Health Care

Background and portfolio projects for the Health Care market

Mike worked his way through the journalism program at Florida Atlantic University as a full-time Emergency Medical Technician for the City of Boca Raton Marine Patrol during the day and with ambulance companies in South Florida at night for 4 years.

It was a natural extension for him to do stories on health care after that training and experience.  He’s produced emergency medicine video feature stories in Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and Sao Paulo and has been a stringer for the Miami Herald family of newspapers on the health care beat.

Mike is the former Communication Chairman on the Board of Directors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in West Palm Beach.  In addition, he has written about health care technology for Motorola Healthcare Industry Solutions and special needs technology for IBM.  He currently writes and edits health care news, feature stories, and health tips for the Town of Palm Beach Civic Association and HealthMadeEasy.com.

Mike is also a member of the American Medical Writers Association.



Portfolio

A Fall Can Change Your Life

By: R. Michael Brown, 7/08/2009

The #1 call to Palm Beach Fire-Rescue is for a fall. How big is the problem? More than one third of U.S. adults 65 and older fall each year and it’s the leading cause of injury deaths.

Steps to take to protect your independence and reduce your risk of falling:

• Exercise regularly; exercise programs like Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines–both prescription and over-the counter–to reduce side effects and interactions. Sleeping pills are very dangerous as they reduce coordination and orientation. The dose should be markedly reduced in older people and avoided if possible.
• Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.
• Improve the lighting in your home.
• Reduce hazards in your home that can lead to falls.
• Don’t try and do too much (ladders, step-stools, etc.)

Often an unintentional fall leads to bone fractures that can cause immobilization which results in the person being confined to a chair or bed. Bed rest contributes to weaker bone and loss of calcium. Older patients very often already have weakened bones (osteoporosis) and without exercise muscle mass and effectiveness is markedly reduced in a matter of weeks. This leads to deterioration of multiple body systems and a reduced ability to fight infections.

Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. In 2005, 15,800 people 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls; about 1.8 million people 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized (CDC 2008). The rates of fall-related deaths among older adults rose significantly over the past decade (Stevens 2006).

What outcomes are linked to falls? Twenty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around and limit independent living. They also can increase the risk of early death.

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, or TBI. In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.

Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. The most common fractures are of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.

Many people who fall, even those who are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, leading to reduced mobility and physical fitness, and increasing their actual risk of falling.

In 2000, direct medical costs totaled $179 million for fatal falls and $19 billion for nonfatal fall injuries.

Who is at risk?

• Men are more likely to die from a fall. After adjusting for age, the fall fatality rate in 2004 was 49% higher for men than for women.
• Women are 67% more likely than men to have a nonfatal fall injury.
• Rates of fall-related fractures among older adults are more than twice as high for women as for men.
• In 2003, about 72% of older adults admitted to the hospital for hip fractures were women.
• The risk of being seriously injured in a fall increases with age. In 2001, the rates of fall injuries for adults 85 and older were four to five times that of adults 65 to 74.
• Nearly 85% of deaths from falls in 2004 were among people 75 and older.
• People 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.
• After age 75, white men have the highest fatality rates, followed by white women, black men, and black women.

Resources: For more complete information on simple, inexpensive repairs and changes that would make your home safer, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Ask for a free copy of the booklet, Older Consumers Safety Checklist.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 4330 East West Highway Bethesda, MD 20814 www.cpsc.gov

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 4770 Buford Highway NE MS K-65 Atlanta, GA 30341-3717

Town of Palm Beach Fire-Rescue H1N1 Flu Vaccine Outreach Continues

By R. Michael Brown, 11/23/2009

Palm Beach Fire-Rescue has administered over 600 Seasonal Flu and H1N1 vaccines in the Town of Palm Beach in four outreaches so far according to Darrel Donatto, EMS Division Chief.  “We’ll keep requesting vaccine from the Palm Beach County Health Department as long as there is a need.” said Chief Donatto at the Civic Association yesterday.

Long lines at the South Fire Station and Civic Association Community Room show there is still demand for the H1N1 vaccine.  “The Health Department only gives us between 100 and 300 doses at a time,” he said. “So unfortunately, not everyone has been able to get the H1N1 vaccine that wants it.  We are working together with the county to cover the at-risk groups and get more supply as it becomes available.”

With that in mind, Fire-Rescue will administer special H1N1 vaccinations for pregnant women and children who are between the ages of 6 months and 35 months only.  These vaccines are specially formulated for these at-risk groups.  The schedule for these groups only:

Monday, November 23
10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location:
North Fire Station
300 N. County Rd.
Palm Beach, FL 33480

These target groups are considered highly vulnerable to the H1N1 virus.  They require a special form of the vaccine that Fire-Rescue has available so this vaccination outreach is only for these target groups and not for the general population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women who become infected with the H1N1 virus have had higher rates of hospitalization and death than the general population. About 6% of confirmed H1N1 2009 influenza deaths in the U.S. have been in pregnant women.  Likewise, young children have had poorer outcomes when infected with the H1N1 virus.

