Weekly Report for April 23, 2015 – The Return of Whooping Cough

April 3, 2015

We received a letter last week from Dr. Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH, who is our state’s Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases. He shared this bad news about the rise of pertussis, or whooping cough:

“Now, pertussis is definitely on the rise again. So far this year there have been 319 reported cases of pertussis compared to 49 during the same time last year. The age groups being affected most at present are school age children and teens. However, those most at risk for severe disease are infants, and the rate in babies is also increasing.”

Read Dr. Lindquist’s letter here, or learn more about pertussis on the Department of Health’s web page.
This is another example of a terrible disease that should be much more controlled in our population because the vaccines are effective and available. DTaP or Tdap are both vaccines that protect people from pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus, and they work together to save the lives of babies, elderly, and thousands of others.

The DOH does an excellent job preparing for and responding to infectious disease epidemics like this one. We will be sharing the DOH’s guidance and resources with our hospitals, but stopping the spread of this disease is going to take everyone’s involvement.

Read and share the DOH’s information for you and your family.

Please: protect yourself, protect your patients, protect you family.


Scott Bond
President and CEO

Kadlec to Welcome First Family Medicine Residents


BabyAfter years of planning, Kadlec Regional Medical Center will launch a family medicine residency in June. Six residents from around the country will make up the Richland hospital’s first class of the three-year program.

The recent medical school graduates will have their own patient roster and provide care under the supervision of senior physicians. They will also complete rotations in specialties from obstetrics to behavioral health and general surgery.

About 530 people applied for the six slots. When it fully matures after three years, the Kadlec program will have 18 residents with six in each class. Kadlec is remodeling space in the Richland Medical Center building to house the program for the next few years. It will eventually move into Columbia Basin College’s second health sciences building in Richland, which is slated to open in 2017.

The new residency is not the only one in the Tri-Cities. Trios Health in Kennewick has internal and family medicine residency programs. Along with adding needed residency slots, the programs are expected to help bring more physicians to Richland, Kennewick and Pasco. Read more. (EdB@wsha.org)

Value of the Legislative Process

The big headlines for this session might be about the state budget debate, but for us at WSHA, the session has been memorable because of the productivity of our partnerships.
The development of our legislative agenda always has our members’ experiences at the center of it. We are focused on how proposed—or needed—legislation will affect our ability to improve quality and increase access to health care services in Washington State communities.

But that’s just the beginning of the conversation that engages lawmakers, state agencies and other advocates. Everyone comes at problems from their own perspective and it’s not always an easy or quick process. This year we’ve seen that the results of this process are well-worth it. Read Inside Olympia for more on telemedicine, suspect and inmate care, pharmacy bills, and the all-payer claims database. (Cassie Sauer)

A Focus on End-of-Life Planning

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), recently celebrated on April 16, encouraged hospitals, providers and community organizations to help the public better understand end-of-life planning and advance directives. NHDD is a culmination of efforts to educate people about the importance of end-of-life planning, talking with their loved ones and completing an advance directive.

Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest is how WSHA and the Washington State Medical Association are putting these ideas into practice. This initiative helps patients, physicians and hospitals begin the conversation about end-of-life planning, and connects people to the tools they need to get started to ensure that personal values and choices are honored at end of life. The program also provides resources to guide people through sharing those plans with their loved ones and health care teams.

Honoring Choices was recently part of a KUOW radio interview with Dr. Joanne Roberts of Providence Hospital in Everett and was featured in a KUOW series focused on end-of-life planning. (Lilia Drain)

Access To Care for Minority Communities Still A National Concern

According to coverage from Families USA, expanding Medicaid will have a significant impact on state budgets, allowing for even higher numbers of minorities to sign up for and receive health coverage. While the Department of Health and Human Services data can only give a limited peek into enrollment numbers for communities of color, the overall results are encouraging. Due to revisions in the health care insurance system through Medicaid and the ACA, the overall number of self-identified minorities who enrolled increased by 1 million over last year. Read more.

Yet even with this increase, there is still much work to be done in extending coverage to all, according to Families USA. The numbers are going in the right direction, but communities of color are not necessarily getting the same access to effective and affordable health care services. The move toward more population health-based metrics will continue to shed light on this area. Read more. (Lilia Drain)

Investor-Owned Hospitals Could Bring More Psych Beds

Puget Sound Business Journal recently reported Calif.-based Signature Healthcare Services LLC, Ky.-based Springstone LLC and Kirkland-based BHC Fairfax have submitted letters of intent to Washington State DOH’s Certificate of Need office, proposing plans to build private psych hospitals – ranging between 56-174 beds – in Pierce, Clark and Spokane counties.

They will be joining WSHA members MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health, who also have a proposal in the works to jointly operate a $41 million, 120-bed psych hospital in Tacoma.

The plans, if approved and certified to provide involuntary treatment, could bring hundreds of psych beds to Washington state, where a bed shortage has led to boarding. If not certified to provide involuntary treatment, the hospitals would only provide voluntary services.

“It’s a different type of payment model when you look at the costs that drive it on a community hospital perspective versus a freestanding psychiatric hospital perspective,” said Chelene Whiteaker, policy director for WSHA. “Community hospitals have the added challenge of having to support psych services as well as ER and medical costs.”  (Ed Boyle)

Nancy Webster Named St. Luke’s Hospital Administrator 

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, the largest free-standing rehabilitation hospital in the region, has named Nancy Webster as hospital administrator after more than 20 years of service to St. Luke’s.

“I feel honored to be a part of the rehabilitation community in this new role,” Webster said. “I look forward to working alongside the most qualified rehabilitation teams at St. Luke’s to ensure our patients receive the best inpatient and outpatient care and therapy services.” Read more. 

WHS Launches Absence Management Program

WSHA members now have access to a complete employee leave management program through Washington Hospital Services. Our expert staff work with your Human Resources Department to manage employee leaves from start to finish. We turn tracking data into powerful information that will help you spot employee absence trends and manage compliance risk. You get access to a leave management expertise without the investment in additional staff. For more information about this exciting new service contact Deb Reandeau (206) 577-1801.

Washington Hospital Services is the wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington State Hospital Association. Their mission is to offer services and products that increase the efficiency of WSHA members. Learn more by visiting www.wahospitalservices.com


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