An investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s Office found that:

DaVita included unrealistic assumptions in its financial models to support lower purchase prices for clinic shares and allow the physicians to receive artificially high returns on investment. In exchange, the company expected and received the referrals of the physicians’ patients needing dialysis. Patients would almost always follow their physician’s recommendation and receive treatment at the DaVITA clinics.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Clinic named for WW 2 hero

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 10:12 AM

An artist's rendering of the new clinic.
  • An artist's rendering of the new clinic.


A bill that authorizes the naming of the new Veterans Affairs clinic in Colorado Springs for a Medal of Honor winner awaits President Obama's signature.

In a news release, Sen. Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Doug Lamborn, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, lauded the Senate's passage of the bill to name the clinic after Floyd Kenneth Lindstrom of Colorado Springs.

From a news release issued by Udall's office:
Lindstrom, who spent his childhood at the Myron Stratton Home (then a home for indigent children) south of Colorado Springs and served in World War II, received the Medal of Honor for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" in single-handedly defeating a German counterattack on November 11, 1943, on a hill near Mignano, Italy. His citation notes that then-private first class Lindstrom "demonstrated aggressive spirit and complete fearlessness in the face of almost certain death." Lindstrom declined a non-combat assignment after being recommended for the Medal of Honor and was killed in action on February 3, 1944.

"As a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, I'm proud to have stood with the Colorado Springs veterans community to honor World War II Medal of Honor recipient PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom," Udall said. "The new veterans clinic bearing his name will serve as a lasting tribute to a Colorado Springs hero who put his own safety on the line so that others might live."

"Ensuring that our veterans have access to convenient, comprehensive health care has always been a priority of mine," Lamborn said. "It was an honor to partner with so many Southern Colorado veterans to help bring a fantastic new Colorado Springs Community Based Outpatient Clinic for our veterans. Today, the facility is complete. The Senate, thanks to the efforts of my colleague Senator Udall, has passed my bill designating the new clinic as the "PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic. PFC Lindstrom was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during WWII and is one of the Fifth Congressional District's - and the nation's - greatest heroes. He is buried in Colorado Springs at the Evergreen Cemetery and I can think of no one more deserving of this honor. I want to thank the Colorado Springs CBOC Naming Committee and everyone else who worked so hard to make this happen."

Udall and Lamborn attended the new clinic's ribbon cutting in September. The clinic, located at the corner of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard in Colorado Springs, offers southern Colorado veterans access to expanded services such as audiology, physical therapy, optometry and mental health.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Springs still lacks top-level ER

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Memorial Central: Still no application for top level trauma licensing. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Memorial Central: Still no application for top level trauma licensing.
A year after both local hospital systems said they’d seek the highest level of certification for their emergency rooms, neither has submitted an application to state officials.

And there’s no telling when Memorial Hospital or Penrose Hospital will seek the Level 1 trauma designation, although a spokesman for Memorial says the facility is taking steps in “an aggressive fashion” to meet the strict criteria. A Penrose spokesman says the hospital falls short by a third of the number of high-level trauma patients required for the designation, and can’t apply until that number increases.

Meantime, both hospital systems say they provide top-notch care locally.

In August 2013, less than a year after the city leased Memorial to the University of Colorado Health under a 40-year deal in October 2012, Memorial officials told media they would seek a Level 1 designation, the most acute emergency care.

Currently, emergency rooms at Memorial Central and Penrose Hospital have Trauma II designations. Memorial North has no trauma designation, and St. Francis Medical Center, part of the Penrose-St. Francis Health Services system, has a Trauma III label for its ER. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the lower the level of emergency care available.

In September 2013, Penrose said that it, too, would seek the highest designation.

