Staying Focused on Boarding

August 28, 2014

Our attention continues to be on the Supreme Court and the implementation of their decision to end psychiatric boarding. The decision was the right one, but the immediate solution is still the same: we have patients in crisis right now, and very few avenues for treatment.

As you may know, the state requested that the court stay, or hold, their decision while we work to put needed services in place. We supported their request for a stay because we believe the state needs more time to bring beds online to more appropriately care for patients.  We were glad to see that on Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would not issue the mandate on the case until it had made a decision on the stay.  The hearing for that decision is on Thursday, September 4, 2014.

What does that mean for patients? In the short run, it means that patients who need involuntary psychiatric treatment can be held safely in a hospital until they can be transferred. Designated Mental Health Professionals can and should still issue Single Bed Certifications and should do so at least until the Court rules on the stay.

In the three weeks since the Court first issued its decision, a great deal of work has been done to fill the gaps in our system. A few kudos are in order:

  • The Governor’s office and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) worked to make a commitment to bring online 145 new psychiatric beds by mid-December, costing about $30 million in state funds.
  • DSHS recently sent out guidance to Regional Support Networks, clarifying that the court’s decision is not in effect and the previous processes for evaluating patients remains in place. WSHA had been urging DSHS to issue guidance, and the clarification is appreciated.
  • WSHA members have been outstanding in their commitment to care for their patients and think creatively about meeting the need for local services in the community.

Hospitals are a major part of the state’s plan. Of the 145 beds, 105 of them are in our hospitals. Not included in the state’s plan, we also know some community hospitals are working to add beds to better serve their local needs.

Do these new resources signal the end to the problem? Not by a long shot. The 2015 legislature is going to have a big job of making these resources permanent, and filling the other needs in our mental health system. We also know that mental health funding is not the only challenge this year. That said, there has been a great deal of collaboration in these last few weeks, and that kind of collaboration is an essential to our shared goal of taking care of the residents of this state.

Scott Bond
WSHA President and CEO

Exchange To See More Insurers; Rate Increases Very Modest

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced today that it approved participation of 10 health insurers with 90 individual plans for sale inside the Health Benefits Exchange in 2015. New insurers to the Exchange market include: Moda (statewide) and Columbia United Providers (Clark county). The average rate increase is only 1.9 percent with several insurers decreasing their rates. Additionally, Moda (statewide) and Kaiser (Cowlitz and Clark counties) are also approved to sell 23 plans in the Exchange’s small group marketplace. The next step for the insurers is approval from the Washington Health Benefits Exchange to be sold on Washington Healthplanfinder on Thursday, August 28. (Chelene Whiteaker,

CEOs of Providence, Virginia Mason and Gates Foundation listed among most influential in health care

The Puget Sound region has some of the most influential people in the health care industry, according to the 2014 list put together by Modern Healthcare magazine. Providence Health and Services CEO Rodney Hochman, Virginia Mason Chairman and CEO Gary Kaplan, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann made the list of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. Read more.

New Leader for Providence
Centralia Hospital

Jill Cooper, RN, MN, is the newly named site administrator for Providence Centralia operations. She is truly returning to her roots since she was born at Centralia General Hospital and grew up in Chehalis.  After working as a staff nurse in Seattle, she was a Registered Nurse at St. Peter Hospital’s Family Birth Center in Olympia. Jill grew in her skills and was named St. Peter’s Chief Quality Officer which led to expanded duties for the Providence regional network.

“Jill is an experienced, compassionate leader who will continue to serve and enhance the quality of healthcare in the greater Lewis County area,” said CEO Medrice Coluccio of the Southwest Washington Providence region. Congratulations Jill! (Danielle Kean,

First MEDITECH Critical Access Hospital in the Nation Achieves Stage 2 Meaningful Use Attestation with Engage

Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center in Odessa, Wash. was the first Critical Access Hospital (CAH) to successfully attest to Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use electronic health record (EHR) incentive program using MEDITECH Information Technology, Inc. administered by Engage, a division of Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS).

“This has been a journey for our staff and patients as Engage has helped us achieve goals to improve care and patient satisfaction,” said Megan Shepard, registered nurse and clinical services director for Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center. “By moving to EHR systems and encouraging patients to connect with their health care records online, we’re moving toward safer and more user-friendly outcomes.” Read more.

