Crain’s Healthcare Leadership Summit Features MHA and Hospital Leaders

The Oct. 20 Crain’s 2022 Healthcare Leadership Summit featured speakers from the MHA and member hospitals in a series of panels on policy issues, labor force solutions and technology integration.

MHA EVP Laura Appel spoke on a policy panel that covered what role government can play in affordability, equity & improving care.

Rising costs, uncertain governmental policies, workforce challenges, behavioral health and equity issues have put hospitals and health systems in a compromising position. The summit aimed to connect industry experts to collaborate on solutions and share best practices to tackle these issues.

Laura Appel, executive vice president of government relations and public policy at the MHA, spoke on a panel that covered solutions to the labor challenges and measures that reduce pressure on healthcare institutions throughout the state.

“There are no quick, easy fixes,” Appel noted. “Public health is a way for us to get people in a better place in the aggregate – we cannot solve diabetes, for example, with healthcare alone. We’ve got to do the policy work that it takes to push back and reduce rates [of illness], as opposed to just stopping the upward trends.”

Leaders from MHA-member hospitals and health systems were also featured in breakout sessions that covered workforce challenges and technological solutions to improve efficiency and safety. Panelists included:

  • Kimberly Keaton Williams, vice president of talent acquisition and development and chief diversity officer at McLaren Health Care.
  • Shana Lewis, vice president of talent acquisition and workforce development programs at Trinity Health.
  • Lisa Ouellette, interim chief human resources officer at Corewell Health.
  • Robert Riney, president & CEO of Henry Ford Health.

The event also featured keynote speaker Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, vice president and chief health equity officer at CVS Health, who spoke about attainable solutions for addressing inequities and improving health outcomes for underserved, vulnerable communities.

Healthcare Advocates Honored with MHA Special Recognition Award

MHA Special Recognition Award

The MHA announced five winners of its Special Recognition Award during the Annual Membership Meeting June 24, recognizing them for extensive contributions to healthcare. Each of the winners uniquely influences healthcare in Michigan. The winners include Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH, FACEP, chief medical executive for the state of Michigan and chief deputy director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS); Gerry Anderson, executive chairman of DTE Energy; Nancy Schlichting, retired CEO of Henry Ford Health System; Ed Bruff, CEO, Covenant Healthcare; and David Spahlinger, MD, former president of the University of Michigan Health System and executive vice dean for clinical affairs in the university’s medical school.

Khaldun, Anderson and Schlichting are receiving the award for their work leading the Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC), which is co-chaired by Anderson and Schlichting. Made up of healthcare and business leaders from across the state, the council began meeting in April 2020 and is tasked with assessing the public health risk of reopening sectors of the economy shut down due to COVID-19. Along with the rest of the council, the award winners have unconditionally cared for Michigan citizens and front-line healthcare workers during the pandemic and were critical to the protection and recovery of the state’s health and economy.

Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH, FACEPKhaldun has served in her current roles with the state since 2018, providing overall medical guidance for the state of Michigan as a cabinet member of the governor and overseeing public health and aging programs, Medicaid and behavioral health for the MDHHS. She is the lead strategist guiding Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 response and was appointed by President Biden to the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. She is a board-certified practicing emergency medicine physician at Henry Ford Hospital and an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Khaldun also serves on several local and national boards and committees. She has not only provided healthcare leadership to the MERC but has been a leading voice for the state in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks and protecting residents. She has frequently engaged with MHA-member chief medical officers to collaborate and improve COVID-19 care and management.

Gerry AndersonAnderson joined DTE Energy in 1993, holding several senior executive roles before being named CEO in 2010 and chairman in 2011. He was the architect and leader of the company’s strategy to focus on cost and operational excellence in the utility business and develop its nonregulated businesses. As CEO, he focused on building a positive, highly engaged culture and on deeply connecting DTE Energy to the communities it serves. He was elected executive chairman in 2019 to advise the CEO on business issues and focus on DTE’s community, state, federal and broader industry roles. He also serves on the boards of and is actively involved in numerous business, community and civic organizations.

Nancy SchlictingSchlichting served over 35 years in healthcare administration, including more than a decade as Henry Ford Health System’s CEO. During her tenure, she was credited with leading the system through a dramatic financial turnaround and winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award, and the Foster G. McGaw Prize recognizing hospitals that improve their communities’ health and well-being. She served 11 years on the MHA Board of Trustees and as its chair in 2008-2009. In addition to co-chairing MERC, Schlichting serves on the boards of Duke University Health System, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., Ardent Health Services, The Kresge Foundation and several other national and community organizations.

Ed BruffBruff will complete a four-decade healthcare career June 30 when he retires as president and CEO of Covenant HealthCare. He joined the former St. Luke’s Hospital in 1983 as the director of materials management and advanced to several senior executive positions, serving as vice president of inpatient services when St. Luke’s merged with Saginaw General to create Covenant HealthCare in 1998. Bruff served as chief operating officer from 1999 until he transitioned to the top leadership position in January 2015.

Bruff has served on the MHA Board of Trustees since July 2012 and has lent his expertise to several of the association’s committees and task forces over the years. He has been an important voice for hospitals in many areas, including the reform of auto no-fault insurance and working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

His involvement with community organizations includes serving in leadership positions with the Central Michigan University Medical Education Partners Board, the Mobile Medical Response Board, the Saginaw Valley Medical Control Authority, Saginaw Future Inc. (a regional economic growth alliance), and the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Board. He is also an associate of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

David Spahlinger, MDSpahlinger stepped down in December 2020 as president of the University of Michigan Health System and executive vice dean for clinical affairs in the university’s medical school. During the four years he led the health system, he was instrumental in guiding and restructuring the organization and its distinct business units, including the adult hospital, women and children’s hospital, the medical group and ambulatory care settings. Within the triad leadership model that was created, Spahlinger and his leadership team also worked to increase local problem-solving in the units by strengthening physician and nursing partnerships and total care team collaborations.

