MHA Welcomes New Tenants to Headquarters: Canada Geese

The MHA recently became home to a new group of tenants at its Okemos headquarters: a family of Canada geese, including several freshly hatched goslings. The geese originally occupied a section of the headquarters parking lot, where the mother goose nested for many weeks under the guard of father goose. Anyone visiting during this time likely noticed the use of orange cones to prevent people from approaching the nesting area.

The proximity of employees and their vehicles to the nest led to some hostility and several harrowing instances of father goose chasing employees from the area, both on foot and in their vehicles. Unfortunately, the MHA security cameras didn’t capture any of these literal wild goose chases on video, so you’ll have to take our word for it. The MHA can confirm that no permanent physical or psychological harm was done to the employees involved.

In recent weeks, the geese have relocated to the wooded area behind headquarters, where they continue to fiercely protect the goslings from onlookers. Visitors to the MHA are encouraged to view the geese from inside the building or approach understanding the risk of hissing and chasing that will likely ensue (see photo evidence). While the geese were not part of our operational planning, we extend a warm welcome to these new outside tenants and wish their family all the best. Members with questions — because we all have had some throughout this ordeal — may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of May 9

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateCOVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan have been rising in recent weeks, with 875 adults hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases on May 11; 77 of that number were in intensive care units. In addition, 36 children were in the hospital with confirmed or suspected cases on that date. A daily average of over 2,700 cases were confirmed from May 5 through 11.

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.

MDHHS Shares Updated FDA Guidelines for Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has reminded providers of updated guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The new guidelines essentially limit use to individuals 18 and older who cannot or will not take one of the other approved vaccines. The risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) warrants limiting the authorized use of the vaccine. TTS is a syndrome of rare and potentially life-threatening blood clots in combination with low levels of blood platelets. Members are encouraged to review the provider guidelines. For more information regarding vaccines, contact Ruthanne Sudderth 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of April 4

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 update

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported there were an average of 752 new confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases per day from April 2 through April 6. As of April 6, 453 adults and 17 children were hospitalized with confirmed and suspected cases; 96 adults were in intensive care units, 39 of them on ventilators. The MDHHS is now reporting this data once a week.

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.

FDA Revokes Sotrovimab Authorization

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked emergency use authorization (EUA) for sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients at risk of developing severe disease. This occurred due to the treatment’s ineffectiveness as a remedy for the omicron subvariant BA.2, which is now responsible for more than half of all U.S. infections.

The FDA authorized a new monoclonal antibody, Eli Lilly’s bebtelovimab, Feb. 11 that remains effective against omicron variants; the bebtelovimab EUA is still in place. The MHA will continue to work with the Michigan MDHHS leadership on therapeutics recommendations and availability in Michigan. Members with questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

President Biden Announces Long COVID-19 Care Planning

President Joe Biden announced April 5 that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will assemble a cross-government plan to manage “long COVID.” However, it is largely dependent on being funded by Congress.

The plan’s goals are broadening research, detection and treatment access to fight lingering or late-emerging effects of COVID-19 that are estimated to impact between seven million and 23 million Americans. The symptoms include shortness of breath, heart irregularities, kidney problems and more.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) and other federal advocacy groups sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in March stating that there is “a need for further clinical guidance regarding the symptoms of and best course of treatment for long Covid-19 patients.” According to news reports, the Biden administration needs at least $25 million in the 2023 federal budget to build on tracking and surveillance progress, in addition to the $50 million the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already spending.

The long COVID-19 plan further includes establishing a Center of Excellence to treat long COVID-19 patients through in-person, multispecialty and telehealth services. The administration reportedly wants to establish long COVID-19 clinics around the country modeled after a Veterans Affairs clinic setup.

The MHA will continue to work closely with the AHA about the viability of this plan, both operationally and politically, and will keep members apprised of progress or plans that may impact hospitals, health systems and their patients. Members with questions may contact Laura Appel 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 21

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateWith the number of new cases trending downward, Michigan hospitals continued to have patients with severe cases of COVID-19 in their intensive care units (ICUs). As of March 25, 100 Michiganders with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were in ICUs, 44 of them on ventilators. They were among the 516 adults and 22 children hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases that day.

