Pearly Whites, On the Go
AppHealthCare takes teeth seriously. That’s why they’re taking their show on the road with a portable dental clinic. Regular preventative dental care could save the country as much as $1.7 billion in emergency room costs, according to the American Dental Association. But folks in rural regions have a harder time getting regular healthcare from dentists. So AppHealthCare, the tri-county public health department that covers Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties, is using a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring dentists right to the people’s doors.
If North Carolina’s Hospitals Entered a Pageant, Who Would Win?
Ask any Miss America contestant: being judged isn’t fun. And hospitals across the country are feeling the pain right now. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released ratings of more than 3,000 hospitals. Their scores are based on more than 60 factors, including infection rates, patient reviews, and timeliness of care. (That last one’s particularly relevant in North Carolina; our emergency department wait times are through the roof, particularly for mental health.) So how did we do? Meh. Out of more than 200 individual hospitals, we only had four five-star winners, and the most well-known hospitals in NC didn’t make the grade. (To be fair, that’s about even with the rest of the country. There were only 251 five-star ratings in the U.S.!) And the winners are... Novant Health Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern North Carolina Specialty Hospital in Durham Congratulations to those four! But we want better. And while we’re at it, we want to find ways to control healthcare costs in our state. Everyone has to do their part to accomplish that: we need healthier individuals, less burden on our emergency rooms, and better outcomes and value from care. Our part — and our purpose for being — is to advocate for North Carolina’s fiscal health. Hospitals, we’ll help you do your part by doing ours. Read more about the hospital ratings.
Hey America: Be Like Kannapolis
In July 2003, North Carolina was rocked by a seismic economic shift — and Kannapolis was its epicenter. The city’s story is a microcosm of the whole country’s. And it gives us hope. Once upon a time... Kannapolis was a mill town. Plain and simple. Now a community 45,000 strong just north of Charlotte, it used to be the home of 30,000 mill workers. Cannon Mills, a towel and sheet manufacturing giant started in 1906, was the world’s largest producer of sheets and towels throughout the Depression, throughout WWII, throughout the whole century. The mill town finally incorporated as Kannapolis in 1984, but even then a huge chunk of the population was employed at the mill...right up until 2003. When it all came crashing down. The Downfall Through a series of transactions in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Cannon Mills became Pillowtex Corporation, and Pillowtex shut its doors with no warning in July 2003. They laid off 6,450 workers in one day — the single largest layoff in North Carolina history. The closure gutted Kannapolis, and it precipitated an industry freefall that left the region’s economy in tatters. By 2006, the number of textile plants in North Carolina had dropped by 40%, and we went from 233,715 textile workers to just 80,232. Add that to the 2007 market crash, and it was a disastrous few years for Kannapolis. A Brighter Future So what changed? The same thing that’s changing in the rest of the country: we’re filling the manufacturing jobs void with service sector and tech jobs. According to the Brookings Institution this month, if we’re smart, we’ll focus on the tech. And that’s exactly what Kannapolis did. It turned its mill into a research campus. (Seriously: they spectacularly blew up the building in the third largest implosion in U.S. history, and built the NC Research Campus in its place. Talk about seismic shifts. Boom. Kannapolis used to weave fabric. Now it weaves our futures in health technology research. The NC Research Campus is a partnership between corporations, universities and healthcare organizations dedicated to researching plants, nutrition and the environment in order find preventions and treatments for what ails us. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity: they’re tackling it all. Cheers, thank you, and godspeed. Kannapolis turned the ruins of its manufacturing industry into the seedbed of the future. And if they can do it, we can too.
Dr. Fitbit: New Developments in Wearables and Healthcare
For years the healthcare field has been trying to harness the power of today’s wearables (Fitbits, Apple watches...you know the drill) to improve your healthcare. Now there may be a new way. Fitbit has recently created a position called President of Digital Health and hired from the C-suite of a popular drugstore and pharmacy chain to fill it.
Rural Hospital Closures, Explained
American rural hospitals are in trouble, and a new study reveals why. The answer? “It’s complicated.” The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured focused on three recently closed rural hospitals in South Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas. They came up with “a broad range” of reasons for closure, including (but not at all limited to): Corporate decisions on profitability Lack of community expertise in dealing with large health-care organizations Changes in federal reimbursement policies Some states’ decisions not to expand Medicaid Rural hospital closures are part of a broader pattern of poor healthcare in rural areas. Many rural counties have only one hospital, and its closure can have lasting impacts. Ambulances, for instance, may have to travel all the way to the next county over in an emergency. If you’re having a heart attack, that could be the difference between life and death.
What Game of Thrones Dragons and Mandates Have in Common
Your healthcare costs are skyrocketing.We’ve talked to a whole lot of North Carolinians and done a whole lot of research; we know that it’s bad out there. Many people blame the Affordable Care Act (you know it as the ACA, or Obamacare) for these increases, but we’re here to tell you about what we can do about the problem on a state level. It’s simple: convince the legislature to stop passing detrimental laws called health benefit mandates. You many have heard of the ACA’s individual mandate (the rule that everyone has to have health insurance). State mandates aren’t the same thing. They’re just laws that make health insurance companies pay for something. And when insurance companies have to pay, we all have to pay.