Organ Donor

As a nurse or nursing student you may know just how important it is to be an organ donor. One nurse who decided to donate a kidney discovered that he was the perfect match for one of the children he was helping to care for on his dialysis unit! Nurses: do you donate blood or have you registered as an organ donor?



University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

A Big Congratulations to the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing‘s 15th Annual “Cameos of Caring” Awards Gala. They honored 73 terrific nurses this year from different health care facilities. This awards ceremony was created in 1999, to honor and recognize nurses for their hard work and dedication. As of this year, more than 750 nurses have received awards from the University of Pittsburgh. What makes a nurse stand head & shoulders above the rest? Who would you nominate for an award and why?


Growing Up … and Old Without Nursing Homes

In modern and busy US and most European countries there are numerous nursing homes, adult-care facilities and assisted living centers whose primary goal is to care and provide the best living conditions for the elderly or disabled patients whose skills for daily living have greatly depreciated either by old age or prolonged illness. The nursing homes or Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) employ healthcare professionals such as nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse assistants, therapists and many others that work hand-in-hand in caring for the patients 24/7.

The situation is exactly the opposite in the Philippines and many other third world nations where economies aren’t humming as fast as America and Europe. Nursing homes are simply not the status quo for many reasons. Foremost reason is that these countries, like the Philippines, has a culture that expects the kin and a huge extended family to care for their elderly.  Just as parents are expected to provide for the children and make sure they have the best education possible, the children/grandchildren are expected by society to ‘give back’ by taking care of their parents in their twilight years. Traditionally, one person in the family is designated to care for the parents. A daughter is expected to care for both parents in their senior years, thus oftentimes ending up a matron. This was a practice that was probably brought to the Philippines by the Spanish conquistadores who were in the country for more than 300 years or for some other countries such as the Trinidad, India, Haiti, Caribbean Islands, Guyana, etc… simply an old-age tradition that just wouldn’t go away.

Click here for a video clip of the critically acclaimed book-film Like Water for Chocolate that required the protagonist to undergo such practice of requiring a member of the family to care for the parent/s.

In modern times, when the children started working abroad and inevitably leave the parents at home, they will setup a living arrangement for a distant relative to care for their ailing parents in exchange for lodging and minimal financial support. The more affluent ones will hire  professional nurses that manage the daily needs of the elderly patient. The goal is for the old folks to remain comfortably cared for in their own homes as they await their final days.

Historically, there was an exodus of foreign healthcare professional since the 1960s to the early part of the 1990s. The nurses and therapists were petitioned as either immigrant or on work visas by hospitals and for the most part, nursing homes. When they came to American shores, these new workers expected to be assigned at hospitals and other similar short-term care facilities. Little did they know that a lot of them will be performing jobs that is second nature to them — caring for geriatric patients.

Click here to view a Philippine McDonald’s commercial showing a granddaughter caring for her grandfather with Alzheimer’s condition. Subtitles are included.

Getting Informed is the Best Route to America

Much has been said about the US economic downturn and how a lot of first world countries have overtaken America in most aspects, but still the nation has built itself as a symbol of democracy and land of opportunity that many smaller nations look up to for economic growth. In US Consulates in most countries, people come in droves daily to try their luck with the Consuls. A lot of foreign nationals go through a lot of trouble just to get to America. Whether America delivers the dream to the people or not, is another story. Still the greencard and the US visa remain one of the world’s most sought after commodities.

There are many paths to working and finally settling in US such as an employee-sponsored work visa or greencard. But the reality is the requirements are so stringent and costs are high making it almost impossible especially with the ever changing and unpredictable Immigration laws. Sadly, as if this isn’t bad enough, some erratic agencies and individuals take advantage of the ignorance of the prospective immigrants.

The best route is being informed and prepared. Online information is readily available just make sure to visit the official sites.




