Hospitals

Donna Helen Crisp has worked as a nurse in North Carolina for more than two decades.

She thought she knew the healthcare system inside and out until one day she went in for a routine surgery, expecting only an overnight stay, and almost died from a chain of medical errors.

ICD-9 logo
http://icd9cm.drgily.com/ / Wikipedia

Doctors and hospitals will have a higher bar to clear when submitting insurance claims, starting today. Federal law requires them to begin tracking patient care and submitting insurance claims using the more specific ICD-10 coding system. The broader ICD-9 had been in place for decades. Julie Henry is a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Hospital Association . For example, Henry says, the current system has a code for a fractured tibia, whereas the new system would have a number for a...

A picture of Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal
StoryofAmerica.org

The mayor of Belhaven, N.C. is walking to Washington, D.C., again, over hospital closures. Mayor Adam O'Neal made the trek last year when Belhaven Hospital shut down because of financial problems. Now he says there are as many as 283 rural hospitals across the country in danger of closing by the end of this year. "All we're doing is trying to bring awareness, national awareness to a horrific tragedy that's taking place in our country right now and that's the failure of rural hospitals."

Dr. Richard Bock, a vascular surgeon, listens on speaker phone to another surgeon who is asking for advice before starting bypass surgery.
William Woody / wwoody@citizen-times.com

Mission Health System dominates the healthcare field in Western North Carolina, owning or partnering with six hospitals and controlling more than 40 percent of hospital beds in Western North Carolina. The nonprofit company began its expansion in the 1990s . It absorbed small rural hospitals struggling to foot the bill for an aging, low-income and underinsured population in Western North Carolina. Now because of the Affordable Care Act, Mission Health is making big changes. A sheville Citizen...

gloved hands holding blood packet and needle
Fotos GOVBA / Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you about to have a medical procedure? Have you chosen a provider yet? Before you do, you might consider taking a look at what the procedure will cost. Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Carolina now has an easy online tool to help you do just that. We used the tool to search for a variety of common procedures. The user can enter a town or zip code, and the number of miles s/he is willing to travel. We searched procedures and providers within 25 miles from Chapel Hill, where our studios are...

Image of a nurse checking vitals.
Flickr/Londa Dudley

Note: This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired May 5, 2014.

A picture of a screaming child.
Mindaugas Danys / Creative Commons

Holly Hill Hospital is hosting the grand opening of a new children's campus today. The hospital says it's working to meet a growing need for inpatient psychiatric beds that has left many in the community waiting in emergency rooms for behavioral health treatment. North Carolina's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness supports the creation of the facility. But the group's president, Mike Mayer, says the state has a long way to go. “Anything that improves the availability of beds...

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to be a topic of discussion on the North Carolina campaign trails.

A picture of an elderly person's hand with an I.V. tube taped to it.
Tim Samoff / Flickr

Two Triangle hospitals will lose a portion of their Medicare reimbursements this year. They're being penalized for re-admitting too many patients within a month of hospitalization. Under the Affordable Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reduce payments to hospitals which re-admit a higher number of patients than they're supposed to. They're looking at data between the summers of 2010 to 2013. Based on the number re-admissions, the CMS determines what percentage of Medicare...

Fayetteville VA building
VA.gov

The Fayetteville VA is closing its emergency room as of 8:00 a.m. Friday. The emergency room will be converted to an urgent care clinic until further notice. The hospital says a lack of doctors is to blame for the cut back.

"If there's a veteran out there in the community, or a family member of a veteran who is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, they should not, and I repeat, should not come to the Fayetteville VA emergency room," said Public Affairs officer Jeffery...

A picture of Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal
StoryofAmerica.org

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neill says he's optimistic that the hospital in his town will reopen soon. The non-profit Vidant Health closed the Pungo hospital there this summer, which served low-income and minority populations. Mayor O'Neill walked nearly 300 miles to Washington, D.C. to ask regulators to look into the closure. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to investigate whether Vidant's closing of the hospital has displayed unlawful discrimination based on race and...

WakeMed CEO Donald Gintzig
wakemed.org

After a controversial year, WakeMed Health and Hospitals ' Donald Gintzig became permanent CEO last month. Gintzig is a retired Rear Admiral in the United States Navy with experience leading non-profit, faith-based and private health systems.

Nurse checking woman's blood pressure while family member watches
www.flickr.com / Dudley's Home Health

With days full of physical assessments, patient advocacy, connecting with patients' families, and communicating with physicians, a nurse’s work is never done. And when a hospital is understaffed or under-resourced, nurses take on more patients and extra shifts.

A picture of Nash Health Care
Nash Health Care System

Nash Health Care in Rocky Mount is the newest hospital to join the UNC Health System. Their affiliation agreement allows UNC to manage operations at Nash. Nash Health CEO Larry Chewning will now be on UNC Health's payroll, but Nash will continue to be governed by its independent board of directors. “One of the things that really excited us about the relationship with UNC is that we feel like we get most of the resources that hospitals that have been fully-merged into their system get, but yet...

The state's nursing homes and elder care facilities are improving, according to a new study.
SalFalko / Flickr

After a hospital stay, many seniors on Medicare will go to a nursing facility to rehabilitate before going home. But a new study from Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill and the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence shows many of them return to the hospital before long. Mark Toles teaches at UNC's Nursing school and is a co-author of the report. He said nursing homes often provide good care, but the transition back home can be difficult. “Plans of care have changed along the way. Medications...

Inside of an ambulance
adesigna / Flickr Creative Commons

EMS officials in an eastern North Carolina county will have to expand their services as another rural hospital shuts down. The Vidant Pungo Hospital in the town of Belhaven will be closed by next spring. The facility is in Beaufort County, but it's the closest hospital for residents of neighboring Hyde County, which has about 6,000 people. Hyde County EMS director Justin Gibbs says the next closest facilities with emergency services are about 30 miles farther away.

"We're going...

Implanting a Bioengineered Blood Vessel into a patient at Duke University Hospital
Shawn Rocco

A team of doctors implanted a bioengineered blood vessel into a patient with late stage kidney disease at Duke University Hospital in June.

Duke University Hospital
Duke Medecine

Senate lawmakers have passed a bill that would allow patients to compare prices for medical procedures.
Senate Bill 473 would require hospitals to make the cost of common inpatient and outpatient procedures public.

In a new News & Observer series, reporter Joe Neff uncovered tough, unethical tactics that hospitals use to make money. Neff writes that hospital CEOs get big paydays while poor patients are subject to ruthless harassment from bill collectors. Host Frank Stasio talks to Neff about how North Carolina hospitals are making big profits and driving up the costs of health care for everybody.

Hospitals in eastern North Carolina are now using an online message board that lists beds available for patients with mental illnesses or substance abuse problems. Sixteen facilities are using the pilot program designed to streamline the admission process for those patients. Luckey Welsh is the director of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities. He says patients can sometimes spend days in the Emergency Room while the hospital looks for an available bed.

Luckey Welsh: ...