Media Join Hospital Viability Press Conference

Dec. 6 Teleconference Speakers
Dec. 6 virtual press conference speakers.

The MHA conducted a virtual press conference Dec. 6 to discuss the economic and staffing challenges impacting hospitals across the state to generate awareness with lawmakers of these issues and the potential impact on access to timely, high-quality healthcare for Michiganders.

The event occurred while children’s hospitals continue to operate near capacity levels as they continue to care for a surge of children suffering from respiratory illnesses amid staffing shortages. Speakers also referenced how the loss of 1,700 staffed adult inpatient hospital beds across the state has led to longer wait times in the emergency department, reduced services and more difficulty transferring patients. Lastly, the point was made that no other industry is prevented from responding to inflationary pressures and growing expenses to the degree that healthcare is.

Speakers included:

  • T. Anthony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer, University of Michigan Health System.
  • JJ Hodshire, president and chief executive officer, Hillsdale Hospital.
  • Dan Hurley, chief executive officer, Michigan Association of State Universities.
  • Brian Peters, chief executive officer, Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
  • Susan Smith, executive director, Economic Development Partnership of Hillsdale County.
  • Rudolph P. Valentini, chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, group chief medical officer at Detroit Medical Center.

Over a dozen media outlets from across the state joined the call, with stories published from Bridge Michigan, The Detroit News, Gongwer, MIRS, Michigan Business Network, MLive, SBGTV and WXYZ.

Following the press conference, a press release was also distributed to statewide media.

Members with questions related to media should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Michiganders Need Continued Access to High-quality, Timely Healthcare

Michigan’s hospitals are facing a funding crisis, putting communities and families across the state at risk of losing access to high-quality, timely healthcare. Health systems, business and university leaders are urging policymakers to address the crisis to avoid further reduction of available beds and access to care and healthcare services.

Michigan has lost a high of 1,700 staffed hospital beds since 2020 due to lack of staffing. This creates a cascade of problems, from longer wait times in the emergency department, reduced services, particularly in rural areas, and more difficulty transferring patients to the appropriate care setting. Respiratory illnesses are also surging, making problems worse.

T. Anthony Denton

“Recently, we have seen a surge in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu and COVID. This puts an additional pressure on emergency departments and our already-strained inpatient bed capacity across Michigan, impacting care statewide. Without funding to address staffing shortages, we run the risk of compromising our ability to provide the same level of exceptional care that we’re accustomed to across the state,” said T. Anthony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer, University of Michigan Health System and Michigan Health & Hospital Association board chair.

A 2021 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that nearly 30% of healthcare workers are considering leaving their profession altogether. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new registered nurses nationwide by 2030, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates two out of every five active physicians nationwide will be 65 or older within the next 10 years, and the nation faces a projected shortage of more than 3.2 million lower-wage healthcare workers such as medical assistants, home health aides and nursing assistants, according to a Mercer report.

“The overall health and prosperity of Michigan is inextricably tied to the state’s investment in its healthcare and higher education enterprises,” said Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “Michigan’s public universities, together with our hospital and other healthcare partners, look forward to working with state leaders to ensure a future healthcare workforce that is capable of providing the highest levels of quality care for all Michiganders.”

The healthcare workforce shortage — combined with an aging population, a rise in chronic diseases and behavioral health conditions and advancements in medical care delivery — all contribute to an immediate need for resources that will allow hospitals to continue to provide the care residents need and deserve.

Despite staffing losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare directly employed nearly 572,000 Michigan residents in 2020, continuing to make it the largest private-sector employer in the state. The 2022 Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan report found that direct healthcare workers in Michigan earned $44.2 billion in wages, salaries and benefits, with indirect, healthcare-supported workers earning about $28 billion wages, salaries and benefits.

“With healthcare being the largest private-sector employer, a healthy Michigan economy is directly linked to a properly funded healthcare system,” said Susan Smith, executive director, Economic Development Partnership of Hillsdale County. “Without access to healthcare services to support our communities, ranging from obstetrical units to trauma centers, we cannot remain economically competitive, attract or retain talent, or support placemaking for young families and care for everyone at all stages of life.”

Michigan officials have made recent short-term investments to address the hospital staffing crisis, but additional funding remains unappropriated that if used as intended, can improve hospital capacity and service lines. Michigan also needs a long-term funding solution to address stagnant reimbursement that has yet to respond to inflationary pressures to improve the retention of existing healthcare workers and recruit future workers to ensure that residents continue to have access to healthcare services.

Learn how you can help your local hospital or health system by visiting

Additional quotes:

JJ Hodshire

“Hospitals have an immediate need for resources to continue to provide the services residents need and deserve – like ambulances available for lifesaving care,” said JJ Hodshire, president and chief executive officer, Hillsdale Hospital. “As a rural hospital, we excel at being innovative to make the best use of our resources, particularly staff. However, we can only stretch resources for so long. Everyone can agree that access to lifesaving emergency medical care is a basic need for Michiganders and residents should be able to receive specialized care no matter where they live.”

