Category: Healthcare

FDA says Teva antidepressant is ineffective

WASHINGTON (AP) — Teva Pharmaceuticals is pulling its generic version of a popular antidepressant off the market after a federal analysis showed the pill does not work properly.

The Food and Drug Administration called on Teva to withdraw Budeprion XL 300 after chemical testing showed the drug releases its key ingredient faster than the original drug Wellbutrin, made by GlaxoSmithKline.

The action contradicts the FDA’s previous update on the issue in 2008, when regulators said the drugs are essentially the same. That review came after hundreds of patients complained that Teva’s drug did not work or caused side effects like headaches, anxiety and insomnia.

The agency said it completed its own study of the two pills in August, which showed Budeprion does not release into the blood at the appropriate rate.

Regional West Foundation helps fund NICU remodel

By MAUNETTE LOEKS

Staff Reporter

Improvements at Regional West Medical Center have given newborn babies more beds in Regional West Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

In August, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit moved into its remodeled unit. A $90,000 contribution from the Regional West Foundation helped fund the remodeling of the unit and expansion from a six-bed unit to an eight-bed unit.

Brandi Stoller, a registered nurse in the NICU, said Billi lights above the bed help keep babies warm, and features of the bed keep the temperature constant. Stoller demonstrated the new beds, Giraffe OmniBeds, during an open house in August.

Nurses can open the bed from the sides, which means that babies do not need to be removed for such things as weighing, doing x-rays or other procedures. Doctors can also do procedures right on the beds.

Parents are even taught how to handle and care for baby. They are able to change diapers and other things.

The set up of the NICU has also been set up to allow the most efficient use of space, Connie Rupp, director of the NICU, said. The unit’s 13 registered nurses were involved in the process, providing their input on the layout of cords to IV’s and other machines. Staff even traveled to Irving, Calif., to test out the lay out of the headwall where the devices are plugged in to ensure the best layout of outlets and ports.

“Once you have it, you can’t move it,” Rupp said. “We wanted to make sure we had the best set up for the nurses and the doctors who would be working in here every day.”

A former break room has also been remodeled for special procedures.

Two local businesses, Studio 120 and Abby Designs, were involved in the remodeling. The businesses are owned by Jamie and Abby Winters.

“They made the project so easy,” Rupp said.

The project began in October 2011 and the NICU was in temporary quarters until the project was completed.

Total project cost was estimated at $500,000.

Johanns invites seniors to Medicare seminar

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) announced a series of informational seminars across the state to assist seniors seeking information about Medicare, including the prescription drug program and Medicare Advantage, prior to this fall’s open enrollment period.

A seminar will be Friday, Oct. 5, at 9:30 a.m. at the Harms Center, WNCC, 2620 College Park in Scottsbluff.

Representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Nebraska Area Offices on Aging, Johanns’ staff and other local service providers will be on-hand to answer questions and provide information.

“The Medicare enrollment process can be cumbersome and confusing,” Johanns said. “These seminars will explain the various Medicare options and ensure seniors are able to make informed decisions. I encourage anyone with questions to attend.”

The seminars precede the annual Medicare open enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2012. During this time, eligible seniors can enroll in Medicare programs and those already participating have the opportunity to change their current plans.

Regional West Physicians Clinic welcomed four physicians

SCOTTSBLUFF — Regional West Physicians Clinic is pleased to announce that four physicians joined their staff in July.

Anesthesiologists Daniel Williams, MD, and Wendy Williams, MD, joined Regional West Physicians Clinic-Anesthesiology at the beginning of July.

The Williams, who are married and have three young daughters, both earned their medical degrees at The University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver. They completed transitional internships at Gundersen Lutheran Clinic, La Crosse, Wis., and anesthesiology residencies at The University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver.

Dr. Wendy Williams received additional medical education at the Universitaet Bern, Switzerland. She is a skilled ski jumper and previously trained for Olympic competition.

