Acknowledgements Editors Erin Stewart Ethan James Designers Carley Elsberry Jeﬀ Sunderland Contributing writers Lindsey Black Pa y Gregory Denise Parrish Earl Rogers Erin Stewart Jeﬀ Sunderland Contact Us Georgia Hospital Association 1675 Terrell Mill Rd Marie a, GA 30067 Phone: 770-249-4500 Fax: 770-955-5801 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gha.org All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmi ed in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior wri en permission. For permission requests, please contact email@example.com.
Letter from the President
Focused on the Vision
How Grady Health System is moving health care forward John Haupert Getting to know the 2019 GHA Chair
Mitigating Maternal Mortality Georgia hospitals determined to improve outcomes
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Fairview Park Hospital: Caring for Community Fosters Physician Recruitment 20 Years, 2 Brothers, 1 Hospital: Children’s Hospital of Georgia Names in the News For the Love of Medicine Big Changes are Coming Soon
How a Tax Credit is Transforming Rural Health Care Ameris Bank supports communities, one dollar at a time
Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer How a small team of people ensures that 100% of money raised goes to help the community
W. Daniel Barker Leadership Award Joel Wernick
Distinguished Service Award Sen. Dean Burke
Community Leadership Award Augusta University Medical Center
Legislator of the Year Awards Sen. Butch Miller and Rep. Ron Stephens
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Hospitals: Financial Pillars for Their Communities 2018 Hospital Hero Awards Luncheon Pictures Improving Behavioral Health Care An opportunity awaits
2020 GHA Membership Meetings
Executive Corner This latest issue of twentyfourseven tackles a variety of health care topics and includes an intriguing cover story on Grady Health System in Atlanta. John Haupert, Grady president and CEO, who also currently serves as the GHA board chair, discusses the remarkable ﬁnancial turnaround pulled oﬀ by the health system more than a decade ago and how it has been able to remain ﬁnancially stable. We are also pleased to have guest articles from two of our hospitals. You can read about the important relationship Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin has established with its community and how it has helped improve health care in the region. The Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and shared a heartwarming story about one family’s experience, then and now. Like many stakeholders around the state, we are keeping a close eye on Georgia’s devastatingly high maternal mortality rate. For several years, there has been a legislative focus on keeping Georgia’s mothers safe and healthy. In 2013, the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill (S.B.) 273, which established the Maternal Mortality Review Commi ee to closely investigate and research the maternal deaths. Georgia hospitals are also examining how they can improve processes for mothers throughout their entire pregnancy journey to ensure they remain healthy before, during and after the delivery of their babies. You can read more about this topic in our other cover story, “Mitigating Maternal Mortality.” Our Distinguished Service Award winner, Sen. Dean Burke, chief medical oﬃcer of Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge, Ga., was a sponsor of S.B. 273 and has continued to be a champion for hospitals and health care during his entire legislative career. In the Our Hospitals section, you can read about him, as well as our Community Leadership Award winner, Augusta University Health, and the W. Daniel Barker Leadership Award winner, Joel Wernick, former chief executive oﬃcer of Phoebe Putney Memorial Health System. Joel retired earlier this year after an impressive 30-year tenure with the health system. I hope you enjoy these features and more. We always like to hear from our readers. If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me or the editors of twentyfourseven. As always, thank you for your support of our hospitals and the work they do. Earl Rogers President and CEO Georgia Hospital Association
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Grady Health System, the largest hospital in the state of Georgia and the ﬁfth-largest public hospital in the United States, ﬁrst opened its doors in 1892. The hospital had a $907.4 million impact on the economy in 2017.
Focused on the Vision How Grady Health System is moving health care forward By Erin Stewart
“Atlanta can’t live without Grady.” If you live in metro Atlanta and have been around a television in the past few years, you’ve likely seen the black-and-white, emotional patient stories of Grady patients who credit the health system with saving their lives. John Haupert, Grady Health System president and CEO, has his own story of hearing the impact of Grady on the community. One night, he answered the door to accept food he had ordered from a delivery service and happened to be wearing a Grady T-shirt. The man delivering the food said, “Atlanta can’t live without Grady!” Haupert, smiling, said, “You must have seen the ads.” Haupert continued, “Then the guy said, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been a patient at Grady and let me tell you about it . . . ‘ and oﬀ he went. It was very rewarding and wonderful to hear.” Regarding the patients in the advertising campaign, Denise Simpson, Grady Health System media
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relations manager, said, “The ﬁrst go-round, it took a li le eﬀort to search and round up enough patients to do a series of ads. Now, we have people calling us to talk about how Grady saved them. They’re more than happy to share their stories.” “It happens almost every day,” said Haupert proudly. It is a very diﬀerent time now than it was in 2007, when Grady was on the brink of closure. Many are familiar with the ﬁnancial troubles the health system faced: It could barely meet payroll and pay vendors. Upgrades were long overdue. With the help of the community, led by former chairman of the board of Grady, Pete Correll, the health system improved its revenue cycle and changed how Grady was coding bill collections. Patient revenue went up, which allowed the system to address a number of other engagement and employee issues and hire additional physicians to help grow clinical services. The transformation was extremely necessary in terms of keeping not only Atlanta, but the state of Georgia, healthy. If Grady had closed back in 2007, “it would have been incredibly detrimental to public health and ﬁnancially detrimental to other health systems,” said Haupert. He explains that other health systems in the area would have had to absorb the large volumes of patients coming out of Grady, which would have “pushed the health care system in Atlanta to the edge.” Additionally, other health systems likely would have seen their charity and indigent patient population increase and would have had to increase burn care and trauma care oﬀerings. And all of that is considering only the services provided to the Atlanta community. Another thing to remember is that the Grady Emergency Management Services (EMS) system is now far-reaching. It serves 17 counties, including several in Southwest Georgia, so bringing Grady’s high-tech emergency response resources to rural areas would not have been possible. Fast-forward to today. Grady has been in the black for quite some time, solidifying its existence as the largest safety-net hospital in the state. Thank goodness, because a multitude of individuals beneﬁt from Grady’s services. Thirty percent of its patients have no insurance at all, and 50 percent are Medicare or Medicaid patients. That leaves only 20 percent of those receiving care at Grady who are commercially insured. Therefore, Grady has heavily invested in pu ing care management models in place that align with the national movement toward value-based care versus fee-for-service care. The system spends more of its functional expenses on community beneﬁt than do other metro Atlanta health systems. “We’ve had to create care models that be er serve the underinsured and uninsured,” said Haupert. “We’re trying to decrease cost and improve patient outcomes and we’ve looked at innovative ways to do that because of our payor mix.” One innovative way that Grady is helping improve patient outcomes is its Food Prescription Program, which is an initiative it leads in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Open Hand Atlanta and Wholesome Wave Georgia. The program helps patients and families have easier access to healthy, aﬀordable foods with the goal of reducing chronic illness. The Center for Advanced Surgical Services is another project that is underway thanks to the work of the Grady Health Foundation, which has been involved in the fundraising. The Center is a new ambulatory building that will be located across the street from Grady and will provide ambulatory surgery capability, a new cancer center, and all new clinics for the health system’s surgical subspecialties.
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John Haupert, Grady Health Foundation board chair Pete Correll, Bernie Marcus, Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center Director Dr. Michael Frankel and Grady Memorial Hospital Corp. board chair Frank Blake at the ribbon cu ing of the new outpatient center of Grady’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center in 2017.
The ﬁnancial health of Grady is clearly good for metro Atlanta, but it has also beneﬁted the entire state of Georgia. For example, the Grady Health Foundation has also helped with funding for a comprehensive stroke education system statewide that it is pu ing in place with Emory School of Medicine and the American Heart Association. Together, these organizations have established a telemedicine program with about 60 other hospitals across the state where doctors are able to see patient images and test results of patients potentially suﬀering a stroke. The doctors can then provide coaching to the hospital emergency rooms as to whether the patient can be treated at the home location or needs to be transferred to the closest stroke center. “One of the things that has allowed our foundation to be successful over the last decade is the relationship with the philanthropic community,” said Haupert. “You don’t see very often where public hospitals get a lot of philanthropic support, but since Grady went through this change in governance, we’ve been able to get that support and have been able to raise money that has helped fund the clinical expansion of things like trauma, burn, stroke, cardiac, urology, orthopedics and ambulatory care.” Even building the new Center for Advanced Surgery Services has go en huge philanthropic support, with sponsoring counties agreeing to contribute 50 percent of the cost, “which is incredible, because up until this point, all the growth has been funded by private donors,” said Haupert. Long before Grady’s growth over the past few years, its footprint on the entire state had been apparent. For example, the majority of patient care and clinical training of Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory School of Medicine medical students occurs at Grady. In fact, about 25 percent of doctors who practice in the state of Georgia received training at Grady and are helping to increase access to care in rural areas.
