Health & Hospital Association Elects 2021-2022 Officers and Board Members

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Tina Freese DeckerMembers of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) elected new officers and appointed board members during the association’s virtual Annual Membership Meeting June 24. Officers of the 2021-2022 MHA Board of Trustees include Tina Freese Decker, chair; T. Anthony Denton, chair-elect; and Daniel Babcock, treasurer. The board directs the greater Lansing-based association’s statewide representation of hospitals and healthcare providers.

Freese Decker, president and CEO, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, will serve as chair during the association’s 2021-2022 program year beginning July 1. The terms of service of Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, and Babcock, CEO, Marlette Regional Hospital and Deckerville Community Hospital, will also span the 2021-2022 program year. Edwin Ness, president and CEO, Munson Healthcare, Traverse City, will serve as immediate past chair.

Beth Charlton, executive vice president and chief nursing officer, Covenant HealthCare, Saginaw, was appointed as a trustee at-large for a three-year term. Gar Atchison, chief executive officer, UP Health System – Marquette, and market president, UP Health System; and Bill Manns, president and CEO, Bronson Healthcare, Kalamazoo, were appointed as trustees at-large for two-year terms.

Reappointed for three-year terms on the 2021-2022 MHA Board of Trustees as trustees at-large were Kenneth Berkovitz, MD, senior vice president, Ascension, and ministry market executive, Ascension Michigan; Robert Riney, president, healthcare operations, and chief operating officer, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit; Diane Postler-Slattery, PhD, president and CEO, MidMichigan Health, Midland; and Shannon Striebich, president, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, and senior vice president of operations, Trinity Michigan, Pontiac.

Continuing to serve their current terms of service as trustees at-large are Karen Cheeseman, president and CEO, Mackinac Straits Health System, St. Ignace; James Dover, president and CEO, Sparrow Health System, Lansing; Mark Eastburg, PhD, president and CEO, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Grand Rapids; John Fox, president and CEO, Beaumont Health, Southfield; Audrey Gregory, PhD, Group CEO, Detroit Medical Center; Timothy Johnson, president and CEO, Eaton Rapids Medical Center; Gregory R. Lane, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, McLaren Health Care, Grand Blanc; Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO, North Ottawa Community Health System, Grand Haven; and Julie Yaroch, DO, president, Promedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, Adrian. In addition, Brian Peters was reappointed to serve an indefinite term of office as CEO of the association.

MHA Board of Trustees Wraps up Unprecedented Program Year

The MHA Board of Trustees concluded the 2020-2021 program year by holding its first in-person meeting of the year at the MHA offices in Okemos for fully vaccinated attendees. As with every meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the board reviewed the latest statewide COVID-19-related data and took a moment to reflect on the daunting toll the virus has taken in lives lost and strain placed on healthcare workers and all Michiganders. It was noted that, since the onset of the pandemic, Michigan hospitals have treated over 450,000 COVID-19 patients in emergency departments and admitted more than 120,000 for inpatient care, including 4,500 children. Despite these sobering statistics, the board celebrated the continued steep decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections, as well as advancements in treatment since the onset of the pandemic; however, members expressed concern about slowing rates of vaccination as more infectious variants continue to spread nationally.

The board welcomed the staff of the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA), which represents osteopathic physicians statewide, as new tenants within the MHA headquarters building. MOA CEO and executive director, Kris Nicholoff, addressed the board and noted the longstanding and strong relationship between hospitals and the osteopathic community, which can be further strengthened through the new space-sharing arrangement.

The board also received a report on the status of healthcare funding priorities in the fiscal year 2022 state budget, which continue to be deliberated in the Legislature, as well as recent activities related to the statewide roll-out and provider concerns related to recent reforms to Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law. Current Health PAC Chair and incoming MHA Board of Trustees Chair Tina Freese Decker provided an update on the status of the 2021 MHA Health PAC campaign, which has been extended through July 31. Freese Decker encouraged eligible individuals and organizations to meet their contribution goals. Information about the MHA Health PAC can be found online. The board also approved type 3 membership and Endorsed Business Partnership for NextJob, a nationwide reemployment solutions company.

