Health Care

Health Care: New program aims to fix worker shortage

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Singing River Health Care Workforce Academy allows participants to work while advancing their careers

Working on the front lines of the pandemic was a challenge for staff at the system — a challenge only made harder by staffing issues.

Singing River is hoping to tackle the statewide health care worker shortage directly through its new apprenticeship programs. 

The Singing River Health Care Workforce Academy is a community-centered program on the Gulf Coast that aims to create more opportunities for people to become qualified health care professionals. 

The academy offers apprenticeships, such as a surgical tech internship and a certified nurse assistant internship, to create opportunities for people to continue working while they learn and accelerate their careers. 

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is working with Singing River on the licensed practical nurse (LPN) apprenticeship program, which hospital officials say is the first of its kind in the state. Jessica Lewis, director of human resources at the hospital, hopes that other hospitals will soon adopt the apprenticeship model to generate more career opportunities for Mississippians interested in working in the medical field. 

“We’re putting a huge investment into really training (people) and filling those gaps. The critical piece is making sure that we develop and build pipelines, because we’re going to continue to have staffing crises,” she said. “We have to go out there teaching and training our own.”  

The Singing River Health Care system will create more than 220 jobs while educating more than 1,000 students as a result of the program, according to the hospital.

Students can start in the academy as early as high school so that young people can get exposure to the medical field and make informed decisions about their career paths. Singing River has partnered with the and high schools to engage 11th and 12th grade students to participate in pre-apprenticeship programs and plans to expand to schools in Hancock County. 

Singing River will offer immediate employment to qualified graduates in high-demand critical specialties such as certified nurse assistants, surgical techs and licensed practical nurses.

Kellie Powell, a 33-year-old mother of three originally from Texas, has worked at Singing River as a medical assistant for nine months. She will graduate from the LPN program Sept. 2023. 

Prior to joining Singing River, she lived in New Orleans and worked for Ochsner Health System. After being displaced by Hurricane Ida, she describes coming to Mississippi as “a blessing in disguise.” 

“My children’s father and I packed for three to four days to evacuate and discovered that we couldn’t go back home after the storm,” she said.

She went to Gautier with her family. Her employers at Ochsner told her to find a branch in the Gulf Coast area and start working. 

“I found Singing River in Pascagoula and they hired me on the spot … I didn’t have any interview clothes or a car.” 

She hopes completing the program will help her pay off her student loan debt from when she attended college.  

“This program is the golden ticket. When I graduate, I will be debt free.” 

After graduating, she will sign a contract agreeing to work at Singing River for at least two years after completing the program.

The hospital plans to build a new facility to house this program, which is currently operating in a temporary location, in addition to a community health education center.

Construction for this facility near Hospital will begin soon and is being paid for with a $7 million grant from the state, Lewis said. Topics explored in the community health education center will include tobacco cessation, first aid, parenting, breastfeeding and childbirth. 

There will also be an emphasis on mental health, Lewis said. All of these programs will also be offered virtually through their digital medicine program, a program made by Ochsner Hospital System, that allows individuals to manage one’s high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes insulin from your phone and provides telehealth visits.

Eric Shelton contributed to this report.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Local organizations raising awareness for organ donations

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www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-06-27 19:40:02

Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency and Health System partnered to host a presentation to Jeune Esprit Service and Social Club on the importance of organ donations.

Currently, there are over 100,000 people on the waiting list for a life-saving transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives and can enhance the lives of 75 others through tissue donation.

MORA covered the need for organ, eye, and tissue donation…

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Mississippi clinic challenges law banning most abortions

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-27 17:11:30

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A couple of opponents stand outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic and call out to the patients inside the medical facility, encouraging them to not have an abortion, Jackson, Miss., Saturday, June 25, 2022. The clinic is the only facility that performs abortions in the state. However, on Friday, the overturned , ending constitutional protections for abortion. (AP…

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Hosemann, other lawmakers create committees after abortion ruling

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Mississippi legislative committees created after abortion decision

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann on Monday announced he was creating a nine-member “Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families” after the ’s abortion decision last week.