Having served as a “locums tenens” or “temporary visiting” anesthesiologist at Regional West Medical Center, Dr. Daniel Williams developed a fondness for western Nebraska and the Scottsbluff-Gering community. The Williams decided to relocate from Loveland, Colo., to Scottsbluff. Both physicians are board-certified in anesthesiology.

Dr. R. Gregg Wilroy, DO, who holds dual board-certification in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and pain medicine, joined Regional West Physicians Clinic-Neuroscience Pain Clinic in mid-July.

Dr. Wilroy earned his medical degree at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Vallejo, Calif. He completed an internship in internal medicine at Northside Hospital & Heart Institute, St. Petersburg, Fla., and a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, Penn. He was awarded a Fellowship in Pain Medicine at The Institute for Pain Medicine at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh.

Dr. Wilroy served in the U.S. Army Infantry and Military Police at Fort Lewis, Wash. He relocated from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he worked at Brooke Army Medical Center. He is an active volunteer with the Wounded Warriors Project.

Former Scottsbluff resident Joseph Margheim, MD returned to his hometown to serve as an emergency medicine physician at the Regional West Medical Center Emergency Department. Dr. Margheim joined Regional West Physicians Clinic-Emergency Medicine at the end of July. He has two young daughters and his wife is due to have a baby in October.

Dr. Margheim served in the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C., and Seoul, South Korea. He earned his medical degree, with distinction, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, in 2009. He recently completed his residency in emergency medicine at Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, Kalamazoo, Mich.

School physicals are important

By JOE DUTTON

Staff Reporter

Photo by Joe Dutton | Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Cynthia Guerue at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff encourages all

With the first day of school just around the corner, local pediatricians are advising that students be checked and vaccinated to help promote their health and well-being in the classroom.

According to Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Cynthia Guerue of Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, there are four key ages and areas that physicals are performed: Head Start, kindergarten, seventh grade and sports physicals.

Guerue said the state of Nebraska requires all children to be vaccinated before entering public schools. She said she also sees children that come from Wyoming to get their immunizations, which are not required in Wyoming, but are in Nebraska.

Guerue mentioned different requirements are put into place depending on what grade level a child is at for immunizations. She said Head Start requires vaccinations for all of their programs and kindergarten physicals also require a dental and an optical exam by a separate optometrist and dentist. She said there are numerous different shots depending on grade level, but at the medical center they do more than just a sports physical, they check the overall health of the children.

“When our kids come here, we don’t do a ‘sports physical,’ it’s basically a well-child check,” Guerue said. “The parents may want their sports physical form filled out and we ask a lot of questions and it’s one of the things that we do in our pre-participation evaluation instead of just a ‘sports physical.’”

She said the reason they ask a lot of questions is to evaluate the overall health of the child and they may reveal areas that need treatment or areas that need further investigation. She said they want children to perform at their best in schools and if they don’t feel at their best, they won’t be able to perform at their best.

“If kids aren’t at their optimum health, they are not going to be able to optimally perform in the classroom,” Guerue said. “As part of our school physicals or any sort of well-child check that we do, we are looking at the overall health of the child and that is the most important thing.”

Well-child checks are more than just getting just a quick exam, Guerue said. They are getting a full self-exam that is complete and from physicians who are trained specifically in pediatrics. She said they typically see an average of five patients a day and they do set aside days where they just do physicals.

“There is a difference between the exams that they will get at their regular doctor and what they would get at an immediate care facility,” Guerue said.

Guerue said during any physical she and her staff ask questions about symptoms like asthma, difficulties with heat, concussions and injury related illnesses so that children can be at the best health before participating in any sport.

“There’s nothing worse than getting a month into your season and then having your asthma act up and not being able to perform,” Guerue said. “Then it takes two weeks before you decide it is your asthma and not just ‘I’m in bad shape.’ We want to get that in the forefront of their mind before the season starts so that we can be actively assessing it.”

Also, a part of the sports physicals when they perform them is one of the few times doctors see adolescents, Guerue said.

She said her and her staff ask them about their safety and any other health issues. She said the pre-participation evaluation they provide involves behavioral health issues and they hope to help kids open up in a safe environment within the doctor’s office.

