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August 29, 2014   Download print version

WHO says Ebola outbreak could strike 20,000 people

NIH to launch human safety study of Ebola vaccine candidate

Scientists find mild cases of MERS among patients' families

AHRMM recognizes Affiliated Chapters, Fellows, and Committee Volunteers for outstanding leadership and service

Ethicon expands bariatric surgery portfolio; Unveils "Evidence Corner" At IFSO to address obesity and metabolic diseases

Hospital accused of dumping patients on Skid Row

Why hospitals’ CEOs are thinking about the A/C bill

West Africans get creative with Ebola "Lather Against Ebola" campaign

Happy Labor Day from HPN


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WHO says Ebola outbreak could strike 20,000 people

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday in a bleak assessment of the deadly disease.

The United Nations health agency issued a strategic plan to combat the outbreak in four West African nations where it said the actual number of cases could already be two to four times higher than the reported 3,069. The death toll stands at 1,552.

"This roadmap assumes that in many areas of intense transmission the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported. It acknowledges that the aggregate case load of Ebola Virus Disease could exceed 20,000 over the course of this emergency," the WHO said.

The deadly outbreak that began in Guinea in March and has spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as to Nigeria requires a massive and coordinated international response, the WHO said. A separate outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo identified as a different strain, is not included in its toll.

"Response activities must be adapted in areas of very intense transmission and particular attention must be given to stopping transmission in capital cities and major ports, thereby facilitating the larger response and relief effort," the WHO said.

The virus is still being spread in a "substantial number of localities", aggravating fragile social and economic conditions and has already killed an unprecedented number of health workers, the agency said.

A wider U.N.-led plan being launched by the end of September is "expected to underpin support for the increasingly acute problems associated with food security, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, primary and secondary health care and education, as well as the longer-term recovery effort that will be needed," the WHO said.

Visit Reuters for the story.



NIH to launch human safety study of Ebola vaccine candidate

Initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease will begin next week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The early-stage trial will begin initial human testing of a vaccine co-developed by NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults. Testing will take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD.

The study is the first of several Phase 1 clinical trials that will examine the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine and an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corp. The others are to launch in the fall. These trials are conducted in healthy adults who are not infected with Ebola virus to determine if the vaccine is safe and induces an adequate immune response.

In parallel, NIH has partnered with a British-based international consortium that includes the Wellcome Trust and Britain’s Medical Research Council and Department for International Development to test the NIAID/GSK vaccine candidate among healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom and in the West African countries of Gambia (after approval from the relevant authorities) and Mali.

Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has initiated discussions with Ministry of Health officials in Nigeria about the prospects for conducting a Phase 1 safety study of the vaccine among healthy adults in that country.

The pace of human safety testing for experimental Ebola vaccines has been expedited in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1,400 suspected and confirmed deaths from Ebola infection have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone since the outbreak was first reported in March 2014.

“Today we know the best way to prevent the spread of Ebola infection is through public health measures, including good infection control practices, isolation, contact tracing, quarantine, and provision of personal protective equipment,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “However, a vaccine will ultimately be an important tool in the prevention effort. The launch of Phase 1 Ebola vaccine studies is the first step in a long process.”

The investigational vaccine now entering Phase 1 trials was designed by Nancy J. Sullivan, Ph.D., chief of the Biodefense Research Section in NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC). She worked in collaboration with researchers at the VRC, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and Okairos, a Swiss-Italian biotechnology company acquired by GSK in 2013.

Phase 1 clinical trials are the first step in what is typically a multi-stage clinical trials process). During Phase 1 studies, researchers test an investigational vaccine in a small group of people to evaluate its safety and the immune response it provokes. Phase 2 clinical trials of investigational vaccines are designed to further assess safety and immune response in larger numbers of volunteers. Under certain circumstances, the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection or disease (called efficacy) can be determined in a Phase 2 trial. Phase 3 clinical trials are directed predominantly at determining efficacy.

The NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine candidate is based on a type of chimpanzee cold virus, called chimp adenovirus type 3 (ChAd3). The adenovirus is used as a carrier, or vector, to deliver segments of genetic material derived from two Ebola virus species: Zaire Ebola and Sudan Ebola. Hence, this vaccine is referred to as a bivalent vaccine. The Zaire species of the virus is responsible for the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In parallel, NIH has partnered with an international consortium that includes the British-based Wellcome Trust, as well as Britain’s Medical Research Council and Department for International Development to test the same NIAID/GSK monovalent vaccine candidate.

The Oxford trial is expected to launch in mid-September pending ethical and regulatory approval. Visit NIH for the release.



Scientists find mild cases of MERS among patients' families

Fewer than half of Saudi Arabian patients in a study passed the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus to household members, and many of those who developed secondary infections contracted mild cases of MERS, global researchers reported on Wednesday.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed observations that the virus can cause mild disease, but overall transmission rates are low.

"If less than half of infected patients transmit the virus to contacts, such as in this study, we can be pretty sure that this virus will not be able to start an epidemic in humans," co-author Christian Drosten of the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn Medical Center said in an email.

MERS, thought to originate in camels, causes coughing, fever and pneumonia, and kills about a third of its victims. The study confirms that the virus is extremely lethal, "suggesting that up to 30 percent of first-generation cases will die," Drosten said.

Understanding how Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is transmitted has been a quest for doctors trying to quell the outbreak that emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and has infected more than 850 people and killed 333 worldwide.

The paper was co-written by Ziad Memish, former deputy health minister of Saudi Arabia, who was sacked over his handling of the outbreak.

Based on the findings, Drosten said, the focus of research should be on containing animal-to-human transmission, perhaps by vaccinating dromedary camels.

The study involved testing 280 family members and close contacts of 26 MERS patients. The researchers used sensitive diagnostic tests to detect silent or mild infections. They identified 12 probable cases, suggesting a secondary transmission rate of about 4 percent.

There are no drugs to treat MERS and no vaccines capable of preventing it. The virus is closely related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which killed around 800 people worldwide after it appeared in China in 2002. (Reuters) Visit Fox News for the study.



AHRMM recognizes Affiliated Chapters, Fellows, and Committee Volunteers for outstanding leadership and service

This year, at AHRMM14, AHRMM recognized and celebrated the tremendous work, outstanding leadership, and professional commitment of AHRMM's committee volunteers, Fellows, and Chapter Recognition Program participants during the Annual Leadership & Achievement Reception. Review the listings below and congratulate these individuals and organizations on a job very well done.

AHRMM recognized new and lifetime AHRMM Fellows for reaching the highest level of education and achievement in both the Association and in the supply chain field and for being an inspiration to many peers. Congratulations to this year's new, renewed, and lifetime fellows.

New Fellow: David Early, CPM, FAHRMM, CMRP

Renewed Fellows: Lt. Col Terry K Cox, FAHRMM; William P Stitt, FAHRMM, CHL, CRCST; Jeffrey F Solarek, CMRP, FAHRMM, CPM; Mickey Sparrow, CMRP, FAHRMM; Dr. Jerry VanVactor, DHA, CMRP, FAHRMM

Lifetime Fellow: S. Patrick Tabor, FAHRMM, FACHE;

For more information on AHRMM's Fellow Program visit

AHRMM recognized more than 20 chapters for their participation in the 2014 Chapter Recognition Program.  The Program recognizes and rewards service to the healthcare supply chain community on the regional, state, and local levels.

Bronze Chapter Affiliates: Central Pennsylvania Chapter of AHRMM; Chicago Metro Chapter of AHRMM; Healthcare Supply Chain Network; North Carolina Association of Healthcare Resource and Materials Management; Society for Arkansas Healthcare Purchasing and Materials Management.