Antimicrobial Stewardship Collaborative Aims to Spread Best Practices

A new collaborative of the Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Consortium of Washington aims to stop antibiotic misuse in our state by spreading best practices.

The Statewide Antimicrobial Stewardship (ASP) initiative kicks-off during WSHA’s September 5 Adverse Drug Event and Antimicrobial Stewardship Safe Table.  The one-day event features national expert Arjun Srinivasan, MD, (CAPT, USPHS) Associate Director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs for the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention. To register, or for more information, click here.

Following the kick-off, the group will meet monthly to share best practices and develop new strategies to improve antimicrobial stewardship. Research shows that improving antibiotic use improves patient outcomes, reduces antimicrobial resistance, and saves money, no matter the size of the health care setting. If you have best practices to share or are interested in joining the ASP Collaboration and sharing best practices, contact Amber Theel. (Amber Theel,

Can You Answer Basic Questions from Patients on Ebola?

The current Ebola outbreak is centered in three countries in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. While having a huge impact in these countries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public.” However, because it is in the news, patients may have questions or concerns about this deadly disease.

Patients can be reassured that no one in the U.S. has contracted Ebola virus and that it cannot be transmitted through the air, food or water. Contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person is most common although transmission can also occur through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious.

Airports in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are screening all outbound passengers for Ebola symptoms. This includes checking for fever and requiring passengers to answer a questionnaire. The CDC has issued a level 3 travel alert to U.S. travelers encouraging them to defer unnecessary travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

You can find answers to commonly asked questions and reliable information about the Ebola virus on the CDC web site.  (Carol Wagner,

WSHA LEAPT Hospitals Making Gains in Clostridium difficile Infection Reduction

Since October 2013, the Washington State Hospital Association and our Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics (LEAPT) hospitals have reduced the rate of Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) by 20%. These gains have been achieved through the hard work of our LEAPT participating hospitals to identify and implement new strategies for preventing the spread of this antibiotic- resistant and potentially deadly bacteria.

Strategies include an intensive focus on environmental cleaning, hand hygiene, enteric contact precautions, patient, physician, family and staff engagement, judicious use of antibiotics and community outreach.

One of the most important ways to reduce the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria is through antimicrobial stewardship – using the right antibiotic the right way at the right time. WSHA, the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA), and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Consortium of Washington (AMSCOW) met this month and developed a plan for the statewide roll-out of the antimicrobial stewardship initiative. The kick-off will be held at the Safe Table on September 5.

More information on CDI and the LEAPT initiative can be found here. (Rebecca Snyders,

Community Health Leadership Award Nominations Due September 12!

WSHA’s Hospital Governing Boards Committee invites health care organizations to nominate themselves or others for the 2014 Community Health Leadership Award. This award was created in 1993 by the committee to acknowledge health care organizations whose governance leadership best serves their community’s broader health needs in an “above and beyond” manner.  In this era where health care organizations are increasingly called upon to address the health needs of their community’s population, we’re particularly interested in projects that go beyond an organization’s expected strategic plan. Visit WSHA’s Community Health Leadership Award website for past winners, sample nominations and 2014 application materials. The due date for nominations is Friday, September 12. The winner will be recognized during WSHA’s Annual Meeting in October in Seattle. (Deborah Swets,

National Governance Expert Headlines 2014 Skills Building Intensive, Plus Optional New Board Orientation Breakfast — Register Now!

Hospital and health system board members are invited to spend a day together enhancing their skills and deepening their effectiveness on Tuesday, October 14 in Seattle, just prior to WHSA’s Annual Meeting.  The 2014 theme is “The Nexus of Strategy and Governance in Times of Disruptive Change.”

National governance expert Pam Knecht, President and CEO of ACCORD LIMITED, will keynote this annual day of learning hosted by WSHA and AWPHD. The afternoon program features Leadership Advisor Steve Byers facilitating discussions on “Leading in a Time of Disruptive Change,” to hone skills in teamwork and collaborating together as a board. We will also have a CEO/CMO/Board Chair panel on “The Importance of Partnerships in Times of Disruptive Change.”

Also note that we are offering an “Optional New Board Member Orientation Basics” session over breakfast on October 14!

Whether you are a board member for a public or private health care organization, join us to compare your challenges with board colleagues from around the state. Register now for the Governance Skills Building, New Board Orientation, and WSHA’s Annual Meeting at  For further information contact Deborah Swets. (Deborah Swets,


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