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Forward with Affordable Care Act

With President Obama re-elected, this means the health care reform that Mitt Romney had planned to stop on day one, had he won, will continue to move forward. The Affordable Care Act increases access to health care ultimately leading a demand for nurses as the country is provided with the right to health care.* The American Nursing Association (ANA) agrees with the president when he says, “health care is a right, not a privilege,” said ANA President Karen A. Daley.* The Act will increase the demand for nurses due to the increase of patients and coverage options.

As of August 2012, one of the most important benefits to the Act was enforced; insurance companies have made preventative screenings, vaccines and scans free under their plans. This will be a positive change for many hospital and clinics as health care providers are given the chance to prevent illnesses. Nurses will have more time to provide health care education and preventative services.

The Act will also introduce over 34 million uninsured Americans by 2014, as it requires anyone that does not have health care to gain coverage either through private companies, Medicaid, Medicare or exchange. In addition, effective 2014, insurance companies may not discriminate or deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.*

Amy Fusselman, a RN at Allegheny GeneralHospitalin Pennsylvaniasaid “I have seen the grief and pain suffered by patients and their families who delayed care because they could not afford the co-pays that come with visits for preventive screenings. In my experience, outcomes are much better when patients have access to proper preventive care and appropriate medical treatment.”*

Another effect of the increase in access to proper health care is the shift to having clinics ran by nurse practitioners.  A nurse practitioner is a nurse that has achieved a graduate level of education. A nurse practitioner can act as a patient’s primary care provider as they have gone through diagnosis and treatment training.

“And in communities where there is no medical care at all, clinics run by nurse practitioners hold the potential to make a real, positive difference in the quality of people’s lives. And that is what ‘care’ is all about,” said a blogger of AllVoices.com.*

Upcoming reforms from this Act:*

–          January 2013: New funding provided to states to expand Medicaid programs that offer preventative care to patients at low or no cost.

–          Fall of 2013: open enrollment begins

–          January 2014: All Americans will be insured either from private companies, Medicaid, Medicare or exchange.

  • Insurance companies cannot deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
  • Individuals whose employers do not offer insurance can receive coverage from the exchange.
  • Tax credit will be issued to middle class families to help pay for private insurance plans.

–          January 2015: Physician’s pay will be determined by the quality of care they provide.

Would you like to start a career in the expanding world of nursing? UnitekCollegeoffers a variety of nursing training programs. Vocational Nursing, Registered Nurse (RN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), and Bachelors of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN).   Contact Unitek College to speak to an admissions representatives to see how you can be a part of history in healthcare.

Sources:

*The Affordable Care Act calls for all Americans to be insured, and requests nurses to provide patient education and preventative services.  (Source: www.healthcare.gov, 11/2012).

* The American Nurses Association (ANA) publically thanked and congratulated the President on being elected for another 4 years.  (Source: www.nursingworld.org, 11/2012).

*The Affordable Care Act states by 2014 Insurance companies may not deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions. (Source: www.healthcare.gov, 11/2012).

*Registered Nurse Amy Fusselman recently shared her support of the Act after experiencing what her patients have gone through.   (Source: www.seiu.org, 11/2012).

*A blogger states nurse practitioners have potential to make a positive difference in the quality of people’s lives.  (Source: www.allvoices.com, 11/2012).

* According to the timeline for things to be rolled out.  (Source: www.healthcare.gov, 11/2012).

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Unitek College Welcomes Veterans Back to School

There were many reasons why Lannel De Los Reyes chose to pursue a nursing career. The most compelling reason was watching her dad suffer through rheumatoid arthritis and gout. She decided to dedicate her life to helping others.

“It just motivated me to become a nurse and take care of people, especially my loved ones,” Reyes said.

Reyes served six years active duty with the Air Force and decided to use her GI Bill to attend Unitek College’s Vocational Nursing program in Fremont, CA. Her ultimate goal is to graduate with a Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) and return to the military.

In the same nursing classroom sits another fellow Air Force veteran, Grecia Benitez. One of Benitez’s motivations to enlist into the Air Force directly out of high school was the educational benefits. After completing 5 years of service, Benitez was ready to start on her career path. During an open house tour at Unitek College, she found the start of her nursing career with the Vocational Nursing program.

Benitez’s plan after college is slightly different from Reyes’s.  While Benitez does not shy away from the idea of returning to the military, she is currently focused on completing the Vocational Nursing program and continuing on to become a Registered Nurse through Unitek College’s LVN to RN bridge program. After finishing school, Benitez plans to either pursue a nursing career in a hospital or rejoin the Air Force.

Benitez and Reyes share both a dedication to their country and a desire to achieve higher learning. The Post 9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI bill, amongst other Veterans Assistance (VA) benefits, reward veterans for their service and allow them to pursue higher education.  Although many institutions have yet to accept VA benefits, Unitek College made accepting VA benefits a top priority to make quality education available to America’s returning vets.

