Court Ruling; Measles; Blizzard

MHA MidWinter Leadership Forum Postponed to Feb. 27

Last week’s blizzard, and the Friday storm that followed, caused MHA to postpone its Mid-Winter Leadership Forum that was scheduled for January 30. The 300-plus attendees were informed by e-mail and personal phone calls by MHA staff, who – following the state’s emergency declaration – were out of the office and working from home on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The make-up date for the much-anticipated Forum is Friday, February 27 at the same venue – the Sheraton Framingham. The same moderator and speakers will be available on that day. If you have any questions or concerns about your previous registration and the new date, please contact Jill Ettori in MHA’s Center for Education & Professional Development at (781) 262-6059 or jettori@mhalink.org. 

Minor Rule Changes Allowed During Blizzard

Healthcare is perhaps the most-regulated sector of the economy, with hospitals, physicians, clinics, ambulance companies and other divisions responsible for meeting numerous state and federal guidelines from a host of agencies.  However, during a blizzard or other disaster-type event, regulators flex a bit to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers. During last week’s blizzard, MHA participated with the state in informing hospital workers about the emergency waivers DPH issued that took effect between 5 p.m. Monday through 5 p.m. Thursday.

For example, the entire Emergency Medical Services system – essentially ambulances that transport patients – is governed by regulation 105 CMR 170.000.  DPH waived some elements of the rules, such as the one that defines an “appropriate” healthcare facility as an emergency department in a hospital or satellite facility.  DPH added “emergency shelters” to the list of appropriate facilities. That slight change was necessary to allow ambulances to transport people to shelters because many of the normal means of transportation – such as step vans – were off the roads during the blizzard.  Other rule changes allowed discharged patients to get a larger supply of certain drugs (14 days) from a hospital pharmacy due to the fact that patients would have a hard time getting out and about to refill prescriptions. 

Suffolk Superior Court Rejects Partners/AG Settlement

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders on Thursday rejected a proposed consent agreement that former Attorney General Martha Coakley had worked out with Partners HealthCare relating to Partners’ acquisition of South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System’s Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.

Days before, the current AG Maura Healey said if the court rejects the pact allowing Partners to take control of the three hospitals she would then void the agreement and would be prepared to bring Partners to court if it proceeded with the mergers.

The judge’s 48-page decision explaining her rationale is here .

In a message to the Partners community following the decision, Partners President and CEO Gary Gottlieb, M.D., called it “very disappointing.” He wrote: “Our Population Health Management initiative requires that primary care physicians and community hospitals are clinically and financially tied into our system.  We have shown that this connection can help promote a more effective and efficient pathway for our patients, across our continuum of care, from our academic medical centers, to our rehabilitation and long-term care, as well as our behavioral health and other specialty services.”

As to what will happen next, Gottlieb said, “Our leadership team will now take the time to evaluate all of our options.” 

CMS Relents on Meaningful Use Reporting

In response to input from healthcare providers and others about the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs, CMS is considering shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days to address provider concerns about their ability to fully deploy 2014 Edition software.  CMS is also considering realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality programs.  CMS said in a notice on Thursday that while it intends to pursue the changes through the rulemaking process, the changes will not be included in the pending Stage 3 proposed rule. CMS intends to limit the scope of the pending proposed rule to Stage 3 and meaningful use in 2017 and beyond. 

Did Your Patient with a Rash Attend the Super Bowl?

The CDC has put out a nationwide health advisory warning clinicians to be aware of the multi-state measles outbreak, which between December 2014-January 2015, has resulted in more than 50 people in six states reported to have measles. Most cases were tracked to an outbreak at Disneyland in California.

Of greater concern to Massachusetts are the seven cases in Maricopa and Pinal counties, Arizona. The Super Bowl is taking place in Maricopa County and many people from New England are on the ground there attending the game. The incubation period for measles ranges from 7 to 21 days after exposure to onset of fever; rash usually appears about 14 days after exposure.

The CDC and Massachusetts DPH are urging healthcare professionals to consider measles when evaluating patients with febrile rash. Clinicians are encouraged to ask about a patient's recent international and domestic travel history, make sure patients’ vaccinations are up to date, and promptly isolate those suspected of having measles.

Report measles immediately to local health departments and to DPH at 617-983-6800.  Cases diagnosed in Boston should be reported to the Boston Public Health Commission at 617-534-5611.

For more information, including guidelines for patient evaluation, diagnosis and management, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/hcp/.

Did Your Patient with a Rash Attend the Super Bowl?

The flu in Massachusetts is widespread across the state, and moderate in intensity, according to DPH’s weekly flu report. Influenza-like illness (ILI) is defined as fever above 100.01 in addition to either cough or sore throat. According to DPH, the number of this year’s (2014-15) flu cases is above last year’s (2013-14), but the number of cases has not yet reached the especially bad 2012-13 season. Laboratory-confirmed flu that resulted in hospitalizations began to spike over the past two weeks in Massachusetts.  Weekly flu reports are posted on the state’s Public Health Blog. 

Spaulding's Banks to Lead AHA Council

Congratulations to Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Maureen Banks, R.N., FACHE, who has been named the 2015 chair of the American Hospital Association’s Section for Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation Governing Council.  The council advises AHA on member service strategies, public policy issues, advocacy positions, and emerging issues, as well as serving as a channel back to the post-acute care.

Banks is the President of Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, Spaulding Hospital Cape Cod, Spaulding Hospital North Shore, Spaulding Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Chief Operating Officer of Spaulding Rehab Hospital and the Spaulding Rehab Network.  

2015 Emerging Leaders Program
April 28, May 21, & June 16, 2015
9 A.M. - 4 P.M.
MHA Conference Center at Executive Park, Burlington, Mass.

Healthcare in America and in Massachusetts is undergoing rapid, disruptive and persistent change that continues to be under the public microscope. It will take visionary leaders to transform healthcare organizations and deliver outstanding services in this dynamic environment. MHA’s Emerging Leaders series is tailored to hospital professionals who seek to elevate their management skills within this challenging environment. This year’s series will teach managers about the changing healthcare system and how to be nimble and thrive as effective leaders. The 3-part program is a blend of knowledge of the healthcare landscape, an in-depth look at healthcare finance (with particular focus payment reform), and a leadership development day which will help managers/directors better understand their competencies and how to leverage their skills to lead.

The opportunity for dynamic information exchange and development of a professional colleague network is an added bonus of this program. Class size is limited; programs are spread out over three months, including a webinar and two in-person sessions held at MHA’s Conference Center in Burlington from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Register yourself or a member of your staff today!

John LoDico, Editor