But Mark Salley, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says this via email when asked about the applications:
Both University Memorial and Penrose publicly declared their respective intentions to seek Level I trauma center designation last year. To-date, no applications for designation as a Level I TC have been received by the department. Trauma center designation is a voluntary action by hospitals and they choose the level according to resources, commitment, etc. The department works closely with all of Colorado's 73 designated trauma centers and will look forward to working with the facilities in Colorado Springs in terms of seeking Level I trauma center status.
Penrose-St. Francis Health Services spokesman Chris Valentine says in an e-mail that among the criteria for Trauma 1 is a requirement that an emergency room treat 320 patients a year with high injury severity, based on a complicated scoring system.

“Since Penrose did not yet have enough patients that met the criteria, a complete application could not be submitted for consideration,” Valentine says, noting Penrose fell about 100 patients short in 2013. “Trauma volumes and acuity are increasing at Penrose, and a complete application will be submitted when the required number of patients has been reached.” This year, Penrose’s number is on track to be about the same as 2013, he adds.

University of Colorado Health spokesman Dan Weaver says Memorial is aware of the lengthy process required for Trauma 1 eligibility. Among the complicated requirements are research and resident teaching programs, various specialty physicians on staff and publication of 20 peer-reviewed articles in medical journals within a three-year period.

For example, one requirement calls for an on-call attending trauma surgeon to be in the ER when the patient arrives, and the maximum allowable response time for the surgeon is 15 minutes 80 percent of the time; a postgraduate med student in year four or five of training may begin resuscitation while awaiting the surgeon’s arrival.

“Although we are well on our way to building both an exceptional research program and resident teaching platform,” Weaver says via email, “these programs will not be fully matured instantaneously.”

He notes that Memorial has an orthopedic traumatologist, who specializes in the most complex orthopedic trauma injuries, and the only surgical critical care program and acute care surgery program in Southern Colorado, components of leading-edge trauma programs. The addition of the traumatologist, he adds, means that many patients with severe multiple hip and pelvis fractures who used to be automatically transferred to a Level 1 facility are now treated in Colorado Springs. In addition, Weaver says Memorial’s emergency department is helping push toward that goal through numerous research projects.

“So while we don’t yet have a specific date to apply for level I trauma center certification, our preparation for this is progressing in a meaningful and aggressive fashion,” he says.

Neither Weaver nor Valentine could predict when either hospital system might apply for Level 1 designation. Valentine noted the “silver lining” to Penrose’s inability to reach the number of patients necessary to apply for a Level 1 license means “people in southern Colorado aren’t experiencing these serious injuries.”

There are four Level 1 trauma centers in the state, all in the Denver metropolitan area: Denver Health Medical Center, Denver; St. Anthony Hospital, Lakewood; Swedish Medical Center, Englewood, and Children’s Hospital Colorado (pediatrics), Aurora.


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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

About that Ebola patient in Dallas

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Ebola: A nasty little virus. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Ebola: A nasty little virus.
I watch too many zombie flicks. 

And yes, maybe that influenced my thinking when I told my editors in August that Ebola would hit America. How, I asked, could the country prevent the infection from coming to the U.S. when patients can be asymptomatic, and airlines are still running between the U.S. and infected portions of Africa?

Furthermore, when Ebola does present symptoms, which is also when it becomes contagious through bodily fluids, it looks an awful lot like the flu. A person may not know they have the virus. And let's face it, they also may not want to admit to themselves that something so deadly is what's causing them to feel sick. 

Well, the bad news is, I was right. Ebola has officially spread to the U.S. via a patient in Dallas who recently flew in from Liberia. The good news is that health experts don't expect Ebola to spread here the way it has sadly spread through parts of Africa, killing thousands.

Our health systems are advanced, and the virus is expected to be easily contained. But if you're interested in what the risk is in the Springs, and how we're preparing for any possible outbreak, you could read my story from August on that very subject.
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Learn more about Ebola at lecture

Posted By on Fri, Sep 5, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Ebola: Scary stuff. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Ebola: Scary stuff.

As Ebola continued to spread across Africa, I wrote about how Colorado Springs was preparing for the possibility of a local infection on August 20. 

