MHA CEO Report — Pediatric Capacity Crisis

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

Every child begins the world again.Henry David Thoreau

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOIn all of my life experiences to date, none have been so challenging in every sense as those times when my young children were hospitalized in the NICU, fighting for their very lives. We were incredibly fortunate to have positive outcomes with both of them, thanks to the efforts of our Michigan hospitals and the incredible people who work there every day.

I share this perspective because there is a crisis throughout Michigan that truly hits home with me. I know the angst and exhaustion being felt by far too many parents right now – emotions that are also being acutely felt by our heroic caregivers. In short, it feels like déjà vu in Michigan’s children’s hospitals, but instead of a surge of COVID-19 patients stressing capacity to the limits, our facilities are strained by a high number of pediatric patients suffering from respiratory illnesses largely driven by RSV. Similar tactics that have been implemented in prior years, such as initiating incident command systems, have been in operation to ensure appropriate direction and communication is occurring throughout those systems impacted by this crisis.

Hospitals operating at capacity is nothing new and the staffing challenges that continue to result in Michigan operating with 1,700 fewer staffed beds than we had prior to the pandemic are well documented. What we’re seeing today is the real impact of what those staffing challenges mean: longer wait times in the emergency department, lack of available beds for patient transports (particularly in rural Michigan) and pediatric ICUs operating at beyond 100% capacity.

There are few professionals in the world that have proven to be more resilient than healthcare workers, whether they are physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, environmental service workers…the list goes on and on (and I am proud to say that the MHA Keystone Center has played an important role with the launch of our WELL-B initiative that continues to provide resiliency tools for our clinicians and other team members). But as residents of our communities, we can no longer take our healthcare workers and the access to care they provide for granted. These workers, and their organizations, need help.

Thankfully, the Michigan Legislature provided funding earlier this year through Public Act 9 to improve the recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers. So far, over 69,000 healthcare workers have benefitted from that funding and it has helped to stabilize existing staffing levels. Hospitals are also exploring innovative ways to grow the talent pipeline, such as investment in higher education partnerships and other apprenticeships. However, while impactful, this funding is a finger in the dyke. Without additional attention, the problem will persist.

Addressing the strain on our children’s hospitals is a multi-pronged approach, and in addition to the aforementioned work of our MHA Keystone Center, we are also deriving input and guidance from our MHA Council on Children’s Health, led by Laura Appel, executive vice president for government relations and public affairs, as well as our system chief medical officer (CMO) group, led by our own CMO Gary Roth, DO.

While the MHA will continue to pursue legislative and regulatory solutions to the staffing crisis, there are actions anyone can undertake to help our healthcare workers caring for very sick children across Michigan, particularly as COVID-19, RSV and the flu converge to drive hospitalizations.

First and foremost, ensure that both you and your children are up to date on all the relevant vaccinations that are now readily available. The MHA is a long-time supporter of I Vaccinate which is a good source of information on vaccines, and our MHA Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications Ruthanne Sudderth continues to be our point person with this organization. Second, practice proper hygiene, including handwashing and staying home when sick. Third, seek the appropriate setting for care; visit the hospital for emergencies but contact your primary care physician or an urgent care facility for testing or care for mild symptoms. Lastly – and very importantly – be sure to express some grace and appreciation for any healthcare worker you meet. As we approach the winter and holiday season, they are here to provide exceptional care to all who need it and deserve to be treated with respect both on and off duty.

If you have not done so already, please join me in sharing this messaging within your networks. Our hospitals need the support from our partners in healthcare, the business community and in Lansing and Washington, DC to weather this storm. Respiratory illnesses will always be here, but there are many small actions we can take to care for the health and wellness of our communities well into the future.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Parents Urged to Take Preventive Measures As Pediatric Beds Fill Up

As Respiratory Viruses Circulate, Michigan Hospitals Urge Vigilance, Prevention

Michigan children’s hospitals and pediatric healthcare leaders are raising awareness about a pediatric hospital bed shortage and urging the public to help prevent respiratory illnesses, which are rapidly spreading in the form of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

Michigan pediatric intensive care unit hospital beds are currently 89% occupied, according to data from the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) and Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS). Hospitals are also reporting large surges in young patients visiting emergency departments, for both emergent and non-emergent care. Hospitals are urging those with mild cold-like symptoms to stay at home. If symptoms worsen, an urgent care or primary care physician’s office would be the most appropriate setting to seek care, while emergency department visits should be reserved for those with moderate to severe symptoms including shortness of breath. Wait times and patient volumes in emergency rooms are increasing, and emergency department capacity in some areas is being depleted by visits for non-emergency medical conditions. Pervasive hospital staff shortages further complicate surges in hospital visits.

