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Contents Acknowledgements Editors Ethan James Erin Stewart Designer Carley Elsberry Contributing writers Leigh Bailey Tyra Brown Kurt Mosley Shea Ross Erin Stewart Jeff Sunderland Contact us: Georgia Hospital Association 1675 Terrell Mill Rd Marietta, GA 30067 Phone: (770) 249-4500 Fax: (770) 955-5801 Email: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission. For permission requests, please contact

3 Executive Corner 3

Letter from the President

4 Cover Story 4

Metropolitan Care in a Rural Setting

8 Our Hospitals

8 Platinum 30 Minutes 11 Meet the Center for Rural Health Board 12 Meet the New GHA Chair 14 Names in the News

16 Features

16 Precious Data 20 Heart of Our Hospitals 22 Patient Access to Physicians 26 Hurricane Matthew: Georgia’s First Coastal Evacuation in 17 Years 28 Rural Hospital Tax Credit Aims to Revitalize Georgia’s Rural Hospitals

30 GHA Now

30 2017 Legislative Priorities 32 2016 Hospital Heroes 34 Distinguished Service Award 37 Georgia Hospital Health Services 38 Raising the Bar 40 Patient Safety Award Winners 42 Get Involved With Like-Minded Peers! 43 Save the Dates

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Executive Corner Although we at the Georgia Hospital Association don’t work directly with patients, we support those who do. That is what drives us each day to advocate, communicate and educate for our members to help them provide the high-quality health care Georgians have come to depend on. In this issue of twentyfourseven, you’ll see many examples of great patient care, including the collaboration between hospitals and emergency medical services staff ensured that patients were kept safe when Hurricane Matthew hit the Georgia coast. You’ll read about the importance of hospital volunteers and how they help connect staff, patients and visitors. There is also a Q&A with our new chairman, Crisp Regional Health Services Chief Executive Officer Steven Gautney, as well as a feature where you’ll see what his health system is doing to continually adapt to the ever-changing world of health care. GHA is extremely proud to support the care our hospitals provide to their patients and communities. As we look toward the year ahead, we anticipate many changes. While we don’t yet know how our health care system will be affected by the 2016 election, we know one thing that will never change: A thriving Georgia health care system depends heavily upon our relationships with our elected officials. It is up to us and our hospitals and stakeholders to educate these policymakers to make sure they understand the issues that are important to us. In this edition of twentyfourseven, you will find a list of GHA’s legislative priorities for the 2017 General Assembly. These are the issues that we know are important not only to our hospital members, but also to ensuring that Georgia’s health care delivery system remains viable and sustainable so that all Georgians have access to the care they need. We look upon the new year with hope and optimism. Whatever events transpire, we are proud to navigate them together with our hospital members.

Earl V. Rogers President and Chief Executive Officer Georgia Hospital Association

To find out more about your community hospitals, please visit us at

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Cover Story

Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele, Georgia

Metropolitan Care in a Rural Setting In a small town, Crisp Regional Hospital offers services you’d find in any major city. Here’s how they do it. By Leigh Bailey Crisp Regional Hospital


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A Level IV trauma center, state of the art medical imaging equipment, gastroenterology, urology, chemotherapy, orthopedic surgery, da Vinci Robotic Surgery, and tele neurology for stroke patients are some of their services. One may think these descriptions apply to a hospital located in a larger area. But in fact, these services are found at Crisp Regional Hospital, located in the small South Georgia community of Cordele. This oncesmall hospital has continued to evolve into one which offers its patients services they previously traveled to larger towns to receive. The growth didn’t happen overnight, nor did it happen without leaders with a vision and a close watch on the finances. Like other rural hospitals, Crisp Regional faces financial challenges in reimbursement, an overburdened emergency department (ED) with “frequent flyers,” 30-day readmissions, and the list goes on. Hospital staff and stakeholders pride themselves in their ability to adapt to change and create innovative ways to address these challenges.

“Crisp Regional is fortunate to remain a stand-alone health system,” stated Crisp Regional Health Services President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steven L. Gautney. “While we are fortunate to have advanced technology, we often have to say ‘no’ when a service is not financially viable. We feel a tremendous responsibility to our patients, employees, and the citizens of the communities we serve to be good stewards of hospital dollars in all efforts to remain financially stable.” The hospital was also one of four in the state to receive the Rural Hospital Stabilization Grant in early 2015. This $3 million, divided evenly among all four hospitals, originated out of Governor Nathan Deal’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee with the purpose of relieving cost pressures on emergency departments and ensuring that the best, most efficient treatment is received by patients. The program focuses on increasing utilization of new and existing technology and infrastructure to increase access to Georgia’s many rural citizens. This is most frequently accomplished through enhanced Wi-Fi and telemedicine equipped ambulances, telemedicine equipped school clinics, federally qualified health care centers and local physicians. One initiative implemented by Crisp utilizing grant funding has been a mobile integrated health care program. This program involves care coordination between Crisp Regional Hospital and Crisp County EMS for patients to address health disparities and reduce 30-day readmissions and “frequent flyers” - patients who frequently visit the ED for care - who place a financial burden on the hospital. The program, which began in January 2016, has proven to be very successful, lessening readmissions substantially and reducing heavy users of the ED by 40 percent. Another successful program implemented through the grant was the Chest Pain project, which improves outcomes for heart attack patients. A STEMI, or ST-elevation myocardial infarction, is a serious heart attack caused by a complete blockage of a heart artery. A non-STEMI is a heart attack caused by a severely narrowed, but not completely blocked, artery. The Chest Pain project was designed to reduce outmigration of non-STEMIs while optimizing time to transfer for STEMI patients. This was done through the purchase of a Lifenet Receiving Station for the Crisp ED and LifePak® 15s for Crisp County EMS. Both the Crisp Regional ED and Crisp County EMS were awarded by the State Office of Rural Health and GHA for their excellence in the provision of STEMI care as a result of this project. “The theme for Gov. Deal’s project is ‘Right Patient, Right Place, Right Time’,” said Gautney. “The purchase of this advanced equipment allowed us to gain medical interpretation of the EKGs performed by EMS in the field and transport the patient to the most appropriate facility in the most optimal time frame for the best possible outcome.” With its relationship as a teaching hospital for Mercer University in Macon and the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Crisp Regional is also looking to the future and producing muchneeded physicians. Jeremy Hill, M.D., the hospital’s chief of staff and Mercer University School of Medicine graduate, had the idea to partner with Mercer to identify medical students interested in practicing in rural areas. “Growing up in a rural area, I was able to see firsthand the impact local physicians had on our community and economy,” said Dr. Hill. “It was always my goal to come back to work in a rural area, and having the opportunity to work in rural areas while in medical school reinforced my vision and simultaneously allowed me to establish relationships with community-based hospitals, including Crisp Regional.”

