Hospital wants to name something in your honor

You can be the first of your friends to make a donation to help Boulder Community Hospital expand its Foothills campus.

If you want to give $3,000 to $1 million, you also can name your own new piece of the hospital near the northeast corner of Arapahoe Road and Foothills Parkway in Boulder.

Maybe you want to name a waiting room, a balcony looking out on the Flatirons, an electric-car charging station in the parking lot or some other spot, according to Ron Secrist, president of the Boulder Community Hospital Foundation. Secrist and others on the foundation board are ready to help.

More than 1,000 people — including 600 hospital employees — have put a total of $9 million toward the campaign already, Secrist said. Local investors bought about $9 million of the $30 million worth of bonds recently sold to help finance the project, according to Wells Fargo Bank.

But with all in-patient services planned to move to the Foothills campus from the Broadway campus when all is said and done, the $120 million project still needs more community support.

To learn more about the campaign, call Secrist at the foundation, 303-938-5201.

What’s happening to the hospital’s Broadway location? It will become an outpatient and clinic facility in coming years as the inpatient services shift to the Foothills campus. Rehabilitation services currently at the Mapleton facility — formerly Boulder Memorial Hospital — are expected to shift to the Broadway location in the future.

When is flu season?

A group of scientists — including some local ones — are working on a prediction tool they hope could someday help the public prepare for flu outbreaks.

The new tool could be just like a television weather forecast, telling people to exercise care around others who are sneezing and coughing. The tool also could help health officials figure out whether or not to stockpile drugs and close schools to stop flu outbreaks.

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City worked on the project.

Flu kills about 35,000 people in the United States every year. Around the world, as many as 500,000 people die every year after catching the flu.

Findings from a pilot study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Homeland Security.

Finally, some statistics

The clock is ticking for the Affordable Care Act to go into effect in 2014. The federal health-care reform legislation will require all uninsured Americans to buy insurance or face penalties as well as a host of other things. The new rules were passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2010.

There’s been a lot of discussion in popular culture about health-care reform, and whether it causes existing health-insurance costs to go up or down.

Those in the health-care industry also talk a lot about it. Medicaid (insurance for poor people) rolls are expected to expand by about 200,000 to 300,000 people in Colorado, with corresponding cost increases in the public sector.

State officials also are working to create a health exchange, which is expected to offer an online shopping “clearinghouse” that helps customers buy new and potentially cheaper health insurance.

Various incentives are built into the law to encourage cost-cutting in the health-care industry.

With all the discussion about how much health care and health insurance may cost in the future, analyst Bob Semro at the Bell Policy Center in Denver pointed me to national statistics on how much it costs now.

About $2.6 trillion is spent on health care every year in the United States, or 18 cents for every $1 spent in the economy, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, an independent, nonprofit group in Washington.

Of that, an estimated 30 percent — or $750 billion — is classified as waste, from fraud and inefficiencies to overuse, according to the institute.

Health-care costs have gone up a lot faster than general economic costs in the United States since 1945. For example, if food costs rose as fast as health-care costs have since 1945, a dozen oranges would cost $134 today.

In the past decade, worker salaries have risen 38 percent, according to the statistics. At the same time, health-care premiums have risen 131 percent.

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or bpotter@bcbr.com.

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