The majority of healthcare training programs offered by Unitek College are VA approved. “Unitek College is 100% committed to assisting our dedicated service men and women in making a successful transition into civilian life. Our main priority is to help them obtain the necessary education and training that can be parlayed into a lasting and rewarding career. Serving our veterans is a privilege we don’t take lightly.” Navraj Bawa, COO and Executive Vice President, Unitek College stated in a press release.

“If nursing is what you want to do…I would definitely recommend this school”, Benitez said.

Unitek College anticipates growth in enrollments from veterans who are looking to achieve their goals of higher education. This is particularly true with the recent deep budgetary cuts at public schools. Reyes, in advising other veterans said, “Definitely take advantage of your GI bill. That is part of why I joined the military.”

Are you a VA looking to get into the field of nursing?  Unitek College offers Training in Vocational NursingRegistered Nursing (LVN to RN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelors of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN).  Contact us today at 888-735-4355 to see how you can get started on a very rewarding career as a nurse.

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Surprising Stats on Reporting Patient Harm

No nurse deliberately intends to harm a patient. After all, that is in direct opposition of the role that nurses play. However, when caring for fragile geriatric patients or transferring injured individuals, accidents can unfortunately happen. As a student getting an ADN degree, how often would you guess that incidents are reported?

I found an article on FierceHealthCare.com written by Alicia Caramenico that shocked me. She states that, “Hospital workers reported only about 14 percent of the patient-safety incidents experienced by Medicare beneficiaries discharged in October 2008, according to a new report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)…Hospital staff failed to report the remaining 86 percent of patient harm events, partly due to staff misunderstanding what constitutes patient harm. Hospital administrators labeled 61 percent of the unreported events as those that staff did not identify as reportable and 25 percent as events that staff normally reported but did not report in this case, according to the OIG.”

14 percent!?! Is it just me, or do you find that horrifying? Unfortunately in the article and in the actual OIG report, I couldn’t find the definition for “patient harm” and the incidents that caused the nursing staff to “misunderstand what constitutes patient harm.” I would also like to know that if 86 percent of the incidents weren’t reported, then how did the study know that these incidents even existed. I feel like I’m seeing a lot of smoke and not a whole lot of fire…

The OIG report explains that, “As a condition of participation in the Medicare program, Federal regulations require that hospitals develop and maintain a Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program. To satisfy QAPI requirements, hospitals must ‘track medical errors and adverse patient events, analyze their causes, and implement preventive actions and mechanisms that include feedback and learning throughout the hospital.’ To standardize hospital event reporting, AHRQ developed a set of event definitions and incident reporting tools known as the Common Formats. We requested and reviewed incident reports from hospitals regarding patient harm events.”

So here is my conclusion: there will always be reports and findings in the medical world and students with health care career training will have to use their discernment and experience to determine what is worth listening to and what does not apply to their work environment.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/hospital-workers-fail-report-86-patient-harm-events/2012-01-09?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal
and
http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-09-00091.asp

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Could Post-Discharge Clinics Reduce Patient Readmissions?

Patient readmissions seems to be a hot topic in the medical world. (Ironically, this is the one business that doesn’t want customers to return quickly!) The numbers vary by hospital and region and the causes can range from patient self-care to what caused the patient to end up at the hospital in the first place. To solve this continuing problem, several hospitals are implementing post-discharge clinics to help patients successfully transition from hospital care to home. Could this be a new option of employment for students in a nursing college?

According to FierceHealthCare.com reporter Alicia Caramenico, “One-third of adults don’t see a physician within 30 days of discharge, according to study by the Center for Studying Health System Change. What’s more, about 8.2 percent of adult patients returned to the hospital after 30 days, while 32.9 percent came back within a year of discharge, according to a press release yesterday. The study points to a lack of follow-up care as a source of avoidable hospital readmissions.”

Health Care Finance News posted a study on readmissions and found that there was, “a substantial association between regional rates of rehospitalization and overall admission rates,” the researchers concluded. “Although most interventions designed to reduce readmissions thus far have focused on better disease management and the coordination of care, our results underscore the importance of policy efforts directed at reducing the general incentives to use hospital services.”

Due to high numbers of readmissions and patients not fully following their physician’s instructions, many hospitals are trying out post discharge clinics. Caramenico reports that advanced practice nurses run these clinics and clearly explain discharge instructions and medication usage.

“We do medication reconciliation, reassessments, and follow-ups with lab tests,” said Dr. Shay Martinez, medical director and hospitalist at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. “We also try to assess who is more likely to be a no-show and who needs more help with scheduling follow-up appointments.”

“Harborview Medical Center’s post-discharge clinic limits patients to three visits, then shifts their care to a medical home. Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center gives patients a 40-minute post-discharge clinic visit or 30 minutes if they came from the hospital’s emergency room (ER) and need follow-up care,” explains Caramenico. Furthermore, these clinics identify patients who need additional help by looking at their electronic records and look into their social environment and non-medical issues that could prevent a full recovery.

