Daily roundup: Feb. 21, 2013

Bite-sized hospital and health industry news

  • California: Staff at Sharp-Rees Stealey Medical Center in San Diego evacuated 100 people from the hospital and called in a HAZMAT team after toxic fumes began circulating through the facility. According to Fox 5, several individuals became seriously ill. HAZMAT determined that the fumes were caused by an overheated air conditioning belt, and the facility was reopened later that day (Griego, NBC News, 2/19; DiBono, Fox 5, 2/19).

  • Pennsylvania: The University of Pennsylvania Health System will stop hiring tobacco users beginning in July in an effort to improve the health of its workforce and reduce health care costs. To be considered for a position at the system, an applicant will have to be tobacco-free for at least six months. Current employees will not be subject to the new policy, but smokers will continue to pay higher health care premiums (Moran, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/20).
  • Pennsylvania: Jefferson Regional Medical Center plans to renovate its ED using funds from Highmark. Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh-based insurer pledged $100 million for capital projects at Jefferson; it formed a "strategic partnership" with the hospital last year (Mamula, Pittsburgh Business Times, 2/19).

  • Utah: Uncompensated care costs have more than tripled over the last nine years at four major health systems in Utah, reaching $698 million in 2012. However, the Salt Lake Tribune notes that the states' hospitals have told Utah not to participate in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, which is expected to decrease uncompensated care costs by expanding health coverage to low-income residents (Stewart, Salt Lake Tribune, 2/17).

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