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UIHC pulls back donation plan

BY JOHN DOETKOTT | NOVEMBER 04, 2009 7:20 AM

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The UI Hospitals and Clinics is delaying its plan to ask patients if they want to receive information about donating to the hospital.

The decision comes in response to concerns from staff members and “others,” Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean Robillard wrote in an e-mail sent to hospital staff on Tuesday.

The original plan to ask patients upon their arrival at UIHC whether they would like information about donating will be delayed so officials can gather more input, Robillard wrote in the e-mail.

“We want to take additional time to hear from staff and others who have concerns and to listen to suggestions for how we might improve the program and attain UI Health Care’s philanthropic goals,” he wrote.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said officials have not set a timetable for making a decision about the program.

Some legislators, along with hospital staff members, have expressed concerns about how the program would be carried out.

Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, said he was concerned about the burden the program would put on frontline staff. Those employees would have to go through training on asking patients about donating, ultimately increasing their normal responsibilities.

“That isn’t something nurses should be charged with,” Dvorsky said.

He said he is happy officials have decided to reconsider the program and is hopeful the hospital would adopt an alternative approach.

“I commend them for stepping back and looking at this plan,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of different ways to do this.”

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he feels it is wrong to ask patients about donating at the beginning of their stay because it could make people feel self-conscious or pressured, and it would not be a good reflection of the UIHC’s values.

“Right now, I can’t see it aligning with the mission of the hospital,” he said.

But Jacoby also said the idea of soliciting patients, a common practice across the country, was a misguided approach to solving the hospital’s budgetary woes. Iowa has one of the nation’s lowest state reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid programs, he said, causing the hospital to lose a significant amount of money.

“[Soliciting patients] is kind of a tangent to what the real problem is,” Jacoby said. “For Iowa to deal with health-care issues, I think we need to be in the median for reimbursement rates.”

Only by addressing the greater issues would the hospital’s financial troubles end, he said.

“I’m hoping the hospital keeps working on some other ideas,” he said.


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