Lawrence Memorial Hospital is now requiring its staff to either get a flu vaccination or wear a surgical mask when dealing directly with patients.
Hospital officials say it's a policy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one that is based on research showing it helps reduce the spread of influenza. But it's one that has stirred controversy in other parts of the country, including Massachusetts where a statewide nurses union has openly opposed it.
"We did quite a bit of research," said Greg Windholz, director of LHM's Business Health Center. "We don't ever want to change a policy without, one, doing the research and, two, seeing what is going on in the area and what other hospitals are doing."
The CDC has long recommended that health care workers receive flu vaccinations each year. In 2009, it began recommending the use of face masks and respirators in certain settings in response to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.
Since then, Windholz said, the policy has become a standard practice in most hospitals.
"That's pretty consistent," Windholz said. "There are hospitals that (require) mandatory flu vaccines. If they're not, they require flu vaccines or wearing a mask when doing direct patient care. It's pretty universal now, not only in this area but across the country."
Windholz said LMH formally adopted the policy last fall, and it went into effect recently with the first laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Douglas County. He said the policy is only in effect during an active flu outbreak, and it applies only to workers involved in direct patient care who come within six feet of a patient.
Last month, a similar policy adopted by many Massachusetts hospitals sparked opposition from the Massachusetts Nurses Association which posted a statement on its website.
"There is no medical justification for these policies, which are designed to bully nurses and staff to take the flu vaccine regardless of nurses’ medical and/or personal concerns," the statement read.
The new policies are coming in a year when the seasonal flu outbreak is proving to be more widespread than normal.
"It's certainly early, and seems to be more intense than where we were last year," said Charlie Hunt, state epidemiologist at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Hunt said KDHE tracks flu outbreaks through a voluntary reporting system that involves a network of outpatient clinics that report patients complaining of flu-like symptoms. The trends are published on KDHE's Influenza Surveillance website, which shows that in the last week of December, more than 5 percent of all patient visits were related to flu symptoms.
That's far more than the peak of the seasonal flu outbreak in each of the last two years, peaks that normally don't occur until late February or early March.
"Generally speaking, when influenza activity starts to ramp up, it will stay elevated for several weeks, so I would anticipate that if this year's influenza behaves like typical influenza, then we're going to see elevated levels for a while," Hunt said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital leaders are still considering opening a 7,000-square-foot wellness center that would be part of a proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence.
President and CEO Gene Meyer said during Wednesday’s board meeting that the wellness center would be a collaborative project with the City of Lawrence, and the hospital would lease the space.
The proposed LMH Wellness Center would include two large multipurpose rooms, two small meeting rooms, two consultation rooms, a physical therapy clinic, open space for sports performance, food court area and reception area.
Karen Shumate, chief operating officer, gave a preliminary report in June about what kinds of services the wellness center might offer, and the board asked for more details about the potential costs. She presented a 15-page report Wednesday.
The services still include:
• Physical, occupational and speech therapy services.
• Diet and exercise classes.
• One-on-one wellness coaching.
• Sport performance enhancement programs.
LMH estimated it would cost $947,000 to open the center, which includes $616,000 for construction. The rest would be for purchasing new equipment like treadmills, a body fat analyzer, computers and furniture. The hospital estimates it would lose $227,000 during the first year of operation with net revenues of $527,000 and expenses of $724,000. In the second year, it expects to lose about $25,000 and then to have a profit of $6,000 in the third year.
Several board members said they were concerned about the bottom line, but also believed wellness services were important to provide, especially given the rising number of residents who are obese and the chronic conditions that come along with that.
Among their other concerns: location and duplication of services already offered in Lawrence.
In June, Rob Chestnut questioned whether the location fit the populations that the hospital was trying to reach with its wellness efforts, and he asked administrators to consider other locations. Board members, once again, at Wednesday’s meeting asked the hospital to look at other locations.
Chestnut said he also would like to see the plan include what services would be moved from the main hospital into the wellness center, and what services the hospital would be offering that aren’t currently available in the community.
Shumate said she would do a better job of identifying services that are needed in the community and would present those findings during a future board meeting.
“This report is by no means a finished product,” she said. “It’s an idea of what we felt we could do well and what would serve the population.”
In the meantime, LMH is in a wait-and-see situation as the city investigates the feasibility of joining forces with Kansas University on a new joint sports complex or building a recreation center on a nearby site.
“We are watching and waiting to see how the discussions go with the city,” Shumate said. “If there is a place for wellness services in a proposal, then we want to be the partner with the city to do that,” she said.
Buckle up. Seat belts save lives.
That’s the message of an annual statewide campaign that started this week, just before thousands of motorists hit the road during Labor Day weekend, and ends Sept. 8.
As part of the campaign, volunteers will be handing out dollar bills to drivers who have all occupants buckled up securely in their vehicle. They will be handing out a total of $8,000 in 56 cities across Kansas, including Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora.
Those riding unrestrained will receive educational materials about the effectiveness of seat belts and child safety seats in saving lives and reducing injuries.
Last year, 382 people died on Kansas roads, and 50 percent of them weren’t wearing seat belts.
According to the 2011 Kansas Department of Transportation Safety Belt survey, 83 percent of those surveyed ages 14 and older were wearing their seat belts. This compares to the national average of 84 percent. In Douglas County, the survey found 81 percent of adults buckled up — a drop from 84 percent the year before. Meanwhile, 90 percent of children in Douglas County were appropriately buckled up.
John Drees, a registered nurse and community education specialist for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said the emergency room treats about 1,000 adults involved in motor vehicle crashes each year and about 30 children.
“The children are all in their safety seats,” Drees said. “It works. You just have to apply it.
“The bottom line is there’s less suffering, less injury, less death and also less money spent on health care issues when you buckle up. It’s just the smart thing to do.”
Analysis: 29 Kansas hospitals to face financial penalties for readmission rates; Lawrence Memorial isn’t among them
Twenty-nine Kansas hospitals will be penalized by the government starting in October because their Medicare patients were readmitted too soon after discharge, according to a recent analysis by Kaiser Health News.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital is not one of them.
“I think we have taken a proactive and a collaborative approach,” LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said of reducing its readmission rates.
He said doctors, nurses and social workers work together and then coordinate with area agencies to ensure the patient is taken care of once he or she returns home.
LMH receives about $60 million annually in Medicare reimbursements, and it likely won’t lose any of it because of the new penalties that are being implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.
Nearly one in five Medicare patients, or 2 million beneficiaries, are readmitted within 30 days of release each year, costing Medicare $17 billion in additional hospital bills, according to Kaiser Health News. The national average readmission rate has remained steady at slightly above 19 percent for several years, and that’s because hospitals have had little financial incentive to ensure patients received the care they needed once they left. That is until the Affordable Care Act, also known as health reform or Obamacare, was passed.
Beginning Oct. 1, hospitals can lose up to 1 percent of their base Medicare reimbursements. The penalties will be deducted from reimbursements each time a hospital submits a claim. For example, if a hospital received the maximum penalty of 1 percent and it submitted a claim for $20,000 for a stay, Medicare would reimburse it $19,800. The maximum penalty will increase to 2 percent in October 2013, and then it will increase to 3 percent the following year.
The penalties are based on the frequency that Medicare heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia patients were readmitted within 30 days between July 2008 and July 2011.
Kaiser analyzed hospital readmission records nationwide and released its findings last week. It found:
• 2,211 — hospitals nationwide will be penalized a total of $280 million in Medicare funds.
• 278 — hospitals will lose the maximum amount.
• 29 — Kansas hospitals will be penalized.
• 2 — Kansas hospitals will lose the maximum amount. They are Coffey County Hospital and Morton County Hospital.
Kaiser Health News estimated that Kansas University Hospital would face a penalty of .38 percent for its readmission rate.
Dr. Lee Norman, KU Hospital senior vice president and chief medical officer, said the estimate was in line with the hospital’s estimates, which means they would lose about $360,000 a year. KU Hospital receives about $75 million annually in Medicare reimbursements.
Norman said KU Hospital has worked to reduce readmission rates in a number of ways. Among them is a new “huddle concept” where the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and case managers meet briefly once a day to discuss each patient.
“This huddle concept is incredibly powerful for getting everybody on the same page with the family and with the patients,” he said.
Norman said they also try to identify early on the patients who are higher risk of readmission. Often, these are patients who have multiple conditions or lack support at home.
Norman, who has been a doctor for more than 30 years, said medicine is one of the leading causes of readmissions. He said patients either don’t understand their medications or they just don’t have the money to buy them.
“Patients are proud. They don’t want to tell their nurses and doctors that they don’t have the money to pay for the medication when they get home,” he said.
So, KU Hospital staff focus on educating the patients before they leave and often follow up once they are home.
“I personally think that paying for performance and paying for quality is the way to go,” Norman said. He pointed out that the readmission rate is just one measure, but there are other measures where KU is getting paid more because they are meeting or exceeding standards. “We have been very successful through the years of getting to the top of performance measures in terms of quality.”
KU is among the top 20 percent of academic hospitals nationally when it comes to taking care of patients with complicated cases.
“That’s an elite, select kind of patient that unfortunately is more likely to be readmitted,” Norman said. “I just hope it doesn’t penalize us to a point where we worry about our mission. To this point, we are not anywhere close to that.”
— Kaiser Health News contributed information to this story.
Kaiser Health News recently released its analysis of the penalties hospitals could be facing because too many Medicare patients were readmitted within 30 days of discharge. The maximum penalty amount is 1 percent of their base Medicare reimbursements. Here’s how hospitals fared in the Lawrence region:
• Providence Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan. — 0.79 percent.
• St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Mo. — 0.52 percent.
• Shawnee Mission Medical Center — 0.45 percent.
• Kansas University Hospital — 0.38 percent.
• Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park — 0.37 percent.
• Saint John Hospital, Leavenworth — 0.33 percent.
• St. Luke’s Hospital South, Overland Park — 0.31 percent.
• Overland Park Regional Medical Center — 0.15 percent.
• Ransom Memorial Hospital, Ottawa — 0.13 percent.
• Cushing Memorial Hospital, Leavenworth — 0.02 percent.
The following would receive no penalties: Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Olathe Medical Center, St. Francis Health Center of Topeka, and Stormont-Vail Healthcare of Topeka.
For a complete list, visit kaiserhealthnews.org.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s board met Wednesday morning to set its priorities for the next five years, and access to primary care emerged at the top of the list.
President and CEO Gene Meyer said better access doesn’t just mean recruiting more doctors, but extending hours of service beyond the typical workday especially for commuters. He said LMH also will look at how nurse practitioners and physician assistants can be integrated into practices to serve more people.
He said reports have estimated that about 15,000 more Douglas County residents may gain access to some form of health insurance when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014.
“We are going to have to provide access to those people,” Meyer said during an interview in his office after the board's three-hour strategic planning session. If not, people will be forced to look elsewhere.
“Primary care isn’t just important because it provides access to community members who need it, but selfishly, active primary care fuels activities and programs here at the hospital,” he said. Those activities would include surgeries and use of its oncology and cardiology services.
Meyer said the board agreed to help primary care practices, whether they are affiliated with the hospital or not, when possible. That could mean employing staff, buying a building or help with recruiting.
Meyer said the board’s other two priorities are better collaboration with neighboring hospitals and also better collaboration with health agencies in the Lawrence community.
LMH keeps a close eye on its competition in Topeka and Kansas City, and Meyer said the board discussed whether it should consider a merger among other possibilities. The board decided it was best for LMH to remain an independent, nonprofit hospital and to collaborate with its neighboring hospitals like it does now. If LMH can’t provide services, it refers patients to a number of hospitals that can.
“We decided LMH is better served by being the Switzerland of all hospitals, which means friends with everybody,” Meyer said.
Meanwhile, LMH also wants to improve collaboration with community health agencies like Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, Heartland Community Health Center, and Visiting Nurses Association.
“We want to work with our partners to minimize duplication and to maximum resources and really coordinate care that’s delivered locally,” Meyer said.
Tickets are still available for a Friday luncheon to benefit Mario’s Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
The closet is named after former Kansas University basketball player Mario Chalmers who made a $25,000 donation through his foundation to establish the closet, which opened one year ago. The shop offers a variety of items including cosmetics, skin care products, wigs and prosthetics.
The luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, July 20, in The Hancock Room at The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave.
Among the speakers will be Carrie Rangel, a cancer survivor, and Lawrence doctors Michele Affield, Cheryl Rice and Sharon Soule, Chalmer’s mother Almarie Chalmers, and Cindy Self, wife of KU basketball coach Bill Self.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services announced Monday that Lawrence Memorial Hospital's skilled nursing facility received a perfect score during an annual inspection June 22.
The department conducts unannounced inspections of the state's 340 nursing homes annually. Last year, only 4 percent of them received a perfect score or no deficiencies.
“This achievement places Lawrence Memorial Hospital SNF in the top tier of performance for hospitals in Kansas,” KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital considering opening wellness center as part of proposed recreation project
Lawrence Memorial Hospital is considering opening a wellness center in northwest Lawrence that would be part of a proposed $24 million, 160,000-square-foot recreation center.
President and CEO Gene Meyer told the board on Wednesday that the hospital has been approached by city leaders and developer Thomas Fritzel about being involved in the project, which will be on the northwest corners of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The project’s plans also call for an outdoor track and field stadium and a soccer field that would be operated by Kansas University.
“We felt that if the facility was going to contain some sort of a commitment to wellness that we wanted to be the ones involved,” he said.
