Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich plan to strike Tuesday in protest over contract talks

Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich are set to strike Tuesday and Wednesday to protest what they say is the company’s refusal to negotiate a contract.

The hospital and Backus Federation of Nurses, part of AFT Connecticut that represents more than 400 nurses have been in contract talks since June. The two sides differ on compensation, improved distribution of personal protective equipment and recruiting and keeping new nurses, according to the union.

A spokeswoman for parent company Hartford HealthCare did not immediately respond to questions about staffing at Backus Hospital during the walkout. Donna Handley, president of the hospital, said earlier this month Backus will remain open during a strike and will work to reach an agreement.

Union President Sherri Dayton said recent negotiations led to progress on improved protective gear policies, expanded access for breastfeeding by new mothers and accountability for safe patient limits.

But the company has not yielded on calls by the union to improve recruitment and retention of nurses, the union said.

The union has organized a rally Tuesday at the hospital and will be joined by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and other labor leaders and elected officials.

Nurses at the not-for-profit hospital are seeking higher pay and more staff to relieve nurses who often work hours after the end of their shifts, the union said. They also say they are forced to reuse personal protective equipment kept in paper bags until it’s compromised or soiled and are demanding Hartford Healthcare keep a three-month supply of N95 masks.

Hartford HealthCare insists personal protective equipment is always available to patients and staff.

Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]

———

©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Source Article

Nym Health raises $16.5 million for its auditable machine learning tools for automating hospital billing

A little less than two years after raising its seed round, the Israeli-based Nym Health has added another $16.5 million to its cash haul so it can roll out its technology developing auditable machine learning tools for automating hospital billing.

The new financing came from investors including GV (the investment arm of Google previously known as Google Ventures) and will be used by the company to expand its technology development and sales and marketing efforts across the U.S.

Billing has been a huge problem for healthcare systems in the U.S., thanks to complicated coding that needs to be entered to ensure insurance providers pay for the services medical professionals give to patients.

Nym claims to have solved the problem by developing technologies that can convert medical charts and electronic medical records from physician’s consultations into proper billing codes automatically. The company uses natural language processing and taxonomies that were specifically developed to understand clinical language to determine the optimal charge for each procedure, examination and diagnostic conducted for a patient, according to Nym.

The company was founded in 2018 by two former members of Israel’s 8200 cybersecurity unit of the army. Adam Rimon and Amihai Neiderman both wanted to work on something together and Neiderman was set on doing something in the medical space involving natural language processing. Rimon had just finished a doctorate in computational linguistics so the move into charting and medical coding seemed natural.

“Because of our approach we can generate full audit trails,” said Neiderman. “We can explain how we understood everything in patient charts.”

Having automated processes that are also auditable is important for healthcare providers in case they need to provide justification to insurance companies for the services they performed.

Nym’s software can’t address fraud if physicians are padding their bills with services they didn’t offer, but it can provide an audit and justification for the services that a hospital coded for — and potentially wring more money for hospitals that lose out thanks to improperly coded bills. “On the medical decision-making we never intervene. We assume that the physician is trying to do their best and they’re sticking to the protocol,” said Neiderman. 

Interest in developing better billing systems for healthcare is high among venture investors, considering that coding related denials of payment can cost hospitals $15 billion, according to Nym. It’s a service that brought attention not just from GV, but of Bessemer Venture Partners, Dynamic Loop Capital, Lightspeed, Tiger Global, and angel investors including Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner from Flatiron Health.

“Inaccurate coding is bad for everybody,” says Ben Robbins, a venture partner at GV.

Nym charges between $1 and $4 per chart it analyzes, and is already working with around 40 medical providers in the U.S., according to the company.

 

Source Article

How one hospital organization is tackling racial bias in medicine

Mount Sinai is on a mission to provide quality health care for all.

This report is part of “Turning Point,” a groundbreaking series by ABC News examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

For years, studies have shown that people of color don’t get the same level of health care as white patients.

Some of these studies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 study which found that Black babies have a higher chance of dying in their first year of life compared to white babies.

Similarly, a study from the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine found that Black and brown Americans waited longer for care in the emergency room than white Americans.

And in 2016, another study from the National Academy of Sciences found that Black Americans were undertreated for pain compared to white Americans.

