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CMS 2016 Final Rule and Emergency Preparedness

Untitled by Brian Leaf is licensed under CC0.

book

This past week, I had the privilege of attending the 2017 Emergency Preparedness Conference in New Orleans. It was a brand new topic for me, covering the four phases of emergency response:

  • Mitigation
  • Preparation
  • Response
  • Recovery

We heard from hospitals who served events like the Boston Marathon bombing, the Pulse Night Club incident, ransomware attacks, and and the recent flooding in August 2016. The focus of the conference, however, was on the the Joint Commission standards and, in particular, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) final rule Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers that went into effect on November 16, 2016.

According to a 2016 press release, the existing requirements for providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid did not include:

“(1) communication to coordinate with other systems of care within cities or states;

(2) contingency planning; and

(3) training of personnel.”

Given these deficiencies amid recent disasters, the CMS concluded that it was important to create a consistent foundation among all providers and suppliers, not just hospitals, to meet best practices in terms of having an emergency plan, policies and procedures, a communication, plan, and training and testing programs. This all includes coordinating with other stakeholders such as public health officials, responders, and other area providers to better effectively respond to events.

I am still thinking about discussions regarding non-clinicians and information professionals specifically, but my hope is that if there’s interest, we can feature an emergency preparedness expert on a future SCR CONNECTion to explore these intersections. Please feel free to email me with any thoughts: brian.leaf@unthsc.edu

Read more about this rule here.

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Poor Sleeping Patterns Get Worse With Age

Untitled by Unsplash is licensed under CC0.

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A new study finds that as seniors get older, it is just generally harder for them to get a good, restorative night’s sleep, which in turn could worsen health problems. Many medical conditions may make it harder for a person to sleep well, but a poor night’s sleep can also contribute to disease.

The researchers used dementia as an example–dementia patients often have a difficult time sleeping, and these poor sleeping patterns also speed up their memory decline.

Recognize that good sleep is critical to good health, right along with a good diet and regular exercise…and regular exercise can generally help get you a good night’s sleep as well.

Seniors should talk to their doctors if they notice they are consistently sleeping less than six hours per night.

To read more about the study, please visit “Good Sleep Does Get Tougher With Age.”

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SCR Regional Highlight: New YMCA and Library in San Antonio Team Up to Provide Wellness and Knowledge

Photo provided by San Antonio Public Library

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Together, the San Antonio Public Library System and the YMCA of Greater San Antonio opened a new facility in the quickly growing northwest San Antonio last November. The new facility has a shared lobby making it easy to learn how to improve your health in the Potranco Branch Library on one side of the facility, and then put that knowledge into action on the other side at the Mays Family YMCA at Potranco.

“Obviously a lot of our goals are the same,” said Cheryl Sheehan, San Antonio Public Library branch coordinator, in a Rivard Report article. “(We want) to change people’s live with health and information.”

The area where the new facility is located is a perfect spot, populated with many young professionals and families, but was underserved by these major institutions previously.

The YMCA branch will have extended hours to cater to the lives of the individuals it serves, and the library branch is considering something similar. The library has already installed after-hours hold lockers accessible in the shared lobby for YMCA patrons to pick up books they requested. And there is a Redbox-like machine where library patrons can browse books to checkout after hours, similar to how someone can rent movies through a Redbox.

The new YMCA branch also isn’t limited to just exercise equipment and summer camps–they’ve adapted to fit the needs of the community and promote overall wellness by building a test kitchen, while also hiring a registered dietician (in conjunction, the library will have healthy cookbooks), a peaceful outdoor area, a teen corner that will provide more independence, and a children’s area that will allow kids to learn through playtime.

Overall, the facility is able to combine two important components for a person’s well being and bring them together in a cohesive unit.

To read more about the new facility, please visit “YMCA and SAPL United to Bring Wellness to Northwest San Antonio.”

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Prepare Yourself for Flood and Tornado Season in Texas

Untitled by Eutah Mizushima is licensed under CC0.

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For native Texans, you may be well aware of the weather episodes that come with the warmer weather that spring brings–often tornadoes and floods. We want to know though, are you prepared if one of these were to happen right now?

There are three steps you need to take to be ready:

  1. Make a plan
  2. Build a kit
  3. Get informed

When making a plan, have one for every sort of disaster or weather even that could happen. Where should family members meet if they need to evacuate the house? Do you have a basement you can take shelter in during a tornado or hurricane? If not, what should you do?

When putting your kit together, make sure to include plenty of water and non-perishable food items. Make sure it’s in a portable container in case you need to take it with you. Also, don’t forget a first-aid kit in case someone is injured.

Finally, get informed by listening to the news to know when a severe weather event might occur. Also be aware of some basic statistics, like on average, how many tornadoes strike Texas each year and generally when can you expect the,?

Even if you don’t live in Texas, being prepared for an emergency is something anyone can do.

To find out more about how to prepare yourself for an emergency, please visit texasprepares.org.

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When Too Many Lab Tests are Bad for Your Health

Running a Test by Myfuture.com is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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Imagine you visit your doctor and get some shocking news. You have a rare disease with no cure or treatment and only have a few months left to live. After you come to terms with the news, you start making arrangements, perhaps work on some of those things on your bucket list. Then you get a call from your doctor; there’s been a mistake, you’ve been misdiagnosed, and now have a long life to look forward to.

While this may sound like the plot to a feel-good movie or a hypothetical philosophical debate, the issue of over diagnosis is a very real one. Over diagnosis is a side effect of screening tests, which are given to people who seem healthy to find unnoticed problems. While these screening tests can help catch chronic health conditions early, in some cases the results can be harmful.

