Health Care

The coronavirus continues to batter the U.S. health care workforce.

More than 60,000 health care workers have been infected, and close to 300 have died from COVID-19, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From late March into April, Timothy Regan had severe coughing fits several times a day that often left him out of breath. He had a periodic low-grade fever too.

Wondering if he had COVID-19, Regan called a nurse hotline run by Denver Health, a large public health system in his city. A nurse listened to him describe his symptoms and told him to immediately go to the hospital system's urgent care facility.

Mairead Todd / KOSU

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Health care workers ‘feel powerless’ in choosing who to treat for COVID-19

Mar 30, 2020

It's going to get worse before it gets better. That is the message from Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House's coronavirus task force, who gave her predictions on Monday of what could happen in the coming months. 

"If we do things together, well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," she said on NBC's "Today" show.  

That's a best-case scenario if the US does things right.

Nashville General Hospital is a safety net facility funded by the city. For a patient without insurance, this is supposed to be the best place to go in a city with many hospitals. But for those who are uninsured, it may have been the worst choice in 2019.

Its emergency room was taking more patients to court for unpaid medical bills than any other hospital or practice in town. A WPLN investigation finds the physician-staffing firm that runs the ER sued 700 patients in Davidson County during 2019.

When Carol Pak-Teng, an emergency room doctor in New Jersey, hosted a fundraiser in December for Democratic freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski, her guests, mostly doctors, were pleased when she steered the conversation to surprise medical bills.

This was a chance to send a message to Washington that any surprise billing legislation should protect doctors' incomes in their battle over payments with insurers. Lawmakers are grappling over several approaches to curtail the practice that can leave patients on the hook for huge medical bills, even if they have insurance.

Two bills up for debate and revision in the House this week aim to stop surprise medical billing — when patients are billed for services their insurance won't cover. New research reveals just how common surprise billing is after an elective surgery, like a knee replacement or hysterectomy.

Last winter, James Mark was a 2018 James Beard Award finalist. A few months later, both GQ and Bon Appétit magazines ranked Big King, Mark's newest Rhode Island restaurant, as one of the country's best places to eat.

But in 2018, the Providence chef and restaurateur spent almost double his personal income on health insurance for his employees: $54,000 to cover a dozen or so people, compared with the $35,000 he paid himself as a salary.

Efforts across the U.S. in recent years to encourage medical students, nurse practitioners and others to go into primary care, especially in underserved areas, are built on a consensus in research: Primary care is good for patients.

Joshua Bates knew something was seriously wrong. He had a high fever, could barely move and felt a sharp pain in his stomach every time he coughed.

The 28-year-old called his roommate, who rushed home that day in July 2018. The pair drove to the nearest emergency room, the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.

After several tests, including a CT scan of his abdomen, the emergency team determined that Bates had acute appendicitis.

"They said my appendix was minutes away from rupturing," Bates said.

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