Dr. Carrol F. Landrum- Caring for a Community

Dr. Carrol F. Landrum, an 88 year old physician who has been practicing medicine for approximately 55 years in rural and poverty stricken communities in Mississippi, is facing the loss of his medical license. Not only has Dr. Landrum served his local community of Edwards for decades, he also served his country as a WWII veteran. Currently he is the only practicing physician in Edwards.

For the last two years he has operated a mobile practice as a way to see & treat some patients in his community. Most of the patients that Dr. Landrum treats from his mobile practice would typically go without medical treatment. Dr. Landrum’s patients are predominately low-income and/or disabled persons, and many do not have transportation to go visit a doctor at their office. There are also many times that Dr. Landrum provides medical care to people in his community without being paid anything at all. Despite the fact that Dr. Landrum is able to reach those who would not have access to healthcare, the Mississippi State Medical Board is attempting to revoke the doctor’s ability to see any patients. The board feels that using a car for an examination room is not an acceptable way to treat patients. As a result the board set a date for the doctor to surrender his license in January. The date past and Dr. Landrum refused to surrender his medical license. http://goo.gl/7XiIvu

If Dr. Landrum is stripped of his ability to practice medicine, it will affect more than just the doctor. It will affect an entire community as well. Since Dr. Landrum has been threatened with the loss of his license, some of the residents in the community have organized a fundraiser to assist the doctor in obtaining new office space. Previously Dr. Landrum had office space, but was forced to leave due to increased gang activity and violence in the area.

It seems that there should be some type of solution to this issue that the state medical board could offer, besides Dr. Landrum surrendering his license. Mississippi is currently ranked the unhealthiest state in America and the state also ranks the highest for the number of residents living in poverty. You would think that the board would be looking for ways to legally operate mobile practices or provide physician home visits to care for those who are unable to have access to care otherwise. http://goo.gl/uHXdlP

Hopefully Dr. Landrum will be allowed to maintain his license and practice medicine in his community. It is obvious that so many are depending on the doctor to help them manage everything from the common cold to chronic diseases that require ongoing monitoring and treatment (ex: asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes, etc.…) Since the deadline for Dr. Landrum to surrender his medical license (and he did not comply) there hasn’t been any additional action taken to end the doctor’s ability to practice medicine. For the sake of the residents in the Edwards community and Dr. Landrum, let’s hope that it remains that way.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Temp Chicks

The Evolution of Nursing…Fewer Options for Some

In a field that many consider to be stable, things are changing. For those that don’t know, the nursing environment is changing- it isn’t the same way it was even 10 years ago. For nurses that are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) or Associate Degree Nurses (ADN’s) the opportunities for employment are becoming limited. LPN’s are being squeezed out of places where they normally flourished like assisted living facilities or long-term care facilities (nursing homes) and now they are being replaced with Medication Technicians (or Med Techs.) Yes, Med Techs have to be supervised, however they can provide medications to patients/residents for a lower fee compared to a nurse (even if the nurse is an LPN.)

ADN’s are also seeing changes in their options for potential places of employment. For so many years ADN’s were viewed as being no different than nurses who went to 4 year colleges and/or universities and earned their undergraduate degree in nursing. However times are also changing for ADN’s as well. Many hospitals are moving to no longer allow ADN’s to work within their major hospitals in an inpatient setting, however they are allowed to work in their hospital owned outpatient clinics.

With this new twist in the ever-evolving field of healthcare, it always leaves one wondering what’s to come next. While it might seem like a way to save money by hiring Medication Techs to provide patients/ residents with one aspect of care that is vital to a portion of their daily needs. It seems like it increases the pressure and responsibility on whatever nurse is on duty (regardless of whether it is an ADN, LPN, or RN.) Not only is the nurse responsible for the administration of medication by the Med Techs, they are also responsible for any other staff such as CNA’s too. And anyone who has even witnessed staffing or managed staffing for a facility like assisted living or long-term care knows that it is pretty rare for all of your staff to show up. Guess we’ll see how this plays out.

Make it a great week!

Temp Checks

 

Growing demand for primary & speciality care…how about a nurse practitioner?

