Scripps Tips- February 2007

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Threaten Health Care Safety Net
San Diego’s hospitals – many already under enormous financial pressure – could find it more difficult to care for Medicare and MediCal patients if President Bush’s budget is adopted. This week, the president proposed $76 billion in cuts to the Medicare program and $26 billion over five years according the newly released federal FY 2008 budget. These cuts come on top of reductions that took effect Jan. 18 that reduce Medical funding for California hospitals by $550 million a year. San Diego County hospitals, in fact hospitals across California, will find it much more difficult to provide care to seniors and low-income patients covered by these two federal programs. Scripps representatives are available to comment on the impact the proposed cuts to Medicare and MediCal will have on Scripps’ hospitals, patients and their communities. To schedule an interview, contact Don Stanziano at stanziano.don@scrippshealth.org.

Wireless System Monitors Cardiac Patients at Home
February is National Heart Month
Nearly five million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Scripps La Jolla electrophysiologist Steven Higgins, M.D., is available to address the latest developments in remote home monitoring devices, an increasingly effective tool to help manage patients with heart failure and patients at risk of sudden cardiac death. In-home monitoring units automatically and wirelessly read implantable device information at times specified by the patient’s physician and also have the ability to alert the physician if a serious problem occurs. To arrange an interview or for additional information, email Lisa Ohmstede at Ohmstede.lisa@scrippshealth.org.

Women and Heart Disease
February is National Heart Month
More than 400,000 women die of heart disease in America each year – more than twice the number of women who die of all types of cancer combined. Symptoms for women having a heart attack are often different than men, making diagnosis much more difficult. While men typically have dull, heavy pressure or a burning sensation in the center of the chest, what are considered pretty classic symptoms, women can experience atypical symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue. Women also have a higher occurrence than men of chest pain that is not caused by heart disease.

Irregular Heart Beats Corrected
February is National Heart Month
Atrial fibrillation, a condition when the atria (upper chambers of the heart) quiver instead of beating normally is the most common type of persistent, irregular heartbeat. When a hearts rhythm is upset, blood is not pumped effectively to meet the body’s needs. The MAZE procedure is a surgical method to correct this condition. During this procedure, a cardiothoracic surgeon creates a pattern of scar tissue to redirect the electrical signal in the heart, correcting the irregular rhythm. The results are highly effective and often permanent. To talk to a Scripps Mercy cardiac surgeon about this procedure and technology, contact Kristin Reinhardt at reinhardt.kristin@scrippshealth.org.

Scripps CEO Available to Comment on Governor Schwarzenegger’s Health Plan
Scripps President and CEO Chris Van Gorder is available to comment on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health plan and the need for the all involved to come together to solve California’s complex health care challenges. According to Van Gorder: “For too long, the problems facing our health care system have been ignored or handled piecemeal because they are complex and not easily solved, and we are pleased that the governor is dedicating himself to developing a comprehensive public-private solution….It would be a shame for any one group to focus too narrowly on certain elements of the plan at the expense of an overall solution. A complex problem requires a thoughtful and well-studied solution.” To schedule an interview, contact Don Stanziano at stanziano.don@scrippshealth.org.

Protecting Yourself from Traumatic Brain Injury
As the weather heats up, many Americans will be outdoors playing soccer, volleyball, biking, rollerblading, surfing and off-roading. According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 309,322 sports-related and recreational activity head injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2005. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by the head being hit by something or shaken violently. Also referred to as acquired brain injury or head injury, TBI is often left untreated because damages are invisible to the eye.As a result, millions of Americans suffer from long-term or lifelong effects that cause a wide-range of disabilities affecting thinking, sensation, language, emotions, and/or movement. Scripps neurologists are available to discuss the many ways to reduce the chances of traumatic brain injury. To arrange an interview please contact Nichole Warren at warren.nichole@scrippshealth.org.

New Study Shows Fewer Women Receiving Mammograms
According to a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of U.S. women over age 40 who received recommended mammograms declined by nearly 2% between 2000 and 2005.The trend raises concern that a falloff in screening rates could result in a significant uptick in future breast cancer mortality. (Screening rates had increased steadily throughout the 1990s before the recent decline). A physician with Scripps Cancer Center is available to comment on possible reasons behind the decline and the importance of breast cancer screenings.To arrange an interview, please contact Steve Carpowich at carpowich.stephen@scrippshealth.org.