Health News Today – Oct. 31, 2014

Boo! Here’s your health news headlines for Halloween…

  • MN Dept. of Commerce says a NY-based company offers sub-standard health plans
  • Three steps to make smarter fitness goals
  • Home-care worker gets $30,000 judgment


NY-based company offers sub-standard health insurance plans (HometownFocus)

The Commerce Department ordered Patriot Health Inc. to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for misleading consumers who thought they were buying health insurance, only to find out they had actually purchased membership in an association which included a medical discount plan and other non-insurance benefits. The Department has also charged the company with allowing subagents to work in Minnesota without proper licenses or proper approval.   Read More…


Health Watch: Making smart fitness goals (St. James Plaindealer)

You probably read magazine articles or scroll for tidbits on your smartphone about how to work out better, eat smarter or lose those extra pounds. But what are you actually doing about it? Let’s look at three simple, fuss-free steps to get you the results you need.

1. Move beyond the learning phase: While knowledge is a powerful thing, don’t make the mistake of thinking your good intentions count toward a calorie burn.  Read More…


Home-care worker awarded $30,000 in discrimination case (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Baywood Home Care, one of the state’s largest providers of home health care for senior citizens, must pay $30,000 to a home health aide to resolve allegations that she was illegally fired because of a physical disability, in a consent decree approved Wednesday.

Laurie J. Goodnough was allegedly fired in 2011 after two supervisors observed her walking with a cane.    Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 30, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • $3.3 billion marries Tornier with Wright Medical Group
  • Honeywell employees sue over wellness tests and questions
  • Mental illness conversation with legislators lasts hours in Alexandria


Medical device maker Tornier sold in $3.3 billion deal (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Orthopedic-device maker Tornier has been sold to Wright Medical Group Inc. in an all-stock deal worth $3.3 billion, the companies announced Monday.

Memphis-based Wright Medical Group, which makes surgical devices and bone-growth products, will own 52 percent of the combined company’s stock when the deal closes.   Read More…


Honeywell facing lawsuit over health test (

Two Minnesota employees have filed complaints against Honeywell for its wellness program, and the federal government is suing to stop it.

Court documents filed this month say that Honeywell, as part of its 2015 health benefit plan, requires employees and their spouses to take blood and medical tests that check for smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other problems.   Read More…



Funded and functioning mental health services topic of conversation (Pope County Tribune)

Nearly 100 people gathered at the Broadway Ballroom Event Center in Alexandria on Oct. 10 to discuss the current and future condition of mental health services in Minnesota and in the five-county region. Included in the discussion were four Minnesota state legislators and a representative from U.S. Senator Al Frankenís office, who spent a few hours discussing the issues with attendees and listening to the personal stories of individuals whose lives have been affected, in some way, by mental illness.    Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 29, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Medical research funding at U hits walls
  • New Ebola restrictions are “scientifically based” says Governor Dayton
  • Southern Minnesota gets holiday grief support from Mayo Clinic
  • MNsure mishandles marketing spend, audit finds


Medical research hits walls ( 

Tay Netoff has spent about two decades researching epilepsy. Now, the associate biomedical engineering professor has to shift his research’s focus to Parkinson’s disease, as it’s more likely to secure government funding.

The University of Minnesota’s support from the National Institutes of Health — the world’s largest funder of medical research — has dropped by about 6 percent over the past five fiscal years.   Read More…



Dayton announces new Ebola restrictions (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Medical workers potentially exposed to Ebola while treating patients in West Africa will be confined to their homes for 21 days on returning to Minnesota, state officials said Monday as authorities across the nation continued to seek appropriate safeguards against the deadly virus.   Read More…


Mayo Clinic Health System offers holiday grief support (Janesville Argus)

Dealing with grief is a challenge at any time of the year, but it can be increasingly difficult during the holiday season. To help those who have lost a loved one deal with grief during the holidays, Mayo Clinic Health System offers Grief and the Holidays, a free, 90-minute support program.   Read More…


MNsure mishandled marketing money, audit finds (Bemidji Pioneer)

MNsure’s marketing department approved more than $925,000 in contract work without first obtaining required authorization, according to a financial audit released Tuesday by the state legislative auditor’s office.   Read More…

Health News Today – Oct. 27, 2014

Today’s headlines:

  • MDH to start monitoring travelers from Ebola-affected countries
  • First MNsure renewal notices hit mailboxes; customers surprised
  • CentraCare launches flu vaccine campaign


Minnesota readies for Ebola monitoring (Park Rapids Enterprise)

The Minnesota Department of Health will soon begin monitoring all travelers from Ebola-affected countries.

 The roughly 10 people per week who return here from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be contacted and monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for Ebola. It will be part of a larger program unveiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   Read More…


Renewal costs may surprises MNsure customers (

Minnesotans who bought policies on the state’s health insurance exchange are starting to get their first renewal notices, and many could be in for a jolt.

Premiums for most of the more than 55,000 individuals signed up for private insurance plans via MNsure are going up.   Read More…


CentraCare Health starts flu vaccination campaign (St. Cloud Times)

CentraCare Health has implemented an influenza vaccination campaign for the coming flu season that requires all health care workers to be vaccinated or to wear a mask when in areas where patients may be present.

The Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health support universal influenza of health care workers because it has proven to decrease the risk of illness and death related to the flu.   Read More…




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…