Tag: Hospital

 

Two Brothers, Nurses, Work Side By Side in COVID-19 ICU | U.S. News Hospital Heroes

After they graduated from high school in North Carolina, Guillermo Vargas and his brother Jonathan wanted to join the Marines. The Mexican immigrants were prepared to serve the U.S. by donning military fatigues and battling enemies overseas.

The Marines turned the Vargas brothers away, Guillermo and Jonathan say, because of their immigration status. Born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as children without documentation, the brothers were approved for a program that shields kids like them from deportation. But the program doesn’t confer all the rights of citizenship or permanent legal residency.

So today, the brothers serve on a different front line – in the battle against COVID-19. Guillermo, 32, and Jonathan, 30, are both registered nurses in the intensive care unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Instead of wearing camo and carrying military-grade weapons to battle flesh-and-blood enemies, the brothers don personal protective equipment – disposable gowns, gloves and masks – to protect themselves against the highly transmissible novel coronavirus.

The daily battle they wage while providing treatment to COVID-19 patients in the ICU exacts a heavy emotional and mental toll on the brothers.

Several times, both siblings have cared for patients over a period of weeks, getting to know them and the relatives who call to check on their loved ones. Some COVID-19 patients have briefly improved, only to quickly deteriorate and die. “It does feel like you’re in a never-ending battle, the way the pandemic is going right now,” Jonathan says. “You’re fighting for people’s lives, and patients keep streaming in. We’re exhausted, we’re tired, we’re mentally burned out.”

Jonathan recalls being present as another nurse held an iPad so a COVID-19 patient near death could speak to his relatives one final time. “It was pretty difficult,” he says. “The patient was taking his last breaths surrounded by strangers.” Watching COVID-19 patients die without the company of loved ones “is one of the hardest things we do,” Guillermo says. “The first thing you think about is your family. You think ‘this could be my mom, my dad, my brother.’ It’s very sad.”

In the first weeks of the pandemic, Wake Forest Baptist didn’t allow family members to visit COVID-19 patients because of the highly-transmissible nature of the virus, the brothers say. Forsyth County, where Winston-Salem is located, was then among the handful of counties reporting the highest number of novel coronavirus cases in North Carolina. The rate leveled off, more or less, during the summer. Cases are now rising again: In the medical intensive care unit where the Vargas brothers work, most of the 32 beds for COVID-19 patients have been filled in recent weeks. Overall, the hospital has about 70 beds for COVID-19 patients; officials can increase or decrease the number of COVID-19 beds, depending on the need for them, a Wake Forest Baptist spokeswoman says.

Stressful Immigration Status

The two siblings spent their early years in a poor area in the state of

Hospital Traces COVID Cluster to Break Room

A COVID-19 cluster involving 15 staff members at Holyoke Medical Center in western Massachusetts probably started in a break room, the hospital’s chief executive said.

“We traced it back to employees eating a meal together in a break room, and obviously when you eat a meal you take your mask off, and they contracted it from one employee who was positive,” Holyoke CEO Spiro Hatiras told Western Mass News.

Hatiras said the hospital has since put capacity limits on break rooms.

The employees who became ill began to show symptoms two weeks ago. Of the 15 who tested positive, 10 worked exclusively in the emergency department, according to reports.

As of Monday, two staff members were cleared to return to work. The rest remain at home, according to the local news outlet. The hospital did not return a MedPage Today request for comment as to their various conditions.

Hatiras warned about “COVID fatigue,” even among hospital employees: “We want to make sure that people interpret the guidelines appropriately. What you find sometimes with this fatigue is that 6 feet sometimes becomes 5 feet, sometimes 4 feet.”

Holyoke Medical Center is located just north of Springfield, the third largest city in Massachusetts. The town of Holyoke recently scaled back to the first of its three-step pandemic reopening, according to a local television report, because the region has been hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

It is one of a few western Massachusetts communities considered high-risk, according to a state database, with 12.7 average daily cases per 100,000 people and a 2.5% positivity rate as of the end of last week.

Holyoke Medical Center has 1,200 employees and 198 beds, according to its website. It is part of Valley Health Systems but identifies itself as an independent community hospital.

  • Ryan Basen reports for MedPage’s enterprise & investigative team. He has worked as a journalist for more than a decade, earning national and state honors for his investigative work. He often writes about issues concerning the practice and business of medicine. Follow

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Cape Cod Hospital Cutting Midwife Services

HYANNIS, MA — Cape Cod Healthcare is cutting hours at its midwifery program in half.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association has decried the decision and said its coming at a time when the hospital is seeing an increase in the number of babies it’s delivering. Starting on Nov. 16, midwives will only be available at the hospital 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Friday, cutting their in-hospital weekday availability in half, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Nurses Association said. With the cuts, midwives, will only be available 24 hours a day on weekends.

