Today, November 15th, the New Hampshire Hospital Association is proud to join other state and national rural stakeholders in celebrating National Rural Health Day.

National Rural Health Day was created to recognize those who serve the vital health needs of nearly 60 million people residing in America’s rural communities, and the importance of rural healthcare providers who work tirelessly to address the barriers patients face in accessing healthcare when they need it.

New Hampshire has 13 Critical Access Hospitals throughout the state that support their communities by delivering high quality healthcare in very rural, underserved areas of the state.  These hospitals are engaging in innovative programs like telehealth medicine that allow New Hampshire’s rural health providers to coordinate care, stay connected with each other and urban tertiary care centers.  In addition, they partner with the state’s tertiary care hospitals to bring expert, specialty care to rural patients where they live through a variety of collaborations.  They collaborate with the State Office of Rural Health, rural healthcare providers and others to create partnerships that improve the health and well-being of their communities.

Beyond the issue of care, rural hospitals also serve as economic engines for the communities they serve, often existing as the largest employers in their communities for generations of families.  New Hampshire’s rural hospitals recruit and sustain physicians, specialists and other clinicians to provide care, and the availability of that care is an important factor in attracting business and industry to our state. 

It is because of their efforts in ensuring access to care and status as community and economic anchors, that the Rural Health Coalition (RHC), which helps to coordinate the work of New Hampshire’s 13 critical access hospitals, is being honored with the 2018 Community Star recognition from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), along with colleagues across the country for delivering excellence in rural health settings over the past year.  The RHC is led by a CAH CEO each year and we were fortunate to have Maria Ryan, Ph.D., CEO at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, NH, who served in that role this past year.  Mike Peterson, President of Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, NH, will serve as Chair in the coming year.

It is because of the dedication and commitment of New Hampshire’s rural health care leaders to ensure their communities have access to healthcare, and the compassion with which they deliver that care to their patients and families, that we honor New Hampshire’s rural healthcare providers today and every day. 

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

The Rural Health Coalition recognized as a 2018 Community Star by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH)

Community Star image

The New Hampshire Hospital Association and the Foundation for Healthy Communities recently held their Annual Meeting at the OMNI Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, bringing together over 330 healthcare leaders and partners from across the state to celebrate the work being done by all, and to honor those who have made significant contributions to hospitals and the healthcare field.

This year’s annual meeting, Leading the Way to a Healthier New Hampshire, reminded us how leading together to find solutions to the challenges we face as a state is what makes our work so meaningful.  As community leaders, responsible for delivering high quality, compassionate care to the patients and communities who depend on you, there are multiple challenges and demands your organization must balance so that you can deliver on the promise of the blue and white H that we see in our communities of being there when patients and families need us most.

The challenges our state and healthcare system face today are many: a rapidly changing financial model as health care reimbursement moves from volume to value; a mental health crisis that continues to see dozens of patients in an acute psychiatric crisis wait days, sometimes weeks in hospital emergency departments while they await placement for the appropriate site of treatment; a substance use and opioid epidemic that is devastating New Hampshire’s citizens and families; a shift to a health care system that is focused on improving the health of the population, not just on taking care of patients when they are sick; addressing workforce shortages and many others.

The sessions and conversations throughout this year’s annual meeting were thoughtful, collaborative and engaging, and we’re grateful for the opportunity of bringing leaders throughout the state together around relevant topics that affect us all.  However, we wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of our sponsors who make this meeting possible, so we extend our deepest appreciation to our 2018 Annual Meeting Sponsors listed below.

We’d like to congratulate our newly elected and re-elected board members, as well as celebrate our outgoing board members, for their commitment and dedication to their hospital, the healthcare field, the Association and its member hospitals.  A full press release highlighting incoming and outgoing board members can be found here.

And finally, one of our favorite segments of the annual meeting is having the chance to honor New Hampshire’s healthcare leaders and executives who have made significant contributions to their hospital or the healthcare field, so congratulations again to our all of our award recipients.   For a full list of our 2018 Award Recipients, please click here.

We look forward to continuing these important conversations and working together over the next year to make New Hampshire healthier.

Steve Ahnen

President

 

2018 Annual Meeting Presentations

 

Leading the Way

Today marks the 17th anniversary since the horrific attack on our country on that fateful Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001.  I was working in Washington, DC at the time as a senior executive at the American Hospital Association and was on my way over to a meeting with state hospital association executives from around the country, when we passed by the White House and saw staff members pouring out of the building after being told to evacuate for fear that hijacked United Flight 93 was headed to Washington. 

The moments following 9/11 have left a searing image in the minds of Americans across this country.  It was a day that changed everything.  But it was also a day that reinforced so much of what is right and what is good. 