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Medical students and resident physicians have a unique opportunity with Crisp, as training there allows them to have the experience of practicing in a rural area, but they also have the opportunity to work in state-of-theart facilities and work on a wide range of medical and surgical cases. Add the fact that the hospital has student housing on campus and you have “a prime organization for setting up rotations for medical students,” says Dr. Hill. Crisp Regional’s future, like its past, looks very promising. With its ability to adapt to change and its creation of several partnerships around the community, the hospital has established itself as a pillar of excellent health care. “We are blessed in many ways at Crisp Regional,” said Gautney. “We will continue to be innovative and progressive while focusing on the health and safety of our patients.” Crisp Regional Hospital intensive care unit

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Our Hospitals

The EC145e helicopter is essentially a pediatric ICU in the air. (Photo courtesy of Dustin Chambers.)

Platinum 30 Minutes

The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric ICU helicopter provides life-saving care during a critical window of time By Erin Stewart

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Imagine the terrifying situation of an emergency involving a child. Next, suppose that pediatric patient was an hour’s drive (or more) away from the nearest children’s hospital. When time is of the essence, waiting for an ambulance is not an option. That’s where the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric helicopter comes in. The specialized, child-specific care for which Children’s is nationally known is now in the air in its EC145e paramedical helicopter. It’s a brand-new version that is essentially a pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) in the air and is the first type to be used for medical evacuation and medical transport. With twin engines, it is larger than most paramedical helicopters, which means it can not only fit four crew members with the patient, but a parent can also ride in the front with the pilot. Most medical helicopters carry only a flight paramedic, flight nurse and a patient.

Having the ability to fly directly to patients can mean a world of difference in pediatric care, especially when considering the “platinum 30 minutes” that is referred to with traumatic events involving children. Similar to the “golden hour” of trauma care in which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death, the platinum 30 minutes signifies that for children, this time is even shorter and more precious. During a traumatic event, pediatric patients’ bodies have a tendency to compensate, meaning that signs of shock might not show up as quickly as they do in adults. Children’s bodies will counteract the adverse events happening to them and then “everything just drops,” says Greg Pereira, director of trauma and transport at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Their heart rate and blood pressure drop very quickly. Because of their anatomy and physiology, they are much more susceptible to going downhill quickly so we need to get them to definitive care as quickly as possible – what we use is the ‘platinum 30 minutes.’ It’s the optimal time to get them to the right kind of care and ensures they have the best chance for survival.” Pereira and his team worked directly with the contracting company that retrofitted the helicopter to discuss exactly what equipment would be needed in it. Additionally, discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ensured all equipment was approved for flight use. Equipment includes ventilators, pumps and monitors. The pediatric critical care transport team even has the ability to perform lab work and communicate with providers at the hospital. “Instead of just maintaining airways, we can make adjustments to the ventilator based on lab results,” says Pereira. “So we can actually start making the patients better verses just keeping them stable until they get to the hospital.” Helping make the patients better not only requires specialized equipment, but it also requires specialized staff. Illnesses and injuries in adults can present differently in children because of their unique anatomy and physiology. Additionally, they are growing and developing as they experience illness. That’s why pediatric nurses and medics go through “pretty intense training,” says Pereira, and “that makes us really special.” Having air transport like the EC145e can significantly cut down on the time it takes to get pediatric patients the care they need. Pereira and his team are licensed to respond to the scene, meaning that they can go directly to the scene and bring the patient to Children’s. For example, a few months ago, the helicopter traveled to Columbus to transport a patient not yet four months old who had an irregular heartbeat. “Sending an ambulance there would have taken more than five hours,” says Pereira. “You have two-and-a-half hours there and back, plus time on the scene treating the patient. With the helicopter, we have the patient back to the ICU at Children’s in under an hour and a half.”

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Pereira and his team do between 600 and 700 flights a year, making them the busiest medical base in the state. Depending on the weather, they’ll travel as far as Savannah. In December 2016, they attended the Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) in Charlotte, N.C. Because their helicopter was the first EC145e to be used for pediatric transport, it was selected to be the display aircraft this year for Metro Aviation, the helicopter’s manufacturer.

Photo courtesy of Dustin Chambers.

“We are proud of the kind of treatment we’re able to provide,” says Pereira. “We can do so much more in terms of stabilizing the patient than we used to and I’m really pleased to be a part of that.”

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Our Hospitals

Meet the Center for Rural Health Board Executive Committee Chair Joe Ierardi Wayne Memorial Hospital, Jesup

Mike Hester Liberty Regional Medical Center, Hinesville

Chair-Elect Billy Walker Memorial Hospital and Manor, Bainbridge

Robert Sellers Optim Medical Center - Screven, Sylvania

Immediate Past Chair Michael Purvis Cook Medical Center, Adel

At Large Trustees Matt Gorman Floyd Polk Medical Center, Cedartown

Regional Trustees LaDon Toole Archbold Medical Center, Thomasville

Larry Ebert Northridge Medical Center, Commerce

David Sanders Fanning Regional Hospital, Blue Ridge

Robin Rau Miller County Hospital, Colquitt

Jan Gaston Jasper Memorial Hospital, Monticello

Tripp Penn Upson Regional Medical Center, Thomaston

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Our Hospitals

Meet the 2017 GHA Chair Submitted by Crisip Regional Hospital Some arrive in leadership positions unintentionally as they casually work their way to the top. For others, it might be the result of a goal that began in their younger years. Either way, when one is appointed to lead it is because he or she has displayed the characteristics necessary to take a group in forward motion for the betterment of the organization. Crisp Regional Health Services President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steven L. Gautney, who possesses these admirable qualities and is an example of a proven leader, has been appointed to lead the GHA Board of Trustees for 2017. Gautney began his career more than 37 years ago working as a diversified education student in the operating room of a hospital in Gadsen, Ala., where he transported patients and cleaned floors. He went on to earn degrees in nursing and later in hospital administration, with his first job serving in the surgical intensive care unit at Birmingham Baptist Hospital in Montclair, Ala. Gautney would later go on to work for the Eye Foundation as the Director of Alabama Lion’s Eye Clinic. While at the Eye Foundation, Gautney completed his Master of Hospital and Health Administration and completed a one-year residency with Birmingham Baptist Medical Center’s corporate office. He then became the vice president of administration at Citizens Baptist Medical Center in Talladega, Ala. He rotated in this position between the two hospitals until he was appointed president of Citizens Baptist, where he served until 2010. It was in this same year that he became president and CEO of Crisp Regional Health Services. What attracted you to Crisp Regional Health Services? I was particularly attracted to the opportunity to lead a growing health system. I was especially interested in a hospital with a wide variety of services like physician practices, a nursing home and other post-acute care services. The future of health care is happening both in and out of the hospital, so it’s important to be familiar with these other entities. During my search, the opportunity at Crisp presented itself. I was most impressed by the welcoming community and supportive hospital board. Who are your mentors? I really looked up to a gentleman by the name of Emmett Johnson. He was truly a great leader, and made being an administrator seem like a noble position and a worthwhile way to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Emmett cared about his fellow man, helped people whenever he could, and his example of faith in action translated into an inspirational man to be around. He was a visionary hospital administrator that lived integrity, values, trust and compassion for people. Lowell Hamilton, executive vice president of Baptist Health System, was another mentor of mine. I greatly admired his efforts in expanding the Baptist Hospital to rural areas. He had a vision for taking the best of large hospital administration and translating it into a rural environment. He and Larry Throneberry, another great mentor, created an appreciation for excellence in small hospitals, and together they developed a hospital and health administration residency experience that bridged both small and large hospitals.