Well, the world isn't out of the woods yet when it comes to this killer virus. If you want to learn more about it, check out this upcoming lecture at Colorado College on Wednesday:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Lecture: Containing Ebola: Global health, politics, and human rights in stopping the Ebola epidemic
The Ebola virus has now infected thousands in West Africa, and continues its inexorable spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. Colorado College Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science Andrew Price-Smith will speak on the expanding Ebola epidemic and its impact on global health, international governance, human rights and national security.
7 p.m.,; Jerome P. McHugh Student Commons above the Preserve in the Western Ridge Housing Complex, 1090 N. Cascade Ave.; free

And, if you're having a hard time keeping up with how Ebola is spreading, helloMD has a great little infographic on the subject: 

HELLOMD
  • helloMD

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The working sick are sickening you

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Yes, it's not quite The Walking Dead. But the working sick are apparently taking their own toll on civilized society — not out of selfishness, but desperation and due to what some are calling an unjust business sector. 

We received a press release today via ROC United (Restaurant Opportunities Centers United) with a link to their 2010 report "Serving While Sick." This was in response to news last week of a Houston-based Subway employee fired after reportedly being forced to work sick. 

From the release, here's the worrisome data:
The issue of working while sick is endemic to the restaurant industry due to an overwhelming lack of paid sick days:

- According to our national report, Serving While Sick, of more than 4,000 workers surveyed, more than 87% of restaurant workers surveyed report not having paid sick days and more than 60% reported working while sick.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified restaurants as the leading sources of foodborne disease outbreaks — overwhelming caused by norovirus.

- Due to lack of paid sick days and poverty wages, restaurant workers often work while sick to avoid missing a day of pay. The base wage for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour, resulting in servers using food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the workforce and being three-times as likely to live in poverty.

In response to the rising popularity of local paid sick days legislation around the country, the National Restaurant Association has also come out strongly in support of state level preemption bills that forbid cities from instituting paid sick day and wage laws entirely, successfully shepherding preemption legislation through nine states, and has helped introduce preemption legislation in seven more.

“There are easily more than 10 million restaurant workers in the U.S. With over half having had to work while sick — that’s more than 5 million people who should be at home recovering but instead are touching, preparing, and serving food to the public because they don’t have paid sick days, fear losing their jobs, or just can’t afford to take a day off because their pay is already so low,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “The National Restaurant Association’s opposition to paid sick days for restaurant workers is a public health disaster; we can point to the restaurant industry as the source of stomach flu every single season.”  
For more on the Subway employee, here's the news story:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

UPDATE: Diet soda works wonders for the waistline

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Drink up, just make sure it's diet soda. - ROBIN CORPS
  • Robin Corps
  • Drink up, just make sure it's diet soda.
UPDATE: This just in. The study about diet soda as a weight loss strategy was completely funded by the soda industry, says Elizabeth Granger, who fielded questions on behalf of the researchers.

"While the study was industry-funded," she tells us in an email, "it was peer-reviewed and posted on www.clinicaltrials.gov. Neither ABA, nor any of its members, was involved in any part of the study setup, its analysis or the writing of the paper."

——-ORIGINAL POST 10:22 A.M., TUES., MAY 27, 2014———-
You've heard it both ways: Drinking diet soda is a good way to avoid calories. Drinking diet soda won't keep the pounds off.

Well, now, you can confidently fill up your super jumbo mega soda cup with diet soda and know you're helping yourself lose weight, according to a new study set for publication in the June issue of Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society. (Who knew an entire society was dedicated to the study of being grossly overweight?)

“This study clearly demonstrates diet beverages can in fact help people lose weight, directly countering myths in recent years that suggest the opposite effect – weight gain,” James O. Hill, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, and a co-author of the study, said in a news release. “In fact, those who drank diet beverages lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry than those who drank water alone. This reinforces if you’re trying to shed pounds, you can enjoy diet beverages.”

