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Author Archives: WSS News

ARMC Physician Invents Patient Isolation Device

Dr. Comunale Portrait with Invention 03-13-15_34652

Dr. Comunale Portrait with Invention 03-13-15_34652

COLTON, CA- Mark E. Comunale, M.D., chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) and chief medical officer for patient safety, has invented a mobile Patient Isolation Transport Unit (PITU) that is currently U.S. Patent Pending. Dr. Comunale, who received his undergraduate degree from Boston University, his medical degree from Tufts, and taught for more than a dozen years at Harvard Medical School, came up with the idea for the PITU while trying to solve a practical problem.

“The need for this patient isolation transport unit arose during a period when we were screening for Ebola and other diseases,” said Dr. Comunale, a member of ARMC’s medical staff since 2006. “Once a patient says ‘yes’ to screening questions, the staff must don appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and must have an anteroom available to dress and undress.”

The challenge has been how and where to hold patients while they are assessed and then transported to an appropriate location.

 

Dr. Comunale sketched out his design for the PITU while thinking about possible low-cost solutions to patient isolation. The result, according to his patent proposal, was “a novel blending and application of existing technology to create a low-cost, disposable bio-secure environment in which to temporarily hold and transport patients who are suspected of having an infectious or contagious disease.”

 

The PITU is unique in its design because it is disposable and relatively inexpensive. The frame is designed to integrate with hospital stretchers and beds.

 

“This device is large enough for a patient to sit up and allows movement of the arms and legs and the ability to eat and drink while isolated on a bed,” said Dr. Comunale. “The PITU utilizes the same technology as a Power Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR), which is an already-existing technology that is used to purify air.”

 

The PITU is stored adjacent to the hospital’s Emergency Room entrance for easy access, but can also be moved to the front entrance of the hospital or to the Medical Office Building north of the medical center.

 

“As a Trauma Center, constant readiness is essential,” said Dr. Comunale. “The PITU has already been tested in drills and will be used as an integral part of our trauma and emergency services.”

 

Besides taking care of patients, running his department and solving practical problems, Dr. Comunale also recently authored an article titled, “An Assessment of Basic Patient Safety Skills in Residents Entering the First Year of Clinical Training,” which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Patient Safety.

 

ARMC is a 456‐bed university‐affiliated teaching hospital located on a 70‐acre campus in Colton, California, and is a designated Level II trauma center. ARMC operates a regional burn center, primary stroke center, a free‐standing behavioral health center, four primary care centers including three family health centers, and provides more than 40 outpatient specialty care services. For more information, go to: www.arrowheadmedcenter.org.

Keep School Lunches Healthy

school_lunch_beef.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleBy Sylvia Mathews Burwell, HHS Secretary

​Co-Authored by: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Every parent has dreams for their child. We want them to grow up strong and healthy. We tell them to dream big and work hard so that they can be anything they want to be. We want them to take the world by storm.

As parents, we lay the foundation for our children’s future success, but we know that we can’t do it alone. We rely on people like pediatricians, other health care providers, teachers and other school professionals to act as our proxies. We entrust them with the task of helping our kids grow up smart, strong and healthy because, as parents, we believe that they will make decisions in our children’s best interests. And that applies to what our children eat when they are away from home, especially at school.

The updated school meals standards introduced across the country in 2012 are undoubtedly improving the quality of school meals as well as the health and well-being of our children.

A handful of vocal critics will tell you otherwise — that school meals were better in the “old days.” But the old days are no longer acceptable, not when our children are battling an obesity epidemic that impacts the long-term health of the American people and, according to retired U.S. generals, threatens our national security by making almost one in three young adults unfit to serve in our nation’s military.

America has the second highest obesity rate in the world. The cost of treating obesity-related illnesses is a shocking $190.2 billion per year, dragging down our economy and increasing budget deficits. Updating the school meals with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods — and less fat, sugar and sodium — is the right thing to do for our kids. Doctors and other health care providers agree, which is why the healthier school meals were developed based on their recommendations.

The bottom line is that these meal standards were developed by our nation’s best doctors, nurses, dieticians and scientists — not our politicians. These medical and nutrition professionals know better than anyone that healthy options mean healthy kids, and later, healthy adults.

Some predicted that kids would reject healthy food and throw more food away, but a recent Harvard study showed that, thanks to the updated standards, kids are now eating 16% more vegetables and 23% more fruit at lunch. Another study, published earlier this month by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, reiterated that point, showing that kids are eating more of the healthy food and throwing less food away.

On school meals, parents and kids see eye to eye. A September 2014 survey by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that most parents (72%) support strong national nutrition standards for school meals. Another study, published last July in Childhood Obesityfound that 70% of middle school students and 63% of high school students like the school meals. As these studies show, the new school meals are a success.