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What is the best advice you have ever received? My father always told me, “Do something in life that can help people.” From an early age, I knew I wanted to work in health care, and I feel extremely lucky to have found a job that allows me to be a part of improving the health and wellness of individuals in our community. What were your aspirations when you were younger? To be a leader. Growing up, I saw my dad as a leader. He was an educator and led by a very humble example while making a difference in the lives of his students as both a teacher and administrator. He influenced me to want to be a leader, whether it was when I was playing football or at work. Besides receiving timely and appropriate treatment, what are your goals for the patients of Crisp? I want our patients to receive treatment in an environment that is warm and welcoming, where we send a message that we are here to serve them and that we always have their best interests at heart. We want every single patient to leave here better than when they came and be on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

Everry emplo Every employee o in our hhealth ealth ccare are ssystem plays a role in caring for the health of others. To lead this group is truly an honor.”

What steps is the hospital taking to ensure that the quality of care received rivals that of an academic medical center? I’m not one to take no for an answer, nor to accept limitations because we are “small.” I frequently work with all departments to make sure they are maximizing their potential. I strongly believe that our location and size of community should not hinder us from offering services that you would find in a metropolitan area. I work daily to empower employees always to go the extra mile and not settle for mediocrity. I try to thank and encourage our employees, and I believe that’s part of the reason our hospital consistently provides the outstanding care that our community expects of us. How are you involved in the clinical culture of the hospital with regard to patient safety? The safety of patients is at the forefront of all that we do. I strongly believe in a patient-centered culture. Studies have shown repeatedly that this kind of culture of care results in more positive outcomes and satisfied patients. Additionally, I work to ensure that every employee, from the environmental services staff to nurses and physicians, understand this culture of care. I try my best to see things from a financial, physician and nursing perspective when making decisions that affect the health system. My passion lies in maintaining a safe, healthy environment for our community. What successes of the hospital are you most proud of? Why? Success for me at Crisp Regional isn’t defined by a certain building project, designation, certification or any particular award. It’s actually the people who I see work here and how they take pride in their work. They’re advocates for patients. In a rural community, to be responsible for the health care of loved ones takes inner strength and leadership. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by an outstanding team of health care professionals. Every employee in our health care system plays a role in caring for the health of others. To lead this group is truly an honor.

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Our Hospitals

Names in the News July Navicent Health was named a 2016 Equity of Care Honoree at the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum/ Leadership Summit. Cartersville Medical Center and Rockdale Medical Center were recipients of the GHA Community Leadership Award and were honored at the GHA Summer Meeting. Bacon County Hospital Chief Executive Officer Cindy R. Turner was awarded the GHA Chairman’s Award at the GHA Summer Meeting. Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital was named a 2016 Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for its efforts in helping employees eat healthier and supporting physical activity. St. Francis Hospital received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s “Get With the Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award” with the designation of “Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite.” Northside Hospital earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for lung cancer disease-specific care certification. Northside is the first hospital in Georgia and the sixth in the U.S. to receive this certification.

August Emory Healthcare was the only health care system in Georgia to be named a 2016 “Most Wired Advanced” health care system by the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum and the Hospitals & Health Networks. Christy Jordan, BSN, RN, JD of Southeast Georgia Health System and Michael Boblitz of Gwinnett Health System were named to Becker Hospital Review’s “50 Healthcare Leaders Under 40 – 2016.” The Crisp Regional Emergency Department, Crisp County EMS and Dougherty County EMS were awarded the 2015-2016 STEMI Care of Excellence Award by the State Office of Rural Health and GHA. Memorial University Medical Center’s Amanda Ramirez received a 2016 Buckle Up, America! Award from the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute. Shepherd Center announced its president and CEO Gary Ulicny, Ph.D., will retire March 31 after 22 years at the hospital. Sarah Morrison, Shepherd’s current vice president of clinical services, will be his successor. Redmond Regional Medical Center received awards for quality stroke, heart attack and heart failure treatment from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. All three awards were given in recognition of adherence to “Get With The Guidelines” program. The Studor Group awarded Tift Regional Health System with an excellence in patient care award for achieving significant reductions in employee turnover.

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September Redmond Regional Medical Center received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR ACTION Registry-GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2016. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was named a 2016 Working Mother 100 Best Company by Working Mother magazine. Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well program received a prestigious NOVA Award from the American Hospital Association. The award recognizes community health improvement efforts.

October Piedmont Healthcare and Athens Regional Health Services merged, creating Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, the newest affiliate of the now seven-hospital Piedmont Healthcare system. Northeast Georgia Health System entered into an agreement to purchase Barrow Regional Medical Center. The change is expected to be effective in January. WellStar Cobb Hospital was designated a Baby-Friendly Hospital by Baby-Friendly USA. Tift Regional Medical Center was selected as a Blue Distinction Center for knee and hip replacement by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. St. Francis Hospital’s Cardiac Services program became affiliated with The Emory Clinic’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

November The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) recognized Piedmont Athens Regional as one of 60 ACS NSQIP participating hospitals that have achieved meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care. Rockdale Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Lisa Gillespie, M.D., was awarded the Georgia Hospital Association Distinguished Service Award at the GHA Annual Meeting. Crisp Regional Health Services President and CEO Steven L. Gautney, FACHE, was installed as the 2017 GHA Chair. Grady Health System and Piedmont Newton Hospital became tobacco- and smoke-free campuses, making the use of any tobacco products outside on hospital grounds prohibited. Georgia Hospital Association Chief Medical Officer Doug Patten, M.D., was named associate dean for the Southwest Campus of the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

December Jasper Health Services, Inc. announced it will become tobacco-free on Jan. 1, 2017.

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, twentyfourseven Winter 2016



Precious Data How hospitals are consistently working to prevent cyber-attacks on patient health information.

Technology and hospitals. Two words that, more and more, are intrinsically connected. As technology continues to bring noteworthy benefits and eďŹƒciencies to hospitals, it also brings significant strain on hospital information technology (IT) infrastructure. The health care field is starting to see a surge in cyber security threats. In the past, large corporations were the predominant targets of major cyber security hacks. Now large hospital systems and small rural hospitals are targeted for their valuable patient health information (PHI).