Silver Chapter Affiliates: Georgia Society for Healthcare Materials Management; Health Care Resource Management Association of Greater New York; New England Society for Healthcare Materials Management.

Gold Chapter Affiliates: California Association of Healthcare Purchasing and Materials Management; Mississippi Society for Supply Chain Management in Healthcare; North Texas AHRMM; South Carolina Society of Hospital Materials Management; Western Pennsylvania Chapter of AHRMM.

Diamond Chapter Affiliates: Arizona Healthcare Materials Management Association; Greater San Antonio Healthcare Resource & Materials Management Association; Healthcare Materials Management Society of New Jersey; Kansas Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management; Mid-Atlantic Society for Healthcare Materials Management; Minnesota Chapter of AHRMM; Texas Gulf Coast Supply Chain; Western States Healthcare Material Management Association. 

New AHRMM Affiliated Chapter: Rocky Mountain Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management

For more information on AHRMM's affiliated chapters visit

AHRMM also recognized and thanked Committees members for their tremendous service, expertise, and dedication to the advancement of AHRMM members and work of the Association. The following Committee Chairs accepted recognition on behalf of their Committees. Annual Conference Education Committee Chair: Florence Doyle; Chapter Relations Committee Chair: Kelly Wagner; Education Committee Chair: Mary Beth Lang, CMRP; Fellow Review Committee Chair: David Gibson, CMRP, FAHRMM; Issues and Legislative Committee Chair: Mike Duke; Membership Committee Chair: Pete Keys; Sustainability Task Force Co-Chairs: Amanda Llewellyn, CMRP, FAHRMM, FACHE and Kelly Wagner.



Ethicon expands bariatric surgery portfolio; Unveils "Evidence Corner" At IFSO to address obesity and metabolic diseases

Ethicon is introducing three new endocutter and energy products designed to help address the unique challenges of bariatric procedures such as sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. The announcement was made at the 19th World Congress of International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity & Metabolic Disorders (IFSO 2014), where Ethicon is featuring the new ECHELON FLEX GST System and a new 45cm ENSEAL G2 Articulating Tissue Sealer alongside the HARMONIC ACE+7 Shears with Advanced Hemostasis, the first purely ultrasonic device with a 7 mm vessel sealing indication.

Ethicon is also launching the "Evidence Corner" at IFSO 2014 (Booth 501) to drive greater industry focus on the global health and economic challenges of obesity and metabolic diseases.  The goal is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas aimed at generating new evidence and insights that can lead to new treatments for obesity and its associated diseases, and improve access to care for patients worldwide. Surgeons and healthcare professionals can meet with Ethicon's clinical and health economics teams to learn about current research studies funded by Ethicon and submit their own ideas for future studies.

Tissue slippage during firing may cause poor staple formation and lead to leakage, bleeding or "tissue milking" out of the end of the device, requiring clinical intervention and additional reloads. The ECHELON FLEX GST System, which includes the ECHELON FLEX Powered Plus Stapler and the ENDOPATH ECHELON Reloads with Gripping Surface Technology (GST), is designed to address these clinical issues through its unique design for better grip that provides less tissue slippage.

The 45cm length of the ENSEAL G2 Articulating Tissue Sealer for bariatric surgery is set to launch globally later in 2014.  This advanced bipolar energy device is the only such device designed to enable a perpendicular approach to cutting and sealing vessels up to seven millimeters in diameter, and lymphatics, through a 5mm port. Vessels sealed with a perpendicular approach are more than 28% stronger than vessels sealed at a 45 degree angle.VI Also, because the device can bend and provide greater control over the angle of approach, it makes it easier for surgeons to access difficult to reach parts of the anatomy and provides better access to tissue in deep or tight spaces. The ENSEAL G2 Articulating Tissue Sealer increases the ability to take the full vessel in a single bite.

The HARMONIC ACE+7, available in 36cm and 45cm for bariatric surgery, is the only purely ultrasonic energy device with a 7mm vessel sealing indication.

