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.

Increased Offerings and Flexibility Come with Changes to Medical Education

Michigan Osteopathic Association

This MHA Monday Report guest article was provided by the Michigan Osteopathic Association, a member of The Partnership for Michigan's Health.

Medical education has changed since the beginning of the pandemic, and it could have a long-lasting benefit. Physicians are often spread thin among their career duties, leading to a rise in clinician burnout. Even while physicians rose to the challenge of COVID-19, some questioned if they would meet their requirement for continuing medical education (CME). The Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) alone processed over 49,000 COVID-19 CME hours, and Executive Order 2020-49 allowed the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to recognize hours worked responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as hours toward continuing education courses or programs required for licensure.

In-person experiences over the past seven months were either canceled or adapted — such as the MOA’s 121st Annual Spring Scientific Convention that was, for the first time ever, held virtually with over 500 attendees. Since June, the MOA has successfully hosted several virtual CME events and built what is now the MOA Learning Center. The time to gather and enjoy the comradery of in-person events will return, but there is value in the development of online offerings.

No driving (through inevitable road construction), no parking, no packing and no time away from the office are just some of the benefits of earning online CME. Physicians have the freedom to arrange their CME around their busy schedules, not the other way around. The Autumn Convention, normally held annually in Grand Rapids, will be in a virtual format in 2020 and provide CME sessions as video presentations, with speakers joining in a live Q&A Discussion Forum with attendees. All 17 hours offered Nov. 7 and 8 are AOA Category 1-A credits and, new to this program, accredited for AMA credits as well. Registration is easy, with discounts offered for MHA members. Those with questions may contact Virginia Bernero at the MOA.

Partnership for Michigan’s Health Urges Michigan to Mask Up to Protect State

MHA News Release

As COVID-19 Cases Increase, Healthcare Leaders Encourage Vigilance

The Partnership for Michigan’s Health, comprised of the state’s leading healthcare groups – the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA), the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) and the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS), today urge Michigan residents to increase their vigilance against COVID-19 and to maintain responsible distancing and face-covering practices as case numbers increase across the state.

The state yesterday announced 446 new cases of COVID-19. There have also been notable increases in case numbers in many rural parts of the state with limited numbers of intensive care unit (ICU) beds.

“Hospitals across Michigan are growing increasingly concerned about high COVID-19 case numbers and people letting their guard down about physical distancing and wearing face coverings,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “We don’t want to return to circumstances where hospitals are overwhelmed, services are shut down and kids can’t return to school. This is serious, but preventable. Please wear a mask and avoid large gatherings to protect yourself and others. We can enjoy the summer while being responsible.”

At its peak this spring, Michigan hospital ICUs in southeast Michigan were at or near capacity and thousands of healthcare workers found themselves at risk of infection either at work or at home. Since then, days on hand of personal protective equipment have increased from two to three days to more than three weeks. This spring also brought the shutdown of nonessential medical services, which have been able to resume to a large degree, and the closure of many segments of the economy and in-person learning for schools. The MHA, MSMS and MOA urge the public to continue following physical distancing and mask wearing guidance to ensure continued protection of healthcare workers and vulnerable populations, and access to all healthcare services for all patients.

“Michigan has been a leader in containing this virus and protecting residents throughout the pandemic,” said MOA President Jeffrey Postlewaite, DO, FACOOG. “Michigan’s osteopathic physicians encourage residents across the state to protect their health and the health of their loved ones by wearing a mask when you’re outside your home and to continue physically distancing when possible. These temporary measures will save lives and allow Michigan to remain on a safe path to reopening our economy and our schools.”

According to several U.S. and international studies, face coverings can significantly reduce COVID-19 spread and death rates. At the same time, multiple health and academic institutions have recently reiterated that face coverings do not reduce oxygen levels nor increase carbon dioxide levels and are safe to wear for most individuals.

“COVID-19 is still very much a threat here in Michigan and around the country, and the best chance we have to prevent its spread is to continue practicing good social distancing habits,” said MSMS President S. Bobby Mukkamala, MD. “Please, wear a mask in public, practice good handwashing habits and have a safe summer.”