As data breaches have become more and more frequent, consumers and patients alike seek to By Shea Ross ensure that protection of PHI and hospital data is a top priority for hospitals nationally. Hospitals are continually preparing for the increased risk associated with the storage of PHI. A continued reliance on electronic communication, immense growth in technologically advanced medical tools, and the fact that electronic medical records outnumber hard copy data has created an almost perfect environment for hackers to steal data or hold data ransom. While hospital employees may be unacquainted with the hundreds of thousands of threats health care systems face daily, their Chief Information OďŹƒcer and IT team are not. Below is a short list of just a few security threat techniques used to access protected PHI.

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• • • •

Malware: an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. Ransomware: a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Phishing: the activity of defrauding an online account holder of information by posing as a legitimate company. Trojan horse: a program that appears harmless and claims to rid computers of viruses but instead introduces viruses onto computers. Worms: a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. Often, it uses a computer network to spread itself, relying on security failures on the target computer to access a network of devices. Unlike other computer viruses, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program.

Tanner Health System Associate Administrator and Chief Information Security Officer Chuck Collins, CISSP (certified information systems security professional) describes the cyber security measures hospitals are taking to protect their patients and providers. “Tanner’s patients, physicians and administrators have always been fully behind cyber security methods, even when that means extra road blocks are faced to get everyday efforts completed,” says Collins. Protecting patient data has created a sense of confidence within the Tanner community, which only helps with patient care. Collins emphasizes that Tanner has a dedicated security team that is allocated operational dollars, as well as capitol dollars, to fill gaps when needed. These dollars not only assist in the purchase of cyber security tools, but also help hire talented cyber security team members. With tens of thousands of threats daily, Tanner sees the necessity in monitoring internet connections only growing in the future. As far as possible solutions that could assist with cyber security attacks, Collins says, “There is a desire to see the federal and state government take a more aggressive approach to shutting down the negative flow of internet traffic from foreign entities who try to utilize cryptolockers [ransomware] to receive funds.” Like other health systems across the country, Tanner has been proactive in protecting itself — including fostering a relationship with local law enforcement that would be an integral key to recovery. Because of the necessity for companies who house personal data information to offer protection to their consumers, there is a growing demand for individuals who are trained in cyber security. Therefore, several universities have begun to offer programs in this area. Four universities in Georgia now offer graduate degrees in the field. Most recently, Augusta University opened the Augusta University Cyber Institute, where students can earn a master’s in Information Security Management. This degree program is designed for those with technology backgrounds to become information security managers. The institute will focus on health care-related security threats through an additional Health Security Graduate Certificate. This certificate goes hand in hand with the master’s program and focuses on health care-specific security threats.

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twentyfourseven spoke with Dr. Mark Harris, a professor at the Augusta University Cyber Institute, on the importance of cyber security education in Georgia. Dr. Harris stated a current job shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide of over 1 million people. In 2019, that number is projected to rise to 1.5 million open jobs. When asked what changes Dr. Harris has seen in cyber security from five years ago to now, and what changes he believes we will see in the next five years, he answered, “Five years ago, the focus was not on hospitals having data held for ransom, or voting machines being hacked before an election. I expect the next five years to be no different, and I fear even worse for several reasons. One is the shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Without experienced and educated cyber security professionals, organizations will continue to experience higher risk.”

Ass ttime A im me continues, conti and more and dm more ore tthreats hr surface, the dedication of employees and IT professionals to prevent attacks will become the most efficient method of fighting cyber security threats.”

He continued, “Another reason I expect problems in the next five years is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is internetworking many physical devices, such as our refrigerators, thermostats, garage door openers, televisions, medical devices, cars, toys, etc.” Dr. Harris’ candor over businesses’ desire to bring products to market and not ensuring the security of those items should be a consideration of all consumers, especially when it comes to health carerelated products like wearables. Hospital IT and security staff face continuous and ever-evolving cyber security threats. A 2016 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Cybersecurity Survey study indicated 85 percent of hospital and physician practices have increased information security as a business priority since 2015. Georgia hospitals have a good understanding of security vulnerabilities, but, due to financial burdens or lack of resources in rural portions of the state, not all hospitals are able to constantly detect and protect their IT infrastructure from attacks. The Georgia Hospital Association itself faces hundreds of attacks on employee email accounts daily. As hackers continue to try to steal or hold data for ransom, hospitals will need to continue to protect patients and their data. Regarding the future of cyber security for Tanner Health System, Collins states, “Only through cooperation from all of Tanner Health System’s staff do our cyber security efforts remain as effective as they are. As time continues, and more and more threats surface, the dedication of employees and IT professionals to prevent attacks will become the most efficient method of fighting cyber security threats.” If your hospital needs assistance with cyber security issues, GHA can help connect your hospital to appropriate companies competent in cyber security. For more information, contact GHA IT Security Architect Ryan Sanders at 770-249-4566 or

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Heart of Our Hospitals

Hospital volunteers put patients and families at ease By Jeff Sunderland The holidays always offer an opportunity to give. Whether it is via a food collection drive, a used coat drive or a financial donation, millions of Americans take this opportunity to give back.

Hamilton Medical Center Volunteer Pam Ackerman

But one segment of dedicated individuals doesn’t wait until late in the year to start their giving. Hospital volunteers have their calendars inundated with activities to help the health care industry any way they can. In short, they give their time. It may be as simple as wheeling a patient down the hall, offering instructions to visitors, delivering a newspaper or flowers to a patient’s room, managing the gift shop or organizing fundraising activities. But our hospital volunteers do not check the clock. They show up to work to fill in the pieces at our busy and sometimes understaffed hospitals. “Volunteers provide a critical link between staff, patients and visitors,” says Alex Seblatnigg, CAVA, director of volunteer services at Shepherd Center and president of the Georgia Society of Volunteer and Retail Professionals. “While hospital employees provide top quality medical care, the volunteers are often the warm, caring heart of a hospital. The tasks they perform - even those that may seem insignificant - help put patients and their families at ease and make the stay more comfortable. Their contributions are invaluable but make a huge impact every day.”

While hospital employees provide top quality medical care, the volunteers are often the warm, caring heart of a hospital.”

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 62 million Americans volunteered at least once in 2015, the last known report given by the agency. In Georgia annually, approximately 15,000 dedicated friends ranging in age from 15 to over 90 years old spend time helping in our hospitals. Based on a survey conducted among Georgia hospitals, and Independent Sector’s value of a volunteer hour, the estimated value of their time is $40 million. But ask any volunteer about the value of helping a patient or a hospital employee and they’ll say you can’t put a dollar amount on it. They do it simply for the gratification of helping someone.