The image below was taken outside of the emergency room at the Virginia Hospital Center, a community hospital in Arlington, Virginia where many of the victims of the plane crash from the Pentagon would have been taken.  Unfortunately, those victims never came because so many perished when the plane flew into the Pentagon.

 

September 11

 

When thinking back to those fateful events of 9/11, this picture is such a powerful reminder of the important role hospitals have, and will continue to play, as institutions who are always there, ready to care for the patients and communities who depend on them.  It really is a promise of hope, health and healing.  And it’s one we see play out every day across New Hampshire and this country as hospitals stand ready to care for those in need. 

Let us pause and pay our respects to those who lost their lives on September 11, but also to thank the women and men who stood ready to care on that day and who do so every day.

Never forget.

 

Steve Ahnen is the president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

The New Hampshire Hospital Association and the Foundation for Healthy Communities, along with Governor Sununu, the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) and other partners, launched a statewide Opioid Disposal Education Campaign focused on educating patients and their families on how to safely dispose of leftover prescription medications; a first of its kind effort in New Hampshire.

The safe and proper disposal of unused prescription medications is a critical element in fighting opioid addiction, and this statewide campaign will educate patients and their families on the safe disposal of unused prescription medications through the Zero Left Campaign and the distribution of Deterra bags, which are drug deactivation pouches that render prescription medications useless when water is added. 

The Zero Left Campaign was founded by Jim & Jeanne Moser after losing their son, Adam, to an opioid overdose. In June of 2017, inspired by the Mosers and their loss, Granite Health and its 5 hospitals launched the Zero Left Campaign by distributing Deterra bags to patients, along with educational material on the safe disposal of unused prescription medications, installing medication take-back boxes in their facilities and training providers to prescribe opioids in alignment with standards adopted by the medical boards.

Given our state’s current opioid crisis and the challenges our patients and their families are facing, hospitals statewide are now supporting this important campaign by distributing the Deterra pouches and education material to their patients and helping raise awareness around the importance of Zero Left in preventing prescription abuse.

On behalf of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, our hospitals throughout New Hampshire, and the Foundation for Healthy Communities, I thank the Governor, the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative of New Hampshire and our partners for bringing such an important statewide campaign to fruition. 

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

Resources

Zero Left Campaign

Zero Left Brochure

Zero Left Poster

 

Articles

Zero Left Helps to Safely Remove Unused Opioids

Mosers Create Film to Fight Opioids 1 Year After Son's Death

 

Videos

Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate:  vimeo.com/253692444

True Story:  Adam Moser https://youtu.be/y_NVIWi5jJQ

Just the One Time:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuaLlalpl8g&t=216s

 

On behalf of New Hampshire’s hospitals and the patients they serve, we couldn’t be more pleased with today’s signing of Senate Bill 313, which transforms the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP) into the Granite Advantage Health Care Program (GAHCP).

This vital program ensures that more than 52,000 low-income, previously uninsured New Hampshire residents maintain essential health coverage needed to be seen by a primary care doctor or in a health clinic, to receive important primary and preventive care, cost-effective management of chronic conditions, and life-saving mental health and substance use services. 

Hospitals have long supported New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program, as it has successfully reduced the number of uninsured patients seeking care in emergency rooms, reduced the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals to those without insurance, and reduced the cost shift to those with insurance, and we look forward to continuing those trends under the Granite State Health Care Program.

Signing SB 313 into law is testament of the state’s commitment to assure that New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens will continue to be able to receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and we’re proud to be a partner in this statewide effort to improve the health of our patients and communities.

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

On behalf of New Hampshire hospitals, we are pleased to have reached a final agreement with the State regarding the funding and support of the State’s Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program.  This agreement ensures that the State will continue to fund critical reimbursements to hospitals for the uncompensated care they provide to low income and vulnerable patients, now and in the future.

Working in partnership, this agreement demonstrates the hospitals’ willingness to move forward and create financial stability for the hospitals, the Medicaid program, the State budget, and most importantly, preserve access to care for our patients who are served by their community hospitals. 

We thank Governor Sununu, his administration and key members of the legislature, including Senate President Chuck Morse and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley for their support and partnership in finalizing the agreement, as well as their commitment to ensuring long-term sustainability for our state, our health care system and the patients we serve.

This week, we join one of the nation’s largest health care events in celebrating National Hospital Week, to thank the dedicated individuals who work in hospitals for their contributions and commitment to the health and wellness of their communities.   

The theme for this year’s National Hospital Week is Caring is our Calling, and that couldn’t be a better mantra for the more than 65,000 individuals that work in hospitals throughout New Hampshire.   

