As we all adjust to life today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I find myself struggling to grasp the totality of what it is we are experiencing, and what we'll end up facing.  As someone who serves in a role that supports the women and men on the front lines of health care in hospitals and health systems across New Hampshire, I am reminded of something that child advocate Fred Rogers once said about advice he received from his own mother during times of crisis.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world."

As I think about this, I see helpers in the form of doctors, nurses and other health care workers rushing in to help those in need.  And they’re doing so despite the potential risks to themselves.  They took an oath to serve their fellow man, and they do it on a daily basis.  In our busy lives, this often gets overlooked.  But in times like these, there is no greater reminder of the commitment and sacrifice of those on the front lines of health care, rushing in to help and care for those in need.

 

Steve Ahnen

President

Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, released the below statement on the House passage of the CARES Act:

 

We applaud the leadership in the House of Representatives to move the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act forward so that it can provide financial relief and critical support for those across the country responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This stimulus package will provide critical relief funding for hospitals to help ensure the stability of the nation’s healthcare system as it continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis through provisions such as creating an emergency fund grant program, providing additional support for taking care of COVID-19 patients and relief from spending cuts, among other provisions.

We appreciate the leadership of the entire congressional delegation in moving this important legislation forward, especially Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Pappas for their efforts in ensuring critical funding for our hospitals and healthcare systems.  We look forward to working with our state and federal partners on carrying out this legislation in support of those at the front lines responding to the COVID-19 crisis in New Hampshire.

Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, released the below statement on Governor Sununu’s Stay at Home Order:

The New Hampshire Hospital Association strongly supports and appreciates the decision announced today by Governor Sununu for a stay at home order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire.  This is a significant step that builds on all of the efforts that have already been put in place to help flatten the curve of the pandemic here in New Hampshire and ensure that the health care system is able to manage the surge in patients that will need inpatient care at hospitals across New Hampshire.  Models that predict the potential spread of the virus in New Hampshire show that if we don’t take aggressive steps now, we may lose the opportunity to prevent its rapid escalation which could simply overwhelm the ability of the health care system to respond.  While this is a very difficult decision, we believe it is the right one to help slow the spread of the virus in New Hampshire.  We thank the Governor and encourage all Granite State residents to follow this order so that together we will be able to get through this crisis.

We applaud the agreement announced in Washington to provide financial relief and critical support our hospitals and health systems in New Hampshire and across the country need as the nation responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Hampshire hospitals and health systems have taken critical steps to respond to this crisis and ensure safe care for patients, health care professionals and communities, including suspending elective procedures and curtailing community practice hours.  These actions, when combined with standing up response efforts to address a potential surge of COVID-19 patients, have resulted in significant revenue losses of at least $200 million a month for our hospitals, which simply isn’t sustainable. 

This stimulus package will provide critical relief funding for hospitals to help ensure the stability of the nation’s healthcare system as it continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis through provisions such as creating an emergency fund grant program, providing additional support for taking care of COVID-19 patients and relief from spending cuts, among other provisions.

We appreciate the leadership of the entire congressional delegation in helping to shape and improve this bipartisan package, and especially Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan for their hard work in increasing critical funding for hospitals and health care as it moved through the negotiations process in the Senate.  We fully support this legislation on behalf of New Hampshire’s hospitals and health systems on the front lines of this crisis, and we urge the Senate and the House to pass it immediately.

Governor Sununu’s announcement of critical emergency funding for New Hampshire hospitals is a welcomed and essential first step in ensuring that hospitals and health systems on the front lines have the resources they need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with our partners, hospitals and health systems have taken critical steps to respond to this crisis and ensure safe care for patients, health care professionals and communities.  Hospitals recently announced the suspension of all elective and non-urgent procedures, with some curtailing community practice hours, to preserve personal protective equipment and ensure a safe environment for staff, patients and the community.  These actions have resulted in significant revenue losses for hospitals across the state, as has standing up response efforts at hospitals to address a potential surge of COVID-19 patients.  All in, these efforts are resulting in close to $200 million a month in lost revenue for hospitals, which simply isn’t sustainable.  This critical funding for hospitals will help ensure the stability of New Hampshire’s healthcare system as it continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, but it’s just a first step, and we must continue to work with our state and congressional delegation for critical federal resources.

The active collaboration among and between hospitals and other health care providers with our local, state and federal partners is key to ensuring the health and safety of our patients, health care workers and our communities. We appreciate Governor Sununu’s actions, as well as the support of our congressional delegation, and look forward to working with all of our partners in coordinating New Hampshire’s response to this public health emergency. 

 

Steve Ahnen is the president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

New Hampshire and the nation find itself in unprecedented times with the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and health systems are on the front lines of responding to this crisis, working in partnership with local, state and federal officials to serve patients and communities across the state.  In a recent letter to Governor Sununu, NHHA President Steve Ahnen shared a number of critical steps hospitals and health systems across the state are taking to respond to this challenge.

