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Published April 2006

Health Care
& Insurance Briefs

Stevens Hospital to cut 100 jobs

An unexpected decline in patients the first two months of the year has Stevens Hospital planning to cut up to 100 jobs.

The Edmonds hospital has 1,350 full- and part-time employees.

Hospital chief executive Dr. John Todd said it was not known why the number of patient admissions declined so sharply at Stevens, the biggest taxpayer-supported hospital in Snohomish County.

Other area medical groups also have reported downturns, he added.

The hospital, which is expected to take in $139 million in revenue this year, must trim expenses by about $500,000 a month, Todd said.

In January and February, the average number of patients admitted to the hospital dropped 20 percent compared with the same period in 2005, hospital officials said. The number of outpatient surgeries declined 11 percent compared with the same period in 2005.

Hospital managers will decide in the next few weeks which positions can be eliminated. The layoffs and job cuts will occur in May, said Bob Lowy, human relations director.

New drug discount card for state residents

The state of Washington has announced a new drug discount card available to any state resident. The card will reduce costs between 15 percent and 25 percent for prescription drugs not covered by insurance.

The Rx Washington Card provides discounts at most mail-order and retail pharmacies across the state. The annual membership fee is $10 per person and covers the administrative costs of the program, which will be run by Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits management service.

For more information on the program, call 866-576-3862, or go online to www.rx.wa.gov.

State report finds sparkle,
gaps in kids’ dental health

The most recent statewide “Smile Survey” of children’s oral health shows that kids in Snohomish County have healthier teeth now than they did in 2000.

Untreated tooth decay among county children dropped by 25 percent, from 25.9% in 2000 to 19.8 percent, according to the report, while the 2005 rate of dental decay or fillings in local children (56.3 percent) was about the same as in 2000, and slightly lower than found statewide (59.0 percent).

In both Washington and Snohomish County, the survey showed that minority and low-income children have significantly more tooth decay and less access to preventive sealants. Results from the Smile Survey 2005 show the rate of tooth decay in Washington children is higher today than in the past 12 years.

Similar to the statewide results, Snohomish County’s use of dental sealants appears to be declining compared to sealant applications in 2000, dropping from 70.2 percent in the county’s third-graders to 54.9 percent surveyed in 2005.

Longtime Arlington doctor retires

Dr. Gerard Hooke recently retired from 31 years of medical service in Arlington to move back to his native Ireland.

The board of commissioners and the medical staff of Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics, where he worked as an emergency room doctor, held a reception in honor of Hooke on March 19.

Prior to joining the hospital emergency department, Hooke was a family practice physician, running his own office until 1989.

He said upon returning to Ireland he will work part time in a small country family practice.

“I received my college education for free and feel I owe it to my country to share the benefits of that education,” said Hooke, who graduated from medical school in Dublin, Ireland.

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