Media Recap: COVID-19 and Healthcare Workforce Sustainability

MHA Portrait
Gary Roth
MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO.

The MHA responded to several media requests the week of Jan. 24 that focused on the status of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Michigan, ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, violence against healthcare workers and the benefits of community colleges offering four-year nursing programs.

Bridge published Jan. 24 an article that looked at insurance reimbursement for ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO, is quoted in the story discussing the environment clinicians encounter when having to refuse a request for ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

“It has created quite a controversy to the point where it can become a very hostile discussion, where patients and families are demanding a treatment that a physician cannot ethically, morally, or certainly scientifically, provide,” said Roth.

Bridge also published Jan. 26 a story on House Bills 5556 and 5557 that would allow community colleges to offer four-year Bachelor of Nursing programs. The MHA’s support of the bills is mentioned in the article, as the legislation “would increase access to high-quality nurses in areas served by Michigan’s small and rural hospitals where a four-year school does not currently exist.”

Michigan Radio looked Jan. 24 at the status of COVID-19 across the state and if the omicron surge had plateaued. In the story, the MHA Director of Communications John Karasinski shared that the state is “trending in the direction of declining statewide daily COVID-19 hospital admissions and total COVID-19 hospitalizations.”

Two additional stories were published on violence against healthcare workers based on interviews with MHA CEO Brian Peters. WILX News aired Jan. 28 a story that included a focus on House Bills 5084 and 5682 that expand the penalties for assaulting emergency department employees. MiBiz published an article Jan. 30 on how increased rates of violence against healthcare workers increases burnout.

“These are individuals who come to work every single day and put themselves on the line in a difficult environment and they are trying to do their very best,” said Peters to WILX. “To think that there are these acts of violence that could take those caregivers away from that incredibly important duty — it’s absolutely untenable so we’re very supportive of legislation that’s been introduced here in the state that would increase the penalties of those perpetrators of violence.”

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Headline Roundup: Michigan Hospital CMOs Urge Action Against COVID-19

MHA CEO Brian Peters appears Nov. 23 on CNN

The MHA published a consensus statement Nov. 22 on behalf of chief medical officers of Michigan’s community hospitals urging the public to take action to help slow COVID-19 growth throughout the state.

MHA CEO Brian Peters appears Nov. 23 on CNN
MHA CEO Brian Peters appears Nov. 23 on CNN

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that reference the statement and focus on the severity of the situation facing Michigan hospitals.

Coverage also includes the request the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) made on behalf of Michigan hospitals to the Department of Defense for teams of medical personnel, as well as a joint press release published Dec. 2 by the MDHHS and MHA on the high proportion of unvaccinated COVID patients in hospitals.

Included are interviews conducted by MHA CEO Brian Peters and MHA CMO Dr. Gary Roth.

Saturday, Dec. 4

Friday, Dec. 3

Thursday, Dec. 2

Wednesday, Dec. 1

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Monday, Nov. 29

Sunday, Nov. 28

Saturday, Nov. 27

Friday, Nov. 26

Thursday, Nov. 25

Wednesday, Nov. 24

Tuesday, Nov. 23

Monday, Nov. 22

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

CEO Report — Incorporating a Federal Advocacy Strategy

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” – Harry S. Truman

MHA CEO, Brian PetersI have a dog — a beautiful German Shepherd that joined our family in the midst of the pandemic.  I know that many of you have a family dog too, and they are indeed wonderful friends. But as it turns out, the MHA family is also fortunate to have friends in Washington, DC, and never before has that been more important. 

Hospitals and health systems play a key role in their local communities, both as healthcare providers and economic engines. While much of the funding, regulatory, and other public policy decision-making occurs at the local or state level, the truth is that federal politics has become increasingly important, as decisions made at the federal level can have profound impacts on the healthcare delivered in Michigan. The dramatic increase in enrollment for both Medicaid (a shared state/federal program) and Medicare (a strictly federal program) is just one of many reasons why. 

Over the years, the MHA’s engagement at the federal level has increased dramatically, to the point where we have now established meaningful relationships with the entire Michigan congressional delegation and their staffers. These relationships were on display early in the pandemic when we were able to convene conference calls with our delegation — both Republicans and Democrats together on the line at the same time — to listen to our insights and requests and target much-needed assistance to our members who were dealing with a true crisis. We have done all the blocking and tackling that is instrumental to federal advocacy, including routine in-person visits to our delegation members’ DC offices, developing congressional district-specific data and talking points on key issues, coordinating closely with the government relations officers of our member health systems (including those with multistate operations), organizing fundraising events and much more.   

