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Members in the News – August 2020

Tahoe Forest Health System Waives Out-of-Pocket Costs for Screening, Testing and in Most Cases, Treatment of COVID-19
The cost of healthcare during the current pandemic is a critical issue for many people, including worry about out-of-pockets costs for those who seek care and treatment for COVID-19. Tahoe Forest Health System is waiving out-of-pocket costs for screening and testing, and in most cases, the treatment of those with COVID-19 illness, since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020.

Community members may be reluctant to seek care due to concerns about health care costs, and those with private insurance may face fees in the form of deductibles, copayments or coinsurance, including for services outside of their network.

Every insurance situation is different, and the coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty for many residents of our community. Tahoe Forest Health System (TFHS) has taken actions to help manage the affordability challenges that can arise from a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 testing and treatment, particularly if it is perceived as a barrier to obtaining health care.

“We encourage community members to call us about any concern related to billing or charges for testing, screening and treatment of COVID-19” said Harry Weis, President and CEO of Tahoe Forest Health System. “The billing requirements under the pandemic are completely new, and we want to offer as much assistance as possible to our community so we can work together on solutions, especially for those with COVID illness that may be uninsured or concerned about fees. Many may qualify for government resources, and we want to help with that” he said.

While costs will vary based on deductibles and coverage of individual insurance plans, TFHS will not bill patients for out-of-pocket expenses that are incurred for screening and testing, and in most cases, for the treatment of a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.

Treatment for COVID-19 is covered under most health insurance plans and Medicare. However, patients should review their plan or contact their insurance company with questions about cost-sharing. Medicare and some insurance plans may still have cost sharing requirements in place. If this creates a financial hardship, please be sure to contact TFHS’s Financial Customer Service office to discuss your situation.

In addition, independent contractors of the hospital such as radiologists, ER physicians, anesthesiologists, pathologists, ambulance transportation and durable medical equipment may bill patients separately as well.

Community members are encouraged to contact TFHS’s Financial Customer Service office to discuss their situation and options.

TFHS’s Financial Customer Service Program was designed to help the community understand insurance benefits, answer questions about billing, and estimate costs of medical procedures in advance of service. They can also help with financial assistance programs and help identify resources for governmental programs for those who qualify.

Carson Tahoe Emergency Department First & Only to Win Emergency Nurses Association ‘Lantern Award’
The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) announced that Carson Tahoe Health Emergency Department received the esteemed Lantern Award for 2020, which will span until 2023. The ENA recognizes just 25 emergency departments worldwide that exemplify exceptional practice and innovative performance in the core areas of leadership, practice, education, advocacy, and research.

Carson Tahoe’s Health Emergency Department is the first and only organization in Nevada to receive this prestigious award. According to the ENA, the Lantern Award serves as a visible symbol of Carson Tahoe’s commitment to “quality, safety, and a healthy work environment.” With a stellar dedication to improvement and quality care, and the completion of a rigorous application process, the emergency department staff have categorically earned this recognition.

“We are honored to be a recipient of the 2020 Lantern Award by the Emergency Nurses Association,” says Dustin Bass, Director of Emergency & Urgent Care Services at Carson Tahoe Health. “Throughout my time at CTH, we have worked collaboratively to improve all aspects of how we provide emergency care to our close-knit community. Being recognized on a national level like this confirms our commitment to excellence and validates our dedication to our patients, and community.”

Receiving this distinguished award is an honor that gives credence to the impact CTH has on the health and well-being of our rural community. The CTH emergency room services several counties in Northern Nevada and helps over 42,000 people annually.

Carson Tahoe Emergency Department provides 24-hour emergency care and features telestroke, through affiliation with the University of Utah Health and a 6-bed FastTrack ER. Additionally, thanks to a generous donation from the Mallory Foundation, it’s now home to a newly renovated area providing for a streamlined, high-tech triage experience.

“For any of us, a sudden onset of chest pain, shortness of breath, extreme fever, or much more could require emergency care at any moment,” Bass says. “In these and similar scenarios, emergency care should be immediately available and compassionately delivered. Carson Tahoe does just that. I couldn’t be more proud of the entire emergency department team for this immense honor and we look forward to continuing to provide safe, efficient, exceptional care to every patient we have the pleasure to serve.”

