Health briefs for Jan. 25, 2014: Don Cook reappointed to TMH Board of Trustees

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— Last week, the Moffat County commissioners reappointed Don Cook to The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees. Cook has served on the board since 2009.

Cook, a lifelong resident of Craig and Moffat County, currently serves as the board chairman.

The hospital’s Board of Trustees is composed of seven members who are appointed to serve five-year terms by the Moffat County Commission. Four trustees are appointed from within the city limits, and three are appointed from the county. It is the mission of The Memorial Hospital to improve the quality of life for the communities it serves through patient-centered health care and service excellence.

Social Services to address local insurance questions

Representatives from Moffat County Social Services will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries to answer questions about Colorado’s health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. Bring your questions and drop by during lunch.

If you are interested but unable to attend or for more information, call 970-824-8282, ext. 2030.

Colorado ranks fifth in nation for policies supporting emergency patients

WASHINGTON — Colorado moved from 13th place in 2009 to fifth place in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment. It still earned only a D+ in the category of access to emergency care. By contrast, the state again was first in the nation in the category of medical liability environment with a grade of A.

“Financial barriers to medical and behavioral health care are still big problems for many Coloradans, as they are to the many patients nationally who are underinsured,” said Dr. Fred Severyn, president of the Colorado Chapter of ACEP, in a news release from the organization. “Our D+ in access to emergency care is to me as bad as an F.”

Colorado’s poor showing in the access to emergency care category is due to numerous barriers to health care overall, and substance abuse and psychiatric care specifically, the report indicated. The state also has the sixth-lowest rate of staffed inpatient beds, which leads to serious crowding in emergency departments.

Colorado ranked 22nd in the nation with a C for disaster preparedness. The state has very few federal disaster preparedness funds per person and only about one-third, 35.2 percent, of nurses receive disaster training.

The two B-’s were in the categories of quality and patient safety environment and public health and injury prevention. For the former, Colorado is below average in the percentage of hospitals with electronic medical records. For the latter, the state’s low obesity rates and high immunization rates are offset by a worsening rate of binge drinking among adults.

Colorado is ranked first in the nation with an A in the category of Medical Liability Environment. Contributing to this grade are legislation that allows health care providers to apologize to patients (the apologies are not admissible as evidence of wrongdoing) and a $300,000 cap on non-economic damages.

“We do so many things right here, such as banning smoking in the work place and allowing physicians to apologize without fear of retribution,” Dr. Severyn said. “But, the average of more than four hours people spend waiting for evaluation in the emergency department is unacceptable and a sign of their lack of access to timely care. The best medicine in the world doesn’t help you if you can’t get to it.”

“America’s Emergency Care Environment: A State-by-State Report Card — 2014” evaluates conditions under which emergency care is being delivered, not the quality of care provided by hospitals and emergency providers. It has 136 measures in five categories: access to emergency care — 30 percent of the grade — quality and patient safety — 20 percent — medical liability environment — 20 percent — public health and injury prevention — 15 percent — and disaster preparedness — 15 percent. While America earned an overall mediocre grade of C- on the Report Card issued in 2009, this year the country received a near-failing grade of D+.

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

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