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“Morehouse was originally created to be a pipeline for primary care physicians to serve around the state,” said Haupert. “They, and Emory, have a tremendous focus on enabling medical practice in rural communities.” That focus on rural communities is a big component of the education of medical students and residents. Not only do they learn about the treatment of diseases and patient care, but they also are educated on the economics of health care so they can understand the world in which they are going to practice medicine. “It’s about more than them just developing their clinical skills,” said Haupert. “They learn about socioeconomic factors and the impact of those on health care as well.” In addition to training a quarter of the state’s doctors, Grady treats people from all over the state. More than 70 hospitals transfer patients to Grady for stroke care at the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center. Patients from across the state receive trauma care and burn care at the health system and Grady runs the state’s only Poison Control Center. Another change that is very telling of the ﬁnancial turnaround of Grady is the shift of its vision and goals from being more ﬁnancially focused to being more quality-based. Along with the new ﬁnancial focus came a new board and a new vision, which was that Grady would become the leading academic health system in the country. Haupert and his staﬀ have been extremely focused on developing strategies that support that mission, which includes having ﬁve-year strategic plans of annual goals that “we now cascade down to every manager, supervisor, director and above in the
organization so everyone ends up with a set of goals to which they are accountable,” he said. Revolutionary reimbursement models may also be the key to improving more residents’ health. Georgia decided not to expand Medicaid back in 2010 with the passage of the Aﬀordable Care Act, but with Gov. Kemp recently approving a Medicaid waiver application, hope is on the horizon. Haupert believes a waiver would help bring relief to the overuse of health care. “Currently, in Georgia, the uninsured population is consuming health care resources in a very expensive way, which is primarily through emergency rooms,” he said. “It’s episodic and is the complete antithesis of whole-person care, not to mention very expensive,” he said. Haupert says the dollars made available through a waiver would help Grady and other providers around the state, especially rural hospitals and health systems, provide be er care to the uninsured. This way, they could participate in a progressive care model, stay in care and improve their health status. It may especially help the HIV patient population, the challenge of which is keeping those patients in care and making sure they know that HIV is a chronic disease that needs constant treatment. For the future, the health system is focused on its new vision, revised goals, and increasing access to care for Georgia residents. “We’re focused on the mission, but we’re more focused on the vision, the forward direction of the organization,” said Haupert. “Everyone at Grady knows what we’re trying to accomplish.”
John Haupert Getting to Know the 2019 GHA Chair With more than 25 years of health care leadership experience, John Haupert, president and CEO of Grady Health System in Atlanta, has held managerial positions in a variety of hospital operations, including medical education, quality improvement and patient safety. He began his administrative career at Methodist Health System in Dallas, Texas in 1992 where he served for 14 years in various roles, including as president of one of the system’s hospitals. In 2006, he accepted the position of chief operating oﬃcer (COO) of Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas and remained there for ﬁve years before being named president and CEO of Grady in 2011. In this position, he oversees the operations of the safety net health care system serving Fulton and DeKalb counties in Georgia. twentyfourseven: How did you get into health care? Haupert: My great-grandfather, grandfather, uncles and cousins were all physicians. So I grew up around all these medical folks. Also, there were two hospitals where I grew up in Fort Smith, Ark. My grandfather founded a clinic that supported the local Catholic hospital and my parents were on the board of that hospital as well as the foundation board. I started working at the hospital as an orderly (as we called it back then) when I was a teenager. It’s known today as a patient care tech. I worked there on and oﬀ through college and fell in love with the environment. I got to know the nun running the hospital – yes, a nun – and realized that the administrative side of health care was what I liked, not the physician side. twentyfourseven: What was your grandfather’s clinic like? Haupert: My grandfather had spent some time at [the] Mayo [Clinic] when the Mayo brothers [Charles Horace Mayo and William James Mayo, founders of the Mayo Clinic] were establishing that model of care [embracing a special set of core elements while focusing on the primary needs of the patient]. He studied that and went back to Fort Smith to replicate it. He and two friends started his clinic that is now a 150-physician, multi-specialty clinic that, for a period of time, made up the majority of the Catholic hospital I mentioned earlier. Back then, when he was practicing, my grandfather was all over the place, out in the ﬁeld, being paid with chickens and eggs, all kinds of stuﬀ. Now, that clinic is a huge enterprise that serves people from all walks of life.
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twentyfourseven: What issues do you think about often and wish you could solve in an instant? Haupert: Comprehensive behavioral health services, which are sorely lacking, not just in Georgia, but all over the country. We treat mental health as what is called a ‘carve out’ instead of considering it to be part of caring for the whole person. Another issue is HIV and AIDS; it’s really out of control, as we’ve seen by the signiﬁcant increase in the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in the South and in Atlanta. The South has been identiﬁed as the epicenter for new AIDS cases, with Atlanta and other communities topping the list. twentyfourseven: Who are your mentors? Haupert: In my entire career, one of my biggest mentors was a man named David Hi . He was the CEO of the Methodist Health System when I began working there in 1992. I learned an incredible amount about health care and making the right decisions that were balanced around social need as well as health system proﬁtability. The late Dr. Ron Anderson, the former CEO of Parkland [Health and Hospital System], was another wonderful mentor. He was really a pioneer in the areas of community health, patient-focused care and caring for indigent populations. I learned a great deal from him when I was working there as the chief operating oﬃcer. Since I’ve been in Atlanta, I’ve had two incredible mentors. Pete Correll, who was chairman of the board [of Grady] when I got here and now Frank Blake, the current chair. Pete was one of the business leaders who stepped up to save Grady and really led the whole turnaround and is now chairman of the Grady Health Foundation. Frank Blake was the chairman and CEO of Home Depot, and when he retired, he stepped in to take Pete’s place as chairman of the Grady board. Frank took great interest in the work of Grady and its role in the community. These two gentlemen have taught me as much, or more than, anyone about the leadership side of what it takes to be successful. twentyfourseven: You serve on several organizations and boards, including the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees and the Healthcare Institute of Georgia State University. How are you able to advance Grady’s mission through these organizations? Haupert: I really see serving with these organizations as an opportunity to inﬂuence the industry and politics around the need to move toward value-based care and modernize the payment structures, especially those that serve Medicare, Medicaid and underserved patients. In Georgia, this is the whole series of safety net institutions around the state, particularly the highly vulnerable rural hospitals. By doing what’s right for Grady, we end up doing what’s right for every safety net and vulnerable rural hospital as well.
“By doing what’s right for Grady, we end up doing what’s right for every safety net and vulnerable rural hospital as well.” - John Haupert, president and CEO, Grady Health System 10
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Crisp Regional Hospital staﬀ members celebrate completing one year with the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative program, a group of health care stakeholders formed to identify and implement ways to improve maternal and neonatal care and outcomes in Georgia.
Mitigating Maternal Mortality Georgia hospitals determined to improve outcomes By Patty Gregory
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The warning signs were there, but Emory Decatur Hospital labor and delivery nurse Bri any Freeman didn’t want to “waste the time or money” returning to the hospital after her daughter was born. After three days of experiencing symptoms for preeclampsia, Freeman found a colored ﬂyer in her hospital bag listing the warning signs and what warranted a call to her physician or even a trip to the hospital. The nurse, who had conducted this training with countless new mothers, ﬁnally realized the severity of her own situation. Thankfully, the education materials prompted her return visit to the hospital where, after a 48-hour stay, she made a full recovery. This success story is one example of the positive strides Georgia hospitals are taking to improve maternal health outcomes. Inadequate monitoring of health conditions; lack of education; lack of availability
of high-risk care; lack of transfer or referral to higher level of care when indicated; an increase in comorbidities; lack of standardization of treatment; delayed recognition and treatment of emergent situations such as hemorrhage; inadequate screening for depression; and an older maternal population are just a few of the reasons Georgia hospitals note as potential contributors to the state’s rising maternal mortality rate. A jarring report released by Amnesty International on March 12, 2010, found Georgia ranked 50 out of 50 states with a rate of 20.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The report shocked lawmakers and others into action. Spurring Change In 2014, Georgia established a Maternal Mortality Review Commi ee (MMRC) via Senate Bill (S.B.) 273. The legislation established a 35-member multidisciplinary group consisting of physicians, nurses, midwives, public health oﬃcials, and epidemiologists to review Georgia’s maternal deaths and develop strategies to prevent them. That year, the commi ee released three reports of its ﬁndings for 2012-2014. The reports provide information on factors associated with maternal mortality, causes of pregnancy-related deaths, and opportunities for prevention. The commi ee, with participation and support from GHA, continues its work to provide education on the issue. Additionally, in November 2012, a group of neonatologists, obstetricians, midwives, public health professionals and other stakeholders launched a collaborative eﬀort, the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC), to identify and implement quality improvement strategies to improve maternal and neonatal care and outcomes in Georgia. This alliance is responsible for the development and dissemination of “patient safety bundles,’’ to providers and hospitals to reduce maternal deaths. (Bundles are a set of practices that, when used together, are shown to improve patient outcomes.) The ﬁrst bundles introduced in Georgia address obstetric hemorrhage and hypertension-related illnesses, which the MMRC found to be leading causes of maternal deaths. Fifty percent of these deaths were determined to be preventable. In late 2017, Georgia joined a national collaborative called the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM). This is a national quality improvement program that seeks to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality by providing hospitals with free maternal patient safety bundles. AIM includes many groups aligning standard health practices and training people to identify common issues that could cause maternal deaths. So far, 23 states have joined AIM and are in diﬀerent stages of the process. The ﬁrst four states to join AIM saw their severe maternal morbidity rate decrease by an average of 20 percent over three years. Georgia is already in the process of using the strategies to improve maternal health – 24 of the state’s birthing facilities have begun implementing the policies. Elevating the Problem Nearly a decade has passed since Amnesty International released its shocking report. Yet, the numbers continue to worsen. The Georgia Department of Public Health’s latest available numbers, from 2016, show a rate of 37.2 maternal deaths per 100,000, up from the rate of 20.5 per 100,000. Other states have MMRCs, but Georgia was among the ﬁrst states to fund it. Beginning in 2017, Georgia directed $100,000 in statewide funding toward be er data collection. In 2018, State Sen. Renee Unterman, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Commi ee, worked to secure $2 million allocated to the problem as part of the state’s overall health budget of $4.8 billion. The funding is helping support the implementation of AIM initiatives.
