When Larry J. Merlo took the CEO job at CVS in 2011, some wondered if his experience heading the drugstore chain’s retail operations had prepared him enough to tackle CVS’s strategic transition into a health care company.But since assuming the helm, Merlo steadied a faltering merger with pharmacy benefits manager Caremark and took the gutsy step of removing cigarettes and other tobacco products from CVS store shelves, costing the company $2 billion a year but boosting its standing in the health care industry.Now, Merlo, who is 62, faces the most ambitious — and challenging — move in his 27-year career at CVS: the $69 billion acquisition of Hartford-based health insurer Aetna, Inc. and the push to create a new model for health care.The merger, announced in December after weeks of speculation, has the potential to dramatically reshape health care, making pharmacies a fuller partner with physicians and their patients. Crucial to the merger is creating new and … [Read more...] about For Pharmacist Turned CEO: CVS’ Larry Merlo Faces Biggest Challenge In Aetna Acquisition
Nurse to patient ratio in nursing homes
Every year, hundreds of residents at senior care centers around the state are assaulted, raped or robbed in crimes that leave lasting trauma and pain for the victims and their families. Yet the vast majority of these crimes are never resolved, and the perpetrators never punished, because state regulators lack the staff and expertise to investigate them. And thousands of complaints are simply ignored. State records examined by the Star Tribune show the scale of the failure. Last year alone, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injuries, and thefts in state-licensed homes for the elderly. Ninety-seven percent were never investigated. That includes 2,025 allegations of physical or emotional abuse by staff, 4,100 reports of altercations between residents and 300 reported drug thefts. Video 02:54 Robert Krause didn't find out that his mother had been sexually assaulted until nearly a year after she … [Read more...] about Star Tribune special report: Senior home residents abused, ignored across state
ORDWAY — Inside Karen Tomky’s small medical office, the fourth patient of the day lifted up his snap-button shirt to reveal a liver-colored smear of a bruise. “It was a heifer,” David Ragsdale said of the cow that trampled across his back. “She wouldn’t go in the chute. She came over top of me.” Tomky, a nurse practitioner, looked at the bruise without alarm. “Oh, man,” she said, “I hate that. It’s like slow-motion when they hit you.” In a career spent caring for one of Colorado’s poorest and most rural counties, Tomky is accustomed to surprises. On any given day, she might treat colds or broken bones or addiction or chronic disease. Patients have walked into her office in the midst of heart attacks or labor. One time, a farmer came in with an amputated finger, blood spurting across the tile floor. She grew up here in Crowley County, the daughter of a cattle rancher on the southeastern plains, but she … [Read more...] about Colorado Divide: In rural Colorado, doctors are retiring and dying — and no one is taking their place.
Michelle Post smiled as she walked into the room and greeted a man sitting in a chair.After Post pumped hand sanitizer from a dispenser on the wall and pulled on a pair of green gloves, she and Nick Michels chatted over the sound of air flowing through his tracheotomy mask. She bent forward to listen to his lungs through her stethoscope and then knelt."I'm going to see if you have any swelling in your legs," Post said on a recent morning at the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee.A black ball cap adorned with the words "Combat Medic" lay on the bed beside Michels.Post worked as a certified nursing assistant at the Milwaukee VA while she earned her nursing degree at Alverno College and was hired after graduating in 2014. She works in a medical/oncology unit and many of her patients are Vietnam veterans. "They talk a lot about what they brought back from Vietnam, like Agent Orange, and how that's affecting them now," she said.It's nurses like Post … [Read more...] about Facing a shortage of nurses to care for aging veterans, Milwaukee’s VA hospital rolls out the perks
I have been a registered nurse at Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, since 1983. As an RN, I can work anywhere — and yet I have chosen, for just about 30 years, to brave morning rush hour on the Gowanus Expressway, commuting from my home on Staten Island for the same reason that other LICH nurses travel from upstate New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania to work there. Now we are fighting for the survival of the hospital we love. The owner of the 155-year-old institution, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, is intent on closing it down — less than two years after acquiring it with big plans for the future. On Friday, SUNY’s board unanimously voted to shutter LICH. This decision (which still needs final approval from the state Health Department) has left my patients, my colleagues and myself stunned. SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall has claimed that the residents of surrounding neighborhoods seek care elsewhere. His view is supported … [Read more...] about If LICH dies, Brooklyn will suffer
