The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on January 19, 1967 · Page 2
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 2

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Blytheville, Arkansas
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Thursday, January 19, 1967
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Page 2
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Medicare, Six Months Later Blythevlll* (Ark.) Courier News — Thursday, January 19,1947 •— Page Thrct World's widest bridge is said to be in Providence, R.I. The Crawford Street bridge, which is composed of six units, has a total width of 1,147 feet. It has been estimated that about four men of every 100 and one women of every 200 persons is partly or completely color blind. The word Jumbo was introduced to the American language by P.T. Barnum, who brought the great African elephant Jumbo to this country. By ROBERT GOLDENSTEIN AP Science Writer CHICAGO (AP) - Six months after the advent of medicare, hospital administrators across the country are complaining more about a flood of paperwork than about any rush on hospital beds by the elderly. An Associated Press survey turned up scattered reports of overcrowding caused by medi- care patients, and showed that the aged are entering hospitals to greater numbers, and staying longer. But, as Edward J. McGea- ehey of the Maine Medical Center in Portland said: "If a pail of water is filled, you can't put any more in." In addition to bemoaning the volume of federal forms accompanying medicare, hospital administrators complained that the government sometimes has been slow to pay its bills. Still the survey uncovered no serious dislocations in medical care, as had been feared by opponents of the health plan, under which Social Security funds are used to help those over 65 pay hospital and doctor bills. Even the nation's doctors, who led opposition to medicare, now voice few objections, publicly or privately, says Dr. Charles L. Hudson, president of the American Medical Association. In a recent interview in Washington, Hudson said medicare had caused little disruption of the basic relationship between doctor and patient. Hudson hastened to add that doctors still fear there will be a move to expand medicare, and 'we would abhor a national health plan" under which the federal government would pay all medical bills for all Americans. A point of principal concern voiced by hospital administrators in most areas, of the nation is the shortage of nursing home beds for medicare patients who require extended care. This second phase of the med- icare program became effective only Jan. 1. The next three or four months are the periods of greatest hospital occupancy, with tlu and other respiratory diseases at a peak. * * * Generally, the Increase In over-all hospital occupancy has held close to the 5 per cent predicted by Social Security Administrator Robert M. Ball before the medicare program started July 1. There are scattered exceptions, but no spcific reports of patients suffering from serious neglect because an insuficient number of beds. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, some patients have waited four to six weeks for elective surgery, such as correction of hernias. Ronald Boyington, director of staff services at the 615-bed Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital, said admissions for elective surgery have had to be canceled every day because medicare patints require longer hospital stays than younger patients. Similar situations prevail in several Chicago hospitals, but from all sections of the country, hospital administrators report no serious overcrowding. Pete Geilich, assistant administrator at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Tex.: "The situation is improving. The paperwork and reimbursement problem is smooth itself out." Chesley Wilson, public relations director for the American Hospital Association said "we have heard of no crisis anywhere. The length of stay of medicare patients has caused some concern but has not placed a severe crush on the • beds available." j Sheldon Garber, a spokesman for the Blue Cross Association, an administrative intermediary for medicare: "We have seen no evidence of serious discolations! generally in the national • pic-1 ture." Some hospital spokesman were critical of some phases of the program. Sister Mary Walters, administrator at St. Francis Hospital in Topeka, Kan., said: "The paperwork for outpatients is often more costly than their medical bills." Sister Ingeborg Blomberg, administrator of Immanuel Deaconess Hospital in Omaha, contended that medicare is not picking up some overhead costs formerly shared by all hospital patients and that it apears her institution will lose money on medicare patients. The patient load trend has been moving in reverse for many hospitals that once catered principally to charity patients. With medicare benefits available, the patients are going to private hospitals. Among cities reporting this trend are New York, Louisville, Ky., and Los Angeles. An unanswered question is how successful nursing homes will be in relieving the load of medicare patients who need less than full hospital care. * » * A study fay the American Hospital Association showed that tthe national "patient day load" for persons over 65 was 28.2 per cent in July, the first month of medicare; 28.6 per cent in August and 30 per cent in September. The average length of stay in the over-65 age group increased from 11.2 days per admission in July to 12 days in August and 12.5 days in September. Medicare authorities hope I these stays can be shortened as more beds become available in approved nursing homes. Social Security Comissioner Ball estimates that 2.5 million persons received hospital care under medicare the first six months of the program and that about 6,700 hospitals are participating. He expects 2,500 nursing homes or other extended care facilities with a bed capacity of more than 150,000 to be ready for participation this month. He estimated there is a 50 per cent turnover in nursing home beds every three months. But Harris B. Jones, assistant director of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, which made surveys of 739 nursing homes this year, noted that "most nursing homes are pretty well filled up already, many with long-term custodial type patients." Hal Boyle BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) I'm not eligible for medicare yet, and it's just as well. I can't even understand the simple form to be filled out for a routine accident case. This is not a complaint about hospitals or their employes. After all, a gash on my little finger, left hand — self-inflicted with a knife while looking for a midnight snack — was sewn up quickly and without fuss. It was those preliminaries, In the twilight zone of the carbon copies, where I lost contact with reality. Actually, it all started when I walked into a hospial emergency room about 1 a.m., my bandaged finger held aloft and my right hand cutting off the flow o blood. "May we help you?" wag the first question. I should have known what was to follow. "What seems to be the trouble?" the nurse asked, reaching for the duplicate form. "What's your last name?" "Beard." "B-e-a-r-d?" "Yes," I answered, squeezing my finger a bit tighter. "First name?' "Gordon." "Middle initial?" "Well, actually, my middle name is Gordon." Now, she didn't know what to do with the "r," my first initial. "What's your mailing address?" Presumably, in case I kept bleeding and they needed help in finishing the form., "201 1st Street, Greenwood Acres." "Let's see, did I spell 'Acr«s' right?" "What was your birth date?" Hurry up, I may not have another one. "Are you married?" They must have a lot of domestic quarrels around here. "How did you cut the finger?" Boy, they really have specialists in this hospital. 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