CEO Report - Crises Demonstrate Association Value, Leadership
Posted on May 03, 2020
"The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis." -Brian Tracy, internationally renowned business and leadership speaker
Nearly two months into COVID-19’s arrival in Michigan, to say our health system has been pressure tested is an understatement. And when our member hospitals and health systems are under pressure, so is the MHA. Our members have never needed advocacy, information and leadership like they have amid this pandemic — and we have never valued their membership more. We have a long way to go before life returns to normal in hospitals or at the MHA, but there’s no time like the present to evaluate why the MHA has succeeded in providing tremendous member value when our members needed it most.
Advocacy and Funding
First and foremost, the MHA is an advocacy organization. We fight for hospitals and health systems and the patients they serve at every opportunity. This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the strength of our advocacy. Through strong relationships with elected officials and government agencies at the state and federal levels, the MHA has ensured that more than $1 billion in relief is coming to Michigan hospitals — and these efforts aren’t over. Hospitals cannot stay open if they can’t pay their staff, purchase equipment and keep their facilities up and running 24/7, all to care for patients of all kinds. COVID-19 funding relief has been and will continue to be a top advocacy priority of the MHA so that our members can serve their communities.
We’ve learned that “business as usual” doesn’t exist during a pandemic. The MHA identified early on that if our members were going to succeed in caring for COVID-19 patients — and others — while battling fewer resources, staff and funding, they needed regulatory relief and they needed it fast. The MHA worked closely with state and federal agencies as well as private and public payers to quickly bring administrative and regulatory relief to hospitals, which has proven invaluable to their ability to remain flexible and operational. This relief has come in the form of CMS waivers, fewer data collection requirements, fewer requirements for providing care and getting that care paid for, quicker approvals to increase capacity and add staff, and much more.
Supplies, Testing and Capacity
It didn’t take long to realize that our members would need assistance getting the personal protective equipment they would need to ensure the safety of their teams and patients. The MHA took a leadership role in getting other associations, private companies and others to donate or sell needed supplies to hospitals. The MHA also developed a burn rate calculator to allow the association to help direct supplies to those who would need it most and monitor supplies on hand to ensure new resources could be provided when necessary.
One of the most critical areas in which we’re assisting our members is by working to improve testing supply chains and resources. Whether it’s daily conversations with state lab officials or reaching out directly to the chief executives at lab supplies manufacturers, the MHA continues to use every avenue to get our hospitals the tests and sample collection supplies they need to do their jobs.
The MHA is also focused on helping our members maintain adequate capacity, get patients to the most appropriate care setting, and stand up new facilities in areas of need. All these efforts ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed and can continue serving their communities to the best of their ability.
It’s hard to make good decisions without good data and, on this point, the MHA again has provided leadership for our members and for other stakeholders as well. The MHA’s data collection and analytics operations have been instrumental in ensuring accurate information is shared with elected officials, governmental decision-makers, the media and the public. These data efforts have also positively impacted the level of COVID-19 relief funding Michigan hospitals and health systems have been eligible to receive.
Another core function of the association that we’ve maximized during this experience has been communication. The MHA has provided the most important information to our members via an emailed alert nearly every day since early March, ensuring that they know where to focus their resources and efforts amid a flood of information coming at them from every angle, every day. Whether it’s through these alerts, our COVID-19 website, toolkits, social media posts or otherwise — in a nutshell, our membership communication has focused on “sense making.” We have also focused heavily on earned media to ensure the public remains educated on the facts of the virus, how it’s impacting their communities, and how it’s impacting hospitals and health systems across the state. The MHA has been a leading voice throughout the pandemic, which has helped support all of our aforementioned areas of work.
Demonstrating member value is top priority for every association across America. When a member receives a dues invoice, what will they consider? It surely includes these questions: did my association focus on the issues that matter to me? Did they listen to my concerns? Did they provide me with timely, high-quality services and information?
The MHA fights to check all these boxes and more, every day. I am very proud of our MHA staff, many of whom have worked seven days a week without a break since this crisis began. COVID-19 has no doubt risen to crisis level, and in this crisis the MHA and our members have functioned like true leaders.
Posted in: MHA Rounds