It is estimated that in about 2 years we will be short approximately 29,000 physicians in the United States. By 2020 that number is excepted to grow to somewhere near a deficit of 45,000 physicians. Whether the demand for primary and specialty care comes from the “baby boomers” or from the increase in access to care, now that many more people have access as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The demand for care is not going away and it it is only going to increase as time goes on. Many practices are faced with the challenge of determining how to keep their overhead as low as possible, while still maintaining their current patient panel & attracting future patients as well, and also providing all of their patients with high quality care.  Some experts believe that the deficit of physicians leaves a void that can be filled by medical professionals like nurse practitioners.  A new trend among the health care industry is looking towards nurse practitioners to provide primary care services in collaboration with a physician. This model of care seems to be working because the trend is growing across the U.S. and abroad & nurse practitioners are in very high demand.  http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20140208/NEWS01/302080029/Nurse-practitioners-physician-assistants-might-help-address-doctor-shortfall However there appears to be a gap in the current number of physicians and the number of active nurse practitioners and physician assistants. But data also shows that there have been an increase in enrollment in both career fields, which makes many experts hopeful about the future. Yet they are still cautious about what is to come in the next few year  to help with the growing number of people that will be seeking medical care immediately.

Instead of patients having to wait weeks to be seen at a practice that is understaffed or seeking another physician who can see them sooner.  By adding a nurse practitioner to one’s practice; patience are afforded a continuum of care by establishing & maintaining a relationship with a primary care physician and/or a medical home. The primary care physician becomes the nucleus of their health care. . The nurse practitioner typically works in collaboration with the physician to provide care for patients, and ultimately this will improve the patient’s health care, and improve upon overall clinical outcomes.  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2014/02/04/1-health-care-needs-nurse-practitioners.html Nurse Practitioners can perform just about everything that physicians can do and they can work in a variety of settings pretty autonomously. They can work in inpatient or outpatient settings, diagnosis & treat medical conditions, prescribe medications (depending on the state), perform procedures, and admit patients to the hospital.

 stethascope

In North Carolina in order for a nurse practitioner to practice they are required to have a collaborative agreement in place with a Primary Supervising Physician, according to the North Carolina Board of Nursing. http://www.ncbon.com/myfiles/downloads/np-rules.pdf Over the past few years here has been some push for states to eliminate the collaborative agreement after nurse practitioners have been practicing for a few years. In some cases the agreement becomes a barrier for those nurse practitioners who want to practice on their own and or who are not at the same practice as their Primary Supervising Physician. And in other cases  some nurse practitioners have been asked to pay high rates as somewhat of a “supervision fee” by their supervising physician.”

Over time it seems that more physicians will become more  open to the idea of working with nurse practitioners. Eventually they will see the value of what they can bring to their practice, while also providing a cost effective alternative to hiring another physician. There seems to be a growing demand in requests to recruit nurse practitioners from a staffing perspective as well. Perhaps with the growing demand for nurse practitioners we will see some changes in the way that they are governed & managed over the next few years- since they are reporting to the state nursing board and the DEA at the federal level.

It’s almost the weekend, hang in there!

Temp Chicks

Today’s Blog is dedicated to 2 of our favorite nurse practitioners Mrs. T. Gibson & Ms. T. Starkes- two amazing, overachieving, talented, & intelligent, nurse practitioners that we would let treat us any day! We love you ladies! XOXO

Starving for Assistance Pt. 1

EBT CardOld school food stamps

The past few months have been pretty rough for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS Secretary Dr. Alonda Wos has faced questioning multiple times regarding the ongoing issues that have plagued the department she oversees. Two major issues that have come to everyone’s attention lately are 1.) NC FAST, the system that processes requests for food stamps and other assistance programs and 2.) NCTracks the Medicaid payment system, which processes payments to healthcare providers who treat Medicaid patients. The food stamps have become a great concern for many around the state, especially because the United Stated Department of Agriculture has set a February 10th deadline for the state to make some significant progress towards resolving the backlogged food stamp and other nutrition assistance program initial & recertification applications. If the state fails to make enough progress to address the backlogged applications the USDA could potentially withhold approximately $88 million in funding; which essentially covers administrative costs associated with running the food stamp program annually. http://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2014/01/24/new-usda-letter-shows-food-stamp-program-federal-funds-in-jeopardy/ As DHHS Officials began to review the pending cases they, did report there were numerous cases of duplicate applications, especially for those who had been waiting longer periods of time.

