Nurses at private hospitals, Veterans Affairs and a university teamed up to look at the rates of hospital-acquired pneumonia in patients who aren’t on ventilators.
Sacramento State University’s Dian Baker says those cases are not widely reported.
“Hospitals weren’t going to be paid if patients on ventilators got pneumonia," she says. "Meanwhile, the other patients that weren’t on the ventilators were also getting pneumonia, but not receiving the same amount of attention.”
Baker says the team designed a year-long program of basic oral care for patients at one hospital system. At the end of the year, pneumonia rates went down by 37 percent.
“Oral health care was the most modifiable. We felt it would be the easiest to implement, and its basic nursing care, and should be happening," says Baker. "So we just thought, let’s start with that! And we had these wonderful results.”
The nurse team estimated that eight deaths were prevented, almost two million dollars were saved, and 500 hospital days were averted.
In 22 Northern California counties, some health insurance customers have only one choice of insurer in Covered California. We go to a rural community north of Quincy to find out what that's like.
Blue Shield of California stopped selling policies to individuals in 250 zip codes in 2014. The coverage area reduction is especially felt in Northern California, where consumers have few choices through Covered California.
Anthem Blue Cross, the largest insurer in Covered California's Northern California region, ended an out-of-state benefit for individual planholders this year. Blue Shield of California plans in the region also restrict care to within state lines.
The open enrollment period for Covered California began less than a month ago. But the pace of applications and enrollments has already exceeded last year.
California offers several services for both documented and undocumented immigrants. But fears about deportation deter many people from taking advantage of the benefits offered to them.