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Standardizing Safety In January 2018, DPH Commissioner Patrick O’Neal issued a le er to medical directors at hospitals statewide urging them to join eﬀorts to improve care for Georgia’s mothers and babies via the implementation of data-driven, evidence-based best practice initiatives bundled to standardize and track outcomes through AIM. The obstetric hemorrhage bundle is the ﬁrst AIM initiative for GaPQC. It consists of four domains that provide fundamental pathways for the assessment and identiﬁcation of maternal hemorrhage. The recommended tools will help to eﬀectively manage emergencies, as well as provide direction on preventive measures and processes for accounting and reviewing incidences and optimizing educational opportunities to improve outcomes. Piedmont Columbus Regional began implementing the obstetric hemorrhage bundle, a step-bystep quality improvement process, last year. The hospital’s director of nursing services for women and children, Rebecca “Becky” Cherrington, notes the importance of having physician support to implement the bundles, which are typically nurse-driven quality improvement projects. They assembled a team to work on the quality collaborative, including nursing leadership, quality staﬀ, physicians, and nursing educators. “We’re part of a team, so we all have to be in it together for the initiative to go smoothly and improve outcomes for our moms,” said Cherrington, noting they created a risk assessment to give providers a be er idea of which mothers may be most at-risk for hemorrhage. “We’ve turned the mindset around to make sure we’re targeting people who need it and helping them in a timely, preventive fashion to eliminate the occurrence of a hemorrhage altogether.”
The team educated staﬀ on the importance of, and purchased supplies to assist in, quantifying blood loss during deliveries. They held drills for managing postpartum hemorrhage and created postpartum hemorrhage carts for the labor and delivery unit, as well as the hospital’s antepartum unit, a 16-bed unit that houses expectant mothers who are Staﬀ in the mother and baby unit at Emory Decatur Hospital have commi ed to educating all women on post birth warning signs to prevent maternal morbidity, having issues with their pregnancy and need to be monitored by maternal even adopting the hashtag #NotOnMyWatch to remind all staﬀ to be vigilant. fetal medicine physicians. Piedmont Columbus is a regional perinatal hospital and the only Piedmont hospital to house an antepartum unit. Patients from 21 neighboring counties and 10 birthing hospitals utilize the unit, which stays consistently full. In addition to maternal hemorrhages, hypertension-related illnesses are a leading cause of maternal deaths. Genetics and advanced maternal age may also be leading contributors. Dr. Jeﬀrey Harris, an obstetrician-gynecologist who is aﬃliated with Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup, Ga., believes the aging of the maternal population to be a contributing factor to the increase in hypertension. “More women are going to school, starting a career and then having babies. As you get older, you’re more likely to have hypertension,” he said. Regardless of the cause, hospitals around the state are beginning to work with GaPQC on the second AIM initiative – the hypertension bundle, which provides a systematic process for risk assessment and recognition of the disease process that can culminate in a crisis. Educating Staﬀ DPH has identiﬁed 16 rural hospitals to receive grant funding for education on tools and be er procedures. One of those is Wayne Memorial Hospital. State resources help fund a full-time nurse dedicated to patient and staﬀ education on maternal hemorrhages. The hospital was also able to add equipment to the operating room and create a crash cart with medicines and supplies needed should a maternal hemorrhage occur. “The biggest thing has been education,” said Harris. “It doesn’t take long to get behind on a maternal hemorrhage. Educating all staﬀ members to do their respective jobs at the right time has helped improve outcomes. We’re seeing fewer drops in blood counts, improving the quality of the patient’s experience and decreasing mortality.” More than 125 miles west, Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele, Ga., has also received grant funding to purchase a simulation mannequin to help with staﬀ education. “We are seeing quicker, more eﬃcient responses and have the necessary equipment readily available to provide the best care for a patient experiencing a hemorrhage emergency,” said April Thompson, director of Crisp Regional Hospital Women’s Center.
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As a regional perinatal center to 29 neighboring counties, Navicent Health in Macon, Ga., provides education to area hospitals, including on topics such as blood pressure monitoring, how to manage diabetes, medication dosing and others. Navicent Health is creating cards and magnets that list warning signs mothers should look for post-partum and what their next steps should be if they develop symptoms like signs of high blood pressure or signiﬁcant bleeding. Educating Patients Emory Decatur Hospital also has patient education materials listing A1 Post Birth Warning signs, which are sent home with all mothers postpartum with guidance – the same guidance that helped encourage one of their own nurses to return for much-needed postpartum care. The nursing staﬀ took that one step further and developed a campaign to standardize practices to minimize and mitigate poor outcomes for mothers. In March 2018, Rose Horton, executive director of women and infant services at Emory Decatur Hospital, created a campaign with the theme #NotOnMyWatch to emphasize the message.
“During my 12-hour shift, I commit [that] nothing is going to happen on my watch.” -Rose Horton, executive director of women and infant services, Emory Decatur Hospital
“During my 12-hour shift, I commit [that] nothing is going to happen on my watch,” said Horton. “I’m going to be vigilant, proactive and patient-centered.” The eﬀort to rally nurses around the concept of owning their practice is more than a catchy hashtag. It has improved metrics for the hospital, which delivers 300-350 babies each month. Horton shared results of the campaign at GaPQC’s second annual meeting in April 2019, an event a ended by more than 55 member hospitals. For years, being born in Georgia has been a risk factor for overall health, with Georgia ranked at the bo om nationally for maternal mortality and for many infant health indicators. GaPQC, which includes representation from physicians, nurses, birthing hospitals, regional perinatal centers, patient advocates and professional organizations, is united in its vision for a future where having a baby in Georgia is a predictor of good health, not poor outcomes. Dr. Padmashree “Champa” Chaudhury Woodham is the director of maternal-fetal medicine at Navicent Health and a member of GaPQC and the MMRC. “These groups provide invaluable resources, and more hospitals contributing to this data will only improve those resources and ultimately help us all improve maternal and fetal health outcomes,” said Woodham. “Every birthing hospital in our state should be a member of GaPQC.” Breaking Down Barriers Only 80 of Georgia’s 159 counties have an OB-GYN present, and labor and delivery (L&D) units have closed across the state. In the last 21 years, 31 L&D units have closed, making it harder for women living in rural areas to receive timely obstetric care in emergent conditions. “The consequences to the community and surrounding communities are exponential. Closure of
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L&D units in rural areas makes adequate care for some residents impossible,” said Crisp Regional’s Thompson, noting their closest regional perinatal center is more than 35 miles away. “Some don’t have enough time oﬀ work to travel to a physician in another town, and others don’t have the means.” Another barrier may be race. Figures compiled by the CDC show that black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts. For example, postpartum cardiomyopathy occurs more frequently in the African-American population. The reasons are multifactorial, according to Harris at Wayne Memorial Hospital, who believes it may be related more to socioeconomics than race. “More studies are needed to be er understand the diﬀerence in mortality rates in Caucasians and African Americans, but it certainly also comes down to resources, ﬁnances and overall socioeconomic status,” said Harris. “I have some expectant mothers – black and white – who get to my oﬃce by walking.” Thompson echoes Harris’ thoughts on socioeconomics as a potential barrier to care. “Research shows that African-American women may be more likely to be uninsured, as well as have higher rates of preventable diseases and chronic health conditions,” she said. “They may often face larger ﬁnancial barriers to care and experience unintended pregnancies at three times the rate of white women, according to the Center for American Progress.”
The Center for American Progress also states, “Despite pervasive racial disparities in maternal and infant deaths, public a ention has only recently focused on this issue as a public health crisis.” Additionally, incomplete and less reliable data on maternal mortality means a complete picture of the crisis is not yet available.
Crisp Regional Hospital staﬀ train with a simulation mannequin as part of education to improve patient care. Crisp received grant funding to purchase the mannequin as part of an initiative to improve maternal health outcomes in Georgia.
Clear and Imminent Change According to an editorial published in Georgia Health News in January 2019 by Dr. Michael Lindsay and Dr. Jane Ellis of Emory University School of Medicine who are chair and co-chair, respectively, of the Georgia MMRC, the maternal death rate needs to be examined more factually.
Lindsay and Ellis cite several eﬀorts that are under way to improve the reporting and collection of data, as well as implement health interventions to prevent maternal mortality. First, the Online Analytical Statistical Information System (OASIS) is where DPH houses standardized health data. The system generates maternal mortality data using a “pregnancy checkbox” to provide information for death certiﬁcates. It is checked oﬀ if the mother was pregnant at the time, or within one year, of death. Unfortunately, since there is no standardization completion process for the checkboxes, individuals often complete them incorrectly due to a lack of proper training on how to identify and document pregnancy criteria. Moreover, this information on the death certiﬁcate is not required to be veriﬁed by health care personnel. Eﬀorts to improve the reporting and collection of data include training for individuals who input data using the pregnancy checkboxes. Lindsay and Ellis believe this will help ensure that the calculation of maternal death rates will be more accurate and in line with those determined by the MMRC. Second, the implementation of safety bundles in Georgia’s hospitals, coupled with Georgia’s participation in the AIM collaborative, should help decrease the risk of maternal morbidity and mortality. Finally, during the 2018 legislative session, House Bill (H.B.) 909 mandated the “Maternal Levels of Care” national initiative in the state of Georgia, which provides for the designation of hospitals based on their ability to care for high-risk pregnancy patients. The classiﬁcations range from Level I, or basic care, to Level IV, regional perinatal health care centers, which are equipped with resources and expertise to eﬀectively handle pregnancy complications. In fact, steps have already been taken to accommodate those patients who require special care. According to the Georgia Health News editorial, “Georgia has a regionalized system of perinatal care. Each hospital has a designated perinatal center and can transfer a pregnant woman with pregnancy complications to one of these six centers for specialized care.” Another positive eﬀort is the work of Centering Georgia, a coalition of partners, including GHA,
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who are dedicated to improving maternal and child health outcomes in Georgia. The workgroup initiated in 2013 under the leadership of the March of Dimes and in partnership with the United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Centering Healthcare Institute. It is designed to build statewide capacity and infrastructure so the CenteringPregnancy® model can be implemented in local communities statewide. CenteringPregnancy brings 8-10 women, all due around the same time, together for their care. Centering group prenatal care follows the recommended schedule of 10 prenatal visits, but each visit is 90 minutes to two hours long, giving women 10 times more time with their provider. Once health assessments are complete, the provider facilitator and staﬀ facilitator “circle up” with moms and support team members to lead discussion and activities designed to address important and timely health topics.
