January 2021, Volume XXXIV, Number 10
Essential Workers Emergency Leave Act Moves Forward
A Minnesota House bill that would provide emergency paid leave for essential workers that they currently don’t receive is gaining momentum. The Essential Workers Emergency Leave Act, or HF41, chief authored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope), would ensure that the frontline and essential workers during this pandemic are able to quarantine, care for a loved one with COVID, or care for a child who is distance learning without financial burden. So far 15 state representatives have signed on to support the bill. Among others, the bill is supported by the Minnesota Nurses Association, whose members, and many other essential workers were left out of other COVID-related leave bills passed by the federal government earlier in the pandemic. The Essential Workers Emergency Leave Act would ensure they are able to quarantine safely and responsibly without dipping into their sick time, Paid Time Off (PTO) benefits, retirement savings, or going without pay entirely. “My family has been devastated during this pandemic,” said Nichole Whitney, a nurse at District One hospital in Faribault. “My three-year-old son was diagnosed with COVID. I had to stay home to care for him as well as not bring COVID to my hospital. But because it wasn’t me who was positive, we used up all my time off. We had to dip into savings to pay the bills.” Currently, nurses only qualify for Workers’ Compensation if they acquired the virus at work and test positive. Nurses are frequently exposed to the virus, and it is critical that they quarantine when exhibiting any symptoms. To ensure the safety and health of patients and the community, there are numerous instances in which they quarantine without testing positive. In these circumstances, nurses are expected to use their own accrued PTO or sick time. In some cases, nurses have already spent down this benefit time and are forced to go without pay. “We’ve seen our own healthcare workers, our frontline in this pandemic, punished for being safe,” said MNA President Mary C. Turner, “Nurses aren’t covered if they wait for a COVID test or wait for the results to come back, or if they’re negative, but their family member is sick.” The bill would provide 100 hours of emergency paid leave to workers considered to be full time by their employer. This leave would cover nurses who have either been instructed to quarantine or exhibit symptoms while waiting for test results but later test negative. It would also cover caring for a family member that contracts COVID-19 or for childcare if their school is closed.
Essentia Acquires Catholic Health Initiative Hospitals
Last month Essentia signed a letter of intent to bring 14 hospitals, now owned by Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, a division of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), under its brand. Included in the agreement are 13 critical access hospitals, St. Alexis Medical Center, a full-service tertiary hospital in Bismarck, ND and all CHI associated clinics and living communities operated by CommonSpirit and CHI Health and Home home-health and hospice services. Citing the important role that health care plays in keeping rural communities vibrant, a shared understanding will help ensure the long-term success of these facilities as the agreement moves forward. Essentia has an expanding presence providing access to comprehensive, integrated care in rural communities across North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. “CommonSpirit wants patients in this region to have access to a strong network of rural and tertiary hospitals, primary and specialty care, and telehealth services,” said Cliff Robertson, MD, senior vice president for CommonSpirit’s Midwest division. “Essentia Health is well-positioned to integrate these facilities into a continuum of care, while carrying on the Catholic heritage and mission of these facilities. We look forward to continuing our conversations.” From the Essentia side CEO David C. Herman, MD, said “This is an exciting opportunity to extend our passion for excellence in rural health care to additional communities,” We’re grateful that our shared Benedictine heritage and values form a strong foundation for our ongoing discussions. It would be an honor to carry on the rich tradition of high-quality Catholic health care evident today in these CHI facilities. Details of the transaction are scheduled for completion by this Summer.
New Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking Tool
The Walz-Flanagan Administration has just launched a public vaccine data dashboard to detail the progress of COVID-19 vaccine allocation, distribution and administration across Minnesota. The dashboard, produced by Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), provides a visual and user-friendly way to view key vaccination data for our state. The dashboard includes information on the number of doses promised (allocated) to the state by the federal government; shipped to Minnesota providers; and administered to Minnesotans. The dashboard will be updated daily. As the tool went live, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had promised 541,100 doses of COVID-19 to Minnesota. Of those doses, 329,450 have been shipped to providers in Minnesota along with 100,500 doses shipped to pharmacies participating in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pharmacy Partnership Program for vaccination in long-term care settings. Once doses are promised by the federal government to states, it takes several days before those doses are actually shipped, so it can be a week or more before they actually arrive at their final destination and can be given to people. Vaccine is moving throughout the state, but the process takes time. The dashboard will help Minnesotans see where we are at by showing progress at different stages of the process. More than 320,000 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of vaccine. Over 85,000 people have completed their vaccination series. For currently available vaccines, a complete series is two doses of the same vaccine product separated by three or four weeks depending on the vaccine. These numbers are reflected in the dashboard.
Cuynua Regional Medical Center Recognized by MDH
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby was recently awarded Health Care Home Certification (HCH) by the Minnesota Department of Health recognizing its efforts to closely connect doctors, nurses and other clinicians with community resources to support whole-person care and facilitate the overarching goal of improving population health and well-being. The certification, completed at the end of 2020 by a virtual site inspection, is awarded for three years and verifies that the clinic has met a set of rigorous standards to provide patient and family-centered care and is working to improve the overall quality and affordability of health care. HCH Certification is a free and voluntary program provided to primary clinics and organizations by the MDH. The HCH model focuses on linking primary care with wellness, prevention, self-management and community resources. Studies involving patients in health care home programs have 40 percent fewer emergency department visits and 25 percent fewer hospital admissions. “We are proud to offer our patients a certified health care home when it comes to their care,” said CRMC’s Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health Kelly Chase, R.N. “A health care home means patients are receiving comprehensive and coordinated care led by a team of health care professionals centered around their unique needs.” In CRMC’s health care home, a Registered Nurse care manager leads the team approach to develop a close relationship with patients and their families to better understand their medical needs, coordinate care and achieve better health. This includes streamlining access to appointments, improving communication with physicians, answering questions and planning care. “Health care home makes it easier for patients to communicate and partner with their care team,” Chase explained. “We want patients to feel empowered to take responsibility for their health in partnership with their care team.”
Summit Orthopedics Announces New Site
Summit Orthopedics, an independent practice with 50 orthopedic specialists and 125 supporting providers recently announced expanding its south metro footprint. Summit employs over 800 people at 25 locations throughout Minnesota and is in the planning and development stages to open another state-of-the-art orthopedic care clinic, in the city of Lakeville. The undeveloped site just off I-35 and Kenwood Trail was strategically chosen by Summit’s leadership team with help from Excelsior Advisory, a local real estate consulting firm. A commercial boom in recent years has been driving residential growth in the area, which has created a demand for specialty care clinics to support the rapidly expanding community. “Developed to meet the orthopedic needs of the growing south metro community,” says Dr. Robert Anderson, orthopedic hand surgeon and president of Summit Orthopedics, “our new Lakeville location will deliver convenient care that is personal by design. No matter what your goals are for a healthier, more active lifestyle, we are here to support you.”
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The 25,000-square-foot building will offer patients advanced subspecialty orthopedic, sports, and spine care, as well as walk-in orthopedic urgent care through the OrthoQUICK clinic, with plans to be open seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Additionally, it will be home to a procedure suite for therapeutic joint injections, regenerative medicine, imaging services (MRI/X-ray), and physical and hand therapy. Pope Architects is heading architectural design, and MSP Commercial has signed on as developer, owner, and property manage. Base building construction is scheduled to start in just a few months with Summit Orthopedics expecting to treat their first patients in the new clinic in January of 2022.