Weekly Report: Grateful for the response to a terrible tragedy

October 1, 2015

Last week’s accident on the Aurora Bridge, when a “duck boat” collided with a tour bus, was an unimaginable tragedy. Four died at the scene, another died a few days after and dozens of people were injured.

I have been in health care for the majority of my life, and have seen the response to many, many disasters. Each disaster is different, except in this: heroes rush in. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics arrive at the scene; they take in a thousand bits of information and make rapid-fire decisions that save lives. The impact ripples out from there, as street traffic is managed, emergency rooms are prepared, hotlines are opened and logistic teams are activated. They are not all visible on the nightly news, but they all matter.

Hospitals must operate and survive in a business-like environment, but we also have to put that aside and do whatever is necessary to respond to a disaster. This is our essential function, and we continuously plan and budget so that we are always able to meet it.

Our thanks to the many wonderful professionals who responded to this tragedy. We are awed and grateful that you rush in every day.


Scott Bond
President and CEO


PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center scaling back on transfusions

In 2008, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham launched “Bloodless in Bellingham,” a blood management program which enacted medical practices and surgical techniques to reduce the number of blood transfusions needed at the hospital. Now, after seven years, St. Joseph has cut its transfusion rate roughly in half, marking a large success for the hospital and the safety of its patients.

In the event of an emergency, a transfusion can be lifesaving. However, all transfusions have inherent risk, as the recipient’s body can have an allergic reaction to the new blood, multiple transfusions can damage organs by spiking the body’s iron content and, very rarely, the recipient can develop graft-versus-host disease, which causes the new white blood cells to attack the recipient’s bone marrow.

At St. Joseph, surgeons use tranexamic acid on some joint patients to prevent blood loss during surgery. They also use an intraoperative blood salvage system to auto-transfuse recovered blood lost during surgery.

Congratulations to the staff at St. Joseph for their great success reducing transfusions. To learn more, listen to this KGIM interview, or read this story in the Atlantic that features Bellingham. (Tim Pfarr)

WSHA wins major federal contract to improve patient safety statewide

WSHA’s record of success in collaborative quality improvement will continue, thanks to the award of a federal contract to make major improvements in 17 key patient-safety topics and reduce harm and overall cost of health care. WSHA was one of just 17 awarded nationally to take part in this work.

Partnership for Patients will help accelerate the identification and sharing of best practices with the goal to reduce all-cause harm (that is, harm to a patient receiving medical care from any cause or source). A total of 96 hospitals in Washington, Alaska and Oregon will be collaborating with WSHA in this work.

“Working with CMS in the first round of Partnership for Patients, we saved 23,000 patients from harm and reduced $235 million in health care spending,” said Carol Wagner, WSHA’s Senior Vice President for Patient Safety. “There is more to be done. We’re determined to drive preventable harm down to zero.”

WSHA’s patient safety program started more than 10 years ago as part of the 100,000 Lives campaign. In December 2011, WSHA received the first Partnership for Patients contract; two years later, CMS also gave WSHA a Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics (LEAPT) contract, which was received by only five other organizations in the country.

Click here to learn more about Partnership for Patients.

Be sure to get the Annual Meeting mobile app – and register to attend!

We’re delighted to invite you to download the mobile event app for the WSHA Annual Meeting, October 7-8 in Seattle. Learn more about the speakers, the issues being addressed, the new leadership being proposed, the by-laws decisions before the membership, the elegant PAC dinner, the nifty prizes available for “active” attendees and more.

And if you’re not signed up, be sure to register ASAP. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the largest statewide gathering of hospital and health system leaders of the year! (Deborah Swets)

WHPAC update: $130k toward goal!

