MHA Statement on Department of Defense Approving State Request for Healthcare Staffing Support

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Brian Peters

The current situation facing our hospitals and health system is dire and today’s approval by the U.S. Department of Defense to grant clinical staffing support is desperately needed to provide relief to our vital healthcare workforce. Many hospitals throughout the state are operating at capacity, delaying nonemergency medical procedures and placing their emergency departments on diversion. Receiving these teams of federal caregivers can only help those hospitals.

We want to commend Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for making the formal request on behalf of Michigan hospitals and express our gratitude to the Department of Defense for granting this request so quickly.

However, the strain on our healthcare system is severe and we still need the public’s help to slow the extreme growth of cases and hospitalizations. Please get vaccinated, whether it is your first dose, vaccination for your children or a booster dose. Adhere to the public health advisory and wear a mask in crowded indoor gatherings. And contact your primary care provider or seek care at an outpatient setting for nonemergency medical needs. Together we can get through this crisis, but it will take all Michiganders doing the right thing.

Michigan Hospital Chief Medical Officers Urge Public to Help Address Alarming COVID-19 Situation


The following statement is made on behalf of chief medical officers of Michigan’s community hospitals.

One year ago, Michigan faced a frightening increase in COVID-19 cases as the winter holidays approached. In response to Gov. Whitmer’s call for limits on social gatherings, we collectively followed responsible and proven measures that reduced the spread of COVID-19, saved lives and protected our state’s healthcare system.

For the 2021 holiday season we are already approaching the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan since the pandemic began. As of Sunday, Nov. 21, 3,785 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, including 784 in our intensive care units (ICUs). The vast majority of patients in the ICU and on ventilators are unvaccinated. In addition to these high numbers of COVID-19 patients requiring emergency care and hospitalization, we are seeing high numbers of patients with other medical conditions requiring care. This combination is straining or exceeding the capacity of emergency departments and hospitals across the state. We cannot wait any longer for Michigan to correct course; we need your help now to end this surge and ensure our hospitals can care for everyone who needs it.

Across the state, resilient and dedicated healthcare workers in hospitals stand ready to care for emergency medical needs, but the reality is most hospitals throughout the state have more patients in their emergency departments than they do available rooms and staff to care for them. This results in long wait times, patients being placed in hallways or conference rooms, and diverting patients away from a hospital because there is no physical room or medical staff available to accept more patients.

You may have seen reports that some hospitals are at a pandemic level red — which indicates the highest level in that facility’s emergency preparedness plan. We are extremely concerned because our best predictions are that COVID-19 patients will continue to increase during the weeks ahead as we enter the yearly flu season. At the same time, the need for care for heart disease, cancer and other diseases will continue at some of the highest rates we’ve seen in recent history.

The evidence shows that patients who receive monoclonal antibody therapy early have markedly lower rates of hospitalization and complications from COVID-19. Many hospitals have reprioritized staff and resources from ambulatory services such as testing, outpatient treatment or rehab to free up caregivers to dispense monoclonal antibody therapy and vaccines in the hope of reducing hospitalization and death. While these actions may lead to longer wait times for ambulatory services, it is important that patients who meet the criteria seek out monoclonal antibody therapy to reduce the chance of a hospital stay.

As the chief medical representatives of the healthcare systems in Michigan, we are asking all Michigan residents to recognize the following:

  • Hospitals are operating at contingency levels of care, which means waiting times are longer and staffing shortages are now the norm and not an exception.
  • This situation is a result of our ongoing pandemic response, the serious illness of non-COVID-19 patients, the increased length of stay of all patients, and the resulting high number of patients in Michigan hospitals.
  • Just as hospitals and the staff working inside are and have been working at capacity, our emergency medical services (EMS) are also stressed and overworked. There may be times when capacity in the system is not adequate to accommodate the usual response and speed of transport, especially for out-of-area transfers.
  • If the pressure on hospitals and EMS increases further, we all risk facing increasing delays and challenges in accessing care for everyone who needs emergency services and inpatient hospital care.

