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Activists push to keep Mercy open • CancerIQ raises $5M • Illinois 5th in child COVID cases

GROUPS PLEA TO KEEP MERCY OPEN: Community activists called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker to keep Mercy Hospital and Medical Center open, asking leaders to fully fund the South Side hospital or support a consolidation plan that collapsed in Springfield earlier this year. 

Mercy said it plans to close next year. It’s among a number of South Side hospitals struggling to stay afloat in the face of rising expenses, declining reimbursements and competition from expanding local chains, Crain’s recently reported. 

A release from Journey for Justice Alliance erroneously said that St. Anthony Hospital on the West Side is also closing, prompting a clarification from the hospital.

“I want to confirm that Saint Anthony Hospital has no plans to close and we remain committed to providing the best care to the communities that we serve and that depend on us,” Effie Gryfakis, St. Anthony director of marketing and public relations, said in an email Thursday. 

The inclusion of St. Anthony was in reference to stories that the independent hospital at 2875 W. 19th Street “was in danger of closing, and we were in fear of it being next,” said Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance.

WHERE ILLINOIS FALLS IN CHILDHOOD COVID-19 CASES: Illinois is fifth in the number of COVID-19 cases among children nationwide, according to the latest weekly report from the Itasca-based American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. 

The report gained national attention this week when it found that, between July 9 and Aug. 6, there were 179,990 new cases among children—a 90 percent increase over four weeks.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Illinois has seen 17,859 COVID-19 cases among children, which is defined as up to the age of 19. Children make up approximately 9.6 percent of the state’s cases, according to the report.

But per capita infection rate here trailed other states. Illinois had 567.8 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 children, while Arizona had 1,206.4. Meanwhile, Hawaii is at the other end of the spectrum with only 91.2 cases per 100,000 children. 

CancerIQ RAISES NEARLY $5 MILLION IN STARTUP FUNDING: CancerIQ has raised $4.8 million in a Series A funding round led by HealthX Ventures. The Chicago-based health care technology platform will use the funding to accelerate the growth of its current offering and deepen integrations with EHRs and genetic testing partners, according to a statement.

HealthX Ventures is the digital health-focused venture capital firm led by Mark Bakken, the founder and former CEO of Nordic Consulting, a large electronic health records consulting firm.

ARIZONA BLUES SUES WALGREENS OVER PRICES: Arizona Blue Cross and Blue Shield has filed a lawsuit against Walgreens Boots Alliance in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging the drugstore chain inflated prices for millions of claims. In March, a dozen health plans of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association filed a similar lawsuit. Health Care Service Corporation, parent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, was not one of the Blues companies to sue. 

A request for comment from Walgreens was not returned before deadline.

HEART DISEASE MORTALITY RISING, ESPECIALLY AMONG BLACKS: Northwestern Medicine study finds that, despite advances in heart disease management, deaths, particularly among Black women and men, are rising in the U.S. The British Medical Journal study looked at mortality across numerous heart disease types between 1999 and 2018, examining racial and sex differences in the data.  

“Despite medical and surgical advances in heart disease management and public policy initiatives around blood pressure awareness, we are losing ground in the battle against heart failure and hypertension,” says senior study author Dr. Sadiya Khan, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. “And the disparities in heart disease are clear.” 

In total, deaths from heart disease in 2018 accounted for 3.8 million potential years of life lost. Disparities observed in heart failure and hypertensive heart diseases are likely due to higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes in Black women and men, Khan said.  

BAXTER GETS EMERGENCY OK FOR RENAL CARE THERAPY: Baxter International Inc. said in a statement it has received Emergency Use Authorizations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for two products that could help treat Acute kidney injury (AKI), one of the many complications affecting COVID-19 patients.

The products, the HF20 Set and the ST Set, are intended for patients requiring continuous renal replacement therapy. The authorization allows the ST Set to be used in acute care environments, while the HF20 Set can deliver treatment to “low weight” patients, according to a release.

AKI is a potentially life-threatening condition where the kidneys suddenly stop working and fluid and uremic toxins build up in the body.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: 

• Chicago-based life sciences incubator Portal Innovations, LLC, has brought on former Abbott Laboratories Chief Financial Officer Brian Yoor as chairman and senior operations advisor. Yoor served as executive vice president and CFO at Abbott from 2015 until 2020. 

• Kerensa Jimenez has been named chief executive officer of Paragon Bioscience’s capital markets group, Paragon Health Capital. Jimenez previously served as managing director of Octagon Capital Group.  

• Cancer IQ has hired Lisa Glaspie and Ashar Wasi, two longtime staffers at Epic, to its new integrated products team. Glaspie is now director of integrated products while Wasi is an integrated product specialist.


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