The 2015 WHPAC campaign continues and we are doing very well so far in the campaign! To date, we have raised more than $130,000 toward our $200,000 goal. Congratulations to the leadership teams at the following hospitals for already reaching their goal:

  • Capital Medical Center
  • Cascade Medical Center
  • Columbia Basin Hospital
  • Columbia County Health System
  • EvergreenHealth Monroe
  • Fairfax Hospital
  • Ferry County Memorial Hospital
  • Island Hospital
  • Jefferson Healthcare
  • Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics
  • Morton General Hospital
  • Othello Community Hospital
  • PeaceHealth (system office)
  • PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center
  • PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center
  • PMH Medical Center
  • Providence Mount Carmel Hospital/Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • Providence Regional Medical Center Everett
  • Skagit Regional Health
  • Skyline Hospital
  • Tri-State Memorial Hospital
  • Whidbey General Hospital
  • Willapa Harbor Hospital
  • Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Members who have met their PAC goal will be recognized during the Annual Meeting. Due to print deadlines, health systems/hospitals that had met their goal as of September 30th will be recognized on a PAC poster.

Your continued support of the PAC is a tremendous part of our advocacy program. It helps us support and elect champions for health care and hospital services, and unifies our political voice. (Lori Martinez)

NWONE welcomes new CEO

The Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives (NWONE) — a WSHA partner — announced that Sarah Wickenhagen will take over as its new CEO, beginning next week.

Sarah is an experienced nurse with experience in clinical and management positions, and leadership roles. She has worked as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) and a clinical educator, and she most recently served as a policy analyst for the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Welcome Sarah! (Tim Pfarr)

NW MedStar names new director

Northwest MedStar, a service of Inland Northwest Health Services, has named Matt Albright as its new director. Matt has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare and aerospace experience, and has managed community health programs and served as a multi-state director of aircrew safety training.

He recently served with the U.S. Air Force at Fairchild Air Force Base as a medical officer and Biomedical Sciences Corps executive, overseeing a medical group dedicated to the medical needs of more than 11,000 military service members, retirees and their families. Matt has a master’s degree in exercise science from Washington State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology/pre-medical from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Click here to learn more. Welcome Matt! (Tim Pfarr)

Cantwell urges HHS to use Washington State as a model

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, is urging the federal Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) to use Washington State’s high-performing health care delivery system as a model to reform the Medicare program to focus on the value, not the volume, of health care services.

Saying that Washington State is a national leader in delivering lower-cost, higher-quality health care, Cantwell applauded HHS for making major grants to Washington State to improve health care delivery systems.

She also noted her strong support for bipartisan legislation she recently introduced to make Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) more beneficial to providers and patients in rural communities. WSHA strongly supports that legislation — the Rural ACO Improvement Act of 2015 — which allows Medicare to include primary care visits by nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and clinical nurse specialists in assigning patients to an Accountable Care Organization.  Read more here. (Cassie Sauer)

Change to Washington law on consumer data breach notification

A recent state law change has strengthened consumer data breach notification requirements. Under the new law, notice to consumers of a data breach must include specific information and be provided under a new, shorter timeline.

WSHA worked closely with the state Attorney General’s Office to develop important exceptions to the law for hospitals complying with the notification requirements under the federal Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).

Please see WSHA’s recent bulletin for more information.  (Zosia Stanley)

The Industry Partner Program comes to the Annual Meeting

Washington Hospital Services’ Industry Partner Program will host a table at this year’s Annual Meeting. You can find information about the program here on the WHS website.

While attending the conference, please come by and visit to ask any questions you have about the program and for your chance to win the two Kindle Fire HDs and a Nordstrom gift card. To further increase your chance to win these prizes, please have a conversation with our featured Industry Partners: Carena, CredSimple and WellTrackOne. Not only will they be happy to discuss their services, but they will also hold an additional entry for the prize drawing. For more information about the program, please contact Paul Unsworth at 206-577-1806 or PaulU@wsha.org. We look forward to seeing you there! (Beth Zborowski)

Parker, Smith & Feek bring expertise on data liability and breach

 Parker, Smith & Feek, WSHA’s Industry Partner in the commercial insurance brokerage space, has been helping their clients combat cyber liability attacks and their aftermath for well over 10 years. Partnering with a well-versed risk consultant who understands both the pre- and post-cyber breach actions necessary to defend your healthcare organization will provide better organizational resiliency when your organization is attacked. Should you have any questions about data liability and the impact a breach will have on your healthcare organization, please contact Michael Reph, member of the Parker, Smith & Feek Healthcare Practice Group, at (425) 709-3724 ormjreph@psfinc.com. (Paul Unsworth)


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