The board concluded the meeting by acknowledging outgoing board members Edward Bruff, president & CEO, Covenant Healthcare, Saginaw; James (Chip) Falahee, senior vice president, Legal & Legislative Affairs, Bronson Healthcare Group, Kalamazoo; and David Jahn, president & CEO, War Memorial Hospital, Sault Ste. Marie. The board also recognized outgoing chair Ed Ness, president & CEO, Munson Healthcare, Traverse City, for his leadership during such a challenging program year and extended its best wishes to incoming chair Tina Freese Decker, president & CEO, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, for a successful year ahead. For more information about actions of the MHA Board of Trustees, contact Amy Barkholz at the MHA.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of April 5

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateMichigan hospitals are quickly reaching inpatient capacity as coronavirus variants spread throughout the state and contribute to a severe surge in COVID-19. 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.

Chief Medical Officers Urge Michiganders to Help Prevent COVID-19 Spread

The MHA released a media statement April 9 on behalf of Michigan’s hospital/health system chief medical officers urging people to protect those who cannot be vaccinated by taking the responsible, proven preventive measures. The statement provides context on the increased transmission and risks of the virus and associated complications for children.

In addition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a news conference April 9, which also featured Tina Freese Decker, Spectrum Health president and CEO and MHA board chair-elect, outlining Michigan’s COVID-19 caseload and the need to stop the spread of the virus. The governor is urging federal agencies to redirect resources, including a large influx of vaccine, to Michigan as soon as possible. Her administration has indicated it is focused on getting more vaccine supply to providers/mass vaccination clinics where it can be administered most quickly to stop viral spread.

The Protect Michigan Commission is also planning regional press events, some of which will include hospital/health system participants, to promote the need for everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The MHA will keep members apprised and share any messaging or materials that hospitals can use on their own platforms to amplify the message.

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

Testing and Vaccination Key to Curtailing Viral Spread

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is offering free, on-site rapid COVID-19 testing in partnership with Michigan’s intermediate school districts, local school districts and local health departments for residents returning from spring break travel. These fully staffed events are open to students, educators, district staff and community members, and will be scheduled prior to classes restarting. The current list of locations is available on the MDHHS website. Members with questions on testing sites should contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

As part of a virtual session with MHA staff April 5, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) outlined two strategies hospitals can follow to help address vaccine hesitancy in their communities. She encourages hospitals and health systems to use every patient interaction as an opportunity to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of the reason for the visit. In addition, she suggested facilities provide vaccine educational opportunities in the form of webinars, town halls and other events that feature physicians and can reach vaccine-hesitant groups.

As the vaccine becomes more widely available, hospitals are encouraged to revisit offers to vaccinate employees who declined vaccines when first made available to them. Some may have wanted to wait for a single dose vaccine or a more convenient time, were reluctant to get the vaccine while pregnant, or faced other circumstances that may have since changed. In addition, as the state receives media requests, it is expected to begin sharing data on healthcare personnel vaccination rates. To ensure healthcare organizations are accurately represented in any data sharing that occurs, members are urged to confirm their employee vaccine data is up to date in the state’s EMResource portal.

MDHHS Reinstates 14-Day Quarantine, Reminds Providers to Use Michigan EUA Fact Sheets

Due to increasing case rates and variant spread in Michigan, the MDHHS is reinstating a 14-day quarantine for anyone who experiences close contact with a COVID-19-positive person, removing the option for a 10-day quarantine. The department’s COVID-19 public health frequently asked questions document has been updated to reflect the change.

The department also reminds vaccinators that they need to provide the Michigan versions of the emergency use authorization (EUA) fact sheets available on the MDHHS website. Each fact sheet has been updated and includes information on the Michigan Care Improvement Registry.