Doctors and public health professionals know that healthier people are also better for our economy. Healthy people go to the doctor less and have fewer medical expenses, miss fewer days of school and work, and are more successful in the long run.

Over 90% of schools are meeting the updated guidelines, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is continuing to provide hundreds of millions of dollars, training and other support to help all schools successfully serve healthy food to our children. As Congress is turning its attention toward the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and some are seeking to modify or even roll back the healthier nutrition standards in schools, it’s worth remembering that these nutrition standards were passed through a bipartisan act of Congress and based on the expert opinions of health scientists and physicians. Any changes to these programs should be based on the science and recommendations of medical experts.

Anything less is just unacceptable.

 

Survey seeks opportunities for growth between insurance companies and diverse businesses

By McKenzie Jackson/California Black Media

California’s African-American-owned businesses are among a group of corporations that the California Department of Insurance (CID) would like to see have a bigger stake in the Golden State’s $257 billion insurance industry.

During the Diversity Task Force meeting held Monday CID Commissioner Dave Jones said his office is focused on finding ways to increase diversity in procurement and governing boards within the insurance industry.

“I am talking in particular about women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and [disabled] veteran-owned businesses “who typically want a chance to have an opportunity to compete,” he said., To know where those opportunities are, and to have an opportunity to build their businesses for their families, for their communities, and for their employees.”

In an effort to do this, next month the CID will be administering the 2015 Insurer Supplier Diversity Survey, which will require the state’s top premium issuing insurance companies to report their procurement efforts with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBEs). Two years ago, the bi-annual survey found that in 2012, 207 insurance companies awarded 1,300 contracts worth $930 million to businesses owned by members of those subgroups. Sixty-six of those enterprises were headed by African Americans.

Jones, who has been Insurance Commissioner since 2011, said California, which has the largest insurance market in the country, is home to one-fifth of the nation’s minority-owned businesses and 1.1 million women-owned corporations; the highest numbers tops in America. However, he said, more cooperation is needed between those businesses and insurance giants such Allstate, Farmers Insurance, and Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.

“What a tremendous opportunity that would be to bring these two segments of our economy together,” he said.

During the two hour meeting, Jones and Naveen Habib, one of CID coordinator’s for the Insurance Diversity Initiative, went through a draft of the two-part diversity survey. Jones also introduced the 2015-2016 Insurance Diversity Task Force, a 15-member body composed of economic and legal specialists from across the state. The group is charged with making recommendations for bolstering the number of MBEs, WBEs, and DVBEs that partner with an industry that is vital to how businesses in California operate and how families and communities make sure their health and safety needs are addressed.

Jones said all the committee members share the common goal of striving to create greater diversity in the insurance trade.

 

“I am confident the wide array of expertise our new Task Force members bring will benefit our work in meeting these goals,” he said.

 

Task Force members and other businesspersons and insurance reps listened to the meeting by phone and chimed in as Habib went over the survey’s six-point questionnaire and survey chart.

The questionnaire asks insurance companies if they have a supplier diversity policy statement, a supplier diversity program, conduct outreach specifically to diverse businesses, set internal targets or goals in regards to its supplier diversity statement, and the name and contact information for their supplier diversity operations.

 

The chart features tables that divide the total amount of funds companies reveal they spent on WBEs, MBEs, and DVBEs. The chart also features headings that allow companies to pinpoint exactly what type of minority businesses won contract benefits. The headings include “Advertising/Marketing,” “Financial/Investment Services,” “Claims Services,” “Facilities,” “Human Resources,” “Information Technology,” “Office Supplies,” “Print Services,” “Professional Services,” “Telecom” “Real Estate,” “Travel/Entertainment,” and “Other.”

 

“We have been working very hard to make improvements on the survey,” said Habib.

 

Like the 2013 survey, this year’s survey will be sent to insurance companies that wrote premiums of $100 million or more. Two years, ago the survey revealed that out of the $241 million that went towards MBEs, African-American-owned businesses received the third lowest amount. Black businesses finished ahead of Native American-owned businesses and multi-ethnic-owned corporations, but finished below the dollars that went towards businesses categorized as owned by Other/Unknown (63.3 percent), Hispanic (16.6 percent), and Asian Pacific Islander (11.9 percent).

 

Task Force member Janice Brown, the owner and founder of San Diego-based Brown Law Group, said a number of insurance firms are part of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and that they spend funds in legal expenses with many minority or women-ran law groups.

 

“I do think there is an opportunity to cross reference the people and the organizations that are a part of NAMWOLF with this initiative,” she said. “If corporations and organizations are spending money on outside counsel with diverse and women-owned companies they are known to have strong diversity initiative programs.”

 

Jones said there is a lot of opportunity for growth due to the huge economic engine the insurance business is in California.

 

“I think we are making good progress,” he said. “That is going to be the job of the new task force to focus on how we grow from this. We have gotten good feedback from insurance companies.”