INSIDE THE ISSUE
National Health Groups: Boarding is “Public Health Emergency”
MHA throughout 2022 and beyond has helped bring the public’s and policymakers’ attention to the issues of psychiatric boarding — that is, when a patient must wait in an emergency department or medical-surgical floor until a psychiatric inpatient bed is available. MHA is also bringing attention to the “throughput” issues destabilizing the healthcare system, which occur when patients in acute care hospitals are unable to transition to post-acute care due to the lack of available beds in the post acutes. These dual problems result in more than a thousand patients on any given day not receiving the right care, at the right time, in the correct location.
Now the American College of Emergency Physicians and 30 other care groups in a nine-page letter are calling on the Biden Administration to immediately address the problems.
“[I]n recent months, hospital emergency departments (EDs) have been brought to a breaking point,” the groups write. “Not from a novel problem – rather, from a decades-long, unresolved problem known as patient ‘boarding,’ where admitted patients are held in the ED when there are no inpatient beds available. While the causes of ED boarding are multifactorial, unprecedented and rising staffing shortages throughout the healthcare system have recently brought this issue to a crisis point, further spiraling the stress and burnout driving the current exodus of excellent physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals.”
The groups note the approaching “triple threat” of flu, COVID-19 cases, and pediatric respiratory illnesses, and say that to help mitigate the “public health emergency” of boarding, the administration should “convene a summit of stakeholders from across the healthcare system to identify immediate and long-term solutions to this urgent problem.”
Determination of Need Fees Funneled Back to Community
When a hospital, and certain other healthcare entities, merges, transfers ownership, or files to change its site through new construction or addition/subtraction of services, it has to file a Determination of Need (DON) with the state, which then assesses the change to see if it advances the commonwealth’s goals “for cost containment, improved public health outcomes, and delivery system transformation,” according to DPH.
When a hospital files the DON it pays a fee that ranges, depending on a variety of factors, from $500 to 0.2% of the proposed project’s total value.
Recently, the Baker Administration announced that $15.9 million in collected DON fees was redistributed to 24 non-profit community-based organizations. The state said the groups can use the funding “to increase awareness of the impact of structural racism on population health and to address these disparities by effectuating long-term, meaningful changes in population health outcomes, including mental health, chronic disease, and aging.”
Congratulations, Governor-Elect Healey
Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito last week met with their successors Maura Healy and Kim Driscoll, who recorded a resounding victory in last Tuesday’s statewide election. The current and soon-to-be administrations promised a smooth transition.
Healey is the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts (Jane Swift was appointed acting governor). Healey joins Tina Kotek, who was elected governor of Oregon last Tuesday, as the first openly lesbian governors in American history. And Massachusetts joins Arkansas this year as the first states to elect a female governor and lieutenant governor.
MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh said following the election, “MHA and our members congratulate Governor-elect Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Driscoll for their historic victory tonight. Both have devoted their careers to fearless advocacy on behalf of the commonwealth’s patients, while taking on the biggest healthcare issues of our time – including COVID-19, women’s reproductive rights, mental health, and health equity. We look forward to working in close partnership with their administration, as well as with every candidate voted into office, as our healthcare providers recover and continue to push the boundaries of accessible, world-class medical care.”
Free, 18-Month AHRQ Program for Fighting MRSA
Hospitals and health systems can continue to keep up to date on the latest infection fighting strategies through an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) safety program for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prevention.
The free, 18-month program seeks to reduce surgical site infections with a focus on MRSA. Beginning in January 2023, this program combines evidence-based guidance with implementation strategies to address the attitudes, beliefs, culture, and barriers that often pose challenges to optimizing infection prevention practices. Participation in this AHRQ program will provide surgical services teams with technical assistance, coaching, webinars, and tools to support their infection prevention program. Continuing education credits will be offered at no charge for participants.
Please find a program flier with more information here.
Reminder: Deadlines for AHA NOVA, Equity of Care Awards
AHA is accepting applications through Wednesday, November 16 for its 2023 Dick Davidson NOVA Award, which will recognize up to five member hospitals and health systems for their collaborative efforts to create healthier communities through healthcare, economic, or social initiatives. AHA’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity also is accepting applications through Friday, November 18 for its Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award, which recognizes outstanding hospital and healthcare system efforts to advance health equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Refresher Course for Hospital Compliance with TRACK-KIT
MHA reached out to its hospital membership last week informing them of webinars the association is holding with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) on the issue of hospital responsibility for participating in the TRACK-KIT system that tracks sexual assault evidence collection kits throughout the criminal justice process, including the initial collection in examinations performed at hospitals or medical facilities. EOPSS has been working collaboratively with medical facilities to establish their role and responsibilities to ensure compliance with the statute that created the tracking system. MHA is holding the refresher webinars for hospital team members who provide oversight of and compliance with the tracking program, and for those employees who directly use and enter information into TRACK-KIT.
MMS Webinar on RSV Scheduled for Thursday
This Thursday, November 17 from 6 to 7 p.m., the Massachusetts Medical Society is holding a webinar entitled “RSV Management Strategies: What Clinicians Need to Know.” Dr. Estevan Garcia, chief medical officer at the Department of Public Health, and Dr. Catherine Brown, state epidemiologist, will discuss the latest data on respiratory syncytial virus, prevention efforts, and strategies for safely expanding capacity to care for patients. Register here.
Happy Rural Health Day
Rural Health Day is Thursday, November 17. (It’s always on the third Thursday of November.) The day celebrates the activities of state offices of rural health, which in Massachusetts is operated through the Department of Public Health. MHA works closely with the Mass. State Office of Rural Health on workforce and quality programs, initiatives related to telemedicine, and most recently on addressing social determinants of health in rural communities.
Diana Richardson is the new president of Tufts Medical Center. She replaces Michael Tarnoff, M.D., who will remain as CEO and who will assume an expanded role in the Tufts Medicine system. Richardson joined Tufts Medical Center in October 2019 as SVP and COO. Prior to that, she was Vice President of Operations at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. Previously, she worked as System Vice President of Facility, Support and Professional Services at MelroseWakefield Healthcare and led Support and Business Services at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Richardson is a graduate of Boston University and holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Bentley University. She is a board member of both Boston MedFlight and Tufts Shared Services.