“GHA is extremely proud of all the great Georgians who wake up each day with the sole purpose of making a dierence in a fellow citizen’s life,â€? said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “I have spoken with many hospitals CEOs throughout the years who often speak of the great value a volunteer brings to our hospitals. And the work they do is priceless.â€? For those who read GHA’s various publications such as the Daily News Clips, this time of year brings many stories of hospital volunteer work. However, every single day of the year, one of the first people you see when you walk through a hospital’s doors is a volunteer. “I became a hospital volunteer because I wanted to help patients. I wanted to make their day a little brighter and be a small blessing in their lives,â€? says Hamilton Medical Center Volunteer Pam Ackerman. “But more often than not, I’m the one who gets the blessing. I go into the rooms and just visit and listen and get an opportunity to really connect with them.â€?

SGMC Volunteer Auxilian Diane Belcher delivers hand-made stockings and crocheted Santa hats to babies born at South Georgia Medical Center during the week of Christmas.

Anyone can volunteer. Even the President of the United States has written proclamations for events, including National Volunteer Week. In essence, the importance of a volunteer is paramount. As Aristotle so eloquently quipped, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.�

The Right Counsel Makes All the Difference. More than 30 Years’ Health Care Experience ˆ;u Ć‘Ć? ;-Ń´|_ -u; ‚oum;‹v Clients in Over 25 States Chambers USA Top Ranking in Health Care AHLA Top Honors #smlclientscomeďŹ rst Toby Watt | Atlanta, GA | 404.962.1026 |

twentyfourseven Winter 2016



Patient Access to Physicians:

Where Does Georgia Rank? By Kurt Mosley Merritt Hawkins Where does Georgia rank relative to other states when it comes to patient access to physicians? That question is put in perspective by a new data resource from Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician search and consulting firm and GHA’s preferred physician search provider. The Physician Access Index, as Merritt Hawkins’ ranking system is called, tracks nearly three dozen metrics that influence patient access to physicians, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) in each state using a variety of proprietary and non-proprietary sources. Metrics include physicians per capita in the state, physicians trained per capita, medical residents per capita who stay in the state, PAs and NPs per capita, percent of the population with health insurance, physician Medicare and Medicaid acceptance rates, household income, states incorporating telehealth, urgent care centers and retail clinics per capita, percent of physicians close to retirement, and a variety of others. Each state is given a score for each metric. The more favorable the metric (i.e., a high number of physicians per capita) the lower the score. Massachusetts, for example, has the most physicians per capita and is given a score of one for this metric, while Mississippi has the fewest and is given a score of 50. At 442 points, Massachusetts has the lowest score and hence the most positive physician access variables, while at 1096, Oklahoma has the highest score and hence the fewest positive physician access variables. Georgia has a relatively high score of 989 and is ranked 44th out of 50 states in patient access to physicians. The chart below shows the highest ranking and lowest ranking states and their cumulative scores based on the 33 metrics considered in the Physician Access Index.

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While these scores paint an overall picture of physician access in each state, there are a number of factors that can influence access within states. Though New York trains more physicians per capita than any state besides Massachusetts and is ranked 11th best for physician access, it ranks 34th in percent of mental health care needs met. New Mexico, which ranks third to last in the overall rankings, ranks sixth in patient encounters per capita in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which traditionally serve as safety net providers for uninsured and underserved patients.

No state is without its challenges and strong points where patient access to physicians is concerned.”

No state is without its challenges and strong points where patient access to physicians is concerned. There are pockets of patients with poor physician access in highly ranked states and pockets of patients with good physician access in states with low rankings. Georgia, for example, though ranked 44th out of 50 states, is ranked 7th in terms of retail clinics per capita, suggesting that patients have greater access to family practice and internal medicine physicians through alternative practice settings. In addition, Georgia received a “B” for incorporation of telehealth services from the American Telehealth Association (TMA), and is given a low (favorable) score of six in this category, as were other states that received a “B.” Georgia has fewer people over the age of 65 than 46 states and so is given a favorable ranking of 4 in this category. It also has relatively few physicians over the age of 60 and therefore is given a low (favorable) score in this category. Georgia also has relatively few physicians who indicated they are at capacity or overextended, and is given a favorable rating in this category. Unfortunately, patient access to physicians in Georgia is limited by a comparative lack of health care insurance per population. Georgia ranks 47th in percent of population without health insurance, 46th in percent of adults (18-64) with health insurance, and 40th in percent of children (0-17) with health insurance. Though Georgia does a good job of providing multiple sites of service for family practice and internal medicine physicians, the state’s ability to provide primary care physicians to its population is limited as it ranks 41st in primary care physicians per 100,000 population. Other serious limiting factors in the state are physician Medicare and Medicaid acceptance rates. Georgia has the 7th lowest Medicare acceptance rate in the nation and the 7th lowest Medicaid acceptance rate as ranked by the Physician Access Index. Georgia also has not expanded Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act,* and therefore receives a ranking of 31 for the metric. Physician distribution in the state is an additional challenge, though Georgia has a more favorable ranking in terms of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) per population than might be expected for a largely rural state. Georgia ranks 23rd in primary care HPSAs per capita and 29th in providers needed to remove HPSA designations per capita. Using Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) data, the Physician Access Index notes that Georgia has met 59 percent of its primary care need, earning a rating of 28th best out of 50 states in this category.

twentyfourseven Winter 2016


Georgia has a ratio of 56.9 NPs per 100,000, 33rd out of 50 states, and a ratio of 33 PAs per 100,000 population, 25th out of 50 states. Georgia is rated as a state with “low” NP practice autonomy which may be one reason for the relatively few NPs per capita in the states, since NPs are more likely to locate in states where they can practice autonomously.

Source: American Association of Nurse Practitioners

As previously mentioned, the Physician Access Index indicates Georgia received a “B” rating for incorporation of telehealth. In addition, Georgia is ranked 13th out of 50 states in terms of urgent care centers per capita, as derived from Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) data, and 7th in retail clinics per capita, as derived from the Convenient Care Association.

