Health News Today – Oct. 23, 2014

Today’s health news headlines include:

  • Minneapolis No. 2 among top 10 healthiest U.S. cities
  • PreferredOne asked to lower MNsure rates
  • Medical startups raise millions in Minnesota
  • Judge says Minnesota may negotiate with home care worker union


America’s top 10 healthiest cities (Redwood Falls Gazette)

Every day, it seems, the media brings us dire new tidings of the obesity crisis in America. But forget all the gloom and doom: It’s about time we celebrated some of the American cities that are doing their part to eradicate obesity and make healthy amenities more accessible and affordable for all citizens. Below, we list the 10 healthiest cities in America, based on aggregated data from the American College of Sports Medicine and its American Fitness Index and other research studies.   Read More…


Minnesota asked PreferredOne to lower rates (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

PreferredOne’s debut on the MNsure health exchange last year had a “how low can you go” quality to it, underpricing everybody else. What we didn’t know then was that state officials were whispering to the insurer, “Go lower!”

The Star Tribune reports that regulators asked Golden Valley-based PreferredOne to cut its initial estimates of premiums on MNsure, arguing that its risk assessment was too high.   Read More…



Medical startups raise $300 million so far in 2014 (

New numbers from St. Louis Park-based LifeScience Alley show that Minnesota medical startup companies are on pace to set a record for fundraising in 2014.

LifeScience Alley, a trade association for medical and life science companies, reported last week that 18 companies raised a total of $113.6 million during the third quarter. Through the end of September, a total of 79 Minnesota medical companies have raised $300 million.   Read More…


Judge won’t stop Minnesota from negotiating with home care workers union (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The state’s chief federal judge refused Wednesday to stop the state of Minnesota from negotiating a contract with newly unionized home health care workers, saying it was unlikely union opponents will win their case in court.

In his 25-page ruling, District Judge Michael Davis denied a request for an expedited injunction sought by the National Right to Work Foundation. The injunction, he said, would delay implementation of a state law that was passed by the Legislature “after full debate” and would constitute “an unwarranted intrusion” by the federal government and judiciary into the state’s affairs.   Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 21, 2014

Health news headlines today:

  • Family makes effort to change how news of Down syndrome diagnosis is delivered
  • U of M VP sends reassuring email about Ebola
  • Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic test out HealthSpot telemedicine booth


MN family wants change in delivery of Down syndrome diagnosis (

A Minnesota family wasn’t expecting what doctors told them more than a year ago. Their soon-to-be son had Down syndrome. Now, a special basket is changing the conversation about the diagnosis.

When the Carroll family had their second pregnancy in two years, they were overjoyed.   Read More…



VP of Health Sciences addresses Ebola (

Despite a low risk of a widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus, the University of Minnesota sent an email to students and members of the campus community on Monday reassuring them that the University is prepared in case the virus is found in the area.

In the email, Brooks Jackson, vice president of health sciences and dean on the Medical School, said the University has been “closely monitoring” reports on the outbreak and has been preparing since August to ensure the University is able to rapidly respond and communicate with the community if an Ebola case occurs in the area.    Read  More…


Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic latest to deploy HealthSpot telemedicine booths (Columbus Business Journal)

The Cleveland Clinic is the first hospital system to try out HealthSpot Inc.’s vision for placing its telemedicine booths in retail pharmacies for easy access to the public, and the Mayo Clinic is testing another target market of employer health.

Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic opened one HealthSpot unit last week for use by its own employees at one of its campuses in Austin, Minnesota, with plans to deploy HealthSpot with private employers next year…   Read More…



Health News Today – Oct. 17, 2014

Health news headlines today include:

  • MNA leader says healthcare workers need help preparing for Ebola
  • Minnesota invests $300 million in life sciences so far in 2014
  • How does state’s medical pot program stack up with others?
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – the time is near


MN Nurses: Not prepared for Ebola (

Now that another Texas nurse has contract Ebola after treating a patient with the deadly virus, worry and anxiety are setting in.

Linda Hamilton, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said healthcare workers want to be prepared to treat any patient who may be diagnosed with Ebola.   Read More…


Minnesota life science investment closes in on five-year high (

Investment in Minnesota’s life sciences sector is on track to reach a 5-year high, according to a report from LifeScience Alley.

Investment in Minnesota life science companies is on track to hit a 5-year high by the end of 2014, according to a new report from LifeScience Alley. The industry group, whose membership includes companies from the medical device, health IT and pharmaceutical industries, says the 3rd quarter saw a total of $113.6 million in life science investments, bringing the year-to-date total to nearly $300 million.  Read More…



How Minnesota’s medical marijuana program compares to other states (

State health officials have less than a year to navigate a complex web of patient registration, drug manufacturing and distribution before getting medical marijuana into patients’ hands.