More from the release:
The 12-week clinical study of 303 participants is the first prospective, randomized clinical trial to directly compare the effects of water and diet beverages on weight loss within a behavioral weight loss program. Conducted simultaneously by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora, Colorado and Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia, the study shows subjects who consumed diet beverages lost an average of 13 pounds – 44 percent more than the control group, which lost an average of 9 pounds. More than half of the participants in the diet beverage group —64 percent — lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared with only 43 percent of the control group. Losing just five percent of body weight has been shown to significantly improve health, including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

“There’s so much misinformation about diet beverages that isn’t based on studies designed to test cause and effect, especially on the internet,” said John C. Peters, co-author of the study and the chief strategy officer of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. “This research allows dieters to feel confident that low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages can play an important and helpful role as part of an effective and comprehensive weight loss strategy.”

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: those who were allowed to drink diet beverages, such as diet sodas, teas and flavored waters, or those who were in a control group that drank water only. With the exception of beverage options, both groups followed an identical diet and exercise program for the duration of the study.

In addition to losing 44 percent more weight than the control group, the diet beverage group also:

Reported feeling significantly less hungry;
Showed significantly greater improvements in serum levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the so-called “bad” cholesterol; and
Saw a significant reduction in serum triglycerides.

Both diet soda and water groups saw reductions in waist circumference, and blood pressure.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Get free screenings at upcoming health fair

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 11:22 AM

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For some, a regular check-up at the doctor's office is just too much cost and hassle.

Good news: Many of the screenings you should be getting regularly will be available, free of charge, at the 12th annual Southern Colorado Health Fair, to be held in Manitou Springs on April 26.

If you'd like to attend, check out the time and date information below, and also be sure to read through the rest of the release — many tests require some prep work on your part, like fasting.


Manitou Springs to host 12th Annual Southern Colorado Health Fair in new location

Manitou Springs, CO, April 8, 2014 — The Annual Manitou Springs Southern Colorado Health Fair will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 7:00 a.m. – noon. The fair will be held at Community Congregational Church, 103 Pawnee Avenue, in Manitou Springs.

The Southern Colorado Health Fair provides health education and basic health screenings to individuals 18 years of age and older throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Thousands of lives have been saved through early detection, prevention, and dynamic educational programming statewide.

Oral, hearing, and blood pressure checks, cardiac risk assessment and 31-component blood analyses are just a few of the free or low-cost health screening services available during the Southern Colorado Health Fair.

The 31-component blood analysis, including coronary risk ratio, glucose and TSH (thyroid), is available for a $30.00 fee. In order to receive an accurate blood analysis, the following guidelines should be followed: fast for 12 hours (diabetics should not fast); drink plenty of water to keep hydrated; and continue taking all prescribed medications as normal.

Men over the age of 40 years may take a prostate cancer screening (or PSA) test for a nominal fee of $25.00. Men opting to take the PSA blood test should follow the guidelines above prior to the screening.

In addition, a blood cell count, for a $15.00 fee, helps diagnose conditions such as anemia, infection, and many other disorders.

For more information about this event, contact The Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau & Office of Economic Development at 719-685-5089, or visit www.manitousprings.org. For additional information on Statewide 9Health Fairs, visit www.9healthfair.org or call 303-698-4455.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Memorial system to expand, build new facility

Posted By on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 9:44 AM


Memorial North will be getting a new neighbor. - COURTESY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
  • Courtesy Memorial Hospital
  • Memorial North will be getting a new neighbor.

A new children's hospital is planned next to Memorial Hospital North as result of the city's lease agreement with the University of Colorado Health, according to a Memorial news release.

Although Children's Hospital of Denver isn't a signatory to the lease, it took over Memorial's Children's Hospital as part of the Oct. 1, 2012, lease agreement between the city and UCH.

Construction of a new children's hospital could have been good news for the city, if it came with a cut of the action. But the lease's provisions don't allow the city to share in revenues from Children's Hospital.

