Since 2008, the Department of Ophthalmology at the Indiana University School of Medicine has seen nine physicians depart—nearly half its clinicians who care for adult patients—and one more is now trying to leave. If a 10th physician departs, the exodus would leave the department with only 10 physicians treating adult patients, and many of those doing so only part time. The doctors have left because of a mix of disputes about pay and violations of patient privacy, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. Dr. Louis Cantor, department chairman, called the departures “normal faculty attrition” as the medical school and the Indiana University Health hospital system merge their physicians into one entity. He said the school is working to hire replacements.
Verve Health, an Indianapolis-based company that provides wellness and health clinics to employers, has begun pitching integrative medicine as an option to employers. Integrative medicine tries to improve people’s health with food, supplements, fitness and alternative medicine before trying prescription drugs. Verve Health is the new name adopted by RepuCare OnSite LLC to reflect its July 2014 acquisition of wellness provider Spectrum Health Systems Inc. Verve is trying to raise $2 million to $4 million to take its services to more clients and more states. If its plans succeed, Verve could nearly triple its workforce over the next year—from 65 to as many as 180. Verve operates five employer clinics, including two for Celadon Trucking, and another for the city of Kokomo and Howard County governments. It also provides wellness services to 50 employers.
Over the past three years, 116 Indiana hospitals cut out nearly 4,700 patient harms, saving $22.3 million, as part of a coordinated effort to make hospitals safer and prevent patients from having to come back. The three-year program, called Partnership for Patients, was part of a national effort funded by the Affordable Care Act. According to the Indiana Hospital Association, nearly half the savings came from preventing 1,254 readmissions of patients over three years. Another $2 million was saved by preventing 110 venous thromboembolisms. Also, the hospitals reduced early-elective baby deliveries 76 percent. And they worked to reduce infections caused by catheters and central lines, falls, severe bed sores, surgical site infections, ventilator-associated harm, obstetric harm and giving patients wrong medications or drugs that conflicted with other medications.
Even though he declined to sign it, Gov. Mike Pence will allow a three-year moratorium on construction of additional nursing homes to become law. Senate Enrolled Act 460 prevents construction of new skilled-nursing facilities, unless a facility replaces an old facility, after March 1, 2016, in any county with less than 90-percent occupancy in its existing nursing homes. “As a strong advocate of free-market economics, I hesitate to support any restriction on commerce, but in an industry that derives 85 percent of its revenue from state and federal sources, we must always consider the impact of our policies on the cost to taxpayers,” Pence said in a statement May 8. “A three-year pause on new-facility construction will give our state and the long-term-care industry the opportunity to achieve a better balance between institutional care and home- and community-based services while we engage in a much-needed discussion about reforms to our current Medicaid reimbursement formula.”
Pence signed a bill into law May 5 giving civil immunity to volunteer health care providers, according to The Statehouse File. The new law also provides immunity to licensed medical professionals who volunteer their services at no cost to taxpayers or patients. It applies to physician assistants, advanced nurses, podiatrists and optometrists, and allows them to provide basic treatments like physicals, routine services and the treatment of minor cuts. The law takes effect on July 1.