In Minnesota, the task falls to Michelle Larson, director of the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis. Her job is to make sure the program runs smoothly enough to register patients and provide them with medication by the state-mandated July deadline.   Read More…



Fall Health Care: Seasonal Affective Disorder awareness (St. Peter Herald)

As the leaves begin to change and the days become shorter, many people begin to feel sad, anxious, moody and depressed.

This annual trend is knows as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it is a recognized form of depression triggered by decreased exposure to sunlight.   Read More…



Health News Today – Oct. 16, 2014

Health news headlines:

  • Get to know Minnesota’s new medical marijuana director
  • State health experts speak out about Ebola
  • MNsure gets technology ready to handle open enrollment
  • St. Jude Medical shares fall


Minnesota’s new medical pot chief eyes patient health, public safety (

Michelle Larson has already been called a lot of things: Captain Cannabis. Mary Jane. The pot czar.

Minnesota’s director of the office of medical cannabis has spent the last six weeks creating the job she was hired to do. She’s endured a lot of interesting jokes since then. But to her, marijuana is serious business. People’s lives are at stake.   Read More…


As Ebola surprises, Minnesota health experts step up (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

For schools, it’s tips on screening students who may have traveled to infected countries. For hospitals, it’s instructions on “donning and doffing” protective gear. For funeral directors, it’s guidelines for handling bodies of Ebola victims.

There are no signs the deadly Ebola virus has made its way to Minnesota and no reason for the public to panic, said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases at the state Department of Health.   Read More…


MNsure races to ready exchange for open enrollment (

Officials racing to ready Minnesota’s health insurance exchange for open enrollment one month from now said Wednesday it’s a high-risk project because of tight timelines but they expect consumers will have a better experience than last year.

Managers from the state’s information technologyagency MN.IT told MNsure’s board Wednesday that extensive testing is underway to make sure the website and related systems are as ready as possible by Nov. 15…   Read More…


Shares in St. Jude Medical fall after outlook darkens (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

St. Jude Medical Inc. reported an 8 percent jump in its adjusted profit for the third quarter, but the company lowered its revenue guidance for the fourth quarter.

The medical device maker said Wednesday it saw sales gains across the board during the July-to-September period. Its biggest business, in implantable defibrillators and pacemakers, experienced a 1 percent jump.   Read More…





Health News Today – Oct. 13, 2014

In today’s health news from Minnesota:

  • Health insurance premium increases surprise small businesses
  • New data disclosures highlight doctor-payment relationships
  • New Life Link helicopters connect central Minnesota
  • Northfield PSD and Hospital consider “healthcare academy” for students


Premium spikes catch up with small businesses (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

To stick with the current plan, Stone & Johnson Dental Group in Edina faces a premium increase of 28 percent.

“We had no idea it was going to be as dramatic as it is,” said Avery, who is practice manager for the group.   Read More…

Life Link lands new ‘copters to serve central Minnesota (St. Cloud Times)

The helicopter purrs in the distance as seen from the top of St. Cloud Hospital. Within moments, it has touched down on the helipad and delivered a patient in need of urgent care on a gurney, attended by a paramedic and flight nurse.

They move through a set of doors into an express elevator that puts them right in the emergency room of a Level 1 trauma center — perhaps the best place for urgent medical care north of the Twin Cities.   Read More…



New data disclosures highlight doctor-payment relationships (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

As the inventor of a solution that preserves eye tissue for surgery, Bloomington’s Dr. Richard Lindstrom has given sight to legions of people worldwide and become highly sought after for speeches and consulting deals.

He has been handsomely rewarded for his work.

Lindstrom received $330,452 in payments just during the last five months of 2013 from companies whose ophthalmology products he prescribes for patients, according to a newly published federal database.   Read More…



Northfield school district, hospital consider “Healthcare Academy” for students (Northfield News)

Northfield students may have the chance to learn about health care careers in a hands-on way thanks to a proposed collaboration between the Northfield Public School District and Northfield Hospital & Clinics.

The idea was inspired by a similar program available through a collaboration between the Faribault Public High School and the city’s District One Hospital.    Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 10, 2014

Today’s health news headlines include:

  • Governor says Minnesota can be assured of Ebola preparedness
  • The state of Alzheimer’s research and caregiving
  • Minnesota clinics adopt telemedicine
  • Bob Bonar, Jr., a Texas executive, named CEO at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics


Dayton reviews state’s Ebola preparedness (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

With Ebola anxiety spreading faster in the United State than the virus itself, Gov. Mark Dayton reviewed Minnesota’s preparedness measures with top cabinet officials Thursday and said he will ask that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport join five others getting special federal medical screening.

