Weekly Report for February 26, 2015 – Hospitals, Providers and the Reproductive Privacy Act

February 26, 2015

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against Skagit Regional Health in Mt. Vernon, alleging that the hospital is in violation of the Reproductive Privacy Act (passed by voters in 1991, now part of RCW 9.02).

Read the Puget Sound Business Journal and KUOW stories.

WSHA, and our partner organization the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts, take this issue very seriously, and we are committed to following the law which secures the right of women to choose to terminate their pregnancies.

But as the media stories state, the law does more than that. It also guarantees choices to the providers, including physicians, nurses and others who work at hospitals and clinics. It forbids hospitals or clinics from requiring anyone to participate in an abortion if they do not want to do so. In fact, hospitals can’t hire someone based on their willingness to perform abortions. You can imagine how difficult it might be to assemble an entire willing surgical team at a small rural hospital.

The ACLU’s lawsuit would require hospitals to either make hiring decisions based on their willingness to perform abortions, which is illegal, or require currently employed physicians and nurses to violate their conscience and perform abortions, which is also illegal.

This lawsuit raises many legal and emotional issues, and WSHA, AWPHD and our respective staff and members are taking it seriously. It’s also important to appreciate the degree to which access to abortion—and all health services—are community issues. It’s important for communities to think about how to ensure they have access to quality, affordable health services. Hospitals are honored to be part of that picture, but we are just one part.

Scott Bond
WSHA President and CEO

Olympic Medical Center Sets Up Tent for Handling Potential Measles Cases

As reported by King 5 News, Olympic Medical Center (OMC) is facing the challenge of a potential exposure to measles with foresight and creativity. On February 11, the Center took steps to mitigate potential exposure to patients and visitors by setting up a hazmat tent in the parking lot outside of the emergency department. The tent is equipped with heat, electricity and a toilet.

Potential cases are instructed to call the Center first or from the parking lot if they are experiencing measles symptoms or have been exposed. OMC staff then attend to these potential cases at the patient’s vehicle or in the tent, where patients can be prepped for isolation. The tent will continue to be used until Public Health determines the measles outbreak has been resolved.

For more information, read the press release provided by Olympic Medical Center. Additionally, this story has received coverage in the Peninsula Daily News.

WSHA Member Leaders to Discuss ‘Health Care of the Future’ at PSBJ Event

Leaders of nine WSHA members are participating in a 75-minute panel discussion on ‘Health Care of the Future’ as part of an annual Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) event on Tuesday, March 3 from 8-11 am at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

The panel will take on tough questions, including: Are patients experienced enough to act as informed consumers? How do health organizations train patients to responsibly understand the data? And what should businesses be doing to educate their employees?

Panelists will include Gary Kaplan, MD, CEO, Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center; Tony Armada, CEO, Swedish Health Services; Bob Malte, CEO, EvergreenHealth; Lisa Brandenburg, president, Seattle Children’s Hospital; Mike Marsh, CEO, Overlake Hospital & Medical Center; Johnese Spisso, chief health systems officer, UW Medicine; Don Antonucci, president, Regence BlueShield; Scott Armstrong, president and CEO, Group Health; and David Stone, CEO, Sound Mental Health.

For more information and to register, visit the PSBJ website.

Empire Health Foundation Grant Expands Elderly Health Care and Social Services in Whitman County

The Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation has been awarded a $77,340 grant from Empire Health Foundation to expand the Social Work Extender Program in Whitman County. This grant will allow Pullman Regional Hospital to implement preventive care home visits to aging or disabled adults with chronic conditions, allowing seniors to live healthy independent lives in their homes and communities.

Grant funding will also support the work of two Human Development students from Washington State University, who will provide coaching and self-care of chronic conditions. Services will be offered in low income subsidized housing units in Whitman County and expand to low incoming housing complexes in Teoka, Colfax, and Palouse.

For more information, read the press release here. (Ernesto Sosa, ernestos@awphd.org)

“Site Neutral” Payments Hurt Hospitals with High Medicare Populations

Medicare payments to Washington hospitals would be reduced by nearly $1 billion over the next 10 years if three so-called “site neutral” payment policies are adopted, according to a WSHA analysis released this week.

“Site neutral” payments do not reflect the fact that hospital outpatient departments have higher costs than freestanding clinics due to the complexity of their patients and greater regulatory requirements.