Source: Convenient Care Association

While the Physician Access Index shows in what categories states have physician access challenges, it also suggests how these challenges might be addressed. Poverty rates and low per capita incomes can be key barriers to physician access, but these are societal problems that take time to resolve. There is hope for improvement; states like Georgia can take more immediate steps to increase the number of physicians they train by funding residency positions, and they can increase the percent of physicians they retain after training through educational loan repayment and other retention incentives. States also can reduce barriers to telehealth implementation, expand the practice parameters of NPs and PAs, increase or expand FQHCs, and expand eligibility requirements for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, if they have not done so already.*

24 twentyfourseven Winter 2016

Health care is becoming more consumer driven and therefore a greater emphasis is being placed on enhanced access to physicians and other clinicians. This is clearly demonstrated through the exploding number of urgent care centers, retail clinics, free standing emergency departments, ambulatory surgery centers, and online physician appointment services that are being established nationwide. Payment models increasingly reward providers for patient satisfaction, which in many cases is directly tied to how quickly patients can be seen. Merritt Hawkins Physician Access Index offers a new informational resource GHA members may find useful as they consider the issue of patient access to physicians and advanced practitioners. GHA members who would like a complete copy of this resource are welcome to call or email us using the contact information below. ** Kurt Mosley is Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Merritt Hawkins (, a company of AMN Healthcare. He can be reached at or at 469-524-1446. Mark Young is a Senior Marketing Consultant for Merritt Hawkins and can be reached at mark. or at 770-396-4800. *Editor’s note: President-elect Trump has indicated he will work with Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. As of the publication of this article, it is unclear how any reforms would affect the 20 million people currently insured under the law.

twentyfourseven Winter 2016



Hurricane Matthew: Georgia’s First Coastal Evacuation in 17 Years By GHA Staff

Hurricane Matthew reached the level of a Category 5 storm in the eastern Caribbean in early October. It made landfall in Haiti as a Category 4 and dropped to a Category 3 when it hit the Bahamas. By the time it struck the U.S. on October 8, it had fallen to a Category 1. But the 75-mile-per-hour winds were still extremely dangerous and strong enough to result in Georgia’s second coastal evacuation – the only one since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Most hospitals sheltered in place, but some coastal facilities evacuated. Governor Deal’s mandatory evacuation of Georgia’s six coastal counties set in motion a prepared emergency response system. Years of training, emergency exercise drills and collaboration paid off as preparedness agencies and health care coalitions worked together to relocate hospital patients and nursing home residents. Ultimately, every patient and resident at these facilities was safely evacuated before the storm hit. Specifically, 113 patients were evacuated from Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick and approximately 1,200 inpatients were evacuated from hospitals and nursing homes. The State Operations Center, located at the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency,

26 twentyfourseven Winter 2016

and the Emergency Operations Center, located at the Georgia Department of Public Health, were manned to provide oversight, assistance, and communication during the event. Ongoing communication was maintained using a virtual command center called WebEOC and multiple daily conference calls kept all regions of Georgia connected and informed. Requests for help and offers of assistance were communicated in a timely manner. “It was heartwarming and gratifying to see the hospital and EMS communities come forward and volunteer to transport and receive patients – without any proof of insurance coverage or guarantee of reimbursement for care,” said Georgia Department of Public Health Director of Health Protection Patrick O’Neal, M.D. “They did it without question because it was the right thing to do.” After the storm passed, hundreds of residents gradually made their way home. Fortunately, most health care facilities had little to no damage. The hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities opened up shortly after. “I am grateful and pleased that, with the help of Georgia Hospital Association, the medical

At the State Operations Center to assist with evacuation of coastal hospitals and nursing homes are (L to R): Austin Speers, Georgia Department of Public Health; Daniel Pitchford, Georgia Division of Children and Family Services; Jennifer Hogan, Georgia Division of Aging Services; Russ Willard, American Red Cross.

evacuation of patients went smoothly and efficiently, always with the safety and well-being of patients the first consideration,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “The willingness of hospitals to readily accept patients ensured we had more than enough beds for this vulnerable population of evacuees.” Georgia is fortunate to be the recipient of the federally funded Hospital Preparedness and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Programs, which have provided the structure, resources, and expertise that supported our health care and community emergency preparedness partners as they successfully evacuated patients and residents prior to Hurricane Matthew. GHA Director of Emergency Preparedness Adrianne Feinberg praised the relationships among the many different organizations involved in keeping communities and patients safe. “Clearly, the relationships fostered during the past decade helped ensure this successful undertaking,” she said.

State health care coalitions worked nonstop to ensure the safety of Georgia hospital patients. Pictured are Lee Oliver, Marty Billings and Cassie Nanoff from MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service and Russ Mcgee, Peki Prince, Leah Hoffacker, Kelly Joiner from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

twentyfourseven Winter 2016



Rural Hospital Tax Credit Aims to Revitalize Georgia’s Rural Hospitals By GHA staff In March this year, the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 258, which allows for individuals and corporations to receive tax credits for financial contributions made to certain eligible rural hospitals. The rural hospital tax credit bill, authored by Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming), was championed by the hospital community and GHA throughout the 2016 legislative session and could raise as much as $180 million for hospitals over the next three years. The Rural Hospital Tax Credit bill: • Opens the door for many rural hospitals in the state to receive up to $4 million in contributions annually. • Allows $50 million in tax credits in the program’s first year in 2017. • Allows single taxpayers a 70 percent tax credit on donations of up to $2,500 per year. • Allows married couple a 70 percent tax credit on contributions up to $5,000 per year. • Allows corporations a 70 percent tax credit on contributions or up to 75 percent of their Georgia income tax liability, whichever is less. • In addition, contributors may also be eligible to take advantage of federal tax deductions. For individual and corporate taxpayers to take full advantage of the program, Atlanta-based Portage Charity Advisors recently created “Georgia HEART” (Helping Ensure Access to Rural Treatment). Georgia HEART was established as a turnkey solution to help qualifying hospitals, many of which do not have the staff to handle the administrative responsibilities of the program, with marketing, tracking, processing and reporting requirements. GHA, through its subsidiary Georgia Hospital Health Services (GHHS), has worked with Portage to help hospitals take advantage of the new funds. Among other things, Georgia HEART will help rural hospitals promote the new program, process and coordinate taxpayer contributions and provide hospitals a customized online dashboard that will allow them to track the real-time status of taxpayer pre-approvals and contributions. Georgia HEART ( will also provide rural hospitals assistance in preparing a mandatory fiveyear plan detailing the hospital’s financial viability and stability. Notably, Georgia HEART will ensure that donors receive proper tax credit for their contributions, a feature that eases the minds of many rural hospital CEOs, like Mike Hester of Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville. “The last thing I want to do is make a donor angry because of something I’ve done incorrectly and they don’t get credit for their donation,” he says.

28 twentyfourseven Winter 2016

The success of the tax credit depends heavily on hospitals’ ability to promote its importance to Georgia communities. In September, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle announced a task force, known as Rural Healthcare 180, to promote the tax credit. The task force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Cagle and Georgia Poultry Foundation President Mike Giles, will work to enlighten businesses on why they should donate to rural hospitals. It will ensure that businesses in rural communities understand the impact of hospital closures and will assist eligible hospitals with obtaining and using donated funds properly.

I could spend $4 million in about 10 minutes. This type of investment would be extraordinary for the care of our community in the long term.”