“Minnesotans should be assured that everything humanly possible is being done,” Dayton said. The governor said he left the meeting feeling “hopeful” that the state’s public health system is ready to deploy quarantines and other safety measures to halt the virus.   Read More…

When Alzheimer’s strikes: The state of research, caregiving (

The President’s BRAIN Initiative has spurred scientists to continue with brain-mapping research, but Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has long advocated for research efforts to increase for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases of the brain.

Last year it was estimated that 100,000 Minnesotans are living with Alzheimer’s, with an estimated 250,000 people involved in their care. That number is growing.  Read More…

Central Minnesota clinics adopt telemedicine services (St. Cloud Times)

Going to the doctor’s office for diagnosis of a minor ailment may soon become a thing of the past.

Joining similar services provided by the St. Cloud VA Health Care System and HealthPartners, CentraCare Health recently unveiled its eClinic telemedicine service that helps diagnose and treat patients via the Internet.   Read More…


Texas executive named CEO of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Bob Bonar Jr., the CEO of a health system and a children’s hospital in Texas, has been named CEO of the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

He will replace CEO Dr. Alan Goldbloom, who will retire Dec. 8.   Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 9, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Norovirus outbreak hits Winona County
  • Governor Dayton requests Ebola discussion with officials
  • Walker schools win health excellence award
  • Flu vaccine shortage caused by manufacturing problems


Winona County official report norovirus outbreak; restaurant closes (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesota health officials say a Winona County restaurant has temporarily closed after being linked to a foodborne illness that has sickened about 30 people.

The Winona Daily News reports county health officials announced the norovirus outbreak Wednesday and urged residents to avoid spreading the highly-contagious illness.   Read More…



Minnesota officials to meet about Ebola response (

Governor Dayton is wondering about Ebola preparedness in Minnesota. On Wednesday his office announced that a meeting will take place tomorrow [Oct. 9] with Cabinet members and airport officials to talk about protections and preparations.

KARE 11 has been digging deeper into how prepared Minnesota is in case it happens here.   Read More…



WHA is 1 of 3 Minnesota schools to receive Environmental Health Excellence Award (Walker Pilot Independent)

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has awarded the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Schools a 2014 School Environmental Health Excellence Award.

The district, one of three in the state along with Hopkins and Mankato schools, has demonstrated a comprehensive school environmental health program that meets and exceeds state and federal requirements and guidelines for a healthy environment.   Read More…


Flu vaccine coming late from manufacturing problems (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Flu shots for infants and toddlers might be hard to find in the opening weeks of this year’s influenza season because of manufacturing problems that have left some Minnesota clinics in short supply.

Doctors at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota have been delaying flu shots for ages 3 and under due to delayed shipments of pediatric vaccine from one manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said Children’s spokeswoman Katie Heinze.   Read More…



Health News Today – Oct. 8, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Medica-Mayo health plans an option for residents in SE Minnesota
  • Medicare fines 36 Minnesota hospitals
  • Live Well At Home app wins award


SE Minn to see Medica-Mayo health plan options through MNsure (

Southeast Minnesota residents will now have Medica plans that include Mayo Clinic as an in-network option on MNSure, the state’s online health insurance marketplace.

Medica on Monday said it will begin offering a new health plan for individuals and families in 18 southern Minnesota counties. It will include access to Rochester’s Mayo Clinic as well as Mayo Clinic Health System, Northfield Hospitals and Clinics, and Winona Health, said Medica Vice President of Individual Business Dannette Coleman.   Read More…


Medicare fines 36 Minnesota hospitals for readmission rates (

Medicare is fining a record number of hospitals – 2,610 – for having too many patients return within a month for additional treatments, federal records show. Even though the nation’s readmission rate is dropping, Medicare’s average fines will be higher, with 39 hospitals receiving the largest penalty allowed, including the nation’s oldest hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.   Read More…


Live Well At Home app takes home award (Hibbing Daily Tribune)

A mobile app launched to help seniors prepare for aging took home some national recognition recently by winning a senior educational award.

The Minnesota Board on Aging debuted the Live Well at Home app in June 2013 as a first-step tool for seniors just starting to think about their living arrangements as they get older.

