November 20, 2023

2-Minute Read No.1 - Three more doctors is a start--sort of

Senator Chuck Grassley recently announced that Iowa has secured three more Medicare-funded residencies as part of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed into law in December 2020 (note how quickly solutions get implemented). 

Here's the backstory on that: 

Jo's 2-Minute Read on how Congress is addressing physician shortages

November 2, 2023

Planning to talk about making a plan is not really a plan, now is it?

The CMS proposal for maximum patient-to-staff nursing home ratios is not the solution to health care worker shortages. At the same time, with Iowa losing 26 nursing homes over the past 15 months and a moratorium on any new openings, Governor Reynolds' plan to "enter into a genuine state-federal dialogue" is not really a plan either, is it? (And you can bet that similar regs for hospitals are not far behind.)

If the current level of proactive leadership in addressing this crisis of health care access continues, Iowans are so monumentally screwed.

Iowa Capital Dispatch: CMS regulating nursing home staff ratios

October 21, 2023

For the love of God, take the day off.

Ted Lasso reminded us that the happiest creature on Earth is the goldfish. It has a ten second memory.

Today, enjoy nature's awesome Fall palette, give yourself a break, and be a goldfish. 😀

October 11, 2023

Shocking but not surprising

AARP "scorecard" reveals Iowa is woefully inadequate in keeping our seniors safe and independent: 1) too little home-based care; 2) too expensive home-based care; 3) inadequate adult day services; and 4) no access to alternatives to traditional long-term care facilities.

Not to worry, leaders at the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services "understand" and "are working to find solutions." Well, then, it's handled.

New AARP Scorecard on Iowa's seniors

October 9, 2023

What is the measure of a health care crisis?

If you've journeyed into the health care system recently, you know things are not as they used to be. Do you question why demand for health care services seems so high? Or wonder where all the health care workers have disappeared to?

I have some hard data and facts to share with you that will knock your socks off. Based on a true story. 

Jo's "Iowa Voice" on the looming crisis of access

September 22, 2023

You just never know where inspiration will spring from . . .

What topic does nobody want to talk about? Some time in the future when one may no longer be compos mentis. 

Taking the time and opportunity to delegate decision making authority to someone you trust is being responsible. It is, indeed, the only way to preserve your autonomy as a person--or patient.       

Let's ask Jo! She'll know! (No. 14 - Diane Feinstein's teachable moment

September 7, 2023

When oversight is under-regulated

If you think all home care agencies are equally created and regulated, think again. What does it take to be an engaged health care consumer while preserving patient safety?

Let's ask Jo! She'll know! (No. 13 - Home care can be hazardous to your health!

September 2, 2023

Why didn't I think of that?

Leave it to the federal government to come up with a perfect solution for the health care worker shortages:  mandated staff ratios. If I understand this correctly, they want to force Medicare-certified nursing homes to hire a minimum number of staff members per patient from the shrinking pool of workers. You know, the vanishing workforce that has caused the staff-to-patient ratios to be dangerously low in the first place. Brilliant.

Mandated staff ratios for nursing homes - September 1, 2023

Ask the Minnesota legislators how that idea worked out when they tried it on hospitals. 

August 24, 2023

Is Iowa exhibiting the symptoms of Brain Drain?

When Brain Drain strikes, our ability to attract sufficient numbers of highly skilled workers is directly impacted. In health care, a Brain Drain risks access and safety for health care consumers of all ages.      

Let's ask Jo! She'll know! (No. 12 - Does Iowa have a case of Brain Drain?)

August 23, 2023

"Health care access": conspicuous by its absence from the political scene

If neither you nor a loved have been in an Emergency Department recently, good for you. If you have, you may be wondering why "health care" is nowhere to be found on any politician's agenda. Worker shortages mean hours in the waiting room and sometimes days "boarded" in the ER, waiting for a hospital room to become available.

This is not tomorrow's crisis. The abject failure of leadership to even acknowledge this catastrophic lack of access--let alone address it--is a bi-partisan, systemic failure. A potentially life-threatening failure for every American.

August 9, 2023

HIPAA SCHMIPAA--Why should I care?

If you've ever wondered why the television in the clinic waiting room is always on, you can thank HIPAA. Trying to keep the eavesdropping to a minimum is just one element of this 2009 patient privacy law.     

Let's ask Jo! She'll know! (No. 11 - HIPAA SCHMIPAA--Why should I care?)

July 26, 2023

You gotta know what is in order to guess what will be.

The group of health care workers estimated to be the industry's largest category are--at least in Iowa--a mystery wrapped in an enigma. While health care depends heavily on the presence of Direct Care Workers for hands-on care and patient safety, we cannot even say how many there are. No, I'm not kidding.    

Let's ask Jo! She'll know! (No. 10 - The Unknown Health Care Workers)

July 25, 2023

It's not just the hospitals in the middle of cornfields . . .

If you think only rural hospitals in Iowa are under threat of closing, think again. 

Mercy Hospital-Iowa City declared in serious condition 

This perfect storm of increased utilization, dwindling financial and human resources and a lack of oversight is not unique to this hospital or any other category of health care provider. It's scary out there, folks. Be careful, be engaged. 

July 12, 2023

No more inter-squad squabbling, puleez

Pitting rural against urban in vying for health care resources is getting us nowhere. Health care access is an urgent crisis for every Iowan.   

Let's ask Jo! She'll know! (No. 9 - The Rural Health Care Crisis)