Capstone Health Alliance announces launch of new subsidiary: Capstone Solutions Inc
Capstone Health Alliance (Asheville, NC) announced the launch of its subsidiary company, Capstone Solutions Inc (CSI). CSI will provide business and industry customers with new and creative savings opportunities through partnerships with industry-leading suppliers. CSI’s focus to “Do More. Learn More. Save More.” will empower businesses of all industries through e-Learning Solutions, Health Plan savings opportunities and training programs with world class leaders, the company said. Visit for more information.

Cooperative Services of Florida and Vizient form a Strategic Partnership
Vizient (Irving, TX) and Cooperative Services of Florida (CSF) have signed a strategic membership agreement. Vizient will serve as the preferred national GPO and strategic cost management partner for CSF and its member health systems. The agreement also includes an aggregation group development strategy and all analytics modules within the Vizient Savings Actualyzer platform. Cooperative Services of Florida represents four health systems in Florida including Lee Health, the largest and only community-owned healthcare system in SW Florida; Sarasota Memorial, an 819 bed hospital; Central Florida Health, which Leesburg Regional Medical Center, the Villages Regional Hospital, and Leesburg Rehabilitation Hospital; and Jupiter Medical Center.

CDC: The flu has sickened over 6 million this season
The flu has sickened 6-7 million people in the U.S. during the 2018-19 season. And according to the most recent report from the CDC, 69,000 to 84,000 people have been hospitalized because of the flu. The CDC estimated there have been about 2.9 million to 3.5 million flu-related medical visits this season. These preliminary figures do not include estimates of flu-related deaths, which officials will provide when there is enough data to support a more precise estimate. For the first time during a flu season, CDC officials are providing estimates of how many people have gotten sick, sought care, or been hospitalized to highlight the risks of flu complications and encourage people to get vaccinated. Previously, the CDC provided these estimates at the end of flu season.

Intalere hires new SVP of sales
Intalere (St. Louis, MO) hired Julia McAllister as SVP of sales. In her new role, McAllister will provide executive leadership, strategic direction and administration to the sales teams and business partners of Intalere with a focus on strategic business development and growth. She previously was VP, payment management solutions for Change Healthcare.

ONC advisory group cancels January meeting amid government shutdown
The federal Health IT Advisory Committee has canceled its January meeting due to the government shutdown. The 25-member committee was created under the 21st Century Cures Act, which former President Barack Obama signed into law December 2016. The committee of experts is appointed by Congressional leaders, the HHS secretary, and the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office and works to provide policy recommendations to the ONC related to interoperable health IT infrastructure. The cancelation may create challenges for the committee’s task forces, such as its interoperability standards and annual report groups, which are scheduled to finish work around this time.

CHI to sell health plan to Centene
Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) (Englewood, CO) agreed to sell its health plan to Centene Corp. CHI said in June 2016 that it planned to exit the health insurance business and spin off its insurance subsidiary QualChoice Health. The companies have entered into a definitive agreement on the sale but will remain independent until Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr finalizes and approves the deal. QualChoice is Arkansas’ third-largest health plan. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CVS to acquire Ritzman Pharmacy
CVS plans to acquire20-store pharmacy chainRitzman Pharmacy (Medina, OH), and will close all but three stores.Ritzman stores in Akron and Berlin will continue operations but under the CVS name. The chain will also end its participation in a pharmacy at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Financial details regarding the deal were not disclosed.

VA appoints permanent CIO after 2-year vacancy
The Senate confirmed James Gfrerer as CIO and assistant secretary of IT at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs January 3. Gfrerer is the first permanent CIO at the VA since the start of the Trump administration, ending a nearly two-year-long vacancy. In this role, Gfrerer will oversee the agency’s EHR modernization project to ensure its system is interoperable with the Department of Defense. Since 2015, Gfrerer has been an executive director at Ernst & Young. Politico notes that Gfrerer has no prior experience in healthcare.

Indian River Medical Center, Martin Health System join Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic, Indian River Medical Center, and Martin Health System officials announced that Indian River Medical Center (IRMC) and Martin Health System are now part of the Cleveland Clinic health system, effective January 1, 2019. Moving forward, IRMC and Martin Health will continue all current operations, services and programs and patients will continue to see their same physicians and providers. All procedures and outpatient appointments will proceed as scheduled.

NYC launches first city-led nurse residency program in the US
New York City launched the Citywide Nurse Residency program, the first of its kind in the country. There will be 24 hospitals participating in the year-long program, which aims to improve the transition to the workplace for newly graduated nurses. It is being offered by NYC in collaboration with the Greater New York Hospital Association, NYU Langone Health, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The organizations will help the participating hospitals implement the program. Via the program, 500 nurses will gain specialized, on-the-job training focused on ethics, decision making, clinical leadership as well as incorporating research-based evidence into practice. The curriculum will be developed by Vizient/American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

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