Patch has reached out to Cape Cod Healthcare officials and will update this story when we hear back.

From April to September, the hospital has seen a 38.32 percent increase in baby deliveries compared to the same months in 2019.

“The absence of midwives during weekday shifts means that expectant mothers who have chosen to be under the care of a midwife will no longer have access to those same care providers during their labor and delivery — unless a soon-to-be mother is lucky enough to go into labor either at night or on a weekend,” a Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesperson said in a statement. “Otherwise, new babies will be delivered by obstetricians.”

The nurse’s association credits the influx of pregnant woman at Cape Cod Hospital to the closure of Falmouth Hospital’s maternity ward in April. The closure forced expectant mothers in the upper Cape to travel to Hyannis for maternity services.

courtesy of the Massachusetts Nurses Association
courtesy of the Massachusetts Nurses Association

Nurses and residents argued closing the facility reduces access for expectant mothers, putting them and their children in danger. But the Falmouth Hospital Association, a part of the Cape Cod Healthcare network, argued there will be no negative impact from closing the wards in a plan submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

“Services at Cape Cod Hospital meet or exceed those which are available at the (Falmouth) Hospital, both before the proposed closure and otherwise,” the plan read.

Nurses argued the new cuts at Cape Cod Hospital raise questions on if pregnant women on the Cape will get the appropriate level of care they need, especially since the region has seen its population increase during the coronavirus pandemic as people look to relocate from more densely populated cities and towns.

“When CCHC closed the maternity unit at Falmouth, we knew we would see a significant increase in deliveries in Hyannis,” nurse Michelle Walsh said “At the very least we have been expecting to deliver 300 more babies this year. Little did we know that CCHC would make things worse by cutting patients’ access to midwives at a time when the Cape’s lone maternity unit is already understaffed and overwhelmed.”

This article originally appeared on the Barnstable-Hyannis Patch

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Second Wave ‘Critical Stage’, Hospital Transmission Report



These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Second Wave ‘Critical Stage’

Imperial’s REACT continuing community COVID-19 swab testing study estimates 96,000 people a day in England are becoming infected. The latest swabs were collected on Sunday and the data are published in a preprint.

  • Infections are doubling every 9 days with infections increasing across all age groups and areas of the country.

  • An estimated 128 people per 10,000 now has the virus compared to 60 in 10,000 as of 5 October.

  • R is estimated to have risen to 1.6.

The authors conclude: “The co-occurrence of high prevalence and rapid growth means that the second wave of the epidemic in England has now reached a critical stage. Whether via regional or national measures, it is now time-critical to control the virus and turn R below 1 if further hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19 are to be avoided.”

Experts have commented via the Science Media Centre.

Professor Igor Rudan, joint director of the Centre for Global Health and WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Edinburgh, said: “This study should be considered very accurate and reliable scientific evidence that shows that a very large second wave of COVID-19 pandemic is underway.  It will inevitably lead to a very large number of infections, severe episodes and deaths in the coming weeks and months.  Efforts will be required to reduce the national reproduction number below 1.0 again.  The measures that were in place over the past 2 months across most of Europe were clearly insufficient to prevent the new large growth of infected cases and fast spread of the virus.” 

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine, UEA, said: “Although we do not know for certain what the prevalence of infection was at the April peak, it is likely that infection rates now are very similar to and maybe even higher than at the peak in April.”

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “We can expect this situation to continue to deteriorate if authorities remain slow to react.”

Nowcast and Forecast

Also published today is the Cambridge MRC Biostatistics Unit’s weekly Nowcast and Forecast.

It estimates:

  • 55,600 daily infections in England with cases “particularly high” in the North West, and the North East and Yorkshire

  • The number of daily deaths is likely to be between 237 and 422 by 5 November

  • London, followed by the North West, continues to have the highest attack rate

Lead researcher, Professor Daniela De Angelis, commented: “The estimated trends in R values and growth rates show signs that the epidemic is growing at a slower pace in most regions. However, the rising number of infections and the R values remaining above 1 clearly indicate continued transmission, leading to the prediction of a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 deaths.

“Curtailing this transmission will require sustained social distancing interventions.”

