MHA Board of Trustees Holds Final Meeting of Program Year

Tina Freese Decker at the MHA Annual Meeting
Tina Freese Decker at the MHA Annual Meeting
2021-2022 MHA Board Chair Tina Freese Decker.

After a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHA Board of Trustees held its final meeting of the 2021-2022 program year on Mackinac Island in conjunction with the MHA Annual Membership Meeting. As part of a standing agenda item focused on safety and quality lessons learned, board member Ed Ness, president and CEO, Munson Healthcare, shared examples of community and workforce resiliency exhibited by the Gaylord community and Otsego Memorial Hospital team members in the wake of the destruction caused by the recent EF3 tornado that carved a path through that community and within a block of the hospital, resulting in injury and loss of life. The board also had a strategic conversation about the most effective association engagement on matters of social and public health, health equity, financial sustainability and improving the patient experience. In all of these areas, the board stressed the importance of focusing on the mission of healthcare organizations to advance the health of patients and communities and explaining the challenges healthcare providers face in achieving this mission with specific examples. Other business included final program year reports from the committees on Behavioral Health and Public Health, with the recommendation to continue the work of these standing committees.

Current Health PAC Chair and incoming MHA Board of Trustees Chair T. Anthony Denton provided an update on the status of the 2022 MHA Health PAC campaign and encouraged eligible individuals and organizations to meet their contribution goals. Information about the MHA Health PAC is available online. The board also approved type 3 membership for BMG Money Inc., Fifth Third Bank, Vituity, and new Endorsed Business Partners AMN Language Services, B.E. Smith, HealthRise and WeLearn.

Board chair Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO, BHSH Health System, acknowledged outgoing board members Tim Johnson, president and CEO, Eaton Rapids Medical Center, and Dan Babcock, CEO, Marlette Regional Hospital and Deckerville Community Hospital. Freese Decker also recognized past chair Ed Ness for his leadership during the pandemic and wished incoming chair T. Anthony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer, University of Michigan Health System, well in his leadership role. For more information about actions of the MHA Board of Trustees, contact Amy Barkholz at the MHA.

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.

MHA Board Discusses COVID-19 Surge, Behavioral Health, Sustainability Goals

Amid a third surge of cases and hospitalizations in the state, the MHA Board of Trustees began its April 14 meeting with a review of the COVID-19 data dashboard. While Michigan’s positivity rate, emergency department visits and hospitalizations have approached levels seen last fall, there is some indication that these numbers may be leveling off. In addition, the data show that the current surge has been less lethal than previous waves due to the state’s success in vaccinating older citizens. Despite this good news, the current wave of COVID-19 infections has sickened younger adults and children more severely than earlier surges. Board members universally expressed concern about staffing fatigue as hospitals continue to care for patients while also managing staffing challenges associated with workforce illness, quarantine, and administering and operating vital community vaccine clinics. Board members urged the MHA to continue its public messaging on the importance of vaccination, as well as continued mask usage, social distancing and hand washing. The board further stressed the importance of encouraging higher vaccination rates within the healthcare community through voluntary measures, including having management lead by example and sharing best practices. 

The board also engaged in a significant discussion about the ongoing challenges of funding and access for behavioral health patients, especially adolescents. The MHA estimates a need for an additional 120 inpatient pediatric beds in Michigan to treat patients for four- to12-week lengths of stay. The board endorsed proposals of the MHA Behavioral Health Council to seek grants to improve treatment in the emergency room, establish crisis stabilization units and identify incentives for recruiting child behavioral health providers.

The meeting also included a presentation from the chair of the MHA Green Healthcare Committee on its work to support healthcare efforts to advance sustainability goals related to energy, water, waste reduction, environmentally preferred purchasing, healthy sustainable food and community mobility. Finally, the board kicked off the association’s 2021 campaign for the Health Political Action Committee (PAC). More information about the campaign is available online.

Members with questions on the vaccine rollout or COVID-19 data issues should contact Ruthanne Sudderth and questions about the MHA Board of Trustees should be directed to Amy Barkholz at the MHA.