It’s an issue that Kamilah Mitchell knows all too well. In 2017, Mitchell said she was in the emergency room for eight hours and was even given a breathalyzer test before getting treatment for uterine cancer.

“How do you trust a system that is ready to send you home?” Mitchell told “Good Morning America.” “Because for whatever reason, they don’t want to hear you.”

Mitchell is now a patient of Dr. Joy Cooper, an Oakland, California, doctor and co-founder of Culture Care, a group that connects Black women with trusted physicians.

“I always tell people that the health care system was not designed [with] Black women in mind,” Dr. Joy Cooper told “Good Morning America.” “J. Marion Sims, who’s considered the father of gynecology, actually performed surgeries on slaves with their master’s consent without anesthesia.”

But an initiative at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital is working to end racial bias in medicine.

Dubbed the Racial Bias Initiative, which is part of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, their mission is to provide “health care and education that is free of racism and bias.”

According to Dean David Muller of the Icahn School of Medicine, the initiative, which was launched in 2015, aims to focus on changing “how we function, how we recruit scientists and doctors, how we promote them and how we make decisions about resource allocation.”

“It’s the people and it’s the actual structure of the medical school,” added Dr. Leona Hess, director of strategy and equity education programs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “What are the ways in which we set up conditions that either knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate racism?”

At the Icahn School of Medicine, they also host weekly discussions about racial bias in medicine called “Chats for Change,” where the Mount Sinai community can learn about a wide range of topics from racial trauma to racial injustice in medicine. Attendees can also take part in healing circles.

“There’s a lot of work going on

Hospital Debates Penis Transplant in Transgender Patient

In a move that could revolutionize gender-reassignment surgery, hospital officials in Boston are considering whether to allow a first-ever penis transplant in a transgender man. Surgeons hope to attach a dead man’s penis to the groin of a patient born as a biological female.

“This would be a quantum leap if you were able to transplant a real penile structure. It’s certainly pushing the boundaries,” Curtis Cetrulo, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, told MedPage Today. “We’re ready to do it, and we could do it pretty soon if we get it approved. I’m hopeful we can do it. It would be super-helpful to a lot of these [transgender] patients.”

Surgeons in the U.S. and South Africa have only performed a handful of successful penis transplants, all in adult men who lost their genitals to cancer or trauma. Cetrulo led a landmark 2016 transplant surgery in a 64-year-old man who’d had a penectomy due to cancer. In a 14-hour procedure in 2019, Johns Hopkins University surgeons successfully attached a penis, scrotum, and parts of abdominal wall to a soldier who was severely injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. Surgeons reported successful recovery of urinary and sexual function in both cases.

There are no generally accepted penis-transplant guidelines nor agreement about whether the procedure is appropriate for transgender patients. MGH currently allows the transplant in men who have congenital penis defects or who lost their penises to injury or cancer. Officials are considering whether to expand the existing protocol to allow the surgery in a specific transgender patient, Cetrulo said.

The main objectives of penis transplants are to provide an aesthetic phallus, urinary function, and sexual function (including erections and “erogenous sensitivity”), he said.

While outcomes remain unknown, the prospect of penis transplants in transgender men is “huge,” California gender reassignment surgeon Marci Bowers, MD, told MedPage Today. “This is like a heart transplant to someone who has end-stage heart disease. It’s that big. Prior methods were just so substandard in so many ways.”

As Bowers noted, phalloplasties – in which phalluses are constructed from flaps of skin – have complication rates of 80% to 90%, and that’s not the only limitation. Oregon activist and author Jamison Green, PhD, a transgender man, told MedPage Today that phalloplasties “don’t have the same aesthetic appeal [as natural penises] and they don’t enlarge and get hard on their own. They’re always the same size.”

Metoidioplasties are another option for transgender men, but they also have limitations. In these procedures, surgeons form neophalluses out of clitoral tissue. The phalluses are disappointingly small, Green said. “You do have an erection and it can stay hard. Some people are capable of penetrating a partner, and some are not.”

Compared to these existing options, Cetrulo said, a penis transplant ideally will offer “fewer urethral complications, better cosmetic outcome, and better physiological sexual capacity.”