Karen Shumate, chief operating officer, gave a preliminary report about what kinds of services the wellness center might offer if it were to move forward with a partnership. They included:
• Physical, occupational and speech therapy services.
• Diet and exercise classes.
• One-on-one wellness coaching.
• Sports performance enhancement programs.
Shumate said they would like to target two populations: older adults and pediatrics. With the older adults, they would focus on screenings such as bone density tests and helping those with chronic conditions.
In pediatrics, they would be addressing children who may have an illness or disorder that’s affecting their ability to live a healthy lifestyle. They also would like to help those who are struggling with weight through programs that address diet, fitness and emotional support.
“The problems with kids having weight problems is becoming more and more prevalent in our community as in every community,” she said.
The report provided a look at how the hospital might use the proposed 7,000-square-foot space:
• Two large multipurpose rooms for fitness classes.
• Two smaller meeting rooms for educational classes, screening clinics and a resource area.
• A physical therapy clinic with a section devoted to pediatric patients.
• Open space for sports performance class work.
• Food court area.
• Locker room and showers.
• Small reception area.
“This is just a concept,” she told the board. “It’s very preliminary."
A few board members raised concerns and questions after hearing the report. Dr. Lee Reussner questioned whether the recreation center would be primarily used by athletes or for the general public. Rob Chestnut wondered if the location really fit the populations that the hospital was trying to reach with its wellness efforts. He asked hospital administrators to consider other locations for a wellness center as well.
Meanwhile, others wondered if LMH didn’t provide a wellness center at the site, would the developers approach someone else?
Meyer said the developers have not given him a deadline for committing to the project. He also was uncertain if the hospital would own or lease the space. The hospital is currently putting together a report that would look at the upfront and operational costs of the wellness center. In the meantime, the hospital will continue to gather input from the community, its employees and patients.
A new report on the wellness center project will be presented during the next board meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 15.
“A partnership with the city and with the athletic department is something that we would always want to try to achieve if it makes strategic and financial sense for us,” Meyer said.
It’s national Don’t Fry Day, and it’s not about eliminating greasy food. It’s about not cooking your skin.
Before Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start to summer, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention uses the day to remind everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.
With a forecast of sunny skies and temperatures in the 90s this weekend, Lawrence residents likely will be hitting area lakes, pools and golf courses. Lawrence dermatologist Matthew Buxton hopes everyone takes the following precautions to help prevent sunburn:
• Stay indoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to avoid the most intense rays.
• Put on sunscreen about 20 minutes before heading outdoors. If outside for several hours, use a sunscreen with SPF of 45 or higher, and it needs to be reapplied every two to three hours.
• Wear a hat, sunglasses and other protective clothing.
• If there’s shade, stay in it.
Buxton said everyone is different as far as how long they can be in the sun before getting a burn. People with dark skin and dark eyes can be outdoors for prolonged periods and not have many problems. Meanwhile, he said, people with fair skin, red or blond hair and green or blue eyes are going “to fry more quickly” and shouldn’t be in the sun for more than an hour with good sunscreen.
If you get a sunburn, Buxton said there’s no magic bullet for relief, but the following steps can be helpful:
• Using plain aloe vera gel, not the kind with additives like benxocaine because people can be allergic to them.
• Soaking in a cool to lukewarm bath.
• Taking ibuprofen or Aleve.
“If it’s really serious with blisters, you should seek a doctor’s help,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to get little blisters, but if you have a large blister it could mean there’s more risk for infection or other issues.”
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s emergency room treats about a dozen people for sunburns each year.
Buxton said people should avoid too much sun exposure because it can cause skin cancer and premature aging.
“It makes you look old before your time. The more sun you have, the older you look,” he said.
Michael Van Pelt can’t thank his fellow employees enough for the help they provided during his battle with head and neck cancer.
“I am still amazed at some of the things that happened,” he said. “You can imagine when a doctor tells you, “You have cancer,” just everything stops and you immediately worry about everything.”
The 61-year-old Eudora resident has worked at Lawrence Memorial Hospital as a lab courier for seven years. Every day, he makes about 40 stops to various Lawrence offices picking up specimens. During a recent break between routes, he talked about his battle with cancer that began in August 2011 with the diagnosis, and how his co-workers helped.
First, he said, they donated hundreds of hours of paid time off so he was still able to get a paycheck while he fought cancer for five months. He had surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and for three months, he was on a feeding tube.
“If it had not been for that, my wife and I would have been in some financial trouble. We probably would have had to move, to tell you the truth,” he said.
Although they have health insurance, it didn’t cover everything and so the bills starting mounting. Van Pelt said they were making monthly payments to about a half-dozen businesses, and then the hospital provided $700 for his medical costs.
“It was a godsend,” he said.
‘WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER’
The money was provided through LMH’s annual Employee Campaign, which began in 2002. It’s a campaign in which employees can give a one-time donation or have a certain amount of money taken out of each paycheck to help fellow employees or patients in need. Employees have donated $556,171 to the campaign since it began. The amount of money raised has increased despite the economy. Last year, 780 employees donated a total of $67,809, up 156 percent from $26,465 that was donated by 343 employees in 2002.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the culture here at LMH. Employees rally behind each other and we support each other,” said Sarah Smith, who helps promote the campaign as the LMH Endowment Association development specialist. It’s a four-week campaign that ends May 18.
Smith said LMH started the campaign to provide a better and more fair system for helping employees.
“Before, we had situations in the hospital where an employee was faced with hard times and the employees that the person worked with on a regular basis would rally around and try to raise funds for them,” Smith said. “We would have separate fundraisers going on in different places for different people for different causes.”
If employees opt to participate in the campaign they can choose where they want the money to go. There are four funds:
• Crisis Assistance and Resources for Employees (CARE) Fund. This helps employees in crisis with items like utility and medical bills, car repairs and holiday meals. Those who have worked at LMH for six months or less can qualify for a maximum of $300 per year, and those who have worked more than one year, can get up to $700. Applications are submitted and a committee denies or approves the request. The committee doesn’t know anything about the employee, just the need. In 2011, 25 employees received assistance and 31 families received holiday meals, and it was worth a total $12,547.
• Employee Education Fund. It provides up to a maximum of $200 per year for employees to attend seminars, programs and conference as long as it pertains to their occupation. Last year, it helped 49 employees who received a total $9,202.
• Help and Healing Fund. It helps patients with medications or equipment when other community resources fail to meet their needs. Patients can qualify for up to $300 per year. In 2011, 140 patients received assistance worth a total $11,443.
• Patient Satisfaction Fund. This was introduced last year and aims to help patients through innovative ideas. For example, if an employee goes to a clinic and they see a program that would benefit LMH patients, they can submit the idea and then it goes to a committee who decides whether to fund it.
Kathy Clausing Willis, LMH vice president and chief development officer, said it wasn’t easy at first to convince employees to give to the campaign. “They were like, ‘I don’t want to give back to my employer,’” she said. The key was being transparent about where the money goes.
“We can’t take care of people if we are not taking care of ourselves,” Clausing Willis said.
In 2002, 30 percent of the employees participated and now it’s 60 percent.
“It’s a way of investing and retaining good people,” she said. “Years ago, companies took good care of their employees and so the employees were loyal to them forever. There was that trust. Somewhere in society, we have lost that.”
Debbie Carter, director of food and nutrition, describes her colleagues as family. She has worked at LMH for 40 years, working her way up from dishwasher. She said the LMH Employee Campaign helped pay for her mother’s funeral expenses. Her co-workers showed up with a $700 check for the funeral home during the visitation.
“It was a godsend for our family. It really helped during a trying time,” she said. “It made me feel they cared.”
And now she gives back, knowing that she can help others like Van Pelt, who is now cancer-free, regaining his strength and almost back to working full-time.
Van Pelt said in addition to help with his medical bills, LMH provided gift certificates for a holiday meal and gifts for his family although he had turned it down when they asked if he wanted the help. He said he appreciated the gesture but felt there were more deserving families, but LMH thought differently.
“That was something completely unexpected. That made it Christmas,” he said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Gene Meyer recently received a 2.5 percent pay increase, bringing his salary to $454,692, after an annual job evaluation by the Board of Trustees.
Meyer, who has worked at LMH for 15 years, received the same across-the-board pay increase that all LMH employees received this year. He oversees the 173-bed hospital, its outpatient services and approximately 1,300 employees.
Judy Keller, chairwoman of the board, said LMH has excelled in the areas of quality, safety, service, technology and finances under Meyer’s leadership. She noted that during the past year, LMH has added physicians and expanded services, including opening a new 10,500-square-foot medical building in Eudora.
Meyer also was recently recognized as the state recipient of the American Hospital Association’s Grassroots Advocacy Award.
“It is essential that our CEO’s pay is competitive,” Keller said. “In these challenging times for health care, we must have a leader who can guide the organization and meet strategic goals. Lawrence needs a strong hospital to continue to serve our community’s health care needs, and Gene’s experience and leadership help ensure that we stay a strong hospital.”
Lawrence Memorial Hospital leaders plan to begin renovation work in June on the admissions area with the goal of making it more private and efficient.
The project also will include remodeling space to the north of admissions that includes the accounting and business departments and an area that has been vacated by the information technology department, which moved to the Fourth Street Health Plaza building. The plan is to move administrative leaders from their current location on the second floor into the area, which will make them more accessible.
The hospital also plans to add more restrooms in the area.
Todd Koch, director of facilities, said they are still working on the design and the decor and will be accepting bids in May. The 10,000-square-foot project is expected to be done by year’s end.
“The admissions area will be very noticeable, but private,” he said.
The project was among several that Allen Belot, chairman of LMH’s facilities committee, discussed Wednesday during the board meeting.
Other projects include:
• LMH South Therapy Services. It will move from the basement of the Mount Oread Medical Arts Centre Building, on the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive, to newly renovated space on the second floor of LMH South, which is an adjacent building. Work began this month and is expected to be finished in July. The project will cost about $600,000.
• Parking lot near Fourth and Michigan streets. Koch said they will reconfigure the parking lot, which will add about 30 spots. They also plan to add off-street parking along Arkansas Street, which will provide another 30 spots. He expects work to begin in July.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s financial status is on the rise.
Moody’s Investors Service, one of the country’s top credit-rating agencies, has upgraded its long-term bond rating to A1 from A2. LMH is among the smallest hospitals in the country to receive such a rating.
LMH’s operating revenue was $185 million last year, while most A1-rated hospitals have $790 million, according to Moody’s report.
In issuing the upgrade, Moody’s noted LMH’s strengths are its dominant market position in a favorable service area and a track record of strong operating results with 12 years of increasing cash flow growth.
“It was a total shock to everybody. We didn’t lobby for it. We didn’t expect it, but it’s a terrific accomplishment,” said Chuck Heath, LMH board treasurer. “Moody’s always told us that A1 probably is not going to happen for LMH because of the size, but the numbers and the accomplishments were too good for them to ignore, so hats off to everyone.”
The hospital received its last Moody’s upgrade in 2010, when it went from A3 to A2.
LMH received a glowing 2011 audit report Wednesday from Angela Miratsky, a partner with the Kansas City, Mo.-based accounting firm BKD, during the board meeting.
“To get an upgrade in this economy is pretty impressive,” Miratsky said. “I think the higher rating just demonstrates the financial stability of the hospital and that they’ve done a good job over the years of making sure they are financially sound and will be here for years to come.”
In 2011, its operating income was $9.5 million, up 9.3 percent from 2010. It was a significant turnaround from 2010, when LMH ended the year with a 9.2 decrease compared with 2009.
LMH’s 2011 bottom line received a boost by a $1.6 million incentive payment from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for meeting national information technology standards and from additional revenue generated by the midyear affiliation of the Internal Medicine Group practice.
Physician service revenue increased 39 percent in 2011 because of the addition and growth in services provided for cardiology, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, and by the hospitalist physician group.
As a nonprofit, LMH reinvests its profits to finance facility improvements, purchase new equipment and provide additional services.
During the past five years, LMH has had $115 million in capital asset additions, including $13.9 million last year. Among last year’s projects were renovation of its kitchen and cafeteria, expansion of its laboratory services, technology for electronic health records at its affiliated practices and a new medical building in Eudora.
Miratsky said more hospitals are receiving credit rating downgrades than upgrades in this economy.
“I think LMH has done a good job with strategic planning and some of the actions that they’ve taken over the years to position themselves. Management has done a good job of monitoring expenditures and really watching the financials,” she said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital is renovating its second floor medical unit where acutely ill patients are cared for.
The unit’s 28 rooms will all become private rooms and new amenities will be added for patients and their visitors. Additionally, the decor will go from pastels to earth tones.
The $2.1 million project began in March and is expected to be finished Oct. 1. Patients are being taken care of on the third floor, which is an overflow area.
LMH’s Endowment Association’s biennial Hearts of Gold Ball on May 5 will help pay for some of the enhancements. About 600 people will attend the black-tie event, which includes a live and silent auction, with the goal of raising $250,000.
In 2010, the ball raised $175,000 to help purchase new equipment for cardiovascular care, and in 2008, it raised $100,000 for the special care nursery.
Deb Rector, director of the medical unit, is thrilled that this year’s event will benefit her patients and staff. The unit’s last renovation was done in 1998. She said they would like to upgrade and add computers and equipment, which will increase efficiency and safety. They also hope to get new beds, which cost about $18,000 apiece.