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Health Buzz: U.S. News Releases Best Hospitals Rankings – US News and World Report

U.S. News Releases Annual Best Hospitals Rankings

Today, U.S. News released its 22nd annual Best Hospitals rankings, singling out 720 hospitals out of about 5,000 nationwide. Just 17 earned spots on the Honor Roll—which signifies the highest level of medical excellence—with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore topping the list. The rankings also identify the Best Hospitals in 94 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, a major expansion that covers nearly twice as many cities as in the past. This year’s rankings include additional new features, such as the Most Connected Hospitals, or those with the most advanced electronic medical records system. And for the first time, U.S. News has named top doctors at many hospitals, part of a larger upcoming project: Next Tuesday, it will release U.S. News Top Doctors, a directory of nearly 30,000 excellent physicians searchable by location and hospital affiliation, as well as across a wide range of specialties and subspecialties.

Best Hospitals 2011-12: the Honor Roll

A Visual Tour of the Best Hospitals 2011-12

Best Hospitals 2011-12: the Methodology

Our intent when we published the first Best Hospitals annual rankings in 1990 was to help people who find themselves in need of unusually skilled inpatient care, and that mission hasn’t changed in Year 22. The Best Hospitals rankings judge medical centers on their competence in exactly such high-stakes situations. For example, a hospital ranked in cardiology and heart surgery—one of 16 specialties in which centers were evaluated—likely has the expertise and experience to replace a faulty heart valve in a man in his 90s. Most hospitals would decline to perform major surgery on elderly patients, as they should if they aren’t up to speed on the special techniques and precautions required and don’t see many such patients. A ranked hospital in gastroenterology can probably offer the most appropriate care to a patient whose inflammatory bowel disease flares up. At hospitals ranked in neurology and neurosurgery, surgeons face more spinal tumors in a couple of weeks than most community hospitals see in a year.

By contrast, other hospital ratings and rankings for the most part examine how well hospitals treat relatively unthreatening conditions or perform fairly routine procedures, such as hernia repair and uncomplicated heart bypass surgery. The majority of hospital patients need such ordinary care, so for them that approach to evaluating hospitals works fine. But it falls short for patients who are especially at risk because of age, physical condition, infirmities, or the challenging nature of the surgery or other care they need.

A good way to determine how well a hospital deals with a medical challenge is to evaluate its performance across a range of challenges within the specialty. U.S. News ranks hospitals in 16 different specialties, from cancer to urology. This year, only 140 of the 4,825 hospitals that we evaluated performed well enough to rank in even one specialty. And of the 140, just 17 qualified for a spot on the Honor Roll by ranking at or near the top in six or more specialties. [Read more: Best Hospitals 2011-12: the Methodology.]

How to Find the Best Hospital Near You

How We Identified More Than 100 Most Connected Hospitals

We live in a digital age. We use electronic systems to connect with others, to entertain ourselves, and to compare the quality of myriad goods and services, including—as users of U.S. News know—hospital care.

Yet inside the walls of many hospitals, doctors and nurses still rely on reams of paper charts and antiquated systems to track patient health, order tests and treatments, and perform other essential duties. While many of these professionals provide quality medical care, they do so without the use of a suite of technologies broadly known as electronic medical records, or EMRs, that could make patients safer and their care more efficient.

By contrast, a relatively small number of hospitals have readily embraced EMRs and use them to connect healthcare providers to one another and to the information each needs to do his or her job.

An even smaller subset of those hospitals also succeed in delivering the superior care that U.S. News recognizes in its Best Hospitals. U.S. News developed Most Connected Hospitals to highlight that group of institutions, which are both digitally forward and clinically excellent.

via Health Buzz: U.S. News Releases Best Hospitals Rankings – US News and World Report.

Health-care costs: Debt talks boost Medicare reform plans –

Health-care costs: Debt talks boost Medicare reform plans

Health-care costs for seniors have been largely picked up by government. But their health-care costs could rise under various Medicare reform plans.

Members of Progressive Change Campaign Committee upset over potential cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security walks to President Obama’s campaign headquarters to deliver 200,000 signatures from people who are refusing to donate or volunteer for his re-election campaign if Obama cuts entitlement programs,July. 15, 2011, in Chicago. The debt talks in Washington are breathing new life into plans that would raise health-care costs for seniors.

