East Texas Psychiatric Hospital Faces Possible Funding Cut

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has given the Terrell State Hospital 90 days to fix problems found by federal investigators in 12 different areas of patient care and hospital management, according to Modern Healthcare. The hospital has until October 6 to address issues in nursing, laboratory, food, anesthesia, and respiratory services, as well as an inadequate physical environment for patients. The investigation into the operations of the hospital began in April, after the agency became aware of the 2012 death of Ann Simmons, a 62-year old patient who died after being left in restraints for 55 hours. The Dallas… Full Story

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Pushes ACA Insurance Provisions During Dallas Visit

Close to 30 percent of Dallas County residents are uninsured—a number that city, county, and federal officials hope will decline when the Health Insurance Marketplace, an Affordable Care Act-mandated provision, opens in October. In an effort to raise awareness about the new insurance option, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with Dallas officials, nonprofit leaders, and hospital administrators Monday morning, brainstorming ideas on how to reach those 675,000 uninsured residents. “This will be transformational for millions and millions of people,” she said. “This is really a brand-new day, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.” The Health Insurance Marketplace will… Full Story

Why Your Smartphone May Be Making You Fat

If you’re reading this on a phone, put it down. It may be shortening your life. Researchers at Kent State University in Ohio found that cellphone use—much like watching television—may significantly decrease physical activity and fitness levels. “Using a cellphone doesn’t have the same kind of negative stigma that sitting on the couch and watching TV has, but it can be just as bad for you,” said study co-author Jacob Barkley, an associate professor of exercise science at Kent State. For the study, researchers surveyed college students about their cellphone use and physical activity. Students then used a treadmill test to… Full Story

North Texas Hospitals Focus on Food to Improve Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction

Hospitals are paying more attention to food for two reasons: cutting readmissions and increasing patient satisfaction. With malnutrition increasing costs, length of stay, and poor patient outcomes, more than 100,000 U.S. dietitians, nurses, hospitalists and other physicians and clinicians launched an interdisciplinary partnership called the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition in May to improve patient outcomes through nutrition intervention in the hospital. The alliance urged early nutrition screening, assessment and intervention in hospitals. It also launched a website—www.malnutrition.com—to provide hospital-based clinicians guidance on how to combat the problem. One out of three patients enters the hospital malnourished, and more become… Full Story

Texas Comptroller Joins Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs recently announced a partnership between her office and the Texas Library Association that would provide all public libraries and more than 1,100 public elementary schools with nutrition and fitness-related media aimed to fight childhood obesity. The partnership is part of the Comptroller’s efforts to boost awareness of the agency’s Reshaping Texas site, a collection of resources and information to help Texans address the economic effects of obesity. Besides books and DVDs, the Comptroller is also supplying free sports equipment to public schools in areas identified as being at high risk for obesity. One in three Texas… Full Story

Tuberculosis Outbreak Raises Questions About the Viability of 21st-Century Quarantines

The tuberculosis rate in the United States is at an all-time low, with fewer than 10,000 cases each year. But a recent survey by the National TB Controllers Association shows 60 percent of states have cut their TB control budgets, meaning that many cases of TB are being missed, and health officials can’t investigate outbreaks the way they used to. A recent outbreak in Sheboygan, Wis., brought another question to light: in an inter-connected world, how do you quarantine the affected community? City officials recently moved a woman with MDR-TB into an apartment paid for by the county, NPR reported, but keeping her and… Full Story

As Gov. Perry Signs New Abortion Restrictions Into Law, Clinics Weigh Their Options

Governor Rick Perry signed Texas House Bill 2 into law Thursday, ending—albeit temporarily, most likely—a months-long battle over the controversial abortion bill. “At the end of the day, House Bill 2 makes sure that anyone performing abortions in the state of Texas is doing so in a facility that meets appropriate safety guidelines, and that people there are prepared to handle any emergencies that might occur,” Perry said. “That is a reasonable, common sense expectation for those caring for the health and safety of Texans.” While the governor was signing the bill, abortion providers statewide were weighing their next steps.… Full Story

Former Texas Medical Device Executives Indicted

The former top two executives of an Austin medical-device company have been indicted on wire and securities fraud charges, accused of defrauding shareholders and investors out of $400 million, the Associated Press reported this week. A federal indictment accuses former ArthroCare chief executive Michael Baker and former ArthroCare finance chief Michael Gluk of conspiracy, 11 counts of wire fraud, and two of securities fraud. Baker was also charged with three counts of making false statements. The indictment accuses the pair of inflating ArthroCare’s earnings by tens of millions of dollars to falsely encourage investment from December 2005 through December 2008. The… Full Story

Methodist Receives Record Grant From Susan G. Komen

The Methodist Health System Foundation’s efforts to fight breast cancer has received a boost with the largest grant to date from the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Dallas arm—a $461,792 award to be used for no-cost mammograms for low-income women. “This grant not only provides us the opportunity to serve more local women, it’s also an affirmation of the work we’re currently doing in the fight against breast cancer,” said Methodist Dallas Medical Center cancer program supervisor Charla Gauthier. As part of the grant, the Methodist Foundation received an additional $17,000 through a partnership between Susan G. Komen and Walgreens. Beginning in… Full Story

Dallas Docs Create West Nile Vector to Better Predict Outbreaks

After progressive declines in recent years, the West Nile virus epidemics resurged nationwide last year, with the greatest number of cases centered in Dallas County. But UT Southwestern researchers have developed a formula that could revolutionize the way communities fight West Nile. The hospital’s mosquito vector index rating system—created in collaboration with Dallas County Health and Human Services doctors and researchers—essentially multiplies the mosquito population with the percentage of West Nile infected mosquitoes. “When the vector index goes above 0.5 early—in June or July—large numbers of people are silently infected, and this is the best time to intervene,” UT Southwestern chief… Full Story