Great news to report from Olympia—the telemedicine bill passed both houses!
Telemedicine was last year’s big heartbreak. The bill passed a unanimous House and had great hearings in the Senate. However, it was not brought up for a vote after misinformation occurred on the potential use of telemedicine services. Today, we celebrate. The bill passed the House, after last month’s 46-0 vote in the Senate.
Telemedicine will save lives and improve patient care. By bringing specialists and patients face-to-face, those who are suffering strokes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, psychiatric crisis and other conditions will be able to get expert consultations. Telemedicine brings services to people who would otherwise have a hard time accessing care. The usefulness in rural communities is obvious, but it’s also useful in urban areas.
This is a major step forward in our work to make high-quality care accessible to all of our communities. We are very grateful to all of our members who worked so hard on the bill, and the House and Senate members who recognized its value to patients. We are also grateful to WSHA’s own Chelene Whiteaker, whose commitment and deep knowledge of the issue helped everyone find a path forward.
Congratulations to all,
WSHA President and CEO
Snoqualmie Valley to Celebrate Opening of New Hospital
In advance of it opening in May 2015, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital (SVH) is hosting a community open house on Sunday, April 19 from 12-4 pm to celebrate its new hospital, located at 9801 Frontier Ave SE; off of I-90 at Exit 25.
The five-hour event will include guided and self-guided tours of the new 70,000 sq. ft. facility, prizes and giveaways, fun activities, food and more. The new hospital will feature expanded facilities for inpatients and outpatients, including private, single-occupancy patient rooms; expanded ER; state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging; lab; rehabilitation therapy and a hospital clinic with specialists; energy efficient, environmentally responsible design; as well as public dining and meeting room space.
SVH is a Critical Access Hospital providing high-quality medical services and community health programs for residents throughout King County’s Public Hospital District #4. The hospital ER, clinics, specialty practitioners and regional partners work together to provide a continuum of care from outpatient services to inpatient care, including premiere regional rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. (Ed Boyle)
State Moves Forward on Healthier Washington
The Governor has appointed a group of public and private organizational leaders to accelerate the state’s work on transformation. The Health Innovation Leadership Network will hold its first quarterly meeting on April 10. This group, with about fifty members, includes several hospital leaders– Mike Glenn from Jefferson Healthcare, Tom Martin from Lincoln Hospital, Kathleen Paul from Virginia Mason Medical Center, Peter Rutherford from Confluence Health, Preston Simmons from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, and Johnese Spisso from the University of Washington Medical Center.
The Health Care Authority also announced it has drafted a proposed managed care contract for fully integrated care (physical and behavioral health). This contract may be used for early adopter regions starting in April 2016. Currently only the Southwest Washington region (Clark, Skamania and Klickitat) has expressed interest in becoming an early adopter. WSHA plans to provide comments on the proposed contract. (Claudia Sanders)
Senate Budget Proposal on Hospital Safety Net Assessment Program
WSHA is still working to clarify the Senate proposal for the hospital safety net program, but it’s becoming clear that some of our information was incorrect, and that the proposal is significantly worse for hospitals than it initially appeared.
In order to maintain their “no new tax” commitment and still raise additional revenue to fund the state services, the Senate budget increased the assessment rate, took a disproportionate share of funds for state services, and is requiring hospitals to divert some of their benefits to other state health programs.
Remember that the hospital safety net assessment is a carefully structured tax that is used to leverage federal dollars to help cover the cost of hospital services provided to Medicaid patients (Medicaid only pays about 70 percent of the cost of care). The program was designed to allow both the state and hospitals to benefit when revenues increase from the assessment pool.
Newport Hospital and Health Services Receives National Recognition
Congratulations to the Newport Hospital and Health Services team for their recognition as a Level 2 Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This recognition signals Newport’s continued commitment to high-quality primary care for the local community and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Newport’s clinicians and staff. For more information about NCQA certification, view this brochure. (Ernesto Sosa)
Tom DeBord joins Overlake Medical Center as new COO
After conducting a national search, Overlake Medical Center announced Tom DeBord as its new chief operating officer (COO). He will begin May 14, 2015.
“As an independent medical center, Overlake is known for solid fiscal and operational management. I am looking forward to working with the leadership team, physicians and staff to ensure a strong future for the organization as a leader in the region. My wife and I are also excited to be active members of the Eastside community,” explains DeBord.
DeBord most recently served as the president of Summa Barberton & Wadsworth-Rittman Hospitals in Akron, Ohio, with 437 licensed beds, 1,700 employees and 2014 net revenues of $220 million. He also served as an executive leader of the Summa Health System. He was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the two hospitals and oversaw quality, safety, services, finance, growth, governance and physician/employee/community engagement for his region. Read more.
New Leadership of the Dr. Robert Bree Collaborative
Governor Jay Inslee appointed Dr. Hugh Straley in March 2015 as the new Chair of the Dr. Robert Bree Collaborative (Collaborative). As a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and oncology, Dr. Straley has a long history in quality improvement and evidence-based medicine. He also has served in a variety of leadership roles, most recently as the Medical Director for the Group Health Cooperative.
Dr. Straley is taking over as the Collaborative begins its work on coronary artery bypass bundled payment models and prostate cancer screening. The Collaborative will also likely receive some increased funding from the state’s Healthier Washington grant.
We are excited about Dr. Straley’s appointment and welcome the opportunity to work with him. In our initial conversations Dr. Straley expressed interest in collaborating on ways to enhance the Collaborative’s implementation process and transparency of their work. We also would like to thank Steve Hill (former Chair) for all of his leadership and work in helping to shape the Collaborative. (Ian Corbridge)
April is Donate Life Month
April is National Donate Life Month, a celebration commemorating those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants as well as the donors who save and heal lives. There are a wide variety of events and organizations promoting donation throughout the month.
We want to celebrate Donate Life Month by thanking all of our hospital partners and their staff for the vital role they play in donation and transplantation. Hospitals not only facilitate the medical procedures, but are a trusted source of information about donation and state donor registries.
Currently more than 123,000 men, women and children in the U.S. are awaiting organ transplants to save their lives. Thousands more are in need of tissue and cornea transplants to restore their mobility and sight. Registering to be a donor can provide hope to those who wait. Please help us celebrate National Donate Life Month by installing a specially designed web banner on your hospital’s intranet to let your staff know we appreciate their contributions and remind them of the importance of registering as organ, eye and tissue donors. The web banners and additional materials are available for download here.
Integrity Payment Systems Ready to Help Hospitals with Credit Card Changes
There’s major changes coming to credit cards in the U.S. this year, including the switch from magnetic stripe cards to those with an embedded “EMV” (Europay, MasterCard and Visa).Washington Hospital Service’s Industry Partner Integrity Payment Systems is fully prepared for this change and ready to help hospitals and health systems make the switch to accept payment in the new format. To learn more about what EMV means to your organization, check out Integrity Payment System’s blog post on the issue. (Paul Unsworth)