“It would be really wonderful if when we opened our unit we had all new beds. That’s one of the big ones that we really want,” she said.
In addition, the rooms will have sleeper sofas and chairs for patient visitors. The waiting room will be transformed into a hospitality area that has Internet access, a television and other amenities.
“Our overall goal is to provide patients and family with a warm and healing environment,” Rector said. “Research has shown that patients actually heal quicker when they have familiar faces around them and feel less stress about being in the hospital.”
Dr. Marc Scarbrough, an LMH hospitalist, said not only does the renovation work help patients, but it also helps recruit doctors and staff and then retain them.
“We’ve got a lot of young new physicians coming in, and the facility is going to be what Lawrence deserves, and it’s going to match the awesome staff we have here,” he said.
HOW TO HELP
The Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association’s seventh biennial Hearts of Gold Ball will begin at 6 p.m. May 5 at Corpus Christi Church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway, and will benefit the second floor medical unit at the hospital. The event will include cocktails, buffet dinner, live music, plus live and silent auctions.
Tickets are $125 per person or $1,500 for a table of 10. Only 30 tickets remain.
For more information, to purchase tickets or make a donation to the medical unit project, contact Sarah Smith at 505-3315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Hurley described Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s new community care navigator Missy Grubbs as her guardian angel.
Hurley, a Lawrence resident, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a common lung disease that makes it difficult for her to breathe. Hurley, a lifelong nonsmoker, said she contracted COPD after years of working in restaurants where she was exposed to second-hand smoke.
During the past year, she has been hospitalized 11 times at LMH. She said she isn’t strong enough to cough up the mucus that forms in her lungs and it gets stuck.
“Let me tell you — it’s scary when you can’t breathe,” she said.
During Hurley’s last hospitalization in February, Grubbs made connections to get her a new breathing apparatus at home that she says changed her life.
“It’s a godsend,” Hurley said. “Since I’ve had it, I have slept all night long. I feel rested. I feel good.”
Grubbs learned about the home ventilator during a “Transitions of Care Forum.” LMH began hosting these quarterly forums about a year ago to provide better care coordination within the community. The meetings are attended by a variety of providers, including those in hospice care, home health, pharmacy and medical equipment.
Grubbs, a registered nurse, said she was unfamiliar with the company and its machines until a representative attended a couple of meetings.
Finding the equipment is just one way Grubbs has helped Hurley. She also found Hurley a new primary care provider, and now calls a couple times a week to see how she’s doing and to go over her medications. Her goal is to keep Hurley at home and out of the hospital.
Since Grubbs was hired as community care navigator last summer, LMH has seen its admission rate drop 68 percent for the 87 chronic disease patients that she is working with.
Common reasons for readmissions
Two years ago, LMH began making a concerted effort to lower readmission rates for several reasons: to improve patient care, reduce costs incurred from the low-income and uninsured populations, and because it will be penalized financially by Medicare in 2013 if its rates are higher than the national average.
“We know some patients — no matter what we do — are going to readmit,” said Linda Gall, director of care coordination. “We are really targeting and trying to decrease preventable readmissions.”
She said not only are uninsured and Medicaid patients at higher risk for readmissions, but so are patients with certain chronic diseases: congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia and COPD.
So, Grubbs focuses her efforts on those populations. What she does is visit with them while they are in the hospital and then make as many follow-up calls as needed. She typically calls twice a week for at least a month, but she said some patients need much more assistance.
Grubbs tries to make sure they have the resources they will need at home, such as medication, equipment, transportation and meals. She also will make sure they have a follow-up doctors appointment; she often makes them herself.
After taking a thorough look at readmissions, LMH found that many patients would end up back in the hospital before they saw their primary care doctor because appointments wouldn’t be for two weeks. Now, they work with doctors to get patients in within three to five days.
Another cause for a lot of readmissions was confusion about medications. “Even though it was all written out for them when they were discharged from the hospital, they would go home and then get confused or sometimes they didn’t pick up their medications or sometimes they weren’t taking them correctly,” Gall said.
For years, Allison Veeder worked as a nurse in the LMH emergency room. She often saw people who were discharged with no place to go and would end up back in the ER.
Now, she’s working at Heartland Community Health Center, a Lawrence safety net clinic, which provides care regardless of insurance or income. She said the LMH community care navigator has helped close the communication gap between primary care and the hospital.
“It’s a low-cost, common sense solution to one of the biggest, most expensive problems we have, and it increases efficiency,” she said.
Grubbs often refers patients to Heartland Community Health Center.
Veeder said she appreciates being able to get a quick summary of a patient’s status from Grubbs through a phone call rather than searching and sifting through medical information online. And if she has a question, she just needs to call Grubbs. Before, she would have to call several doctors and nurses.
“It’s one of those things after it was created that you think, ‘Why wasn’t this here 10 years ago?’” Veeder said.
LMH has made strides in reducing its 30-day readmission rate. Its latest data compares 2007-2010 to 2010-2011. During that time, readmissions dropped 7 percent for acute myocardial infarction, 9 percent for heart failure, and 1 percent for pneumonia.
Grubbs worked with one patient who had 27 admissions in 2010. In 2011, that patient had eight.
“This is about the patients’ quality of life,” Grubbs said. “People don’t feel good about themselves or just in general when they are always in the hospital. So, I’m here to help.”
Hurley said she felt “like a million bucks,” during a phone interview Thursday. She is thankful for Grubbs’ services and especially for her help in finding the new breathing machine.
“That’s going to save me and my insurance — both, beaucoup money because I haven’t been back to the hospital since I received the machine,” she said.
Len Nichols, a nationally renowned expert in health care policy, will give a program “Health Care in the 21st Century” at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 11, at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.
The program is free and open to the public.
Nichols is director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. He has been involved in health reform debates, policy development and communication for more than 18 years.
A panel of local health experts will offer a response to his presentation. Those serving on the panel: Gene Meyer, CEO at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Dr. Marci Nielsen, executive director of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative in Washington, D.C., Jamie Simpson, professional in disability and public health, and David Johnson, CEO of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.
Nichols will also deliver a sermon titled “Faith and Healing” at the Plymouth’s Sunday morning worship services at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. The Rev. Peter Luckey, senior pastor at Plymouth, said the invitation of Nichols is part of a broader effort at the church to engage health care workers in a conversation about integrating their role as professionals into an understanding of their work as vocation.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital nurse coordinates mental health services for hundreds of patients each year
Paula Dupigny-Leigh has been a psychiatric nurse for 40 years.
“I was never real attracted to the medical aspects of nursing and so I knew mental health was going to be my niche,” the Lawrence resident said during an interview in the atrium of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. “It’s been my passion to take care of the mentally ill population.”
Dupigny-Leigh grew up in McPherson, graduated from Wichita State University and applied to work at the world-renowned Menninger Clinic in Topeka.
“I thought this was the holy grail of psychiatry and thinking as a new grad that there was probably no way I would get a job there,” she said. But, she did, and she worked there for 30 years in a variety of areas — crisis, geriatrics and outpatient care.
In 2001, when she knew the Menninger Clinic would soon be moving to Houston, she applied for a job in geriatrics in LMH’s mental health unit and was hired. Then, in 2004, LMH closed its mental health unit.
Janice Early, communications director, said there were no psychiatrists who would admit inpatient mental health patients and that’s still true today. Also, patient volumes were not sufficient to sustain a quality program. But, LMH kept Dupigny-Leigh onboard and she became the clinical coordinator of mental health.
Dupigny-Leigh said she hasn’t come across a job like hers in the hospital industry. She coordinates mental health care for inpatients and outpatients, teaches classes on suicide precaution and behavior management and provides guidance to staff. She also screens hospitalized patients to determine if they may need mental health services. For example, sometimes dementia can be mistaken as a mental health disorder among the elderly.
Dupigny-Leigh said mental health issues are common. She recently provided a report on the mental health services provided in 2011 at LMH. Among the statistics:
• 1,182 — patients came to the emergency department requiring a psychiatric assessment.
• 659 — of those patients were moved to the Crisis Stabilization Service area where patients are treated for mental health.
• 641 — patients were transported to a mental health facility.
• 103 — psychiatric consults were provided to hospitalized patients.
• 702 — nurse consults were provided by Dupigny-Leigh to patients who were hospitalized or using outpatient services such as oncology and cardiology.
She said depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues seen in patients.
“Heart disease and depression really go hand in hand. There does seem to be a lot of depression in people who are rehabilitating from heart conditions,” she said.
Challenges in care
Dupigny-Leigh said she meets with patients once or twice, but if they need ongoing therapy or medication management, she provides them with referrals. But this can be challenging for a variety of reasons: no services, waiting lists, affordability.
She said there is a shortage of psychiatrists in Lawrence. She said most of them — three — are at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, which is across the street from the hospital, but there are a few who have private practices.
“To try to find adequate medication follow-up for psychiatric patients can be a real challenge. More of the primary care physicians are taking on that role,” she said.
She said they will medically detox people at LMH for drugs and alcohol and then will help them find an inpatient or outpatient program, but often there’s a wait and that’s not good because the chances of relapse are huge. She said it’s tough to find an inpatient substance abuse treatment program for men.
“Also, in my personal experience, you have to have a pretty good relationship with your therapist and not everybody matches the first time,” she said. “So, you might have to try two or three people to find the person that works for you. That can be really challenging.”
Dupigny-Leigh said there has been an increase in the number of violent and out-of-control patients who are coming into the emergency room and she said a lot of it is related to drugs and alcohol abuse.
She said when a person comes into the ER, he or she is always first evaluated from a medical aspect even if they say, “I’m suicidal,” and have no wounds. She said vitals will be taken and any appropriate testing will be done. And, she encourages people to seek mental health help at the ER.
“I don’t see mental health as being any different than appendicitis or a heart attack. So, I think when people are truly in crisis, I think that’s where they should come,” she said.
There is someone available 24/7 in the ER who can do a mental health assessment. Once a patient is medically stable and it’s determined they have mental health needs, they are moved into an area near the ER called the Crisis Stabilization Service unit. It’s a quiet area that has three rooms designed for the safety of patients. Patients transferred to the area suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse or have suicidal thought or intent.
In this area, further testing is done to determine whether a patient needs inpatient or outpatient treatment and then LMH will help find those services.
“We don’t have problems finding inpatient beds most of the time,” Dupigny-Leigh said. She most of the patients go to Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka, but other places include Shawnee Mission Medical Center and Two Rivers Psychiatric Hospital in Kansas City, and Cushing Memorial Hospital in Leavenworth. She said most of the patients who are transported involuntarily go to Osawatomie State Hospital. She said a patient will be hospitalized if an assessment determines that the patient is dangerous to himself or herself or others.
“Unfortunately in our day and age, psychiatric hospitalization is due to self harm, suicidal, homicidal or injury to others or someone has such an acute psychosis that they can’t take care of themselves. Almost everyone else is seen on an outpatient basis,” she said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s 2011 statistics were released Wednesday during its monthly Board of Trustees meeting.
Its net operating income was $9.5 million, up 15 percent from $8.2 million in 2010, and most of the hospital’s activity was slightly up despite a bad economy.
“We had an excellent year,” LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said. “We had been pretty conservative in our budgeting process for entering 2011, and the year proved to be better in many respects. Our revenues were up and most of our expenses were under control, so the bottom line was better than we thought it would be and set the stage for our ability to reinvest back into the hospital.”
Here’s a look at how the hospital fared in 2011, compared with 2010:
• $12.2 million — total net income, which includes investments, up from $10.2 million.
• $64.9 million — spent on salaries, up from $61.6 million.
• $2.3 million — spent on utilities, up from $2.2 million.
• $10.5 million — spent on charity care, up from $7.9 million.
• $19 million — lost in bad debts, up from $16.5 million.
• 36,244 — emergency room visits, up from 35,627.
• 1,086 — births, down from 1,148.
• 6,655 — patient admissions, up from 6,551.
• 177,831 — outpatient visits, down from 181,150.
• 6,070 — MRIs, up from 5,652.
• 975 — sleep lab procedures, up from 940.
• 93,034 — physical therapy treatments, down from 93,165.
• 23,615 — occupational therapy treatments, up from 22,107.
• 4,505 — surgeries, down from 4,530.
• 1,059,344 — pharmacy orders, down from 1,060,616.
• 251,666 — meals provided, down from 274,852.
• 22,650 — mammograms, down from 23,492.
• 19,062 — oncology treatments, up from 18,662.
Here’s how LMH’s family practices and other clinics fared in 2011, compared with 2010, along with their profit or loss for 2011:
• 13,995 — Mount Oread Family Practice patient visits, up from 12,439. Net loss of $336,451.
• 5,114 — Eudora Family Care patient visits, up from 4,529. Net loss of $341,668.
• 6,990 — Family Medicine of Baldwin patient visits, down from 7,166. Net loss of $257,887.
• 5,320 — Family Medicine of Tonganoxie patient visits, up from 4,707. Net loss of $233,206.
• 1,556 — McLouth Medical Clinic patient visits, down from 1,686. Net loss of $137,190.
• 20,534 — Lawrence Ob/Gyn Specialists patient visits, down from 20,666. Net profit of $154,251.
• 4,574 — Lawrence Neurology Specialists patient visits, down from 4,403. Net loss of $260,758.
LMH has budgeted a net income of $10 million for this year.
“We continue to be concerned about the level of bad debt and charity care and very concerned with the proposed 2013 federal budget that calls for significant reduction in Medicare payments,” Meyer said.
