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.

Hospital Leaders Provide Testimony Amid Latest COVID Surge

Adam Carlson provides testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.

Hospital leaders from around the state testified Dec. 1 before the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell). They discussed the current challenges Michigan’s hospitals face as they near the statewide record for COVID-19 hospitalizations while having more COVID-19 patients in the ICU than at any point during either of the last two surges.

Those providing testimony were Michael McKenna, MD, chief medical officer, McLaren Health Care; Ane McNeil, chief human resources officer, Trinity Health; Chad Tuttle, senior vice president of hospital and post-acute operations, Spectrum Health West Michigan; and Adam Carlson, senior vice president of advocacy, MHA.

“We are seeing high numbers of patients with other medical conditions requiring care. Collectively, the statewide average ICU occupancy exceeds 85%. This combination is straining or exceeding the capacity of emergency departments and hospitals across the state,” said Carlson.

In addition to the latest hospital data on COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions, the group provided evidence that the best defense against the virus continues to be vaccination. Vaccines have been a very effective mechanism at preventing the illness. Without vaccination we would be in a situation five times worse.” said McKenna. Monoclonal antibodies were presented as the next best option, which help reduce the severity of the illness and prevent hospitalizations.

Recruitment and retention of personnel was another major issue discussed during the committee hearing. Across the state, resilient and dedicated healthcare workers in hospitals stand ready to care for emergency medical needs, but the reality is most hospitals throughout the state have more patients in their emergency departments than they do available rooms and staff to care for them. Today, we are in a healthcare giver crisis. The risk is limiting our services that we make available to our community,” said McNeil.

Support from the state or federal government is vital, as staffing costs continue to far exceed budget expectations with no signs of slowing down. The MHA will continue to work with elected officials to advocate on behalf of Michigan hospitals and health systems for funding and support to end the pandemic. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.