Secretary Wos faced questioning by the NC Legislature regarding the continued delays with the food assistance program, After hearing the new numbers and finding out the true status of things at DHHS, some of the leadership felt they had been mislead about the state of affairs at the department and the food assistance program.  The Secretary was not unable to provide concrete answers that seemed to satisfy anyone, nor did it appear that she was able to boost the morale about the ability to resolve the ongoing issues. Secretary Wos was questioned about everything from personnel decisions to whether or not the new system was actually going to work for the state or not. http://www.wfmynews2.com/news/article/301675/0/Lawmakers-Intervene-In-Statewide-Food-Stamp-Delays

Legally applications should be processed within 30 days. However based on the USDA letter to NC DHHS date January 23, 2014; NC had approximately 19, 974 untimely applications, and another 11,482 recertification applications. Secretary Wos has stated that changes in Medicaid eligibility have effected the department, as well as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. So to address the backlog of pending applications the State sent about 200 employees to various counties around the state to assist them with things like processing applications, technical, and policy support. Some counties like Cumberland County allowed certain employees to work from home when some county social agencies were shutdown due to inclement weather. Enabling employees to work from home allowed them to continue to chip away at the pending applications. Cumberland County had the second highest number of overdue food stamp applications. The state sent four staff members to help process applications, and two others to assist with policy or technical support. http://www.fayobserver.com/news/local/article_4bf898b5-5e78-533e-bc27-0fc79fce4319.htm Other counties like Wake County; have their staff working overtime, which includes late evenings and some Saturdays. Wake County had the highest number of overdue food stamp applications for the entire state. However it appears that the county has made major progress with processing the applications. They too received assistance from several staff members of the state that were sent to help out with the backlog. http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/storysection=news/local&id=9416016&rss=rss-wtvd-article-9416016

In the Triad & Northwestern NC Counties local agencies have been very hard at work to resolve pending applications, like other agencies all over the state. The most significant area of improvement for Triad & Northwestern NC Counties is resolving applications that were 120 days overdue- combined the local agencies reduced the number of applications from 204 to nine in the normal processing cycle and also reduced the number from 126 applications to nine in the expedited processing cycle. http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/article_d5735aac-8a9f-11e3-824e-0017a43b2370.html It is clear that the counties are stepping up and doing everything that the possibly can to help resolve the pending applications. When asked individually each county seems confident that they are capable of meeting the USDA deadline.

As of Monday February 3rd there were approximately 7,000 applications that were still pending. It’s not so much that the applications can’t be processed by the 10th. It’s more about can DHHS prevent this from happening again? Should the state be considering other options for a computer system to manage things like the food stamp program? Will there even be funding for a food stamp program after Monday? http://www.wncn.com/story/24623742/dhhs-makes-progress-in-nc-fast-backlog

In an update reported today by WFAE 90.7 in Charlotte, it is reported that unfortunately NC just barely missed the USDA February 10th deadline to clear the entire backlog of food stamp applications by approximately 25. However, the state has until the absolute and final deadline the USDA has imposed to completely resolve the backlog which is March 31, 2014. Secretary Wos stated that counties will continue to maintain the same work schedules that they have been working until the state has satisfied the demands of the USDA. Some county employees have been working long work schedules requiring their day to begin at 5 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. and almost all counties have their staff working overtime to resolve the backlogged applications. http://wfae.org/post/nc-barely-misses-federal-deadline-resolve-food-stamp-delays

Much gratitude and respect to those who are working diligently around the state to process the backlogged food stamp and nutrition assistance applications.  Hopefully our Secretary of DHHS will find a more concrete solution to resolve the issues with the system that the state has decided it will use to process applications for assistance programs such as food stamps and nutrition assistantce. So that nothing like this happens to the residents of NC again in the future.

Temp Chicks

 

Even in this Economy there is still bad Business

note_desk_paper_237717_l  In the staffing business there really is very little time to get to know your staff or even your clients. I am a firm believer in doing the most thorough background & referece checks on potential staff as possible. And it also seems approrpriate that you would want to do some type of background check with regards to a potential client and/or the facility that you may be providing staffing to. While the prospect of income and building your client base may seem very enticing, every offer to provide your services may not be in the best interest of your business or even your staff. Your business is your brand and the clients and standards that you maintain speak for you, without you having to say a word. Although something may seem like a great idea when you initially hear about it, you always have to consider the long-term impact that working with a particular client could have on your business, your staff, & your brand. (Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating that you use/abuse your clients because of what you think that they can do for you in the long-term.) However, I am advocating for keeping the lines of communications open at all times between your agency & your clients, as well as your agency & your staff.

