Grateful for Good Leadership

December 4, 2014

Next week, the WSHA Board of Trustees will be having its final meeting of the year. There might be holiday ornaments on the walls, but it’s a workhorse of a meeting agenda, filled with topics critical to the future of WSHA and the future of health care in our state.

In planning for the meeting, it struck me how lucky we are to work with such strong leaders. Our membership is full of women and men who have a strong vision of improved health care delivery in our state. There is so much changing in health care right now, and we are lucky to have leaders in this state who are working to provide ever-increasing levels of service. As a group and as individuals, they have that spirit of cooperation and shared hard work that makes our state so special.

Our members, especially those who have stepped up to serve on our board, are the muscle of our organization. We at WSHA are deeply grateful for their time and their talent, and we are excited about the coming year.


Scott Bond
WSHA President and CEO

Senators Urge the President to Protect Critical Access Hospitals

We thank Senators Murray and Cantwell for signing onto a letter to the White House urging the President not to propose major policy and payment changes for the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) program in his FY 2016 budget proposal. In all, 27 senators signed the letter.

For the past three years, the President has proposed excluding hospitals from the CAH program if they are closer than 10 miles from the nearest hospital and has proposed reducing CAH payments from 101 to 100 percent of allowable costs.

“We urge you exclude these provisions and any other proposals that would diminish access to CAHs from the FY 2016 budget,” the Senators wrote. (Chelene Whiteaker, and John Flink,

Direct Supervision Enforcement Delay for Rural Hospitals

Before Thanksgiving break, the Senate passed legislation to extend the enforcement moratorium through 2014 for the outpatient therapeutic services “direct supervision” policy for Critical Access Hospitals and PPS hospitals with 100 or fewer beds. The bill had already passed the House of Representatives in September. It now goes to the White House for the President’s signature.

While passage of the bill is good news, it only applies to 2014 and does not resolve the underlying problems created by the Medicare direct supervision rules. We will continue to push legislation that permanently establishes “general supervision” as the standard for outpatient therapeutic services. (Chelene Whiteaker, and John Flink,

Hospital Presumptive Eligibility Coming in January of 2015

The Washington State Health Care Authority will be implementing “Hospital Presumptive Eligibility” (HPE) for Apple Health enrollment in January. WSHA members asked the Health Care Authority to do this and the HCA has now gotten approval from CMS to move forward.

Hospital Presumptive Eligibility allows a hospital to enroll someone in Medicaid for up to 60 days with minimal information from the client. For example, if a client does not know their tax filing status, hospitals can enroll via HPE. Or if there is a glitch preventing enrollment using the Washington Health Plan Finder website, a hospital can enroll someone immediately via Hospital Presumptive Eligibility.

The HCA will offer trainings in January 2015 for any hospital that registers for the training by December 19, 2014.  The training will be available online after January. Once staff have been trained and hospitals sign a contract with the HCA, hospitals can begin enrolling people in Apple Health using Hospital Presumptive Eligibility. For more information, please see these documents (HPE Memo and Overview of HPE in WA) from the Health Care Authority or contact Barbara Gorham, WSHA Policy Director, Access at or (206) 216-2512.

Legacy Health Awarded Funds for Reaching Stage 2 of Meaningful Use

Legacy Health has received up to $10M in unrestricted funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for achieving the top level of implementing electronic health records at its six-hospital system.

Stage 2 of meaningful use, which Legacy reached in July, means that it can provide patients access to their records online and give providers the ability to securely share important information, such as allergies to medications or a missing vaccination. When Legacy reached stage 2 it received a $4.6 million check and was one of 60 hospital systems across the country to reach that point and the first in Portland.

Legacy also became the first hospital system to reach Stage 7, or the final stage of EHR implementation under the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, a professional society for health IT. Read more.

AHA Promotes National Awareness Campaign Around the Flu Vaccine

As the U.S. faces the possibility of additional cases of Ebola, this year’s flu season takes on a fresh importance. The AHA is leading a collaborative effort involving several national health care organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to amplify the importance of getting vaccinated. This campaign, United Against the Flu, harnesses each organization’s resources, experts and audiences to spur Americans to get a flu vaccine and culminates during the CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), Dec. 7-13.

CHI Franciscan Health Announces New CEO and Leadership of Pacific Northwest Region

Accomplished health care executive Ketul J. Patel has been named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CHI Franciscan Health and Senior Vice President of Divisional Operations for the Pacific Northwest Region of CHI Franciscan Health effective February 23, 2015.

