Report blames IDPH, Pritzker for nursing home deaths • Allscripts CEO steps down • Chicago recommends masks indoors again

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REPORT: STATE RESPONSE TOO SLOW IN LASALLE NURSING HOME COVID OUTBREAK: A new report from Illinois’ auditor general places blame on the Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration for a slow response to a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in LaSalle, Ill., in 2020 that resulted in 36 deaths.

The report contends that “IDPH did not identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak” at LaSalle Veterans’ Home even though they were made aware of growing cases at the home. IDPH also failed to offer assistance and additional rapid COVID tests in a timely manner, according to the report.

Last year, the auditors’ office was directed by the Illinois House of Representatives to investigate the state’s response to the outbreak. From October 2020 to December 2020, 203 cases had been identified at the LaSalle Home, according to data from IDPH. About 85% of the home’s 128 residents and 38% of the home’s 231 staff tested positive for COVID-19 during that period.

After news of the outbreak last year, Pritzker replaced then Veterans Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia with Terry Prince, a Navy veteran and former adviser to the U.S. Surgeon General. Since the outbreak, families of veterans who died at the home have filed lawsuits against LaSalle Veterans’ Home, the State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Veterans. —Katherine Davis

ALLSCRIPTS CEO TO STEP DOWN: Allscripts Healthcare Solutions CEO Paul Black is stepping down from the helm of the electronic health records vendor, he said on the company’s Q1 2022 earnings call last week.

Black, who has been CEO of the Chicago-based company since December 2012, said the move is effective immediately. Allscripts’ president Rick Poulton, who also joined the company in 2012, will take over as CEO. Black said he will work with Poulton through the second quarter to ensure a smooth transition.

Allscripts recently completed the sale of its hospital and large physician practices business, including various electronic health record products, to Canadian software company Constellation Software through its subsidiary N. Harris Computer for $670 million. The company plans to use the funds from the sale to focus on its payer and life sciences business, Veradigm, which it launched in 2018.

"As the company transforms and launches into its next evolution focusing on Veradigm, it’s a natural time for the next generation of leaders to step forward," Black said during the earnings call. Black took over the helm at Allscripts nearly 10 years ago after serving as an independent director on its board of directors, succeeding the company’s founder and long-time CEO, Glen Tullman. Prior to Allscripts, Black was the chief operating officer of Cerner. READ MORE.

RISING COVID CASELOAD PUTS CITY IN MEDIUM RISK CATEGORY: As Chicago and Cook County’s COVID-19 cases have continued to rise, the region has been pushed into a medium-risk category.

City health officials said Friday they are now recommending that residents wear masks in public indoor spaces, including on public transit and Chicago Public Schools. For now, indoor mask-wearing is only a recommendation—not a mandate, says the Chicago Department of Public Health. The agency says individual businesses or settings are free to enact their own mask or vaccination requirements how they see fit.

“We’ve been expecting to reach the medium level for some time now,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of CDPH, said in a statement. “It’s not a cause for alarm, since most cases right now are mild and thankfully our COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths remain at or near all-time pandemic lows in Chicago. But it is reason for more caution, and for more care with masking, since more people in Chicago are infected with COVID right now.” READ MORE.

RUSH UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT RETIRING: Dr. Sherine Gabriel, president of Rush University will leave her post at the end of June after serving 2019. Gabriel was also the health system’s chief academic officer. 

The board of governors have tapped a known entity to fill in during a search to find a permanent replacement: Dr. Larry Goodman, former CEO of the health system’s medical center. READ MORE.

AMA AT 175 STILL GROWING STRONG: American Medical Association President Dr. Gerald Harmon writes in our sister publication Modern Healthcare that on the eve of the Chicago-based doctors’ group’s 175 anniversary that the AMA has grown its membership 11 years in a row.

At a time that many member organizations are shrinking, Harmon says in an opinion piece that "more physicians are recognizing that a unified voice advocating on issues important to them, their patients and the profession is far more powerful than what any individual can accomplish on his or her own."

Harmon touts the association’s COVID-19 pandemic response with, "up-to-date, evidence-based information and clear guidance from reliable sources," along with federal advocacy in close cooperation with the American Nurses Association and American Hospital Association. 

ABBOTT TEST FOR 4 STIs GETS FDA CLEARANCE: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has given clearance for Abbott Laboratories’ Alinity m STI Assay, which simultaneously detects and differentiates four common sexually transmitted infections. 

One swab sample or urine sample collected in a health care setting can be tested for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium, the statement said, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology.

The clearance comes at an opportune time, Abbott said in the statement, as STI cases are on the rise following a decline in screening for them during the pandemic.

TEMPUS INKS DEAL WITH VA TO FOR VETERANS’ GENOMIC TESTING: Chicago-based precision medicine company Tempus said in a statement that it has signed a multi-year agreement with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Precision Oncology Program which will expand access to Tempus’ portfolio of genomic sequencing offerings to support physicians and their patients with cancer.

The VA’s oncology program will use Tempus’ broad range of comprehensive molecular profiling capabilities to improve patient outcomes with precision medicine, the statement said. Providers across the VA’s 171 medical centers can use Tempus’ sequencing tests, including its solid tumor/normal assay and liquid biopsy assay.

“Our AI-enabled tests combine high-quality and comprehensive genomic data with clinical data for each patient being sequenced, which allows physicians to make truly personalized decisions as they seek the optimal therapy for their patients,” Eric Lefkofsky, founder and CEO of Tempus said in the statement.

CHILD/ADOLESCENT BEHAVIORAL CENTER OPENS IN TINLEY PARK: Miracare Behavioral Healthcare Center has opened in south suburban Tinley Park to provide intensive outpatient and traditional outpatient behavioral health services to children and adolescents, Miracare Neuro-Behavioral Health said in a statement.

The former Palos Behavioral Health Professionals, Miracare, said it will add inpatient behavioral health care for short hospital stays for up to 30 patients this summer. 
 
“Intensive outpatient services are intended to provide a safe place to stabilize for children and adolescents who do not require inpatient care but still struggle with symptoms of mental illness that hinder their ability to cope with relationships and daily tasks typically encountered at home and school,” Miracare founder Christopher Higgins said in the statement.

MIDWEST CARDIOVASCULAR INSTITUTE UNVEILS VIRTUAL CARE CENTER: Midwest Cardiovascular Institute is opening a 24/7 Virtual Care Center in Warrenville, the Naperville-based company said. 

The virtual care center, which partners with Edward-Elmhurst Health, will act as a virtual hub of communication and cardiovascular care for patients and physicians, offering 24/7 home monitoring, appointment scheduling, follow-up care, remote Coumadin monitoring, prescription refills and more, the statement said.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

• Ventas has hired Bill Grant as senior vice president of investor relations. Grant brings more than 20 years of investment management experience through his role at Morgan Stanley as portfolio manager and head of U.S. Real Estate, the health care real estate firm said in a statement.

Ventas also announced that it has entered a revised, "mutually beneficial and highly aligned management agreement" with Sunrise Senior Living. Ventas has a portfolio of 92 high-end senior living communities managed by Sunrise.

The revised management agreement incentivizes net operating income growth, reducing emphasis on revenue, with Sunrise standing to receive incentive payments upon achieving mutually agreed upon NOI growth targets, the statement said.

Daniel Clark has been named senior vice president for AVIA’s Center for Care Transformation. The center provides insights and advisory services to enable health systems to leverage digital as they rethink patient care across population health, specialty care and support for underserved populations, Chicago-based AVIA said in a statement.

Clark most recently held the position of partner and vice president of the technology services practice at Optum.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

May 9, 2022 at 07:11AM

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