Spahlinger has relentlessly focused on improving and standardizing quality and safety, improving access and the patient experience. He directed efforts that resulted in a reduction of healthcare acquired conditions, an increase in patient experience rankings and lowering the organization’s readmission rate. He also led the healthcare performance improvement initiative to improve Michigan Medicine’s safety culture and create a highly reliable organization.

After needing to limit his clinical work while he served as health system president, Spahlinger has returned to providing inpatient care and working at his clinic.

CEO Report – The Road Ahead on COVID-19 Vaccine

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

MHA CEO Brian PetersThe long-awaited game-changer in the fight against COVID-19 arrived last December when emergency use authorizations were granted for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As we begin Black History Month, I’m very pleased to share that Michigan hospitals have now administered more than half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses, representing well over half of the state’s total, according to data provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In short, hospitals have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, and now they are leading the way delivering COVID-19 vaccine to our communities.

It was predictable that, in the early stages of this process, demand would far outpace supply, and that has certainly been the case here. Equally predictable was the complexity — and resulting operational and communication challenges — that accompany a rollout of such unprecedented scale. I am proud of the MHA’s efforts on this front and am pleased that our own Ruthanne Sudderth, MHA senior vice president of public affairs and communications, has just been appointed to Gov. Whitmer’s bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission, which will serve as yet another avenue to provide input and guidance to the state’s ongoing vaccination campaign. MHA Chair-elect Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health, was also appointed as a co-chair of this new body.

Last month’s CEO Report focused on the theme of optimism, and I am going to take an optimistic view here: despite the obvious hurdles that we are still confronting daily, we will reach a point in the not-too-distant future when supply will catch up to demand. That is a good thing. But what happens next is a real concern — when supply actually exceeds demand, precisely because of a phenomenon with which any experienced healthcare provider or executive is familiar: vaccine hesitancy.

Recently, the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative shared the results of research they conducted on vaccine hesitancy among Americans, which identified three key drivers of hesitancy.

  1. Concerns about safety and side effects from COVID-19 vaccination, driven by the speed of the clinical development process and the vaccines’ novelty.
  2. Lack of knowledge.
  3. Distrust in the political and economic motives of the government and corporations.

Their research also specifically identified high levels of hesitancy among African Americans, due to historical unethical practices in medical research and healthcare inequities, and Hispanics, due to a lack of confidence in the information they’ve received. These insights are evidence that we must do better to meet our goal of reaching herd immunity in 2021.

Across our country and state, healthcare professionals are stepping up to build that requisite trust. Social media feeds have been filled by front-line workers sharing their experience receiving the vaccine, such as Spectrum Health Lakeland Security Officer Kenney Booth sharing that his motivation behind being vaccinated was the ability to see his grandchildren. Each post, photo and video like Kenney’s helps move the needle.

Vaccine hesitancy among people of color is also aided by learning about Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a National Institutes of Health research fellow leading vaccine development, who was instrumental in providing the key ingredient for the Moderna vaccine. And then there are individuals like Herbert C. Smitherman Jr., vice dean and professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine/Detroit Medical Center, who both raised attention around vaccine hesitancy and used his experience as a Black physician in Detroit to explain why communities of color need to be vaccinated in an op-ed from Bridge. A personal side note: Dr. Smitherman was my classmate and friend at the University of Michigan School of Public Health many years ago and, without question, was one of the class stars.

It also helps to explain how these vaccines were able to be developed in a quicker manner than in the past. As the leader of a healthcare advocacy organization, two of the largest barriers we encounter are bureaucratic red tape and funding. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available today because bureaucratic hurdles that have no impact on the safety or efficacy of the vaccine were removed and all necessary funding was provided. No corners were cut that would jeopardize the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and each vaccine was properly reviewed and vetted by health and medical experts and authorized by the FDA based on clinical testing.

Finally on this issue, we have partnered closely with the state of Michigan throughout the pandemic. In late January, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a statewide paid media campaign to inform Michiganders about the COVID-19 vaccine. As Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health (and herself a Black physician), said: “We want all Michiganders to get the facts about this safe and effective vaccine and the steps that were taken to develop it. I am grateful and proud to have gotten both doses of my vaccine and I urge Michiganders to make a plan and get vaccinated when it is their turn. This is the way forward out of the pandemic and our chance to return to a sense of normalcy.”

While we need to address vaccine hesitancy and administer COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible to slow the spread of the disease, we also need to do so in an equitable manner to eliminate barriers that can prevent different audiences, including communities of color, from receiving the vaccine.

This can be specifically addressed for COVID-19 by how vaccine is allocated and the outreach conducted by providers to ensure vaccine access for everyone. However, more can be done to address health disparities that have contributed to COVID-19 impacting communities of color at disproportionally higher rates. This is why the MHA’s ongoing efforts to address health disparities and to achieve health equity is so important. I can promise that we are deeply committed to this important work.

During Black History Month, let us take this opportunity to not only reflect on those influential Black leaders of the past, but salute and empower those leaders across our state and nation who are currently going to great lengths to ensure health equity for all — including equity in our COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.