TUE AM News: State’s long-term care system not keeping up with changing needs, advocate says; Leo Cancer Care’s latest funding round supporting global expansion plans

— Wisconsin’s long-term care system isn’t keeping up with the changing needs of the state’s aging population, according to a Board on Aging & Long Term Care member. 

Kim Marheine, the board’s state long term care ombudsman, says the organization has been hearing more complaints and concerns about critical needs in recent years, such as health and welfare, safety and more. 

“And some that are life-threatening,” she said yesterday during a Newsmakers interview on WisconsinEye. “People not getting out of bed maybe over a weekend, because there isn’t enough staff in not just their nursing home, but in their assisted living community as well.” 

Marheine drew a parallel between the current situation — in which many long-term care sites are struggling to meet proposed staffing standards — and the 1970s, when widespread concerns about the quality of long-term care led to the creation of ombudsman programs. 

“We also have to talk about funding as well,” she said. “We have to talk about Medicare, Medicaid reimbursement. We have to talk about more positions for ombudsman programs, for aging and disability resource centers to offer those supports.” 

Devon Christianson, director of the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Brown County, highlighted a “shift in the acuity level” across levels of care. 

“So now I would say hospitals have actually become part of the long-term care system as people struggle to find placements, because those placement amounts and alternatives are shrinking, and the complexity of people’s care needs,” she said. 

The Wisconsin Hospital Association has highlighted this trend as a major concern in previous reports. Its latest workforce report shows the number of nursing home beds licensed in the state has dropped from 46,000 in 2002 to just over 26,000 now, while the number of elderly, blind and disabled people enrolled in Medicaid has nearly doubled, from 143,000 to 270,000. 

Christainson also said family members play a significant role in long-term elder care and noted “they are now an expected care partner,” but argued “we don’t have policy or support” for them to continue a high level of care, such as administering medications and other complex care. 

The WisEye interview touched on recently proposed federal minimum staffing standards for long-term care, under which a facility with about 100 residents would need up to three registered nurses, 11 nurse aides and two additional nursing staff per shift, Newsmakers Host Lisa Pugh said. 

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found just 41% of Wisconsin’s nursing facilities meet the proposed requirements, which would be phased in over several years. 

Marheine says the proposed rule “speaks to how we value long-term care systems and the persons who receive those services,” noting a lack of training and education for service providers contributes to the challenge. 

“Essentially, every aspect of nursing home regulation has been modified over the last several years,” she said. “Staffing is the one area that hasn’t been touched since I believe the ‘80s. And with the changes in complexity, with that lack of other support being available, it only makes sense that we look to try to bring more value to that caregiver role.” 

Still, she acknowledged the more strict standards are “confounding” for many care providers who aren’t sure how they will meet them in the coming years. 

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— Leo Cancer Care has completed a Series C investment round, supporting the Middleton-based company’s global expansion plans. 

The exact amount raised wasn’t disclosed, but a company spokesperson said the round was for approximately $40 million. The business has raised about $100 million overall. 

Leo Cancer Care has developed a patient positioning and CT imaging system, which rotates patients in an upright position to conduct cancer treatment using a fixed radiation beam. Called “Marie” after radioactivity researcher Marie Curie, the machine is meant to reduce organ movement and improve the accuracy of treatment, according to the company. 

This approach takes up less space than existing options for delivering such treatment, including proton therapy and carbon ion therapy. 

“This funding marks an important milestone, as it will enable the growth of our business and allow us to build the necessary infrastructure to support our system once it is installed at various sites,” said CEO Stephen Towe, adding it will “put Leo Cancer Care and our systems for upright radiation therapy firmly on the global stage.” 

The company is targeting Asian markets for its expansion, including locations where it’s begun building a presence such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea. 

McLaren Health Care Corporation, based in Michigan, contributed funding in the investment round after installing one of the Marie machines for testing. Gregory Lane, its chief administrative officer, has joined Leo Cancer Care’s board of directors. And the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation also took part in the round, the release shows. 

See the release

Top headlines from the Health Care Report… 

— Affordable Dental Care of Madison will break ground next week on a new clinic, which will be able to serve around 5,000 patients per year. 

For more of the most relevant health care news, reports on groundbreaking research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics and WisBusiness.com. 

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— A Waukesha security firm called Secure Resources Unlimited has been tapped for the upcoming Republican National Convention, organizers announced. 

The RNC Committee on Arrangements CEO Elise Dickens says the company’s local expertise makes it “an invaluable partner” for the convention, taking place July 15-18 in Milwaukee. About 50,000 people are expected to come to the Milwaukee event, including media, delegates and other attendees. 

“SRU’s role in identifying and mitigating security risks as well as providing security detail during the Republican National Convention is paramount,” Dickens said in the release. 

The company will work with RNC staff and law enforcement during planning and the week of the convention, including providing security detail at RNC-sponsored events, hotels, parking lots and other areas. 

SRU CEO Brian Dorow touts the company’s “decades of the experience necessary to plan and execute” a major event. 

“Predicting the seemingly unpredictable is the name of the game in the security industry,” he said. “Preparedness and risk mitigation are crucial in ensuring safe and stable operations for massive events like the Republican National Convention.” 

See the release

— GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is urging Dem Gov. Tony Evers and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson to intervene and demand the protest zone for the Republican National Convention be moved further away from Fiserv Forum, the main hub for the convention.

“The proximity is ridiculous,” Johnson said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics. “I’d like to see Mayor Johnson step up to the plate or demand change as well. Again, this is in all of our best interests. Gov. Evers ought to be demanding change as well. As you know, obviously, the Republican Party, we’re asking for this concern to be addressed.”

The U.S. Secret Service is expected to release its final security zone in the coming days alongside the official protest zone from city of Milwaukee officials, for which multiple options are still reportedly being considered.

“I’m concerned about the U.S. Secret Service now kind of digging their heels in right now,” Johnson said. “That has to be addressed. That has to be changed.”

Johnson also dismissed reporting surrounding comments by former President Donald Trump reportedly calling Milwaukee a “horrible city.” Trump said in an interview on Fox News he was referring to crime and the elections in the city.

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See these and other press releases 

Affordable Dental Care of Madison: To break ground on new clinic

Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association: Alisa Robertson to succeed Mike Knetter as CEO

Gov. Evers: Announces request for services to conduct independent operational audit of MPS