Knowing this situation, we call on everyone to do their part to lessen the pressure on the healthcare system:

  • If you are not already vaccinated, get your vaccine right away or complete your vaccine series. Find a location for vaccination at The evidence shows vaccines are effective at keeping people out of the hospital and off ventilators. Vaccines are free and available to those ages 5 and up at many pharmacies, doctors’ offices and health departments across the state.
  • If you are vaccinated, get a booster dose of vaccine, which is now approved for everyone ages 18 and above.
  • If you have questions about the vaccines, please reach out to your medical provider.
  • Carefully consider where you seek healthcare. A primary care office, virtual visit or urgent care may be the best accommodation as hospital and emergency departments are seeing high demand. Despite this, for emergency conditions such as stroke symptoms, chest pain, difficulty breathing or significant injury, you should still seek emergency care. Know that emergency departments are doing all they can to provide safe and timely access.
  • Practice physical distance at indoor events and gatherings, including the use of face masks and other protection.
  • If you are aware of a potential COVID-19 exposure, get tested and limit your interaction with others until you have a negative test and/or have passed the recommended quarantine period.
  • Recognize that hospital and EMS staff are shorthanded and under extreme pressure. Extend patience and thoughtfulness to those who are working the hardest to support and care for our family members and friends.

Our healthcare teams have worked tirelessly for the past 20 months to serve every community in our state. Now more than ever, they need your support.

Newly Formed Healthcare, Education Alliance Calls for Historic Investment in Staffing and Talent Development

Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance Logo

Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance LogoMichigan leaders advocate for a $650 million supplemental to support medical services, workforce pipeline

A newly formed coalition – the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance – has released a plan more than 19 months into the pandemic calling upon Michigan’s elected officials to address the emerging crisis of a shortage of healthcare workers to provide lifesaving medical care.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) in collaboration with the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM), Michigan Association of Ambulance Services (MAAS), Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), and American Nurses Association of Michigan (ANA-MI) are advocating for a $650 million investment to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.

“Michigan healthcare workers are the essential responders to the COVID-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, the healthcare staffing shortage that existed pre-pandemic has become significantly worse in recent months,” said Brian Peters, CEO of the MHA. “Staffing at our hospitals is absolutely a crisis. With the support of our partners in the healthcare and education sectors, we are pleading with our Legislature to fund a future for the healthcare workforce that will help ensure lifesaving services are able to continue across our state.”

The Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance is calling upon the Michigan Legislature to pass a $650 million supplemental to recruit and retain healthcare workers and a scholarship program to establish a workforce pipeline. The proposed Healthcare Worker Payments would be directed to healthcare front-line workers and health facility employees.

“The shortage of Michigan EMS heroes is getting worse by the day, and we desperately need more paramedics and EMTs in the field,” said Angela Madden, executive director of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services. “The lack of training options has become a crisis for EMS and we’re proud to work with our fellow healthcare partners to help get more workers into healthcare fields quickly.”

The Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program would be designed to provide two years of scholarships to individuals pursuing a degree in a clinical healthcare field. The Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program would provide payments at qualifying institutions. Based upon estimates of eligible Michigan residents, grant amounts and years in the program, it is estimated that as many as 25,000 students would qualify for and could take advantage of the Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program.

“The state of our healthcare system has a direct impact on the health of our future. We need lifesaving care and transport, which means we need people able to provide those services,” said Michael Hansen, president of the MCCA. “Establishing a pipeline for these jobs by incentivizing students to go into and afford these careers is absolutely necessary to ensuring our communities stay healthy and appropriately staffed.”

Michigan hospitals have reached new record-high occupancy rates, requiring staff scheduling and capacity adjustments several times daily to preserve patient care standards. For many healthcare facilities, vacancy rates are 20% or more of their workforce. Patients experience delays of sometimes several days waiting for transport between a hospital and a nursing home, inpatient psychiatric hospital or rehabilitation facility due to the shortage of qualified paramedics. Some hospitals must regularly divert ambulances away from their emergency departments, which delays emergent care, especially in Michigan’s many rural areas.

