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December 4

 

Two Qualifying Conditions Added for Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program

 

Autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea have been added as qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program.

 

“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” said Ed Ehlinger, MD, Minnesota commissioner of health. “However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.”

 

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November 27

 

Three Health Care Organizations Partner to Form Carris Health

 

ACMC Health, CentraCare Health, and Rice Memorial Hospital are collaborating to create a new entity called Carris Health that will serve as a health care hub serving West Central and Southwest Minnesota.

 

Initial discussions about the partnership began in May, when the organizations signed a letter of intent to join forces. After months of discussion, strategy meetings, and town hall meetings, the Willmar city council voted unanimously to approve plans for the city-owned Rice Memorial Hospital to join the new health care system on Nov. 20 and ACMC Health’s board of directors and its 89 physician shareholders also voted to proceed with the integration with a final decision made at a shareholder’s meeting, also on Nov. 20. Carris Health will be a subsidiary of CentraCare Health.

 

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November 20

 

Opioid Prescription Limits Recommended for Physicians

 

Minnesota’s Opioid Prescribing Work Group adopted a new rule on Nov. 16 that limits opioid prescriptions for doctors who participate in the state’s Medicare program. It requires approval by Minnesota human services commissioner Emily Piper before it will take effect.

 

The rule states that nonsurgical physicians and dentists can have no more than half of their opioid prescriptions exceed 100 morphine milligram equivalents, which is about 20 five-milligram Vicodin or Percocet pills. Surgeons can have no more than 200 morphine milligram equivalents per outpatient prescription. The limits only apply to outpatient prescriptions meant to manage short-term or acute pain.

 

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November 13

 

Health Licensing Boards Implement Criminal Background Check Program

 

The Minnesota Health Licensing Boards have cooperatively established the Criminal Background Check Program to help new applicants for licensure efficiently complete the mandatory fingerprint-based criminal background check now required by Minnesota law.

 

Mandatory criminal background checks for professionals regulated by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice will be implemented in phases—on Nov. 10 for acupuncturists, traditional midwives, and respiratory therapists; on Nov. 17 for physician assistants; and Dec. 1 for physicians, surgeons, and genetic counselors.

 

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November 6

 

MHA Study Projects Physician Shortage

 

A new study conducted by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) has confirmed that a shortage of primary care physicians will develop in the state over the next decade.

 

MHA collects health care workforce data from most Minnesota hospitals each year and this year, for the first time, MHA called on Towers Watson, a global professional services company, to conduct a comprehensive review of the state of the primary care physician and registered nurse workforces in Minnesota. The company used publicly available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state of Minnesota in addition to the hospital workforce data provided to MHA.

 

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October 30

 

Medica Names New Chief Medical Officer

 

John Mach, Jr., MD, has been named Medica’s new chief medical officer. He steps into the role on Nov. 6, succeeding Alan Spiro, who held the position since July 5, 2016.

 

Mach has more than 31 years of medical experience. Most recently, he served as chief medical officer for Evolent Health in Arlington, VA. Before that, he served as the president of complex care management at Univita Health Inc., based in Miramar, FL. He has also served as chief medical officer at several organizations, including UnitedHealth Group, where he also served as chairman and chief executive officer of its Evercare division. He earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he also completed a residency in internal medicine.

 

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October 23

 

International Study Shows Immune Response to Ovarian Cancer May Help Predict Survival

 

A type of white blood cell called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes has been found present in the tumors of patients with high-grade ovarian cancer, according to a team of international cancer researchers led by investigators from Mayo Clinic and the University of New South Wales Sydney. The discovery may help predict a patient’s survival.

 

“We know that a type of tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte called cytotoxic CD8 are present in the tumors of patients with high-grade ovarian cancer,” said Matthew Block, MD, PhD, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic that co-led the research team. “However, little was known about the role in fighting high-grade ovarian cancer, compared to other clinical factors.”

 

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October 16

 

New Allina Health Hastings Clinic Opening in November

 

Allina Health will open its new clinic in Hastings on Nov. 6. The facility is replacing the current Allina Health Hastings First Street Clinic location.

 

“Our goal is for residents of Hastings and surrounding communities to receive comprehensive health care close to home and, at the same time, have access to specialists through the broader Allina Health network,” said Kevin Best, MD, lead physician for the clinic.

 

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