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.

Legislative Action Will Assist Hospitals in Providing High-quality Care

The Legislature has sent Senate Bill (SB) 247 to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be signed into law, making significant changes to prior authorization in the state of Michigan. The MHA-supported  bill would shorten the timelines for approval of authorization requests, ensure that emergency care can be provided without prior approval, and require insurers to post their prior authorization policies on their website and accept electronic requests, among other improvements to the process.

Whitmer signed SBs 246 and 435, increasing forgivable loan amounts for health professionals who work in medically underserved communities as part of the Michigan Essential Health Provider Program and expanding the physician specializations that qualify for the program to include behavioral health professionals. The new law also extends the sunset on the interstate Physician Licensure Compact, ensuring that physicians coming to Michigan from another compact state can quickly become licensed to practice in the state.

More information on these bills and other legislation affecting hospitals is available in a related article.

Vaccination Progress Among Michiganders Highlights Racial Disparities

More than 60% of all Michigan residents aged 5 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, only slightly more than 40% of Black residents are among those fully vaccinated. Nearly 28% of Michigan children aged 5 through 11 years have received their first dose of the vaccine, but fewer than 17% of Black Michigan children in that age range have received their first dose. Providers should continue efforts to reach families with young children and nonwhite patients to reduce the disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on different populations. For information on vaccines, contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

MHA Creates State/Federal COVID-19 Guidelines Tracker

The MHA recently developed a tracking tool outlining state and federal COVID-19 protocols for healthcare personnel. The document is updated as agencies revise their guidelines or mandates and includes vaccination, masking and COVID-19 testing guidelines from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The downloadable tool can also be found on the MHA website on the COVID-19 Resources page under Resources for Healthcare Professionals. Members with questions may contact Lucy Ciaramitaro 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Feb. 28

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateThe state of Michigan reported that 1,842 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed statewide March 3 and 4, with an average of 921 cases per day. Out of 68 recorded COVID-19-related deaths for the two days, 54 were identified during a Vital Records review. Adults in the hospital March 4 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 numbered 865, along with 27 children. This is a significant drop from early January, when more than 4,000 Michiganders were hospitalized with the disease.

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.

Webinar Recap: Navigating Paxlovid and Drug-Drug Interactions

The MHA recently hosted a webinar in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Medicine to provide information regarding Pfizer’s Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets, co-packaged for oral use) and drug-drug interactions. Paxlovid has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children (12 years of age and older, weighing at least 88 pounds). Paxlovid is available by prescription only and should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset. A Paxlovid drug-drug interaction summary will be updated by Michigan Medicine as more information becomes available.

The MDHHS confirmed Paxlovid is available at all Meijer pharmacies and encouraged providers to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible patients as soon as possible. Meijer pharmacies were selected due to market coverage and the ability to conduct home deliveries for patients unable to travel. As relative supply of oral antivirals increases and demand remains low, the MDHHS anticipates expanding to additional dispensing sites soon. Facilities interested in making this available through outpatient pharmacies should check with the MDHHS. Members with questions regarding Paxlovid drug-drug interactions should contact Nicholas Dillman, PharmD, at Michigan Medicine. Other questions can be directed to Renée Smiddy 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Feb. 14

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateThe current surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has continued its downward trend. The seven-day average of hospitalizations in the U.S. as of Feb. 13 was 80,185, down from 136,534 Jan. 20. Michigan hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 included 1,896 adults and 71 children as of Feb. 16, down from the Jan. 20 totals of 4,554 adults and 130 children.

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.

Governor Signs Supplemental Budget Dedicating $300 Million to Healthcare Workforce

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Feb. 16 signed House Bill 5523, a $1.2 billion supplemental funding bill that includes $300 million for healthcare providers for recruitment, retention and training purposes, $225 million of which will be specifically for acute-care and behavioral health hospitals. MHA Board Chair and BHSH System President & CEO Tina Freese Decker provided comments of appreciation for the governor signing the bill in the official announcement. (See related article.)