Dr. Padmashree “Champa” Chaudhury Woodham is the director of maternal-fetal medicine at Navicent Health and a member of Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative and the Maternal Mortality Review Commi ee.
Each year, Georgia hospitals handle more than 120,000 births. Eﬀorts to change the narrative for maternal health in Georgia are gaining the momentum they deserve, and hospitals throughout the state are commi ed to protecting the lives of Georgia’s mothers and babies.
Fairview Park Hospital staﬀ members a end the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ga in 2019.
Fairview Park Hospital: Caring for Community Fosters Physician Recruitment By Lindsay Black Fairview Park Hospital With many rural hospitals closing their doors recently, Dublin-Laurens County is thriving, with new physicians moving to the area at a consistent rate. According to Don Avery, president and chief executive oﬃcer of Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, many physicians prefer to practice in a smaller town that is community oriented. “In the last 10 years, we have added nearly 60 doctors to the staﬀ here at Fairview Park Hospital with a net increase of more than 40 new physicians,” said Avery. “Our recruitment eﬀorts are an example of the outstanding teamwork of our hospital and our community working together to showcase the many beneﬁts professionally and personally that Dublin has to oﬀer.”
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The relationship that Fairview Park Hospital holds in the community continues to foster the support it receives locally. It is the second largest employer in Dublin, and, in the past year, has provided $9.7 million in charity care, $13 million in capital investments, and paid $4.6 million in taxes. This money goes directly back into the community to support schools, ﬁx roads, and help to make our neighborhoods a be er place to live. The growth and development of Dublin, which is just over 50 miles southeast of Macon, have a racted several physicians who have decided to relocate to the city. Fairview Park Hospital is the second-largest employer in the city of Dublin. The medical staﬀ consists of more than 130 active physician staﬀ members and more than 700 employeees.
According to Dr. Andy Bozeman, pediatric surgeon at Fairview Park Hospital, another appealing quality of the hospital and community is the ability to have a work-life balance.
“The medical community here in Dublin is very cohesive, and it enables you to have the best of both worlds,” said Bozeman. “You can practice in a professional se ing with great collaboration with other physicians. Also, I can be the dad I need to be. I can see my patients and then go to my son’s Li le League game. Fairview Park Hospital provides truly community-based health care with a small-town American feel, and I love practicing here.” Through the development of over 45 services lines and specialties, Fairview Park Hospital provides high-quality care to those within its community. Hospital staﬀ members work to provide familyfriendly health events throughout the year, including crafts at the farmers market, and continue to expand services that enable the treatment of more than 112,000 friends and neighbors each year. Fairview Park Hospital’s medical staﬀ consists of more than 130 active physician staﬀ members and more than 700 employees. Since January 2017, the hospital has welcomed nearly 20 new physicians to the Dublin area.
Fairview Park Hospital emergency room staﬀ read to children at a local elementary school.
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Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta opened in 1998 and is a 154-bed, 220,000-square-foot facility.
20 Years, 2 Brothers, 1 Hospital: Children’s Hospital of Georgia By Denise Parrish Augusta University Health
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Just a few months before the Children’s Hospital of Georgia (formerly MCG Children’s Medical Center) in Augusta was dedicated, Amy Ashley delivered a 9-pound baby boy at 41 weeks in Greenwood, S.C. But there was a problem. “Austin was having trouble breathing, and they were trying to ﬁgure out what was wrong. I was so scared,” said Ashley, who was just 17 at the time. After taking X-rays, doctors discovered that only one of the baby’s lungs had developed. Further complicating things, his intestines and other organs had been pushed up into his chest cavity while he was in the womb. Baby Austin was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia, a hole in the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. Only about 1 in 5,000 babies are born with this condition.
“There was nothing more they could do for him in Greenwood,” said Ashley, “so he was helicoptered to MCG (the Children’s Hospital), because they have the highest-level NICU for babies.” After landing in Augusta, the newborn was rushed inside and quickly placed on ECMO, an artiﬁcial heart and lung bypass system. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is the full name of this lifesaving device, but “ECMO” is easier to say and less overwhelming to hear when your baby is clinging to life. “They told me Austin had only about a 20 percent chance to live,” Ashley said. “I was away from my family. They were in Greenwood, and I was in Augusta . . . It was very scary and stressful.” Ashley recalls Deborah Wall, a neonatal nurse and ECMO specialist at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, who took the time to explain to her what was happening and why her baby had to be connected to this daunting bundle of tubes, pumps and electronic monitors. “The thing was, this baby had a bad prognosis,” Dr. Robyn Hatley said, pointing out the dangers of a congenital defect he has seen far too often over 30 years as a pediatric surgeon with the Medical College of Georgia. “Most babies born with a diaphragmatic hernia have just a 50 to 60 percent chance of survival,” he said. Austin’s odds were not even half that good. On day 14 of ECMO – which was the maximum number of days allowed at the time – the Children’s Hospital of Georgia physician told Ashley it was time to take the infant to the operating room to repair the hernia and work on reordering his jumbled organs. “We were able to pull the organs down and close the hole in his diaphragm,” Hatley remembers. “As bad as things were, ultimately, he did very well.” Ashley said Austin had a second surgery in Augusta to remove a length of his intestines. “They kept him for two months after that, so by the time we were discharged (in mid-April), I was just ready to get home,” she said. Remarkably, Austin’s second lung developed fully, and the only signs of his initial distress were the occasional breathing treatment and bouts with high blood pressure, according to Ashley. Ashley’s baby is no longer a baby. Austin turned 20 in 2018 and has dreams of becoming a chef. “He loves to cook,” said Ashley, “and he hopes to go to culinary school.” Austin holding Trice’s hand while he is on ECMO.
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Coincidentally, the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, whose expert staﬀ saved Austin’s life, also celebrated its 20th birthday in 2018. Perhaps the biggest irony of this story came in June 2016 when Ashley’s third son Trice (Freddie Hagood III) was delivered by C-section at 37 weeks. A whopping 11 pounds and 7 ounces, the nurse told Ashley that Trice was the biggest baby she had ever seen. That excitement was short-lived. “He wasn’t crying or making any sound, and I just knew something was wrong,” Ashley said.
Baby Trice on ECMO, an artiﬁcial heart and lung bypass system.
Despite repeated positive results from gestational testing and ultrasounds, Trice was critically ill. Doctors suspected hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a very dangerous condition in which the heart muscles are abnormally thick, upse ing blood ﬂow to the heart and through the body. “While I was pregnant, I was his lifeline,” said Ashley, explaining how that could have skewed the earlier tests. “My body had been doing all the work for him. So when they cut the cord, everything shut down.” Like his big brother Austin, Trice was ﬂown to the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Georgia for emergency neonatal care. But he kept ge ing worse. As neonatal experts at Children’s Hospital worked to isolate the problem and explore the family’s options, they asked Ashley if she had ever heard of “ECMO.” “I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’” she said. What’s more, on the same day Trice arrived by helicopter in Augusta, Austin (her ﬁrstborn son saved by ECMO), was graduating from high school in South Carolina. Despite having just undergone major surgery to bring her baby into the world, Ashley and her family made arrangements to “wheelchair” her in so she wouldn’t miss Austin’s graduation. Then she was quickly whisked away to Augusta to be with baby Trice. The ECMO situation was diﬀerent for Trice. He was kept on ECMO for 28 days, which was twice as long as Austin. As a pioneer in ECMO technology and the ﬁrst hospital to develop ECMO in the Southeast, the international award-winning ECMO team at Children’s Hospital of Georgia has developed multiple lifesaving protocols for babies with various conditions who need ECMO since the program began in 1985.
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Dr. Zahid Amin, MCG’s William B. Strong Endowed Chair and pediatric cardiology chief at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, discovered an aneurysm. “He told us Trice was the ﬁrst baby to have one where he had it in his aorta. Dr. Amin had to have a stent specially made for him,” Ashley said. In addition, he told her that he had never done this particular procedure and that he had never heard of anyone else doing it either. Amazingly, Trice did well, too. He is now 3 years old. “We just went last week to see his cardiologist and we don’t have to go back for three years. He has some ﬁne motor skill issues, because he was on ECMO for so long, but he is improving every day with therapy,” Ashley said. “Trice loves just about anything with wheels . . . trucks, cars, even stroller wheels,” Ashley continued. She said that Sesame Street is his thing, especially if she wants to get him out of a bad mood. With so many years between 20-year-old Austin, middle son Dylan, 16, and the baby, Ashley said she wondered how the boys would adapt to such an age gap after Trice was born. “Austin spends more time here now than when he lived at home,” she laughed. In fact, she said the boys are always taking Trice to the park, to get ice cream, or do some other fun activity.
