Local health news—cancer awareness, help for patients, high marks

Last year almost 30 patients received in excess of $15,500 in cumulative assistance in a timely, compassionate manner that allowed patients to focus on their health care needs.


Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
In recognition of March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, McLaren Northern Michigan wants to remind you to get screened.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States this year, and over 50,000 will die from the disease. In fact, colorectal cancer is the nation’s third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths when men and women are combined.
The good news is that screening can help find and prevent colorectal cancer. It is one of the most successfully treated cancers if diagnosed early.
The links between diet, weight, exercise, and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Additional lifestyle risks include smoking and heavy alcohol use.
The most common colorectal cancer checks are stool tests and a colonoscopy.
Stool tests are used to look for small amounts of blood or DNA passed in a bowel movement that might indicate a polyp or cancer.
These simple tests are performed in the privacy of your home.
A colonoscopy is the gold standard for early colorectal cancer diagnosis. Colonoscopies are offered at McLaren Northern Michigan as well as other hospitals and outpatient clinics.
If you haven’t been tested, talk to your primary care physician. If you have been tested, talk to your family and friends.

Helping Patients
The Charlevoix County Community Foundation has awarded Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital $10,000 for two important patient funds.
The Patient Needs Fund and Cancer Patient Needs Fund will each receive $5,000 to help cover the often urgent and expensive needs for patients or other persons involved in their care during a health-related crisis.
This is the second year in a row that the Charlevoix County Community Foundation has generously awarded a $10,000 grant to the hospital for this purpose.
Of the $10,000, a portion has been provided by the Charlevoix Women’s Group Cancer Fund at the Community Foundation.
Often when undergoing a health-related crisis, patients are unable to work.
They are told to rest and recover, but that can seem impossible when there are bills to pay.
In addition, family members and/or caregivers are also called upon to help with expenses, transportation, and child care, adding additional strain.
The Patient Needs Fund and Cancer Patient Needs Fund provide welcome and unexpected relief for patients and their families when they need it most.
Last year almost 30 patients received in excess of $15,500 in cumulative assistance in a timely, compassionate manner that allowed patients to focus on their health care needs.
The hospital was also able to connect patients with other resources when appropriate, like signing up for a Bridge Card, identifying local food banks, and accessing utility assistance programs through other organizations.
The hospital also helped patients without insurance enroll in Medicaid, Healthy Michigan, or through the state’s insurance marketplace.
Practical ways in which the hospital is able to provide assistance through these funds might include:
• Gas cards so patients can get to and from medical appointments
• Childcare expenses so parents can be available for their own or another family member’s appointment
• Payment for utilities, groceries, and rent/mortgage payments
• Payment for uninsured medical devices related to care
• Other needs as determined by the medical social workers and case managers
These funds are not used to pay for patients’ medical bills. Just last year, Charlevoix Hospital wrote off over $2.1 million in charity care and bad debt, up from the prior year’s amount of $1.6 million. Before the Affordable Care Act, that figure was twice as much.

Recognized for Cardiac Care
Blue Cross Blue Shield recognized McLaren Northern Michigan as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac Care as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.
Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated providers that demonstrate expertise and cost efficiency in heart care.
To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ designation, McLaren Northern Michigan needed to meet three measures, quality, access, and cost.
Hospitals that receive the Blue Distinction Center+ designation are evaluated using a combination of third-party data registries’ quality information provided by hospitals and cost measures derived from Blue Cross Blue Shield companies’ medical claims.
Research shows that compared to other providers, hospitals designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.
On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are 20 percent more cost-efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated providers.

Lauded for stroke care
McLaren Northern Michigan is proud to have earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. The Gold Seal of Approval® and the Heart-Check mark represent symbols of quality from their respective organizations.
McLaren Northern Michigan underwent a rigorous onsite review on December 10, 2018. Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements, including program management, the delivery of clinical care, and performance improvement.
“We congratulate McLaren Northern Michigan for achieving this designation,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “By adhering to this very specific set of treatment guidelines McLaren Northern Michigan has clearly made it a priority to deliver high quality care to all patients affected by stroke.”


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