MDHHS Rescinds Indoor Mask Advisory with Exceptions

The statewide indoor masking advisory that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued earlier in the omicron surge was rescinded Feb. 16. However, the state continues to recommend masking in healthcare settings and some other high-risk indoor locations.

While hospitalizations have improved significantly recently, the MHA continues to encourage people to voluntarily wear high-quality masks when in indoor public spaces, especially if they are immunocompromised or haven’t yet been fully vaccinated.

The state also announced that it will monitor and act on COVID-19 cycles in the following three key phases:

  • Response — Local and state public health implement rapid response to a surge. The public may be advised to increase masking, testing and social distancing.
  • Recovery — Post-surge. No immediate resurgence predicted. Local and state public health will monitor conditions that could lead to future surges.
  • Readiness — A surge in cases is expected, with implications for severity of illness and hospital capacity. Increased communication to the public regarding possible new risks.

More Data Sought on Pfizer Vaccine for Children 6 Months through 4 Years

The MHA continues to monitor Pfizer’s actions to seek approval for a vaccine for kids aged 6 months through 4 years. Pfizer recently sought federal approval of the vaccine for this age group, but paused its request days later due to efficacy questions related to dosage. It is now awaiting further data about three doses for this age group before renewing its request for approval under emergency use authorization. The association will keep members apprised of any developments on this or related issues. Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpageQuestions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Media Recap: Hospital Mergers and COVID-19

Brian Peters

The MHA responded to several media requests the week of Jan. 31 that focused on the history of hospital mergers and acquisitions in Michigan and the current outlook for hospitals regarding COVID-19.

Bridge published Feb. 1 an article that looked at the impact of hospital mergers on consumers in light of the merger between Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the story discussing the reasons between hospital mergers.

“The real watchword is ‘value,’” said Peters. “We want to create value and that equation of course, is cost and quality and appropriateness,” he said, adding “higher quality care costs less in the long run.”

The Detroit News published Feb. 2 a story that focuses on the future outlook for hospitals now that the COVID-19 surge driven by the omicron variant is declining. MHA Director of Communications John Karasinski discussed the statewide trends for hospitals.

“It’s clear that we’re on the downside of this omicron surge as the numbers this week are better than the prior week, but the status of hospitals does vary depending on region, bed capacity and staffing,” said Karasinski.

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.

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.

Grants Awarded to Address Substance Use Disorder in Upper Peninsula

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan announced Jan. 19 that four Upper Peninsula community organizations will receive $490,000 in grant funding to help them address gaps in service for individuals and families facing substance use disorder (SUD) and to support the development and growth of recovery communities. Recovery communities offer a variety of services to support people recovering from SUD and their family members.

The MHA is a community partner in the project, along with the Upper Peninsula Health Plan and four members of the Michigan Opioid Partnership: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Superior Health Foundation.

The organizations’ two-year grant programming begins in January 2022. Organizations receiving the funding include the Eastern Upper Peninsula Opioid Response Consortium, Great Lakes Recovery Centers Inc., the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and Superior Housing Solutions.

The MHA Board of Trustees identified behavioral health as a critical priority for the association in its 2021-2022 Strategic Action Plan. The board established goals for behavioral healthcare that include setting guiding principles, overcoming obstacles and seeking new funding. The MHA’s partnership in this grantmaking project is one of several steps toward achieving those goals.

Coverage of the press release includes stories from WJMN-TV and WLUC-TV6. For more information on the grants, contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA. Additional information on the association’s efforts to address behavioral health is available from Laura Appel at the MHA.

Headline Roundup: Week of Jan. 10 for COVID-19 in Michigan

MHA CEO Brian Peters appears on Mid-Michigan NOW on Jan. 13, 2022.
MHA CEO Brian Peters appears on Mid-Michigan NOW on Jan. 13, 2022.
MHA CEO Brian Peters appears on Mid-Michigan NOW on Jan. 13, 2022.

The MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the vaccine mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and violence against healthcare workers.

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

Sunday, Jan. 16

Saturday, Jan. 15

Friday, Jan. 14

Thursday, Jan. 13

Wednesday, Jan. 12

Monday, Jan. 10

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.