“We are also asking things about safety, do they feel safe at home, we ask about drinking and smoking, depression issues, drug abuse, things like that,” Guerue said. “We are giving those kids an opportunity to open up and create an open door to talk about some things that they won’t get at just a sports physical.”

She said they also try to identify issues such as ADHD and ADD in children, which they get those referrals mid-year after issues have taken place. She said if anything has been seen within the previous year, then they should come in during the summer and talk about management of the situation and get an early start in treatment early in the school year so they are not struggling halfway through the year.

Guerue said they are always accepting new patients and are booking out through September, but sports physicals are due by the first day of sports practice and advises that June is the best time to be thinking about getting a child in for physicals for the following year.

For more information on setting up an appointment for a routine physical or immunization check, contact the Regional West Physicians Clinic at 308-630-1811.

Important changes Oct. 1 at Regional West Immunization Clinic

Before you take your children to the Regional West Immunization Clinic or doctor’s office for vaccinations, check your insurance coverage.

If you have insurance that covers the cost of vaccinations, even if it includes a high deductible or co-pay, your insurance company will be billed for your child’s vaccinations.

Before scheduling vaccinations, it’s important to know how your children’s immunizations are covered under your policy and wellness benefits. If you have not met your deductible, you may be required to pay out of pocket for your children’s vaccinations.

New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that take effect Oct. 1 will limit Nebraska’s Vaccines for Children program to children 18 and under, who are Medicaid-enrolled, uninsured, American Indian or Alaska Native.

VFC vaccines will no longer be available to fully-insured individuals.

Physicians clinics throughout the state and Regional West Immunization Clinic will be required by the new federal policy to bill individual insurance companies for vaccinations for those with insurance coverage.

The CDC defines fully-insured as: “Anyone with insurance that covers the cost of vaccine, even if the insurance includes a high deductible or co-pay, or if a claim for the cost of the vaccine and its administration would be denied for payment by the insurance carrier because the plan’s deductible had not been met.”

To comply with the new federal mandate, the Regional West Immunization Clinic is developing a system to bill insurance companies for immunizations provided at the clinic when the vaccination by donation policy ends Sept. 30.

2012 Mission of Mercy free dental care event starts Friday in Alliance

Volunteers are in the midst of the final push to get everything ready for the 2012 Alliance Mission of Mercy free dental care Friday and Saturday.

Alliance Mission of Mercy Community Chair D.N. Taylor Jr., dentist, has some important information to share with those planning on using the service.

“It is going to be hot Friday and Saturday, and we want to make sure everyone dresses accordingly and takes appropriate steps to bring whatever they need to stay cool and comfortable,” he said.

People may start lining up as early as Thursday evening at the registration/hospitality building (the former Alco Building, 1327 W. 3rd St. on the west side of the Alliance Plaza) so people can bring everything needed for an overnight stay. Portable potties will be available.

“There will be overnight and day time security both days, provided by the Alliance Police Department, Box Butte County Sheriff’s Department and Nebraska State Patrol,” Taylor said.

There are several businesses at Alliance Plaza that will be open during the event. A number of parking spots have been reserved for people doing business with them. People attending Mission of Mercy are not to park in the designated area as a courtesy to those businesses.

The event will run from 5:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days. The Hospitality Committee will be available during those hours both days, both inside the buildings and outside,” Taylor said. “Every effort will be made to get people inside and comfortable as quickly as possible.”

The facility will have a kids corner for games, family activities and movies. A food service area will also be available, as well as registration/waiting areas and restrooms.

“It would help if people would bring a list of medications with them, “Taylor said, “and we will be asking them to provide information about medical conditions when they are going through the dental triage process.”

After completing those procedures, escorts will be available to take patients to the dental services building located on the east side of Alliance Plaza as openings become available.

“We have dentists and hygienists from Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and, of course, Nebraska,” he said. “We hope to serve up to 1,200 patients from 2-year-olds to adults. They all will work very diligently to treat as many patients as possible. But please remember, this is first come, first served … so there is a possibility that those who get in line too late may not be aided. We will continue to treat until we run out of providers, or run out of time on Saturday.”

The only area where there may be a need for more volunteers is help with parking direction. Please contact facility chair Alan Cornish at 308-762-3035 or 308-760-0593.

Regional West confirms its coverage of all Medicaid-eligible patients

In response to a large number of calls in the past few weeks to Regional West regarding changes to Medicaid coverage, the medical center and Physicians Clinic have issued this statement:

All Regional West Medical Center and Regional West Physicians Clinic providers participate in all Medicaid plans, including Arbor Health and Coventry Cares. All Medicaid-eligible patients are assured of Medicaid coverage, whether or not they enroll in either the Arbor Health or Coventry Cares managed care plans.

Patients who have questions about their Medicaid coverage or their health care provider’s participation in a specific plan should contact Coventry Cares at 1-800-865-2673 or Arbor Health at 1-888-738-0004.

Make Social Security online services ‘par for the course’

For many retirees (and near retirees), there is nothing that they look forward to as much as a day on the golf course. The game recently has been made more pleasurable by the use of computers and GPS technology. A hand-held electronic unit acts just like a personal caddie, providing quick and accurate yardage information — and much more. It saves time … as well as mental and physical effort.

So golfers should be among those retirees (and near retirees) to recognize the value of technology in other aspects of life, such as Social Security’s online services. Just by logging onto www.socialsecurity.gov, you can handle such important Social Security business as:

n Applying online for retirement, disability, or Medicare benefits;

n Getting a personalized estimate of future benefits with our retirement estimator;

n Accessing your Social Security statement online;

n Changing your address or phone number in Social Security records once you start receiving benefits;

n Signing up for or changing direct deposit

One thing that golfers everywhere hate is slow play — waiting on the tee box, and then waiting again in the fairway. While we can’t eliminate waits on the golf course, going online to www.socialsecurity.gov can eliminate the time you would spend sitting in traffic or waiting in lines at an office.

If you happen to be a golfer (or any other person) who loves tradition and hates to try new things, here’s a thought. 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of three of golf’s legends — Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. All of these golfing greats were quick to adapt to the newest golfing innovations of their day — and you should, too. Just go online to www.socialsecurity.gov and take a look at what we offer.

Once you do, you’ll think of every other way of handling Social Security business as a bogey.

By Sheri Olsson

Social Security District Manager in Scottsbluff

Arbor Health Plan now serving Neb.’s rural Medicaid population

Arbor Health Plan, a Nebraska health maintenance organization, announced recently that, effective July 1, 2012, it launched Medicaid managed care services to eligible beneficiaries living in 83 counties in rural Nebraska. Arbor Health Plan was one of two health plans chosen earlier this year by Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services to serve this area. Arbor Health Plan is a joint venture between AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Arbor Health Plan is providing covered physical health and vision services with a focus on improving quality outcomes for Medicaid patients. It utilizes the “medical home” health care delivery model that centers on the patient’s relationship with a primary care physician. The patient’s PCP will coordinate care through Arbor Health Plan’s innovative care management programs.

The company, based in Omaha, is led by Executive Director Thomas Smith. A veteran health care executive, Smith has more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, provider network management, risk management and government relations for managed care organizations in the commercial, Medicaid and Medicare markets.

“It is a privilege to bring our well-established commitment to improving the health of the people we serve to Medicaid recipients living in rural Nebraska,” said Michael A. Rashid, president and chief executive officer of AMFC. “We look forward to working with providers, community partners, the state and our BCBSNE partner to make a positive difference in the lives of Nebraskans in need.”

“AmeriHealth is a proven Medicaid leader with a long history of serving Medicaid members,” said Steven S. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. “When you blend AmeriHealth’s operational and care management expertise with our 73-year commitment to improving access to quality health care for Nebraskans, the result is a strong organization uniquely positioned to serve the state’s Medicaid population.”