Henderson Hospital Opens 25-Bed Observation Nursing Unit
Henderson Hospital celebrated the opening of its new 25-bed observation nursing unit on July 24, 2020, and will begin caring for patients in the new unit later today.

The observation unit, which is adjacent to the emergency department, is for patients who need additional evaluation for a specific medical condition or diagnosis before they are either discharged or admitted to the hospital.

Previously, observation-status patients received care within various inpatient nursing units within the hospital; the opening of the new unit provides additional beds, or capacity, to care for patients with medical or surgical needs.

Also included in the construction was the completion of a much larger emergency department lobby to better address the increased volume of patients; eight new ED rapid medical exam/triage rooms; the addition of a second CT scan; and three shelled-out operating rooms for future use.

“We continue to expand, physically and with new service lines, to accommodate the needs of our community,” said Sam Kaufman, CEO/Managing Director of Henderson Hospital. “As both an accredited Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) and Advanced Primary Stroke Center, we are now receiving patients with these potential diagnoses from area EMS professionals. We continue to focus on the rapid diagnosis, intervention and treatment of patients with many medical issues, whether it relates to the heart, brain, lungs, abdominal organs or countless other emergent conditions.”

In addition to opening the new observation unit, Henderson Hospital also became certified as a Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in April 2020. This allows the NICU team to care for babies who are less than 32 weeks in gestational age, weigh less than 1500 grams (about 3 pounds, 3 ounces) or are critically ill.

In February 2020, the hospital earned its Advanced Primary Stroke Accreditation and its Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement certification from The Joint Commission. It received the Leapfrog Top Hospital award for the second consecutive year in December 2019, and has received four consecutive “A” grades from The Leapfrog Group as well.

Sunrise Hospital is FIRST in Nevada to Implant the Latest Heart Pump for Advanced Heart Failure Patients Not Eligible for a Transplant
Las Vegas resident makes history by being FIRST recipient of lifesaving therapy in Nevada
Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center is the first facility in Nevada and among the first in the U.S. to implant Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), which provides a new option for physicians managing advanced heart failure patients in need of short-term (bridge-to-transplant or bridge to myocardial recovery) or long-term (destination therapy) hemodynamic support. The announcement was made today by Todd P. Sklamberg, CEO, Sunrise Hospital and Sunrise Children’s Hospital.

More than a quarter million people are currently living with advanced heart failure, many of whom need but are not eligible for transplant due to medical conditions or complications. LVAD provides a new, long-term option for those who do not qualify for a transplant. With the LVAD, patients may live with a heart pump as a destination therapy option, which means they will have it for the rest of their lives. Without this intervention, patients with advanced heart failure will often begin planning for end of life when presented with this diagnosis.

Sunrise Hospital performed 641 open heart surgeries in 2019 alone and LVAD is the latest, lifesaving procedure added to its growing heart program.

“What’s historic about this procedure is this is the first time that a left ventricular assist device has been implanted in the state of Nevada, and we’re very proud that it happened here at Sunrise Hospital,” said
Juan Lehoux, MD, congenital heart surgeon and VAD Program Surgical Director at Sunrise Hospital. “LVAD provides a therapy for end stage heart therapy that not only improves quality of life but prolongs life significantly.”

“The LVAD heart pump is a mechanical pump implanted above the diaphragm alongside a patient’s own heart and is attached to the aorta leaving natural circulation in place while providing blood flow throughout the body efficiently,” said Emeka Madu, VAD Program Coordinator at Sunrise Hospital. The patient wears an external, wearable controller and battery system that powers the pump. LVAD can pump up to 10 liters of blood per minute.

Las Vegas resident Juan Mares-Ramirez is walking proof of the successful LVAD program at Sunrise Hospital. “I totally feel like a different person, I’m more alive,” said Mr. Mares-Ramirez. “It is incredible!” Heart failure symptoms include: progressive breathlessness at rest, while eating, taking a shower or talking on the phone; worsening fatigue; reduced blood pressure; or progressive inability to tolerate standard medicine.