CEO Report – We Are in This Together

Posted on April 01, 2020

“War is the only proper school for surgeons.”-Hippocrates

MHA CEO Brian PetersFor the hospital and health system administrators reading this update, a question: What would you do if a woman on your staff – who had not yet completed medical school and was not licensed as a physician – was guilty of the following, with multiple patients:

  • Failing to ensure a sterile operating environment.
  • Failing to follow best practice in terms of appropriate anesthesia.
  • Failing to ensure direct physician supervision.
  • Failing to consult a patient medical record or make any attempt to ascertain family history, medication allergies, or any other background information before administering care.
  • Failing to consult any specialists for a second opinion before administering care.
  • Showing a complete disregard for EMTALA, HIPAA, and any other state or federal law or regulation dealing with the provision of healthcare services.

Would you immediately strip her of any and all hospital privileges?  Summarily fire her?  Turn her over to law enforcement? 

Or would you hail her as a hero?

You see, context matters. 

On April 25, 2007, United States Army Private First Class Monica Lin Brown, then age 19 and serving as a combat medic with the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was on a combat patrol in Afghanistan when their five-vehicle caravan struck an IED that triggered a planned ambush. A combination of mortar rounds and small-arms fire rained down on the team, causing severe, life-threatening injuries to multiple soldiers within short order. 

After making an initial assessment and treating in order of severity, she moved the casualties to a safer position. Private First Class Brown then threw her own body over the casualties to shield them as the mortars were impacting 75 to 100 meters away. Approximately 15 mortars impacted within close range of the casualties as she continued treatment. Private First Class Brown continued treatment in the wadi approximately 15 meters from the burning vehicle, at which time the onboard 60-mm. mortar, 5.56-mm. ammunition, and 40-mm. grenade rounds on board began to explode. Again disregarding her own safety, Private First Class Brown shielded the casualties with her own body as large chunks of shrapnel and 5.56-mm. rounds began flying through the air from the burning vehicle. The patrol leader arrived on site and found it incredible she was still alive and treating the casualties amidst the extremely dangerous conditions she was operating under.”

That paragraph is a verbatim excerpt from the official citation, read by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, as Private First Class Brown was presented with the Silver Star, for valor in Combat. 


We are in a different kind of war at this time – but make no mistake, we are in a war. As I write this piece, we have multiple hospitals in the city of Detroit and the surrounding region filling to capacity with COVID-19 patients, mirroring the experience of other communities throughout the nation and the world. Every effort is being made to not only tackle this crisis in southeast Michigan, but to prevent a similar crisis from occurring elsewhere in the state. 

For weeks now, the MHA has been deeply engaged in this war, working 24/7 to advocate for critically needed funding and regulatory relief at the state and federal level, working with multiple government agencies and private sector partners to secure all manner of personal protective equipment, and coordinating the flow of a massive amount of information emanating from this rapidly evolving crisis. I am incredibly proud of our team, as they have truly risen to the challenge and worked selflessly to make a significant difference.

I also wanted to say thank you. Thank you to the caregivers who are providing compassionate care to patients and families going through a difficult and frightening situation. Thousands of Michiganders have become sick with COVID-19 and, sadly, thousands more will. And beyond that, people still need to come to healthcare facilities for routine care: emergency surgeries, delivering babies, vital treatments and more.

Thank you to the support staff who are also showing up day in and day out to help fight this pandemic by cleaning rooms, providing meals, collecting data and handling a host of other critical functions in our hospitals. These behind-the-scenes roles may not get as much attention as our physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists, but your work is vital and also appreciated.

Thank you to the hospital and health system leaders who are handling myriad concerns and making tough decisions 24/7. Thank you for partnering with the MHA to help coordinate and best manage this growing and rapidly changing situation.

Thank you to our state and federal elected officials who are doing all they can to assist.  I have been gratified to see the true bipartisan collaboration that has occurred in Michigan; whether that comes in the form of our governor collaborating with legislative leaders in rapidly approving emergency funding relief or it is our entire Michigan congressional delegation co-signing a letter of support, Michigan has been united. Thank you as well to the staff within all branches of local, state and federal government who are now saddled with an unprecedented workload and trying their best to do the right things.

Thank you to the business owners who are modifying operations or closing down to keep everyone safe. And the families who are staying home and doing their part to flatten the curve and give our front-line caregivers the best chance to stay healthy and, thereby, stay on the job.   

As Michigan’s hospital association, we are behind all of you and we sincerely thank you for your support. Our mission is to advance the health of individuals and communities, and the importance of that mission has never been more meaningful than it is right now.    

It is no longer business as usual, and just as Private First Class Brown was able to do, it is time for all of us to flip that mental switch and recognize the situation for what it is.  Once again, thank you for all that you are doing. We will win this war together.


  • CEO Report – We Are in This Together

Tags: MHA, Brian Peters, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Michigan Health and Hospital Association

Posted in: MHA Rounds

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