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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Jan. 25

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateA leadership change in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ( MDHHS) took place Jan. 22 when Robert Gordon announced his resignation and Elizabeth Hertel was appointed to replace him as director of the department. The MHA has a longstanding relationship with Hertel, who has served at both the MDHHS and Trinity Health, and issued a statement of support in response to the announcement. Hertel begins her tenure as director as COVID-19 continues to evolve and affect every Michigander’s life. The MHA keeps members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

President Biden Releases Vaccine Operational Plans

The Biden administration announced Jan. 26 new details of its plans to increase vaccine supply and distribution to states in the coming weeks and months. The state of Michigan has issued updated operational plans that will coordinate with these federal efforts and resources. These plans will continue to be modified going forward. Highlights of the Biden vaccine plan are:

  • Supply Forecasting: The Biden administration plans to provide states with a three-week planning forecast of vaccine supply, which will allow states to communicate advanced information about allocations to providers and improve their planning capabilities.
  • More Vaccine Overall: The federal government is working to purchase 200 million additional doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine (100 million of each). The president also increased the national vaccination goal to 1.5 million people per day rather than 1 million.
  • More Vaccine to States: The president stated that starting next week, states would receive approximately 17% more vaccine each week than they have previously.
  • Syringe Supply: Biden is using federal actions to increase production of critical vaccine-related supplies, especially the syringes needed to extract the sixth dose from Pfizer vials.

As the state of Michigan continues to hone its plan to coordinate with federal efforts, the MHA is providing feedback to the MDHHS on ensuring the allocation formulas are fair and equitable for hospitals and health systems of all sizes and geographies. The association advised the state to incorporate data on both inpatient and outpatient measures into its allocation calculations. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

State Announces Protect Michigan Commission to Promote, Improve Vaccine Acceptance

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Jan. 25 appointed the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission, which represents a diverse array of industries, professions, and backgrounds. Housed within the MDHHS, the commission will help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate state residents and help protect their health and safety. The governor has named Spectrum Health President and CEO and MHA Executive Committee Member Tina Freese Decker as a co-chair of the commission, and MHA Senior Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications Ruthanne Sudderth as a commission member.

The Protect Michigan Commission, first announced in December, serves in an advisory capacity to Whitmer and the MDHHS. It is tasked with providing public leadership to elevate and reinforce the importance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, identifying barriers that may impede Michigan residents’ acceptance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine — including identifying areas or groups that are likely to experience vaccine hesitancy — and develop an outreach action plan designed to overcome these barriers. The commission must complete its work and submit a brief final report to the governor by Dec. 31, and appointees will serve until the group’s dissolution. The MHA will keep members apprised of the commission’s work.

New Reporting Guidelines Issued for Provider Relief Fund Disbursements

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that it is modifying the reporting timeline and reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). The modifications delay the reporting deadlines in response to the year-end passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

The HHS indicated that providers that received at least $10,000 in PRF funds may now register for the PRF Reporting Portal. This will allow them to eventually submit information to comply with HHS reporting requirements, though data reporting is not yet required. The registration process is expected to take 20 minutes and must be completed in a single session.

The HHS released new reporting guidance that supersedes previously issued guidance. The new guidance maintains the two general reporting categories — unreimbursed COVID-19 expenses and lost patient revenue — but is more flexible in what is allowed. Under the new guidance, providers may use “the difference between 2020 budgeted and 2020 actual patient care revenue.” Health systems are now also able to transfer funds received from targeted PRF distributions to other hospitals within the system.

The MHA will notify members of any substantive developments in PRF reporting requirements. Members with questions should contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

AHA Partner Offers PPE Donation for Hospitals

Through a partnership between the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the web application HealthEquip, hospitals in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) may receive donations of surgical masks, face shields and other PPE for a small processing fee and shipping costs. Participating hospitals will be matched based on their need and limited available quantities of donated equipment.

Hospitals may sign up to HealthEquip’s DonorExchange to enter PPE requests; the HealthEquip team will match hospitals with the donated PPE and arrange shipment. HealthEquip also offers the ability to purchase specific PPE though its Marketplace. Members with questions about supply chain issues may contact Adam Carlson or Rob Wood 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).