PHARMACIES FACING STAFFING PRESSURE: Often overlooked, pharmacists face much the same pressure as other health care professionals on the front lines of the pandemic. They’ve been asked to take on more work, playing a vital role in administering COVID-19 tests and vaccines. As they interact with larger numbers of customers, their risk of infection increases. Some have left retail pharmacies for other clinical settings or quit the profession entirely. Others say they’re not sure how much longer they can sustain the status quo. It’s a big problem for chains like CVS and Walgreens, which are desperate to staff up as flu season approaches and demand surges for COVID tests. Time is of the essence, with the U.S. expected to approve widespread COVID booster shots and expand vaccine eligibility to younger children in the coming months. READ MORE
JOINT COMMISSION TAPS HCA EXECUTIVE AS LEADER: Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin will lead the Oakbrook Terrace-based Joint Commission as its seventh president and CEO beginning March 1, 2022. Perlin, currently head of clinical operations and chief medical officer at Nashville-based for-profit hospital company HCA, will succeed Dr. Mark Chassin.
Chassin in February announced he was leaving the commission at the end of 2021 after 14 years as president and CEO, our sister publication Modern Healthcare reports.
“Jonathan is a nationally recognized leader and expert in quality improvement,” Chassin said in a statement. “I know that he will continue to transform The Joint Commission’s critical work to improve patient safety and quality of care in health care organizations across the country and around the world.”
SOME OF RYANS’ $480M NORTHWESTERN GIFT GOING TO MEDICAL RESEARCH: Northwestern University received its largest donation in school history—$480 million from megasupporters Patrick and Shirley Ryan, for whom the AbilityLab rehab hospital is named. The funds will go to a wide assortment of initiatives, from pioneering medical research to upgrading the football stadium that already carries the family name.
In the Feinberg School of Medicine, the donation will establish two new research funds—the Ryan Family Digital Health Fund and the Ryan Family Catalyst Fund—and a new institute dedicated to neuroscience.
The money will also endow and rename the Institute for Global Health and create the new Ryan Family Center for Global Primary Care within it. READ MORE.
ROSALIND FRANKLIN UNIVERSITY, APTINYX COLLABORATE ON BRAIN DISEASE TREATMENTS: Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science and biopharmaceutical firm Aptinyx have entered into a research collaboration to develop new therapeutics for brain and central nervous system disorders, the North Chicago-based university said in a statement.
RFU’s Brain Science Institute will partner with Evanston-based Aptinyx in a research agreement. Terms were not disclosed. Aptinyx has discovered and is developing a new series of compounds that act as positive allosteric modulators of the NMDA receptor and demonstrate beneficial effects on learning, memory, executive function and cognitive regulation of pain and emotion.
FORMER RESURRECTION UNIVERSITY OPENS AS OAK POINT UNIVERSITY: Newly expanded into two schools in nursing and health sciences, Oak Point University is welcoming its first class to a new campus in Oak Brook, the university said in a statement.
The Oak Brook campus complements its Chicago campus in Wicker Park in a new facility that includes 56 offices, 10 classrooms and its 12,000 square-foot Interprofessional Education Simulation Learning Center consisting of simulated hospital, operating room, health care practitioner offices and home health settings, as well as observation rooms. The new facility will fill an urgent need for nurses, with nurses in high demand, especially those with critical care and mental health training, the statement said.
“With one of the highest employment rates of nurses in the country, Chicago nursing grads earn an average annual salary of over $77,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020),” the statement said. “Providing educational solutions for specialists, Oak Point University now offers a Master of Science in Nursing or Post-Master Certificates in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
BIDEN SET TO TOUT VACCINE MANDATES IN CHICAGO NEXT WEEK: President Joe Biden will make his first presidential visit to Chicago next week “to highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for businesses,” the White House says. READ MORE.
COOK COUNTY LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT HEISTANCY: A new COVID-19 vaccine ad campaign targeted at the vaccine hesitant focuses on building trust, the county said in a statement.
More than 60% of suburban Cook County residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine so far, the statement said. The new ads center around the trust that people have in their doctors through multilingual campaign materials, including television and print ads and social media ads.
ABBOTT, CELLTRION TO SHARE IN ANOTHER $1.2B IN FEDERAL INVESTMENT IN COVID TESTS: The federal government is spending nearly $1.2 billion to purchase 187 million rapid COVID-19 tests from Abbott Laboratories and Celltrion, according to a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services official. The deals, which include options to buy more, are part of an investment of about $2 billion announced by the Biden administration earlier this month to make the rapid tests more widely available. The government is also using the Defense Production Act to build out manufacturing capacity. Abbott will provide between 13.4 million and 168 million of its BinaxNOW tests for $44.3 million to $554.4 million, according to an Abbott spokesperson and the HHS official. READ MORE.
U OF I BOARD APPROVES FORMER MERCY CLINIC SITE PURCHASE: The University of Illinois System Board of Trustees on Thursday gave the go-ahead for the $4.95 million purchase of a three-story clinic at 5525 S. Pulaski as part of a government-funded, $15 million project. The Southwest Side clinic was previously affiliated with Mercy Hospital & Medical Center. The facility will be renovated and provide specialty care, advanced diagnostics, behavioral and mental health services, and a state-of-the-art Women Wellness Center.
Trinity Health, which still owns three-hospital Loyola Medicine, in June sold Mercy Hospital in Bronzeville to Insight Chicago for $1.
BAXTER GETS FDA OK FOR READY-TO-USE BLOOD PRESSURE FORMULATION: Baxter International said Thursday it has received U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval and commercial launch of premix Norepinephrine Bitartrate in 5% Dextrose Injection (norepinephrine).
Norepinephrine is indicated to raise blood pressure in adult patients with severe, acute hypotension, and Baxter’s formulation is the first manufacturer-prepared, ready-to-use formulation, a Baxter statement said.
“In a critical care situation, speed, efficiency and safety are of the utmost priority,” Heather Knight, general manager, U.S. Hospital Products, Baxter said in the statement. “Our ready-to-use formulation of norepinephrine allows hospitals to store this medication closer to patient care settings like the emergency department, intensive care unit and surgical areas, letting them administer it faster while reducing the risk of compounding errors or touch contamination.”
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
• Maura O’Toole has been named the new president of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb and Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital in Sandwich. She most recently served as vice president of operations at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. She held several administrative leadership positions before joining Central DuPage Hospital in January of 2005 as director of perioperative services. O’Toole is replacing Jay Anderson, who was named chief operating officer of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
• Cardell Spangler has been named the new office managing partner for Winston & Strawn’s Chicago office, among a group of seven new managing partners in Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York and Paris.
Spangler concentrates her practice on employment litigation, highly sensitive investigations and counseling matters, representing clients in the financial services, medical device, pharmaceutical and other industries. Winston & Strawn’s Executive Committee periodically realigns management and leadership, the law firm said in a statement.