Hospitals demonstrate their unwavering commitment to serving their communities in sickness and in health 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  But a hospital is more than a place where people go to heal; it is part of the community that fosters health, inspires wellness and represents hope.  That is the promise that the blue and white “H” delivers to every patient, every family, in every community.  From providing compassionate medical care within their facilities to engaging in collaborations with community health partners, hospitals exist as the cornerstones of health and wellness throughout our state.  

This year, National Hospital Week coincides with National Nurses Week, providing us with the opportunity to say thank you to our nurses for their commitment and dedication to protecting, promoting and improving health care for their patients when they need it most.  Every day, nurses inspire, innovate and influence, serving at the front lines of organizations that deliver compassionate, quality care to patients.

There is one resource that is essential to a hospital’s success:  the men and women who deliver quality, compassionate health care to their patients every day. Their dedication, sacrifice and commitment to excellence are a direct testament of their commitment to the health and well-being of New Hampshire, and we remain ever thankful for the vital role they play in keeping New Hampshire healthy.

 

Steve Ahnen

President

New Hampshire’s hospitals have reached a tentative agreement with Governor Sununu and the State regarding the funding and support of the State’s Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program.  This agreement will ensure that the State will continue its commitment to fund critical reimbursements to hospitals for the uncompensated care they provide to low income and vulnerable patients, now and in the future.

Under this agreement, New Hampshire hospitals are agreeing to accept reduced reimbursements this year and next for care already provided in exchange for a longer-term and more sustainable structure.  By agreeing to reduced reimbursements now, the hospitals are demonstrating their willingness to move beyond the current controversy to create financial stability for the hospitals, the Medicaid program, the State budget, and most importantly, preserve access to care for our patients who are served by their community hospitals. 

We look forward to working with the Governor, his administration and key members of the legislature to finalize and implement the agreement in a way that ensures the State’s commitments are carried out, and that it fosters long-term sustainability for our health care system over the life of the agreement.

We applaud today’s bi-partisan vote by the NH Senate to reauthorize New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program and their support of continuing this important investment in the health of our state and the people it serves.

Approving the reauthorization of this vital program ensures that more than 50,000 low-income, previously uninsured New Hampshire residents have the health coverage needed to be seen by a primary care doctor or in a health clinic, to receive important primary and preventive care, cost-effective management of chronic conditions, and life-saving mental health and substance use services. 

Since its inception, Medicaid Expansion has successfully reduced the number of uninsured patients seeking care in emergency rooms, reduced the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals to those without insurance, and reduced the cost shift to those with insurance, and we look forward to building upon those successes over the next five years.

The actions taken today by the New Hampshire Senate to reauthorize New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program are a testament of their commitment to assure that New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens will continue to be able to receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Steve Ahnen is president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

Concord, NH – New Hampshire Hospital Association joins the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and other state/national rural stakeholders in celebrating National Rural Health Day, Thursday, November 16, 2017.

NOSORH created National Rural Health Day as a way to showcase rural America; increase awareness of rural health-related issues; and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health and others in addressing those issues. 

Approximately 62 million people – nearly one in five Americans – live in rural and frontier communities throughout the United States. “These small towns, farming communities and frontier areas are wonderful places to live and work; they are places where neighbors know each other and work together,” said NOSORH Director Teryl Eisinger. “The hospitals and providers serving these rural communities not only provide quality patient care, but they also help keep good jobs in rural America.”

These communities also face unique healthcare needs. “Today more than ever, rural communities must tackle accessibility issues, a lack of healthcare providers, the needs of an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of un- and underinsured citizens,” Eisinger said. “Meanwhile, rural hospitals are threatened with declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels that makes it challenging to serve their residents.”

New Hampshire has thirteen Critical Access Hospitals throughout the state that support their communities by delivering high quality healthcare in very rural, underserved areas of the state.  These hospitals are engaging in innovative programs like telehealth and electronic health records, that allow New Hampshire’s rural health providers to coordinate care, stay connected with each other and urban tertiary care centers.  

“Our critical access hospitals work tirelessly to address the barriers that their patients face in accessing the healthcare they need when they need it,” says Greg Vasse, Program Director at the New Hampshire Hospital Association who runs the NH Critical Access Hospital Quality Improvement Network.  “We collaborate with our State Office of Rural Health, rural healthcare providers and other rural health stakeholders to foster partnerships that improve the health status of the communities our critical access hospitals serve.”

State Offices of Rural Health play a key role in addressing those needs. All 50 states maintain a State Office of Rural Health, each of which shares a similar mission: to foster relationships, disseminate information and provide technical assistance that improves access to, and the quality of, health care for its rural citizens. In the past year alone, State Offices of Rural Health collectively provided technical assistance to more than 28,000 rural communities.

 

Living & Working in Rural Communities - What's it Mean to Patients and Providers?