“My colleagues in pediatric units across the state have spent the past month responding to one of the worst respiratory illness surges I can remember as a physician and the biggest challenge to our ability to care for more children was our lack of available staff,” said Dr. Rudolph P. Valentini, chief medical officer, Children’s Hospital of Michigan and group chief medical offer at Detroit Medical Center. “We can’t afford to have another surge of sick, hospitalized children before something is done to improve the health of our hospitals and health systems.”

Brian Peters

“Michigan residents deserve quality, accessible healthcare services and without hospital resources to adequately provide that care, Michigan hospitals have and will continue to face difficult decisions about what services they can offer,” said Brian Peters, chief executive officer, Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Weeks of Dec. 20, Dec. 27 and Jan. 3

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker, the omicron variant of COVID-19 is now the dominant strain across the U.S. The CDC’s model indicates that more than 95% of cases in the nation as of Jan. 1 may be due to omicron.

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.

President Announces Updated Testing and Military Personnel Strategy

President Joe Biden Dec. 21 announced the federal government will make 500 million at-home rapid tests available to Americans and will deploy roughly 1,000 military personnel to hospitals across the U.S. to help ease the stress the current COVID-19 surge has placed on providers.

The rapid tests will be free of charge and available via an online request form, after which they will be delivered to residents’ homes. The plan also includes opening new federal testing sites and sending out hundreds of federal vaccinators. These tactics will begin in January according to the White House fact sheet on this effort.

Members are encouraged to review the entire fact sheet, which discusses other elements of the plan, including the distribution of more ventilators, production increases for supplies, federal testing sites and more.

The MHA will keep members apprised as more information becomes available about what assistance will be directed to Michigan as a result of this announcement. Members with questions about federal actions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Boosters Expanded to 12- to 15-year-olds; Waiting Period Shortened

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have announced that children aged 12 to 15 may now receive booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The agencies also approved a shortened waiting period from six months to five months to receive a booster following a primary series of either of the two vaccines. In addition, certain immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 are eligible for a booster and may receive it 28 days after the completion of their initial series.

The two-month booster interval recommendation for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not changed.

The FDA reached its decision after reportedly reviewing data from Israel, which included information on 6,300 people ages 12-15 who received a booster shot at least five months after their initial two-dose series. The data showed no new cases of two possible side effects that had been observed in some young people who received the vaccine — myocarditis and pericarditis.

Urge Senate to Support Healthcare Staffing Funds

The MHA issued an action alert before the holidays, urging all members to contact their state senators and ask that they support critical healthcare staffing funding, which passed the state House with bipartisan support in December. As lawmakers prepare to return to session the week of Jan. 10, it is important to continue advocacy efforts.

House Bill 5523 would appropriate $300 million for healthcare retention and recruitment, which could help hospitals and other providers navigate the serious worker shortages that currently exist amid a pandemic surge. The MHA Legislative Action Center provides key messages on this issue and contact information for senators. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson 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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

MHA and Members Testify in Support of Licensure Exemption Bill

Sean Gehle (left) and Adam Carlson (right) testify in support of SB 759.

The House Health Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), reported the MHA-supported Senate Bill (SB) 759 to the full House Dec. 9. Before the bill was reported, Adam Carlson, senior vice president of advocacy, MHA, and Sean Gehle, regional vice president, advocacy and government relations, Trinity Health, provided testimony urging support for SB 759 and discussing its importance in continuing care for patients during the pandemic.  

SB 759 codifies into law a flexibility granted by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Bureau of Professional Licensing that has been imperative in fighting the workforce shortage. In March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LARA activated its statutory authority given in the Public Health Code that allows it to grant licensure exemptions “in a time of disaster” such as a pandemic. This permits out-of-state providers who are in good standing and trained, educated and experienced to render medical care in Michigan without a Michigan license.

The LARA provision is set to expire Jan. 11. The MHA has worked collaboratively with the administration to continue to allow hospitals and health systems the ability to quickly and efficiently recruit out-of-state workers during this public health emergency. SB 759 is now awaiting a vote in the full House. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

MHA Statement on Department of Defense Approving State Request for Healthcare Staffing Support

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Brian Peters

The current situation facing our hospitals and health system is dire and today’s approval by the U.S. Department of Defense to grant clinical staffing support is desperately needed to provide relief to our vital healthcare workforce. Many hospitals throughout the state are operating at capacity, delaying nonemergency medical procedures and placing their emergency departments on diversion. Receiving these teams of federal caregivers can only help those hospitals.

We want to commend Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for making the formal request on behalf of Michigan hospitals and express our gratitude to the Department of Defense for granting this request so quickly.

However, the strain on our healthcare system is severe and we still need the public’s help to slow the extreme growth of cases and hospitalizations. Please get vaccinated, whether it is your first dose, vaccination for your children or a booster dose. Adhere to the public health advisory and wear a mask in crowded indoor gatherings. And contact your primary care provider or seek care at an outpatient setting for nonemergency medical needs. Together we can get through this crisis, but it will take all Michiganders doing the right thing.