The holidays, sadly behind us, marked the end of a long and busy year. We at WSHA are cranking back into gear after two slow holiday weeks and are looking eagerly forward.
The legislature convenes on Monday, and we have an ambitious agenda. Particular areas of focus are mental health, telemedicine and clinic fees.
Our advocacy efforts will continue to focus on improving quality and increasing access. It’s no secret that the legislature has a hard job ahead of it: the need for more funding in critical areas such as education and mental health will make for some difficult choices. Over the last few years, the state has made important steps forward in health care. We can’t lose those gains now: our patients and our communities are counting on us.
We hope that the year-end slowdown brought you an opportunity to relax and restore with loved ones. But now it’s time to get moving!
WSHA President and CEO
Flooding in Aberdeen Impacts Grays Harbor Community Hospital
Heavy rains early this week caused mudslides, flooding and road closures along the Washington state coast. This created problems for both patients and staff of Grays Harbor Community Hospital, who were trying to get to the hospital (or get home after a shift). The picture below was taken from the hospital, looking out on the town of Aberdeen. The rain has abated, but the ground is extremely saturated and the danger of mudslides continues. (See the KING 5 story here).
“Our community is still cleaning up the mess,” said David Quigg, Grays Harbor Community Hospital Director of Public Relations. “We will have two fundraisers in the next two weeks to support our employees in need. We have three employees who are displaced from their homes, one of them had a home that was destroyed.”
WSHA Transparency Site Getting Attention
WSHA has published hospital quality data online for years, but a recent renovation of the site is bringing new attention to our long-standing effort to make quality data transparent and available to the public.
Paul Levy, a nationally respected health author and adviser, wrote, “the Washington State Hospital Association… and its members have been at the forefront of transparency for years, and they keep pushing the envelope.” (read Levy’s whole “Not Running A Hospital” post here.)
The story was also picked up by Healthcare Finance News and was previously covered in State of Reform with an article (“Washington leads next level of hospital transparency on the web”) and a Q&A (“Q&A: How WA hospitals are building trust in a new world of transparency”). Carol Wagner, WSHA’s SVP for Patient Safety, will be discussing quality transparency at the State of Reform conference today.
The new site was launched last October at the WSHA Annual Meeting. The site is free and open to the public. Visit www.wahospitalquality.org to see it for yourself! (Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, firstname.lastname@example.org)
IRS Publishes Final “Section 501(r)” Regulations for Tax-Exempt Hospitals
On December 29, 2014 the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Treasury issued final regulations implementing requirements for 501(c)(3) tax exempt hospitals under the Affordable Care Act. As a condition of their tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3), hospitals are required to take an active role to improve the health of their communities and provide eligible patients with financial assistance.
The final regulations largely adopt previously proposed regulations, but include changes in the areas of collections practices, amounts generally billed to qualifying patients, and hospital community health needs assessment strategies. WSHA will soon provide further guidance and detail on these important regulations. (Zosia Stanley, email@example.com)
Bird (Flu) Watching
News reports at the end of December reported several cases of avian flu in Oregon and Washington (read the story in the Oregonian). According to the Department of Health’s Flu Update, avian flu H5N8 was identified in captive falcons and avian flu H5N2 was identified in wild ducks; neither strain has been found in humans.
Hospitals stepped up and became prepared when Ebola emerged as a national concern. That learning has helped hospitals and providers to be ready for what the future holds, and to be vigilant —especially in seasons like this one, when the flu vaccine does not provide total protection for all circulating strains. Useful flu information from the DOH is available here. (Carol Wagner, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Partners in Quality Leadership Forum on February 2, 2015
As health care organizations continue to focus priorities on the Triple Aim – better care, better health, lower costs – and a shift toward value-based contracting, some of the top priorities are improving the quality and efficiency of health care delivery and maximizing the relationship with key partners.
Partners in Quality: CEO and CMO Leadership Forum
Monday, February 2, 2015
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
SeaTac Marriott Hotel
To register or for more information contact Megan Boucher at email@example.com
Join us at this this intimate, highly interactive conference focused on engaging hospital and clinic CEO’s, CMO’s and senior physician leaders in the following topics: leveraging partnership roles to sustain continuous improvement; optimizing effective clinically integrated networks; review and implementation of the Call to Action initiative and more. (Tanya Carroccio, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ron Rehn Named as New Providence Chief Executive in Stevens County
Ron Rehn has been named as the new Chief Executive of Providence Health Care in Stevens County. For the past two years, he served as chief operating officer of PHC in Stevens County. Mr. Rehn is a longtime resident and health care leader in Stevens County and brings 20-plus years of experience as a health care administrator in rural communities.
Ron holds a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University and a doctorate degree in health administration from the University of Phoenix. (Danielle Kean, email@example.com)
Changes at WSHA: Jeff Mero
For the first time in 30 years, we are starting a legislative session without Jeff Mero, who left the Association at year’s end. Jeff spent most of his professional life at WSHA, finally serving as VP for Rural Development, and was well respected across our state.
Jeff was a passionate advocate for hospitals, but he was an advocate for the communities who depend on hospitals. He attended community meetings in every corner of every county, and the insight he brought back has enriched WSHA, legislators and agencies for three decades.
As we move forward into this next legislative session, we will continue to be inspired by the compassion and thoughtfulness that Jeff brought to work every day.
Industry Partner Spotlight: InsMed
Washington Hospital Services is pleased to introduce one of our newest industry partners, InsMed Insurance Agency. InsMed provides income replacement benefit products to employed physicians, residents and fellows. InsMed’s offerings are designed to complement an organization’s current group long term disability coverage, can be offered on a voluntary basis, and allows participating physicians to obtain coverage with permanently fixed and level rates and the coverage can be maintained if the physician leaves their current place of employment. For more information about this partner please contact Paul Unsworth at PaulU@wsha.org or (206)577-1806.
Merritt Hawkins Examines Physician Shortage
A newly published white paper from WHS Industry Partner Merritt Hawkins provides a state-by-state look at physician availability and access. The publication, The Physician Shortage: Data Points and State Rankings, provides insights that can be used in physician needs assessment and physician recruiting plans. The report is free and available for download. For more information about the report, or specific recruitment trends in your area, please contact Corey Johnson, Merritt Hawkins Senior Director of Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org or (469) 524-1752.