In addition to bariatric surgery, the HARMONIC ACE+7 may be used in a wide range of procedures and specialties including General, Colorectal, Bariatric, Gynecology, Thoracic, and Urology. Visit Ethicon for the release.



Hospital accused of dumping patients on Skid Row

The Los Angeles city attorney has sued a Glendale hospital, accusing the facility of dumping patients on Skid Row, and officials on both sides are working to reach a settlement.

The lawsuit filed by Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer on Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court accuses Glendale Adventist Medical Center of dumping homeless, mentally ill and disabled patients in a 50-block section of downtown L.A. known for its rampant drugs and poverty. According to the lawsuit, the hospital has been dumping patients for at least four years, most recently on June 6.

“Homeless people suffering from mental illness who wander these dangerous streets are particularly vulnerable to victimization and exploitation by criminal predators,” the lawsuit said.

Alicia Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Glendale Adventist Medical Center, said the hospital “strongly disagrees” with the allegations in the complaint and is working with the city attorney to settle the matter.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center, which opened as the Glendale Sanitarium in 1905, is part of Adventist Health, a system of 19 hospitals in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.

Patient dumping previously has been reported in downtown L.A.

In May, Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley agreed to pay $500,000 and adopt new patient-discharge policies after it was accused of dumping a mentally disabled homeless patient on Skid Row.

Feuer, who also filed the lawsuit against the Sun Valley hospital, said the money will go toward organizations with resources for homeless people, including Integrated Recovery Network, Downtown Women’s Center, Union Rescue Mission, Venice Family Clinic, Midnight Mission and L.A. Family Housing.

In January, Feuer announced a similar settlement in a patient-dumping case with Beverly Community Hospital in Montebello, which paid $200,000.

Feuer previously reported that his office is in talks with the Hospital Association of Southern California to establish uniform model-patient discharge policies that could be used by all hospitals in the region. Visit the Los Angeles Register for the story.



Why hospitals’ CEOs are thinking about the A/C bill

As Advocate Health Care moves ahead on a $92 million expansion of Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, it's primarily concerned with adding three stories of private patient rooms. But it's also focusing on the air conditioning system.

In an industry being pushed to reduce everything from overnight stays to nursing staffs, energy efficiency is a largely untapped area for cutting costs, experts say.

It's more than just switching out old light bulbs. NorthShore University Health System is overhauling operating rooms to make them less power-hungry, while Swedish Covenant Hospital uses structural beams channeling chilled water to cool its new outpatient building and LED lighting in its garage. Meanwhile, virtually all of the new hospitals built in the area in recent years have been certified as “green” buildings.

Hospitals are among the most resource-intensive commercial buildings because they must operate continuously and require energy for items as simple as lights and as complex as surgical robots. They have strict requirements for temperature, humidity and air quality, meaning they need sophisticated HVAC systems, and they include nonclinical functions that have high energy demands, such as food services and information technology.

For large hospital systems, annual energy costs can reach into the tens of millions of dollars, no small amount in an industry of thin margins. Yet most health systems still don't make green investments a priority, experts say. The incremental savings of an efficient boiler, for example, aren't as sexy as the revenue pop of a new magnetic imaging machine.

Inpatient facilities accounted for only 3 percent of square footage among all U.S. commercial buildings but gobbled up 8 percent of energy consumption, according to a 2003 U.S. Energy Information Administration survey, the most recent figures available.

Lighting accounts for 43 percent of hospital electricity usage, according to the federal data, so simply turning off unneeded lights is often the first move. The next step up, in terms of complexity and cost, are upgrades that would automate behavioral changes, like motion sensors that switch off lights in unoccupied areas, or fans that slow airflow through unused rooms.

When price tags reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for equipment like boilers and chillers, efficiency projects must compete for funding against other initiatives at the health system, says Cecilia DeLoach Lynn, director of facility engagement and metrics at Practice Greenhealth, a Reston, VA-based healthcare industry coalition. “It's still finding its way to the top of the agenda,” she says.