 

Download the full letter here.

As we pause today to reflect and honor the tremendous service of our nation’s Veterans, we do so with gratitude and a sense of obligation to the men and women who have served our nation over the years and continue to do so today.  I am humbled by their bravery and commitment to the ideals of American democracy.  New Hampshire hospitals and health systems are proud to serve these brave men and women in partnership with the VA Medical Center in Manchester and our partners across the state of New Hampshire.  To all who have served our nation and their families, thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

 

Steve Ahnen, President

BRETTON WOODS – At their Annual Meeting held October 20th – 22nd, the New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) and Foundation for Healthy Communities (FHC) honored healthcare leaders, executives and partners from across the state who have made significant contributions to their hospital or the healthcare field.

Kevin Stone, most recently of Helms & Company, was presented with a James A. Hamilton Founder’s Award, the New Hampshire Hospital Association’s highest honor, for outstanding service to healthcare on behalf of the people of New Hampshire.  Stone was recognized for his dedication and commitment to making the health care system work better for patients and providers, demonstrated through his distinguished career of over 35 years serving healthcare institutions and providers across the state.

Bruce King, President & CEO of New London Hospital, was honored with the NHHA Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership in advocacy and dedication to his institution, patients and colleagues.  Throughout his nearly 40 years in the healthcare field, King has tirelessly dedicated himself to serving the needs of the community and empowering his institution to become the community anchor it exists as today for the region.

Stanley ‘Chris’ Cundey, Board of Trustees, New London Hospital, was recognized for excellence in hospital governance with the Outstanding Trustee of the Year Award.  Cundey was recognized for his passion, vision and strategic governance as a Board Trustee, as well as his commitment to, and passion for, the organization, its staff and patients throughout his years of service. 

Andrew Torkelson, MD, New London Hospital, was the recipient of the Medical Staff Award for outstanding service to his hospital and community, an honor bestowed upon a medical staff member from an NHHA member institution whose professional performance has strengthened the cooperation between the hospital and the medical staff, and who brings credit to the institution and the community.   Revered by his friends and colleagues for his devotion to delivering compassionate, quality patient care, Dr. Torkelson was nominated for dedication and commitment to his patients, his community and his colleagues.

Exeter Health Resources was named recipient of the Noah Lord for Patient & Family Engagement Award, which recognizes the innovative work being done to better engage patients and families with Patient Family Advisors and Patient Family Advisory Councils to improve patient safety, quality improvement and the patient experience in a hospital system.   Exeter Health Resources was recognized for their efforts to improve the design and delivery of care for LGBTQ patients with the goal of ensuring respectful, effective and patient‐centered care.

Monadnock Community Hospital was named the recipient of the Honoring Excellence in Patient Safety & Quality Improvement Award.  This award honors a team of healthcare professionals who demonstrate a continued commitment to providing quality care to their patients, lead the charge for quality improvement, promote transparency to improve healthcare, and achieve better outcomes through the implementation of a strong culture of safety.   Monadnock Community Hospital was recognized for their organization-wide commitment to highly reliable, exceptional quality, patient-centered care, and their successful efforts to develop and promote improvements in quality of care for the patients they serve.

And honored with the Foundation’s highest recognition was Corey Gately, Director of Substance Use Disorders at LRGHealthcare, who received the prestigious Innovator’s Award for her leadership and dedication to creating pathways to addiction treatment and recovery across the care continuum for patients with substance use disorders.

Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, released the below statement on the passage of the budget:

We applaud the commitment of lawmakers to move our state forward on several important initiatives by passing the comprise budget put forward by Governor Sununu and legislative leaders.  This budget makes investments in a number of areas vital to the health of our patients, including mental health and substance use, and provides an increase in Medicaid rates for all providers to help address workforce shortages and gaps in our health care system caused by New Hampshire’s low Medicaid reimbursement rates.  We look forward to continuing this momentum to address the challenges facing New Hampshire today. 

Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, released the below statement on the budget compromise achieved:

This agreement allows New Hampshire to move beyond the budget stalemate of the past few months and move forward on several important initiatives.  This compromise budget makes investments in a number of key areas vital to the health of our patients, including mental health and substance use, as well as providing an increase in Medicaid rates for all providers to help address workforce shortages and gaps in our health care system caused by New Hampshire’s low Medicaid reimbursement rates.  We appreciate the efforts of Governor Sununu, Senate President Donna Soucy, Senate Finance Chairman Lou D’Allesandro, House Speaker Steve Shurtleff and House Finance Committee Chairman Mary Jane Wallner in working to reach this compromise, and we urge the support of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The call for nominations for the NHHA & FHC Annual Awards of Excellence is now open!  Please consider nominating leaders and / or efforts within your organization for the awards listed below:

New Hampshire Hospital Association Awards

  • James A. Hamilton Founder's Award
  • President's Award
  • Medical Staff of the Year Award
  • Outstanding Trustee of the Year Award

Foundation for Healthy Communities Awards

  • Patient Safety & Quality Improvement  Award
  • Noah Lord Patient & Family Engagement Award

Nominations can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (NHHA Awards) and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (FHC Awards) and are due by Friday, September 27, 2019. 