“Working in long-term care is a calling, a fulfilling career that gives people a purpose,” said Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of HCAM. “Caregivers who have served on the front lines of a health crisis the world has not experienced in 100 years need and deserve our support. The pandemic has made an expected shortage of healthcare workers happen sooner and to a much worse degree. New admissions to skilled nursing facilities are being limited or halted because providers are taking a proactive measure to focus their care on current residents. We must address this workforce crisis to ensure our seniors have access to the care they need.”

Healthcare workforce staffing shortages existed prior to COVID-19 but have worsened and are expected to persist beyond the pandemic. Michigan must address both the short- and the long-term workforce crisis that is driving this problem before it forces even more difficult healthcare decisions. Contrary to the early support shown to healthcare workers in the beginning months of the pandemic, a 2021 survey has found that 34% of nurses reported experiencing workplace violence, which can lead to higher rates of burnout.

More detail about the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance’s $650 million plan will be available at as the group continues to work with policymakers.


MHA Statement on CDC Approval of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
Brian Peters

The approval today of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is another significant milestone in combatting the spread of COVID-19. The new vaccine eligibility not only protects younger children from severe infection but reduces the likelihood of younger children infecting other vulnerable populations with the disease.

At a time when children’s hospitals throughout Michigan are strained due to high rates of respiratory illness, this approval will keep children safe and help reduce the burden on our hospitals and allow them to focus on their patients with non-COVID illnesses.

We encourage parents to contact their child’s physician office, their local health department or preferred health system for any questions they have and to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Sparrow Hospital Nurse Protects Pediatric Patient, Receives Award

speak up
Jennifer Brandt
Jennifer Brandt, RN at Sparrow Hospital, receives Speak-up! Award

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Keystone Center honored Jennifer Brandt, an emergency department registered nurse at Sparrow Hospital, Oct. 21 with the quarterly MHA Keystone Center Speak-up! Award.

Brandt was caring for a pediatric patient scheduled to be discharged from the emergency department based on lab results. However, Brandt noticed that the patient’s condition appeared to be declining and suggested that the patient be admitted to the hospital. The physician assistant agreed with Brandt’s recommendation, and the patient was admitted to the pediatric unit with subsequent transfer to the pediatric intensive care unit, where the patient was treated for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a rare but serious condition that occurs after a COVID-19 exposure or infection that can lead to inflammation of vital organs.

“I’m extremely honored to receive this award, but even more so happy that we were able to correctly diagnose our patient and make sure the patient received the care that they needed,” said Brandt. “We have a culture at Sparrow Hospital that makes me comfortable to speak up, which helps ensure our patients receive the best care.”

Launched in March 2016, the MHA Keystone Center Speak-up! Award acknowledges individuals or teams within MHA Keystone Center Patient Safety Organization hospitals who speak up to prevent potential harm to patients or other staff members. The award fosters a culture within healthcare organizations that empowers staff to speak up about the quality or safety of patient care.

“What Jennifer did is what we want all members of our care teams to do if they feel like something may not be right,” said Karen Kent VanGorder, MD, chief medical and quality officer, Sparrow Health System. “The past few months have been extremely busy and taxing on the staff of Sparrow Hospital’s emergency department, but we are blessed to have healthcare heroes like Jennifer caring for patients every day.”

Additional award finalists for the third quarter of 2021 include:

  • Logan Bixman, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital
  • Shelah Perry, McLaren Health Care
  • Carrie Schmoekel, Covenant HealthCare

“Establishing a safety culture that empowers staff to speak up is one very important way that hospitals throughout Michigan are improving safety and quality for their patients,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “We are thrilled to recognize Jennifer and Sparrow Hospital for her actions that ensured a child received the care they needed for a very serious disease.”

Specifics on the MHA Keystone Center Speak-up! Award, including criteria and a nomination form, are available online. For more information, contact the MHA Keystone Center PSO.

Children’s Hospitals Issue Plea to Reduce Respiratory Illnesses

The following letter is published on behalf of the Michigan Children’s Hospital Clinical Leadership Collaborative.

As pediatric physician leaders who treat children and adolescents in our hospitals and clinics, we need your help. The number of children in Michigan infected and ill with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in Michigan is increasing. Our clinics, emergency departments and hospitals are reaching capacity.