In a press release, Hosemann said the committee would be tasked with making recommendations to the Legislature on policies pertaining to families and children from birth to 3 years old. These, he said, may include making adoption easier and improving foster care, helping children in state custody, and improving child support and child care.

On Friday, House Speaker Philip Gunn announced he would create the “Speaker’s Commission on the Sanctity of Life,” to examine issues and policies affecting mothers and children.

Republicans Hosemann, Gunn and Gov. Tate Reeves have praised the high court’s decision on a Mississippi case last week that overturns the decades-old decision providing women rights. But the three said the decision also requires Mississippi leaders to provide more resources to help mothers, children and families.

Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, suffers from lack of prenatal, postnatal and all other forms of . It also has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation and one of the highest maternal rates. It has for years faced federal court decrees to address its substandard foster care and children’s services system.

On Monday Hosemann said: “From increasing opportunities for early education to addressing health care availability, the Senate has approved common sense legislation which supports our mothers and babies. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from this diverse group of lawmakers on these critical issues.”

Gunn has steadfastly opposed expansion to cover the working poor and earlier this year torpedoed a Senate proposal backed by Hosemann to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for Mississippi mothers.

Hosemann is the only one of the state’s top three leaders who’s said he’s open to discussion about expanding Medicaid, which would provide the state about $1 billion a year in federal funds to provide health coverage for the working poor.

Hosemann said his new study committee will be chaired by Sen. Nicole Boyd, R-Oxford and will include Sens. Kevin Blackwell, Hob Bryan, Dean Kirby, Rod Hickman, Angela Hill, Chad McManan, Angela Turner-Ford and Brice Wiggins. Hosemann said the committee will hold public hearings in the late summer or early fall and hear testimony from state agencies, experts and others.

Gunn indicated his commission would have lawmakers and advocates making recommendations to the House for policies to help women’s and children’s wellbeing.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

1998 state court ruling leads to lawsuit that could prolong Mississippi abortion fight

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1998 state court ruling leads to lawsuit that could prolong Mississippi abortion fight

An all but forgotten 1998 ruling by the state Supreme Court declaring a right to an is granted in the state Constitution could prolong the fight over abortion in Mississippi despite last week’s landmark decision overturning .

The in the 1998 decision, Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Kirk Fordice, said that the state Constitution — not just the U.S. Constitution — also granted abortion rights.

The Pro-Choice decision would supersede Mississippi’s trigger law, passed in 2007 by the Legislature, that stated that abortion would be illegal in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

Jackson Women’s Health Organization has filed a in Chancery Court arguing the trigger law is invalid because of the constitutional right to an abortion spelled out by the state Supreme Court in the 1998 decision. The lawsuit also will contend a separate state law that bans abortions after six weeks also should be invalid because of the same ruling. A federal court injunction blocking the six-week law from taking effect will be lifted based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last Friday overturning Roe v. Wade.

“The Mississippi Supreme Court’s 1998 decision interpreting the Mississippi Constitution exists completely independent of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions about the federal Constitution. It is binding precedent.” said Rob McDuff of the and who was an attorney on the 1998 lawsuit. “As confirmed by the Mississippi Supreme Court in that case, the decision about whether and when to have children belongs to individuals and families, not to the state’s politicians.” 

Under the trigger law, Lynn Fitch is charged with certifying that Roe v. Wade had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fitch, whose office filed the lawsuit in Dobbs v. leading to the reversal of Roe, filed the certification Monday morning, meaning abortions in the state will be illegal within 10 days except in the cases of the mother’s life being in danger and of a law enforcement-reported rape. It is not clear how the lawsuit will impact the certification and how abortion will be handled in the state while the lawsuit is adjudicated.

The 1998 decision was written by then-Justice Michael Sullivan of Hattiesburg. He was joined by four other members of the nine-person court.