These pediatric bed shortages are impacting care statewide, making transfers of the sickest young patients to higher acuity care settings difficult.

“Hospitals are here for Michiganders, particularly in emergencies,” said Gary Roth, DO, chief medical officer, MHA. “But our capacity to provide pediatric hospital care is extremely strained. Right now, the staffing challenges we have been sounding the alarms about all year combined with rapid spread of respiratory illnesses are impacting our hospitals’ ability to care for our sickest children in a timely manner.”

The MHA and the MDHHS are monitoring the pediatric bed capacity among Michigan hospitals. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data shows that 76% of pediatric beds across the country are full, with anecdotal reports largely pinning the shortage on widespread RSV infections.

“Many of us in the pediatric medical community across Michigan are working to care for the surge of children battling RSV,” Matthew Denenberg, MD, chief of pediatrics, Corewell Health East, the new name for Beaumont Health, and chair of the MHA’s Council on Children’s Health. “Our teams are here to help when the illness becomes severe. Parents and guardians can also help stop the spread of illness in our communities by getting children vaccinated against both flu and COVID-19. We all need to work together to keep our children safe.”

“In recent weeks we have seen a significant surge in cases of RSV which is most greatly impacting our infants and young children,” said Rudolph Valentini, MD, chief medical officer, Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “Since Oct. 1, more than 450 patients have tested positive for RSV at our hospital. This is putting a strain on our hospital’s emergency department and inpatient bed capacity; further, this could intensify if influenza cases begin to rise in the near future. It is also important to note that RSV and its associated bronchiolitis cause symptomatic disease in 20% of infants and children less than one year of age. Although RSV may only cause a mild cold in older children and adults, it is important for parents to keep their infants and young children away from others who are ill, because RSV causes inflammation to the smallest airways making infants especially vulnerable sometimes resulting in hospitalization or ICU care. Other patients who need to avoid RSV are children with a history of prematurity, chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, immunodeficiency or solid organ transplant.”

“As we see this concerning trend in high volumes of pediatric emergent care and hospitalizations, we need to all work together to protect our children and conserve resources.  Pediatric beds are a shared resource across the state,” stated Christine Nefcy, MD, chief medical officer, Munson Healthcare. “Many smaller community or rural hospitals in Michigan have minimal pediatric bed capacity and rely on other facilities for higher level or specialty care for these patients. At this time of year, we naturally want to gather more often with family and friends; so as you make plans, we urge parents to follow these guidelines to ensure we manage this surge using all the tools at hand.”

“We are urging Michiganders to have a plan for their families this respiratory season to help prevent hospital overcrowding and prevent outbreaks of respiratory illnesses using the tools available,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state’s chief medical executive. “This includes getting available vaccines, staying home if unwell, having a supply of masks at home, covering coughs, washing your hands often and finding out if you are eligible for treatment options if you do become unwell.”

The MHA and its pediatric clinical leaders and partners offer the following tips for the public:

  • DON’T: Seek hospital emergency care for non-emergency medical conditions, such as mild symptoms and routine testing.
  • DO: Seek hospital emergency care if symptoms are worrisome and emergency care is needed. Emergency medical conditions can include difficulty breathing, dehydration and worsening symptoms.
  • DO: Immediately get vaccinated against respiratory illnesses. Visit www.vaccines.gov to search for vaccine availability or call your provider or the local health department.
  • DO: Be patient if seeking care through a hospital emergency department. Consider that wait times may be elevated as respiratory illnesses reach seasonal peak levels.
  • DO: Consider having your children wear a mask in public places including school when you know local case rates of respiratory illnesses are high.
  • DO: Practice frequent and proper hand washing and stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Additional information: 

Influenza is a viral respiratory illness with symptoms that include fever, cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, headache, chills and fatigue. A flu test is not always needed to diagnose the flu, however in some cases it may be recommended by a healthcare provider. People at risk of complications should consult their healthcare provider.

RSV infection is a viral respiratory illness that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. Symptoms include runny nose, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing.