PHE Data

Meanwhile Public Health England’s weekly national flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports showed case rates increased in every age

Tampa General Hospital and GE Healthcare’s CareComm Saves $40 Million, Cuts 20,000 Excess Days and Reduces Length of Stay

Tampa General Hospital (TGH), in partnership with GE Healthcare, reports a $40M reduction of system-wide inefficiencies since launching their CareComm command center with GE’s Command Center Software last August. Utilizing 20 artificial intelligence applications (aka Tiles), CareComm helps to optimize minute-to-minute patient care operations with real-time actionable information used in CareComm and throughout the hospital.

CareComm’s Tiles include Patient Manager, Capacity Snapshot, Surgical Tube Map, Observation Manager, Discharge Barriers, Imaging Expediter and more. CareComm also created a digital twin of patient flow at TGH which was used to reallocate nursing unit capacities and optimize the surgical block schedule. More than anything, CareComm’s work has been to serve and enable TGH’s caregivers and care teams.

The program has helped TGH to operate at maximum occupancy, decrease average length of stay by eliminating 20,000 excess days, and reduce emergency room diversion by 25% for the level one trauma center that serves the entire West Coast of Florida. These improvements equate to 30 beds of additional capacity.

“CareComm is not only the center of gravity for our artificial intelligence platform, it’s the center of gravity for the entire hospital system,” said John Couris, CEO of Tampa General Hospital. “We feel sometimes that to fix a problem, we’ve got to build a building or build more capacity. We started to think a little differently saying, how do we drive value to the consumer by doing better with what we have and not just simply building more.”

“When CareComm opened in August 2019, a hurricane was approaching, and we talked about it being helpful during the storm. We didn’t discuss a pandemic, but it’s been a remarkably useful tool in the management of COVID-19 as well as for daily patient care operations,” said Everett Cunningham, CEO of US and Canada, GE Healthcare. “GE Command Centers are now operating in over 200 hospitals worldwide helping health systems and governments through COVID-19.”

In addition to GE’s real-time Tiles, the CareComm team rapidly implemented an early warning system to help anticipate COVID-19 hotspots in the community. And TGH worked with health systems in the local area to share capacity between them through each surge of COVID-19 patients.

“CareComm guides our hospital along the path of automating care delivery. Over the past year, our team gathered valuable patient insights from our command center which we’ve been able to apply to managing reduced length of stay and better patient flow for all patients – especially in the evolving era of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Peter Chang, vice president for care transitions, Tampa General Hospital.

TGH is also co-leading a statewide collaboration with other Florida health systems and GE Healthcare to manage beds, ventilators and COVID-19 hospitalizations in near-time called the Florida Capacity System. This new cloud-based system is live and will help to manage the pandemic as well as hurricanes and other challenges in the future.

“The COVID-19 crisis requires a regional response. We’ll keep working together with the Florida healthcare systems and have agreed to share

In the hospital? You can still vote in California and most other parts of the country

Johnathon Talamantes in a hospital bed.
Johnathon Talamantes broke his hip in a car accident and needed surgery that will keep him hospitalized beyond the Nov. 3 election. The hospital helped him apply for an emergency ballot so he can vote without leaving his bed. (Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center)

Johnathon Talamantes broke his hip in a car accident last week and had surgery five days later at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

His post-op recovery will keep him in the hospital beyond election day, and that was on his mind as he prepared himself for the surgery.

“One of the first things I asked my nurse this morning was, ‘Oh, how am I going to vote?’” Talamantes, 30, said from his hospital bed the day before the operation.

He initially thought of asking his mom to rummage through a pile of papers at the home they share and bring him the mail-in ballot that he, like all registered California voters, received for this election.

But then staffers at County-USC told him about another option: They could help him get an emergency ballot so he could cast his vote without having to get out of bed. So Talamantes told his mom to not bother.

I don’t want her coming down here, because of the COVID restrictions,” he said.

California law protects the rights of voters who are in the hospital or other care facilities, or confined at home. It allows them to get help from anyone they choose — other than an employer or a union representative — so they can cast an emergency ballot.

At least 37 other states allow emergency voting for medical reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But practices vary.

In some states, only family members can assist hospitalized patients with voting from the hospital.

In California, New York and several other states, hospital employees and volunteers can help a patient complete an emergency ballot application. They can pick up the ballot for the patient and deliver the completed ballot back to the election office or deposit it in an official drop box.

In North Carolina, by contrast, it is a felony for a healthcare worker to assist a patient with voting.

In 18 states, the law allows local election boards to send representatives directly to patients’ bedsides, though six of those states have canceled that service this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Kelly Wong, founder of Patient Voting, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing turnout among registered voters who find themselves unexpectedly hospitalized around election time.

