If the majority of legislators and Gov. Bill Owens agree, Colorado will join 21 other states that have passed bills to protect nurses and other medical professionals who “blow the whistle” on medical errors and inefficiencies, according to a news release.

Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, has introduced HB 06-1193 – Whistleblower Protection, which prevents an employer from firing a health care worker in retaliation for the worker reporting substandard patient medical care.

Under the Colorado Nurse Practice Act, nurses are obligated to report violations of health care standards. “However, the existing law fails to adequately protect nurses and other health care workers when they do come forward about violations,” according to the release.

Carroll’s bill would implement a “uniform process for health care workers to report unsafe practices in the workplace.”

Dancing with … Memorial

It’s dancing and more at the Memorial Hospital Administrative Center this Saturday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The public is welcome to observe professional demonstrations of global dance forms, including line dancing, jazz, salsa, African dance and the waltz. Take a lesson or two as well. Exercise exhibitions include Tai Chi, Jazzercise, yoga and Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts).

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Memorial Hospital’s Day of Dance event also offers massage and acupuncture therapies, cooking demonstrations, heart-healthy education and information about emergency medical services, stroke awareness, nutrition and the Colorado Springs Children’s Hospital. EKG, fitness and blood pressure screenings will be available as well.

Booth participants include Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Great Harvest Bread and a variety of health-related agencies, such as the American Heart Association, Pikes Peak Cardiology and Memorial’s HealthLink.

Tour the Memorial Star Transport – the helicopter – at 11 a.m.

Day of Dance is sponsored by Memorial Hospital and the Spirit of Women – a national hospital-supported health movement that helps women make positive changes in their lives.

The Memorial Administrative Center is at 2420 E. Pikes Peak Ave. For more information and a complete list of activities and events, call 365-8899 or visit www.memorialhospital.com.

Heart ball a big success

More than 500 people attended the 23rd American Heart Association Heart Ball at the Broadmoor International Center this month. The event raised $260,000 for life-saving research in the Pikes Peak area, according to a news release.

The AHA introduced its childhood obesity prevention initiative – Raise the Paddle for Childhood Obesity – at the Heart Ball. The program, in partnership with the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, addresses childhood obesity issues by strategizing with the food industry, health care professionals, the education system and the children.

As a result of increases in childhood obesity, diseases that were once related to adults only, such as type-2 diabetes and hypertension, are appearing in children.

“The youth of today are considered the most inactive generation to date and are predicted to be the first in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents,” said Dr. Larry Cohen, an emergency room physician and a survivor of heart disease. “Children age 10 to 14 with at least one overweight or obese parent are reported to have a 79-percent likelihood of continuing to be overweight into adulthood. We need to do something to protect the health of our children and we need to do something now. It really is a matter of life and death for them.”

Cohen attributed his heart disease to years of poor eating habits and physical inactivity. “With a new focus on heart healthy eating and exercise, he has completed eight marathons/triathlons since his heart bypass four years ago,” according to the release.

For more information about the local chapter of the AHA, call 635-7688.

Speaking of obesity …

Medicare is expanding its coverage for obesity-related surgeries for the 65-plus and disabled population. Surgeries include the open and laparoscopic gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and open and laparoscopic bilionpancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (with restrictions on where the surgeries take place).

Previously, Medicare covered gastric bypass surgery if it was medically appropriate and was used to correct an illness caused by obesity or aggravated by obesity.

The Obesity Action Coalition is thrilled.

“The OAC is grateful that Medicare will provide expanded options to those affected by morbid obesity. Medicare’s endorsement of the safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery provides the morbidly obese with increased opportunity to access care and decrease the many life-threatening co-morbid conditions associated with their disease, such as heart disease, diabetes and much more. Through Medicare’s decision today, the health care community has most certainly taken a proactive step in the right direction,” said Joseph Nadglowski Jr., president and CEO.

According to OAC statistics, obesity impacts one in four Americans or an estimated 93 million-plus people, of whom eight-to-12 million are morbidly obese. Besides rallying government programs and private insurers to cover obese surgeries, the OAC hopes to eliminate the negative stigma associated with obesity, according to its mission statement.

Marylou Doehrman covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.