Once health systems decide to build new wings or replacement facilities, efficiency concerns are part of the justification, though they are never the main reason behind the projects.

For Advocate the primary purpose noted in its application to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board cites the need to convert Good Samaritan to all private rooms. The application then notes that potential energy consumption levels for the new tower would be 20 percent lower per square foot than the rest of the hospital.

Meanwhile, Evanston-based NorthShore, which spends about $20 million annually on utilities across its four hospitals, is focusing on “greening” operating rooms at Skokie and Highland Park hospitals by reducing the number of times per hour the air in the rooms gets cycled during nighttime hours. It's also replacing all OR lights with LED bulbs, which use less power and don't emit as much heat.

Swedish Covenant last year was granted LEED Gold Certification for its new outpatient building, the second-highest sustainability rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. Visit Chicago Business for the article.



West Africans get creative with Ebola "Lather Against Ebola" campaign

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — A young man on camera names the person who’s challenged him to dump the contents of a bucket over his head. But in a twist on the ice bucket challenge, this man is soon drenched in frothy, soapy water — part of a campaign to raise awareness about Ebola prevention in West Africa.

Ivory Coast’s “Lather Against Ebola” campaign, catchy songs and comedy are being used by West Africans to educate people on how to avoid getting the deadly disease. From Nigeria to Sierra Leone, songs and sketches have supplemented traditional media and government campaigns to educate the public about Ebola, which is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of infected people and can be partly contained by simple measures like regular hand-washing.

The “Lather Against Ebola” campaign was inspired by the ice bucket challenge that has generated tens of millions of dollars for the ALS Association, which raises money for Lou Gehrig’s disease research.

Ivorian blogger Edith Brou knew the ice bucket campaign was getting lots of attention and wanted to make it more relevant in her home country. Despite bordering Guinea and Liberia, two countries that have been hit hard by the Ebola outbreak, Ivory Coast has yet to record a single case, and Brou wants to keep it that way.

Those who accept the “Lather Against Ebola” challenge — searchable on Twitter using its French name, #MousserContreEbola — are expected to douse themselves with soapy water and hand out three bottles of hand sanitizer. Those who reject the soaking are expected to distribute nine. Since it launched on Aug. 18, dozens of participants have posted soap-soaking clips to social media.

Liberian rappers Shadow and D-12 recorded several Ebola-related tunes. Their hit song, “Ebola in Town,” was intended to counter early skepticism of the threat posed by the disease, which has infected more than 1,000 people in Liberia and killed at least 624. The disease has also his Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. “No touching! No eating something!” the rappers warn listeners, playing up the disease’s dangers. What the song lacks in specificity it more than makes up in catchiness.

Earlier this month, Liberian soccer star and former presidential candidate George Weah added his own song, “Ebola is Real,” to the line-up. In Sierra Leone, rapper Special C’s song “Ebola Does Not Discriminate” and music video portray the dangers of hiding sick patients, a practice Sierra Leone’s parliament outlawed last week because of its potential to spread the disease.

And in Ivory Coast, the video for Israel Yoroba’s new reggae-inspired song “Stop Ebola” enlists children, market women and a coconut seller to get out the simple message, while the singer dances in the streets of downtown Abidjan.

In Guinea, the government recently decided to back a group of comedians and artists to stage traveling shows.

Local filmmaker Aziz Balde said this is the best way to educate ordinary Guineans: “In a country where two-thirds of the population is illiterate, we the artists are the mouths of the people.” (Associated Press) Visit the Washington Post for the story.



Happy Labor Day from HPN

"Let’s celebrate the labor that built up this great land. From field to field to desk to desk. They built it hand in hand."

Healthcare Purchasing News wishes you and your family and friends a wonderful, safe and healthy Labor Day. We'll be back with healthcare news on Tuesday September 2.