David Banks/AP

via Health-care costs: Debt talks boost Medicare reform plans –

Baby Boomers are Doing More Than Simply Aging Gracefully

The baby boom generation continues to demand more out of life while maintaining a youthful outlook that defies growing old. According to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and, people born during the period spanning nearly two decades, between 1947 and 1965, believe that “you are as young as you feel” and they plan to keep on working and living instead of opting for passive retirement.

Among those boomers interviewed, a surprising number plan to work until they are at least 65, or even 70, just as long as their employment doesn’t require heavy physical strength, as a decline in strength seems to be a major concern. Otherwise, they have few worries about physical ailments overall. In fact, about 75 percent considered themselves to be middle-aged or younger in their sixties, with the average age at which they considered themselves old was 70.

The baby boomer generation engages in more exercise and eats healthier, in addition to drinking and smoking less than their parents did, which has gone a long way to preserve health, and prolong stamina. In addition, getting adequate sleep and downing more water has contributed to better health for this generation of positive thinkers.

The findings suggest that even after reaching advanced years, baby boomers are determined to hold on to their youth, because they have a lot of living to do. And, live is just what they can do, because in addition to better health, this generation has enjoyed more than their fair share of prosperity with soaring house values attained, pensions achieved, and plenty of time on their hands.

Of course, improvements in healthcare have played a major role in the ability of the boomers to keep living large. Finding themselves free of job and career obligations, many have the time and means to travel, and can also spoil their grandchildren like never before among generations past… read more through link.

via Baby Boomers are Doing More Than Simply Aging Gracefully.

Medical News: When Medicaid Paid Better, Kids Had More Dental Visits – in Public Health & Policy, Medicaid from MedPage Today

When dentists were reimbursed more for preventive visits, kids on Medicaid ended up in their chairs more often, likely because the increased compensation made them more willing to accept those patients, a government researcher said.

Still, the level of care for children with public insurance didn’t quite match that of those on private plans, according to Sandra Decker, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md.

More Medicaid children saw a dentist over six-month periods in 2000 and 2008 if the reimbursement was $30 rather than $20, Decker found.

But in the latter year, children and adolescents covered by Medicaid were less likely to have seen a dentist in the previous six months than were those covered by private insurance (55% versus 68%), Decker reported in the July 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The results of this study support the claim that low Medicaid payment rates are associated with children and adolescents receiving less dental care than children covered by private insurance,” she wrote.

Although Medicaid removes many financial barriers to receiving dental care for children and adolescents, patients can’t access care if dentists decline to participate in Medicaid because of low payment levels or for other reasons, Decker wrote.

So Decker assessed data on Medicaid dental fees in 2000 and 2008 for 42 states plus the District of Columbia and merged them with data from the National Health Interview Survey on 33,657 children and adolescents, ages 2 to 17, from 2000-2001 and 2008-2009.

She found that on average, Medicaid dental payment levels didn’t change significantly in inflation-adjusted terms between those two time points.

The mean state Medicaid prophylaxis fee for children was $28.95 in 2000-2001 and $29.98 in 2008-2009.

In five states plus the District of Columbia, however, payments increased at least 50%.

In 2008-2009, more children and adolescents covered by Medicaid had seen a dentist in the past six months than did uninsured children (55% versus 27%).

Yet fewer children on Medicaid were seen compared with those covered by private insurance (68%).

In regression analyses, those who were covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were about 13 percentage points less likely than kids with private insurance to have seen a dentist, and uninsured children were about 40 percentage points less likely.

But Decker also found that changes in state Medicaid dental payment fees between 2000 and 2008 were positively associated with use of dental care among children and adolescents covered by Medicaid.

For example, a $10 increase in Medicaid prophylaxis payment level — from $20 to $30 — was associated with a 3.92-percentage-point increase in the chance that a child or adolescent covered by Medicaid had seen a dentist, she found.

