Health Care Checkup: Aging in Place launches, Medical marijuana gains steam

The Health Care Checkup is a weekly rundown of the state’s top health care headlines.

Checking the Pulse

Lawmakers are considering making Missouri the 24th state in the country to legalize marijuana | Courtesy of Creative Commons
Lawmakers are considering making Missouri the 24th state in the country to legalize marijuana | Courtesy of Creative Commons

‘Aging in Place’ program launches in KC area

Aging in Place, a collaborative program to help older people avoid rehospitalization, was launched in Kansas City’s Northland this week. The collaboration aims to help people staying in their homes after hospital stays by using health monitoring devices and special attention from health professionals.

North Kansas City Hospital is developing a case management system to help patients with the transition from hospital to home, and Cerner’s HealtheLife software will be used for patient education, tracking and monitoring.

Hunt Midwest doubles investment in senior living

Targeting the baby boomers who are entering their golden years, Hunt Midwest Enterprises is building two new senior living communities and planning for two more, doubling its investment in the senior housing sector to almost $65 million. The company has invested $32 million in four Benton House assisted-living and memory care communities in the Kansas City area since 2011, and the fourth community has finished construction this year. The company partners with Principal Senior Living Group, a senior living operator, in taking charge of the daily operations of all the Benton House communities.

Medical marijuana gaining steam

Lawmakers are considering making Missouri the 21st state to collect taxes on illegal drugs, and at the same time, the 24th to legalize marijuana. Last week, a bill on taxing marijuana and other illegal drugs got approval from a Missouri House committee. Weeks earlier, the same committee approved a medical marijuana bill, which would allow patients with specific illnesses to register with the recommendation of a doctor. House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said Missouri’s medical marijuana bill would be the “most restrictive and protective medical marijuana bill that there is in the country.”

BJC takeover of Farmington hospital stirs hope, worries

In about three weeks, the long-time rivalry between two hospitals in St. Francois County will be over as Parkland Health Center’s owner, BJC HealthCare, completes its acquisition of Mineral Area Regional Medical Center. The merger will make BJC the only health care provider to about 66,000 residents of the county. Local residents are hoping that the largest hospital system in the St. Louis area will bring in more medical specialists to Farmington. However, experts suggest that the merger could create a possibility of higher health care costs due to the reduced competition, as researches show most mergers don’t lead to lower costs or better quality.

Another worry is that the merger of two hospitals could lead to staff cuts. Farmington Mayor Stuart Landrum said BJC officials indicated to him that there wasn’t enough room at either facility to absorb the operations of another. BJC has not announced any plans about staff reductions, or whether it would close one facility.

Grace Hill Health Centers changes name

Grace Hill Health Centers announced that it has changed its name to Affinia Healthcare, effective immediately. Grace Hill Settlement House, its sister nonprofit that operates separately, will retain the same name. The health center has six locations in the St. Louis area, and treats about 40,000 patients a year.

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