“They really are very close,” she said. These are precious moments the boys would not have, conceded Ashley, had it not been for the exceptional team at Augusta’s only children’s hospital. “I love them. They are absolutely wonderful,” Ashley said. “If I ever hear of anybody who needs to go there for ECMO or any other situation, I’d give them my 100-percent recommendation.”
Brothers Austin and Trice were both saved by ECMO at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
This year, proceeds from Augusta University’s 2019 President’s Gala on Oct. 26 will beneﬁt the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and will go to help patients like Austin and Trice. Visit www.augusta.edu/presidentsgala for more information on the event. twentyfourseven Fall 2019
Names in the News January Floyd Polk Medical Center received a Level IV trauma designation from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Northeast Georgia Health System President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer Carol Burrell was named to Georgia Trend magazine’s list of 100 Most Inﬂuential Georgians. Navicent Health entered into a strategic combination with Atrium Health. Tony Welch was named senior vice president and chief human resources oﬃcer of Phoebe Putney Health System. Fairview Park Hospital opened a new imaging center. Piedmont Henry Hospital opened a new obstetric emergency department.
February Navicent Health President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders was named to Georgia Trend magazine’s list of 100 Most Inﬂuential Georgians. Floyd Medical Center President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer Kurt Stuenkel received the Regent’s Senior Healthcare Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives. Northeast Georgia Medical Center received veriﬁcation of its Level II Trauma Center from the American College of Surgeons. Emory Healthcare opened the Emory Women’s Center in Johns Creek.
Kevin Bierschenk was named chief executive oﬃcer of Union General Hospital, Inc. Navicent Health opened the renovated Beverly Knight Children’s Hospital in Macon. Gwinne Medical Center’s intensive care unit received a Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Southern Regional Medical Center opened a senior behavioral health unit. Hamilton Medical Center was named a Top Hospital by Georgia Trend magazine. Cartersville Medical Center celebrated the opening of the new Cartersville Urgent Care facility. Piedmont Atlanta Hospital earned the Apex Quality Recognition from the American Association for Respiratory Care.
March J. Sco Steiner became president and chief executive oﬃcer of Phoebe Putney Health System, replacing Joel Wernick, who retired after a 30-year tenure.
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Cindie Nobles was named chief ﬁnancial oﬃcer of Fairview Park Hospital.
Michael Burne was named chief executive oﬃcer of Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.
Wayne Memorial Hospital opened the Nancy and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion, a branch of St. Joseph’s/Candler.
Shepherd Center founder Alana Shepherd, WellStar Health System President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer Candice Saunders, Grady Health System Chief Executive Oﬃcer John Haupert, and Piedmont Healthcare President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer Kevin Brown were named to JAMES magazine’s list of Most Inﬂuential Georgians.
Coﬀee Regional Medical Center was selected as the 2018 Georgia Emergency Medical Service of the Year by the Georgia EMS Association. Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital began the process of becoming a Level II trauma center. Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Cancer Services received the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Jamie Shepherd was named chief operating oﬃcer of Shepherd Center. Coliseum Northside Hospital was named a ﬁve-star hospital by the Hospital Quality Initiative of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Dr. Gerald Feuer of Northside Hospital performed his 4,000th robotic surgery at the hospital.
April Gwinne Medical Center announced the expansion of its Graduate Medical Education program to include the addition of a sports medicine fellowship. Mary Chatman, vice president of WellStar Health System and president of WellStar Kennestone and WellStar Windy Hill hospitals, was named one of only 18 U.S. executives to be selected for the Baldridge Executive Fellows Program. Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital received its sixth consecutive Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
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Hamilton Medical Center opened the Anna Shaw Children’s Institute to provide services to children with autism spectrum disorder, a ention-deﬁcit/ hyperactivity disorder and other developmental disorders.
May Navicent Health Baldwin celebrated the renovation and opening of its new emergency room. Piedmont Healthcare was certiﬁed as a Great Place to Work. Cartersville Medical Center, Coliseum Medical Centers, Coliseum Northside Hospital, Fairview Park Hospital, Houston Medical Center, Optim Medical Center-Ta nall, Piedmont Newnan Hospital, Redmond Regional Medical Center, Tift Regional Medical Center, WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital, and WellStar West Georgia Medical Center earned the 2019 patient safety excellence award from Healthgrades. AdventHealth Gordon earned the 2019 patient safety award as well as the outstanding patient experience award from Healthgrades. Emory University Hospital, Northside Hospital, Northside Hospital Forsyth, Northside Hospital Cherokee, Tanner Medical Center – Carrollton, and Tanner Medical Center – Villa Rica earned the 2019 outstanding patient experience award from Healthgrades.
Memorial Health earned designation as a primary stroke center by DNV GL-Healthcare.
Jeﬀerson Hospital opened a rehabilitation facility.
Stephen Porter was named chief executive oﬃcer of Piedmont Faye e Hospital.
Janice Dunn was named chief ﬁnancial oﬃcer of St. Mary’s Health Care System.
St. Mary’s Hospital earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval Certiﬁcation for total hip replacement, total knee replacement and spine surgery.
Piedmont Henry Hospital opened 18 new emergency vertical treatment rooms, created for patients with non-emergent complaints who come to the emergency department.
The Northside Hospital Auxiliary marked its 50th anniversary.
WellStar Kennestone Hospital celebrated the graduation of 10 residents from its inaugural Graduate Medical Education Residency program.
Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital and Piedmont Atlanta Hospital were named to the list of 100 Great Hospitals in America by Becker’s Healthcare.
June Phoebe Sumter Medical Center earned state certiﬁcation as a remote stroke treatment center. St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital was designated a remote treatment stroke center by the Georgia Department of Public Health Oﬃce of EMS and Trauma. Ma Wain was named chief executive oﬃcer for Emory University Hospital, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, and Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods. Clinch Memorial Hospital opened a new primary-care practice. Phoebe Putney Health System was recognized as a pinnacle level in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative through the Compass Practice Transformation Network. Northeast Georgia Medical Center earned the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines Target: Stroke Honor Roll Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta among the nation’s top pediatric hospitals for 2019-2020. Piedmont Newton reopened its renovated emergency department. WellStar West Georgia Medical Center broke ground on the renovation and expansion of its Enoch Callaway Cancer Center. Children’s Hospital of Georgia performed its ﬁrst robotic surgery on a 3-year-old pediatric patient. Tift Regional Medical Center unveiled Southwell as the new name for its overall system of care. Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center graduated 14 residents from its inaugural Graduate Medical Education Program. Shepherd Center was recognized in Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Best-in-State Employers for 2019.
July Navicent Health Chief Information Oﬃcer Omar Awan was named a ﬁnalist for the Georgia CIO of the Year Orbie Awards.
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center Lumpkin opened in Dahlonega.
Piedmont Henry Hospital celebrated 40 years of service to its community.
Brandon Hargrove was named chief executive oﬃcer of Burke Medical Center.
Hamilton Healthcare’s Anna Shaw Children’s Institute received the Award of Merit from Healthcare Design magazine.
Coliseum Medical Centers established its Emergency Medicine Residency Program. Augusta University Health received the GHA Community Leadership Award for its “BreathEasy” initiative. Joel Wernick, former president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, received the GHA W. Daniel Barker Leadership Award. Sen. Dean Burke, chief medical oﬃcer of Memorial Hospital and Manor, received the GHA Distinguished Service Award. South Georgia Medical Center received the Get with The Guidelines Resuscitation Gold Award and the Resuscitation Silver Award.
Todd Isbell, MSN, RN, NE-BC, was named chief nursing oﬃcer of Memorial Health. Eﬃngham Health System was named a ‘Top Hospital in Georgia’ by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
August Gwinne Medical Center opened the new GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center. Doctors Hospital of Augusta opened its new Maternal Fetal Medicine Center. Teressia Shook was named chief ﬁnancial oﬃcer of Clinch Memorial Hospital.
St. Mary’s Health Care System earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for heart failure care.
Northeast Georgia Medical Center received the HPV Cancer Free Partnership Award from the American Cancer Society.
East Georgia Medical Center opened a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Northside Hospital and Gwinne Health System began combined operations.
Katrina Keefer was named chief executive oﬃcer of Augusta University Health.
John Hoover was named chief operating oﬃcer of Eastside Medical Center.
Member of GHA? Did you know the Daily News Clips and GHA This Week are available to all employees of GHA member hospitals? If you would like to receive them, contact Erin Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org. 30
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For the Love of Medicine Physician Couple Retires After More Than 30 Years of Service Dr. Gandhiji Y’Chili and Dr. Samrajya Gogineni have been devoted to the practice of medicine and serving the citizens of Southwest Georgia for three decades. Recently, the husband and wife team decided to retire – Y’Chili from Phoebe Gastroenterology and Gogineni from Phoebe Primary Care. Y’Chili, who was born and raised in India, came to Albany in 1983 and was the founding provider of Albany Gastrointestinal Clinic. In 1998, the clinic merged, becoming Albany Gastroenterology, PC., and later joined Phoebe Physicians, creating Phoebe Gastroenterology.
Dr. Gandhiji Y’Chili (L) and Dr. Samrajya Gogineni (R) pose with Dr. Suresh Lakhanpal (center), president of Phoebe Physicians, after being honored for their contributions to health care in Southwest Georgia.