Every day, 300 children under 10 years of age are infected with COVID-19 in Michigan. With more confirmed cases, we are seeing more children seeking care for COVID-19 symptoms, more children being hospitalized, and higher rates of children admitted to intensive care units since last month. When combined with extremely high rates of RSV among children for this time of year and more children seeking care in the emergency department with mental and behavioral health issues, the number of children needing care is surpassing our state’s staffing and resource capacity and straining our healthcare workforce at unprecedented levels.

We ask everyone in Michigan to do their part to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 and respiratory illness in our schools and communities and to protect our children by using the best tools we have.

  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible if you are eligible and make sure your family is up to date on all other vaccinations, including the yearly flu shot.
  • Please wear a mask and encourage your children to do so, especially while at school and when attending large gatherings.
  • Please adhere to proven safe health practices of physical distancing and hand washing.

Together we can keep our children safer and maintain our ability to provide the highest level of care when they need it. They need each of us to do our part. They need us now.

With Appreciation,

Michigan Children’s Hospital Clinical Leadership Collaborative

Marcus DeGraw, MD
Chairman, Department of Pediatrics
Ascension St. John Children’s Hospital

Jeffery DeVries, MD
VP Graduate Medical Education
Beaumont Children’s Hospital

Gregory Tiongson, MD
Medical Director
Bronson Children’s Hospital

Rudolph Valentini, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Children’s Hospital of Michigan

Chris Dickinson, MD
Chief Clinical Officer
University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital

Matthew Denenberg, MD
VP Medical Affairs
Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

Michael Jaggi, DO
Chief Medical Officer
Hurley Children’s Hospital

Francis Darr, MD, FAAP
Chair of the Department of Pediatrics
Marquette General Hospital

Christine Nefcy, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Munson Medical Center

Aditi Sharangpani, MD
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
Sparrow Health System

Fiscal Year 2022 State Budget Protects Healthcare

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. 

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The pandemic has challenged hospitals throughout the state and, on behalf of our members, we commend Gov. Whitmer for signing today a state budget that continues vital funding sources for our hospitals, increases support for direct care workers and ambulance services, and maintains extended Medicaid coverage for mothers up to 12 months postpartum. We extend equal appreciation to both the Legislature and Gov. Whitmer and her administration for passing a budget on time that maintains access to care throughout Michigan.

As our hospitals continue to face both a behavioral health and workforce crisis that is stressing hospitals to capacity, we look forward to continued discussions on how additional state and federal funding can be allocated through the supplemental budget process to secure support for transformational solutions

MHA Values Work of Michigan Legislature on FY 2022 State Budget

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. 

MHA CEO Brian PetersOn behalf of Michigan hospitals and health systems, we value the work of the Michigan Legislature to pass a budget that protect MHA priorities that include fully funding the Healthy Michigan plan, the rural access pool, the obstetrical stabilization fund, and maintaining rate increases for Medicaid and critical access hospitals. We also commend the legislature for expanding postpartum coverage to a full year for mothers on Healthy Michigan. However, more work remains, particularly to address the behavioral health crisis in Michigan. We look forward to working with the legislature through the supplemental appropriations process to secure transformational behavioral health solutions. 

MHA Ranked as One of the Best Places to Work in 2021

Modern Healthcare Best Places to Work 2021 logo.

Modern Healthcare Best Places to Work 2021 logoThe Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) has been ranked No.43 among healthcare suppliers in Modern Healthcare’s 2021 Best Places to Work award program. The complete list of this year’s winner rankings is available at Modern Healthcare will publish a special supplement featuring the ranked list of all winners along with the Sept. 20 issue of MH magazine.

“It’s a tremendous honor for the MHA to receive this award as we navigate a new-normal following some of the most challenging years in healthcare,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “We owe this recognition to our resilient employees whose work and passion drive our mission of advancing the health of Michigan communities.”

Modern Healthcare partnered with the Best Companies Group on the assessment process, which includes an extensive employee survey. While this program has evolved over the years, its mission remains the same: recognizing workplaces that empower employees to provide patients and customers the best possible care, products and services.

As the healthcare industry sits squarely on the frontlines of this pandemic, the mission of the Best Places to Work program has only become more important. Healthcare leaders have proven that creating nurturing, supportive workplaces for their most valuable asset, their employees, is vital. 

