Health Care Checkup: SLU wins NIH contract, Centene profit rises

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

St. Louis University hospital is one of the two hospitals operated by Tenet Healthcare in St. Louis area | Courtesy of USNews
St. Louis University won a $5.8 million contract with the NIH. | Courtesy of USNews

Checking the Pulse

SLU wins $5.8 million contract for vaccines study

The vaccine and treatment evaluation unit (VTEU) at St. Louis University has won a $5.8 million contract from the National Institutes of Health.

As part of the five-year contract, researchers at the VTEU unit are expected to study infectious diseases and vaccines that will protect people from those diseases. The NIH selected SLU in 2013 as one of nine units in the country to conduct research on vaccine and infectious disease.

Kansas City wins national health award

Kansas City is one of eight cities in the country that won the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize, a national award that is presented to communities for their health promotion activities. The award also comes with a $25,000 award from the New Jersey-based foundation.

Kansas City was recognized for several programs, including its work in preventing violence, promoting literacy and organizing communities. The winners this year were selected from more than 340 prize applications across the country.

Truman Medical Centers opens downtown outpatient center

Truman Medical Centers has announced the opening of University Health, the first freestanding outpatient specialty care and surgery center in downtown Kansas City. The clinic will offer 14 medical and surgical services. Most of the services will be provided by Truman’s medical staff.

The four-story facility is a joint venture by Truman and Landmark Healthcare Facilities. Landmark owns and manages the building, and Truman owns the land it is on.

Rhonda Brandon | Courtesy of BJC HealthCare
Rhonda Brandon | Courtesy of BJC HealthCare

BJC’s top HR exec resigns

Rhonda Brandon, BJC HealthCare’s top human resources executive, has decided to resign from her post, effective in January.

Brandon, who started her career as a broadcast journalist, joined BJC in 2006, and became the health system’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer in 2012. After BJC, Brandon will be taking a position with Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C.

Reading the Chart

Express Scripts reports solid Q3 earnings

St. Louis-based Express Scripts reported a third-quarter profit of $661.7 million. That’s a 13 percent increase from the same period last year. The revenue for the quarter was $25.22 million, down 2.2 percent from the $25.8 billion reported in the prior-year quarter.

The pharmacy benefit manager said it is “confident” in its client retention rate, and has raised its retention rate range for 2015 by 1 percent from the selling season last year.

Centene sees jump in Q3 profit

Clayton-based Centene reported a quarterly net income of $93 million, a 13 percent increase over the same quarter last year. The revenue for the quarter has increased nearly 34 percent to $5.8 billion.

The company’s managed care membership was up 24 percent from the same period a year ago, reaching 4.8 million as of the quarter’s end Sept. 30. The company attributes the growth in membership to Medicaid expansion, which led some states to increase the number of individuals eligible for the state-run health insurance program for the poor.

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