Reporters may contact the following representatives from the Pediatric Leadership Collaborative to schedule interviews:

Natasha Bagdasarian, MD, MPH, FIDSA, Chief Medical Executive, State of Michigan
Media Contact: Lynn Sutfin, SutfinL1@michigan.gov

Francis Darr, MD, Pediatrician, UP Health System – Marquette
Media Contact: Janell Larson, Janell.Larson@mghs.org

Marcus DeGraw, MD, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Ascension St. John Hospital St. John Children’s Center
Media Contact: Airielle Taylor, airielle.taylor@ascension.org

Matthew Denenberg, MD, Chief of Pediatrics, Corewell Health East
Media Contact: Mark Geary, mark.geary@beaumont.org

Michael Fiore, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Covenant Healthcare
Media Contact: Kristin Knoll, kknoll@chs-mi.com

Steven Martin, MD, E.W. Sparrow Hospital, Interim Chief Medical Officer & Co-Director of University of Michigan Health at Sparrow Children’s Center, Sparrow Health System
Media Contact: John Foren, John.Foren@Sparrow.org

Kimberly Monroe, MD, MS, Interim Chief Clinical Officer, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital & Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital
Media Contact: Beata Mostafavi, bmostafa@med.umich.edu

Christine Nefcy, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Munson Healthcare
Jacques Burgess, MD, MPH, System Pediatric Medical Director, Munson Healthcare
Media Contact: Dale Killingbeck, dkillingbeck@mhc.net

Brian M Nolan, MD, Hurley Children’s Hospital
Media Contact: Peggy Agar, pagar1@hurleymc.com

Dominic Sanfilippo, MD, Associate Department Chief / Pediatrician-in-Chief, Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Media Contact: Andrea Finnigan, Andrea.Finnigan@spectrumhealth.org

Uzma Shah MD, FAAP, FAASLD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Henry Ford Health
Media Contact: Dana Jay, djay2@hfhs.org

Gregory Tiongson, MD, Medical Director, Bronson Children’s Hospital
Media Contact: Erin Smith, smither@bronsonhg.org

Rudolph Valentini, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Hospital of Michigan
Media Contact: Brian Taylor, BTaylor8@dmc.org

MHA CEO Report — Michigan Hospitals: Benefitting Communities in Significant Ways

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOFall is officially upon us. At the MHA, that means a new program year is well underway, we have a new Strategic Action Plan in place and are preparing for the November election which is now just weeks away. This fall, we are also very proud to continue an annual tradition and publish two new reports documenting the critical role of our membership throughout the state: the 2022 Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan and the Healthy Futures, Health Communities community benefit report.

Fiscal year 2020 data (the most recently available) is shared in each report and it reinforces the position that hospitals are both economic drivers and community leaders. Healthcare remains the largest private sector employer in Michigan with nearly 572,000 total individuals directly employed, 224,000 of which are in hospitals. These direct healthcare workers earned $44.2 billion in wages, salaries and benefits and when combined with indirect, healthcare-supported jobs, contributed almost $15.2 billion in local, state and federal taxes. Hospitals provide mission-oriented work aimed at the health and wellness of their patients and communities, but the data is clear that hospitals clearly have a role in the economic health of our state as well.

We take our work towards improving community wellness seriously, which is demonstrated by the nearly $4.2 billion investment in community-based partnerships and programming. Hospitals invested more than $869 million in community and voluntary-based activities while providing $3.4 billion in uncompensated care. Hospitals are committed to not only caring for anyone who walks through their doors, but towards preventative care programs that can help reduce the need of inpatient hospital services. The costs of these efforts come directly out of a hospital’s bottom line but are vital towards ensuring vulnerable patients have the ability to receive needed care.

These reports are based on data from the first year of the pandemic. I do not have to tell you how trying and difficult those times were for hospitals. Despite the uncertainty and demand on hospitals and health systems during that time, they continued to support our communities in these important ways. Our healthcare system was stretched to new lengths, but we had over half a million individuals directly involved in providing care to patients. With a statewide population of 10 million, 40% of which are either under the age of 18 or aged 65 and older, healthcare either directly or indirectly employs over 18% of our workforce.