Pat Nestor, Retired Airforce Veteran, gets his care at Separe Memorial Hospital - click here to learn more about why he chooses to get his care from one of New Hampshire's Critical Access Hospitals.

PNestor

 

Michael Watto, MD, Speare Memorial Hospital Primary Care and retired military physician for the United States Army, lives and practices in rural New Hampshire, serving the area's underserved patients, including his fellow Veterans - read his story here.

 

MWatto web

The New Hampshire Hospital Association and the Foundation for Healthy Communities recently held their Annual Meeting at the OMNI Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, where hospitals, healthcare leaders and community partners from across the state came together to hear from exceptional speakers on ways to move health care forward, and to network and share best practices with colleagues from around the state.  It is also where both organizations celebrate the work being done by all, and to honor those who have made significant contributions to hospitals and the healthcare field.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, we discussed the complex challenges our hospitals, providers and partners are experiencing in today’s healthcare environment, from the behavioral health and opioid crisis our state is currently facing, to the national political landscape and its impact on both local and national efforts to deliver quality, affordable care to our communities.

Every day, New Hampshire hospitals go above and beyond their mission of delivering high quality, affordable healthcare to their patients.  As places of health, healing and hope, they strive to improve the health and well-being of their communities while adapting to the challenging healthcare landscape so that they can meet the needs of their patients beyond the walls of their hospitals. 

Every day, we drive past the blue and white H signs that populate our highways and byways here in New Hampshire and the institution they represent to those in need.  While seemingly just a sign to those who see it, the blue and white H represents so much more – they are a promise our hospitals as institutions hold out to their communities that they will be there in times of need, wherever and whenever their community needs them.

As we collaborate across the continuum to address the challenges we face together, we remain proud of our hospitals that live out their promise to their patients, families and communities every day here in the Granite State.

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

2017 Annual Meeting Presentations

2017 Annual Meeting Awards

Of behalf of our hospitals, our patients and their families, we are relieved the Senate rejected legislation that would have jeopardized health care coverage for millions of Americans, including tens of thousands of Granite State residents, in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

During this process, Congress has debated various reform proposals that would have been devastating for our most vulnerable citizens and for the providers who ensure they are able to receive the care they need when and where they need it most.   These reform proposals would have had lasting impact on our healthcare system and dramatically affected our hospitals’ ability to serve the patients and communities who depend on them every day. 

Protecting health coverage remains our priority, and while we understand that modifications to the current healthcare system are needed, we believe that it is time for legislators to come together to create bipartisan solutions that protect health care coverage for all Americans.

 

Steve Ahnen is president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

Of behalf of our hospitals and the patients they serve throughout New Hampshire, we’re extremely disappointed that the Senate continues to put forth legislation that jeopardizes health care coverage for millions of Americans, including tens of thousands of Granite State residents, in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate’s revised health care bill continues to be catastrophic for our most vulnerable citizens, including those with chronic conditions and disabilities, as well as the elderly.  In addition, it doesn’t address the significant reductions in federal spending which cut more than $1.5 billion in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals in New Hampshire through 2026, and maintains the imposition of caps on Medicaid spending, estimated to result in more than $1.4 billion in reduced federal investments in New Hampshire’s Medicaid program, downshifting costs to the states and underfunding the cost of providing care to Medicaid patients.  These cuts are unsustainable and their lasting impact would dramatically affect our hospitals’ ability to serve the patients and communities who depend on them every day. 

Protecting health coverage for our most vulnerable citizens remains our priority, and because of that, we remain opposed to the Senate’s revised health care bill.   On behalf of our hospitals and the patients they serve, we urge the Senate to create bipartisan legislation that protects health care coverage for our most vulnerable citizens and provides coverage for those who need it most.

 

Steve Ahnen is president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

The score issued by the Congressional Budget Office of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), confirms our concerns that it would result in the loss of health insurance coverage for 22 million Americans, coverage that they depend on to help them and their families to get the right care, at the right time, at the right place.

As we have steadfastly maintained for the last several months, we cannot support legislation that would cause millions of Americans, including tens of thousands of Granite State residents, to lose health insurance coverage and downshift costs to New Hampshire’s Medicaid program through significant reductions in federal spending.  In addition, BCRA would continue to cut more than $1.5 billion in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals in New Hampshire through 2026, dramatically impacting their ability to serve the patients and communities who depend on them every day. 

We believe that the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) needs to be viewed through the eyes of the patient and the caregivers that take care of them, and make protecting health care coverage for our most vulnerable citizens a higher priority.  We remain opposed to the BCRA and urge the Senate to vote no on this bill, and to start over and create a new version of legislation that protects coverage for those who have it and provides coverage for those who need it most. 

 

Steve Ahnen is president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association