Our 2019 Award Winners will be announced and celebrated during the awards ceremony on the evening of Monday, October 21st at the Annual Meeting.  More information about the 2019 Annual Meeting can be found here, and should you have any questions about the event, registration or the awards please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to celebrating your nominees with you in October!

 

DOWNLOAD THE 2019 AWARD NOMINATION MATERIALS

Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, released the below statement on the State Budget:

Throughout this budget process, there was significant consensus among the Governor and his administration, legislative leadership, advocates and stakeholders about the need to address pressing issues around the health of our citizens – particularly in the area of behavioral health, substance abuse and Medicaid services, and we applaud all those who took part in its development for their efforts. 

Specifically, this budget agreement:

  • Fully funds the settlement agreement reached last year on the state’s Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET) and Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) programs, which supports hospitals in the provision of uncompensated care, and also provides significant funding for the overall state Medicaid program;
  • Advances patient care by making significant investments in New Hampshire’s mental health system, including:
    • increasing the rate paid to hospitals operating involuntary mental health units known as designated receiving facilities (DRF);
    • moves the services for children out of New Hampshire Hospital to a more appropriate setting for their care and provides funding to renovate and operationalize that space at New Hampshire Hospital for up to 48 adult inpatient beds;
    • adds additional mobile crisis teams, including one statewide with the ability to address the needs of children so that patients can get the services they need and potentially avoid the need for inpatient level care;
    • increases the number of transitional housing beds so that patients are able to be discharged from an acute inpatient setting with the supports they need to live in the community; and
    • establishes a new forensic hospital for those patients currently in the Secure Psychiatric Unit at the state prison.
  • Increases Medicaid provider rates to help sustain services and recruit and retain employees across the continuum of care, from mental health and substance use services to hospitals, home care agencies and nursing homes.

Budgets are a reflection of our values and a statement of our priorities.  This budget addresses a number of important initiatives that are vital to the health and well-being of New Hampshire citizens, and we hope it will move forward.

As we begin our celebrations of National Nurses and National Hospital Week, we look forward to taking this opportunity to thank the dedicated individuals who work in hospitals for their contributions and commitment to the health and wellness of their communities, every day.

The theme for this year’s National Hospital Week is Celebrating Hope and Healing, and given the recent event at Cheshire Medical Center that forced them to experience what may have been the first full evacuation of a hospital in the state of New Hampshire, we’re reminded of the incredible resilience and commitment that all of our hospitals demonstrate with regard to fostering health, promoting healing and representing hope.  That is the promise that the blue and white “H” delivers to every patient, every family, in every community, every day.  

It’s not often we’re reminded about the importance of engaging in emergency preparedness activities, whether a health care facility, local agency or community.  Cheshire Medical Center, along with other hospitals, had just participated in a statewide emergency preparedness exercise, held earlier that same week by the Granite State Health Care Coalition; a coalition under the Foundation for Healthy Communities that serves to help communities and the health care continuum prepare, respond and recover from disaster events that impact New Hampshire. 

We applaud the doctors, nurses and staff of Cheshire Medical Center, the first responders, emergency management agencies, city and state agencies and personnel, ESF8-Health & Medical, Homeland Security & Emergency Management and surrounding hospitals for their readiness in carrying out a multi-faceted emergency response that required a full evacuation of the hospital and partial activation of the State Emergency Operations Center.   

In honor of National Hospital and National Nurses Week, and every week after, we thank the 65,000+ individuals who work in health care for their commitment and dedication to protecting, promoting and improving health care for their patients when they need it most. 

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

National Nurses Week, May 6-12

National Hospital Week, May 12-18

Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, released the below statement on Governor Sununu’s budget address:

We commend the Governor for the focus in his budget remarks on addressing the mental health crisis facing New Hampshire.

At its very core, the fundamental issue is about ensuring that people with a mental health illness, especially those suffering an acute psychiatric crisis, are able to get the care they need, when and where they need it.  We look forward to working together with the Governor, the legislature and other key stakeholders to solve that problem and better serve these patients and their families.

Hospitals have long partnered with the State on many critical issues, including funding support for both New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program and the State’s substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, to helping establish integrated delivery networks through the Medicaid 1115 Transformation Waiver and a hub and spoke system aimed at enhancing access to resources for those suffering substance use disorders, and we will continue to do so.