The group’s website features an interactive map of the United States with state-by-state information on voting while in the hospital. It also allows patients to check whether they are registered to vote.

Wong, an emergency room resident at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, recalled that when she was a medical student working in an ER, patients who were about to be admitted to the hospital would tell her, “‘I can’t be admitted; I have let

FBI warns of “imminent” ransomware attacks on hospital systems

Federal agencies warned that cybercriminals are unleashing a wave of data-scrambling extortion attempts against the U.S. healthcare system designed to lock up hospital information systems, which could hurt patient care just as nationwide cases of COVID-19 are spiking.

In a joint alert Wednesday, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The alert said malicious groups are targeting the sector with attacks that produce “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

The cyberattacks involve ransomware, which scrambles data into gibberish that can only be unlocked with software keys provided once targets pay up. Independent security experts say it has already hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week and could impact hundreds more.

The offensive by a Russian-speaking criminal gang coincides with the U.S. presidential election, although there is no immediate indication they were motivated by anything but profit.

“We are experiencing the most significant cyber security threat we’ve ever seen in the United States,” Charles Carmakal, chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, said in a statement.

Alex Holden, CEO of Hold Security, which has been closely tracking the ransomware in question for more than a year, agreed that the unfolding offensive is unprecedented in magnitude for the U.S. given its timing in the heat of a contentions presidential election and the worst global pandemic in a century.

The federal alert was co-authored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Agence France-Presse notes that the agencies urged U.S. healthcare providers to take “timely and reasonable precautions” such as patching their operating systems, software and firmware as soon as possible and running antivirus and anti-malware scans regularly.

The cybercriminals launching the attacks use a strain of ransomware known as Ryuk, which is seeded through a network of zombie computers called Trickbot that Microsoft began trying to counter earlier this month.U.S. Cyber Command has also reportedly taken action against Trickbot.

While Microsoft has had considerable success knocking its command-and-control servers offline through legal action, analysts say criminals have still been finding ways to spread Ryuk.

Recent attacks

The U.S. has seen a plague of ransomware over the past 18 months or so, with major cities from Baltimore to Atlanta hit and local governments and schools hit especially hard.

In September, a ransomware attack hobbled all 250 U.S. facilities of the hospital chain Universal Health Services, forcing doctors and nurses to rely on paper and pencil for record-keeping and slowing lab work. Employees described chaotic conditions impeding patient care, including mounting emergency room waits and the failure of wireless vital-signs monitoring equipment.

Also in September, the first known fatality related to ransomware occurred in Duesseldorf, Germany, when an IT system failure forced a critically ill patient to be routed to a hospital in another city.

Holden said he alerted federal law enforcement Friday after monitoring infection attempts at a number of hospitals, some of which may have

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Awarded 5-Star Hospital Award by Patient Safety Movement Foundation for Efforts to Eliminate Preventable Deaths

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation presented Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) with the Foundation’s 5-Star Hospital award for making commitments in alignment with the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s evidence-based Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS). The APSS addresses patient safety challenges that hospitals are facing daily and offer solutions designed to help hospitals eliminate preventable patient deaths.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201028005223/en/

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation presented the award virtually to Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (from left to right): Associate Chief Quality Officer, Quality Assurance & Safety, Lori B. Key, MBA, RN, and Chief Quality & Value Officer, George T. Blike, MD, MHCDS (Photo: Business Wire)

“Each year, more than 200,000 patients die from preventable hospital errors in the U.S., and 4.8 million across the globe. Those numbers are simply not acceptable and unthinkable,” said David Mayer, MD, Patient Safety Movement Foundation CEO. “Our 5-Star Award acknowledges the commitment these organizations have made toward achieving ZERO preventable deaths. The leadership demonstrated by these leaders is a model others can follow in instituting best practices in patient care.”

Mayer virtually presented the award to Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Associate Chief Quality Officer, Quality Assurance & Safety, Lori B. Key, MBA, RN, and Chief Quality & Value Officer, George T. Blike, MD, MHCDS. You can view the presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yevVBFjc-3M&feature=youtu.be

This award is a result of the collective work of DHMC employees and leaders who adopted the principles of high reliability and demonstrate those behaviors by establishing safety behaviors, reporting opportunities to improve systems and processes, and by providing individual expertise in designing and implementing quality and safety improvements.

“We’re very honored to receive this award and very pleased to be part of this movement and committed to a group that has the philosophy of ‘all teach, all learn and all improving’ when it comes to patient safety,” said Blike. “The spirit of sharing, learning, growth and improvement is what we value as an organization.”