“This study found that changes in state Medicaid dental fees between 2000 and 2008 were positively associated with changes in use of dental care among children covered by Medicaid,” Decker wrote. “As future expansions in Medicaid eligibility and insurance coverage more generally are contemplated and possibly implemented, more attention to the effects of provider payment policies on access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes may be warranted.”

She noted that the study was limited because the state Medicaid fees for child dental prophylaxis had to be estimated, and because data on variations in private insurance reimbursement rates were unavailable.

via Medical News: When Medicaid Paid Better, Kids Had More Dental Visits – in Public Health & Policy, Medicaid from MedPage Today.

Medicare is too generous. Seniors take advantage. – Medicare and More

Medicare does not require seniors to pay enough of their health care costs. Seniors go to the doctor too much.  Medicare supplement insurance makes these problems worse and contributes to out-of-control Medicare spending. These are the conclusions in a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Why Medicare Patients See the Doctor Too Much”.The authors also say the “Obamacare” changes to Medicare, which provide more free preventive care services to seniors, are bad because  they “further insulate seniors from costs and will drive up spending even more”.According to the authors:Medicare utilization is roughly 50% higher than private health-insurance utilization, even after adjusting for age and medical conditions. In other words, given two patients with similar health-care needs — one a Medicare beneficiary over age 65, the other an individual under 65 who has private health insurance — the senior will use nearly 50% more care.In the opinion of the authors, the answer to Medicare’s problems is:Since private health insurers are much better at controlling utilization and reducing fraud, why not turn to the private sector to resolve Medicare‘s excessive utilization? That’s what House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was trying to do with his premium-support model that would eventually shift Medicare beneficiaries into private health plans.The authors favor more choices for seniors, such as high-deductible health insurance options and plans that are more like those in the under-65 health insurance market. But the authors don’t mention that these high-deductible plans are designed for young, healthy people who are betting they won’t get sick and have to pay that $3,000 or $5,000 deductible before their insurance kicks in. That’s probably a good bet for a 30-year old. But what about a 70-year old?What are the chances a 70-year old will need to spend several thousand dollars on medical services each year? And what are the chances a senior will put off care because he has to pay 100% of the cost until he meets his deductible? Is it a good idea for seniors to put off care because they can’t afford it – or are too cheap to pay co-pays and deductibles? Is this a choice we want seniors to make? And is this good public health policy, or will it lead to sicker seniors and bigger medical bills for seniors and Medicare?

via Medicare is too generous. Seniors take advantage. – Medicare and More.

Puppy Love: Pet Owners Are Happier, Healthier –

Pets are good sources of social and emotional support for everyone, not just people facing health challenges, new research suggests.

“We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than nonowners on several dimensions,” study researcher Allen McConnell, of Miami University in Ohio, said in a statement. “Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than nonowners.” [America’s Favorite Pets]

Pet ownership has been on the rise the last few decades. A study in 2006 by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association determined that about two-thirds of American households (71.1 million) have at least one pet. In comparison, 56 percent of households had a pet in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted.

McConnell’s group conducted several studies of pet owners.

First they surveyed 217 people, determining differences between pet owners and nonowners in terms of well-being, personality type and attachment style. They found that pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than were nonowners.

The researchers then studied 56 dog owners, finding that pet owners who thought their dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence had greater well-being than those who didn’t perceive that their pet fulfilled their social needs.

They then asked 96 pet owners who were undergraduates to remember and write about a time they were excluded. They were then asked to either write about their favorite pet, their favorite friend or to draw a map of their college campus. Both writing about a pet or a friend reduced the feelings of rejection brought forth by thinking about being excluded. Surprisingly, both pets and friends staved off the feelings of rejection equally.

All in all, the researchers found that even healthy people benefit from pets. Pet owners are just as close to key people in their lives as to their animals, which serve as important sources of social and emotional support.

“The present work presents considerable evidence that pets benefit the lives of their owners, both psychologically and physically, by serving as an important source of social support,” the researchers wrote in the paper, published online by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Whereas past work has focused primarily on pet owners facing significant health challenges… the present study establishes that there are many positive consequences for everyday people.”

via Puppy Love: Pet Owners Are Happier, Healthier –