Y’Chili has served on Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s medical staﬀ since December 1983 and provided leadership as the director of Phoebe’s Digestive Disease Center. Gogineni, an internal medicine physician, has been a part of Phoebe Physicians for the past 11 years, serving the community at Phoebe Primary Care at Laurel Place in Leesburg.
Care Close to Home for Lumpkin County Residents New Hospital Opens in Dahlonega Residents in Lumpkin County now have a hospital close to home. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Lumpkin opened earlier this year at the former Chestatee Regional Hospital building at 227 Mountain Drive, Dahlonega. NGMC Lumpkin provides emergency services 24/7, inpatient services, imaging, laboratory services and pharmacy support. A future NGMC Lumpkin is being developed on 57 acres just south of the intersection of Georgia 400 and Highway 60 and is tentatively scheduled to open in 2022.
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How a Tax Credit is Transforming Rural Health Care Ameris Bank supports communities, one dollar at a time By Erin Stewart
Mention paying taxes and you will probably hear some groaning. Although done begrudgingly, we’ve come to accept taxes as a part of life. Of course, taxes are also legally required for corporations and individuals alike. Therefore, it is not surprising that the average person likely appreciates an opportunity to receive tax credits and/or deductions, whether through charitable donations, itemized deductions, etc. Now, consider the economics of rural hospitals. What does this have to do with tax breaks? In 2016, the introduction of the Rural Hospital Tax Credit not only made donating to eligible rural hospitals more a ractive, but it also appealed to Tift Regional Medical Center is one of 16 hospitals to beneﬁt from Ameris Bank’s individuals and corporations who donation to rural hospitals. could beneﬁt from tax credits. What began as a 70 percent tax credit on donations was bumped up to a 100 percent tax credit in 2018. In other words, individuals, couples and businesses can donate to a rural hospital(s) and can deduct 100 percent of that contribution from their taxes, up to a certain threshold. This opportunity, in addition to the tax break, was what made the donation a ractive to Ameris Bank, a publicly traded bank that serves customers across the Southeast. The organization made statewide headlines in March 2019 when its leadership strategically made the decision to donate a total of $1.65 million to support 16 rural hospitals in Georgia.
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In the three short years since the Rural Hospital Tax Credit program has been established, many hospitals have already beneﬁted from the extra funding and have been able to further their ability to provide quality health care. The bill provides an excellent chance for communities to be a part of the revitalization of Georgia’s rural hospitals. “We saw this program as a way to make sure our tax dollars go back to the communities we serve,” said Nicole Stokes, executive vice president and chief ﬁnancial oﬃcer of Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp. “It’s a way for us to support those communities where we do business.” One of the ways in which Ameris Bank was introduced to the tax credit was through its municipal lending division, which works with some of the hospitals eligible for donations. Additionally, there are some bank board members, market leadership, and senior presidents who serve on the boards of the hospitals. “Health care is one of those areas that aﬀects everybody,” said Stokes. “Everyone deserves good health care. We’re supporting the hospitals, but we’re also supporting the communities where our colleagues work and live. These are the hospitals that our colleagues and customers go to and we want them to get the best medical care. So, anything we can do as a company to help support that, and our customers, is very appealing to us.”
“Health care is one of those areas that aﬀects everybody. Everyone deserves good health care. We’re supporting the hospitals, but we’re also supporting the communities where our colleagues work and live.” - Nicole Stokes, executive vice president and chief ﬁnancial oﬃcer of Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp. Regarding future plans, Stokes says that as long as the legislation doesn’t change and the tax credit maintains its appeal, they plan to donate for the long term. “We are really excited about the program and see it as a real plan for supporting our communities,” she said. She also has simple advice for the eligible rural health care organizations’ marketing eﬀorts on the program. “Ask the businesses in your community for donations,” she said. “The worst they can say is, ‘No.’ But I would encourage any business to look at the credit and see if it ﬁts into their tax strategy.” “We know companies like Ameris Bank care about their employees and the communities in which they live, work, play and raise their families. Supporting their local hospitals with a HEART (Helping Ensure Access to Rural Treatment) contribution is a great expression of this care,” said Rosalyn Merrick, director of stakeholder engagement for the Georgia HEART Hospital Program, which was
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established to help qualifying rural hospitals with the administrative responsibilites of the program. Merrick added, “Since the inception of this program, we have witnessed excitement in the business community about supporting rural hospitals during these challenging ﬁnancial and demographic conditions.” Indeed, other big-name companies have seen the value in supporting Georgia’s rural hospitals. Draﬃn Tucker, LLP, a national corporate accounting ﬁrm, has contributed more than $430,000 to rural hospitals over the last two years. “As a ﬁrm that has worked with rural hospitals for more than 40 years, we understand just how important these hospitals are to the rural communities they serve,” said Jeﬀ Wright, ﬁrm managing partner. “We feel it is important to support them in any way we can so they can continue to provide the care and services these communities so desperately need.” Having a strong market presence is a priority for Ameris Bank, especially in rural communities. According to Stokes, the bank can help strengthen hospitals in other ways, through deposit pricing and products, as well as through their municipal lending division that has worked with hospitals regarding cash ﬂow and debt issuance. “We want to be the bank of choice for our hospitals,” said Stokes. “We love our rural communities and we are strong believers in supporting our communities. We believe in the power of giving back. Our purpose is to provide ﬁnancial peace of mind to the communities we serve, and we feel like this donation helps us live up to that purpose.”
Georgia Hospitals Supported by Ameris Bank’s donation through the Rural Hospital Tax Credit Brooks County Hospital Coﬀee Regional Medical Center Colqui Regional Medical Center Crisp Regional Hospital Donalsonville Hospital Eﬃngham Hospital Grady General Hospital Irwin County Hospital Jasper Memorial Hospital John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital Liberty Regional Medical Center Meadows Regional Medical Center South Georgia Medical Center – Berrien Campus South Georgia Medical Center – Lakeland Campus Tift Regional Medical Center WellStar Sylvan Grove Hospital 34
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University of Georgia football Coach Kirby Smart (center) with Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer founders Teresa and Jay Abbo .
Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer How a small team of people ensures that 100% of money raised goes to help the community By Erin Stewart “They thought maybe she wasn’t going to make it. When we met with the oncologists, they were giving her about a 45 percent chance of survival.”
When Jay Abbo recalls the trying time in September 2003 when his wife, Teresa, was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer, he is overcome with gratitude at her full recovery. Only 18 months after her diagnosis, Teresa was not only fully recovered, but she also started feeling be er and like her old self. She, Jay and their family were so tremendously thankful that they felt compelled to give back and work to help other families who were dealing with the same diﬃculties. They immediately signed up to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Walk for Breast Cancer. Rather than raising money by asking for donations from family and friends, Jay and Teresa decided to be more creative in their fundraising. It was then that Jay came up with the idea to have a charity golf tournament. But the Abbo s didn’t want to have just a generic golf tournament. They wanted something special. Knowing the town
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of Athens and its love for the University of Georgia (UGA) Bulldogs, Jay wanted to involve them somehow. Luckily, there was already a connection: At the time, the Abbo s’ son, Chris, was a student and football player at UGA. One day, while watching the football practice, Jay met then head football coach Mark Richt on the ﬁeld and explained his idea. “I explained that it would be really unique if the Georgia Bulldogs football team would help us put on the golf tournament,” said Jay. “Without a moment’s hesitation, Coach Richt said ‘Absolutely, yes. Whatever we can do.’ So that’s how Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer – the charity and the name—was born.” That ﬁrst charity event of Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer (BBBC) raised about $5,000 and the Abbo s donated every cent to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (Komen) and continued to do so for ﬁve years. “We originally planned to have the event only one year, but it was so popular and such a big success that we kept doing it,” said Jay. BBBC held its 15th annual golf tournament earlier this year. The event has grown to be one of the most popular in the community and, in fact, the Abbo s now hold a second golf tournament later in the year. But the growth of the charity is not the only thing that changed. After the ﬁrst few years, the Abbo s began closely evaluating exactly where the money they raised was going. Knowing that some of the money they donated to Komen went to administrative costs, they decided to focus on ﬁnding a way to do something more local where all dollars raised could go directly to helping women in the community. “We wanted to do something where 100 percent of the money we raised, because we worked so hard to raise it, would go to help women and not to administrative costs,” said Jay. Enter St. Mary’s Foundation, which was founded in 2001 with the mission to improve and enhance services provided by St. Mary’s Health Care System in Athens. Chris had been treated for football injuries at St. Mary’s and, impressed by the care his son had received, Jay felt like the hospital would be a great partner in his and Teresa’s eﬀorts. He reached out to Crysty Odom, then St. Mary’s foundation director, and discussed a partnership. “It’s been transformative for us at St. Mary’s to be involved with this charity,” said Odom, who retired recently. “The relationship we’ve had with the Abbo s and will continue to have has brought so much wonderful support for women facing breast cancer. It’s really a blessing.” L to R: Jay and Teresa Abbo and Leslie and Dwight Over the years, BBBC has donated more than $500,000 to St. Mary’s Foundation for the hospital’s Standridge present a check from the proceeds of Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer to St. Mary’s Foundation.
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breast cancer care program. The ﬁrst year, they donated about $18,000 and in the most recent year, about $125,000. Odom and her staﬀ have always included the Abbo s in determining how the money is spent. “We have a very cooperative relationship with Jay and Teresa on how the funds are spent,” said Odom. “We always include them in our decision-making, and they are always supportive of where we choose to direct the funds.”
