While coronavirus (COVID-19) is new, preparing for responses to disasters is not. Hospitals and health systems conduct emergency preparedness training year-round, in each region and facility.
Hospitals treat patients with infectious diseases every day. There are protocols in place to care for these patients while ensuring the safety of hospital staff, visitors and the larger community. Hospitals also share information and best practices and deploy specific strategies that work best for their communities.
When there is threat of an illness that could cause a surge of patients, each individual hospital steps up its preparedness and coordination activities. In the case of COVID-19, hospitals around the state are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control, the Washington State Department of Health and local public health to coordinate response efforts.
COVID-19 cases in Washington are growing quickly. If you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19, we strongly recommend self-quarantining until you can get tested or your symptoms have been gone for seven days. During that time, you should wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, cover your mouth/nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then through that tissue away. You can also rest, drink lots of fluids and take pain and fever medications.
The Washington State Hospital Association has collected a variety of information and resources to assist hospitals, the public and the media in responding to COVID-19, which you can view by clicking the links below.
This post contains important information from our partners at the Washington State Hospital Association. For more information, please contact Beth Zborowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday March 13th related to the COVID-19 outbreak is welcome news to Washington’s hospitals.
The health care delivery system in Washington state has been
strained by the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Hospitals have activated
their emergency response plans and are evaluating their situation every day,
including available space, staff and supplies. The state has authorized
flexibility to allow health care workers licensed in other states to provide
care to patients in Washington. This week has brought the first positive cases
of COVID-19 to some rural communities, widening the range of the impacts and
the response zone.
The emergency declaration will allow the State of Washington
to seek waivers from certain federal laws governing health care delivery. The
Washington State Hospital Association is working with hospitals and the
Department of Health to seek waiver of federal laws that most limit hospitals’
ability to respond. Some areas under consideration include:
Waiving limits on rural Critical Access Hospitals. Under federal law, critical access hospitals can only have 25 beds and can only keep patients for an average of 96 hours. Waiving this law will allow COVID-19 patients to be cared for in their communities and provide flexibility in movement of patients across the state if one area becomes particularly hard-hit.
Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act Waiver. Under current law, patients who arrive at the ER must be treated at the ER. This waiver would allow hospitals to screen or triage patients at a location offsite from the hospital’s campus and transfer patients according to their needs.
Flexibility in the use of space. This would allow hospital care to be provided in a non-hospital building, freeing hospital beds for the most acute patients while providing beds for those still in need of care.
Expedited discharge of patients no longer in need of acute care. Getting patients into appropriate community care settings — like long-term care centers, adult family homes, or with home health — would create significant additional capacity to care for very ill patients.
The federal emergency declaration will provide much-needed relief to the health care system, however concerns over supplies and staff remain. As the ability to process tests for COVID-19 have increased, the supplies needed to collect specimen for these tests has dwindled.
If you are concerned about your symptoms, contact your
primary care provider or call your insurer or local hospital’s nurse triage
line to evaluate your symptoms. It is critically important that people use the
health care system appropriately. The emergency room should only be used when
you are having a life-threatening emergency. Continue to see your health care
team for care for chronic conditions to ensure you do not become an emergency.
The Willapa Harbor Hospital Board of Commissioners are
excited to announce Matthew Kempton, MHA, has agreed to become our next
permanent CEO. Matt has a Master’s
Degree in Health Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelors
of Science from Brigham Young University. He has most recently been the CEO at
Stephens Memorial Hospital District, Breckenridge, Texas. He and his wife
Chelsea and their three children are excited to become part of our community.
The WHH Board identified a CEO Selection Committee composed
of two Board members (Toni Williams and Jeff Nevitt), two community leaders (Dr.
Steve Holland and Sheri McDonald, R.N.) and our Chief of the Medical Staff (Dr.
Frank Hing). They used B.E. Smith, a
national executive search company, to assist in the identification of qualified
candidates. Everyone worked very hard to conduct a quality selection process
and we thank all participants for all the hours and hard work.