Still, limitations include the fact that transgender men who receive penis transplants will not be able to ejaculate since

Wisconsin, Dakotas hospital beds; Europe ‘second wave’

CLOSE

President Trump received mostly the same treatment as anyone would get for COVID-19, except for one experimental drug and the speed of his care.

USA TODAY

Wisconsin health officials plan to open a field hospital amid a surge in cases in the midwest, the latest region to become a COVID-19 hotspot.

The virus first spiked in travel hubs like New York City, took hold over the summer in sunny, tourism-prone areas like Florida and now is now widely spreading in the midwest, especially in areas noted for downplaying the virus’ risks. The midwest, however, isn’t alone: U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 7.5 million on Wednesday with most states seeing a rise in cases.

“What worries me is we haven’t learned our lessons,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He cited data, compiled by the company Premise, showing mask usage is lower in Wisconsin and the Dakotas than the U.S. average of 50%.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump — who last week tested positive for the virus and was admitted to the hospital — has returned to the Oval Office, breaking quarantine despite recommendations from his doctors that he remain in the White House residence.

But he shows no signs of slowing down. Trump repudiated the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to move the second presidential debate to a virtual format, calling it a “joke.” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien proposed delaying the final two debates each one week under their same format.

Some significant developments:

📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has reported more than 7.5 million cases and more than 212,600 deaths. Eleven states set records for new cases over the just-ended seven-day period while three states had a record number of deaths. The world has seen over 36.3 million cases and 1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

📰 What we’re reading: As winter approaches, restaurants in locations with colder weather nationwide are envisioning new ways to keep outdoor dining open. That means you may end up dining in a heated tent, or better yet, an “igloo.”

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

COVID-19 cases surge in Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota

A surge of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin and the Dakotas is forcing a scramble for hospital beds and raising political tensions, as the Upper Midwest and Plains emerge as one of the nation’s most troubling hot spots.

The three states now lead all others in new cases per capita, after months in which many politicians and residents rejected mask requirements while downplaying the risks of the disease that has now killed over 210,000 Americans.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” said Melissa Resch, a nurse at Wisconsin’s Aspirus Wausau Hospital, which is working to add beds and reassign staff to keep up with a rising caseload of virus patients, many gravely

NEC OncoImmunity AS and Oslo University Hospital Team Up to Develop a Diagnostic for COVID-19 Using Artificial Intelligence

NEC OncoImmunity AS (NOI), a subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NEC), and Oslo University Hospital (OUH) are pleased to announce that they have recently been awarded a prestigious grant from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that will enable the rapid design of T-cell diagnostics for emerging or endemic infectious diseases. The project will develop a novel T-cell diagnostic for the current COVID-19 pandemic to complement the current serological tests. This will improve the ability to identify immune responses and acquired immunity, which is desperately needed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Current technologies involve extensive trial and error to define exactly which parts of the pathogen induces robust immunity. These so-called immunodominant epitopes need to be identified for the general population. These demanding, work-intensive and time-consuming steps are necessary to develop tests to monitor the T-cell response to viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the infectious virus that causes COVID-19).

Reliable diagnostic tests to identify immune individuals are critical to overcome the ever-looming threat of COVID-19. The AI-based diagnostic to be developed in this project will complement antibody tests and enable individuals who are naturally immune to the virus following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or other seasonal coronaviruses, or who have acquired immunity following vaccination, to be identified.

“Antibody tests are an important aspect of understanding the immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection and will remain a mainstay of its diagnosis. However, protective SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses occur in antibody-negative infected individuals who have successfully resolved the infection. In addition, we may already have underlying immunity in the population due to cross reactivity to endemic seasonal human coronaviruses,” said Professor Ludvig A. Munthe Ph.D., Head of Research and Group Leader, Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital.

Although the technology to develop antibody diagnostics is readily available, this is not the case for T-cell diagnostics, which currently represents a “blind spot” for the monitoring of immunity to COVID-19 in the world’s population. To address this important gap, NOI and OUH, with the support of RCN, have now committed themselves to develop an AI-designed T-cell diagnostic that monitors the underlying T-cell response to the infection. Developing a reliable T-cell diagnostic comes with specific technological challenges with solutions offered by the NEC Immune Profiler at NOI to cater for the global human population.