St. Mary’s Health Care System President and CEO Montez Carter (center) a ends the 2017 check presentation from Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer. The funds help provide breast health services to women in the community.
St. Mary’s Foundation has been able to purchase much-needed materials and resources for women recently diagnosed with cancer. The donated funds have also gone toward the purchase of two 3D mammography machines, which have been used to provide free mammograms and serve even more patients than before.
“That was huge for us, being able to purchase the 3D mammography machines,” said Odom. “It’s reduced wait times and has enabled us to treat more patients.” Early on, the charity golf tournament caught the a ention of a endee Dwight Standridge and his wife, Leslie. In 1988, when Dwight was a freshman at UGA, he tragically lost his mother to ovarian cancer when she only 37 years old. She had been diagnosed, and received treatment, at St. Mary’s Health Care System. The fact that St. Mary’s is so involved with Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer was very appealing to Dwight. “I really appreciated that the money was going to the place that treated my mother so well,” he said. “My mom and I were very close, and she instilled in me the importance of helping others, giving back and doing good deeds. She had a huge heart and was always involved in things that beneﬁted others.” For the past several years, Jay, Teresa, Dwight and Leslie have been the “core” of the charity, dedicating countless hours to it, despite each of them having full-time jobs. When Dwight came on board, he had several ideas on how they could raise more money, grow the charity, and was a key reason the charity now hosts the additional golf tournament mentioned above. Each fall, after both tournaments, BBBC holds a ceremonial check presentation to St. Mary’s Foundation. Usually held at a local restaurant, it is always a well-received and very cheerful event for everyone involved. A few years ago, the foundation decided to hold the event at the hospital’s mammography center. Unbeknownst to Jay and Teresa, St. Mary’s had dedicated the waiting room of the mammography center to the charity. “It was really touching and made Teresa and me feel so good that they thought enough of our charity
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to do that,” said Jay. “They really make us feel like rock stars. You’d think we were donating millions and millions of dollars.” Although BBBC doesn’t donate “millions and millions of dollars” (at least not yet), in addition to the funds it raises, it does oﬀer something arguably more valuable than money – hope. “Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer is a beacon of hope in the ﬁght against breast cancer,” said Ansley Martin, current foundation director. “BBBC has, and will continue to make, a tremendous impact on St. Mary’s Breast Health Services and the patients we serve. Jay, Teresa, Dwight and Leslie are passionate about their mission and are leaders in the truest sense. We are honored they are part of our St. Mary’s family.” In addition to the two golf tournaments, there are a few other events throughout the year that help raise money. A specialized T-shirt is designed and sold; local breweries have special events where they donate the proceeds to the charity; and there was recently a Yeti® cooler raﬄe. “Anything we can do to help raise money, we do,” said Jay. For Dwight, the charity is a great way for him to honor his mother. “It’s great to see the money going into the community to make lives be er,” he said. “And for me, personally, each year we present the check to St. Mary’s, it’s a nod to my mom because that is why I got involved in the ﬁrst place.” As for the future, both St. Mary’s and BBBC see the relationship lasting for the long term. Odom summed it up best: “There really aren’t words to express how we feel about Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer and the Abbo family. They are one of a kind.”
The University of Georgia Bulldogs football team helped give Bulldogs Ba ling Breast Cancer its unique name and wide recognition in the Athens community.
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W. Daniel Barker Leadership Award: Joel Wernick
GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers and GHA Chair and CEO of Grady Health System John Haupert present the W. Daniel Barker Leadership Award to Joel Wernick, former CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System.
Joel Wernick began his tenure as president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System in 1988 and remained in this role for 30 years. During those three decades, he transformed a single community hospital with limited specialized services into a thriving regional health system that has expanded access to care for hundreds of thousands of Southwest Georgians and has services, technology and a workforce that rival those found in larger urban health systems. Throughout his leadership of Phoebe, Wernick remained passionate about expanding access to primary and specialty care to the community to allow people to stay close to home for high-quality care. He was instrumental in developing a pipeline strategy to recruit physicians to the Albany area and to establish Phoebe as a regional hub for medical education and training future physicians. Since its inception 25 years ago, the Phoebe Family Medicine Residency has graduated 125 physician residents, with 60 percent of those still practicing in Georgia, most of whom are in Southwest Georgia. In 2005, the ﬁrst campus of the Medical College of Georgia’s statewide education network was established at Phoebe. In 2011, the UGA College of Pharmacy opened its Southwest Georgia Clinical Campus at Phoebe. Finally, in 2017, Phoebe opened a modern housing community for the physician residents and medical and pharmacy students training at the health system. In addition to his physician growth eﬀorts, the health system itself has grown in many ways during Wernick’s leadership. In addition to the growth of the medical staﬀ from 167 to 312, Wernick oversaw the formation of Phoebe Physician Group, which employs more than 175 physicians and 135 advanced practice providers. The system acquired a critical access hospital and helped rebuild a new Phoebe Sumter Medical Center when a tornado destroyed Sumter Regional Medical Center in 2007. Wernick is actively involved in many local civic and economic development initiatives. He chairs the Southwest Georgia Alliance for Progress, a regional coalition to strengthen economic, educational and cultural infrastructures that support the Marine Corp Logistics Base of Albany. He has also served as a member of the University of Alabama at Birmingham adjunct faculty and is a member of the Albany Chamber of Commerce and the Albany Rotary Club.
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Distinguished Service Award: Sen. Dean Burke
Sen. Dean Burke with the staﬀ of Memorial Hospital and Manor.
Sen. Burke is the chief medical oﬃcer (CMO) of Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge, where he oversees medical staﬀ aﬀairs and employed physicians and physician practices. He has served Senate District 11 since being elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2013. Since then, through his roles as CMO and a legislator, he has been instrumental in supporting the work of Georgia’s hospitals to transform the delivery of health care. In 2013, he sponsored a bill requiring the Department of Public Health to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Commi ee to review maternal deaths and devise solutions to this public health crisis to ensure that childbirth is safe for every woman in Georgia. As vice chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Commi ee and chairman of the Senate Health Subcommi ee of Appropriations, Sen. Burke supported state budget increases in emergency department reimbursement, including a 20 percent increase and 40 percent increase for urban and rural hospitals, respectively. He was also instrumental in raising the Rural Hospital Tax Credit to 90 percent from 70 percent during the 2017 Georgia General Assembly session and then to 100 percent during the 2018 session. During the 2019 legislative session, Sen. Burke sponsored a bill that extended the sunset for the Rural Hospital Tax Credit and would create an oﬃce of Health Strategy and Coordination that, among other things, will develop innovative approaches to stabilizing costs while improving access to quality health care. The bill also included language to update and modernize certiﬁcate of need while maintaining the health planning process that preserves access to health care for all Georgians.
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Community Leadership Award: Augusta University Medical Center After noting that a number of community businesses still permi ed smoking indoors during business hours, the Augusta University Medical Center (AUMC) Respiratory Care team worked with other community partners to form BreathEasy Augusta. This coalition, which includes AUMC, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, Family Y of Greater Augusta and the Georgia Cancer Center, works to educate the community, raise awareness of the dangers of The Augusta University Medical Center Respiratory Care team reviews a patient’s secondhand smoke and advocate chart and lung images. AUMC oﬀers free lung screenings to community smokers who qualify based on factors like age and number of years smoked to assist in early for smoke-free workplaces. lung cancer detection.
The coalition was originally formed in 2012 to urge local lawmakers to consider a smoke-free ordinance. This request stemmed from a 2005 statewide smoking ordinance that banned smoking in restaurants and places that serve people under age 18, yet permi ed smoking in bars and similar adult establishments. The coalition dedicated countless hours to the task of producing and distributing marketing materials and advocating to lawmakers. Their hard work was rewarded with the passage of legislation that resulted in a new law that bans smoking in virtually all enclosed public spaces. The law took eﬀect on Jan. 1, 2019 and helped make all community businesses safer for employees in the workplace. With cleaner air more available to its community, AUMC also recognized the need to assist those individuals who smoke, both with their health care and with smoking cessation. With a focus on early detection of smoking-related illnesses, AUMC, through a partnership with the Community Awareness Access Research and Education (c-CARE) at the Georgia Cancer Center, began oﬀering free lung screenings to smokers ages 50-80 who have smoked a pack of cigare es a day for 20 years or more. Smoking cessation assistance was also a priority for AUMC because of a Federal Housing Administration requirement that a tobacco-free policy be in place for all public housing by mid2018. In partnership with Augusta University’s Georgia Prevention Institute and the Georgia Cancer Center, AUMC worked with the Augusta Housing Authority to provide onsite tobacco cessation counseling and resources for public housing residents. All residents of 12 public housing communities were invited to participate in the Augusta University Tobacco Cessation Program, which uses evidence-based methods to help participants quit tobacco.
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Legislator of the Year Awards: Sen. Butch Miller and Rep. Ron Stephens This year, GHA was pleased to present Sen. Butch Miller and Rep. Ron Stephens with the Legislator of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding legislators who, through their eﬀorts in the Georgia General Assembly, promote legislation that helps ensure health care access for every Georgian. Honorees also demonstrate support of GHA’s legislative goals, support the work of Georgia’s hospitals to transform the delivery of health care and are recognized throughout the health care community as tireless advocates for hospitals and the patients and communities they serve.
