89 posts categorized "Healthcare"


Texas Health Resources, Cigna form care initiative

About 17,000 North Texas patients insured by Cigna health plans and treated by about 250 primary care doctors in the Texas Health Physicians Group on Jan. 1 became part of an accountable care program, the parties said Monday. "Under the program, THPG physicians will monitor and coordinate all aspects of an individual's medical care to proactively manage interventions and improve overall well-being," they said in a prepared release. Cigna said it's the insurer's fifth accountable care initiative in North Texas. Texas Health, the second-largest hospital system in North Texas, also has a number of accountable care programs with different partners. THPG has more than 800 medical professionals at more than 230 locations in the area.

-- Jim Fuquay 


New rehabilitation hospital planned in Arlington

Two area hospital systems will team with a Nashville company to build a 40-bed rehabilitation hospital in Arlington. Arlington-based Texas Health Resources, Dallas-based Methodist Health System and rehab specialist Centerre Healthcare Corp. plan to break ground on the facility this summer in southern Arlington. Centerre has previously partnered with those organizations on Texas Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Worth, a THR facility, and Methodist Rehabilitation Hospital in Dallas.

Texas Rehabilitation Hospital of Arlington will serve patients recovering from strokes and other brain or spinal cord injuries, amputations and other complex injuries. It’s expected to employ about 150 people when open. The companies did not disclose an address for the new facility, but said it will be between Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, at 800 W. Randol Mill Road in central Arlington, and Methodist Mansfield Medical Center at 2700 E. Broad St.

-- Jim Fuquay


Cook Children's to expand again with new tower

130909 REV2_Rendering Slide_Aerial (3)
It seems the dust has barely settled on the latest expansion at Cook Children's Medical Center, but the Fort Worth pediatric hospital is set to grow some more. Cook Children's Health Care System says it will expand its emergency department and add heart care and laboratory facilities, culminating in a new 314,000-square-foot tower on the south side of its campus. (The new tower is in the upper right part of the artist's rendering, above.) Construction is expected to take more than three years. The new project's site is currently used for a prayer garden and labyrinth, which will be relocated. Plans also call for a new urgent care center at Rosedale Street and Sixth Avenue.

Cook Children's recently finished a $250 million expansion. The biggest part of that opened in mid-2012 with new patient care space, doctor's offices and a parking garage on the north side of its campus (pictured in the foreground of the rendering). It concluded with the opening this fall of a new office tower and parking garage for employees at the corner of Rosedale Street and Eighth Avenue. That building isn't pictured in the rendering.

-- Jim Fuquay


Baylor to build new surgical hospital in Fort Worth

Baylor SH at FW rendering Nov 2103
Baylor Health Care System will build a three-story surgical hospital near its Baylor All Saints Hospital to replace a smaller unit nearby. Baylor Surgical Hospital at Fort Worth, at 1800 Park Place Ave., will have 30 inpatient beds as well as a three-bed emergency department. The 82,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to break ground Thursday and has a September 2014 estimated completion date.

“We have literally outgrown this current building,” Roger Rhodes, CEO of Baylor Surgical Hospital, said of an existing surgery facility at 750 12th Ave. Rhodes said about 75 percent of the facility’s surgeries will be outpatient, and those done as inpatient will typically involve stays averaging about 2.5 days.

The facility is a joint venture with Dallas-based United Surgical Partners International, a for-profit company that owns and operates more than 200 surgery centers, many with not-for-profit health systems. USPI already partners with Baylor on a number of facilities, including surgery centers in Trophy Club, Arlington, Bedford, Mansfield and Granbury.

-- Jim Fuquay


Latest hospital safety rankings include local facilities

Texas Health Resources hospitals grabbed many of the best report cards handed out by The Leapfrog Group, which uses its own survey plus data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Leapfrog, which releases its grades in spring and fall, graded 2,539 general hospitals, of which 32 percent got an "A," 26 percent got a "B," 35 percent got a "C," and the rest got a D or an F. One North Texas hospital on the survey got a "D."

There are so many different flavors of hospital ratings we sometimes don't know what to make of them; it often appears that as much depends on how the institution reports its data as it does on how it takes care of patients. But the trend is for greater transparency and accountability for results, and that's for the best. The full results and more detail on each hospital are at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

THR hospitals getting an "A" are: Arlington Memorial, Harris Methodist Azle, Harris Methodist Cleburne, Harris Methodist H-E-B, Huguley, Presbyterian Allen, Presbyterian Dallas, Presbyterian Denton, Presbyterian Kaufman, Presbyterian Plano and Presbyterian Rockwall. THR hospitals with a "B" are: Harris Methodist Fort Worth, Harris Methodist Southwest and USMD Arlington. Baylor Scott & White had two hospitals with an "A," in Irving and in Plano. Its Garland hospital got a "B," while the rest of the Baylor members rated a "C": All Saints Fort Worth, Carrollton, Southwest Fort Worth (closed last year), Waxahachie, Grapevine, and its flagship, University Medical Center.

