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Kentucky governor signs essential caregiver measure related to long-term care facilities

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has signed a pandemic-related bill allowing designated family and friends to visit residents of long-term care facilities.

The measure won strong bipartisan support as it moved through the legislature.

The bill’s goal is to prevent long-term care residents from feeling isolated from their families as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. The bill maintains designated in-person visits in those facilities.

Under the bill, long-term care residents can designate at least one “essential personal care visitor” to make in-person visits. Visitors could include relatives, legal guardians, friends, caregivers or volunteers. Visitors would have to follow safety protocols of the community or facility.

The bill also applies to assisted living communities and mental health hospitals.

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The Check Up: Dr. Shreya Kangovi of Penn Medicine

The trust between provider and patient has long been a point of contention. A history of marginalizing some communities, and less than stellar representation within clinical ranks created rifts that only now are being addressed. This has become top up of mind for providers and payers as the wellbeing of communities becomes not just a hope, but an imperative. But even the most progressive and advanced organizations struggle to connect with patients who might need an array of services outside the walls of a clinic or hospital.

Dr. Shreya Kangovi, founding director of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, joins The Check Up to talk about an innovative strategy for the wellbeing of marginalized communities.

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Analysis: Opportunity is abundant for Spectrum to help Beaumont bounce back

Grand Rapids’ Spectrum Health launched its new integrated health system with Beaumont Health on Tuesday.

“Integrated” in the previous sentence is doing some heavy lifting. As of now, administrators of the new, temporarily named BHSH Health say there will be no noticeable changes for staff or patients, and the real integration work still lies ahead.

But questions remain on how exactly Spectrum plans to turn around the floundering Beaumont, which has seen its reputation suffer in recent years.

CEO John Fox’s merger attempts — three in the last two and half years — and cost-cutting measures were met with very public angst among staffers and led to an exodus of valuable physicians and high-value specialties. Beaumont’s attempt to merge with Illinois-based Advocate Aurora resulted in a vote of no confidence of leadership from physicians and nurses and, in the end, a shelving of the deal.

The merger with Spectrum wasn’t

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OU Health names inaugural CEO

Dr. Richard Lofgren was named CEO of OU Health, the integrated academic health system announced Friday.

Lofgren, the longtime chief executive at UC Health in Cincinnati, will lead the newly formed OU Health, which was created last year after OU Medicine hospitals and its affiliated physicians merged. Prior to UC Health, Lofgren was an executive at University HealthSystem Consortium, which has since been acquired by the group purchasing organization Vizient.

“Because of Dr. Lofgren’s leadership ability and his deep commitment to academic healthcare, we are well positioned to optimize all three components of our mission—patient care, research and education—to improve the health of all Oklahomans,” Joseph Harroz, Jr., OU president and OU Health board member, said in a news release.

OU Medicine bought out HCA Healthcare’s management agreement and ownership stake of its hospital facilities for $750 million in 2018.

Oklahoma City-based OU Health recorded a $27 million operating loss

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Study identifies virulent HIV variant unrecognized for years

Scientists have found a previously unrecognized variant of HIV that’s more virulent than usual and has quietly circulated in the Netherlands for the past few decades.

Thursday’s report isn’t cause for alarm: HIV medicines worked just as well in people with the mutated virus as everyone else and its spread has been declining since about 2010. It was discovered as part of efforts to better understand how HIV continues to evolve.

The finding emphasizes the importance of good access to testing and treatment so that whatever the variety, “HIV is suppressed as quickly as possible, which prevents transmission,” Oxford University epidemiologist Christophe Fraser, the study’s senior author, said in a statement.

Different HIV subtypes circulate in different countries, some more severe or transmissible than others. Subtype B is the most common in the U.S. and Western Europe. The Oxford team spotted 17 unusual cases while studying a database of European

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A different COVID-19 vaccine debate: Do we need new ones?

COVID-19 vaccines are saving an untold number of lives, but they can’t stop the chaos when a hugely contagious new mutant bursts on the scene, leading people to wonder: Will we need boosters every few months? A new vaccine recipe? A new type of shot altogether?

That’s far from settled, but with the shots still doing their main job many experts are cautioning against setting too high a bar.

“We need collectively to be rethinking what is the goal of vaccination,” said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, infectious disease chief at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “It’s unrealistic … to believe that any kind of vaccination is going to protect people from infection, from mild symptomatic disease, forever.”

If the goal is preventing serious illness, “we may not need to be doing as much fine-tuning of the vaccines every time a new variant comes.”

The virus is essentially shape-shifting as it mutates, with

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