Sen. Butch Miller
Sen. Butch Miller has served as the President Pro Tempore of the State Senate for the past two years and is a nine-year veteran senator. In his leadership role, he guides his caucus and the entire chamber through passionate debate on complex legislation and political nuance. Sen. Miller’s eﬀorts on House Bill 180 helped to create an oﬃce of Health Strategy and Coordination that, among other things, will develop innovative approaches to stabilizing costs while improving access to quality health care. The bill also included language to update and modernize certiﬁcate of need while maintaining the health planning process that preserves access to health care for all Georgians. A pharmacist by trade, Rep. Ron Stephens is a 22-year member of the House of Representatives and serves as the Chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Commi ee and Member of the House Health Appropriations Commi ee. During the 2019 Session, he worked with the hospital community on a bill to bring meaningful reforms to the Certiﬁcate of Need program while protecting Georgia hospitals’ ability to serve all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
Rep. Ron Stephens
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Hospitals: Financial Pillars for Their Communities By Earl Rogers
The strength of our communities relies on hospitals. Think about what these facilities mean to you, your family and friends. It is hard to imagine not having a hospital nearby to a end to our health care needs. If we need immediate medical care, where do we go? Who is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and treats everyone, regardless of ability to pay? Yet, we drive by these institutions daily and many of us do not think twice until a medical emergency threatens our well-being. “Georgia hospitals are the life blood of our communities,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) Chair and Grady Health System CEO John Haupert. “The ﬁnancial beneﬁt of a local, thriving hospital is that it contributes to a strong economy. Hospitals employ thousands of Georgians and, at the same time, provide state-of-the-art health care.” Georgia’s 180-plus hospitals generate billions of dollars for the economy every year. “Hospitals beneﬁt just about all of us, whether directly or indirectly. Aside from impressive statistics, like the delivery of more than 121,000 babies and admi ing nearly 4.3 million emergency room visits in 2017, Georgia hospitals also contributed over $54 billion to local and state economies, according to the most recent economic impact report by GHA,” said Haupert. In 2017, hospitals spent more than $23.4 billion to serve communities. These expenditures generated an estimated $54.7 billion in state and local economic activity, which translates to $2.34 for every $1 of hospital expenditures. The single largest expenditures are wages and salaries for hospital employees. In fact, hospitals are a major source of jobs in their communities. In 2017, hospitals directly provided more than 150,000 full-time jobs. When an employment multiplier is applied to this number, it indicates that hospitals supported an additional 370,000 full-time jobs in the state. The employment multiplier considers the “ripple eﬀect” of direct hospital expenditures on the economy, such as medical supplies; durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals; and retail establishments that depend on the hospital and its employees for business. When the directly and indirectly supported jobs are combined, over 520,000 jobs can be a ributed to the presence of hospitals. This reﬂects 11.98 percent of all jobs in Georgia.
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The GHA Economic Impact Report also measures hospitals’ direct economic contributions to Georgia’s working families. Using a household earnings multiplier, the report determined that hospitals generate more than $22.2 billion in household earnings in the state. The household earnings multiplier measures the increased economic contributions from individuals employed directly or indirectly by hospitals through daily living expenditures. “Despite these contributions, many of our hospitals face extreme ﬁnancial pressure,” said Haupert. “Each hospital is doing everything possible to ensure its stability and remain economically beneﬁcial.” Georgia residents who are uninsured or underinsured and unable to pay hospital bills continue to add to the uncompensated care challenges that hospitals, both rural and non-rural, face. In 2017, Georgia hospitals absorbed more than $2.1 billion in costs for care that was provided but not paid for. In the same year, Georgia’s uninsured To see the full Economic Impact Report, visit www.gha.org. rate was 15.4 percent, the ﬁfth-highest in the nation behind Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Alaska. The national average is 10.2 percent. Additionally, Medicaid pays Georgia hospitals only about 87 percent of actual costs, meaning hospitals lose 13 cents on every dollar spent treating a Medicaid recipient. Unfortunately, many hospitals have been forced to close due to dire ﬁscal strain. Since 2012, nine Georgia hospitals have closed and others, especially those in rural areas, are ﬁghting to keep their doors open. The most recent Georgia Department of Community Health Hospital Financial Survey shows that, in 2017: • 44 percent of all hospitals in Georgia had negative total margins; and • 50 percent of all hospitals in Georgia showed operating losses on direct patient care. “It is extremely important that our rural hospitals remain open,” added Haupert. “It is unfortunate that some Georgians have to travel extreme distances to receive quality health care.” In addition to the ﬁnancial pressures hospitals face, shortages in physicians, nurses and other areas have become quite an issue across the state. “Our hospitals face many challenges on a daily basis,” said Haupert. “But the backbone of these facilities, the staﬀ, do a fantastic job of treating patients and ensuring their wellbeing. Each hospital is ﬁlled with heroes who, like hospitals, contribute greatly to our communities.”
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2018 Hospital Hero Awards Luncheon
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The 2018 Hospital Hero Award winners were celebrated at a special ceremony and luncheon on Nov. 2, 2018. GHA is pleased to be able to honor outstanding individuals from our member hospitals each year through the presentation of these prestigious statewide awards. The 2019 Heroes will be honored on Nov. 1.
Visit our YouTube page to see the Hospital Heroesâ€™ stories. youtube.com/GaHospitalAssoc twentyfourseven Fall 2019
Improving Behavioral Health Care An opportunity awaits By Jeff Sunderland The Georgia Hospital Association is proud to have psychiatric/chemical dependency hospitals as members. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in 2017, one out of every ﬁve adults suﬀers from behavioral health-related issues. By partnering with each of these hospitals, as well as working with state and federal lawmakers, GHA hopes to help member hospitals and patients with adequate coverage of behavioral health services throughout the state. One way to tackle this widespread issue is by participating in the GHA Council for Psychiatric and Chemical Dependency Hospitals. This group, chaired by Wayne Senfeld, Tanner Health System senior vice president of business development and behavioral health, reaches out across the health care spectrum to ﬁnd solutions. “We have a sensitivity to mental illness,” said Senfeld. “The Council for Psychiatric and Chemical Dependency Hospitals works to identify innovative ways to improve mental health.” The council met recently and heard presentations from Henry County Superior Court Chief Judge Brian J. Amero and Restoration Rome representatives Bonnie Moor and Jeﬀ Mauer. Restoration Rome provides foster and adoptive services. “Our goal as a council is to bring everyone to the table to address this very important issue,” said GHA Vice President of Government Relations Anna Adams. “The Georgia legislature is commi ed to improving mental health. GHA endeavors to spearhead eﬀorts to coordinate all appropriate hospital services to act as one and come up with real solutions.” Amero presented to about 17 members of the council in late May. Representatives from Anchor Hospital, Hillside Hospital, WellStar Health System, and Augusta University Health were in a endance. “We can make signiﬁcant changes in behavioral health in the next couple of years,” said Amero. “But it is an issue we must tackle together. The problem is behavioral health oﬃcials do not know what criminal justice is doing and criminal justice does not know what behavioral health is doing. We have great models in existence but need careful coordination.” Amero gave several examples of how behavioral health has caused severe stress to families. In some cases, he said, a person was arrested and did not receive the necessary counseling. Instead of
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receiving care from licensed professionals, the person was detained and ended up hurting others or himself or herself. “There is an opportunity for collaboration between hospitals and counties,” said Amero, who leads a statewide commi ee addressing behavioral health. “I look forward to working with you [the Council]. The jails, police, courts, hospitals and everyone need to work together to improve behavioral health. Everything we do should be data-driven.” Both Mauer and Moore presented on how Restoration Rome is working to bring public, private, and faith-based partners together to strengthen and restore children and families in need. According to the Restoration Rome website, more than 370 children wake up each day with uncertainty of their care. This growing crisis has reached an alarming rate, with an average three times that of other counties in Georgia. Various agencies in Floyd County do not have the resources to eﬀectively serve the children. “Every day, hundreds of Floyd County children are held in limbo, and every evening, some may be required to sleep in tax-funded hotel rooms or on the ﬂoors of their agents’ oﬃces,” said Mauer. The nonproﬁt organization Global Impact International is partnering with the City of Rome to repurpose a former elementary school building as The Restoration Rome Center for Foster Care Services (Restoration Rome). This single-site location, in addition to being a comprehensive care center for children, will also serve as a medical clinic and training facility to allow community partners to collaborate to help smooth the transition for children entering state care. Other goals are to increase the number of state-approved foster families to receive these children and provide resources to at-risk families to reduce the number of children forced into state care. According to its website, the Restoration Rome Comprehensive Care Center for Foster Care Services is a single-site hub for the following services: • • • • • • • •
Health care support for the underserved Education and mentoring Parenting and family support Foster family support Mental health services Substance abuse prevention Spiritual support Community enrichment
“Whatever we do, we want it to have in an impact everywhere, not just in Floyd County,” said Mauer.
Interested in joining the GHA Council for Psychiatric and Chemical Dependency Hospitals? Contact Anna Adams at email@example.com or 770-249-4530
Adams concluded the meeting by giving a legislative update, speciﬁcally highlighting House Bill (H.B.) 514 by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) to create the Georgia Mental Health Reform an Innovation Commission. “Behavioral health is an important issue to GHA, and we look forward to working with everyone. Together we can, and will, accomplish our goals,” said Adams.
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2020 GHA Membership Meetings Patient Safety & Quality Summit January 8-9, Greensboro, GA
January 10-12, Greensboro, GA
GHA Annual Summer Meeting June 17-19, Amelia Island, FL
Center for Rural Health Annual Meeting August 19-21, St. Simons Island, GA
*GHA meeting app available only to GHA members.