B.E. Smith started with over 150 potential candidates, reduced
that to eight, then through a very active Selection Committee evaluation
process reduced that number to three individuals, which we brought to the
hospital and community to conduct interviews. All of the WHH Board, medical
staff and employees were able to ask questions and to provide feedback to the
Board of Commissioners.
Each candidate spent a day touring the hospital and
answering questions from the Staff and Board members. All candidate spouses were able to visit and
tour the community and three local schools. Each school did a great job show
casing their successes and what they can do for the children. The spouses were
given a community tour to get a general idea of the surrounding communities as
well as housing locations and shopping options.
We would like to thank the community members Cathy Russ, Kristine Nevitt
and Karen Tully for taking their time to show off the beauty of Willapa Harbor.
Matt plans to arrive November 29th. Matt is excited to
attend the Festival of Trees on November 30th, which is the Willapa Harbor
Health’s Foundation key annual fundraiser for the year. The Willapa Harbor Hospital
Board of Commissioners have worked diligently to select a leader to take the
hospital to the next level of caring for our community.
While all the candidates had outstanding individual
qualifications, Matt was the best choice to meet the current and future needs
of Willapa Harbor Hospital and the surrounding communities.
(ELMA, WA) –Thanks to the generous nature of several Summit Pacific Medical Center employees, six local area high school seniors have been awarded a combined $6,000 in scholarships. Summit Pacific Medical Foundation oversees the scholarship fund, which has awarded nearly $70,000 in scholarships to 87 students since it was established in 1993.
Summit Pacific Medical Foundation Executive Director, John Elsner, Chief Executive Officer, Josh Martin and Diagnostic Imaging Manager and Scholarship Committee Chair, Joy Iversen attended Elma and Montesano High School awards ceremonies to present the scholarships.
The Employee Scholarship Fund is a long-standing tradition of the hospital district that supports local students in obtaining further education in the healthcare field. This fund is strictly supported by donations from Summit Pacific employees.
Forks Community Hospital has received its Certification in Infection Prevention from DNV GL Healthcare. The certification recognizes completion of a risk assessment program. To complete the program, Forks Community Hospital worked with DNV GL to identify and address vulnerable areas, restructure its system management and effectively utilize resources with the goal of providing the highest-quality of health care to its patients. Receiving the certification indicates that Forks Community Hospital’s approach to infection prevention work is above industry standard.
“This certification lets our community know we have the resources and commitment to provide the best possible care for managing infection risk,” Forks Community Hospital Director of Patient Safety & Quality RN D. Dillon said. “The CIP Certification requirements build upon three important pillars: a proactive rather than reactive approach to safety, the development of a safety culture that is transparent and accountable, and engagement of all staff towards a systems-driven approach to safety.”
(ELMA, WA) – Summit Pacific was recently awarded the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Award of Excellence. Summit Pacific was awarded for providing rural Washington with access to greater healthcare and for their vision and work in driving rural development.
Summit Pacific was recognized along with their partners at Graham Construction and Blue Room Architecture & Design for their collaborative approach to construction of the Wellness Center, which resulted in the project being delivered on-time and on-budget.
The USDA provided funding for the new facility, which includes a third-floor primary care suite, expansive outpatient therapy gym, lab and diagnostic imaging services, a retail pharmacy, several community conference and education spaces, a rock-climbing wall, outdoor plaza, community fitness trail with outdoor exercise equipment and a playground.
(ELMA, WA) – At the Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, April 25, Heidi Schaiberger, a representative from LifeNet Health presented Summit Pacific with a Tissue Donation Standards of Excellence Award.
LifeNet Health’s Tissue Donation Standards of Excellence Award is given to hospitals that achieve and sustain donation goals, based on fewest missed referrals, nurse approaches and late referrals. This award serves as a symbol to recognize Summit Pacific Medical Center for being champions of donation.
“One tissue donor has the potential to save or enhance the lives of more than 150 people,” says Schaiberger. “The gifts of donation not only help patients in need but also gives hope to donor families in the hours, months and years following the loss of their loved one.”