“T-cells are known to play a central role for initial and long term immunity against viruses. However, T-cell responses are highly variable between different pathogens and genetic groups in the human population, making the prospect of developing reliable universal T-cell diagnostics for COVID-19 challenging. This challenge has inspired the scientists at NOI to use our AI to seek out the T-cell response to infection as a diagnostic signal. In this project we look forward to adapting the NEC Immune Profiler and other AI technologies at NEC Corporation and leveraging them to develop a COVID-19 T-cell diagnostic for the diverse genetic makeup in the global human population,” said Trevor Clancy Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, NEC OncoImmunity

Texas Family Sues to Keep 10-Month-Old Baby on Life Support After Hospital Says He’s Brain-Dead

gofundme Nick Torres

A family in Texas is suing a children’s hospital to keep their baby on life support, after he was declared brain dead by doctors.

Nick Torres, 10 months, was taken to a Texas hospital on September 24 after he was found unconscious and unresponsive in a bathtub, CNN reported. He was transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit and taken to Texas Children’s Hospital.

Within the week, doctors declared Nick brain dead, court documents obtained by CNN reportedly said.

But Nick’s parents, Mario and Ana Patricia Torres, believe that because their son’s heart is still beating on its own, he has a chance to live.

The couple has sued the hospital to keep Nick on life support, alleging in a complaint obtained by CNN that the hospital had been “rushing to make a decision.”

RELATED: Couple of 56 Years Die Hours Apart After Furnace Malfunctions Inside Their Illinois Home

The Texas Children’s Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit’s senior medical director Dr. Matthew Musick said in court documents that Nick’s “current condition and physiological changes have nothing to do with the presence of oxygen provided by the ventilator. In addition, these changes cannot be stopped or slowed by the ventilator or any other service,” CNN reported.

The Torres’ sought an injunction against Texas Children’s and more than $1 million, CNN reported, though a judge denied it. Mario and Ana Patricia were given more time to file an accelerated appeal, and all sides were given until 5 p.m. Wednesday to present evidence to the court, according to the outlet.

The hospital maintains that it is “indisputable medical fact” that Nick showed “signs of postmortem deterioration,” court documents said, according to CNN, and that he had “developed progressive signs of organ failure, including cardiac failure.”

RELATED: Man, 25, Dies After Falling 250 Feet from Ariz. Cliff While Taking Photos

The hospital said that multiple evaluations, including one from the Texas Medical Center, showed “complete cessation of all spontaneous brain activity,” deeming Nick dead according to state law, CNN reported.

Texas Children’s Hospital told PEOPLE’s in a statement, “Our hearts are with the entire Torres family as they go through this unimaginable situation. We know losing a child is incredibly difficult for any family. Texas Children’s seeks to provide the most compassionate and appropriate care possible to every patient we serve.”

The Torres’ attorney Kevin Acevedo told CNN that the case is “about life and death, what we believe and who gets to choose when a child is taken off life support.”

“Do the parents choose, or do the doctors choose? And when the doctors don’t agree with the parents, who gets to decide?” Acevedo said. “And those are the issues that are at the heart of this case.”

Source Article

Wisconsin to Open Field Hospital as COVID-19 Hospitalizations Surge | Top News

(Reuters) – Wisconsin will open a field hospital outside of Milwaukee to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases that have overwhelmed hospitals across the state, Governor Tony Evers said on Wednesday.

The hospital will open within the next week after hospitalizations across the state nearly tripled over the last month. There were 853 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, an increase of 71 from the day before, Evers said in a statement.

“Yesterday I learned our health care systems were teetering and that they are on the brink,” Evers said during a news conference. “We hoped this day won’t come but Wisconsin is in a much different, dire place today.”

The 530-bed facility, built last spring, is located at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, just west of Milwaukee. It will not accept walk-in patients, but will treat patients who are transitioning out of the hospital and require less medical care, Ever said.

A total of 55 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties meet the threshold of very high disease activity level, an increase of 10 counties over the last week. Wisconsin’s remaining counties are at a high activity level, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said.

“Every region in Wisconsin has hospitals reporting current and imminent staffing shortages,” she said. “Our state is in a danger place.”

Wisconsin is one of a handful of U.S. states, including the Dakotas and Montana, that are seeing record hospitalizations. A Reuters tally shows Wisconsin has about 15 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, three times more than it did in June.

