The Pulse

Northside, Gwinnett Medical talk giant merger

Up until now, Northside Hospital has stayed relatively quiet in the almost frantic rush by metro Atlanta hospital systems to seek mergers or acquisitions.

But Northside is now jumping into the fray,  with a Wednesday announcement that it and Gwinnett Medical Center will begin talks to merge operations.

Northside Hospital

Northside Hospital in Sandy Springs

If an agreement is reached, the resulting system would build a strong arch from the northern Atlanta suburbs eastward into populous Gwinnett County. Northside operates hospitals in Canton and Cumming as well as its flagship hospital in Sandy Springs, which it says delivers more babies than any other U.S. hospital and performs the most surgeries in Georgia.

Gwinnett Medical operates hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth. Gwinnett County is the second most populous in the state.

The merger talks follow the recent aggressive moves of  Marietta-based WellStar Health System. WellStar has begun talks to buy Tenet Healthcare’s five hospitals in metro Atlanta after earlier abandoning a proposed deal with Emory Healthcare. WellStar also has a proposed deal in place to acquire West Georgia Health. full story

Deal shows clout of Georgia health IT

MEA|NEA, a health IT company based in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross, announced Tuesday that it has acquired another company in the industry, the White Stone Group.

Stethoscope on a computer keyboardThe combined company has more than 1 million customers in the medical and dental markets.

MEA|NEA said it will form two complementary business units — one focused on providers, patients and insurers in dental care, and the other focused on medical care.

A private company, MEA|NEA will maintain operations in Norcross and in Knoxville, Tenn. full story

Georgia nursing home group picks new leader

The state’s powerful nursing home association has named a Florida industry leader as its new president and CEO.

Tony Marshall

Tony Marshall

Tony Marshall will take over the Georgia Health Care Association positions that have been vacant since Jon Howell resigned May 1.

At the time of Howell’s resignation, the trade group said he was stepping down “to preserve the unity of the statewide association.”

Marshall comes to GHCA from the Florida Health Care Association in Tallahassee, where he served as senior director of reimbursement and a member of the group’s senior leadership team.  full story

Budget focus: Medicaid growth, hep C drugs, SHBP

The state’s Department of Community Health is asking for additional state funds to cover projected Georgia enrollment for Medicaid and PeachCare, which for the first time will exceed 2 million.

Clyde Reese

Clyde Reese

The budget proposal also requests $23 million to cover the high cost of drugs to treat hepatitis C patients in both the midyear fiscal 2016 budget and in the 2017 plan.

The budget plans, approved by Community Health’s board Thursday, now go to Gov. Nathan Deal and then to the Georgia General Assembly for approval.

It would be the second straight year that the agency will not have to cut its base budget, said Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese. The agency’s current budget is roughly $3 billion in state funds.

Hepatitis C drugs have an astronomical cost, averaging more than $30,000 per patient per month in retail price. But states, including Georgia, can get a discount on that price for their Medicaid programs that could reach 40 percent. full story

South Georgia teen rests after beating the plague

The first Georgia patient ever diagnosed with the plague is recovering at home after a week in a Thomasville hospital.

Hannah Lindquist, 18, probably was bitten by an infected flea while hiking with her family in Yosemite National Park in California, her father, Ben, told GHN on Wednesday.

Hannah, under doctors’ orders, will take a semester off from Valdosta State University, where she is a sophomore majoring in biology and pre-med, said Ben Lindquist, an attorney in Thomasville.

Hannah Lindquist in the hospital

Hannah Lindquist in the hospital

“Although still on Doxycycline [an antibiotic], medically Hannah is cured and is now in the process of recuperating and regaining her strength,’’ noted her father. “Thankfully, all Hannah’s tests have returned normal.”

He added, though, that “Hannah’s doctors have cautioned it will be a while before she’s feeling 100 percent.”

Lindquist credited “God’s mercy,” his wife’s quick action, and a doctor prescribing the right antibiotic as helping save Hannah’s life. full story

Consumer Corner

How to fend off a cold

Adults who averaged five or six hours of sleep nightly were much more likely to catch a cold than people who slept at least seven hours.

Around the State

Maternity ward closing

It has been only nine months since Hutcheson Medical Center reopened its maternity ward, but now the hospital is closing that program again.

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DeKalb: West Nile virus

DeKalb County officials are urging residents to take precautions as more mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus.

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Dougherty: Premium cut

A consultant recommended that the Dougherty County Commission lower employee health insurance rates by 10 percent.

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Albany Herald

Columbus: Hospice volunteer

For 25 years, the 84-year-old Mary Phelps has been  making life more comfortable for people in hospice and their loved ones by providing needed companionship.

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Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Winder: Cannabis help

Cannabis oil is working for a 2-year-old Winder girl, as evidenced by a recent therapy session.

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