Collaboration in Civic Spheres

State targets care quality problems at Central District facility

by October 21st, 2013

A 120-bed retirement home and assisted living facility in Seattle’s Central District named Cannon House is now dealing with its fifth state enforcement action this year for substandard care of paying residents. Operated since 2009 by the major regional health and social services non-profit Sea Mar, Cannon House was fined $9,200 in September by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services for 92 different patient care violations and earlier this year barred from admitting new residents until it straightens things out. Its administrator was ordered by the state to either retake training classes or hire a management mentor to help improve performance. The state also required Cannon House to hire a registered nurse to develop and implement a plan to better monitor resident health and ensure appropriate medication, care and planning are provided.

Washington State database tracks assisted living mishaps

by October 20th, 2013

It can be hard to know if you’re selecting the right assisted living facility for yourself or an aging relative or friend. A facility’s history may include failure to implement prescription drug regimens or individual medical care plans of residents; lax safety, sanitation, or health conditions; or even risk of financial fraud against residents. For Washingtonians though, choices are made easier thanks to a free online database provided by the state. The Assisted Living Facility Locator allows consumers to delve into public records of state enforcement actions for violations of proper care standards, and to see who’s clean as a whistle and who’s not, enforcement-wise. It includes facilities not listed in the helpful federal site Nursing Home Compare, which is limited only to those participating in Medicare and Medicaid.

Concessionaire owes Seattle Port $635K, auditors report

by October 8th, 2013

Port of Seattle Sea-Tac Airport concession operator HMS Host owes the port $635,704 in unpaid fees, interest and a late fee, according to a recently released port internal audit. The problem arose because HMS Host subtenants The Great American Bagel Bakery and Diva Espresso were misclassified as “branded food” concessionaires who get a discount of about two percent in the share of revenues they must fork over to the airport for the privilege of operating there. Port managers of airport concessions and business development said in the audit they hadn’t been aware of the current problem. But they added they’d seek “appropriate” recovery of funds owed by HMS Host, and would keep closer tabs on branded food sales by concessionaires and related rates of concession payments to the port.

Congressional Budget Office: Hey USA, Pick Your Poison

by October 7th, 2013

The charged public debate over yet another U.S. debt ceiling lift is just the tip of the iceberg. Today’s tussles over near-term U.S. borrowing capacity only foreshadow deeper federal fiscal challenges. A recent report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office stressed that federal debt has worsened greatly since fiscal year-end 2008, and absent bold intervention will jump dramatically as health care and other entitlements continue to escalate, and new costs grow from U.S. health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. “That trajectory for federal debt would ultimately be unsustainable,” CBO says.

The CBO report says, “Federal debt held by the public stood at 39 percent of GDP at the end of 2008, close to its average of the preceding several decades. Since then, large deficits have caused debt held by the public to grow sharply – to a projected 73 percent of GDP by the end of 2013. Debt has exceeded 70 percent of GDP during only one other period in U.S. history: from 1944 through 1950, when it spiked because of a surge in federal spending during World War II….”

Study: Seattle Schools’ family help program needs re-boot

by October 2nd, 2013

There’s not yet any evidence the City of Seattle’s Family Support Program for at-risk students in Seattle Public Schools is improving academic outcomes, and changes in the program’s focus, worker training and performance metrics appear necessary, say University of Washington researchers who recently published their findings in the journal Advances in School Mental Health Promotion.

What’s Open, Closed During U.S. Government Shutdown

by October 1st, 2013

The U.S. government today is shut down due to a Congressional budget impasse on continued funding in the new fiscal year but of 34 very public-facing agencies or programs listed in a special update from, 18 are still open, nine more are partially open and seven are closed. Shuttered are national parks and landmarks, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., presidential libraries, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. Loans by the Small Business Administration aren’t being processed, nor are new home loan guarantees by the Federal Housing Administration,

Open for Business
Still operating during the shutdown are food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); federal grants to states for low-income women, infants and children; the Federal Aviation Administration including air traffic controllers; the Transportation Security Administration and Federal Air Marshall Service; State Department travel warnings; border patrol and cargo security; citizenship and immigration services; immigration enforcement; the Coast Guard; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; federal courts; the Federal Reserve; meat and poultry inspections; FAFSA student loan processing; the Health Insurance Marketplace; mail and postal service; the patent and trademark office; and the National Weather Service.

Partly or Mostly Open
Limited personnel are on duty at the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. Updated U.S. government job information will continue to be posted online but some applications may be slowed. Medicare and Medicaid benefits will continue to be paid but “could be affected in the event of an extended shutdown.” Medical care for veterans goes on but some benefit programs “may be affected.”

The military is still in operation but Department of Defense civilian employees deemed non-essential are not reporting to work. Clinical trials already in progress at the National Institutes of Health continue but new trials aren’t being initiated and new patients are not being accepted at NIH’s clinical center. Expedited passport orders are being fulfilled but new passport applications are not.

RELATED: “Affordable Care Act and the Appropriations Process,” U.S. Congressional Research Service, 9/27/13.

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Study: Pre-Pregnancy Drinking Boosts Breast Cancer Risks

by September 4th, 2013

A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute finds that between the onset of menstruation and first pregnancy the risk of breast cancer for women grows 11 percent for each 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day and 34 percent if average consumption equals 15 grams per day, or about 1.3 drinks. Even for non-drinking women, the longer the gap between start of menstruation and first pregnancy, the greater the breast cancer risk: the study said women who reported no alcohol consumption at all but waited more than 10 years between menstruation onset and first pregnancy, had a 26 percent increased risk of breast cancer. There are a range of other risk factors. These appear to include certain types of oral contraceptives, according to a report from Seattle-area researchers last year.

Fraud Report: Timesheet Padding Cost Harborview $16K

by August 29th, 2013

A new fraud investigation report from Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley finds that an “electroneurodiagnostic technician” at Harborview Medical Center – which is owned by King County and operated by the University of Washington – between January 2010 and the end of October, 2012 received pay for 628 hours she didn’t work, valued at $16,286. It is the third time since April 2012 that state investigations have concluded a Harborview worker committed fraud. Another auditor’s report in 2010 found fault with cash handling practices at Harborview.