The state is also experiencing a spike in its seven-day average positivity rate by person, which stands at 17% after it was 11% a month ago, state data showed.

“Wearing a mask is simply not enough to flatten the curve. I’m once again calling on Wisconsinites to hunker down,” Evers said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

Source Article

Trump’s hospital records, weight haven’t been released

CLOSE

President Trump received mostly the same treatment as anyone would get for COVID-19, except for one experimental drug and the speed of his care.

USA TODAY

The claim: Trump’s hospital records reveal he’s 322 pounds

America is nervously watching COVID-19 sweep its way across the top ranks of government. Now, online speculation and the administration’s lack of transparency are paving the way for misinformation about President Donald Trump’s health to go viral.

“Breaking News: HOSPITAL RECORDS EXPOSE TRUMP’S WEIGHT TO BE A WHOPPING 322 POUNDS!” @JerasIkehorn posed on Twitter Oct. 5

Soon the hashtags #322PoundPotus and #322Pounds gained traction, @JerasIkehorn’s tweet received 9,000 retweets, 1,400 quote tweets and nearly 29,700 likes, and the claim made its way across social networks. 

“Hospital Record shows Trumps Weight 322! His Last Doctor said: 239! They understated by 83 Pounds! Could Other Info be Inaccurate!” asserted a similar claim, posted on Facebook on Oct. 5.

However, the White House has not released Trump’s hospital records from his stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Trump’s latest physical results reveal he’s far from 322 pounds.

More: Fact check: Trump could have been exposed to COVID-19 before Sept. 29 presidential debate

The Facebook user who shared the claim has not responded to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

White House has not released Trump’s hospital records

Trump’s health records, like those of any American, are protected from public release without his consent by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Since Trump announced his and his wife’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis on Oct. 2, Trump’s physicians and administration officials have updated the public on his condition via press conferences and written statements. In these correspondences, Trump’s team discussed his treatment and symptoms, but they never revealed his weight.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, briefs reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Trump was admitted to the hospital after contracting the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)

“The doctors are not going to get on television and contravene the narrative. It’s the president’s privacy. If he doesn’t want to share information with the public, they can’t,” Dr. Russell Buhr, a pulmonologist and critical care professor at UCLA, told USA TODAY.

If a doctor were to divulge the president’s health information without his consent, that physician would risk criminal penalties ranging between $50,000 and $250,000, as well as sanctions from professional medical boards and loss of a state medical license.

More: Fact check: Claim that Trump’s positive COVID-19 test result is a ‘con’ has no basis in fact

Trump’s latest weight

Trump weighs 244 pounds according to his latest annual physical exam results released by the White House on June 3. The 6-foot-3, 74-year-old president was up one pound from his previousphysical released in February 2019, which showed his weight as 

Wisconsin activates field hospital as COVID keeps surging

Wisconsin’s governor has announced a field hospital at the state fairgrounds will open next week as a surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals

Wisconsin has become a hot spot for the disease over the last month, ranking third nationwide this week in new cases per capita over the last two weeks. Health experts have attributed the spike to the reopening of colleges and K-12 schools as well as general fatigue over wearing masks and socially distancing.

State Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm told reporters during a video conference that the facility will open on Oct. 14.

The move also came as a state judge was considering a lawsuit seeking to strike down Evers’ mandate that masks be worn in enclosed public spaces. The governor on Tuesday issued new restrictions on the size of indoor public gatherings through Nov. 6.

Only 16% of the state’s 11,452 hospital beds were available as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the DHS. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had grown to 853, it’s highest during the pandemic according to the COVID Tracking Project, with 216 in intensive care.

The DHS reported 2,319 new confirmed cases on Wednesday and 16 more deaths. The state has now seen 138,698 cases and 1,415 deaths since the pandemic began.

Virus spread is particularly rampant in northeastern Wisconsin. The Green Bay Packers announced this week that no home fans would be admitted to home games until the situation improved, and head coach Matt LaFleur asked area residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a 530-bed field hospital on the state fairgrounds in West Allis just outside Milwaukee in April at the request of Evers’ administration. Local leaders had warned about the possibility of area hospitals being overwhelmed, but hospitalizations never reached the point where the hospital was needed until now.

The hospital will accept patients from across Wisconsin but is designed to provide low-level care, and it will accept only patients who