Cardiothoracic surgeon joins Penrose-St. Francis

Filed under: Health Care |

Dr. John Mehall, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, has joined Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and will be performing robotic-assisted heart operations.
Mehall is the director of robotic and minimally invasive surgery and director of cardiovascular outreach services. He has been conducting robotic-assisted heart surgery for three years and will offer the procedure at Penrose with Dr. James Stewart, medical director of the cardiovascular program.

John Mehall

“This was the first program in Colorado to do open-heart surgery,” he said. “So it has a lot of history.”
The procedure, which uses smaller incisions, is less painful for patients and allows a faster recovery time, is performed with $1.3 million surgical robot called the da Vinci Surgical System.
“It provides the power and ability of a computer between me and a patient,” Mehall said. “I can see better and do more … all without opening the patient’s chest and by controlling the instrumentation from the outside.”
Mehall graduated from Yale University and Southern Methodist University with undergraduate degrees in biology and philosophy. He also graduated from the University of Texas-Houston Medical School.

Memorial Trauma Center earns ACS accreditation

The American College of Surgeons has recommended that Memorial Health System Trauma Center be verified as an ACS Level II Trauma Center.
The recommendation follows a review by the ACS and will be forwarded to the ACS Committee for trauma with an official announcement expected in 30 days.
The center would become the only ACS verified trauma center in Colorado Springs and one of only 11 in Colorado.

Health Tour arrives next month

The Walgreens Health Corner Wellness Tour will be in the Colorado Springs area from Aug. 2-6.
Five free health screenings will be available: bone density, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and body mass analysis.
No appointment is necessary, results are immediate and from start to finish, all five screenings take about 25 minutes.
Screenings will be available from 1 to 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at 1013 Bonforte Blvd., Aug. 3 at 920 N. Circle Drive, Aug. 4 at 303 S. Circle Drive, Aug. 5 at 350 N. Union Blvd. and Aug. 6 at 1920 S. Chelton Road.

Free screenings for PAD

The Vascular Disease Foundation will conduct free screenings for peripheral arterial disease from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Colorado Springs Senior Center, 1514 N. Hancock Ave.
The test, which is non-invasive, checks the blood pressure at the ankles and in the arms to determine if blood flow has been constricted.
More than 8 million people have the disease, which puts them at risk for heart attack and stroke. The symptoms, fatigue, heaviness, pain and cramping in the leg muscles when walking that go away with rest, are often ignored.
Severe PAD also can cause pain in the feet or legs that disturbs sleep. Most people, however, experience no symptoms.
For more information, call (303) 989-0500. For information about the Colorado Springs Senior Center, visit

Anthem offers same-sex domestic partner coverage

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering same-sex domestic partner coverage to small group employers.
The news affects about 142,000 small business owners and their employees across the state.
“We know from the 2000 Census that same-sex couples reside in more than 99 percent of U.S. counties. This means that large or small businesses very likely have an employee, or will hire an employee, who would benefit from domestic partner health care benefit coverage,” said John Martie, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than half of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner health benefits to their employees.

Small group insurance in six years of decline

The small group insurance business in Colorado declined slightly during 2006, after declining sharply during the previous six years, according to the report from the Colorado Divison of Insurance.
The sector dropped by more than 1,500 enrollees and seven carriers who left the market. A single carrier, First Health, entered the market last year.
The small group market experienced an all time high in 2000, with more than 537,500 people enrolled. The 2006 enrollment was slightly more than 356,500, and showed a smaller drop than in previous years, according to the department, reflected by current discounts offered by several carriers.
Kaiser Permanente remains the largest small group provider in Colorado, followed by United Health Care and Anthem.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.