There is a fine line to walk at all times for the agency. The agency is constantly attempting to keep the clients satisfied, as well as doing the same for the sfaff, & also ensuring that the staff are not being placed in jeopardy, & neither are their professional license.  As the agency you are the biggest advocate that your staff have. There may be times when you have to respectfully decline to provide services to a client, even after you have signed on to provide them services. There are going to be occassions where things are not always the way they seemed. The best thing you can do is try to end the business relationship respectfully within the guidelines of your contract and on “good terms.” (Good terms= no outstanding invoices, no bounced checks, no yelling matching, or name calling,…)

Despite the desre to always want to please your client, there are some situations where you have no choice and you are unable to do that. When it comes down to questionable judgement or lack of policies/protocols that could potentially lead to staff jeopardizing their professional license or certification- there is no choice, you defend your staff. It would be irriesponsible for an agency to not take some type of action to at least investigate the concerns of their staff and/or remove their staff from that type of environment. Some people say that is the beauty of staffing agencies, clients (in some cases agencies) don’t really have to worry about long-term committments.

Ultimately it is easier to get out of a poor environment before it becomes a serious problem that really can’t be resolved or fixed with a 30 day notice to discontinue providing services

Temp Chicks

 

 

Blue Cross to offer gay N.C. couples family policies

Big news for same-sex couples in North Carolina. North Carolina’s largest health insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC has decided to reverse a systematic decision that took affect in mid-January. The decision lead to the cancellation of 20 policies for customers who were same-sex couples. After much embarassment, the company’s CEO issued a public apology. Along with the apology Blue Cross’ CEO also admitted that the company should have given more thought and consideration before making the decision to cancel policies. Blue Cross actually provides coverage to same-sex couples for their own employees and most consider the company to be “gay friendly.”

Despite consulting NC state officals regarding the cancellation of the health insurance policies; Blue Cross was still in violation of the Affordable Care Act. The cancellation of the insurance policies is considered illegal under guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to HHS insurance companies can’t deny coverage to same-sex couples under the Affordable Care Act. Based on the the new laws in the Affordable Care Act there are several nondiscrimination provisions in place for any insurance company that offers coverage through the federal insurance marketplace. Some of the provisions cover things specific things such as nondiscrimination of consumers based on gender identy or sexual orientation.  Blue Cross to offer gay N.C. couples family policies – News-Record.com: Local News. Blue Cross stated that their rationale for cancelling the policies was due to advice from the NC Department of Insurance, which defined marriege as a couple of the opposite sex. However the NC Department of Insurance stated that the agency had approved an amendment to it’s policies last year that would have resolved this issue and added that all Blue Cross had to do was file an amendment instead of cancelling the policies.

According to Blue Cross any policies that were cancelled will be restored retroactively. Any new same- sex couples who want to purchase health insurance will be able to buy family coverage which will be effective as of March 1, 2014. However for many couples this news comes a little late. Many couples have already purchased seperate policies due to the fact that they were not allowed to purchase family coverage with Blue Cross. Which leaves them wondering how their situation can be “fixed” at this point.

Blue Cross has also decided it will offer coverage to unmarried couples and small businesses for the first time. It seems like Blue Cross has learned a hard lesson.However it also seems like they are taking the necessary steps to resolve the mess they have made. Hopefully other insurance companies will learn from the mistake that Blue Cross made and won’t follow down the same path. It is difficult enough to find affordable healthcare coverage and navigate all the various options. There’s no need to add additional obstacles to the process. http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/29/3574446/blue-cross-reverses-course-and.html

Temp Chicks

What is a Temp Chick?!

Welcome to our new blog, Temp Chicks! We are a couple of ladies in North Carolina who manage & operate a temporary staffing agency for medical professional & allied healthcare professionals. Between the two of us we have over 50 years of combined experience in the healthcare industry. At our staffing agency we cater exclusively to licensed & certified medical processionals. Our staff are placed in various types of medical facilities & medical settings throughout the state. Due to the fact that we only cater specifically to those in the medical arena, it allows us to focus more on getting to know our staff and our clients- which helps ensure better client & staff satisfaction at the end of the day.

Having worked in the healthcare industry for so many years, we both saw the growing shortage of nurses in our state and others. We also recognized & agreed that agencies don’t function well when they are not properly staffed. These two factors were our motivation for starting 1st Choice. We saw the real value that staffing agencies can bring to the healthcare industry. Regardless of whether it is just a short-term assignment to fill in for someone who is out for several weeks for things like a temporary disability or maternity leave; or whether an agency needs to find qualified staff and they just don’t have the time to do the recruiting themselves- 1st Choice can help with all types of staffing solutions.

Temp Chicks blog will discuss various medical topics and things that are going on in the medical industry in our state & around the world. We also plan to discuss some medical awareness observances throughout each month.

Have a great weekend!

Temp Chicks