Sullivan wrote, “The right to privacy in article III, § 32, of the Mississippi Constitution encompasses the right to autonomous bodily integrity. The right to choose to have an abortion, like many other medical procedures, is included in the right to autonomous bodily integrity. While we do not find the Mississippi Constitution to provide an explicit right to an abortion, abortion is protected within the penumbras of the right to privacy.”

The 1998 case was filed by Pro-Choice Mississippi challenging restrictions placed on abortion by the state, such as requiring a 24-hour waiting period after receiving counseling at the abortion clinic, requiring licensing of the abortion clinics and requiring consent of both parents for minors to receive an abortion. The court ruled that those restrictions were allowable and not an undue burden on women, but still recognized a right to an abortion under the Mississippi Constitution.

The groups involved in filing the lawsuit for Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in the state, are the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison,

“Abortion remains legal in Mississippi,” said Hillary Schneller, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We will continue to work to ensure that every Mississippian can make their own decisions about their body, their lives, their relationships and their families.”

Mississippi is one of 13 states with a trigger law. But as Mississippi’s trigger law has been discussed in the state and nationwide, no one has taken into account the fact that the state Supreme Court has said the Mississippi Constitution protects the right to an abortion.

Apparently, Mississippi legislators also had forgotten about the 1998 state Supreme Court decision when they passed the trigger law in 2007.

“The government should not be deciding matters of childbirth for the women and families of Mississippi,” said Vangela M. Wade, president and CEO of Mississippi Center for Justice. 

Editor’s note: Vangela M. Wade is a member of Mississippi Today’s board of directors.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Mississippi AG certifies state’s abortion ‘trigger law’

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-27 09:44:03

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Lynn Fitch

 

This morning, in according to state law, Attorney General Lynn Fitch published the required certification for what is known as the state’s trigger law.

“Mississippi’s laws to promote life are solid and thanks to the Court’s clear and strong opinion in Dobbs v. , they can now go into effect,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch.

The law takes effect in…

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Fitch certifies Mississippi’s trigger law banning abortion in nearly all cases

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Fitch certifies Mississippi’s trigger law banning abortion in nearly all cases

Lynn Fitch on Monday certified the state’s 2007 trigger law banning except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or a rape has been reported to law enforcement.

The law will not officially take effect until 10 days from Monday. Officials at Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s sole abortion clinic, have promised to continue providing services as long as the law allows.

“Mississippi’s laws to promote life are solid and thanks to the Court’s clear and strong opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they can now go into effect,” said Fitch. “As we have said throughout this case, presented a false choice between a woman’s future and her child’s life. As we proceed in this post-Roe world, the people of Mississippi and of all the states will be able to fully engage in the work of both empowering women and promoting life. I am grateful that the Court has given us this opportunity.”

Abortion has been banned or mostly banned in 10 states following the Court’s ruling last week. Mississippi is one of 5 states that will be added to that list in the coming days through legislation yet to go into effect.

Mississippi law required Fitch to first publish her determination that Roe is overturned and second that it is “reasonably probable” the law would be upheld by the Court as constitutional.

The move came after the on Friday overturned the 1973 landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade. The ruling stemmed from a case that originated in Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Podcast: Hospital Association head talks Medicaid expansion, state of Mississippi’s health care

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Podcast: Hospital Association head talks Medicaid expansion, state of Mississippi’s health care

Mississippi Hospital Association President Tim Moore says the state’s providers are teetering financially and that once pandemic stimulus funds run dry “It’s going to be time to pay the band.” MHA has pushed for Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, to adopt expansion and accept about $1 billion a year in federal dollars to provide health coverage to Mississippi’s working poor and help hospitals stay afloat.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Landmark tobacco lawsuit settled 25 years ago — what happened to money?

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Landmark tobacco lawsuit settled 25 years ago — what happened to money?

If Mississippi’s political leaders had stuck to their plan, the state would now have a of more than $4 billion earning about $320 million annually to spend on , based on projections made in 1999.