This is what we reported in a cover story about the lease on Aug. 8, 2012:
The city also is to receive annual lease payments of $5.6 million for 30 years, and for 40 years it would receive "margin sharing payments" based on Memorial's financial performance. [Then City Attorney Chris] Melcher estimates the margin payments at $2.5 million annually.

But the lease's margin sharing formula excludes revenue from services Memorial provides that aren't typically offered at Colorado hospitals of similar size and type. So money from certain specialty services might not be part of the calculation, which would have the effect of lowering the payment to the city. Revenues from Children's Hospital also would be omitted, except for those stemming from use of Memorial's facilities, [then UCH CEO Bruce] Schroffel says, because Children's isn't a party to the lease.
Here's the Memorial press release, which, not surprisingly, doesn't mention the lease's exclusion of revenues from the lease payment provisions:
After a transitional year that included a needs assessment and numerous strategic discussions, University of Colorado Health (UCHealth) and Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) are pleased to announce a master facilities plan that would include expansion of both pediatric and adult services throughout Colorado Springs and southern Colorado. Components include expanding pediatric urgent care in Colorado Springs and exploring building a new free-standing children’s hospital adjacent to Memorial Hospital North.

While in the early stages of exploration, such a plan aims to meet the growing health care needs of southern Colorado. Additionally, a project of this scope is expected to drive economic development and new jobs. UCHealth and Children’s Colorado will be working with city officials and incorporating input from the community and key stakeholders along the way.

“In 2012 Colorado Springs voters placed their overwhelming support in UCHealth and Children’s Colorado, two nationally recognized organizations, to operate Memorial Hospital and to elevate health care for Colorado Springs,” said Mike Scialdone, President and CEO of Memorial Hospital. “This partnership helps us fulfill that promise and continue to deliver on the vision to make Memorial Hospital a regional and statewide leader in health care.”

“Children’s Colorado and UCHealth have worked diligently over the past year to honor the community’s trust by investing in new equipment, infrastructure, staff and physicians,” said Children’s Colorado CEO Jim Shmerling. “We’re excited to take this next step and deliver on our shared mission to improve lives and elevate patient care for children and teens in our community.”

As plans move forward, UCHealth and Children’s Colorado will work with the community, medical staff, and city leadership on the expansion of medical services throughout southern Colorado.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Free flu shots offered

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM

STEVEN DEPOLO
  • Steven Depolo

If you haven't had a flu shot because you're uninsured, here's your last chance to avoid the hurling and fever that goes with that nasty diagnosis.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department has partnered with Memorial Hospital, Penrose St. Francis Hospital, TLC Pharmacy and others to offer a free flu shot clinic. It's for uninsured children and adults ages 4 years and older.

The city's clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday in the community room of Fire Station 8, 3737 Airport Road.

Community partners in the free clinic program include Nazarene Bible College, Mercy's Gate, Ecumenical Social Ministries, High Plains Food Pantry, Springs Rescue Mission, 9-Health, Tri-Lakes Cares, Catholic Charities, Westside CARES, and Westside Community Center.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Penrose lauded as one of 100 'best hospitals'

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has been lauded once again for its delivery of health care. 
click image SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock

Part of Centura Health, Penrose-St. Francis operates two hospitals in Colorado Springs — Penrose Main on North Cascade Avenue, and St. Francis Medical Center at Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road. It also operates facilities across Colorado and in western Kansas, with more than 6,000 physicians and 16,200 employees.

Recently, Healthgrades, a leading provider of information about hospitals' performance, published a study naming Penrose-St. Francis as among America’s 100 Best Hospitals for cardiac care, orthopedic surgery and pulmonary care. It's the second year in a row that Penrose-St. Francis has received this recognition in orthopedic surgery, Penrose-St. Francis says in a news release. Also from the release:


The achievement is part of findings released today in American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, which demonstrates how clinical performance differs dramatically between hospitals and the impact that this variation may have on health outcomes. A 5-star rating indicates that Penrose-St. Francis’ clinical outcomes are better than expected when treating the condition or conducting the procedure being evaluated.