The medical field is ever changing and the opportunities for nurses with an ADN degree are increasing.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/hospitals-use-post-discharge-clinics-cut-readmissions/2011-12-09?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal and http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/nejm-hospital-readmission-rate-tied-closely-overall-hospital-admissions

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Four Trends for Hospital Success

There seems to be a lot of changes coming down the health care pipeline. From financial plans to reduce costs to more government accountability, hospitals are organizing the members of their think tanks to determine the path to success. For those getting career nurse training, it’s important to gauge what the future may look like.

On FierceHealth.com, editor Karen M. Cheung reports that, “Hospitals and health systems are adapting to the changing healthcare climate in ‘curves’ or waves of strategic priorities, with one foot on the dock and the other on the boat, according to a recently released report from the American Hospital Association Committee on Performance Improvement. The report, which includes responses from hospital and health system leaders, as well as AHA groups, identifies strategies hospitals should prioritize as major initiatives in the coming decade.”

The first strategy explains that there needs to be an alignment between “hospitals, physicians, and other providers across the care continuum. Described as a shifting paradigm from ‘competition to interdependency,’ according to the report, aligning providers across the care continuum is essential to true partnerships and care coordination. For example, during a Medicare demonstration project, Wenatchee (Wash.) Valley Medical Center held preliminary meetings with all providers and acted on their suggestions, provided shared savings incentives to group physicians, and shared data, including testimonials from patients,” explains Cheung.

The next step would be to use “evidence-based practices to improve quality and patient safety. Quality is directly tied to reimbursement, especially as hospitals with high readmission rates will be penalized starting in 2013” comments Cheung. Of course hospitals are going to be more cautious with patient care if they are worried they won’t be reimbursed for their costs. Add penalties to that and money sometimes speaks louder than words.

The third solution is to improve efficiency through productivity and financial management. Chueng uses this example : “North Mississippi Medical Center aimed to improve patient satisfaction in the emergency department, particularly around wait times. To cut down on wait times, the hospital implemented bedside triage, allowed for X-ray viewing abilities in each patient room, and installed a computerized tracking system to increase patient flow.”

Finally, many hospitals are integrating information systems. As a patient, this is awesome! I would love for all of my medical history, drug allergies and contact information to be in one system so I won’t have to fill out a plethora of identical forms.

It looks like the future of health care continues to be exciting and more polished. This the perfect time to be in a nursing school in the San Francisco Bay Area!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/4-priority-strategies-hospitals-future/2011-10-17?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

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Patient’s Death Blamed on NorCal Nurses' Strike

Last week one of the largest nursing strikes took place in Northern California. 33 hospitals and approximately 23,000 nurses were involved in this monumental protest. Due to the amount of nurses on strike, many replacement nurses were called in to care for the patients. However, one nurse made a fatal mistake which is receiving a lot of press. I hate to bring these issues up, but I feel I need to share the full spectrum of the nursing world to nursing students and to those getting their ADN degree.

The Associated Press has an article on BusinessWeek.com reporting about this incident and the events surrounding it. “A replacement nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland mistakenly hooked the nutrient solution up to an IV for 66-year-old Judith Ming, instead of to the tube leading to Ming’s stomach, the Oakland Tribune reports… Hospital officials have acknowledged Ming, 66, died from a medical error but have not described what happened pending an investigation into Ming’s death. Police have said only that a replacement nurse gave her a non-prescribed dosage of a drug known to be lethal in the manner in which was administered.”

For once, I actually do not have any words to say. My heart aches for the deceased’s family; death is especially hard to accept when it could have been easily avoided. I obviously was not present when this event occurred so I cannot comment on who’s at fault or why this happened. I just know that all humans make errors and in the medical field, these mistakes are magnified to painful proportions.

“Union officials have questioned the qualifications of the replacement nurses that were brought in by the hospital during the lockout. The California Nurses Association provided a negotiation update to its members in which it referred to the improperly administered supplement as ‘grossly negligent’ and an ‘error so outlandish and bizarre’ that police had questioned the temporary nurse involve,” reported the AP.

An article in the San Francisco Gate reported Dr. Steve O’Brien, vice president of medical affairs at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, as saying “the death was not the result of bringing in replacement nurses during the lockout. All of the replacements – including the one involved in Saturday’s death – have the needed training and experience for the job.”

It’s a shame that one nurse makes a huge mistake and it becomes a reflection of the entire occupation. Also, the mission of the strike is also compromised with this tragic event. Nursing is one career that everyone has an opinion about based on their own hospital experiences. I think the main thing that ADN nurses can take away from this story is to be cautious, be aware and always double check your work.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9Q1H1O00.htm
and
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/26/BAMQ1L9MBU.DTL