Hardest hit by these policies would be PPS hospitals who care for a lot of Medicare patients. The proposed cuts would:

  • Pay hospitals for evaluation and management services at the physician-fee schedule (nearly $600 million cut);
  • Pay certain other services at that same schedule ($250 million cut); and
  • Cap hospital payments for 12 proposed services at the ambulatory surgery center rate ($133 million cut).

Representatives from Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles this week joined WSHA and other national hospital leaders in Washington D.C. to urge Congress to oppose these cuts. To tell your hospital’s story, contact Chelene Whiteaker at chelenew@wsha.org, or JohnFlink at john@jwfconsultingdc.com.

Patient Safety Program Success

The Patient Safety Program is achieving results through data and transparency so that all hospitals in the sate can share best practices and address issues of safety and quality. This last year has shown that due to these efforts, patients are getting better, faster as Washington hospitals have made great strides in safety resulting in 23,000 fewer harms.

In addition to this, $235 million was saved overall through reductions, fewer harms and other ongoing practices, as well as $33.6 million in savings through the ER is for Emergencies program, which coordinates care between settings.

With the support of key partners, including the enter for Disease Control and Prevention, the Washington State Department of Health, the Robert Bree Collaborative, and many others, the Patient Safety Program is leading changes needed to save lives and reduce health care costs.

Click here for a flashy infographic about the Patient Safety Program program’s success, as well as ongoing efforts to continue this work. (Carol Wagner, carolw@wsha.org)

Inside Olympia: Update on Bills and Thank You for Testifying

It was an exciting week leading up to Friday’s cutoff for bills to be voted out of their committee. (
Cutoff calendar is here) To make it easy, we’ve listed all of the major bills we’ve been tracking—the first table is the bills that have been passed out of committee, and the second table is the ones that were not voted out.

We are also very thankful for everyone who came down to testify! Your testimony is essential for helping legislators and the public to understand the real impact of proposed legislation. The following people testified last week:

  • Julie Petersen, Chief Executive Officer, PMH Medical Center
  • Laurene Burton, Administrative Director, Governance and Community Services, EvergreenHealth
  • Florence Chang, Executive Vice President, MultiCare Health System
  • Gail Weaver, Director, Government Relations, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

To see all of Inside Olympia and to subscribe, visit our webpage (Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, marykaycr@wsha.org)

Preparing for the Unexpected VI: Washington Ready!

May 27-28, 2015
Wenatchee Convention Center

This year’s conference focuses on more exciting work being done in WA State. Individual panels will focus on the response to events like the OSO/SR530 mudslide, eastern WA wildfires response and Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting. Another panel will focus on hospital preparation for Ebola response, followed by our closing plenary speaker, Dr. Lewis Rubinson (formerly with Harborview) with a real-life Ebola experience he had in West Africa.

Breakout sessions will include new, exciting work DSHS is doing around vulnerable populations, 15-minutes-to-50-Patients and the response mounted for the eastern WA wildfires among other incredible learning opportunities. And So Much More!

New this year, we are hosting an eight-hour Basic Disaster Life Support training track. There will also be good food and fantastic networking, not to mention vendors and prizes! Check out the Program Agenda for more information and register here. For questions contact Peggi Shapiro at peggis@wsha.org.

Pop Up Video

We have recently put together a webpage that hosts many important videos to explain our work, including the Big Blue H video, one about Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, and the Hospital Quality Transparency video, as well as others.

Check out the videos and remember they are great tools to use in outlining the work we do for our members, patients and the health care community.

Stericycle Communication Solutions: Connecting with Patients, Improving Revenue

Stericycle logoIn today’s 24/7 world, keeping the lines of communication open between the hospital and patients is critical—not only to patient satisfaction, but also to the hospital’s bottom line. Washington’s hospitals may already be familiar with Washington Hospital Service’s Industry Partner Stericycle through its medical waste management and compliance services. The company also offers a communication solution to close communication gaps between patients and providers. Stericycle Communications Solutions provides customized call center services to help hospitals meet patient communication needs before, during and after an episode of care. From appointment scheduling and reminders to follow-up after an appointment, Stericycle’s Communication Solutions offer patients greater access to care while supporting a hospital’s patient acquisition, retention and engagement efforts.

To learn how Stericycle Communication Solutions can transform your patient communication, visit http://www.stericyclecommunications.com/ or call 1-866-783-9820.


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Seattle, WA 98104

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