In 2018, Summit Pacific had a Timely Referral Rate of 100 percent, which means no donation opportunities were missed due to notifying LifeNet Health too late. There were also two tissue donors, SPMC’s first donors since April 2015. “The efforts of SPMC to educate the staff and meet goals greatly supported making tissue donation possible and helps ensure that patient’s wishes to donate are honored,” said Schaiberger.
During the award ceremony, special recognition was given to Summit Pacific Emergency Department Manager, Nicole Simons and Director of Quality and Risk, Cecelia Tapp, for their incredible leadership and support of donation.
Schaiberger continued, “our combined efforts are critical to supporting tissue donation in the Northwest community and allowing LifeNet Health to serve thousands of patients on an annual basis. The gift of tissue donation allows members of our community to lead a healthy, productive and joyful life and our partner’s role in this process is invaluable. LifeNet Health extends our greatest thanks to Summit Pacific Medical Center for all your efforts and support of our mission to Save Lives, Restore Health and Give Hope.”
Anyone traveling outside Washington State’s major population centers knows that the region is as geographically diverse as they come.
From the lavender-scented San Juan islands in the west to the forested peaks and valleys flanking the Pend Oreille River on the east, the state’s rural towns are as unique as their picturesque surroundings.
The small independent hospitals in these communities, staffed by caring local providers with a deep knowledge of the local culture, reflect the values of the regions they serve. It makes sense, then, that these rural hospitals would want to maintain their independence, even as the changing healthcare environment brings new challenges for independent hospitals and clinics.
Fifteen years ago, eight of Washington’s independent rural hospitals came together to address that challenge, asking: As rural providers become fewer and farther between, how can independent hospitals continue to serve their communities while also controlling risk, retaining staff, and improving outcomes?
The result was the Washington Rural Health Collaborative (WRHC), now comprised of 15 federally designated rural Critical Access Hospitals. Each member of the collaborative is a separately governed entity serving rural areas in Washington State, from Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend to Goldendale’s Klickitat Valley Health.
“Interdependence and independence are not contradictory,” states WRHC Executive Director Holly Greenwood. “Interdependence helps our member hospitals remain independent while addressing some of the key challenges faced by rural hospitals.”
MOVE FROM VOLUME TO VALUE INCREASES CONTRACTNG COMPLEXITY
Chief among these challenges is contracting, something Greenwood says has become increasingly complex in the past five years. “Payer contracting is more complex in today’s environment,” she says. “The move from volume- and encounter-based reimbursement to valuebased reimbursement with an emphasis on quality and reducing costs has accelerated the complexity.”
Additionally, she notes, today’s focus on whole-person health means that providers and payers must contract with more trained staff who have increasingly diverse credentials, further ramping up contract complexity. “The focus on wellness in healthcare often requires hospitals to have additional trained staff like care coordinators, which is something you would not have seen five years ago,” she says.
Recruiting and retaining these skilled providers is yet another challenge for rural hospitals. “There’s been pressure for the rural hospital systems to fill nontraditional gaps like dental, behavioral health, and care coordination in rural communities,” says Greenwood. “But with newer payment models, not only is it difficult to recruit skilled part-time staff, but there is often no payment mechanism to support these new roles.”
These transitions can increase risks for providers unless key infrastructure investments are made—a burden that may weigh disproportionately on independent rural hospitals. It’s no surprise that individual rural health systems struggle to recruit the talent, support, and infrastructure they need to thrive.
In this highly complex, constantly changing industry, Greenwood says, WRHC has supported physicians and hospitals in their transformation through collective action, leveraging of resources, sharing, and learning from one another. One way WRHC has helped member hospitals is through collective “upside only” payer contracts that mitigate risk and control costs, with potential for shared savings. Helping hospitals negotiate value-based payer contracts through Medicaid/Medicare and training providers to maximize reimbursement helps support recruitment, retention, and provider satisfaction. Shared staffing models and telemedicine programs help address the need for part-time providers and local care.