We are fortunate to have a very close partner in this regard: the American Hospital Association.  I’m happy to share that more than 100 of our Michigan community hospitals are also AHA members, a penetration rate that puts Michigan in the very top tier nationally. As a result, our voice is heard clearly as many Michigan healthcare executives are actively involved in the policymaking process of the AHA, serving on various committee and task forces, including the AHA’s Regional Policy Boards. In this manner, we are able to identify needs unique to our region and provide direct input on public policy — and political strategy — to the AHA.  On that note, we are fortunate that Michigan’s own Wright Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, is now the chair-elect of the AHA Board. 

In addition, the MHA’s political action committee, Health PAC, also has a formal working partnership with the AHAPAC, allowing us to support our members of Congress in this important way.

Recent examples of this partnership in action include our advocacy to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Several weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in the California v. Texas case that challenged the constitutionality of the ACA. The opinion reversed the Fifth Circuit’s judgement in the matter and upheld the constitutionality of the ACA. The MHA was formally involved in the case, as we joined a number of other state hospital associations in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court. We are very pleased with this outcome, which will help to preserve coverage for as many Michiganders as possible — a key MHA priority.

The MHA has also been involved in the federal legal strategy to support the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which is a federal program created by Congress to help provide relief from escalating drug prices to safety-net hospitals and other healthcare providers serving vulnerable patient populations. Over the past year, six drugmakers have stopped providing discount drug prices for pharmacies that contract with 340B providers. The MHA is working with the American Hospital Association Advocacy Alliance for the 340B Drug Program and the 340B Health coalition to protect this vital program. Last fall, the MHA organized a letter to the Michigan congressional delegation that was signed by representatives from 68 of the more than 80 Michigan 340B hospitals to share hospitals’ concern regarding drug manufacturers’ attempts to limit payment to contract pharmacies and other actions that are a significant detriment to 340B hospitals and the services they can provide to eligible patients because of the program. The MHA also joined other state hospital associations earlier this spring in submitting an amicus brief in support of the AHA’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari (a formal request to the court to take up the case) in its appeal of an appellate court decision unfavorable to hospitals on 340B.

Lastly, the MHA has been involved with various aspects of the COVID-19 response at the federal level, from advocating for provider relief funds to providing data and insights on the impact of the pandemic. In May, the MHA worked quickly to get a majority of Michigan’s U.S. House delegation to sign onto a letter urging Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to extend the deadline for hospitals to use provider relief funds. This joint effort with the AHA and other groups ultimately led to the HHS announcing extended deadlines by which hospitals and other providers that received Provider Relief Fund (PRF) money may use their COVID-19 PRF payments. We also had several MHA members directly involved in submitting statements to Sen. Gary Peters on the impact of healthcare supply chain shortages during the pandemic, which were utilized by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Sen. Peters chairs.

The MHA is currently working on a comment letter for the recently released federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). Although the AHA achieved several improvements in the final proposed ETS, a number of issues remain. Because Michigan uses a state plan for OSHA regulation, MIOSHA adopted these rules June 22. The MHA is aware that the federal ETS is under regular review and amendments are possible. Filing comments brings attention to those parts of the rule that require further action.

Laura Appel, MHA senior vice president of health policy and innovation, has done an outstanding job as our point person on federal advocacy for many years now. I can tell you from firsthand experience that she knows her way around the federal policymaking process as well as she knows her way around the maze of offices on Capitol Hill. In addition, MHA Executive Vice President Chris Mitchell is serving as the chairman of the SAGRO (State Association Government Relations Officers) group, representing all the state hospital association advocacy leaders. MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO, is also serving as chairman of the SHAPE (State Hospital Association Physician Executives) group, leading his peers across the country. And for the past year I have had the privilege of serving as the chairman of the AHA State Issues Forum, which is the group of state hospital association CEOs focused on the strategic issues that we all share. Collectively, these engagements are just another indication of the stature and leadership of our association on the national level.

As you can see, our dedication to advocating for our members — and the pursuit of our mission to advance the health of individuals and communities — extends from Lansing to Capitol Hill. I am proud of the strong foundation that we have established in this regard and, given the increased focus on hospitals and healthcare in the national conscience as a result of the pandemic, I am convinced that our work at the federal level will continue to be critical. 

As always, I welcome your thoughts

Headline Roundup: Week of March 29 for COVID-19 in Michigan

Gary Roth on CNN

MHA CMO Dr. Gary Roth appears on CNN on March 30.As Michigan hospitals face a third surge of COVID-19 patients, the MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the increase in infections and hospitalizations over the past week.