Yet the 2020 numbers also begin to provide evidence of the loss of healthcare workers that we anecdotally have shared for the last several years. For the first time in the history of the economic impact report, total direct jobs in Michigan from healthcare declined, including the loss of 7,000 jobs in hospitals. Despite those losses, total compensation for hospital workers remained the same, as contracted labor (e.g. those working for nurse staffing agencies) became a necessity for hospitals to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

But I do not want to lose sight of what the headline should be, and that is healthcare remains an economic engine and the largest private-sector employer in Michigan. At a time where every industry is struggling with having enough staff, healthcare remains a very significant employer. And the industry holds a tremendous amount of opportunity for new job growth moving forward: Michigan’s recent list of the top career fields with the highest projected growth is dominated by healthcare professions. Hospitals not only offer well-compensated careers with strong benefits, but in a rewarding field that truly makes a difference in the lives of our neighbors. Hospital careers also exist in communities large and small, helping to keep college graduates and young professionals in our state. Lastly, the skills of a healthcare professional are transferrable, regardless of region, and long-lasting. The training and education for a healthcare professional today will remain relevant over the next several decades.

Every year that goes by, hospitals seek to be more involved with individuals outside the walls of their facilities. They are helping to address the social determinants of health, including access to transportation and food insecurity. And they are intertwined in not only the individual health of community members, but in the success of local business and municipalities. Access to healthcare is at the top of any organization’s checklist wishing to expand their footprint into new markets. Our success depends on the success of community leaders and vice versa.

When we advocate for much-needed Medicaid and Medicare funding, for the 340B drug pricing program and for good health policy at the state and federal level, we do so because we know these are essential to maintaining access to quality healthcare in communities throughout Michigan. With the facts presented by our new reports on economic impact and community benefit, we believe there is more reason than ever for our elected officials – and all of us – to support our Michigan hospitals.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Michigan Hospitals Invested $4.2 Billion in Community Programming Mid-pandemic to Improve Health, Well-being of Residents

New report outlines hospital community health efforts in FY 2020

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) released today the Healthy Futures, Healthy Communities report that demonstrates a nearly $4.2 billion investment in community-based partnerships and programming in fiscal year (FY) 2020. Overall, hospitals invested more than $869 million in community and voluntary-based activities, from education and prevention services to community outreach, research and workforce development.

Data in the report shows investments made throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating Michigan’s hospitals and health systems continued offering a wide range of services and resources to their communities inside and outside of the traditional healthcare setting that improved the overall health, wellness and quality of life of residents.

“Even through some of the most challenging times in healthcare, hospitals and health systems haven’t wavered in their commitment to helping improve the overall health and wellness of the communities they serve,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “This report gives a clear and simple message: The impact of our healthcare workforce reaches far beyond the walls of patient rooms.”

In addition to community benefit services and programs, the report also highlights the contributions of hospitals when it comes to uncompensated care. In FY 2020, the unpaid costs of patient care at Michigan hospitals totaled more than $3.4 billion, which includes both financial assistance and bad debt at cost, as well as Medicaid and Medicare payment shortfalls, other means-tested government programs and subsidized health services.

“The programs​ and services that ​hospitals and health systems provide ​have ​a long-term and positive impact on community health,” said T. Anthony Denton, J.D., MHSA, senior vice president and chief operating officer of University of Michigan Hospitals, Health Centers and Medical Group and 2022-2023 Chair of the MHA Board of Trustees. “Patients and communities bec​ame more intertwined ​than ever as ​healthcare teams worked to provide care, compassion, financial and in-kind resources and knowledge throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do so. Our role as anchor institutions ​is and has always been vital, providing an important uplift to those in need by way of various contributions which demonstrate our value as a major community asset. Through our many efforts, we are privileged to build bridges and connect communities to inform, elevate and empower individuals and families to mitigate social determinants and advance health, inspire hope and foster meaningful presence.”

Included in the report are examples of programs implemented by hospitals throughout Michigan that expand access to care and improve the health of vulnerable populations within their communities.

“McLaren, as a large health system, serves large urban settings and smaller rural communities, and the critical charge of being a community-integrated provider is having a sound, community-based system of care in place,” said Dr. Justin Klamerus, McLaren Health Care chief medical officer. “Increasingly, health care is moving toward care that existed outside of the hospital, both in treatment and preventive practices. It’s part of our responsibility to attune ourselves to the needs of our communities, especially in critical access areas, and doubly so during a time when many may still be hesitant to seek care in a hospital setting. Our facilities in Bay, Caro and the Thumb Region are true in the commitment to their communities and are really working to meet their needs.”

The full report and stories from hospitals across the state that exhibiting community benefit can be accessed online here.