He said the hospital also is unsure how the state’s plan to privatize Medicaid will affect it. Medicaid patients make up about 9 percent of its patient volume.
“I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out. It’s going to be real interesting,” Meyer said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees approved Wednesday plans to open a cardiopulmonary laboratory to provide specialized testing for patients suffering shortness of breath because of a heart or lung problem.
The 1,200-square-foot lab is scheduled to open in October on the ground level of the Fourth Street Health Plaza, next to the anticoagulation clinic. Startup costs are estimated to be $235,000.
Dr. Charles Yockey, pulmonary specialist at LMH, said the lab will enable the hospital to test more patients who suffer from acute and chronic illnesses such as interstitial lung disease, asthma, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, because there will be more space, equipment and staff.
LMH now has one technician and one piece of equipment to provide such testing in the respiratory department. In 2011, it provided 1,214 tests.
Yockey said testing can help provide a diagnosis as well as determine disability, progression of disease and effectiveness of therapy.
“National experts have felt for years that pulmonary function testing is horribly under utilized. Some estimate there are 14 million undiagnosed COPD patients in the U.S.,” he said. “If you can find them early, then maybe you can prevent progression and hospitalizations.”
In addition to taking care of more patients, LMH also will be able to provide testing that’s currently not available such as a metabolic stress test which involves exercising on a treadmill or stationary cycle while being closely monitored. It measures performance of the heart and lungs while under physical stress.
Karen Shumate, chief operating officer, said the hospital will be filling a service gap in the Lawrence area. “It will provide cardiopulmonary testing that is not currently available in the community that patients are having to go out of town for,” she said.
Yockey added that the need for such services is expected to increase as the population grows older. “Estimates are that by 2020, two out of three people will be in the hospital because of their lungs,” he said.
LMH estimates the lab will provide a net profit of $167,000 in 2013 and by 2017, it will grow 147 percent to $413,000. The hospital reinvests profits back into the hospital.
In Douglas County, LMH estimates there currently are:
• 2,300 — people diagnosed with emphysema.
• 7,000 — with chronic bronchitis.
• 14,600 — with asthma.
• 36,900 — with cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Charles Yockey, a pulmonary specialist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, will present a program about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. It will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. March 8 in LMH’s auditorium, 325 Maine.
He will discuss the challenges of difficulty in breathing and review strategies to decrease shortness of breath including smoking cessation, weight loss and exercise. He also will talk about the management of COPD exacerbation episodes including the recommended medications for symptom relief.
The program is free but advanced registration is requested and can be done by calling 749-5800 or visiting lmh.org.
It’s cold and there’s not much daylight before or after work. Yep, winter can be a tough time to keep a healthy, active lifestyle.
That’s why Lawrence Memorial Hospital is offering a free eight-week program, “Drive Away the Winter Doldrums.”
It’s unique in that it doesn’t just challenge participants to eat healthier and exercise more, but to get health screenings that they like to put off.
Janelle Martin, executive director of the Community Health Improvement Project and co-coordinator of the new program, said the overall goal is to help people develop healthier habits for a lifetime.
“It’s full of tips that, hopefully, people can find useful,” Martin said.
Here’s how the self-paced, on-your-honor program works:
• Sign up by noon Feb. 3 by contacting Martin at email@example.com or 505-3070 or Aynsley Anderson, LMH community education coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org] or 505-3066.
• They will provide a packet of information by email or snail mail. It will include a handful of challenges per week to choose from. The goal is for each participant to complete one challenge per week. If they do, LMH will provide a small reward. The program begins Feb. 6 and ends April 1.
Martin said the challenges include:
• Moving 10,000 steps a day.
• Getting 150 minutes per week of activity that’s moderate to vigorous.
• Tracking the fruits and vegetables consumed on certain days.
• Creating a healthy recipe and providing a nutritional breakdown.
• Attending the LMH Healthy Hearts Fair on Feb. 18.
• Forming a team for Walk Kansas, a team-based program that’s March 18-May 12.
• Checking cholesterol and blood pressure.
• Creating a list of prescriptions that’s handy for appointments.
“We just wanted offer some sort of challenge to get people motivated to be more active in the winter. Some people fall off the map in the wintertime. They will use the cold as an excuse to not exercise one day, and then it turns into two. So it’s encouraging people to get back out and do the things they enjoy or just trying something different.”
— Janelle Martin, co-coordinator of program
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Hearts Fair will be from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 18.
The annual event — which typically draws about 500 people — will be held in the lower level of the hospital, 325 Maine.
Free health screenings will include blood pressure, Body Mass Index, waist circumference, and heart attack and stroke risk. It also offers a blood sugar screening by finger stick and participants should fast overnight.
There also will be exhibits with information about the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease including smoking cessation, nutrition, exercise, sleep apnea, and signs of heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure.
The screenings and exhibits will be provided by LMH staff, other area health professionals and local nonprofit health agencies.
In addition, a full cholesterol screening will be available for $25. It’s $20 if registered by Feb. 10. To register, call the LMH lab at 505-6179.
You can feel it coming: the sore throat, the stuffy nose, the coughing. Your kids, spouse and co-workers have had the dreaded winter cold and now you are coming down with it, too.
To help deter a cold, some guzzle orange juice while others swear by echinacea.
But what really works? Anything? We turned to Lawrence’s health experts to get their opinions.
Many said those same home remedies that Grandma used still hold true today: chicken soup or broth, hot bath or shower, Vick’s VapoRub. And plenty of rest; that’s No. 1.
“If you feel a cold coming on, listen to your body and take a little bit of extra rest and maybe stay home a day from work. So many of us just kind of work through it, and that doesn’t help,” said Kim Ens, a registered nurse and director of clinic services at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
She also advises eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are packed with vitamins, and discourages people from popping pills, although she knows some people swear by echinancea and zinc.
“Some think that if they take zinc throat lozenges, it helps,” she said. “If it seems to help, then take it, but a little; don’t go overboard.”
Ens said it’s always good to talk with a pharmacist or doctor before taking herbs or over-the-counter medications because there can be damaging side effects if you have a chronic health condition, take other medications or take too much.
Pat Hubbell, pharmacist and co-owner of Sigler Pharmacy, recommends four products to his clients to help ward off colds, although he admits there’s plenty of debate about whether any of them truly help shorten or lessen a cold. They are:
• Vitamin C, 500 milligrams twice a day. “It’s just tried-and-true.”
• Zinc lozenges. “The idea behind the lozenge is that it will help reduce the replication of the virus in the throat area, thus decreasing the length of cold.”
• Echinacea, an herb that Hubbell takes himself. “I swear that I feel better.”
• Airborne, a product that claims to boost the immune system. Hubbell said it contains zinc, echinacea and other vitamins. He described it as a “plethora of goodness.”
He said these are the popular products now, but it can soon change.
“Some seasons I can’t keep certain things on the shelf, and other seasons I can. I think it has more to do with whether Dr. Oz has suggested it,” he said. “That’s the unfortunate factor. It’s like the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. If you get on that list, you are golden.”
Karen Duggan, a certified holistic nutrition coach, recently taught a class “Eating for Winter Wellness” in Lawrence.
She said, “The body is self healing and it’s better if you don’t grab cold medicines but try to use natural things to help support your body while it heals itself.”
Among her recommendations:
• Rest. “If you feel a cold coming on, take the day off, and you can kick it early. What happens if you don’t take the one day off, you end up taking more because the cold worsens.”
• Stay off sugar and dairy because they suppress the immune system like smoking and coffee.
• Bundle up, so the body can use its energy helping to heal instead of keeping warm. “That’s a message my grandmother always told me, but it’s kind of gotten lost in today’s culture,” she said. “I see people who are out and about and they’ve got a cold and they are hardly wrapped up.”
• Eat fruits, vegetables, soups and whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa.
• Drink green tea and consume garlic because they are known to build the immune system. She suggests cooking garlic and using it in soups.
Duggan said it’s helped her to think of a cold as a friend and not as an enemy, something she learned by reading “Food and Healing.”
“Don’t view a cold as a threat or something bad but as more of a loving friend that’s coming to warn us or set the imbalance in the body right,” she said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital clinical pharmacist Becky Rutledge said there’s nothing revolutionary that’s going to help.
“Everybody I know wants to find something that works really well, but just taking time out is the most effective thing. If you can somehow find a way to sleep for 12 hours, that’s probably the most effective.”
If you hear screaming on the third floor of Lawrence Memorial Hospital Thursday, don’t be alarmed. They are actors.
A film crew will be at LMH from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. taping scenes for a movie called “The Sublime and Beautiful.” They will be taping in the lobby, morgue, chapel and third floor.
Executive producer of the film is Kevin Wilmott, a film professor at Kansas University, and the main character and director is Blake Robbins, who is known for playing Tom Halpert on NBC’s hit show “The Office." Other actors include Laura Kirk, who starred in “Lisa Picard is Famous,” Matthew Del Negro, who has recurring roles on “Rizzoli & Isles,” Parenthood” and “United States of Tara,” and Armin Shimerman, who performed in “3 Penny Opera” at the Lincoln Center.
The movie is a family drama about loss and redemption; it centers on a tragic drunken driving accident. It’s set in Lawrence because the lead character is a university professor.
The crew, which is on a 12-day shoot, has been filming in the community — at cemeteries, bars, restaurants and parks.
LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said the hospital was happy to help with the project.
“I think it’s going to be pretty neat,” he said. He joked that he applied to be an extra but hadn’t been picked yet.
It’s not the first time that the hospital has been featured in films. Others include: “The Day After,” “Rigged” and “Where Pigeons Go To Die.”
The movie project was among the topics that came up at Wednesday morning’s LMH board meeting. Others include:
• Kitchen and dining area renovation. Board members donned blue food service caps and toured the kitchen. As part of the $3.2 million renovation, the 1970s-era kitchen received new storage areas, flooring and walk-in coolers. The renovation also provided the kitchen with a better workflow; tray preparation and cooking are no longer on opposites of the kitchen. The dining area opened Monday and has a fireplace, high tables, couches and new decor featuring Kansas limestone, and it opens to the atrium. The dining area is now available 24/7 and patrons can hear the fountain, providing a more spa-like feel.
Work continues in the atrium, but it is scheduled to be complete next week.
• New general surgeon. LMH signed a contract with Dr. Chad Tate, 41, a Garden City native, who is practicing at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He is expected to join Lawrence General Surgery this spring after he gets his Kansas license. He will provide much-needed relief to the practice which includes two full-time surgeons — Drs. Cheryl Rice and Stephen Myrick — and one part-time surgeon, Dr. Mark Praeger. Lawrence General Surgery had 1,641 surgeries in 2011.
• Ottawa clinic to close. Lawrence Memorial Hospital will no longer have a clinic, called Lawrence Specialty Care, in Ottawa. The clinic provided cardiovascular and vein care. LMH subleased the space on a yearly basis from Dr. Darren Klish, a Lawrence radiation oncologist and owner of the Lawrence Cancer Center. He recently sold it to Ransom Memorial Hospital in Ottawa and it didn’t offer to lease the space to LMH. The sublease ends Jan. 31.
After looking for another location and not being able to find one, Meyer said the hospital has decided to not provide specialty care in Ottawa.
“To have physicians leave their main office and go to a separate location, it really constitutes a pretty good investment,” he said. “While we still serve that market and want to serve that market, it probably wasn’t as productive to lease space and have physicians go down there on a regular basis as we once thought.”
• Community health effort. LMH is taking part in a community effort to go after $1 billion in grants that are being offered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. CMS will award applicants who implement the most innovative ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. The Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project and Heartland Community Health Center are leading the effort. LMH has agreed to pay a $5,000 fee for a grant writer. Applications are due next week and awards will be announced March 31.
Meyer said the application and planning process will be helpful for the community, regardless of whether it is awarded a grant.
“With more and more people going on Medicaid and folks having challenges of finding primary care access, development of some system that’s going to benefit that is going to be really important,” he said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital is offering a variety of wellness classes this month.
• "Preventing Falls" — 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Meadowlark Estates, 4430 Bauer Farm Drive.
One third of those older than age 65 and one-half of those older than 75 have a fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of injuries resulting in death to those in their senior years. LMH Community Education, LMH Therapy Services and the staff of Meadowlark Estates is offering a free program to educate about the prevention of falls in the senior population. A limited number of lunches will be available at 12:30 p.m. If you would like to eat lunch, call 842-2400 by Jan. 24.
• "Steps to Successfully Quitting Smoking" — 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, LMH, 325 Maine.
The free class covers the basic steps to successfully quitting smoking. Topics include: ways to break the smoking habit, pharmaceutical and nicotine replacement assists, preventing weight gain after quitting, and dealing with stress during the quit process. Advance registration required, and can be done by calling LMH Connect Care at 749-5800.
• "Ask-a-Registered Dietitian About Nutrition and Wellness or Weight Loss," 3 p.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10, LMH.
Dietitian Patty Metzler will meet with community members for a free private consultation regarding personal wellness and nutrition questions or weight loss issues. Each consultation will be restricted to 15 minutes. Appointments must be made in advance by calling 749-5800.
• "Seven Steps to Stress Mastery" — 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Tuesdays Jan. 17 and Jan. 24, LMH.
It's a two-session class that offers basic stress management information. Participants will learn why we need to manage stress, seven stress erasers, how the mind contributes to stress, and how to make stress management skills a habit. Appointments must be made in advance by calling 749-5800. The cost is $20 per person.