Screening tests are not 100% accurate, so while they are helpful for finding hidden disease, they can also give inaccurate results. The situation described above might be the consequence of getting a false positive for a screening test, when the test results incorrectly indicate a disease. Also possible is a false negative, which means you’re told you don’t have the disease when you do, perhaps causing you to ignore symptoms that appear later on.

According to Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at NIH, “I wouldn’t say that all people should just simply get screening tests. Patients should be aware of both the potential benefits and the harms when they’re choosing what screening test to have and how often.”

When deciding whether to get a screening test, a number of factors should be considered, like your age, family health history, or lifestyle exposures like smoking. You should also consult with your healthcare provider to determine what screening tests are right for you and how regularly you should have them.

To find out more, you’ll soon be able to watch the archived recording of our recent webinar SCR CONNECTions – Over Diagnosis: Why Too Many Lab Tests are Bad for Your Health starting April 17 on our website.

Source: Adapted from NIH News in Health Article “To Screen or Not to Screen? The Benefits and Harms of Screening Tests,” March 2017 <https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Mar2017/feature2>

National Library Week

Photo by Lisa Smith, NNLM SCR

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This week is National Library Week, which we are proud to celebrate since we are a branch of the National Library of Medicine, and our program office is housed within the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Gibson D. Lewis Library in Fort Worth, Texas.

This year’s theme is “Libraries Transform.” The theme is perfect, particularly for Lewis Library, because the library profession has been trying to transform the public’s perception that not all libraries are filled with tons and tons of books anymore now that we have moved into the digital age. In fact, in the Lewis Library there is only one small room that now has hard copies of books!

There are plenty of ways to get involved in this year’s National Library Week. See below for a couple of ideas.

  • Participate in the #expertinthelibrary campaign. Share what your expertise is!
  • Share your story through the 2017 video challenge. If you’re interested in learning about some of the librarians in the SCR region, check out our Meet Me Monday series.
  • For those who aren’t a librarian, simply visit a library! Some provide makerspaces where people can design and print 3-D creations. Many have begun to borrow out ukuleles to their patrons!

For more details about this week-long event, please visit the American Library Association’s website and the Libraries Transform Campaign website.

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Loneliness Could Lead to a Worse Cold

Untitled by Mojpe is licensed under CC0.

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Having a cold, or being sick in any regard, is never fun. But new research is suggesting that if you’re lonely, a cold might feel even more miserable.

The study looked at 159 individuals who were all single ages 18-55 that were all infected with the common cold through nose drops.

The study was unable to prove true cause-and-effect, however it did show a difference in the severity of symptoms.

“[Chris] Fagundes [psychologist] and [Angie] LeRoy, [study co-author] found that people who said they had less “social support” had cold symptoms that were more severe compared to people who felt more socially included,” according to the MedlinePlus article.

To read more about the study, please visit “A Lonely Heart Could Worsen a Cold.”

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This Week is National Public Health Week

Untitled by Julia Raasch is licensed under CC0.

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It’s National Public Health Week! This annual health observance is hosted by the American Public Health Association, which tries to promote public health so that the United States can become the healthiest nation in one generation (by 2030).

But just what exactly is public health? “Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play,” according to APHA’s website. An example of public health is how a doctor will treat you when you are sick, but public health advocates are trying to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

There are plenty of ways to get involved this year. Here’s a few ideas:

For more information on National Public Health Week, visit its website.

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Random DNA Cause of Many Cancers

Untitled by PublicDomainPictures is licensed under CC0.

dna

While diet, environment, habits and more are some of the reasons certain people develop cancer, chance plays a pretty big role as well. New research shows that most tumors develop simply because of a genetic “mistake,” also called DNA copying errors.

Johns Hopkins University investigators looked at abnormal cell growth in 32 different types of cancers and found that many cancer cases are the result of gene mutations that are purely random. These random mutations have generally been scientifically undervalued, according to study co-author Cristian Tomasetti in a MedlinePlus article.

It is important to note that while many cancer cases are random, and therefore unpreventable, many mutations are also caused by certain outside factors, and don’t just occur randomly. A good example is lung cancer–the majority of these mutations occur because a person has smoked.

Overall, the study could help shed light on cancer cases that doctors can’t determine the cause. They may seem random because they are.

To read more about the study, please visit “Most Cancers Caused by Random DNA Copying Errors.”

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The Elephant Sitting On Your Chest: Asthma & Allergens

“Untitled” by Darren Coleshill is licensed under CC0/span>.

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From winter into spring, the transition is beautiful. Trees are full of leaves and flowers are in full bloom. In Texas, the bluebonnets grace our highways. The sun is out, shining brightly. Suddenly, some of us start wheezing, coughing, and sneezing.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), allergens in the environment can trigger seasonal allergies and asthma. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lung and is now the most common chronic disorder in childhood. The prevalence has increased over the years. According to CDC Vital Signs 1 in 12 people have asthma in the United States. Oxygen absorption in the lungs is a crucial function of the body. With asthma, the airway becomes inflamed, swollen, and narrow. Less air is able to get to the lung tissue. Some describe feeling as if an elephant is sitting on their chest.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an extensive survey, known as the National Survey of Lead Hazards and Allergens in Housing. The results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It found that 46% of homes had dust mite allergens high enough to produce allergic reactions and one quarter of the homes had allergen levels high enough to trigger asthma symptoms in susceptible individuals. Nearly two-thirds of American homes have cockroach allergens.

What can we do? See the NIEHS Fact Sheet for some simple steps for decreasing indoor allergens. See the NIEHS and the NHLBI for more information.

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