Healthcare Remains Michigan’s Largest Private-sector Employer Despite Pandemic Losses

Economic Impact in Michigan infographic

Provides Nearly 572,000 Direct Jobs, 224,000 in Hospitals Alone

Economic Impact in Michigan infographicThe Partnership for Michigan’s Health reports healthcare directly employed nearly 572,000 Michigan residents in 2020, demonstrating that healthcare continues to be the largest private-sector employer in the state despite staffing losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 release of The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan shows direct healthcare workers in Michigan earned $44.2 billion that year in wages, salaries and benefits. Hospitals alone employed 224,000 individuals in the state in 2020.

Direct healthcare employment helps create additional jobs that are indirectly related to or induced by healthcare. These indirect, healthcare-supported jobs are held by more than 502,000 people who earned about $28 billion in 2020 in wages, salaries and benefits. Together with their employers, the nearly 1.1 million workers in the healthcare sector contributed almost $15.2 billion that year in local, state and federal taxes. These taxes include Social Security, income, motor vehicle, sales, property, corporate and more.

Data from 2020 shows the early impact the pandemic had on the economic strength of the healthcare sector in Michigan. In particular, the data illustrates the rise in labor costs as many nurses transitioned to contract labor with staffing agencies. Compensation for direct jobs in Nursing and Residential Care rose by about $200 million from 2019 to 2020, although the number of jobs fell by about 11,000. Specific to hospitals, the number of jobs fell by about 7,000 jobs from 2019 to 2020, but total compensation remained about the same.

The loss in jobs represents the initial exit of many healthcare workers due to burnout and stress associated with the pandemic. Both nationally and in Michigan, healthcare experienced a shortage of healthcare employees for several years and the pandemic caused a sudden loss of existing workers. With Medicare beneficiaries in Michigan increasing by more than 8% over the past five years to a total of 2.1 million people, Michigan needs more healthcare workers, now more than ever, to serve the changing needs of the state’s aging population.

The trend of nurses transitioning to contract labor is supported by recent research from the American Hospital Association, which found labor expenses per patient for hospitals increased 19% through 2021 compared to 2019. Increased labor expenses have a more profound impact on hospitals and health systems, as labor expenses account for more than 50% of total expenses for most hospitals. In addition, healthcare reimbursement is unable to quickly respond to inflationary pressures since rates are negotiated months in advance, presenting additional financial challenges when responding to sudden labor market demand.

The report was compiled by the Partnership for Michigan’s Health, which consists of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, the Michigan State Medical Society and the Michigan Osteopathic Association, all based in the greater Lansing area. It uses 2019 and 2020 data, which is the most recent available.

“This report demonstrates the unquestionable and significant role healthcare, and specifically hospitals, play in Michigan communities,” said Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters. “Not only have they played a vital role in the care and treatment of patients, but they remain far and away the leading employers and large drivers of economic activity.”

“Healthcare careers are not only extremely rewarding, but crucial to our society,” said Kris Nicholoff, executive director of the Michigan Osteopathic Association. “While healthcare careers remain in high demand, the data shows there are over a million individuals we owe our gratitude toward for providing care during one of the most trying and tumultuous years in modern history.”

“Physicians are and will continue to remain a key driver of healthcare employment and economic growth,” said Julie L. Novak, CEO of the Michigan State Medical Society. “Investing in physician-led team-based care and healthcare careers is key to the economic vitality and health of our state, local communities and residents. Physician practices, hospitals and other care settings offer good paying and stable jobs in careers that truly improve and save lives.”

Hospitals and healthcare providers remain focused on ensuring these jobs meet the needs of their employees, from offering competitive compensation and benefits to ensuring a safe and supportive work environment. The Partnership for Michigan’s Health joined several other organizations in the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance to advocate for state funding to support the recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers. These efforts were successful in Public Act 9 of 2022 which allocates $300 million in state funding to support Michigan’s healthcare workforce.

The 16th and 17th editions of The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan were compiled using IMPLAN® cloud software to quantify healthcare’s significant economic impact in the state. The data represents direct, indirect  and induced  healthcare jobs; taxes paid by those workers and their employers; and salaries, wages and benefits earned. The report is an online, interactive tool that allows users to examine these economic impacts from a statewide perspective and by region, county or congressional district. The data from both 2019 and 2020 is provided in two separate data tables. It is available at www.economicimpact.org.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of July 11

MHA Covid-19 update

Michigan’s COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations have increased since early July with the onset of omicron variant BA.5. Here are the latest key statistics:

  • 875 hospitalizations with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, a 20% increase since July 1.
  • 23 pediatric hospitalizations with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
  • 67.6% of all residents have at least one dose of vaccine.
  • 29.2% of kids aged 5-11 have now initiated vaccination.
  • Roughly 2% of kids aged 6 months-5 years have initiated vaccination since approval was granted in mid-June.

