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Mendocino County Today: September 8, 2012

WITH APOLOGIES TO JENNIFER POOLE of The Willits News who was assigned to announce the town's interim school boss, the kind of assignment that can drive a reporter cross-eyed.


DEBRA PEARSON, former superintendent for uninspiring school districts in Sutter and Yuba counties, will serve as interim superintendent for the 2012/13 school year. Natch, Deb said that she was “both excited and honored to have this opportunity to serve the Willits community, staff, students and parents. I am dedicated to providing the best education possible for our students in a collaborative effort. I look forward to getting to know everyone in the district, and getting out to all the school sites. I have heard wonderful things about the teaching staff, parental involvement, social consciousness of our students, and efforts the district is making to increase student achievement. I look forward to being a part of this community.”

AND SO ON. I suppose if Deb had been any further removed from all known Willits realities she wouldn't have gotten the job, and not to go all existential on you here, but don't you worry about the old girl's spiritual welfare, her soul? Can you go through life lying like this, spending all your miraculous days on this cosmic accident of an obscure whirlygig in an accidental corner of the universe pretending not to see what's in front of your blandly uncomprehending in-service face? Debra! Please! You are seriously out of psychic balance! Listen to me! I can help you! Come to the Boonville Fair! We'll group on your case, and by the goddess you'll drive north to that hellishly hopeless widespot on 101 a new woman.

COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO WRITES: On Behalf of the Executive Office and Board of Supervisors, The Board of Supervisors will be honoring Dr. Rosoff at their Board meeting on Monday, September 10, 2012, by bringing forward a Proclamation recognizing his civic contributions and the impact that he had on his community. They will be proclaiming the day “Dr. Douglas Rosoff Remembrance Day.” The proclamation is anticipated to be read at approximated 9am.”

A READER COMMENTS as he forwards the latest from Assemblyman Wes Chesbro: “As he ages, Chesbro looks more and more like Col. Sanders. See these photos of him presenting volunteer award to MendoLake Credit Union.” As registered Democrats — I know, I know — we tried to sign up for the hardhitting solon's newsletter but darned if we could. I know it's a Friday night and you have better things to do than read a lot of self-serving bushwa from this character, but hereeeeeessssssss, Wes!

Huffman, Credit Union Manager, Chesbro (x2)

THE MENDOCINO County Sheriff's Office is investigating the possibility of a missing person in the area of the North Pass Fire. On August 22, 2012 at approximately 3pm, a cellphone call was made to the CalFire Command Center from a non-English speaking male. The Spanish speaking male was reporting being close to the flames and being in direct danger of the fire. Numerous attempts were made to get a specific location of the subject without success. The US Forest Service has searched the possible location with a helicopter and CalFire has searched the area on foot. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has not received any reports of a missing person but is requesting anyone with information to contact Sergeant Shannon Barney, Search and Rescue Coordinator, at (707) 463-5667. )—Sheriff’s Office Press Release)

MENDOCINO COAST District Hospital in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County's only community-owned medical center, continues to suffer financial losses from significantly lower use of the hospital's “ancillary” services — lab tests, medical supplies, radiology and pharmacy. In July alone, the Hospital lost $250k even though more people came through the door and although management salaries had been cut 5%, the cafeteria was closed, and the billing system was improved. But doctor's contracts don't seem to have been re-visited with a view to the medicos sharing the fiscal pain as previously suggested by CEO Ray Hino.

EVEN WITH these losses, Coast Hospital's board proceeded to approve the purchase of 63 new “Baxter Sigma Spectrum IV Pumps.” Since the hospital only has 25 beds, a certain percentage of which are always empty, the number of new pumps seems kinda high. The total bill for the these things came to a little over $150k, which will come out of the hospital’s already depleted “reserves,” which also seems strange since in the past the Hospital Foundation (a separate non-profit which funnels donations to the hospital) has funded new equipment.

WHY DOES COAST HOSPITAL need a bunch of new IV pumps, much less 63 of them? Because the older models are a serious medical hazard.

Typical Baxter IV Pump

ACCORDING to a troubling Master’s thesis at the University of Toronto in 2009 by Ms. Sarah Rothwell entitled “The Effect of Dose Error Reduction Software on the Ability of Nurses to Safely and Efficiently Administer Intravenous Medications,” the US Institute of Medicine found that “as many as 98,000 hospitalized patients die annually from medical errors that could have been prevented. Alarmingly, this estimate only represented patients who died in hospitals where a medication error was documented. Deaths from preventable medical errors is the eighth leading cause of death in the USA, exceeding deaths caused from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, and AIDS.”

MS. ROTHWELL continues, “Medication errors occur at all stages in the medication delivery system. The medication delivery system can be broken down into four phases: (1) prescribing, (2) transcribing, (3) dispensing, and (4) administering. … If an error occurs at the final stage of the medication delivery process, there may be no chance of recovering from the error. … More than half the total errors resulting in harm occur at the final stage in the medication delivery system.”

WHEN THEY SAY “IV PUMP,” we’re talking about those complicated-looking machines hooked up to a patient via plastic tubes that hang down from an elevated portable computerized “pump.” It comes with a display screen and buttons that can be set up to deliver a range of medicines automatically. You often see them hooked up to a roll-around pole hauled around hospital corridors by geezerdom, their hospital gowns flying open to reveal, well, the way of all flesh. Eventually. (Hopefully, not from the pump.)

“THE ADMINISTRATION of medications intravenously (IV) is an important part in the management of patients,” says Ms. Rothwell. “Due to the frequency of high-risk-of-harm medications given intravenously, and the rapid onset of infusion medications, medication errors that occur in this therapy method have great potential to cause patient harm. … Whereas it is unlikely that a clinician would give 100 tablets to a single patient as a dose, the same clinician could inadvertently give 100-fold overdose of an IV medication by not recognizing the miscalculated dose.”

THESE NEW “IV PUMPS” have what’s called DERS (Dose Error Reduction Software) and that’s why hospitals are buying them. But the fancy new computerized, programmable pumps have their own problems. In her paper, Ms. Rothwell compared three other brands and models (Not Baxter, the ones Coast Hospital bought) and concluded that there were significant differences between them in terms of how easy they were for nurses to program and use and how reliably they worked. One of Ms. Rothwell’s conclusions was “it becomes increasingly important during the procurement process to consider how the design of the DERS affects nursing performance.” And, “Each smart pump model was found to have its own strengths and weaknesses. Where one smart pump model would excel in the design of an element, it would falter in the design of another.”

IN ANY CASE, if you're hooked up to one of these things you'd better be all the way caught up on your prayers.

LET’S HOPE that Coast Hospital didn’t buy the Baxter units just because they got a nice discount on them (which they did) and that they really are safe, efficient units that the nurses will be able to figure out how to use properly. After all, if the old IV pumps were 20 years old, we expect there might be a significant learning curve as the 63 new ones come on-line.

One Comment

  1. Jennifer Poole September 15, 2012

    heh, I just saw this. No apology needed.

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