The MHA issued a press release March 24 that shows hospitalization rates are increasing rapidly for younger age groups that are less likely to have been vaccinated while the vaccine is seemingly preventing hospitalization at or near 100%. The release continues to attract state and national media attention.

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that include statements from the MHA.

Sunday, April 4:

Saturday, April 3

Friday, April 2

Thursday, April 1

Wednesday, March 31

Tuesday, March 30

Monday, March 29

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Headline Roundup: Week of March 22 for COVID-19 in Michigan

Chris Mitchell on ABC57

MHA Executive Vice President Chris Mitchell interviewed by ABC57.As Michigan hospitals face a potential third surge of COVID-19 patients, the MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the increase in infections and hospitalizations over recent weeks.

The MHA issued a press release March 24 that indicates that the large growth in hospitalizations in Michigan in March is occurring among younger age groups that have the lowest vaccination rates among the state population.

Using hospital inpatient data, the MHA was able to show that hospitalizations are increasing the slowest among the age groups that have a higher percentage of vaccination. The release also includes quotes from MHA CEO Brian Peters and MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO.

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that include statements from the MHA, including coverage of the press release.

Sunday, March 28

Saturday, March 27

Friday, March 26

Thursday, March 25

Wednesday, March 24

Tuesday, March 23

The MHA also saw extensive coverage across social media (primarily Twitter), including from accomplished media professionals such as Rachel Maddow, MSNBC (10.6M followers); Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News (67.6K followers); and Jackson Proskow, Global News/Global National (50K+ followers). 

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increasing at Alarming Rate for Unvaccinated Adults

March 2021 Hospitalizations vs Vaccination Rates

COVID-19 daily hospitalization data indicates that the large growth in hospitalizations in Michigan in March is occurring among younger age groups that have the lowest vaccination rates among the state population, according to inpatient data collected by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA).

From March 1 to March 23, hospitalizations increased by 633% for adults ages 30-39 and by 800% for adults ages 40-49. Hospitalization growth rates decline as the vaccination rates per age group increases, with hospitalizations increasing by just 37% for adults 80 or older, of which 44% of the population are fully vaccinated in the state. The correlation between high vaccination rates and lower hospitalization growth rates shows the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and how it protects from the risk of severe disease or hospitalization. The data also indicates that, although older adults still have a higher risk of hospitalizations, the percentage of hospitalized patients who are younger than 40 years old has doubled, showing that adults of any age are vulnerable to complications from the disease.

Graph of the inverse relationship between the increase in daily hospitalizations and vaccination rates by age group (March 1,- March 23, 2021). 

“Michigan is making progress at ultimately defeating the COVID-19 pandemic through increasing vaccination rates, but the war is not yet over,” said MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO. “Now is not the time to let our guard down and risk contracting COVID-19 with more contagious variants emerging and vaccines becoming widely available. My prescription to all Michiganders is to wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds and when it is your turn, get your vaccine. You must continue to take preventive measures even after you’re vaccinated because it takes at least two weeks for a vaccine’s full protection to kick in following the last dose, and it will take time to vaccinate everyone.”

Michiganders are being urged by the MHA to commit to proven COVID-19 preventive measures and to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them amid increasing COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

“While much of our healthcare workforce is vaccinated, caring for a third surge of COVID-19 patients is mentally and physically draining for all front-line caregivers,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “Failing to follow proven preventive measures is not only dangerous to our health but hurts our economy and delays when in-person activities such as returning to work can occur with minimal restrictions. It will still take a few more months to vaccinate everyone, which is why we have to do everything in our power to slow the current growth. While you wait your turn for your safe and effective vaccine, mask up, practice social distancing and wash your hands.”

For questions regarding media requests, contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

Michigan Hospitals Give More Than 500,000 COVID-19 Vaccines

Celebrating 500k Administered Doses of the COVID_19 Vaccine in Michigan Hospitals

Michigan hospitals have now given more than half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses, representing 55% of the total 909,038 doses provided in Michigan, according to data published Jan. 29 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Hospitals have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, and now they are leading the way delivering COVID-19 vaccine to our communities,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “While we still have a long way to go before all Michiganders are vaccinated, we celebrate today’s milestone as a sign of the progress we are making toward ending the pandemic. As vaccine supply increases, hospitals are at the ready to vaccinate more people every day.”

All vaccine received by hospitals is either administered or is scheduled to be provided as quickly as possible. Hospitals throughout the state are running vaccination clinics and scheduling appointments to help ensure vaccines are provided in a safe and orderly environment.