The Kansas City, Mo.-based Community Blood Center is in critical need of blood donations due to illnesses and the holiday season when people are traveling and school is out of session. Nearly 12 percent of donations are made during school blood drives.
The center supplies blood to 70 area hospitals, including Lawrence Memorial Hospital. One donation, which is about a pint, can help two hospital patients. The center must collect at least 580 pints of blood every day to meet the region’s needs.
The Community Blood Center is having several blood drives in Lawrence:
• Thursday — 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Crown Automotive, 3430 South Iowa.
• Thursday — 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.
• Tuesday — 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Hospital, conference rooms A and D, 325 Maine.
There also is a blood drive scheduled in McLouth, and it will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church, 100 W. Lake.
To be eligible to give, you must be at least 16 years old and weigh at least 115 pounds.
To make an appointment online, visit esavealifenow.org or call 888-647-4040.
LMH received the money in November because it met qualifications set by CMS that aim to improve efficiency and quality of health care. Electronic health records help reduce errors, improve availability of records and data, and give providers reminders and alerts.
Hospital president and CEO Gene Meyer said the hospital started the process about six years ago and began implementing technology four years ago. LMH had to attest to the CMS criteria in August.
Meyer said the hospital would have implemented the technology regardless of whether the financial incentive was offered.
“We are committed to technology because it leads to improved patient safety and quality,” Meyer said. “Obviously for any hospital, but particularly medium-sized hospitals like LMH, the costs to get there are huge.”
He estimated the project cost at least $10 million. Meyer said the hospital should receive about $1.2 million next year if it maintains the same level of standards.
So far, 15 of the state’s 127 hospitals have met the standards to qualify for incentive payments. According to the CMS website, only three hospitals have received payments: LMH, Kansas Medical Center in Andover and Morton County Health System in Elkhart. CMS wasn’t able to provide the payment amounts Wednesday.
Chuck Heath, LMH finance committee chairman, said during Wednesday’s board of trustees meeting that the incentive payment was a financial boost for the hospital, which already was having another stellar year.
Through the end of November, LMH reported a net operating income of $9.3 million, up 36 percent from the $6.8 million budgeted and up 32 percent from $7 million in 2010. Its net income was $11.8 million, up 36 percent from $8.7 million budgeted and up 26 percent from $9.3 million in 2010.
Meyer said, “I think it’s control of expenses and being prudent in what we do. I think that’s really the key in today’s environment.”
• Also during the board meeting, it was announced that the $3.2 million kitchen and cafeteria renovation is expected to be complete by Jan. 16. The kitchen area is finished, and the staff recently moved in from the temporary trailers. The kitchen had not been renovated since being built in 1977.
As the economy continues to struggle, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is projecting a greater need to cover medical expenses of patients who can’t or won’t pay their bills.
At a Wednesday board meeting, trustees approved the hospital’s 2012 budget, which came with nearly $201 million in total net operating revenue and a net income of $10 million.
Trustee Chuck Heath described the budget as one with a “lower bottom line” and “soft revenue” but predicted it would still be a “solid year” for the hospital.
The hospital is forecasting that the amount of bad debt, which has steadily increased since 2009, will go up by more than 13 percent next year. In all, hospital officials expect to cover more than $20 million in medical expenses for patients who do not pay their medical bills.
“People are having a tough time, and it’s tough to pay bills,” said Janice Early, who is LMH director of community relations.
The hospital also anticipates spending $10.7 million for patients who apply for and meet requirements for financial assistance, a 5 percent increase from last year. Other increasing expenses include rising drug costs because of shortages, physician recruitment costs and additional costs related to new practices and services.
The hospital expects to see a boost in revenue from its recently formed Internal Medicine Group practice, the new endoscopy and pain management departments and the new pulmonology practice.
As for major capital expenses budgeted for 2012, $2.1 million is slated for remodeling the second floor’s north wing, and $1.5 million will be spent to remodel the first floor.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital officials anticipate there will be a federal investigation into a security breach that potentially compromised the financial information of more than 8,000 of its patients.
That investigation could result in a $25,000 fine from the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, which is the regulatory agency that oversees patient privacy and confidentiality, hospital leaders said Wednesday.
This week, LMH mailed thousands of letters alerting patients who had used the hospital’s online bill pay service that their contact and financial information could have been accessed online. Since 2005, LMH had contracted with the Wichita-based Mid Continent Credit Services to provide online billing.
In late October, LMH discovered that 28 patient records containing names, contact information, health care provider and medical payments were published online. Also available were credit card and checking account information.
So far, two patients have contacted the hospital about charges to their accounts they consider suspicious. If those charges are a result of the security breach is hard to say, LMH compliance management director Susan Thomas said.
“We can’t tell them for sure if this incident is directly responsible for that,” Thomas said and noted the only way to know is if the account was used only for the hospital’s online billing service.
Meanwhile, the hospital has been advising patients to take steps that would make them feel more comfortable — whether it be putting a lock on the account or obtaining a new bank card. For those concerned about the security risk, Mid Continent Credit Services has agreed to pay for a free one-year credit monitoring subscription.
The hospital was alerted to the security breach on Oct. 28 after a patient did a Google search of her husband’s name and found his financial information on a website by Brick Wire LLC, a Tulsa company that hosted the online bill pay service on behalf of Mid Continent Credit Services.
From what the hospital can deduce, Brick Wire did a system upgrade on Sept. 20 and left a portal open that contained payment records from 28 LMH patients. That information was accessed by Google, which then cached the page and kept the information public. LMH officials also believe from that portal there was a way to access a database that contained information on every patient who had used the online bill pay system since it was first offered in 2005.
“Literally, it was like leaving the door to the house open,” Thomas said.
At a LMH board meeting Wednesday morning, the hospital’s general counsel Andy Ramirez said the hospital did not own or maintain the computers that operated the online bill pay system. He also provided some clarification on what happened.
“No one was hacked,” Ramirez said. “This was a self inflicted wound by Brick Wire.”
After a “challenging phone conference” with Mid Continent Credit Services, Ramirez said, it was agreed that the hospital would be held harmless and that the event was “completely outside the control of the hospital.”
If the federal investigation does lead to a fine, Thomas said the vendors would most likely be responsible for paying it because patient privacy was part of the contract.
For now, the hospital has shut down its online bill pay service. It had already been in the process of switching vendors and is taking a closer look at that vendor’s security procedures. A new system should be in place in the next few weeks.
Those who have questions about the security breach can call LMH at 785-505-4945 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Six young adults are stepping out of their comfort zones and learning new job skills at Lawrence Memorial Hospital through a new program called Project Search.
They file papers, deliver supplies, answer phone calls, clean equipment and work with patients.
Such tasks weren’t easy for these students when they began their work in August because they have intellectual and developmental disabilities. But today, they’ve mastered the skills and have become a real asset at LMH.
Tracy Brosseit, support specialist for LMH Endowment Association, said Kelsey Leonard, 20, has been a “huge help.”
Leonard has worked at the front desk answering phone calls and helping visitors. She files paperwork, enters data into their systems and attends weekly staff meetings. She also cut the pink ribbons that went around the trees in downtown Lawrence for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
She works from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and is evaluated just like other employees. It’s similar to an unpaid internship.
“We include her in everything that we do, and we’ve enjoyed having her around here,” Brosseit said. “She’s really been a great big help.”
The students work in different departments across the hospital — materials management, medical records, skilled nursing, rehabilitation — and soon will rotate to a new department. In March, they will begin looking for a paid job in the community.
Llara Baska, a Project Search coordinator, said there are about 150 such projects nationwide. She said Lawrence school district pursued a grant from the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities last year to start one in Lawrence, and they received a one-year $9,000 grant.
The schools then approached LMH and Kansas University to see if they would be host sites. They also partnered with Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services’ Vocational Rehabilitation and JobLink, a division at Cottonwood Inc. that helps adults with disabilities find work. In addition, there’s a group of Free State High School students who interact with the Project Search participants and provide advice on topics such as good manners, social skills and appropriate dress.
“It’s another layer of support,” Baska said. She said the Project Search participants have a range of disabilities, including Asperger’s syndrome, which is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and autism.
The project began in August with 15 students; nine of them are working at KU in areas such as animal care, facilities and operations, human resources, athletics and the library.
The students also meet in a classroom before and after their jobs nearly every day. They work on social and communication skills and problem solving. Recently, they’ve been focusing on job interviews.
Each student has a job coach who checks on them a couple times a day. They provide support and help break down tasks that might be difficult.
“They’ve gained confidence, learned new skills in their departments, and they’ve proved to be good experiences,” said Mary Bentley, who is a job coach for three students at LMH, including Leonard.
Leonard said she has enjoyed her job at the LMH Endowment Association and would consider a clerical job because of the experience. She’s hoping to work in skilled nursing in the coming weeks where her classmate Sorin Andrus, 19, has been located.
Andrus cleans and delivers supplies and works with patients. She participates in a group exercise class and sometimes does one-on-one art projects with patients.
“During the past few weeks, I’ve been making a lot of friends with the patients,” she said, smiling.
Kathy Snyder has watched Andrus grow through the project as her job coach.
“Sorin has done a lot with the patients and has developed a good relationship with them. She kind of helps motivate them and keeps them happy. She’s a bright light in the area she works in,” Snyder said.
Financial information of about 10,000 people may have been posted online during a security breach by Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s online patient bill pay services.
LMH reported Friday that information maintained by its vendor Mid Continent Credit Services was inadvertently publicly available on the Internet between Sept. 20 and Oct. 28. This information may have been available:
• Patient name, phone number, email address, health care provider, payment amount and date of payment.
• Credit card information, including the type of card, name and address of the card holder, the account number, the verification number and the expiration date.
• Checking account information, including the check number, the account holder name and address, the checking account number and bank routing number, and the bank name and address.
Janice Early, LMH director of community relations, said the information did not include medical records and was not released by the hospital.
The security breach affects people who used the online bill pay service on the hospital’s website — lmh.org — which asks for either credit card information or bank account information. It does not affect people who paid for bills through their bank, by mail or phone. People use the online bill pay service not only for hospital bills, but to pay physicians groups and health fairs, Early said. The online pill bay service is currently unavailable.
“We are in the process of arranging for a new online payment system with a new vendor. We hope that it can be available within a week,” Early said.
The event occurred as a result of failed security measures on a website hosted by BrickWire LLC, which hosted the online patient bill pay service on behalf of Mid Continent Credit Services. LMH has had a contract with Mid Continent Credit Services since 2005, when it started online services.
Early said the hospital learned about the security breach by a patient on Oct. 28 and it immediately contacted Mid Continent Credit Services.
LMH is notifying patients through letters, which should be received during the next couple of weeks. It is advising people who have made online payments to monitor their account statements and credit reports for suspicious activity. Mid Continent has agreed to offer a free one-year credit monitoring subscription to individuals.
Anyone who has questions about the security breach should call LMH at 505-4945 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We take privacy and security of patient information very seriously and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused by this event,” Early said.
First time mom-to-be Kelly Harri is preparing for childbirth by taking an online course through Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
“It has been my saving grace,” she said.
Harri, 25, and her boyfriend Stefan Labbe, 27, live in South Korea and are expecting their first child — a girl — in mid-January. Preparing to become parents is no small feat for any couple, but they also are dealing with language and cultural differences.
“Aiming for a natural birth, we wanted an English-speaking doctor to ensure our wishes were made clear,” Harri said via email.
Within a week they found a doctor who studied in the U.S., but Harri said his medical care was technical, impersonal and “very hands-off, machine-on.” When she asked him a question at the first appointment, he told her to research the answer online.
“So the Internet became my be-all, end-all solution to any problem or new symptom I had,” she said, adding that the number of web pages and blogs about pregnancy are overwhelming. “Though some can be very helpful, almost every day I misdiagnosed a symptom. I drove myself into some sort of Internet-addiction hypochondriac state,” she said.
Harri said the closest English prenatal classes were a two-hour commute away, which was not feasible. At four months pregnant, Harri said she became so concerned about the lack of care and available resources that she was considering quitting her job as an English teacher and moving back to the U.S.
Fortunately, she had met Lawrence native Katelyn Anderson in South Korea, and they became fast friends. Anderson just happens to be the daughter of Aynsley Anderson, community education coordinator at LMH. When Aynsley heard about the couple’s troubles, she mailed a stack of materials.
“They were so helpful and brought many answers to questions that we were unable to ask our doctor,” Harri said.
Then, the new online course became available at LMH in September, and the couple immediately signed up.
“It was like a breath of fresh air,” Harri said. “Taking the online course allows us to tend to our own busy schedules while chipping away at the online modules at home or on a break at work.”
The e-course covers pregnancy, the birthing process, newborn information, breast-feeding and recovery after childbirth. There are videos, web links, activities, quizzes and information that can be printed out and saved. For $65, couples have access to all of the materials for three months. There is a logical way to navigate through the materials, but couples can skip forward if they want or look back at information.
Harri said that, so far, “Chapter 4: Comfort Techniques” has been the most helpful section. She said it went over a variety of labor positions and techniques and didn’t push one over another. “It lets you decide what’s best for you,” she said.
Melissa Hoffman, who coordinates prenatal and parenting education programs for LMH, oversees the online course and so far, a handful of couples have signed up. For those who enroll, they can opt to take a one-time, in-person class to learn relaxation techniques, see the birthing area and ask questions.
Hoffman said there is a growing trend in offering education online, and childbirth classes are not an exception. It’s mainly the convenience factor.