“Penrose-St. Francis has been a vital part of this community for more than 125 years,” said Margaret Sabin, president and chief executive officer of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. “Until recently, consumers chose a hospital based on reputation or location. Tools such as this Healthgrades report now allow consumers to research and choose a hospital based on the quality of care that a hospital provides, and we’re finding that they’re willing to travel to get quality care.”

Penrose-St. Francis has been one of Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals for the past six consecutive years. The 2014 recipient list is scheduled to be announced in February 2014.

“Hospitals achieve this distinction by providing better than expected outcomes for specific conditions and procedures,” said Evan Marks, Executive Vice President, Informatics and Strategy, Healthgrades. “When selecting physicians associated with a hospital that has achieved this recognition, consumers can expect a commitment to exceptional clinical quality care.”

For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 40 million Medicare-patient records for nearly 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals nationwide, assessing hospital performance relative to each of 31 common conditions and procedures. Healthgrades awards hospitals quality achievements for cohort-specific performance, specialty area performance, and overall clinical quality. Individual procedure or condition cohorts are designated as 5 star (statistically better than expected), 3 star (statistically as expected) and 1 star (statistically worse than expected) categories. Detailed performance information, such as cohort-specific outcomes data and quality achievements for individual hospitals may be found at www.healthgrades.com/find-a-hospital.

More information on the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, including the complete methodology, can be found at www.healthgrades.com/quality.

Healthgrades also recognized Penrose-St. Francis in a number of other areas, including knee and hip replacement, treatment of pulmonary and respiratory ailments and general surgery excellence.


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Friday, October 11, 2013

UPDATE: Are you afraid to die? Because I really, really am.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Wouldn't you know it? The inbox delivers once again with this:

Death Cafe: A Colorado Springs First

Yup, a klatsch to discuss your fears and other unsettled feelings about life on this mortal coil. Death Cafes are actually a volunteer-run world-wide deal, according its website. Since it started in September 2011, over 300 Cafes have been held.

The institution's philosophy is simple and direct to the point:

At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.

The objective of Death Cafe is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'.

Our Death Cafes are discussions about death that are always offered:

- On a not for profit basis

- In an accessible, respectful and confidential space

- With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action

Cottonwood Center for the Arts is hosting our own Cafe on Friday, Oct. 25, as part of its annual Dia de los Muertos art show and celebrations. It starts at 4 p.m. and ends just in time for the Day of its Dia opening reception and party.

Creepy, right?

——- UPDATE: ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, SEPT. 30, 5:18 P.M. ——-

OK, not to get all weird on everyone, but I have a major fear of dying. I'm afraid of my family, my fiancé, even my pets and then of course, myself dying. I think about it a lot, and wonder about what the great hereafter is actually like. My best guess is that it's probably just nothing (I'm not religious in any kind of way), but I'll be the first to admit I don't know, and how could I, anyway?

Death death death death death death. Black, smothering, everywhere, everyone, everything, always. No choice, no take-backs, no other way about it.

It's all very depressing.

It doesn't have to be that way. (And I'm not counting on Google to "solve death" in my lifetime.) If anything, I'm not alone in my anxieties, but that's hardly helpful. And then this showed up in the inbox:

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Oh really? You have my attention.

Do you or a friend fear death? Would you like to help a loved one in a meaningful way who is facing death? Are you curious about what happens at the moment of death? If you would like to explore these questions in a safe, nurturing environment, then we invite you to attend this deeply personal one-day transformative workshop.

What follows are talks with a "soul passage midwife," in this case, a woman who says she has spent 20 years "walking souls to the Other Side." Then therapeutic art and yoga, which will conclude with a discussion on "how creative process and subtle awareness are gateways to soul passage — and to the After Life."

And, it's $125. (Or $95 if you sign up early.)

