Were unionized nursing homes safer during COVID? • Anti-violence initiative touts gains in jobs and trauma care • State gets more money for tobacco regulations

A HEALTH AFFAIRS STUDY INDICATES UNIONIZED NURSING HOMES HAD REDUCED COVID MORTALITY AND WORKER INFECTION: Research based on data from CMS and the Service Employees International Union shows that unionized nursing homes had lower COVID-19 death rates and lower employee COVID infection rates than their non-unionized counterparts , according to a Health Affairs study.

Unionized care homes experienced a 10.8% drop in resident COVID-19 death rates and a 6.8% drop in worker COVID-19 infection rates, leading the author leader in saying that union actions to protect workers from disease may have saved thousands of lives, our sister publication Modern Health Care Reports.

Health Affairs research analyzed 13,350 nursing homes between June 8, 2020 and March 21, 2021. Nationally, healthcare worker unions were present in 16.8% of nursing homes nurses, according to the research.

Locally, about one-third of Illinois nursing homes are unionized, with SEIU Healthcare Illinois workers in more than 22% of those nursing homes, union president Greg Kelley said.

“I’m not surprised by the study,” Kelley said. “We’ve been agitating for years…but when employees weren’t giving workers information, let alone PPE (personal protective equipment), the union was where we came together.”

“I vividly remember how angry and scared the workers were,” he said. But joining the union gives employees “some fearlessness” to speak out, knowing they’re protected from firing if they agitate for COVID protections, Kelley said.

Kelley also said the nursing home reform recently passed by the General Assembly will also continue to help workers fight for better protection against illness, better staffing levels and better wages.

The Illinois Healthcare Council, an advocacy group for nursing home owners, did not respond to a request for comment by Health Pulse’s deadline.

DURBIN, HOSPITAL LEADERS RELEASE 3 YEAR REPORT ON THE CHICAGO HEAL INITIATIVE TO ADDRESS GUN VIOLENCE: After three years, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s Chicago HEAL initiative, which enlisted 10 Chicago hospitals to address the root causes of gun violence, improved local hiring, job training and supply and increased mental health and trauma-informed care, report says. on his progress.

On average, the 10 hospitals hired 3,535 people from HEAL neighborhoods each year, provided workforce development programs to 6,072 high school and college students, and offered trauma recovery, each year , to 4,212 victims of violence, the report said.

The 10 hospitals and health systems originally involved in Chicago HEAL are Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Cook County Health and Hospital System, Loyola University Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, Sinai Health System, University of Chicago Medical Center, and University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences Systems.

Over the past three years, affected hospitals have increased local hiring by 21%, increased local procurement by 27%, and increased the number of patients receiving trauma recovery care by 130%, the report says. . READ MORE.

STATE SEES ADDITIONAL $546M TOBACCO SETTLEMENT PAYOUT: Illinois received more than $804 million from tobacco companies under the 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 2022, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement last week. .

In addition to the state’s annual payment of more than $258 million, he received more than $546 million that tobacco companies were recently required to release through a separate MSA settlement, a said Raoul.

“Although Illinois has prevailed in the two arbitrations conducted so far, the process has become so cumbersome and time-consuming that Illinois has had to wait too long to receive the money it is owed. Without this settlement, this would be the case for years to come,” Raoul added. “This settlement, which now brings in hundreds of millions of dollars and resolves the dispute for the next six years, is a much better resolution for Illinois than waiting decades to receive the money owed.”

Raoul’s statement says the settlement resolved tobacco companies’ claims that they were allowed to reduce their annual payments to Illinois and other states because of cigarette sales by other tobacco companies that do not participate in the MSA. In 2013 and 2021, two arbitration panels made up of former federal judges found that Illinois was not subject to this payment reduction, known as the nonparticipating manufacturer’s adjustment, in some years. For several years, states including Illinois have challenged the cut in payments, arguing that its misapplication has allowed participating manufacturers to withhold billions of dollars, the statement said.

AHA PAYS TRIBUTE TO FAUCI, LEADERS OF ANA AND AMA: The American Hospital Association will present its annual honorary awards to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, American Nurses Association Corporate CEO Loressa Cole and President of the American Medical Association, Dr. Gerald Harmon, today at the hospital association’s annual meeting in Washington DC

The AHA said in a statement that Fauci would receive the award “for his tireless efforts to educate and advise health care providers and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, along with the AHA, have been notable collaborators in many advocacy and communications efforts throughout the pandemic.

MATTER JOINS SMILE HEALTH ACCELERATOR: Chicago-based healthcare incubator Matter and Boston-based CareQuest Innovation Partners are partnering with SMILE Health, a first-of-its-kind program to identify and accelerate early-stage startups working together on oral health -dental and health equity, said SMILE. in a report.

SMILE Health launched in mid-March and has partnerships with 14 industry organizations in medical, dental, consumer goods, venture capital, insurance and academia, he said. . She also announced that she had $1 million in investment capital available.

“We now have the strongest group of partners to support startups that are creating new solutions to improve oral health and advance health equity,” said Steven Collens, CEO of Matter, in the communicated. “Startups need capital as well as non-monetary support, and with this group, we have what we need to change the trajectory of oral health innovation for the benefit of all.

ORGAN PRESERVATION SYSTEM GETS REVOLUTIONARY DEVICE DESIGNATION: Bridge to Life has received Breakthrough Device Designation clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for its LifeCradle heart-sparing transport system, the Northbrook-based company said in a statement.

The LifeCradle system enables the preservation, storage, monitoring and transport of donor hearts using hypothermic, oxygen and nutrient infusion from organ procurement through transplantation into the recipient, says the communicated.

“LifeCradle opens a window into the future of long-term cardiac preservation and transport, so that a heart from Miami can fly to Seattle and be implanted there,” said Richard Birch, vice president of development. Bridge to Life commercial in a press release.

MEDICAL RESEARCHERS ARE LOOKING AT PORTABLE HEARTBEAT TECHNOLOGY WITH CAUTION: Gadget companies, starting with Apple and now Google-owned Fitbit, sell wearables that check heartbeats and alert users when something is out of sync.

These products involve some technological prowess. Many use sophisticated optical sensors that look under the skin to monitor changes in blood volume – almost like following the tides – and thus count heartbeats. Other devices have a miniature electrocardiogram, which records the heart’s electrical activity, built-in.

While these are certainly technical achievements, some cardiologists argue that the information produced by the devices is not always helpful. Device notifications are not definitive diagnoses.

“Technology has passed us,” said Rod Passman, a cardiologist at Northwestern University who is participating in a study examining the Apple Watch’s ability to track heart rhythm status. “The industry came out with these things because they could. Now we are trying to catch up and trying to figure out what to do with this information. READ MORE.

OPENING OF THE DOD INNOVATION OFFICE: The US Department of Defense has opened an office in Chicago for its Innovation Unit which seeks to find and develop new technologies for the US military.

The office, announced last fall, will be located at the Discovery Partners Institute, a University of Illinois-run research, startup and professional training center that has about 60 employees. READ NOW.

DAILY ESSENTIALS FROM CRAIN SPEAK IMD: Hear Crain commercial real estate reporter Danny Ecker talk about the big changes proposed for the Illinois Medical District on Crain’s Daily Gist podcast. LISTEN NOW.

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