Hospital Corp. of America, HCA, saw its Denton Regional, Medical Center Arlington, Medical Center of Plano and Plaza Medical Center get an "A," while Las Colinas Medical Center, Medical Center of Lewisville, Medical City Dallas and North Hills all got a "B." Methodist Health System earned an "A" at its Mansfield and Richardson hospitals, a "B" at Charlton (Dallas), and a "C" at Dallas Medical Center. North Texas' two county-supported hospitals, JPS in Fort Worth and Parkland in Dallas, both got a "C." Tenet Healthcare's two North Texas hospitals, Centennial Medical Center in Frisco and Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake, both got a "B."

Among hospitals that aren't part of one of the big chains, Dallas Regional Medical Center (Mesquite) and Weatherford Regional Medical Center got an "A," while Lake Granbury Medical Center and Wise Regional Health System each got a "C." Texas Hospital for Advanced Medicine (now known as Dallas Medical Center), which according to its website is chartered by the city of Farmers Branch, got a "D."

-- Jim Fuquay


United Way schedules health insurance exchange help sessions

United Way of Tarrant County will hold information sessions starting Thursday to individuals interested in using the new Health Insurance Marketplace to gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. United Way is responsible for training and managing Navigators, who help people use the marketplace, commonly called "the exchange." Here are upcoming sessions:

Thursday, Oct. 24
12 – 3 p.m.
Tarrant County College South Campus, Student Center dining room 

Saturday, Oct.  26
1 – 4 p.m.
Azle Memorial Library 

Tuesday, Oct. 29
5 – 7:30 p.m.
Tarrant County College Southeast campus, Main Ballroom


Tuesday, Nov. 12
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Azle Memorial Library, Conference Room

-- Jim Fuquay



Navigating the health insurance exchange, inch by inch

You've probably read plenty about how the government's Health Insurance Marketplace, AKA "the exchange," has had a rough start. We've chronicled our own attempts to use the exchange in various posts, but it's been a while since we had anything new to report. Frisco health insurance agent Charles Peeler (www.peelerinsurance.com) got our hopes up earlier this week when he called to say he actually got a client a policy using the exchange. But when he tried to share his method for getting into the exchange, lo and behold it shut him out. Judging by that experience and news reports, getting all the way through is sort of random at this point. It might happen, but probably not.

But those are technical difficulties. Here's a design problem. Take a look at the page below. Where do you click to apply?

Click here

Here's the answer.

No here

It's not underlined, like a typical link is. It's not in bold type or highlighted, but that's the magic button. A  colleague saw it right away, but we still think it should be really obvious. As it turned out, clicking the right link didn't move us very far down the line. After we agreed to let Homeland Security and other agencies check out our information, an online form told us to re-enter our email address. We did. It rejected our efforts, even though we typed an exact copy. So we're still not in.

Stay posted. It'll work one day.

-- Jim Fuquay


Signing up for the insurance exchange

Start your application
We'd be remiss if we didn't make an update on our previous unsuccessful attempts to register for and use the Health Insurance Marketplace, commonly called "the exchange," a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act. We finally got all the way through, as you can see above, and it may have been as simple as changing the browser. We'd been using Firefox, a pretty popular browser, and finally decided to just see what Windows Internet Explorer would do. And it worked. For some reason, the initial Account page would not render properly on the  computer here at the Star-Telegram, which runs Windows XP with Google Chrome as the default browser. So you might give that a try.

-- Jim Fuquay


Fort Worth chamber introduces health plans for members

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has teamed with an Iowa firm to offer its members employee health insurance. One plan is aimed at making it easier for small employers to self-insure, and another is designed to reduce reinsurance costs for larger employers that already self-insure. The program was introduced today at the chamber's annual healthcare summit. Ron Fuhrman, benefit advisor for True North Companies, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said self-insurance allows companies to avoid fees and mandates of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Small employers traditionally have not had the finances to self-insure their employee health benefits. Self-insurance entails being directly responsible for the cost of medical care for workers up to a certain dollar limit, after which a "stop loss" insurance policy kicks in and pays additional the expenses. Under the chamber's plan, companies with fewer than 50 employees would join a pool in a co-op and buy policies with a variety of benefits. (The co-op is private. It is not one of the publicly funded health insurance co-ops established by the ACA, also called Obamacare.) That plan and the plan for larger employers would both get stop-loss coverage from the same insurer. Fuhrman, who presented the plans at the summit, said it's the first time his company has offered the program to a chamber of commerce.

He said the co-op needs at least 250 employees and dependents to launch, which he anticipates being "no problem at all." For other details of the program, visit the chamber's web site here.

-- Jim Fuquay

Chamber survey: Most members offer health benefits, but costs rising

About 80 percent of Fort Worth Chamber of  Commerce members provide healthcare benefits to employees, but the cost of that coverage is rising more than the previous year, according to a new survey. More than a third of members say their cost rose 6-15 percent this year, and another quarter said they were up 16-25 percent. That's about 53 percent of members who participated in the survey, and it's up sharply from the share of members who reported increases in that range a year earlier. Among the 81 percent of members who offer health insurance, 19 percent pay the entire premium for the employee, while 60 percent pay a portion of it. Of the 19 percent who said they do not provide benefits, half cited costs but another 22 percent said they were too small to get group rates. The entire survey is posted on the chamber's web site here.

-- Jim Fuquay


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