While Palm Beach Fire-Rescue is offering this service in an effort to ensure that Town residents within these target groups have an opportunity to get vaccinated for the H1N1 virus, the vaccine is available to non-residents within the target group as well.

Fire-Rescue is planning another outreach for H1N1 vaccinations for the general population the week of November 30 – December 4 depending on the County Health Department releasing more vaccine.  Stay tuned to the Civic Association Website or join the Civic Association Email List to get notifications about this and other important information.

www.PalmBeachCivic.org

To join the Civic Association email list, send your name and email address to Mike Brown at MikeBrown@PalmBeachCivic.org

Cost for the H1N1 Vaccination is free, paid for by the U.S. Federal Government.  The seasonal flu shot is $25.

If more information is needed, call the Palm Beach Fire-Rescue EMS Division at 561-227-6492.

Civic Association Healthcare Committee Meets With Palm Beach County Healthcare District CEO

By: R. Michael Brown, 12/22/2009

TOWN OF PALM BEACH – The Civic Association Healthcare Committee met with Dwight D. Chenette, CEO of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County to learn more about the organization, its responsibilities, and how the agency is using taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Chenette described the six core program areas that the District is responsible for:

1. Trauma Care (2 Trauma Hawk Helicopters) and funding trauma centers at St. Mary’s Hospital & Delray Community Hospital. Treatment was provided to nearly 3,000 severely injured Trauma Alert patients in 2009.

2. Health Coverage for uninsured in Palm Beach County. Approximately 40 thousand residents covered of a total population of 1.3 million in the county.  The Coordinated Care insurance program picks up where Medicaid leaves off, covering up to 150% of poverty ($16 thousand annual income for an individual). There are no deductibles or co-pays with this program.  The Vita Health shared-cost insurance program covers from 150% to 300% of poverty and the District pays for two-thirds of the premiums.

3. School Nurses in 170 Public Schools. 47% of all public school students (total K-12 = 170,000 in the county) who are served by school nurses are on free or reduced-cost lunches.

4. Five Pharmacies for uninsured in Palm Beach County. Over 370,000 prescriptions were paid and filled in 2009.

5. Lakeside Medical Center (public hospital) in Belle Glade opened in October, 2009. The community hospital serves 40,000 residents and has 70 all-private patient rooms and more than 50 physicians and health care providers in a variety of specialties.

6. Long-Term Skilled Nursing Care and Rehabilitation at the Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center with 198 beds for patients recovering from debilitating illnesses, strokes, and traumatic injuries.  The facility was built in 1917 and is ready to be replaced.

The budget for the District is $260 million.  They have more than 1,000 employees and 1,500 physician relationships.  Details:

• $155 million, or 60%, of the total budget is from property tax receipts.  The millage rate is 1.14 mills with a maximum possible by law of 2.0 mills.

• 40% of the budget is from billing (Medicaid, Medicare, Co-Pays, and Deductibles]

• $26 million is the current budget for Trauma.  $3 million is for medical malpractice insurance.  The budget pays for Trauma Center physician coverage of 350 doctors.

Questions came up about why the Health Care District purchased a building instead of continuing to rent its existing home office.  Mr. Chenette said the current lease of the agency’s existing space and parking amounts to about a million dollars a year and the cost of the new 100,000 sq. ft. building totalled $6 million plus $3 million for renovations.

He said that the District proceeded with this acquisition to reduce operating expenses, lower its annual rental costs and consolidate the agency’s many services into one corporate location. By taking these steps, the District will achieve savings and allow as much taxpayer funding as possible to go toward the programs and services the District provides.

The purchase also establishes an asset in the community and promotes greater efficiencies by centrally-locating its operation.  The District will continue to rent 17,000 sq. ft. of space to a bank and 20,000 in additional office space to other organizations, offsetting the purchase price.  “Commercial real estate prices are really low now so it made sense to buy now.” he said. “Over the long run, this was a better use of taxpayer dollars rather than continuing to rent for a million a year.”

The District had a $56 million deficit this year because of the economy and lower property taxes, and more people are in need of health coverage because of high unemployment.

One major point that was brought up in the meeting was, overall, in the 13 hospitals in Palm Beach County, there was $608 million in uncompensated care this year.  These are uninsured, and not government covered expenses, that hospitals incur here in the county. It was explained that through direct payments and federal matching funds, the Health Care District provides over $200 million of funding to doctors and hospitals in recognition of uncompensated care levels.

To find out more, link to the Health Care District of Palm Beach County:www.hcdpbc.org

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