But like any class, parents-to-be have to be disciplined and do their homework. She advises them to complete the course four to six weeks before the due date just in case the baby arrives early.
Despite the trend in e-classes, Hoffman still strongly encourages couples to take the traditional in-person childbirth classes.
“It is so nice to make those connections with people who are going through the same thing, and to see the area where you are going to give birth and kind of decrease that anxiety of the unknown prior to coming in,” she said. “There’s definitely benefit to the in-person component of the class.”
TO SIGN UP
Too busy to take traditional childbirth preparation classes, or do you prefer to learn at your own pace or in your own home? Then this is the class for you.
Once you enroll, you will have access to detailed pregnancy, birthing and postpartum information through activities, knowledge checks, web links and downloadable handouts. It is not necessary have your baby at Lawrence Memorial Hospital to take this class.
Class participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a one-time class at the hospital which includes a tour and a chance to have questions answered by a childbirth educator, as well as a review of relaxation and breathing techniques.
Class fee is $65.
For more information, contact LMH Connect Care at 749-5800 or visit lmh.org.
KU basketball team, Coach Self enjoy night out with 450 ladies in support of cancer treatment, research
Eighth-grade English teacher Janet Schrick ran toward Kansas University basketball player Tyshawn Taylor and shrieked: “My favorite player ever. I’m in love with this man.”
Welcome to the second annual “Ladies Night Out with Bill Self” at Allen Fieldhouse.
About 450 women got the unique opportunity Thursday evening to mingle with KU basketball players and staff while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres. They learned some basketball moves, asked personal questions and got lots and lots of pictures and autographs.
As Schrick gave Taylor a big hug, she asked: “Are you freaking out?”
During a brief break from signing autographs and posing for pictures, Taylor said he was having a good time.
“I think it’s for a great cause definitely. It’s just a fun thing to do,” he said. “The ladies get a kick out of it, learning basketball a little bit, and just hanging out with us, and I enjoy it. I enjoy it a lot.”
So, has he had this many ladies swoon over him at once?
“It happens here and there,” he said, jokingly. “But not like this.”
Schrick said she attended the event last year and, of course, got a picture with Taylor. She said it’s displayed in her classroom.
“I love Lawrence. I played volleyball here from ’91 to ’94 so just being back in Lawrence is awesome. I love KU. I love, love, love KU,” she said with enthusiasm.
Lawrence resident Angie Herring, 56, is a lifelong Jayhawk fan and was savoring every moment.
“I swore that if I was well enough that I would be here this year,” she said. “It’s been great. We’ve gotten to interact with the players and the coaching staff and it’s just a wonderful experience.”
Herring is battling stage 4 breast cancer. She had chemotherapy treatments from March until July and was in a wheelchair.
“I’m doing much better,” she said with a smile.
The highlights of her evening were seeing former KU Coach Larry Brown — she took at least a dozen pictures, she said — and getting some basketball tips from KU great Danny Manning.
“My favorite part was playing with Coach Manning and learning all of the big-man moves,” she said.
Self joked about having 450 dates until Brown showed up. The two were sitting next to each other getting ready to answer questions from the ladies.
“It’s fun and I am amazed at how many women showed up and how quickly it sold out. I enjoy seeing the women have a good time and our players really enjoy this too,” Self said as flashes from cameras were going off one after another. “The best part is that we are raising money for a great cause.”
Are you ready to get down and boogie for a great cause?
The 19th annual "Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer" dance is Saturday night, and about 700 people will be in attendance.
It's the one time of the year where you can see surgeons, nurses, oncologists and even Lawrence Memorial Hospital CEO Gene Meyer decked out in a Halloween costume and cutting loose.
There will be hors d'oeuvres, beverages, live music by the Lawrence-based band Sellout, Halloween costume and skit competitions, and a breast cancer survivor ceremony.
The event will be from 8 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. at Crown Toyota Pavilion, 3430 Iowa St. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased online at www.lmhendowment.org or at the door. Tickets also are available at LMH, 325 Maine, in the following areas: Mario's Closet, the Gift Shop or the Endowment Association.
There also will be dozens of gift baskets on display and for a small donation of $1, $2 or $5, you could win one. Most are the baskets are worth several hundred dollars. The grand prize basket is worth $7,000!
All of the money raised from the event will support breast cancer education and detection in the community through the LMH Breast and Oncology Centers. Last year's event raised $63,000.
If you can't make the dance, you can still make a donation for the chance to win one of the wonderful baskets. Just stop by the LMH lobby between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today and/or Friday. To view the list of gift baskets, visit the LMH Endowment Association's website.
There is a growing shortage of pharmaceutical drugs and it’s affecting patient care in Lawrence and the rest of the country.
Patients are receiving alternative treatments that are less than ideal, treatments are being delayed, and in worse-case scenarios there are no treatments available.
Erin Fox, a drug shortage expert, said we are in a health care crisis.
“It’s not just happening in rural places. It’s not just happening in small hospitals. This is impacting just about every hospital across the United States,” she said in a recent telephone interview.
Fox is the manager of the Drug Information Service at the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics in Salt Lake City. The service monitors and verifies shortages for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
So far this year, she said there are 213 drugs in short supply. That’s triple the 70 drugs reported five years ago. About 80 percent of the shortage is injectable drugs.
“The big blockbuster drugs aren’t the ones that are experiencing shortages. It’s things we need for surgery. Things that we’ve used for 20 years,” she said.
Among them are Fentanyl, a pain reliever that is used frequently in operating rooms and intensive care units, and Labetalol, which is used to treat high blood pressure.
The American Hospital Association surveyed 820 hospitals in June and 99 percent of them reported that they had experienced a shortage in the previous six months and nearly half of them reported 21 or more drug shortages.
Pat Parker, director of Pharmacy & IV Therapy at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, told the board last week that the shortage is affecting them as well. He has been in the pharmacy business for 35 years and hasn’t seen a shortage like this one.
“This is a big deal. It really is,” he said.
Parker said the pharmacy department was tracking about 30 products last week that were in short supply and at risk of running out.
He said most of the drugs that have been in short supply are used for sedation, emergency care and cancer chemotherapy. He said there’s also been a shortage in simple electrolyte products that they use “day in and day out” and they typically cost a couple of dollars a vial or less. The products are mixed with others and given to patients intravenously to make sure a patient is stabilized.
“We literally can’t get those right now,” he said.
Like other hospitals, LMH doctors and pharmacists use the next best alternative when one runs out.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s what we do,” he said.
Switching medicines is not as easy as one might think because of an electronic system that’s set in place for patient safety. Everything has bar codes and there are automated dispensing machines. It can take two to three days to switch out a drug. Of course, there are ways to get drugs to a patient in an emergency situation, but it won’t necessarily have all of the safety checkpoints.
“Usually these supply issues are coming to us when we have some stock available, so we usually have a few days to react to them,” Parker said.
Pat Hubbell, pharmacist and co-owner of Sigler Pharmacy in Lawrence, said he’s dealing with a shortage of Adderall which is used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“We’ve been through everything on Adderall and have patients who are unable to get it or if they’ve switched to an alternative, they are really expensive and patients can’t afford it.”
He said the generic tablets for Adderall have quadrupled in price and insurance companies aren’t responding to the markup which is frustrating for him and customers.
Hubbell added that they recently had a customer from Independence, Mo., who was having trouble finding a particular medicine that Sigler just happened to have in stock.
“There’s something going on. I don’t know exactly what it is,” he said.
Fox said the main reason for the shortage is fewer companies are making the drugs and these companies have had manufacturing problems and have had to shut down production. She said two of the largest companies experienced manufacturing issues at the same time. About half of the manufacturing issues have been due to quality; they just weren’t meeting new stricter Food and Drug Administration regulations.
“There hasn’t been enough resiliency in the supply chain to make up the difference,” she said.
The economy also is to blame. Like other businesses, pharmaceutical companies are cutting back or shutting down production lines that aren’t making money.
“If it’s not profitable to make them, they don’t. It’s business,” she said.
Sometimes, Fox said, there are raw material issues.
Another problem, Parker said, is the “gray market.” He said there are groups of people stocking up on drugs that they think will be in short supply because of, for example, an FDA citation. Then, they sell the products at higher costs.
Research by Premier, a North Carolina-based alliance of hospitals and health care sites, looked at 42 hospitals over a two-week period earlier this year and found that there were 1,745 offers from the “gray market” providers. The average markup was 650 percent.
Parker said LMH purchases its drugs through a buying group and a wholesaler. It will spend about $12.5 million this year. He said LMH is notified when there might be a problem which prompts them to “stock up.” Parker said hospitals will share products in a pinch.
“It’s all about patient care, believe it or not. We are competitors with the folks that are east and west of us, but when it gets right down to it, we are all about taking care of patients,” he said.
Fox said the top three drug classes that are experiencing shortages nationwide are central nervous system, antibiotics and chemotherapy. There are 22 chemotherapy drugs on the shortage list.
“It’s hard enough to have cancer but also to be told that the medicine that you need is not available would just be awful,” Fox said.
Dr. Luke Huerter, an LMH oncologist, said he was concerned about a possible shortage of a drug called Paclitaxel and took that into consideration when developing a patient’s course of treatment. The hospital has received a shipment and now has enough to take care of patients through December.
“It’s always something that’s always kind of at the back of our minds because at certain times we’ll hear from our manufacturer that we won’t potentially be able to get the supply that we need,” he said.
Fox said there are legislative activities under way to help alleviate the drug shortage.
“I’s a really complex problem and there’s no one solution that’s going to solve the problem,” she said.
Here’s a look at the number of drug shortages in the past five years, according to the University of Utah Hospital’s Drug Information Service. So far this year, there are 213.
• 2006 — 70.
• 2007 — 129.
• 2008 — 149.
• 2009 — 166.
• 2010 — 211.
Here are the top five drug classes that are experiencing shortages and how many drugs are in short supply:
• Central Nervous System — 38.
• Antibiotics — 23.
• Chemotherapy — 22.
• Cardiovascular — 15.
• Autonomic — 13.
LMH PHARMACIST TO PARTICIPATE IN CHAT
Pat Parker, director of Pharmacy and IV Therapy at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, will be available Wednesday to discuss the national drug shortage and how it is affecting the hospital and patients.
Parker will be participating in an online chat at 10 a.m. Oct. 26 on WellCommons.com. And, you can submit your questions anonymously at anytime at WellCommons/chats. Make sure to log back to WellCommons.com either during or after the chat to see if your questions were answered.
Parker has been director of pharmacy at LMH since 1984 and also directed the oncology unit from 2001 to 2004. He is adjunct clinical professor of pharmacy practice with Kansas University's School of Pharmacy.
He is an active member of the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists and the Kansas Council of Health Systems Pharmacists. He has served on the Kansas Board of Pharmacy.
He also has helped organize medical mission trips to impoverished regions of Kenya where AIDS is prevalent.
A $17,000 study confirmed what Lawrence Memorial Hospital leaders anticipated: There’s a parking shortage at its main campus.
Todd Koch, director of facilities, gave a report about the study’s findings during a board meeting Wednesday morning. The hospital hired Chicago-based Walker Parking Consultants in the late spring to analyze existing parking and to provide recommendations to alleviate the shortage.
According to the study, there are 447 parking spaces for patients and visitors, but at the peak time of usage — typically 10 a.m. Tuesdays — there are 478 users, so the hospital is 31 parking spots short.
What’s more concerning is that the shortage is expected to grow to 127 parking spots by 2016 if the hospital continues to grow at its current rate of about 4 percent annually. If LMH grows at 6 percent, the parking shortage is expected to reach 174 spots.
Janice Early, communications director, said parking is a huge concern.
“Our whole business depends on the convenience of people who are not feeling well and might have a mobility issue,” she said. “We don’t want patients to have to park a long ways away or on the street or in nearby neighborhoods.”
Koch said LMH’s first goal is to use what it has now more wisely.
Among the study’s recommendations is to reconfigure the parking lot at Fourth and Michigan streets and the main Arkansas Street parking lot, which could increase the number of spaces by 140. Another idea is to add parallel parking along Arkansas Street between Third and Fourth streets that would add another 20 to 25 spaces.
Koch said he is working on drawing up plans and cost estimates for those measures, which will need to be approved by the LMH board and city zoning leaders.
He said it could cost between $1,200 and $2,500 per space.
The study contains ideas for long-term parking solutions, such as building a parking garage or adding new parking lots, including one at nearby Woody Park. But, Koch said, LMH isn’t considering any of those ideas yet. He added that the cost of a parking garage could range between $12,000 and $20,000 per space.
Any parking additions for 2012 will be included in LMH’s proposed budget that will be released next month. Koch said construction wouldn’t begin until late spring or summer.
LMH PARKING NEEDS
Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine, hired Chicago-based Walker Parking Consultants to evaluate its current and future parking needs on its main campus.
Here are the number of parking spaces currently available and how many spaces are occupied during its peak time of use:
• 54 for doctors, 44 occupied — leaving 10 spots available.
• 382 for employees, 363 occupied — leaving 19 spots available.
• 447 for patients and visitors, 478 occupied — shortage of 31 spots.
In 2016 with a 4 percent annual growth rate, there would be:
• 1 spot available for doctors.
• a shortage of 54 spots for employees.
• a shortage of 127 spots for patients and visitors.
In 2016 with a 6 percent annual growth rate, there would be a shortage of:
• 3 spots for doctors.
• 90 for employees.
• 174 for patients and visitors.