More than 4,793 hospitals across 48 countries have committed to implementing one or multiple of the APSS developed by the Patient Safety Movement Foundation workgroups. For more information about the 5-Star Hospital program, please visit:

5-Star Hospital Program

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health: DARTMOUTH-HITCHCOCK HEALTH (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across northern New England. D-H provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named again in 2020 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 9 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock also includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation; the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; affiliated member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and

France sees highest number of COVID-19 patients going into hospital since April

PARIS (Reuters) – French hospitals registered 1,307 new coronavirus patients on Monday in the highest one-day increase since April 2, which saw 1,607 new patients, as the health system comes under increasing stress from a runaway infection rate.

French health ministry data showed that France now has a total of 17,784 coronavirus patients in its hospitals, compared with a record 32,292 on April 14, at the height of the March-May lockdown.

The ministry also reported 26,771 new confirmed coronavirus cases in past 24 hours, from 52,010 on Sunday. On Monday, the tally usually drops sharply because of reporting lags over the weekend.

The death toll went up by 257, taking the cumulative total since the start of the epidemic to 35,018. The number of people in intensive care units rose by 186 to 2,770.

Several regions in France have implemented emergency plans in hospitals, delaying non-essential operations to make space in ICU units for COVID-19 patients and cancelling staff holidays.

Sources told Reuters that authorities were looking at options for still tighter measures to fight COVID-19, including starting a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m curfew earlier, confining people to their homes at weekends except for essential trips, and closing non-essential shops.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Editing by Franklin Paul and Alison Williams)

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VeChain, Renji Hospital and DNV GL Held Strategic Partnership Signing Ceremony To Launch World’s First Blockchain Intelligent Tumor Treatment Center

SHANGHAI, Oct. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In partnership with VeChain and DNV GL, Renji Hospital, a top-ranked hospital in China affiliated with the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, has announced the launch of the world’s first blockchain-enabled Intelligent Tumor Treatment Center on October 20, 2020. The Intelligent Tumor Treatment Center is a transparent, efficient, and traceable medical management solution powered by VeChain ToolChainTM.

Sunny Lu, Co-founder and CEO of VeChain & Jidong Zhang, Vice President of Renji Hospital & George Kang, Senior Vice President of DNV GL Group
Sunny Lu, Co-founder and CEO of VeChain & Jidong Zhang, Vice President of Renji Hospital & George Kang, Senior Vice President of DNV GL Group

As strategic partners of this new initiative, VeChain and DNV GL will jointly support the hospital in the quest to improve global public health through state-of-the-art blockchain technology and professional advisory.

VeChain ToolChainTM Powers The World’s First Intelligent Tumor Treatment Center 

The Intelligent Tumor Treatment Center combines the advantages of VeChain blockchain technology with DNV GL’s professional services. It enables full patient ownership of personal medical records, allowing patients to take control of the authorization and medical records data management. Research institutions inside and outside the hospital can use authorized data to improve the efficiency of clinical research, and regulatory agencies can use authorized data to conduct business compliance checks on medical institutions and establish a credit evaluation system.

Zhang Jidong, Vice President of Renji Hospital, said, “The launch of the Intelligent Tumor Treatment Centre intends to enhance high-quality integrated development of Renji Hospital. Moving forward, Renji intends to boost our healthcare facilities with more blockchain-powered use cases and projects, which will be gradually disclosed together with our partners when the time is right.”

George Kang, Senior Vice President of DNV GL Group, said, “Through independent and objective medical evaluation methods, DNV GL intends to provide more services for Renji Hospital to improve its service quality and medical experience, moving to a new stage of higher standards, higher requirements and higher quality.”

Sunny Lu, co-founder and CEO of VeChain, said, “As digital transformation accelerates in the healthcare sector, VeChain will continue to demonstrate its advantages and flexibility as a superior blockchain platform that is suitable for all types of use cases and industries. We are very proud and excited to be contributing to the public health industry by providing the technology for Renji Hospital’s Intelligent Tumor Treatment Centre.”

VeChain Facilitating Digital Transformation To Improve Public Health

In line with the Chinese Government’s 14th Five-Year (2021-2025) Plan for Economic and Social Development, the National Health Commission formulated an official guideline and re-emphasized blockchain technology as an essential innovation and integration of the medical and health industry. VeChain is committed to solving the pain points of digital medical reform through blockchain technology and balancing personal privacy and public interests.

By using the self-developed one-stop data BaaS platform VeChain ToolChainTM , we have many proven cases in the medical sector, including a blockchain powered Clinical Trial Traceability Platform for Bayer China, and a blockchain-enabled medical data management platform named The E-NewHealthLife