The House will have a General Fund budget to consider. But members may have to think through their votes.In the climax of an exceptionally tense day, the House Ways and Means General Fund committee Tuesday approved a General Fund budget that chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said would strip $156 million from the state’s Medicaid program, a program that even the sponsor of the budget calls the “foundation” of health care in Alabama.The move came about two hours after the committee voted down a proposal to increase the cigarette tax by 25 cents a pack, a key element of House leadership’s proposal to balance the General Fund. The budget faces a $200 million shortfall.Clouse brought the proposal after calling Medicaid indispensable to the state. But he said citizens and legislators often didn’t see the good it did.“If this passes, then it’s time for the state to have a Medicaid debate,” Clouse said.Tensions erupted after Rep. Laura Hall, … [Read more...] about Medicaid would see major cut in General Fund budget
David Klein leaned forward, scrunching his face in deliberation.A journalist had just asked whether, as a Department of Veterans Affairs suicide- prevention coordinator for seven years, he was able to meet the needs of Arizona veterans.Charts and spreadsheets were piled in front of him on a table at the Phoenix VA's mental-health clinic, filled with data on suicides.Klein paused before answering in a hushed voice: "Ummm, no. I wish I would have had a lot more people." MORE: Burned soldier finds new purpose aiding vetsDuring the 2013 budget year, 226 Arizona veterans took their own lives, according to state records. More than 2,000 vets from metro Phoenix dialed the VA's central crisis line; 61 were "rescued" after they threatened to kill themselves. It was the second-highest number nationwide.Amid the national outcry over VA health care — a controversy that first exploded in Phoenix — failures in the mental-health treatment system have been heavily … [Read more...] about Arizona veteran suicides a tragic cost of broken VA system
Governor Paterson has signed a new law requiring hospitals, clinics and nursing homes to disclose medical errors and nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift.In addition to mistakes, the report card must include details on such patient-care issues as bedsores and hospital-acquired infections. "We are very pleased that the governor saw this as a necessary step in informing the public about staffing ratios so they can make informed decisions about patient care," said Tina Gerardi, CEO of the New York State Nurses Association. The legislation pitted nurses and health care advocates against hospitals, which carried out a big-money lobbying campaign against it. "This means another mandate on top of literally hundreds," said William Van Slyke, a spokesman for the Healthcare Association of New York State, which represents hospitals. "There's a famous study that shows for every hour of patient care a nurse has an hour of paperwork. This will add to that burden." The law, which takes effect … [Read more...] about Hospitals must audit medical flubs and nurse-patient ratios under new state law
In the buildup to Tuesday's budget showdown in Albany, the special interests have been hitting Gov. Paterson with everything they've got. And none of it is sticking. Millions of dollars' worth of radio, TV and newspaper ads have portrayed the freshman governor as some kind of devious ogre who wants to trash public schools and kick nursing home patients onto the street. And average New Yorkers, God bless 'em, aren't buying it for a second. So far, they're trusting Paterson to do the right thing. Monday, Paterson scored his highest approval ratings yet in a poll by the Siena College Research Institute. That was after Paterson proposed politically unpopular spending reductions in the face of a recession. That was after weeks of taking it on the chin from the teachers and the health care industry and the public employee unions - weeks during which Paterson spent not a penny on ads in self-defense. The trial by fire only burnished Paterson's reputation. Of those polled, 59% … [Read more...] about With attacks on Gov. Paterson failing, it’s ‘Dave of reckoning’ in Albany
WITH THE borough's housing growth - and the continued exodus of patients to Manhattan and Long Island hospitals - Queens needs two new hospitals, Borough President Helen Marshall said yesterday. A health care analysis by PriceWaterhouseCoopers notes that in 2004, more than 97,000 Queens residents went outside the borough to get hospitalized medical attention. "That means that on any given day, 1,400 Queens patients are in hospital beds outside Queens," said Marshall, who also pointed to the booming growth in housing in western Queens and the Rockaways. The borough president said the analysis also revealed that nearly 45% of the Queens patients treated in hospitals outside the borough are hospitalized in Manhattan; 34% in Nassau County. The numbers represent a loss of $630 million a year in revenue for borough institutions, said Marshall, whose call for new Queens hospitals comes as a state commission is set to determine the needs of the state's hospitals and nursing homes by … [Read more...] about BEEP: BORO NEEDS TWO HOSPS, STAT!