Patel will provide leadership and guidance for the implementation of key strategic and operational initiatives in the Pacific Northwest Division, which is comprised of CHI Franciscan Health and two CHI facilities in Oregon – CHI Mercy Health, a 174-bed medical center located in Roseburg; and CHI St. Anthony Hospital, a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital in Pendleton.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me to lead CHI Franciscan Health,” said Patel. “Now, more than ever, healthcare involves a wide range of providers coordinating care to treat the entire patient – while they are sick, and also while they are healthy. Read more.

Altaras takes top job at Swedish’s two largest hospitals

June Altaras, one of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2014 Women of Influence, will shift gears from chief operating officer of Swedish Medical Center’s Swedish Seattle — comprised of the First Hill and Cherry Hill hospital campuses — to chief executive of Swedish Seattle on Jan. 1.

Altaras, who has worked at Swedish since 1986, will also be leaving her roles as senior vice president and chief nursing officer for her new position.

Swedish’s First Hill and Cherry Hill facilities are the largest in the Swedish medical system. Read more.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Names Dr. Gary Gilliland as new President and Director

Dr. Gary Gilliland, a renowned physician-scientist, will take the helm as Fred Hutch’s president and director on Jan. 2, 2015.

Gilliland is an expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine who has devoted his life to finding better treatments and cures for diseases.

“We’ve made enormous progress in treating cancer patients and improving their quality of life, but our goal is to cure cancer,” he said. “For the first time, for me at least, I can see it coming across a broad spectrum of human cancers. The place where that will happen – the leading edge for that – is Fred Hutch.” Read more.

Big Results for Partnership for Patients, Nationally and Locally

Hospitals and health systems in Washington State prevented more than 23,000 patient harms and saved more than $235 million as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2013. Nationwide, the Partnership for Patient hospitals prevented 1.3 million patient harms and saved more than $12 billion in health spending, according to a report issued this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The greatest improvements in Washington State came from reductions in early elective deliveries, fewer infections, and fewer patients experiencing pressure ulcers:

  • 93.7% reduction in early elective deliveries resulting in 3,226 babies allowed to mature, saving $9.6 million.
  • 89.6% reduction in ventilator-associated pneumonia resulting in one fewer patient experiencing ventilator-associated pneumonia each month, saving $1.2 million.
  • 73.8% reduction in preeclampsia rate (ICU admission with preeclampsia) resulting in six fewer patients admitted to the ICU with preeclampsia each week, saving $2.1 million.
  • 60.0% reduction in stage II, III and IV (or unstageable) pressure ulcers resulting in two fewer patients experiencing a pressure ulcer a week, saving $6.9 million.

“Partnership for Patients has accelerated our work to identify and implement processes that improve safety in hospitals,” said Carol Wagner, Senior Vice President for Patient Safety at the Washington State Hospital Association. “This investment in bringing together diverse organizations and teams to tackle difficult improvement measures is paying dividends across our state in terms of lives and dollars saved.”

Hospitals achieved these improvements by implementing evidence based-best practices and engaging with care providers, patients, and families to strengthen their culture of safety. Learn more about hospitals efforts to improve patient safety.

Industry Partner Spotlight: Legal Shield

Washington Hospital Services offers members access to exceptional services through the Industry Partners Program. This week, we would like to introduce you to Legal Shield, which offers personal legal protection plans. 

Each year, seven out of eight employees experience a legal life event, impacting employers in the form of absenteeism and distraction. Employees spend an average of seven days away from work, plus nine hours on the job trying to resolve legal matters, costing the employer about $1,600 per employee per year.  In addition, the stress and lack of focus on the job caused by legal issues increase the risk of work related injuries, accidents and illnesses endangering both the staff and patients. Employees seeking legal advice face attorney fees of $200-500 an hour. LegalShield’s affordable voluntary benefit plans address legal issues from the trivial to the traumatic. Members and their families have access to a network of 6,900 attorneys in law firms across the country. Here are just a few of the services employees can access for less than a dollar a day:

  • Advice/consultation on all legal issues
  • Will preparation, Living Will, Physicians’ Directives
  • Legal document/contract review
  • IRS Audit Services
  • Uncontested divorce/name change/adoption representation
  • Assistance with motor vehicle citations, accidents, DUI’s, and vehicular deaths

To learn more about how LegalShield can help you and your employees contact Roxy Seligman by phone at (360) 421-7699 or by email at


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