But, as often is pointed out, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Such is the case with the health care trust fund that was created in 1999 with the money from the state’s settlement with the tobacco companies of a landmark to collect government funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses.

The settlement funds have been delivered to Mississippi as promised, but the promise of a trust fund was broken long ago.

The lawsuit, which originated in Mississippi, turned into a $365 billion national settlement that was announced by then-Mississippi Mike Moore and others on June 20, 1997 – 25 years ago.

The lawsuit guaranteed Mississippi $4 billion over 25-years with annual payments of $100 million or more, based on a formula, continuing forever.

“The money is good, but the most important thing is when you look at kids smoking, it was 27% then and it is now less than 4%. We have done a lot of wonderful things in the last 25 years,” said Moore who resides in Madison County near Jackson and remains active in groups combatting cigarette use. “Adult smoking was around 30% and it is now 12%.”

He said lung disease has been cut in half and the prevalence of other diseases associated with smoking also is down. The lawsuit placed restrictions on the cigarette-makers advertising to young people and played a key role in campaigns that have led to significant reductions in tobacco use.

Moore concedes that he is disappointed that the trust fund was fleeting.

“It breaks my heart,” Moore said recently.

Slowly at first, state leaders began removing funds from the trust fund to fill budget holes. In 2005, legislation was passed to take $240 million from the trust fund to plug a deficit. At first the Democratic-led House rejected the proposal, touting instead an increase in the cigarette tax – at 18 cents a pack one of the nation’s lowest – to plug the hole. But Republican Gov. Haley Barbour resisted the tax proposal.

In the end, the House agreed to the raid as long as there was a commitment to replenish the trust fund. Each year legislators and Barbour balked at making the repayments to the trust fund while at the same time removing more money to fill other holes.

When Barbour took office in 2004 there was more than $630 million in the fund. When he left office, the fund contained $50 million.

Eventually, the Legislature repealed the trust fund.

The erosion and eventual elimination of the trust fund was bipartisan. It began to a limited degree under Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and accelerated under Barbour. Both Republican and Democrats in the Legislature at the very least acquiesced in the trust fund withdrawals.

Still, it could be argued that the funds were used for important purposes – primarily to evade Medicaid cuts. But it is at least worth pointing out that many of the same political leaders who participated in the trust fund raids have passed tax cuts in recent years that will total more than $1 billion annually when fully enacted. Could some of those funds have gone to restoring the trust fund?

The lawsuit was concocted by Clarksdale attorney Mike Lewis upon visiting a friend – a chronic smoker suffering from cancer. He took the idea of suing the cigarette companies to recoup public funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses to Moore. The AG brought into the discussions Richard Scruggs, a nationally recognized attorney from , Moore’s hometown.

The lawsuit advanced the template of the state contracting with private attorneys. If the state prevailed, the private attorneys won big. If they did not, they received nothing. And the caveat was that the private attorneys had to use their own money. Legislative leaders made it clear Moore should not expend any state funds on the tobacco lawsuit that they viewed as a pipe dream.

“Scruggs spent every penny he had,” Moore said. “If it had not worked out, he would have had nothing left. It turned out the other way. But that is not what people were predicting.”

Of course, years later Scruggs was convicted in federal court in a judicial bribery scheme involving a lawsuit where some of the attorneys involved in the case were bickering about their share of funds from the settlement.

Some have argued that the judicial bribery tainted the lawsuit.

Moore conceded Scruggs made a mistake, but the lawsuit has been good for the state and nation – even though it did not result in a health care trust fund for Mississippi.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Jackson Pink House will likely close soon after Roe v. Wade decision

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-06-24 17:40:39

When the precedent was overturned by the Supreme Court Friday morning, the clock began ticking for the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic, which most people know as the Pink House.

Representative from the clinic held a  conference Friday afternoon saying they will likely close in a matter of weeks but also that the Jackson clinic’s demise will not be the end for…

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