I am among approximately 375 Douglas County residents participating in this month's Walktober program.
It’s a national walking program, but Lawrence health education specialists have fine tuned the program for our community. The goal is for everyone to participate in some type of fitness activity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Residents can participate on their own or as part of a team, and this year, there are about 50 groups, including The World Company, which has 21 members. Go team! Our team is having a friendly competition to see who moves the most this month.
I typically walk for an hour four days a week, and then do at least one two-hour bicycle ride on the weekend. I also try to fit in as many exercises — sit-ups, leg lifts, etc. — as I can, but that has been pretty infrequent.
My goal is to step it up this month!
I started on Sunday because Saturday was an unusually hectic day. Let's just say Saturday started with a funeral and ended with a bachelorette party and leave it at that.
On Sunday, I took a two-hour bicycle ride along the South Lawrence Trafficway bicycle path. It was an absolutely perfect, beautiful day, and I saw many bicyclists, skaters, runners and walkers also taking advantage of the ideal weather. I passed one bicyclist who had a basket on the back with two cute little dogs who were along for the ride — adorable! I also was able to fit in 30-minutes of exercises last night while watching television.
If you didn't sign up for the program, I encourage you to keep track of your activity on your own. Are you meeting the CDC standards?
Also, there are four 30-minute walks this month in Lawrence and EVERYONE is invited.
• Saturday, Oct. 8 — 8:30 p.m., Holcom Park Recreation Center picnic shelter, 27th Street and Lawrence Avenue.
• Thursday, Oct. 13 — 5:30 p.m., South Park Gazebo, 11th and Massachusetts streets.
• Thursday, Oct. 20 — 5:30 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Hospital, outdoor fountain near Arkansas entrance, 325 Maine.
• Saturday, Oct. 29 — 8:30 a.m., Parking garage across from Lawrence Arts Center, Ninth and New Hampshire streets.
Aynsley Anderson, community education coordinator for Lawrence Memorial Hospital and an organizer of Walktober, said group walking provides:
• Chance to spice up your current routine.
I don't know about you, but my exercise routine definitely could use some spice!
This is from my Town Talk blog that appears at LJWorld.com:
We’ll soon find out whether the city looks pretty in pink. Lawrence Memorial Hospital is once again asking for permission to tie pink ribbons around the lamp posts on Massachusetts Street from Sixth to 11th streets and on Clinton Parkway from Iowa to Kasold. The ribbons are meant to raise awareness of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The ribbons are expected to be up throughout the month of October, which is a good idea since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (It is that type of planning that has made LMH one of the most successful businesses in Lawrence.) LMH has done the ribbons for the last three years, but as we previously reported, there is a new event coming that will benefit breast cancer awareness.
The hospital has confirmed that from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 13 it will team up with Downtown Lawrence Inc. to host Girl’s Night Downtown. The event will allow shoppers to purchase a $20 ticket, which will entitle them to receive special discounts and deals at participating merchants. The proceeds will benefit LMH’s Mario’s Closet, which is a special boutique at LMH that provides a variety of free or low-cost items for cancer patients. I suspect the event also will "benefit" my wife's closet, which includes nothing that is free or low cost.
Lawrence resident Vernon Burkett was among more than 1,200 people who attended the annual health fair Saturday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
“It’s where all of the healthy people hang for one day a year,” the 56-year-old joked.
Not only did he enjoy catching up with neighbors and friends, but he did what health professionals encourage everyone to do — practice prevention. He had the following health screenings at the fair: Body Mass Index, blood pressure, hearing, height and weight measurement, oral cancer, vision, waist circumference, glucose, skin cancer, bone density and prostate.
Burkett didn’t share any results but said he considers himself fairly healthy.
“I can touch my toes,” he said, with a smile.
Aynsley Anderson, LMH community education coordinator, said the health fair has grown immensely during the past 30 years. This year, there were 30 educational exhibits and 16 screenings offered.
Here are some tips from a handful of medical care providers:
• Dr. Kathani Amin of Kansas Medical Clinic Dermatology — Everyone should get a skin cancer screening every year by a dermatologist and do a self examination once a month. Look for asymmetry, irregularity and color variation and watch moles that are larger than a pencil eraser. If there is anything changing, itching, bleeding or tender, seek professional help.
More than 700,000 Americans develop skin cancer every year.
“If you catch these things early, then they are preventable and curable. If you don’t then it could cause problems down the line,” she said.
When it comes to sunscreen, she advises people to use one with a Sun Protection Factor of 45 or higher and to apply it 30 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours if active. She said there’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen.
• Karin Denes-Collar of Heartland Community Health Center — With the holidays approaching, she encourages people to not overschedule themselves.
“Less is more sometimes,” she said. “That stressful time over the holidays can lead people to depression and anxiety — either during or after. So it’s an easy way to help yourself.”
She said about 70 percent of the health issues that show up in primary care, like diabetes or high blood pressure, are related to behavioral health issues like stress and depression. That’s why there is a big push nationwide to integrate the two into primary medical homes, like Heartland does.
• Paula Naughtin of Midwest Transplant Network — Learn about organ donation and then make your decision known to loved ones.
She said there are more than 100,000 people waiting for an organ, and one person can save up to eight people with organs and enhance up to 50 lives with tissue. “There’s a huge need for all of it,” she said.
If you want to become an organ donor, register online at donatelifekansas.com and talk to your family.
• Kelly Nightengale of Early Detection Works — Women should get a Pap test to check for an infection, abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer beginning at age 21 or three years after the onset of sexual intercourse. Cervical cancer does not show symptoms until it’s in advanced stages.
“I can’t stress enough that the best protection for cervical cancer is getting screened,” she said.
When cervical conditions are discovered and treated at a pre-cancerous stage, survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Yet 4,600 women die from cervical cancer each year in the U.S.
• Raymond Munoz of Douglas County Dental Clinic — Brush your teeth twice a day, at morning and night, and floss daily, preferably before you go to bed.
He said staff have seen people at the clinic who haven’t brushed their teeth in several weeks. When you don’t take care of your teeth, gum disease and cavities become painful and costly issues.
The clinic provides general dental care to children and adults who meet income guidelines and do not have dental insurance. It served 2,800 people last year.
While packing up, Anderson also offered advice: Get a medical home and have an annual wellness exam. She said it’s important to know your numbers when it comes to blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
“Oh, and don’t forget to follow general healthy lifestyle habits like not smoking, eating nutritiously, exercising and managing stress,” she said.
DID YOU KNOW?
Here are some facts that were revealed through a Health Challenge Questionnaire at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s annual health fair on Saturday. Participants picked up forms and then had to find the answers at various exhibits.
Among the things they learned:
• Kansas has the fourth-fastest-growing obesity rate in the country.
• 21.7 percent of people are living below the poverty line in Douglas County.
• One in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
• 20 years ago, there were 500 calories in the average slice of pizza. Now there are 800.
• 18 percent of Douglas County residents eat the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
• The best way to extinguish a fire in a pan on the stove is to place a lid over the pan.
• A person who is 51 or older should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.
• One in seven women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
• Open enrollment for 2012 Medicare Prescription Drug coverage begins Oct. 15.
• 50 percent of people over age 75 have a fall each year.
A free community health fair is scheduled for Sept. 27 in McLouth, which is about 30 miles north of Lawrence.
The event will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative, 507 N. Union.
Blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings will be available as well as reviews of height, weight and body mass index by the McLouth Medical Clinic and Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Information on chiropractic services, eye care, nutrition and hearing also will be available.
In addition, bank and investment representatives will be on hand to review individuals’ financial health.
The American Red Cross will provide flu shots for $30 on a first come, first served basis. The Red Cross can accept the following insurance companies: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Coventry, Aetna, United Health Care, Advantra, Humana Gold, Railroad Medicare, Pyramid Life, Care Improvement Plus, Medicare Part B and many Medicare B Supplements.
Participants can bring a nonperishable food item, which will be donated to a local food pantry.
For more information, call Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative at 888-796-6111.
UPCOMING HEALTH EVENTS:
• Lawrence Memorial Hospital's annual health fair — 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, at LMH, 325 Maine. For details, visit "Free Health Fair Coming to LMH."
• Family Health and Fitness Day — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway. Event will include exhibits by other organizations and an obstacle course for kids.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital plans to start a pulmonary practice next year and is recruiting pulmonologists who will serve as intensivists.
Intensivists are doctors who provide care for hospitalized people who need critical care or intensive care.
LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said there is a growing need for expertise in pulmonology, a specialty that deals with diseases of the lungs and bronchial tubes.
“We are doing it for better patient care and, quite frankly, to keep more people in Lawrence,” he said.
There is just one pulmonologist, Dr. Lida Osbern of Reed Medical Group, in Lawrence.
Dr. Charles Yockey is leaving the LMH hospitalist group in January to become a full-time pulmonologist in the practice and to provide intensive care. He already provides that care on a part-time basis.
LMH is recruiting at least two doctors to help him, but they won’t be available until next August. These doctors would provide inpatient and outpatient care from a new office located in the Fourth Street Health Plaza, which is connected to LMH.
Meanwhile, LMH has contracted with a handful of pulmonologists in a Topeka-based Cotton-O’Neil group to help provide care.
“Now that we are keeping more and more patients here as a result of our hospitalist program and providing care so people don’t have to go elsewhere, having additional coverage with pulmonary is absolutely necessary,” Meyer said.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital President and CEO Gene Meyer announced a number of physician changes in the community during Wednesday's board meeting. Among them:
• Dr. Ken Wertzberger, an orthopedic surgeon, has left OrthoKansas to start his own practice. The Lawrence native plans to practice here and in Leavenworth.
• Dr. Charles Yockey is leaving LMH's hospitalist group to become a pulmonologist and help with the community's shortage. There currently is only one in town. He plans to start a practice next summer. Meanwhile, LMH will contract with the Cotton-O'Neil multi-specialty group to provide coverage for Yockey during the next year.
• Dr. John Goza is leaving Lawrence General Surgery after about two years. He has accepted a position as a surgeon for the College Park Family Practice Group in Overland Park.
• Dr. Joy Murphy joined the Mt. Oread Family Practice group on Aug. 8. She formerly worked at Lawrence Family Practice Center.
• Dr. Mickelle Hirschman is leaving Family Medicine of Baldwin City after two years. She accepted a position with a hospitalist group in Kansas City.
• Dr. H. Kathy Gaumer left Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists on July 31, and Dr. Lisa Pazdernik will be leaving in September. They've accepted positions elsewhere as laborists.
• Dr. Michele Bennett, a Lawrence High School and KU graduate, started working at OB-GYN Specialists this week.
• Dr. Luke Huerter also started work this week in the LMH Oncology Center. He is married to Bennett and he is the younger brother of Eric Huerter, an internal medicine doctor at Reed Medical Group.
• Dr. Ryan Stuckey, a spine surgeon, will be joining OrthoKansas on Sept. 1.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees surprised its 1,284 employees Wednesday by giving them each a bonus.
“They deserve it. It was an opportunity for us to recognize them for their great efforts with patient care and quality and financial efficiencies,” LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said.
Full-time employees received $500 and part-time staff got $250. The bonuses are worth a total $575,927. The bonus amount was the same whether an employee made $7.25 an hour or $70 an hour.
During its monthly meeting, the board unanimously approved the bonuses along with $594,000 of renovation work at LMH South, which is located on the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive.
Despite the economic downturn, LMH is doing well financially. For the year, its net operating income is $5.6 million, which is about $1.2 million over budget.
“We are comfortably ahead of budget for the year and we are handsomely ahead of last year,” said Chuck Heath, finance committee chairman. “In this day and age, it’s really unusual to do this. Most companies are struggling.”
He credits the employees, especially Meyer who has been at the helm for 14 years.
“I think Gene Meyer is just a terrific CEO. He may be a hard son-of-a-gun to work for, but he has high standards. He just runs a great business.”
Heath said the employees watch expenses, negotiate well with insurance providers, and carefully monitor the length of hospital stays which is important for Medicare reimbursement.
“It’s just a very well managed business,” Heath said. “They’ve just got a committed group of employees from the physicians to the people who work in food service and everywhere in between.”
LMH is a nonprofit and it reinvests its profits back into the hospital. Heath said typically they might buy a bond and earn some interest from it, but he advised against doing that. He said the rate of return is “skimpy” at best. So, he encouraged the hospital to reinvest in other ways. Management decided on the bonuses and renovation work at LMH South.
The construction project will relocate Kreider Rehabilitation Services from the Mt. Oread Building to the second floor at LMH South, which is next door. The second floor is vacant and formerly housed the Endoscopic Center which has moved into the hospital.
Improvements also will include remodeling work on the first floor which houses the Breast Center and radiology services.
Karen Shumate, chief operating officer, said the project will provide better patient flow and more privacy for patients. It also will be more attractive, especially for the clients who use Kreider Rehab. Since January, about 6,900 people have used its services at LMH South.
“It will be a nicer place to exercise because the patients will be facing a wall of windows facing Kasold, so they are going to have a better view,” she said.
LMH leaders anticipate with the new layout that they will be able to offer more wellness services at the site. For example, a pediatric fitness program designed for obese youth.
The renovation work is expected to start this fall and take between 14 and 16 weeks to complete.
LMH will save $103,500 annually in lease payments for Kreider’s current location in the Mt. Oread building. LMH will continue to lease space in the Mt. Oread building for its family physician practice and Sleep Center. Also, Kreider Rehab will continue to offer services at LMH and in Eudora as well.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s kitchen and cafeteria closed Monday for a four-month, $3.2 million overhaul.