The tax credit program will, ideally, prove to be the “booster shot” that rural hospitals need. Since 2013, five hospitals in Georgia have closed and many more have been faced with major financial challenges. In 2014, 66 percent of every rural hospital in Georgia had negative total operating margins. No doubt the contributions received by the hospitals will be put to good use. The bill requires the money to go toward the provision of health care-related services which includes operating expenses, payments on debt, and purchases of capital equipment, renovations and improvements. As Memorial Hospital and Manor CEO Billy Walker explained, “I could spend $4 million in about 10 minutes. This type of investment would be extraordinary for the care of our community in the long term.”

twentyfourseven Winter 2016



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Hospital Heroes GHA honored its 2016 Hospital Heroes at the association’s Annual Meeting in November. For more information on each winner, see their video stories.

Physician Heroes Mac Bowman, M.D., University Health Care System (L); Avril Beckford, M.D., WellStar Health System (R); and Lifetime Heroic Achievement Winner H. Kenneth Walker, M.D., Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University

Hospital Hero Alex Shivers, LMSW, Colquitt Regional Medical Center

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Hospital Hero Della Dean, R.N., Piedmont Newnan Hospital

2017 GHA Chair Steven L. Gautney; Hospital Hero William James, Redmond Regional Medical Center; and GHA President Earl Rogers

Physician Hero Avril Beckford, M.D., WellStar Health System and Lifetime Heroic Achievement Award winner H. Kenneth Walker, M.D., Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University

GHA Chair Steven L. Gautney presents the Hospital Hero award to Dorminy Medical Center’s Butch Rathbun.

Hospital Hero Mike Fordham, Dodge County Hospital (center) with hospital colleagues

Physician Hero Avril Beckford, M.D., WellStar Health System; and Hospital Hero Della Dean, R.N., Piedmont Newnan Hospital

Lifetime Heroic Achievement Winner H. Kenneth Walker, M.D., Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University

Hospital Hero Bob Wilson, DeKalb Medical

Hospital Hero Alex Shivers (R), and Nancy Kautzman, Colquitt Regional Medical Center

Physician Hero Avril Beckford, M.D.; Candice Saunders, FACHE; and Varma Rameswar, WellStar Health System Hospital Hero Della Dean, R.N., (R) and Vicki Kaiser, Piedmont Newnan Hospital

Physician Hero Mac Bowman, M.D., University Health Care System; Lifetime Heroic Achievement Winner H. Kenneth Walker, M.D., Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University; and Physician Hero Avril Beckford, M.D., WellStar Health System

GHA Chair Steven L. Gautney; Hospital Hero Jennifer Phillips, Rockdale Medical Center; and GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers.

How to Nominate your Hospital Hero Nominations for the 2017 contest will open January 6. Visit for more information or contact Erin Stewart at or (770) 249-4513.

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Distinguished Service Award Lisa Gillespie, M.D. Rockdale Medical Center

Dr. Gillespie was presented with the Distinguished Service Award at the GHA Annual Meeting in November.

Rockdale Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Lisa Gillespie, M.D., has positively impacted the lives of patients, colleagues and community residents. She is well known for her passion for patient care, which is evidenced by her work not just as a health care provider, but also her work in the community. Early in her career, she volunteered at the Wayne E. Kerr Clinic, helping Photo courtesy of Rockdale Medical Center. provide care to uninsured patients who had no access to traditional health care. When the clinic closed due to lack of funding, she worked with community partners to open Mercy Heart, a free clinic focusing on treating individuals with chronic medical conditions. Dr. Gillespie served as the clinic’s medical director for several years. In 2003, after seeing an increased need for patients and their families to consult with physicians more frequently while in the hospital, Dr. Gillespie established a hospitalist program at Rockdale Medical Center. What began with three physicians has grown to 12 full-time physicians. As the former medical director of the program, Dr. Gillespie still practices with the group in a part-time capacity, covering weekend shifts at the hospital. In 2014, to help combat the increasing readmission problem that is plaguing hospitals nationwide, Dr. Gillespie, along with several key staff members and community partners, helped found the “healthy@home” Community Paramedicine Program for Rockdale County. The program has achieved great success in reducing readmissions of patients defined as high-risk due to uncontrolled chronic illnesses. The program gives patients access to tools, resources and education to better manage their health. An alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Gillespie also finds time to give back to her alma mater. She mentors minority medical school students, belongs to medical school committees and gives generously to various scholarship funds.

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Georgia Hospital Health Services Georgia Hospital Health Services, the shared services subsidiary of the Georgia Hospital Association, is proud to partner with the following companies. They offering products and services that assist in ensuring the sustainability of hospital resources for a community while financially supporting GHA in its advocacy and educational initiatives.

Exclusively Marketed ARxChange FHA Health Information Management Services Georgia HEART Healthcare Staffing Services MV Managed Care SunRx Wage Index Navigator

Endorsed Services Commerce Bank eReceivables Jackson Executives Meridian Group International Merritt Hawkins National Research Corporation Park Dansan Staff Care TransUnion Healthcare - eScan Platform Vendormate Verge Solutions VIE Healthcare

Product Line Partners Digital Health Product Line American Well Gozio Health Health QRS Mobile Health PREMEDEX RCG Global Services Streamline Health

Operational Product Line Hayes Energy Services Horizon CSA H-Source MedClaims International

GHHS subjects each potential program to a rigorous due diligence process and partners only with companies and programs that are of high quality, provide a benefit to our members, and fit within GHA’s strategic plan.

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Raising the Bar

Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks Aim to Further Reduce Patient Harm By Tyra Brown With potentially fatal infections like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C. diff (Clostridium difficile) making headlines recently, consumers and patients are on high alert regarding hospital infection rates. Because germs are prevalent in a hospital setting, caregivers take special care to prevent the spread of not only infections like MRSA and C. diff, but are also other focus areas other areas of possible harm, such as increased readmissions, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, sepsis. That’s why, earlier this year, as part of a continuation of national efforts to improve patient safety, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) selected 16 organizations to continue efforts in reducing preventable hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions. The Georgia Hospital Association, selected as one of these organizations, was awarded a contract, known as a Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN), to help carry out these efforts. Specifically, the Georgia Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation (GHAREF), in collaboration with the American Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational Trust (AHA/HRET), will work with Georgia hospitals to improve patient safety on 11 core areas of harm, including adverse drug events, falls and readmissions. “Hospitals have always been known for their capabilities regarding treatment of infections,” said GHA Chief Medical Officer Doug Patten, M.D. “Now, hospitals’ highest priority is working to prevent infections. We are working closely with participating hospitals to educate them on everything they can do to eliminate infections and harm and ensure the safety of each of their patients.” More than 90 Georgia hospitals have joined the GHAREF HIIN, which aims to continue the success of the past four years of a previous CMS quality improvement initiative, the Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) and Quality Improvement Network-Quality Improvement Organizations. Nationally, this program saved more than 87,000 lives and $19.8 billion in health care costs. In Georgia, it prevented nearly 21,000 incidents of harm and saved the state’s health care delivery system more than $100 million.