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Governor Signs COVID-19 Liability Legislation

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed several COVID-19 liability-related bills:

  • House Bill 5244 (Public Act 138 of 2022) amends Public Act 238 of 2020, which prohibits an employer from taking certain actions against an employee who does not report to work under circumstances related to COVID-19, to specify that the Act would not apply to a claim or cause of action that accrued after July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill will repeal PA 238 of 2020 effective July 1, 2023. HB 5244 was sponsored by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale).
  • House Bill 6128 (Public Act 140 of 2022) amends Section 85 of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act to specify that certain conditions establishing immunity for employers whose employees were exposed to COVID-19 would not apply to an exposure that occurred after July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill would repeal Section 85 and Section 85a, which defines COVID-19 under the Act, effective July 1, 2023. HB 6128 was sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor).
  • House Bill 6215 (Public Act 139 of 2022) amends the COVID-19 Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act to specify that the Act, which provides immunity to a person that acts in compliance with certain federal, state and local orders related to COVID-19, would not apply to a claim or cause of action that accrued after July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill would repeal the Act effective July 1, 2023. House Bill 6215 was sponsored by Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt).

Novavax Vaccine Gets FDA Authorization

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine July 13. The vaccine is a two-dose series administered three weeks apart and uses a different, older vaccine technology than is used in the messenger RNA vaccines and Johnson & Johnson shot.

Novavax’s vaccine is authorized for people ages 18 and older as a primary series. It may be appealing to those adults who were hesitant to receive another brand of vaccine due to the components or development process.

In a trial of more than 26,000 adults, two doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine were more than 90 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease. For adults 65 and older, effectiveness was more than 78 percent. There were no serious side effects or safety concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will next decide whether it will endorse the vaccine. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet July 19, though an agenda is not yet available.

The Biden administration recently announced that it had purchased 3.2 million doses of the Novavax vaccine. If the vaccine is recommended by the CDC, it will be made available at no cost to states, jurisdictions, federal pharmacy partners and federally qualified health centers. The MHA will keep members apprised of vaccine availability and ordering processes at the appropriate time. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

MHA CEO Report — Stronger Together

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” ― Helen Keller

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOThe arrival of summer signifies the completion of the MHA’s program year. During this time, the association reviews our many accomplishments related to the core issues reflected in our strategic action plan. These accomplishments directly benefit not only our members, but the patients and communities that we collectively serve as well. As we went through the process this year — a year that was still heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic — a key theme resonated throughout: the MHA, and the health of our communities, is strengthened by collaboration and stakeholders working together.

“Stronger together” is the theme of the MHA’s 2021-2022 Annual Report. It encapsulates how integrated healthcare truly is, whether reflected by partnerships between health systems throughout the state, with our partners at other associations, or through external stakeholders in public health and government. As I have said many times in the past year, our work in this challenging environment is truly an all-hands-on-deck affair. With that in mind, stronger together also addresses the value of the amazing staff at the MHA and how we collectively could not achieve our goals without the expertise, talent and teamwork of our various divisions. Lastly, I must thank Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of BHSH System and the 2021-2022 MHA Board of Trustees chair, for her exceptional leadership during this program year. Tina provided direction and influence in both the crafting of the strategic action plan, as well as the tactics that we used to meet our goals.

During the year in review, our members had to navigate multiple COVID-19 surges and the most significant workforce crisis I’ve experienced throughout my professional career. However, vaccine access was available to most of our population and new therapeutics became available that have truly improved health outcomes for those infected by COVID-19. In addition, as the focus and attention of our society and lawmakers slowly pivoted away from the pandemic, we devoted significant energy and resources to a host of other important issues including workforce sustainability, health equity, data strategy, behavioral health and more. Collectively, these efforts have supported our association mission and helped to advance the health of individuals and communities.

It is my pleasure to share the completed MHA 2021-2022 Annual Report that goes into greater detail on the strategic objectives and how the MHA met and addressed each task head-on. This summary makes me extremely proud to work with an incredible organization that unquestionably has provided value to our members and made a real difference in our state.