OK, I'm skeptical about it. A class where you discuss your fears — with others — and lots of talk about "soul passage." And then yoga? Ugh. (Sorry, I'm just not a believer — I'm a couch potato.)

But then ... why not? So maybe I don't need to come to some kind of definitive conclusion about it, but I can, as the class advertises, "recognize fears about death which you can release."

Well, if you put it that way ...

Really, I'm in no position to criticize anyone seeking answers. Especially if they seem a little New Age-y and "out there." After all, my grandmother says the woman who haunted her house for 20 years has returned after a 30-year hiatus; and her uncle believed he could talk to his dead sisters; one of whom died after her dead father appeared to her in a dream saying he would take one of his children with him.

My ultimate point is that perhaps my normal mode of thinking critically is what's really flawed here. Just because it seems "out there," doesn't mean it's not true. People have discovered bizarre shit at the bottom of the deepest oceans — animals you couldn't even dream of, completely adapted to the harshest ecosystems. Then there's quantum mechanics for Chrissakes, and that's really weird: Stuff you could only dream about turns out to be really real.

Interested? Find class information here. Know of something better? Then comment below.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cancer research comes to Colorado Springs

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 3:39 PM

According to the American Cancer Society website, over one million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year; it’s almost a guarantee that someone in your life has or will be one of those afflicted. I realize this probably isn’t the most upbeat news you've heard today, but I promise all is not grim and gloomy.

The silver lining around tough topics like cancer is that there are good-hearted people who invest in research to improve the lives of their (often unknown) neighbors. El Paso County residents will have the opportunity to do just this with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), which will be enrolling Colorado Springs residents at various locations, Tuesday, Oct. 15 through Friday, Oct. 18. Eligible participants are between the ages of 30 and 65 who have no personal history of cancer.

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The study will follow 300,000 individuals over 20 to 30 years.

“When we go into these studies, we’re not going in to look for one particular thing; we want to get a wide base and demographic of folks to figure out why some are diagnosed with cancer and some are not,” says Deanna Cordo, staff lead for CPS-3 enrollment in Colorado Springs.

CPS-3 is the third major, longitudinal study done by the American Cancer Society. “The first cancer-related study found the link between tobacco and cancer, and the second found the link between obesity and cancer,” explained Cordo. “The questions participants will be answering are based on their lifestyles and how active they are in their day-to-day world.”

The Society has been enrolling participants since 2006. At this point, they have about 280,000 participants signed up and will be enrolling until the end of the calendar year, when the study will close.

You can go online to schedule an appointment at one of the four locations in Colorado Springs, at which time you will be prompted to fill out the most comprehensive survey. At the actual appointment, you will be asked to give a blood sample and have your waist circumference measured (an anxiety-inducing experience for some of us, but all is kept confidential), as well as fill out another, briefer survey.

From this point on, participants will receive a new survey every 2 to 3 years over that 20 to 30 year span. These surveys can be filled out in the comfort of one’s own home and come with pre-paid postage, so laziness really doesn’t count as an excuse.

To learn more about how to get involved, visit cps3SoCo.org.
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Memorial seeks trauma 1 status

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 4:37 PM

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Memorial Hospital will try for a Trauma 1 designation of its emergency rooms, both at the 1400 E. Boulder St. main hospital and the north hospital at 4050 Briargate Parkway, according to announcement made today by the University of Colorado Health, which leases Memorial from the city.

This is a big deal, because UCH vows to hire more people, including specialists like neurologists, and to serve people in need of sophisticated emergency medicine as far away as northern New Mexico. Memorial's Boulder Street location is a Trauma 2 facility, while the north hospital has no designation.

Memorial is being leased under a 40-year deal that became effective October 1 following voter approval on August 28. The city gets an annual payment from UCH, and it received $259 million upfront. That amount is being held in escrow until the city comes to terms with the Public Employees Retirement Association over how much is owed to secure Memorial employees' retirements at the time of the lease. Employees now are under a different retirement plan.

Here are the details as spelled out in a news release:

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