The 1970s-era kitchen not only is getting a modern look, but also a new heating and ventilation system along with waterline repairs.
During construction, patient meals are being prepared out of three trailers that have been connected to make one big kitchen that’s equipped with everything from freezers to ovens. The meals are then wheeled down and around a wooden ramp and into the hospital.
Meanwhile, the atrium — located in the heart of the hospital — has been transformed into the cafeteria for employees and visitors. There’s a salad bar, various snacks and drinks, and food provided by Lawrence restaurants. Seating is available in nearby conference rooms.
The project is scheduled to be done Dec. 10.
Debbie Carter, director of Food and Nutrition Services, served up some numbers:
• 1977 — Year kitchen was built.
• 4,369 — Square footage of kitchen.
• 1,280 — Square footage of temporary kitchen.
• $98,000 — Food purchased in one month.
• $1,600 — Local food purchased in one month.
• 4,731 — Pounds of meat served in one month.
• 3,600 — Cases of food purchased in one month. One case equals 10 pounds of ground beef or six 6-pound cans of green beans.
• 43 — Employees work in the kitchen, but not at the same time.
• 300 — Patient meals served each day.
• 800 — Daily transactions in cafeteria.
• $2.78 — Average cost of meal in cafeteria.
• $52,000 —Cafeteria purchases on monthly basis.
• 100 — Pounds of beef used on taco bar in a day. It's the cafeteria's most popular dish. It also uses 15 pounds of chicken and 10 pounds of pork or steak.
• 8 — Number of Lawrence restaurants providing food in cafeteria on rotating basis. They are 23rd Street Brewery, La Parilla, Mariscos, Bigg’s Barbeque, Paisano’s Ristorante, Wheat State Pizza, Bambino’s Italian Restaurant and Zen Zero.
To promote community wellness, the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association (LMHEA) will host its 3rd Annual small town BIG CAUSE 5K Run/Walk in Eudora on Saturday, July 30.
The small town BIG CAUSE event will emphasize the importance of physical activity and its effects on community wellness. This year, half of the net proceeds raised will be given back to Eudora to fund programs that will help improve the community’s health.
A new children’s activity will take place after the 5K for those who are 10 and under. Each participant in the children’s event will also have a chance to win a Razor scooter. Registration for the 5K is $25 for participants 11 years or older and the children’s activity is $10 for children 10 years or younger.
LMHEA will also host a small town BIG CAUSE 5K Run/Walk in Baldwin City on Saturday, August 27.
small town BIG CAUSE 5K Run/Walk in Eudora
When: Saturday, July 30, 2011 7:00 a.m. – Check-in and registration 8:00 a.m. – Race begins followed by children’s activity
Where: Eudora Parks and Recreation Center (1638 Elm St) Eudora, KS
Participants can register online at www.lmhendowment.org. For more information, contact Joanna Hamel at 785-505-3313 or email@example.com.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been recognized as one of the nation’s Most Wired hospitals, according to the results of the 2011 Most Wired Survey, released last week in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.
The annual survey is conducted in cooperation with the American Hospital Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), HIT Exchange magazine, and McKesson Corporation. This year the survey represented 1,388 hospitals, and 154 hospitals and health systems were designated as Most Wired.
According to the survey, the nation’s Most Wired hospitals are making progress toward greater health information technology adoption. As a field, hospitals are focused on expanding and adopting information technology, such as computerized physician order entry, to promote improved patient care and data collection.
LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said, “Being named one of the country’s Most Wired hospitals is an honor that recognizes our long-term vision that LMH distinguish itself over other providers by producing measurable outcomes, higher quality, enhanced patient care, and improved patient safety through the use of information technology. We embarked on this journey with our medical staff in early 2000 when we began developing our electronic medical record. We knew it was a long-term commitment. A decade later, we continue to invest in technology and services to advance and enhance patient care and safety.”
Over the years, LMH has made numeous and impressive achievements in information technology. Last year LMH was the first hospital or health system in the Kansas City metropolitan area to deploy computerized physician order entry across the entire facility. The hospital also achieved Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Adoption Level 6, a designation reserved to less than 4 percent of all hospitals in the United States.
The Most Wired Survey assesses organizations based on progress in adoption, implementation and use of information technology in four critical areas:
• Infrastructure – security, wireless networks, telecommunications, biomedical systems, disaster planning, etc. • Business and administrative management – automation of functions, including purchasing, electronic invoicing, e-requisition, payer automation • Clinical quality and safety – including demographic collection, medication administration, online documentation for all clinicians, imaging, computerized physician order entry, use of a certified electronic medical record • Care continuum – including ambulatory, physician and community integration, pre-registration options, ePrescribe and online bill pay
The methodology used to select Most Wired facilities sets specific requirements in each of the four focus areas. If any of these requirements are not met, the organization does not achieve the Most Wired designation, meaning an organization may have many advanced capabilities in the focus areas and still not achieve Most Wired status.
The designation means they are making great progress on going from paper to electronic systems, which have proved to be more efficient and provide improved patient care.
The 2011 results were released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.
The annual survey is conducted in cooperation with the American Hospital Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, HIT Exchange magazine, and McKesson Corp.
This year, the survey represented 1,388 hospitals, and 154 hospitals and health systems were designated as “Most Wired.”
Former Kansas University basketball star Mario Chalmers will be in Lawrence next week to celebrate the opening of Mario’s Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Mario’s Closet is a specialty shop for a variety of free or low-cost accessories for cancer patients, such as wigs, hats, prosthetics and special bras. Chalmers’ foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to establish the shop.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house are set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, July 22, at LMH, 325 Maine. It is free and open to the public.
Chalmers, who plays for the Miami Heat, said during an interview last year that he wanted to give back to LMH, which treated him while playing basketball, and to Lawrence, a town he considers “a home away from home.”
He wanted to help cancer patients because a longtime childhood friend, Paul Peterson, lost his mother, Pauline, to the disease. Chalmers said she was like a second mother to him.
The LMH Regional Oncology Center sees about 600 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year and about 120 breast-cancer patients.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association is having 5K run/walks in three area towns this summer.
It’s the third year for its “Small Town Big Cause” fundraiser.
The events will benefit the endowment association, which provides financial support to LMH for medical education, research, equipment, land acquisition and unique programs.
Also, half of the net proceeds raised in each town will be donated back through a wellness grant to help improve the community’s health.
• Tonganoxie — July 23 at Family Medicine of Tonganoxie, 410 Woodsfield. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. and the race at 7:30 a.m.
• Eudora — July 30 at Eudora Parks and Recreation Center, 1638 Elm St. Registrations begins at 7 a.m. and the race at 8 a.m.
• Baldwin City — Aug. 27 at Baldwin City Golf Course, 1500 South St. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and the race at 8 a.m.
Registration before July 1 is $20 for one event, $35 for two, and $50 for three. After July 1, it’s $25, $45 and $65.
Prizes will be given at each event for: overall top male and female finishers, top male and female in each age group, the team with the first three finishers, team with the most members and team with most creative apparel.
To register or for more information, contact Melissa Hess at 505-3317 or visit www.lmhendowment.org.
Those two words came up time and again during an informal luncheon Thursday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where city leaders learned about the hospital and asked questions like “How can we help control health care costs?”
LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said studies show that the best way is to practice preventive care instead of acute care.
It’s about changing behaviors: quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, exercising, eating right, and getting vaccinations and health screenings.
“It’s all about personal accountability,” he said.
Meyer said the hospital works closely with businesses throughout the county to promote wellness in workplaces. He suggested that the city have a nurse practitioner who is readily available to help its employees — not only when a need arises but to prevent the need from ever happening.
City leaders in attendance were City Manager David Corliss, Commissioners Hugh Carter, Mike Amyx, Bob Schumm and Mike Dever, and Assistant City Manager Cynthia Wagner.
Meyer gave an overview of the hospital and talked about some of his concerns:
• Medicaid population. He said there already is a shortage of doctors who accept Medicaid in Lawrence, and he expects that it will only be exacerbated with health reform. He expects those patients who don’t find care will end up in the emergency room instead of having a medical home.
• Internal medicine doctors. Lawrence needs one or two more internal medicine doctors now. He estimates the city will need 10 more in the next five to seven years. He also said more primary doctors are referring their elderly patients to internal medicine doctors.
Amyx asked why these doctors are so hard to recruit. Meyer replied with three main reasons: not enough are being trained, more are becoming hospitalists where they have control over their hours, and salary expectations are high. Practices simply can’t afford to pay the wages they are seeking. LMH is acquiring Internal Medicine Group on July 1 to help recruit doctors.
• Health reform. Meyer said the Affordable Care Act is the biggest change in health care in 50 years. It will change the system from paying for volume to paying for value. “We welcome that change,” he said. Health reform will bring financial penalties for: excessive readmissions, hospital-acquired condition, infection rates and patient safety incidents.
Meyer said LMH is preparing for health reform as the rules are still being written. “Are we ready? No. Is anybody ready? No,” he said.
LMH is hoping to get $1.4 million from the federal government for upgrading to an electronic medical record system. It spent well over that, so it hopes to be reimbursed as the federal government has promised.
Dever asked about the price of care at LMH. He’s heard that services cost more at LMH than in Topeka and Kansas City. Meyer said LMH does a cost study every year and LMH’s prices tend to be in the lower 25 percent of regional hospitals.
At Wednesday morning's Lawrence Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees monthly meeting, a new board member joined, an old board member left, the plans for the kitchen remodel were unveiled, the hospital's benefits to the community in 2010 were reviewed, and, in reaction to the devastating tornado that destroyed a hospital in Joplin, the staff discussed what would happen if, heaven forbid, a tornado hit LMH.
And, consultant David Schuh, with Larson Allen, went into great detail about yet another aspect of health care reform. His presentation is part of the hospital board's long-term effort to prepare for the big changes anticipated as a result of the U.S. Affordable Health Care Act, said Janice Early, director of community relations. Larson Allen -- a group of accountants, consultants and advisors -- helped the hospital with its long-range financial planning, and is now continuing with preparing for the changes sure to come in 2014, when the bulk of the act's mandates go into effect. (We'll look into more details about that in a later post.) It was, as usual, a busy meeting.
Rob Chestnut, former city commissioner and mayor of Lawrence, is the new board member. He was voted in on Tuesday night, and this was his first meeting. Since employees can't be board members, this was the last board meeting for Dr. Greg Schnose, whose Internal Medicine Group was purchased by LMH.
The kitchen remodel is scheduled to begin July 5. The kitchen and dining room will close on July 15 for the six-month remodel. A 40-foot by 40-foot kitchen trailer will be hauled in next week to serve 300 patient meals a day. It will take three days to set up, said LMH vice president Jeff Novorr, and the kitchen staff will do some test runs to make sure everything works before they close the kitchen and switch over to the temporary service.
For staff and visitors, the hospital has arranged meals from Lawrence Originals. So far, nine Lawrence restaurants have signed up to sell meals on a rotating schedule. Each day, two restaurants will be responsible for 500 lunches and 100 dinners. "We've been working with them to keep the cost to five dollars per meal," said Novorr. The restaurants will also cater the hospital's special events. (Toward the end of this month, we'll be providing an inside look at the temporary kitchen trailer operation and the Lawrence Originals meals.)
After the tornado destroyed a Joplin hospital, Gene Meyer, LMH chief executive officer, sent an email to Dana Hale, vice president of nursing, to ask: Are we prepared? Yes, said Hale, and related the recent experience, before the Joplin tornado, when Lawrence came under a tornado warning and sirens went off in parts of town. When the staff was given the word, they followed an emergency plan, which they had used in practice drills. They drew curtains and blinds across windows. They moved patients to interior hallways and conference rooms or below ground. Elevators were stopped and secured so that no one could use them.
During severe weather, a nursing supervisor keeps track of the storms and where the warnings are to determine how and when the hospital staff should react, said Early. "That's what Joplin did, too," she noted. "They had five minutes warning."
The biggest challenge are the critical care patients in the ICU, where the Joplin hospital had deaths. "Patients on ventilators can't really be moved far," said Hale. They were scooted as far away from windows as possible, and covered with pillows and blankets to protect them from any flying debris.
Hale said that, based on an email she received from a nurse at the Joplin hospital, she was now advising LMH nurses to grab wallet or purse, and shoes for each patient they move.
Novorr described how, if a hospital is damaged by a tornado or earthquake, the event triggers an automated response from area hospitals, which provide information on the number of beds available.
After Katrina, staff from hospitals affected by the hurricane did a tour through the U.S. to provide lessons-learned to other hospitals, said LMH chief operating officer Karen Shumate. She expects some staff from Joplin to do the same, and the LMH staff will attend any presentations to learn as much as they can.
To wrap up the meeting, Early presented a summary of the hospital's community benefits activities for 2010. Because LMH is a nonprofit community hospital, it provides services to the community such as free and low-cost education for professionals, expert medical care, and community education. In 2010, for example, 2,000 women participated in breast-feeding classes, and more than 100 in postpartum depression classes. It provided expert care for patients at Health Care Access, which provides medical services for people who don't have insurance and can't afford medical care. It did 1,600 car-seat inspections. In all, the donated care and classes amounted to $6.3 million. The bulk of that amount -- $5.7 million -- went to charity care and the unpaid cost of Medicaid, but not bad debts and the unpaid cost of Medicare.