Hospitals take Medicare cuts

One Northland hospital is among 800 nationwide that will take a 1 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement this year because of a high rate of complications.

Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital in Grand Rapids will take the cut for the second straight year, according to a report from Kaiser Health News. Nationally, 110 hospitals are being punished for the fifth straight time, according to the report. In Minnesota, only Sanford Bemidji Medical Center has been penalized five years in a row.

The American Hospital Association criticizes the penalty, calling the cutoff point arbitrary, according to the Kaiser report. It says there’s little statistical difference between most of the hospitals that are punished and the rest in the nation..

The government also penalizes hospitals for excessive readmissions, with the penalty varying depending on the readmission percentage. Six Northland hospitals were penalized this year, according to the Kaiser report: Essentia Health-Virginia - 0.75 percent reimbursement cut per patient; St. Luke’s hospital - 0.35 percent; Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing - 0.25 percent; Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center - 0.07 percent; Essentia Health-Duluth - 0.01 percent; and Grand Itasca - 0.01 percent.

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Marching ahead to Wellness Day

The 10th annual Northland Community Wellness Day is coming up this month.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 30 at the Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Center, 120 S. 30th Ave. W., according to a news release from Steve Greenfield of Greenfield Communications.

More than 80 organizations involved in health and wellness, public safety, sustainability and financial literacy will participate, according to the news release. The event also features a bounce house, face painting, Boys and Girls Club activities, a climbing wall and University of Minnesota Duluth athletes.

Admission and parking are free.

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Meetings designed for moms, moms-to-be

A biweekly meeting takes place at Community Memorial Hospital for moms with infants up to one years and anyone in their third trimester of pregnancy.

“A Nesting Place” meetings are free, are facilitated by a health care professional and are guided by the group’s needs, according to the hospital’s website.

The next meeting is from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the hospital’s Birch Meeting Room.

For more information, contact Laurie Dandrea at (218) 878-7626, Ext. 7385 or

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St. Luke’s Cancer Center re-accredited

The St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center has been re-accredited by the Commission on Cancer, a program of the American College of Surgeons, the hospital announced in a news release.

The cancer center first was accredited in 1991. It’s re-evaluated every three years.

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Medicare counseling available

The Citizens Federation is offering Medicare classes and individual counseling for people who are new to Medicare or who may have already made their choices but are considering a switch by the March 31 deadline.

The classes: 2 p.m. today at Portman Recreation Center, 4601 McCulloch St.; 2 p.m. March 14 at First United Methodist Church, 230 E. Skyline Parkway; 2 p.m. March 20 at First Lutheran Church, 1100 E. Superior St.; 7 p.m. March 21 at First Lutheran; and 2 p.m. March 26 at First Lutheran.

Attendance fee is $25 per household.

Individual counseling sessions are available for $40 by appointment. Call (218) 727-0207.

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Flu scoreboard

Influenza continues to be widespread in Minnesota, but numbers dropped sharply in the week ending March 2, according to the state Department of Health’s weekly update.

During that week, 120 people were hospitalized statewide, according to the report, down from 219 the week before. Numbers are preliminary, though, and usually wind up being higher.

In Northeastern Minnesota, 17 people were hospitalized.

So far, 31 people have died in Minnesota from the flu this flu season, according to the report, and there have been no pediatric deaths

Compiled by John Lundy