ADDRESSING ADMINISTRATIVE CHALLENGES
Along with front-line providers, hospital administrators are strained, and WRHC helps address managerial challenges like the ever-expanding need for more specialized technical skills. As electronic medical records gobble up data storage and create demand for analytics and coding expertise, WRHC is working to develop a centralized data warehouse and analytics team. Member hospitals also benefit from specialized grant-writing expertise; the WRHC pursues collective grants through the Department of Health and Health Resources and Services Administration to help rural communities serve specific local needs and fill healthcare gaps.
Hospital leaders meet regularly to share best practices and report financial outcomes and quality measures. Sharing information with other small hospitals, sometimes across hundreds of miles, translates into healthier bottom lines for all. Last year, WRHC member hospital’s direct savings increased by more than $200,000, with an average ROI of $8.21 for each dollar spent. Since tracking direct member savings began in 2014, WRHC has saved its members an estimated $6.4 million.
Stronger and more financially sound, WRHC hospitals are better able to serve the needs of their communities, and are positioned to continue improving outcomes for years to come. “It’s been a difficult journey for independent rural health systems, and physicians both employed and independent, to maximize value and to make the value base care transformation independently,” notes Greenwood. But bridging the gap between independence and interdependence allows WRHC members to thrive, individually and collectively.
“Over the last five years, we have proven that we are better together,” she says. “Our vision to support rural health systems in achieving service excellence through collaboration and innovation is at the heart of everything we do. If the sentence starts with ‘all WRHC hospitals have a need,’ then there is an opportunity to leverage WRHC’s power.
Holly Greenwood, Executive Director, Washington Rural Health Collaborative
Port Townsend, WA – Jefferson Healthcare is proud to announce Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer Hilary Whittington, CPA, MBA has been recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as a “40 Under 40” award winner. This prestigious designation recognizes the 40 most “up and coming” leaders in our region. Whittington oversees the finance, ancillary and support service related departments at Jefferson Healthcare.
Whittington joined Jefferson Healthcare in 2011 as Chief Financial Officer and was promoted to Chief Administrative Officer in 2018. She led Jefferson Healthcare’s financial and operational turnaround and is key member of the leadership team of one of the more dynamic rural healthcare organizations in the country.
“Hilary has been instrumental in both our growth and improvement as an organization. She understands the critical role Jefferson Healthcare plays in our community and is a passionate advocate for the continued sustainability of rural healthcare. In addition to all of this, Hilary is a delight to work with and we could not be more proud of her “40 under 40 recognition” said Mike Glenn, CEO at Jefferson Healthcare.
For the past 20 years the Puget Sound Business Journal has introduced 40 of Washington’s brightest and most innovative leaders of the business community. This year’s class will be recognized at an awards ceremony September 28, 2018.
The Washington Rural Health Collaborative is proud to again be recognized by Intalare for our ongoing commitment to excellence.
Below the text related to the award:
ANALYTIC SOFTWARE IMPLEMENTATION DRIVES JOINT CONTRACTING AND GPO MAXIMIZATION ACROSS MULTI-HOSPITAL/EMR NETWORK
Washington Rural Health Collaborative (WRHC) members and staff were challenged with efficiently maximizing joint contracting to focus on high-spend contracts that encouraged vendor alignment and maximized a GPO partnership.
WRHC invested in and implemented spend analytic software to automate individual facility accounts payable spend. This solution allowed the collaborative to identify areas of alignment among all member facilities, focus on alignment of purchased services and lower operational costs among membership. Using data to drive joint contracting efforts provided the deepest savings and helped to ensure members achieve aggregate buying power. A secondary strategy was to achieve GPO alignment among WRHC facilities to support maximization of GPO use, lower
costs and improve purchasing efficiencies. Partnering with Intalere and their regional affiliate Health Resource Services (HRS) was key to showing the value of GPO alignment and ensuring member facilities were recognized as a group when accessing applicable GPO contracts.
More than $180 million in purchased services spend was identified and categorized into actionable scopes of service. In addition, 600 vendor consolidation opportunities were highlighted. To drive the success of this work, WRHC is strategically partnering with Intalere and HRS to assist in achieving vendor alignment and cost reduction initiatives based on the data and needs of WRHC member facilities.