hospitals

The move came without much warning. 

“We were stunned,” Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho State epidemiologist, told the radio show Idaho Matters


Hospital finances around the nation have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes Wyoming hospitals as they had to stop providing the non-essential services that make up a huge percentage of their revenue for a period of time. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with the president of the Wyoming Hospital Association Eric Boley on the situation in our state.

Enviremedial Services

As some rural health clinics fill up and jails try to quarantine sick inmates, a military contracting company in Pinedale has come up with a solution.

The United States is seeing its highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. And nurses, doctors and other health care workers are not immune to pay cuts and furloughs.

Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET

Michelle Sweeney could barely sleep. The nurse in Plymouth, Mass., had just learned she would be furloughed. She only had four hours the next day to call all of her patients.

"I was in a panic state. I was sick over it," Sweeney said. "Our patients are the frailest, sickest group."

Sweeney works for Atrius Health as a case manager for patients with chronic health conditions and those who have been discharged from the hospital or emergency room.

Intensive care teams inside hospitals are rapidly altering the way they care for patients with COVID-19.

The changes range from new protective gear to new treatment protocols aimed at preventing deadly blood clots.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

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Wyoming hospitals are facing financial uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Most hospitals are following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to stop all non-essential services, like elective surgeries. 

Star Valley Health

Nationally, New York, South Dakota and many other states are experiencing an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients. But Wyoming isn't projected to reach its peak number of coronavirus cases until early May.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Shelby, Mont. is home to a lot of wheat and barley fields, a decent high school football team, and an Amtrak train that passes through town twice a day. It's a place where almost everyone knows everyone. 

"The people here are fantastic," says William Kiefer, CEO of the only hospital in the county that offers 24/7 emergency medical services. "There's a huge sense of community."

So when people began getting sick and even dying from COVID-19, it hit hard. 

David Maulik

At the start of the week, Tyler Kerr was one of the few people in the office at the University of Wyoming's Student Innovation Center. He and his team had a busy weekend 3D printing 115 face masks for Wyoming.

As hospitals continue to fill up with COVID-19 patients, one major health care provider in the Mountain West announced it’s cutting pay for some of its medical staff.

Rural hospital closures are becoming more common, and that’s leading to longer response times for ambulances to reach the scene of an emergency, according to a recent study.

Nearly 40 hospitals in the Mountain West are being penalized for having high rates of infections, patient injuries or other complications from hospital stays. That’s according to data released last week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


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Attempts to hack into hospitals' electronic records are increasing nationally. In response, Wyoming hospitals are beefing up their security.

The American Hospital Association has released a new report on the state of rural hospitals across the country. There’s good and bad news about how the Mountain West stacks up.

First, the bad news. When it comes to the number of mental health professionals, our region looks like a black hole.

Wyoming legislature

A Wyoming Legislative Committee is moving forward with a plan to hire consultants to perform a comprehensive study of the costs associated with Hospital Care.  

USDA

Hot Springs County Hospital in Thermopolis and Westward Heights Care Center in Lander received a combined $25.5 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. The hospitals will be using the funds to modernize and expand their facilities.

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

Wyoming’s current economic decline is beginning to effect the financial wellness of hospitals across the state. Earlier this week, Wyoming Medical Center in Casper announced they would cut 58 positions in order to balance their budget.

Wyoming's Governor and Congressional delegation have been fighting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act for years.

But with Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling ruling “Obamacare” looks stronger than ever.

Wyoming Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne of Cheyenne says that might force state legislators to finally start talking about how they could work with federal healthcare policy.

Wyoming hospitals are breathing a sigh of relief following Thursday’s United States Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

The ruling allows 20,000 Wyoming residents to keep their subsidies to purchase health insurance via the federal Marketplace.

Wyoming Hospital Association president Eric Boley says, if the ruling had gone the other way, state hospitals would have seen a dramatic uptick in uncompensated care. But Wyoming hospitals are still facing imminent financial challenges.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Earlier this year when the legislature voted down Medicaid expansion, lawmakers realized that some hospitals were struggling to make up for the fact that some people cannot afford to pay their medical bills.  So after a lot of discussion, they provided roughly three million dollars to be spread among the smaller rural hospitals. But some thought that was not enough, so two legislative committees are looking into what else can be done to help. 

Wyoming lawmakers are considering working with communities to allow them to determine their own health care needs.

The Joint Labor and Health committee is trying to find ways to improve health care in the state and reduce costs to hospitals. Hospitals say the care they are required to provide to poor and uninsured patients is costing them millions.

Miles Bryan

  

Think about the word, “scribe.” What pops into your head? Probably something from a humanities class in college or a History Channel documentary, right?

Well, if you have visited a doctor lately you might be envisioning something more modern. The medical scribe industry has been booming in recent years, fuelled largely by hospitals around the country switching to electronic medical record systems.

Miles Bryan

Kimberley Enyart was never interested in doing recreational drugs. But then she was in a car accident and her doctor prescribed a powerful opiate for the pain.

“It just, I don’t know it put me off in la-la land it made me feel better,” she said. “I don’t know, I loved it. I loved that high.”

When Enyart’s prescription ran out she did whatever she could to more from other doctors in town. Eventually, she moved on to dentists.

“I even had two back teeth pulled for it.”

Laramie’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital is considering an expansion that could lead to a new Internal Medicine Building among other things. 

Hospital CEO Doug Faus said the expansion also could include the Jeannie Ray Cancer Center, parking areas, and space for University of Wyoming Medical students who are part of the WWAMI  program. The biggest priority is the Internal Medicine building. Faus says a better facility will help recruit and keep doctors.

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Part 1 in our Title 25 series. Read Part 2 here.

If you want to get the full picture of how the Title 25 process works in Wyoming you need to talk to Chel Bleckler. That’s because she spent over a decade working in an E.R. in Cody, where a big part of her job was working with Title 25 patients.

Miles Bryan

Part 2 in our Title 25 series. Read Part 3 here.

The Cloud Peak Counseling Center in Worland looks more like a nursing home than a psychiatric hospital. It’s a small building with murals on the walls and a game room with leather couches. In fact it isn’t technically a hospital at all.

In an effort to increase medical services to rural communities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are now accepting applications for the Frontier Community Health Integration Project (F-CHIP).

Transparency is key for hospitals, doctor says

Jul 2, 2013

A doctor who will be speaking at the Renaissance Weekend in Jackson this week says transparency at hospitals can lead to better healthcare for patients. Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and author of Unaccountable, a book about hospital transparency, says the lack of transparency at many hospitals stems from both data and historical attitudes.