06Jun

More than ever, this is a time to recognize and honor the nurses of the world. Not only does National Nurses Week begin Wednesday, but in recognition of the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the entire year has been designated as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Her memory is being honored in a way that would make Florence Nightingale incredibly proud of the profession she founded. All across the world, and especially here in the US, nurses have responded to the call, working tirelessly, often without a break, to care for those sickened by the coronavirus.

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other leaders called for help, tens of thousands of retired and administrative and medical office nurses came forward. Many are providing direct patient care. Others are filling support jobs. All are on the frontline in this pandemic.

Two hundred years ago, Nightingale was also on the frontline of battle. Born May 12, 1820 to wealth, she left a comfortable home and comfortable life in Britain to care for soldiers in the far off Crimea, making rounds so often at night with only a candle she came to be known as the “Lady with the lamp.”

Today’s nurses are practicing Nightingale’s caring and compassion in the face of the worst health crisis in a century and demonstrating to the world what it means to be a nurse.

To all the nurses, we at Green Key Resources say, Thank You for your service.

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

[bdp_post_carousel]

Jun 6, 2023

In-Home Colon Screening Is Rising as a COVID Alternative

The sharp decline in cancer screenings due to the suspension of elective medical procedures has prompted doctors to turn to alternatives, and none have seen a greater increase than in-home colon screening tests.

Screening for colorectal cancer has typically meant a trip to an outpatient surgical center for a colonoscopy or for a somewhat less invasive sigmoidoscopy. During the initial months of the pandemic when COVID disrupted medical care, there was an 86% decline in colon cancer screening, according to the Epic Health Research Network.

Decades ago, medical researchers found testing for the presence of blood in stool could be an effective indicator for potential colon cancer. Patients with abnormal fecal immunochemical test (FIT) results are referred for colonoscopies.

Despite the ready availability of FIT and a second type that detects cancer biomarkers, most doctors continued to recommend colonoscopies for all their over 50 year old patients. Many doctors never even discuss other options, so few patients are aware there are alternatives.

“Some patients are definitely surprised that there are options for colon cancer screening other than colonoscopy,” Lisa Ravindra, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in an article on the JAMA Network.

Yet the in-home tests are as good at early detection as a colonoscopy, said Dr. Alex Krist, chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. “The data show the tests are equally effective at saving lives,” he told The New York Times.

Because of the rising incidence of colon cancer, the Task Force is expected to recommend lowering the age at which screening should begin to 45. Colonoscopies should be done every 10 years, annually for FIT and every 3 years for Cologuard, the biomarker test.

While routine screenings have increased, Michael Sapienza, chief executive officer of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, said, “I’m still hearing from a lot of people that we’re not seeing a ton of [routine] screening colonoscopies.”

As a result of the COVID-caused delay in diagnostic testing and the consequent delay in treatment, the National Cancer Institute predicts 4,500 more deaths from colorectal cancers over the next decade. A Lancet study estimated a 15.3–16.6% increase.

Speaking to The Times, Dr. Rachel Issaka, a gastroenterologist at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said colon cancer screenings, of any type, “are considered non-urgent, but they’re not optional.”

[bdp_post_carousel]

Jun 6, 2023

Hospitals Ready In Case of ‘Second Wave’ This Fall

Six months into the global coronavirus pandemic, health care experts across the US feel much better prepared to handle a potential “second wave” should it occur this fall.

“We’ve evolved. We’re in a much better state now than we were in the beginning of the pandemic,” Michael Calderwood, associate chief quality officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, told Healthcare Dive. “There’s been a lot of learning.”

In a survey reported by Healthcare Dive, healthcare executives express fewer concerns about a possible surge in patients when the usual flu season begins this fall than they do about staffing and employee burnout.

Hospital finances are by far a broader concern. When the seriousness of the pandemic became apparent the government ordered a shutdown of all but essential services hitting hospitals hard.

The cancellation of elective procedures and the dramatic reduction in other visits cost hospitals and health systems $200.6 billion, according to the American Hospital Association. That has to at least partially factor into the thinking of the 62% of survey respondents who don’t think a similar response would be appropriate again given what is now known about the virus.

Their worries about patient volumes is well-founded, said Dion Sheidy, a partner and healthcare advisory leader at KPMG.

“While we think demand will come back, we’ve seen some flattening on demand in certain aspects that may be the new indicator of the new norm in terms of how people seek care,” Sheidy said.

The rise of telehealth visits is part of that new norm, embraced by a large majority of the 100 healthcare system executives in the survey. As medical offices and many walk-in clinics closed, Medicare and health insurance providers relaxed policies and expanded their coverage of virtual doctor visits. Telehealth visits surged. Many providers saw a doubling, tripling and more of their pre-shutdown business.

The survey respondents support the regulatory loosening. In the survey, 84% support the ability to offer telehealth services to patients located in their homes and outside of designated rural areas. Previously, many insurers only reimbursed telehealth costs for patients who lived far from a doctor or medical facility.

Almost as many executives (79%) support expanding the services that may be provided by telehealth. Smaller, but still substantial percentages favor expanding the type of practitioners allowed to provide virtual care and provide insurance coverage for devices such as computers and cell phones for telehealth.

[bdp_post_carousel]