“Recipients of the over half a million vaccine doses include physicians, nurses, teachers, food service workers, security staff, patients and members of the community,” said MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO. “My colleagues in hospitals throughout Michigan are setting an example for the public: we believe in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Along with wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and washing hands regularly, receiving the vaccine, when it’s your turn, is something everyone can do to slow and ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Clinical studies have shown the two currently approved COVID-19 vaccines to be up to 95% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus and safe for use in adults. These vaccines require two doses to get full protection, which are given over the course of either three or four weeks.

Healthcare workers, individuals aged 65 or older and some essential workers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. Many hospitals are contacting their patients who have been or are currently under the care of their healthcare systems to inform them of vaccine availability. Other members of the public should contact their local health department, call 2-1-1 or visit the state’s COVID-19 website for information on scheduling a vaccine appointment. Individuals with questions about the vaccine, how it was developed and how it prevents COVID-19 are encouraged to talk with their healthcare provider or visit reputable sources of facts, such as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services vaccine website.

Headline Roundup: Week of Jan. 25 for COVID-19 in Michigan

Chris Mitchell on WWMT

MHA Executive Vice President Chris Mitchell speaks with WWMT on Jan. 27As Michigan hospitals continue to address the second surge of COVID-19 patients, the MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the impact of COVID-19 on non-COVID patients.

Thursday, January 28

Wednesday, January 27

Tuesday, January 26

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Michigan COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increase at Record Rate; Hospitals Urge Public Vigilance as Holidays Approach


COVID-19-related hospitalizations continue to rise significantly, increasing by 100% over the past two weeks and establishing the largest increase in hospitalizations since the surge began in October, according to newly released data from the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA).

In total, 3,071 patients are currently hospitalized in Michigan hospitals due to COVID-19 (Figure 1). In addition, the average daily COVID-19 hospital admissions for the past 30 days are 344, which exceeds the average of 301 experienced in April. All regions except southeast Michigan have seen record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The Saginaw region now has the highest hospitalization rate per 100,000 people. (Figure 2). Current trends could result in nearly 5,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients within the next few weeks if nothing is done to change the growth rate of the surge. The MHA and its members statewide are asking for the public’s help in protecting their workers and communities and preventing serious capacity issues. The public is urged to reduce socialization, stay distanced and always wear a mask outside the home.  


Michigan COVID-19 Hospitalization Bar Graph

Figure 2

Michigan COVID-19 Hospitalization Growth Chart by Region

“Michigan is at a pivotal point in our fight against the spread of COVID-19,” said MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO. “With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, the most effective prescription I can provide to Michiganders is to practice scientifically proven activities that slow the spread of COVID-19. I urge you to consider downsizing your Thanksgiving gathering this year. Limit your get-together to those that live within your home. If you do see other loved ones, wear a mask, maintain at least six feet of distance between others, avoid crowds and routinely wash hands. The upcoming holidays will challenge us all. The actions we take today can lead to full dining room tables for many more holidays to come.” 

CEOs of Michigan hospitals, including Henry Ford Health System President and CEO Wright Lassiter III, UP Health System Market President Gar Atchinson, Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese Decker, Munson Health Care President & CEO Ed Ness and Beaumont Health President & CEO John Fox, joined business leaders during a virtual press conference today organized by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council. The group expressed the severity of community spread in Michigan and shared personal stories of the toll the pandemic has had on their respective staffs and patients. 

“The advice from our medical professionals is resoundingly clear – the path toward beating this disease is in the public’s control and can only be done by avoiding social gatherings,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “A significant portion of the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations is related to smaller social gatherings without proper safety precautions. The viability of our healthcare system depends on reducing the rate of community spread that is impacting our healthcare workforce. Michigan hospitals need the public’s cooperation to ensure all facilities are at the ready to provide care. Support our hospitals by protecting yourself and those you love this holiday season.”

Bridge: Michigan passes 200,000 COVID cases. What we’ve learned, and haven’t.

MHA Portrait

MHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary RothBridge published a story Nov. 6 on the COVID-19 situation in Michigan after Michigan passed 200,000 total positive cases since the pandemic began.

The article compares the environment that Michigan now finds itself in with what occurred in the spring during the first surge of COVID-19 patients.

Included in the article is a quote from MHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Roth addressing staff burnout and the concerns regarding staffing while Michigan experiences a second surge of COVID-19.

“Many of them had just barely begun to recover from the effects of the stresses of COVID-19 early on,” said Roth.

Read the article