Pot industry trashes environment

From the Seattle Times. As if we didn’t suspect as much.

Getting high in Washington state has turned into a low for the environment, as trash from the booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers and landfills. Fertilizers from grow operations end up in Puget Sound, and millions of pounds of waste could be composted, but aren’t. Meanwhile, synthetic marijuana known as K2 is making headlines in Connecticut, where more than 70 people overdosed in one day.

Need for high school clinic supplies

The cause: Jefferson’s Public Health clinics have an opportunity to replace ancient equipment with refurbished items at a bargain basement rate, for which they have no budget.

When students need counseling or help with family planning products, human papillomava virus (HPV) vaccinations, testing for sexually transmitted disease (STDs), and other more routine health problems, these services are provided discreetly and with great care by specially trained Public Health (PH) nurses. No other state high schools on the Olympic Peninsula provide these essential services. Jefferson County PH runs on a shoestring budget, always a little short of their needs.

You can help, now.

Our new project is local, but critical to getting appropriate health care to un-insured or under-insured Public Health patients, especially those in the high school clinics.

The goal is to raise $3k so they can acquire a new exam table (the current one is still in use but is dangerous and uncomfortable for large people) and replace a very old autoclave that is used to sterilize IUD insertion packs and reusable speculums. Normally, these items would cost many thousands of dollars, but PH connected with a company that refurbishes equipment so that it sells for a more reasonable price. These deals are only available this summer.

The best part is – you can donate to this cause through Public Health directly. (see below) and your contribution is tax-deductible.

Generous local donors have already raised $10k for the Greater Northwest Planned Parenthood last fall. Now, let’s help our local family planning providers.  Send your donation to:

School-based clinic supplies

J.C.P.H. – 615 Sheridan, PT, WA 98368

Thank you for supporting Port Townsend’s family planning services for women and girls.

Please send your check as soon as possible.

 

Abuse of 340B Program Impacts Patient Care -Oncology Nursing News

Jefferson Healthcare and many other rural hospitals, take advantage of a Federal program called 340B.

As the article states:

This little-known federal program was created to help uninsured or vulnerable patients get access valuable medications regardless of their abilities to pay. This was done by providing certain participating hospitals or safety net clinics with discounted medicines. The 340B program has become an extremely important program for patients in need in this era of unaffordable and unsustainable drug prices.

The article lays out the problems with the 340B program and how some hospitals are abusing it to help themselves remain profitable.

While the point of sharing this article is not to infer that Jefferson Healthcare is in any way one of the ‘bad actors’ in the 340B debate, this article gives the average person a very good quick overview of the controversy.  The battle over 340B is playing out in Congress, and it’s outcome will affect JHC. JHC does a great deal charity care, including use of 340B funds, and the program to offer charity care has been recently reformatted to allow people who do not have the means to afford to get needed care. (More on that can be found at the JHC website, JHC Charity Care overview )

I will be looking into the local ramifications of this issue in upcoming months, and should have a more comprehensive overview on them  later.

But for now. Here’s a good quote:

For too many hospitals, the 340B program has become a road to profits, not a safety net and not a way to expand charity care for uninsured, indigent patients. For too many patients, particularly those with cancer, the 340B program has not reduced their cost of care 1 cent.

Read the whole opinion piece here:

https://www.oncnursingnews.com/web-exclusives/abuse-of-340b-program-impacts-patient-care

 

 

 

Jefferson Healthcare running in red for first half of year

At the July 25th Hospital Commissioners meeting, CFO Hillary Whittington laid out the current fiscal situation to the Commissioners. She stated that the hospital would need approximately $540k by end of the year to break even.   They are expecting approximately  $1M from Medicare billing, but will still have the shortfall.

“(We need to ) Improve our business practice by about $540k by the end of the year.” She went on to discuss where the cuts to the budget would have to come. “It sounds like a lot of money, but when you look at overtime premium pay, supplies and professional fees and services…I have no doubt we can find $540k.”

In the first half of the year, the hospital has paid for a number of expensive consultants, along with a new paging system for doctors, even with the known shortfall looming. Now, the front line that addresses patient needs will be the area cut back due to the shortfall.

Newly elected Commissioner McComas, who touted his financial acumen during his bitter election fight, had nothing to ask of Ms. Whittington. Neither did Commissioner Kolff. When asked for comment about the situation, Mr. Kolff said that “Budget shortfalls are a concern to all, ” and declined to comment further

Additionally, the hospital is planning to open a retail outpatient pharmacy inside the hospital. While there are valid reasons that the hospital gives for the move, (i.e. making sure patients fill their prescriptions before leaving the hospital) the move could threaten the well loved Don’s Pharmacy and the relationship of the hospital to Safeway. Some critics see it as a move to capture the lucrative federal money known as 340B money that currently is handed over to Safeway for fulfilling low income prescriptions. The controversy over 340B is that the money was originally intended to be given *directly* to low income consumers to shop for the best deal, but instead has been co-opted by hospitals and pharmacies as a separate revenue stream. Pharmaceutical companies have been lobbying Congress for a few years now to kill the 340B program. The hospital has a special accounting bucket for the money it makes off the 340B program.

Additionally at an earlier meeting in the year the JHC pharmacist indicated that the hospital’s expansion of it’s cancer treatment centers will allow it to capture more of the money made from chemo treatments. How this all helps lower costs for Jefferson County residents who own the hospital is not clear. No discussion was made of the effect on local pharmacies nor of using other low cost providers such as online, Costco or Walmart to fulfill the need. Apparently the hospital executives and commissioners felt that adding headcount to create the pharmacy was creating a valuable enough revenue stream to allow it to go forward, while cutting the overtime and budgets of the front line staff.

 

Shopping for healthcare simply doesn’t work, so what might? NY Times

Good overview on the problem with healthcare “shopping.” Our local CEO, Mike Glenn, has been saying for years that the community and the hospital needs to have a ‘conversation’ on the issue of healthcare costs. Perhaps he’s ready to hold that conversation?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/healthcare/shopping-for-health-care-simply-doesnt-work-so-what-might/ar-BBLfoN8?li=BBnbfcN&pfr=1