In recent months, federal antitrust regulators have notched some notable achievements, blocking four hospital mergers. Those actions follow the announcement of a major change in antitrust philosophy, embodied by President Joe Biden’s executive order last year aimed at promoting competition. That order criticized hospital consolidation for the ways in which it has left “many areas, particularly rural communities, with inadequate or more expensive healthcare options.” Suddenly, antitrust regulators seem to have swagger. News articles have described the Federal Trade Commission, whose job is to stop anti-competitive behavior, as being “unleashed” under its aggressive new chief, Lina Khan. Republicans have responded with complaints of “radical” policies.
The news, under Noble Health letterhead, arrived at 5:05 p.m. on a Friday, with the subject line: “Urgent Notice.” Audrain Community Hospital, Paul Huemann’s workplace of 32 years, was letting workers go. Word travels fast in a small town. Huemann’s wife, Kym, first heard the bad news in the car when a friend who’d gotten the letter, too, texted. “Your termination was not foreseeable,” said the letter, dated Sept. 8 and signed Platinum Health Systems, adding that the firing was permanent “with no recourse” and that the “medical facility will be shuttered.” “I don’t know what my next steps are,” said 52-year-old Huemann, who supervised the laboratory at the Audrain hospital. The future for the Huemanns, hundreds of other workers, and thousands of patients in two small Missouri towns began to unravel long before that afternoon.
When Donna Gilbert asked me to be a part of her lawsuit, I immediately said yes. After having survived three other lawsuits, I should have been leery. But when peoples’ lives are at stake, it is not hard to make a hard decision. Initially it was the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court (OST). It was my son’s idea to go to the Tribal Court because we knew what the outcome would be. The OST court would dismiss our case because the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB) was under the jurisdiction of the state of South Dakota and was not a Tribal Organization. But we needed this verified by a court. We also knew that the other federal courts would acknowledge the Tribal court ruling, or were supposed to. It would be a win for the OST Court and for the patients who use Sioux San Hospital. As it turned out, the federal District Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals both ignored and disregarded the OST court ruling.
For the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center, the last straw was the COVID-19 pandemic, which strained the critical access hospital's already-precarious finances past the breaking point. In Florida, two hospitals closed inpatient non-emergency services after being bought out by the HCA hospital chain. In Tennessee and West Virginia, financial problems combined with the strain of the pandemic led two more rural hospitals to shut their doors. Of the 20 rural hospitals that closed in 2020, 13 were in the South, according to data from the Sheps Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which defines a closed hospital as one that no longer offers inpatient services.
Houston, TX - Doctors and patients at the Heights Hospital were left stuck in the parking lot after being told they were not allowed in the building Monday afternoon. A note posted on the door said that the locks for the spaces rented by 1917 Ashland Ventures LLC, the owners on record of the hospital, have been changed and they will only be given keys when $461,302.24 in rent and fees are paid. Staff members said they were given no warning or opportunity to alert their patients or collect their personal items from inside. "I tried to contact the owners," said Dr. Felicity Mack, who is listed as a physician at the hospital. "They aren't responding. The title company is not responding.
Chicago - A coalition of activists are demanding elected officials maintain pressure on Mercy’s ownership to keep the hospital open or sell to someone who will. The activists held a vigil Monday, a week after a state board unanimously rejected Mercy Hospital’s request to close. Board members agreed closing the Near South Side institution would negatively impact South Siders, especially in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Mercy Hospital leadership announced in July the city’s first chartered hospital would shut down, citing monthly operating losses of $4 million and shifting trends in the field of health care away from inpatient services. The news came two months after a billion-dollar plan to consolidate the hospital with three others on the South Side fell apart.
National Nurses United’s new nationwide survey of more than 15,000 registered nurses reveals that 11 months into the pandemic, hospitals are failing to prepare for a surge of Covid-19 cases during flu season and that basic infection control and prevention measures are still lacking. Nurses cite the health care industry’s inappropriate pursuit of profit during this public health crisis as the main reason for its failure to follow the proper infection control measures that nurses have been demanding since the beginning of the pandemic.
A progressive organization of 23,000 physicians from across the U.S. demanded Thursday that the American Hospital Association (AHA) divest completely from a dark-money lobbying group that has spent millions combating Medicare for All and instead devote those financial resources to the fight against Covid-19 and to better support for patients and healthcare workers. Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said in a statement that "the Covid-19 pandemic has stretched hospitals' resources to the limit, and the AHA should not waste precious member hospitals' funds lobbying against universal health coverage" as a member of the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PFAHCF).
Washington, DC - What if the real “invisible enemy” is the enemy from within — America’s very institutions? When the coronavirus pandemic came from distant lands to the United States, it was met with cascading failures and incompetencies by a system that exists to prepare, protect, prevent and cut citizens a check in a national crisis. The molecular menace posed by the new coronavirus has shaken the conceit of “American exceptionalism” like nothing big enough to see with your own eyes. A nation with unmatched power, brazen ambition and aspirations through the arc of history to be humanity’s “shining city upon a hill” cannot come up with enough simple cotton swabs despite the wartime manufacturing and supply powers assumed by President Donald Trump.
The hospital where Kim Smith works is supposed to be a “safe haven,” says the patient care technician at Northwestern Memorial in Chicago. But now she feels it has become a “death trap.” Like the nurses and doctors nationwide who are risking their lives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith says she’s glad to help provide healthcare in such traumatic times. But she’s among the army of frontline healthcare service providers who, while crucial to keeping the system going, are earning much lower wages than doctors and nurses and often lack adequate healthcare and paid sick leave. And like doctors and nurses, these service workers often also lack access to personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, even though they’re put in contact with infected patients.
A couple of weeks ago, as countries scrambled to protect their citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic by closing borders and quarantining travelers, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, upon the “recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” took the unprecedented step of urging all students who are studying abroad to return home. In the announcement, they emphasized the need to return home if students are living in a country with “poorly developed health services and infrastructure … for example the USA.” The word spread quickly on social media that the United States had been singled out as an example of a country with poor health care infrastructure, with many people in the U.S. agreeing that we lack the capacity to handle the pandemic.
Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff have been drafted into the public system, Leo Varadkar said at a press conference today. Speaking at the same press conference, Health Minister Simon Harris said “there can be no room for public versus private” when responding to the Covid-19 crisis. “We must of course have equality of treatment, patients with this virus will be treated for free, and they’ll be treated as part of a single, national hospital service. “For the duration of this crisis the State will take control of all private hospital facilities and manage all of the resources for the common benefit of all of our people. There can be no room for public versus private when it comes to pandemic,” Harris said. A further 219 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland last night, bringing the total number of cases here to 1,125.
Though the U.S. health care system is projected to be overwhelmed by an influx of patients infected with the novel coronavirus, the pressure on hospitals will vary dramatically across the country. That’s according to new data released by the Harvard Global Health Institute...
A nationwide survey National Nurses United (NNU) conducted of registered nurses, the country’s frontline health care staff, reveals that the vast majority of United States hospitals and health care facilities are unprepared to handle and contain cases of COVID-19. The results were shared at a press conference held Thursday by NNU, the country’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses.