Latest from The Spokesman-Review
A southwestern Idaho hospital turf war is escalating, with medical groups suing a rival in federal court to block its latest expansion plan, the AP reports. Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center is the main plaintiff behind an antitrust lawsuit filed today that's meant to halt Boise-based St. Luke's Health System from buying physician-owned Saltzer Medical Group, which has many of its offices in Nampa. “St. Luke's will gain a near monopoly share in the Nampa, Idaho market for adult primary care physician services market,” Saint Alphonsus lawyers wrote in their 42-page complaint asking a judge to halt St. Luke's purchase; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.
Before surgical procedures, hospital staffers sometimes hand you an info sheet: “FAQs about Surgical Site Infections.”
It offers some good information and advice.
But one highlighted passage raises a question or two.
It says, “If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so.”
No doubt, that is wise counsel.
But here's the thing. Don't most people operate on the assumption that the best way to get good treatment is to be liked?
And does questioning someone's professionalism encourage that person to like you?
I know. What I'm saying sounds like I think we're still in junior high or something. Asserting your rights as a patient should be encouraged. Getting decent care should not be about hitting it off with the nurses or whatever.
Moreover, the medical staffer requested to wash his or her hands will no doubt smile and offer the patient praise for asking.
But c'mon. Does anything you know about human nature suggest that such a request really is appreciated?
Of course, if you wind up getting an infection because someone failed to wash his hands, the fact that everyone thought you were a great guy won't matter much.
So there's that to consider.
There's no need for a Top 10 list of the potential drawbacks. I assume most of us know about loud, bathroom-hogging roommates whose visitors tend to be foul-smelling, braying jackasses.
But that's not the whole picture.
If you are extremely fortunate, you might encounter people like Ron and Marsha Feller on the other side of the drawn curtain.
A few months before my father died here in Spokane in 2007, he shared a room with Ron Feller, a teacher and artist.
At that stage of his life, my father was a challenge to deal with, to put it mildly. He had lost the ability to recognize the problem in loudly calling out for assistance with some non-pressing matter at 2 a.m. And then, after getting some exasperated attention, doing it again at 2:17. Et cetera.
But Ron and his wife, Marsha — who spent hour after hour in the room, treated my dad with superhuman patience and compassion. My mom and I were awed by their generosity of spirit. We still talk about it.
Four years later, Marsha and Ron keep in touch with my mom, just to make sure she's doing all right.
A lot of people talk about what great people we have here in Spokane. But there's nothing like seeing a couple of them in action to make you a believer.
A hallucinating man who died early Saturday after fleeing a Spokane hospital has been identified as Steven Edward Escallier, 42.
Escallier was taken by ambulance to a hospital after police found him “suffering from hallucinations” at East Wellesley Avenue and North Standard Avenue Friday about 9:30 p.m.
Hospital staff called 911 at 12:04 a.m. Saturday and said Escallier had fled the hospital and that security was following him.
When police arrived, Escallier “had stopped breathing,” according to a news release.
Officers administered CPR and Escallier was taken back to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy confirmed his identity Monday, but the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet determined his cause of death.
Escallier is a longtime felon who has at least 40 criminal convictions dating back more than 25 years.
He was sentenced to a year of prison and year of drug treatment in 2009 after posing as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and trying to rob two men he thought were drug dealers.
The men were actually trying to complete a cell phone sale advertised on Craigslist. Escallier told Judge Maryann Moreno at his sentencing in August 2009 that he was a longtime drug addict who was ready to change.
Moreno was skeptical.
“I bet you’ve said all these things in court before,” the judge said at the time. “I hear it all the time…You’re going to figure it out or you’re probably going to die.”
A multi-agency team is investigating Escallier's death.
A proposed billion-dollar sales tax hike barely cleared its first committee Tuesday, 8 votes to 7.
“We are at a time when people need our help,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, urging lawmakers to support his plan. “The most vulnerable need us.”
If the House and Senate also approve, the proposal will appear on ballots in November for a statewide vote.
Republicans blasted the plan, saying Democratic budget writers should be scrubbing the budget more.
Rep. Joe Schmick suggested, for example, cutting state employees pay 2 percent or 3 percent, or by having them pay more than 12 percent of the cost of their health coverage.
“I’m here to tell you that Washington is hurting,” said Schmick, R-Colfax. “And they’re hurting because they’re overtaxed and they’re over-regulated.”
The proposed sales tax increase _ which works out to 3 cents on a $10 purchase _ would partly undue millions of dollars in looming budget cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and other health services.
“We have really gone over this budget,” Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, told Schmick. Sending the sales tax to voters, she said, gives the public a chance to undue some of the most serious cuts that lawmakers had to make.
Pettigrew noted that lawmakers weren’t voting to raise the tax, just to send it to voters to decide.
“It’s part of our effort to maintain our partnership with the public,” he said.
To offset the effect of the tax on the state’s poorest residents, the measure would also give a tax rebate averaging $100 to people who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. This year, a family of four earning up to $43,415 would qualify. (NOTE: The amount of these rebates, however, was reduced from an earlier version of the bill, in order to steer millions of dollars more into the Basic Health Plan, mental health programs, vision/hearing services, and other health programs. The liberal Washington State Budget and Policy Center’s Schmudget blog has an excellent breakdown on the numbers before and after.
Some Republicans argue that the plan isn’t fair.
“You’re going to be taxing middle-income families struggling to get along and giving that money to lower-middle-class families,” said Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.
Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, crossed party lines to vote against the plan.
“I believe we are in the crisis of our generation and we are going to be judged on how we respond with real solutions,” he said.
Pettigrew said he agrees that sales tax, which hurts low-income people the most, is not ideal. But he said that lawmakers have few alternatives in the face of devastating cuts.
“When we go back to folks, I want to make sure I can look them in the eye…and say I’ve done everything possible to help you,” he said.
I’m sitting in the House hearing on a proposed .3 percent sales tax hike, HB 2377.
The proposal, from Rep. Eric Pettigrew, would raise just over $1 billion in three years. Much of that money would be steered into health care: mental health services, hospitals, nursing homes, public health programs and the state’s Basic Health Plan, which provides coverage for thousands of low-income folks. To offset the hit to low-income families, it would also send millions of dollars in state tax rebates back to people who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
The plan would only take effect if voters approve it in November.
The crowded hearing room is full of health care providers, officials and lobbyists representing nurses, hospitals, adult day health programs, public health, etc. They all support the plan as a critical lifeline.
A hospital official said that if the bill passes, hospitals will still see a state budget cut of $110 million over the next two years. Without it, that will be $350 million.
Dianse Sosne, with SEIU 1199 NW, said that proposed budget cuts would tear the state’s health safety net apart. That means mothers, babies, and elderly people ending up in emergency rooms, she said, and more mental health patients ending up in jails, prisons, under bridges and on the streets.
“And ultimately those costs will fall on taxpayers,” she said.
Among the few voices opposing the plan: anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman.
Eyman blasted the proposal, saying that legislative budget writers are protecting non-essential state programs while asking voters to approve a billion-dollar tax hike to stave off cuts to people needing health care.
“Have you no shame?” he said.
“You are fooling no one,” he told lawmakers. “…The best thing you can do for the poor and the middle class is to stop taxing them to death.”
Pettigrew and many of the advocates will hold a press conference about the proposal later this morning.