The app’s ease of use certainly factored into winning the award, which is part of the National Mature Media Awards Program, said Jean Wood, executive director of the board on aging.   Read More…




Health News Today – Oct. 3, 2014

Friday’s health news headlines include:

  • Drug OD deaths exceed traffic fatalities in Minn.
  • MNsure 2015 health exchange premiums increase, on average, 4.5%
  • Post ACA study from U of M shows ER psychiatric visits for young adults declined
  • Are marathons bad for you?
  • Ecumen and MnSCU team to train nurses for growing senior population


Drug overdose deaths in Minnesota exceed traffic fatalities for first time (

Traffic accidents are so 2013. The Strib’s Kevin Giles says, “Overdose deaths in Minnesota from prescription painkillers and heroin have soared to a level that now exceeds deaths from motor vehicle accidents, new numbers from the state Department of Health show. … In 2013, the Health Department reported, 507 Minnesotans died of all types of drug overdoses including 329 in the 11-county metro area. Deaths from prescribed pain relievers — and illegal heroin, a close cousin in the opiate family — accounted for many of them. By comparison, 374 Minnesotans died in motor vehicle accidents.”    Read More…


4.5% average hike in 2014 MNsure health plan rates (

Costs for health plans offered through MNsure are expected to rise an average 4.5 percent for 2015, officials with the health exchange said Wednesday.

Premiums will be the lowest of any in the nation and there will be more choices when the new enrollment period launches Nov. 15, the Commerce Department said.   Read More…



University of Minnesota Study: After Affordable Care Act, inpatient psychiatric care rose and emergency psychiatric care dropped for young adults (

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health care coverage to several million previously uninsured young adults. Research out today from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota finds that the ACA’s young adult insurance expansion coincided with modest increases to inpatient mental health and inpatient substance abuse care utilization, while emergency department use for these disorders declined. Young adults were also less likely to be uninsured when they did use these hospital-based services.

The findings were published online today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.   Read More…



Good Question: Are marathons bad for your health? (

This coming Monday, you might see a few of your co-workers limping around the office after almost 12,000 people lace up for this Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon — 26.2 miles that circle around Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As one marathoner who’s competed in the past put it, “My muscles, my legs, my calves … felt like crap.”   Read More…


Ecumen, MnSCU launch workforce development initiative (Mankato Free Press)

A local senior services organization hopes to become “ground zero” for senior health care by launching a new workforce development initiative that would address a looming shortage in the number of nurses trained to serve the state’s rapidly aging population.

Ecumen, which operates in several rural Minnesota communities, is teaming up with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to implement the new program, to be called Ecumen Scholars.   Read More…



Health News Today – Oct. 1, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • State congressional delegation requests meeting with VA secretary
  • Blue Cross and Medica join Bloom Health’s online insurance exchange
  • Novu and Delta Dental team up to engage with members
  • Public database reveals 546,000 doctors received $3.5 billion from drug and device makers
  • Mayo opens new Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis


Delegation demands meeting with VA Secretary (

Minnesota’s 10 member congressional delegation wants a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald about the status of an internal investigation on whether the Minneapolis VA falsified records about veterans wait times, part of a pattern of behavior congressional investigators have found at other VA health systems around the country.   Read More…


Blue Cross, Medica join Bloom Health’s new online insurance market (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

In a sign that online exchanges are becoming an increasingly popular way to sell health insurance, the state’s two largest insurers will join a single private exchange and compete head to head for employers’ business.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Medica plan to sell a suite of health plans through an online marketplace developed by Minneapolis-based Bloom Health, in what was described Tuesday as a first-of-its-kind arrangement in the state.  Read More…

Novu and Delta Dental team up to engage members (News Release)

Novu today announced that Delta Dental of Minnesota, one of the largest providers of dental benefits in the Upper Midwest, serving 7,500 Minnesota-based employer groups and 3.8 million members nationwide, will leverage the Novu platform to effectively engage their members in their own health through Novu’s combination of technology, community, content and rewards. The new offering will be delivered as a Delta Dental of Minnesota-branded experience.   Read More…

Database debuts detailing financial links between physicians and drug/device firms (Kaiser Health News and Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Consumer advocates have pushed for years for this kind of government database in an effort to protect against physicians’ conflicts of interest, to safeguard patient care and to prevent unnecessary costs to public health programs.  

Over protests from doctors and industry, the federal government for the first time Tuesday began to detail the billions of dollars that physicians and teaching hospitals receive from companies that sell medical equipment and drugs. The newly public data cover 4.4 million payments during the last five months of 2013 that totaled $3.5 billion. Fridley’s Medtronic Inc. appeared to be the biggest payer in Minnesota, with more than $10 million in spending just from its spinal and vascular divisions. St. Jude Medical in Little Canada spent just over $3 million.  Read More…

Mayo Clinic’s Sports Medicine Center opens in Minneapolis (

The Mayo Clinic’s new Sports Medicine Center is celebrating its opening in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Dr. John Finnoff with the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center was one of the people instrumental in bringing the facility to the Twin Cities. The facility is open to people of all ages and athletic abilities.  Read More…