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CMS has raised the bar on their objectives for patient safety improvements in the acute care hospital setting. The HIIN will pursue ambitious new goals of reducing overall patient harm by 20 percent and readmissions by 12 percent by 2019. These efforts continue the strong momentum of the HEN to improve patient care quality. They also support CMS’ work to improve the culture of safety throughout the nation’s hospitals by creating and supporting a high-quality, person-centered approach to health care. In 2017, GHAREF will work with Georgia hospitals to achieve the HRET HIIN goals by providing complimentary ongoing support and resources. Experienced quality advisors, through on-site and virtual technical assistance, will coach hospitals on how to improve their core measures and reduce incidents of harm to patients across the continuum of care. The advisors will also provide instruction on quality improvement, culture change and patient and family engagement. “We are making these resources easily accessible and readily available to our hospitals,” says Dr. Patten. “They will have all the support they need in order to achieve success in improving patient safety.” GHAREF will also assist participating hospitals with monthly data submission, interpretation and analysis. HRET HIIN hospitals have access to clinical topic-specific and peer-to-peer resources, including change packages and case studies. They will also have the ability to connect with their peers and share best practice hospital stories and detailed information on successes and lessons learned.

Our g goal oa al is to provide prov vid de par participants rti w ith alll the the support su with they need in order to achieve success in improving patient safety.”

Georgia hospital staff interested in improving their skills and training to drive improvement can join one of two HRET HIIN Quality Improvement Fellowships, which are a joint effort with HRET and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Participants new to quality improvement can attend the Foundations for Change Fellowship, while more experienced participants can increase their quality improvement skills through the Accelerating Improvement Fellowship. These fellowships provide numerous benefits for participants, who will be coached by IHI Improvement Advisors and gain access to the IHI Open School virtual courses where they will be able to collaborate with peers in various health care professions. A separate fellowship, the HRET HIIN Patient and Family Engagement (PFE) Fellowship, is ideal for hospitals interested in starting a patient/family advisory council or those looking for ideas on how to improve their current councils. This fellowship will provide participants with the knowledge, skills and tools to customize and enhance their patient and family engagement (PFAC) programs and to develop PFE leaders within their organization. Please contact Kathy McGowan with any questions at or (770) 249-4519. For more information visit

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Patient Safey Award Winners The Patient Safety Award winners are honored at the annual GHA Patient Safety Summit in January. These awards recognize health care organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes. GHA applauds these hospitals for their outstanding patient safety efforts: CIRCLE OF EXCELLENCE AWARD Emory University Hospital Midtown Habersham Medical Center Morgan Memorial Hospital Northside Medical Center Redmond Regional Medical Center WellStar Cobb Hospital CRITICAL ACCESS HOSPITALS 1st Place Morgan Memorial Hospital “Blocking Blood Clots and Tackling VTE” 2nd Place Medical Center of Peach County, Navicent Health “Minimizing CAUTI Risk Through Application of Evidence-Based Practices” 3rd Place (Tie) Brooks County Hospital “ED Throughput Initiative” 3rd Place (Tie) Effingham Health System “Reduction of Patient Falls Through Increased Risk Assessments”

HOSPITALS WITH LESS THAN 100 BEDS 1st Place Habersham Medical Center “Improving Transition of Care through Effective Communication” 2nd Place Memorial Hospital and Manor “ED Lean Project” 3rd Place Habersham Medical Center “Falls Prevention Program” HOSPITALS WITH 100 TO 299 BEDS 1st Place WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital “Help Me. Don’t Hurt Me. Reducing CAUTIs” 2nd Place (Tie) Houston Healthcare & Houston Medical Center “Population Health-Preventing Pre-Term Births Among At-Risk Population” 2nd Place (Tie) Northside Medical Center “Decreasing the Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Following Orthopedic Surgery” 3rd Place WellStar Douglas Hospital “Mission NOT Impossible: Strategies to Decrease Clostridium Difficile”

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GHA Now HOSPITALS WITH GREATER THAN 300 BEDS 1st Place (Tie) The Medical Center, Navicent Health “Improving Patient Outcomes via Interdisciplinary Bedside Rounds” 1st Place (Tie) The Medical Center, Navicent Health “Cutting CAUTI” 2nd Place WellStar Cobb Hospital “Interdisciplinary Model for Bedside Medication Delivery to Reduce 30-Day Readmission Rates” 3rd Place Emory University Hospital Midtown “CAUTI Reduction Using Foley Free Zoning” HOSPITAL / HEALTH SYSTEMS 1st Place Columbus Regional Health “Time Always Stops for Patient Safety: All Procedures”

2nd Place WellStar Health System “Outpatient Surgery Center Pre-Op Throughput” 3rd Place WellStar Health System “CT Patient Education Opportunity” JOSH NAHUM AWARD FOR INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL 1st Place Habersham Medical Center “Preventing Surgical Site Infections” 2nd Place Redmond Regional Medical Center “kNOw Sepsis: Identifying the Signs and Symptoms Early to Reduce Mortality and Improve Patient Care” 3rd Place Piedmont Newnan Hospital “The Road to Zero: Reduction in HospitalAcquired Clostridium Difficile”


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Get Involved With Like-Minded Peers! GHA hosts 14 affiliated societies that promote and enhance the practice of a given profession in a health care setting. Spanning several health care disciplines, GHA affiliated societies provide a forum for members in similar fields to exchange information on current practices and to explore the impact of health care issues on their professions.

• Georgia Association for Development Professionals (GADP) • Georgia Academy of Healthcare Attorneys (GAHA) • Georgia Association for Healthcare Facility Managers (GAHFM) • Georgia Organization of Nurse Leaders (GONL) • Georgia Society for Clinical and Resource Management (GSCRM) • Georgia Society for Healthcare Chaplains (GSHC) • Georgia Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy(GSHCA) • Georgia Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (GSHHRA) • Georgia Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations (GSHMPR) • Georgia Society for Healthcare Materials Management (GSHMM) • Georgia Society for Healthcare Physician Services and Recruitment (GSHPSR) • Georgia Society for Managed Care (GSMC) • Georgia Society of Volunteer and Retail Professionals (GSVRP) • Georgia Society of Healthcare Executive Assistants (GSHEA) For more information, contact Leigh Beakley, director, personal membership services, at (770) 249-4503 or

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Save the Dates! Patient Safety Summit January 11-12 Ritz Carlton, Greensboro

Trustee Conference January 13-15 Ritz Carlton, Greensboro

Continuous Survey Readiness (CSR) Orion-Georgia Annual Winter Meeting February 16-17 King & Prince, St. Simons

Nurse Leadership Institute June 7-9 Hilton Head Marriott, SC

Annual Summer Meeting July 19-21 Amelia Island, FL

Center for Rural Health Annual Meeting August 16-18 King & Prince, St. Simons

For more meetings and information visit *Dates and Location subject to change

twentyfourseven Winter 2016