As COVID-19 moves closer to an endemic stage, we have entered a “new normal” phase in the healthcare landscape, which brings unique opportunities to significantly improve how care is designed, delivered and reimbursed. In the coming months, the MHA will establish our specific priorities and strategies for the new program year — and I can promise that we will address all of those priorities with the same intense focus, professionalism and commitment that the MHA has always displayed. And we will do it together.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Receives MHA Advancing Safe Care Award

advancing self care awardThe MHA announced the winner of its 2022 Advancing Safe Care Award June 30, honoring a dedicated team at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Grand Rapids. The award was announced during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting.

The MHA Advancing Safe Care Award honors healthcare teams within MHA-member hospitals that demonstrate a fierce commitment to providing care to different patient populations, show evidence of an improved safety culture, lead the charge for quality improvement, and demonstrate transparency in their efforts to improve healthcare.

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services set up a special care unit in 2020 for behavioral health patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and a residential unit for COVID-19-positive patients in the adult foster care system. Pine Rest was the only behavioral health facility in West Michigan accepting psychiatric patients with COVID-19 and one of only a few in the state. Inspired by healthcare workers serving the sickest COVID-19 patients, Pine Rest employees sought to ease their burden while providing high-quality behavioral healthcare.

Mark Eastburg, PhD, president and CEO, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, receives the MHA Advancing Safe Care Award.
Mark Eastburg, PhD, president and CEO, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, receives the MHA Advancing Safe Care Award.

The hospital renovated space for the unit and trained staff to use telehealth equipment, allowing patients to virtually attend groups and classes from their rooms. Clinical and nonclinical staff were trained on wearing personal protective equipment, which had previously been rarely needed. The infection prevention and risk teams developed protocols for testing patients and staff. All nurses in the special care unit were trained in collecting samples for testing, and a performance improvement project boosted their ability to assess and manage patients’ pain.

Pine Rest developed a COVID-19 Dashboard, keeping staff aware of positive patients and staff members. Information was regularly shared with the Kent County Health Department, area hospitals and statewide behavioral health units to coordinate efforts.

For more information on the Pine Rest Special Care Unit, contact Harmony Gould, vice president of hospital and residential services, at Pine Rest at (616) 455-5000.

 

Media Recap: Pediatric Vaccines & Staffing Solutions

Brian Peters

Brian PetersThe MHA received media coverage on the approval of COVID-19 vaccines for babies and toddlers, and staffing solutions being implemented by hospitals and health systems to address workforce challenges.

The Detroit News published a story June 18 following the approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children under five years old by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The story includes portions of a statement from MHA CEO Brian Peters on the importance of the decision.

“Widespread vaccination of children will go a long way towards reducing the number of pediatric patients hospitalized in Michigan’s hospitals with COVID-19, which over the last two years has led to over 8,000 pediatric hospitalizations in the state,” said Peters.

Crain’s Detroit Business also published an article June 20 looking at healthcare workforce sustainability in Michigan and the tactics being implemented by health systems throughout the state. Included is a quote from Peters on the demographic and talent pipeline issues that have contributed to workforce challenges.

“The reality is we knew even before the pandemic that we would have many people leaving the field,” said Peters. “Demographics aren’t on our side, and we’re simply not training enough nurses, doctors, pharmacists, whatever to replace all those retiring in the coming years.”

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of June 20

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateAs of June 22, there were 714 adults and 27 children in Michigan with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, with new cases averaging 1,780 per day the previous week. Over 100 hospitalized adults were being cared for in intensive care units. According to the state’s vaccine tracker, 67.4% of Michigan residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of June 22.

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Children Ages Six Months Through Five Years Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced June 21 that all Michiganders ages six months and up are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The pediatric vaccine, which received emergency use authorization for this age group from the Food and Drug Administration, was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices June 18. The MHA released a media statement following the CDC recommendation, which makes 500,000 more Michigan children eligible for vaccination.

The MDHHS is recommending providers begin vaccinating children ages six months and older as soon as possible. The Moderna series is two doses given 28 days apart for ages six months through five years. For children six months of age through four years, the Pfizer series is three doses, with the first two given three weeks apart and the third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose. For ages five and older, the Pfizer series is two doses given 21 days apart.

In addition, the CDC has issued important updates to the Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States. The MDHHS has provided an outline of the updates. The updates are outlined in the attached communication from MDHHS.

Questions about COVID-19 vaccines should be directed to Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).