“The healthcare workforce has undergone a true test in the past year and a half, oftentimes pitting employees against employers. So how best to keep harmony in a workplace that is inherently stressful? This year’s winners have an easy tip to incorporate: show respect. In high-performing and successful teams, regard for employees’ well-being, acknowledgment of their contributions, and deference to their experience and dedication all helped maintain professionalism and productivity,” said Aurora Aguilar, Editor of Modern Healthcare. “We congratulate all of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare for emphasizing that compassion and respect are essential to an engaged and productive workforce."

The MHA was honored at the 2021 Best Places to Work Gala on Thursday, Sept. 16. The MHA is the only state hospital association to have been named a 2021 awardee. This is the MHA’s third time as a Best Place to Work in Healthcare after having won the award in 2010 and 2012.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan contributes $5 million to MHA Keystone Center, expanding longtime investment in safety and quality of health care

Funding will support research and innovations in maternal health, opioid use reductions and the safety of hospital patients and health care workers

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is expanding its longstanding funding relationship with the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Keystone Center with a $5 million contribution. Since the launch of the MHA Keystone Center in 2003, participating hospitals have made significant strides in increasing safety and quality and have been recognized nationally for their work to improve care statewide. This newest investment from Blue Cross, which will be paid in installments through 2024, adds to the $16 million Blue Cross has provided to the MHA Keystone Center since 2009. It will directly support new programs and hospital-led innovations related to women and children’s health, maternal care parameters and the safety of both patients and health care workers. The funding will also support Blue Cross and the MHA Keystone Center’s work encouraging Michigan hospitals to offer medication assisted treatment for substance use disorders to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Among the MHA Keystone Center’s most recent successes with increasing safety and quality, data showed that its Great Lakes Partnership for Patients Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (GLPP HIIN) Midwest Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) program led to an 11.3% decrease in opioid administration and 13.4% increase in ALTO administration among participating hospitals. The work of the GLPP HIIN is estimated to have saved 3,350 lives, led to a total cost savings of $292,903,501 and avoided 25,204 incidents of harm among hospitalized patients. The MHA Keystone Center’s quarterly Speak-up! Award program shows health care staff have prevented nearly $12 million in unnecessary costs just by speaking up when they identified potential for harm.

“Since its creation 18 years ago, the MHA Keystone Center has performed critical work that has positioned Michigan as one of the leading places to receive hospital-based care,” said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan President & CEO Daniel J. Loepp.  “Blue Cross and MHA have mutual interest in promoting hospital-based care that is not only safe, but that delivers the positive outcomes patients count on when they first arrive at their community’s hospital.”

“Delivering safe, high-quality care to every patient every time is at the core of every Michigan hospital’s mission,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “The investments from BCBSM for the ongoing quality and safety work of the MHA Keystone Center has allowed hospitals across the state to collaborate on issues that directly impact our patients and employees. Together, this work has led to lives saved and health care errors and costs prevented.”

Michigan physicians also see the positive effects the MHA Keystone Center has on each patient, especially in the operating room, as it has been instrumental in leading to a safer care environment for each patient.  Health care providers practice more safely today because of the MHA Keystone Center’s work, including incorporating actions such as patient checklists, time-outs to assure protocols have been followed, increased precautions and sterile techniques for various procedures. Examples of past work that has led directly to improved quality and safety include the adoption of preprocedural safety huddles, the development of a medication disposal guide for patients and a guide for better pain management to avoid unnecessary opioid use.

Blue Cross and the MHA Keystone Center will align the work of both organizations in improving hospital-based care through data available via the Michigan Health Information Network.  The MHA Keystone Center will continue to participate closely with Blue Cross’ broad array of Collaborative Quality Initiatives – clinically driven work that addresses the cost and quality of common medical procedures and promotes best practices in patient care. Blue Cross’ efforts to promote value in health care delivery along with physicians and health systems have resulted in more than $2.2 billion in savings to date and have – along with the work of the MHA Keystone Center and its participating hospitals – resulted in Michigan gaining stature as one of the best and safest places in the nation to receive hospital-based care.