AHA warns Biden vaccine order could strain workforce • New hope for a muscular dystrophy treatment • Medical boards urge doctors to not misinform

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AHA WARNS THAT BIDEN ACTION PLAN WILL PUT FURTHER STRESS ON WORKFORCE SHORTAGE: While the Chicago-based American Hospital Association supports hospitals’ own vaccine mandates and "has been actively—and repeatedly—calling on the public to get vaccinated," it warns that President Biden’s plan for sweeping vaccination mandates may exacerbate the current workforce shortage, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement.

"Given the critical challenges that we are facing in maintaining the resiliency of our workforce, and dealing with severe shortages, which the American Nurses Association has called a national crisis, we call on the (Biden) Administration to work with us as partners in developing aggressive and creative strategies to address this matter to ensure that hospitals and health systems on the front lines of fighting the battle against COVID-19 have the necessary human resources to both win this battle and maintain essential health services for the patients and communities we serve," the statement said.

The American Medical Association praised the administration’s move.

"The AMA is pleased by the Administration’s significant efforts to help get this pandemic under control. Aggressive measures will be needed to prevent further widespread transmission of COVID-19. Increased testing—more available and affordable—is a major step forward," Dr. Gerald E. Harmon, AMA president said in a statement.

In Detroit, a lawsuit against Henry Ford Health System and its executives over the hospital system’s vaccine mandate was withdrawn just a day after Biden announced the order, Crain’s Detroit Business reports.

NORTHWESTERN REVEALS ANTIBODY TO TREAT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY: An antibody that targets the TGF-beta pathway, known to be important for regulating fibrosis, could help reduce scarring in the muscles of patients with muscular dystrophy, Northwestern Medicine said in a statement last week.

“Given the success with so many other antibodies in treating chronic human diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, we are very optimistic this antibody can translate into the human disease setting,” senior study author Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said in the statement.  

LIGHTFOOT SHUTS DOWN IDEA OF FORCING RESTAURANTS, OTHERS, TO GET VACCINATION PROOF: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has shut down a group of aldermen’s idea for rules requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative tests for people visiting public indoor settings. She seems to be putting the onus on business to enforce pandemic-curbing measures. READ MORE.

DOCTORS CAN FACE DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR SPREADING COVID-19 MISINFORMATION: Several medical boards have issued statements warning physicians of their ethical and professional responsibilities, saying that giving vaccine misinformation can result in discipline, including suspension or revocation of a doctor’s medical license.

In a joint statement, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics said last week it supported an earlier Federation of State Medical Boards’ warning on misinformation. The groups’ statement also said physicians certified by our Boards should know that "such unethical or unprofessional conduct may prompt their respective Board to take action that could put their certification at risk."

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPPOSES SOUTH CAROLINA ABORTION LAW: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined 20 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Wilson, arguing that South Carolina’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion regulations are detrimental to women’s health care as a whole. The brief looks for a lower court’s ruling blocking the law to be upheld.

CHICAGO SEES OPPORTUNITY IN TEXAS’ CONTROVERSIAL MOVES: Speaking of states with restrictive abortion laws, the city of Chicago is using a full-page ad in this Sunday’s edition of the Dallas Morning News to invite Texans and Texas-based companies to come north.

"Dear Texas," reads the ad from World Business Chicago, "There were always more than 100 reasons* why Chicago is a great place for business. . . .Now we’d like to highlight a few more. In Chicago, we believe in every person’s right to vote, protecting reproductive rights, and science to fight COVID-19. If you want to build or expand your company or are looking to build your career, come to Chicago.” READ MORE.

THE CASE FOR INNOVATION DISTRICTS—CHICAGO ATTACKED COVID-19 THROUGH COLLABORATION: Interim head of the Illinois Medical District writes in a Crain’s opinion piece that medical districts, such as her’s, answered the call when COVID-19 necessitated it become a convener of organizations like Rush University Medical Center, John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the University of Illinois Hospital. It became a gathering force around shared issues, from vaccination plans for employees and patients to coordinating frequent phone calls to make sure our facilities had capacity and support. READ MORE.

EARLY COVID CASES AND DEATHS IN NURSING HOMES WENT UNREPORTED, STUDY: An estimated 44% of COVID-19 cases and 40% of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes before May 24, 2020 were not reported to the federal government, according to a study released last week in JAMA Network Open.

Nursing homes were not required to report COVID-19 cases and deaths until May 24, 2020, and facilities could choose whether to report retroactive data. The gap in national reporting has made it difficult to determine national COVID-19 case and death counts, our sister publication Modern Healthcare reports.

CYBERSECURITY ECLIPSES BIOTERRORISM AS PREEMINENT THREAT TO HEALTH CARE SECURITY, REPORT: The threats facing the health care industry have shifted dramatically in the 20 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While bioterrorism remains a significant risk, cybersecurity has emerged as a preeminent concern as cyberterrorists and the proliferation of internet-connected devices continue to outpace the industry’s ability to protect itself, Modern Healthcare reports.

“Based on my conversations with hundreds of hospital and health system leaders and board directors across the nation, all those leaders consistently view cybersecurity as a major enterprise risk issue and generally rank cyber risk within the top 3 enterprise risk issues, often many will cite it as their No. 1 risk concern,” John Riggi, senior adviser for cybersecurity and risk for the American Hospital Association, said in an email.

But many organizations don’t have enough money to upgrade their cybersecurity infrastructure—or aren’t allocating sizable portions of their budgets to those defenses. Nearly half of health care cybersecurity professionals said cybersecurity made up no more than 6% of a health care organization’s IT budget, according to a 2020 survey by the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society. 

TEEN SUICIDE, SUICIDAL IDEATION RISE TIED TO PANDEMIC: With rates of suicidal ideation and attempts nearly twice as high compared to pre-pandemic times, Chicago-based ComPsych, provider of behavioral health and well-being services, said in a statement it has seen a double-digit increase in calls related to anxiety and depression worries with teens and a 35% spike in corporate requests for employee suicide awareness and prevention training.

“The teen mental health crisis is one of the most pressing challenges of our time and as the pandemic continues, we can see the confluence of crisis exacerbate anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide,” Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych said in a statement.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

• Angela Williams is leaving the position of president and CEO at Chicago-based Easterseals to lead United Way Worldwide, beginning in mid-October.

“We congratulate Angela in her new role at United Way. We are grateful to her for the many contributions she has made to Easterseals in our purpose to lead the way to full equity, inclusion and access to health care, employment and education for the 1 in 4 Americans living with disability today,” Easterseals National Board Chair Nancy Goguen said in a statement. READ MORE.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

September 13, 2021 at 08:31AM

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