A Salute to New Hampshire’s Veterans!

As we celebrate this Veteran’s Day, the women and men who provide care and service in New Hampshire’s hospitals wish to salute all those who have served our state and our nation.  Your dedication and commitment for this nation are an inspiration to all and an important reminder of the sacrifices that have been made to secure and strengthen our freedoms as Americans.  We are grateful for and indebted to you for your service.

This past year, the New Hampshire Hospital Association’s (NHHA) Board of Trustees endorsed two very important initiatives that are important to highlight as we honor our Veterans.  The first, Hospitals for Heroes, was designed to signal to all that hospitals in New Hampshire are here to care for those who served and sacrificed so much for us.  The challenges facing Veterans in New Hampshire of being able to access local, timely care has been an ongoing challenge, and the rollout of the VA Choice program has presented significant road blocks for our Veterans and providers alike.  Hospitals are committed to serving these brave men and women by providing them with high quality care close to him, when they need it most. 

And secondly, the NHHA Board of Trustees endorsed the Campaign to Change Direction, a statewide initiative focused on changing the culture of mental health in New Hampshire.  By removing the stigma associated with this disease, we can betterhelp those suffering with mental illness get the care and support they need.  This couldn’t be a more pressing need for our Veterans, given the stunning number of those who are taking their own lives as a result of the trauma that is associated with the wars and violence they’ve endured.  By bringing mental health care out of the shadows and into the mainstream, we can raise awareness about these issues and change the culture around mental health. 

God bless the brave men and women who have served our country on this Veterans Day and every day.

 

Steve Ahnen

President

 

Recently, the New Hampshire Hospital Association and the Foundation for Healthy Communities held their Annual Meeting at the OMNI Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.  It is at this meeting that hospitals, healthcare leaders and community partners from across the state come together 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 meeting, Advancing Total Population Health:  How do we get there from here? focused on the collaborative efforts our hospitals, providers and partners are undertaking to build healthcare delivery systems that will allow them to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time. . .every time.

It’s a theme that speaks to the transformation that is occurring in health care here in New Hampshire and the goal of delivering evidence-based, high quality, affordable and accessible care to the patients and communities our hospitals and providers serve.

For those of us in health care, partnering together is what makes our work so meaningful, but it’s also what makes possible our ability to deliver on the goals of changing the way we deliver care to our patients to improve overall health.

At the Annual Meeting, the Foundation for Healthy Communities celebrated its 20th year of living its mission of improving health and health care in communities through education and partnerships that engage individuals and organizations. The success of the Foundation is a direct testament to the commitment of many partners, individuals and organizations alike, and we thank all of you for your continued support. 

In addition, the Foundation for Healthy Communities presented a framework for Total Population Health in New Hampshire, which provides a summary of the Foundation’s efforts and milestones over the years working with its partners, as well as the path forward as we continue those efforts to advance total population health.

As we look to the future, I remain confident and optimistic that, together, we are building the health care system that will provide access to high quality, evidence-based, affordable care for generations to come.

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

View 2016 Annual Meeting presentations and press releases

Change can be difficult, frightening, even overwhelming.  But it can also be invigorating as one takes on the challenges at hand with a new sense of optimism, renewed strength and focus to make a difference.

Today was one of those days where I felt all of those emotions at once.  Sitting in Representatives Hall at the New Hampshire State House listening to leaders of the Change Direction New Hampshire initiative talk about where we are today and the path that lies ahead with respect to changing the culture of mental health care in New Hampshire and in this country.  This morning, I was honored to be invited to listen to former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick talk about his own personal experience with a family member who suffers from a mental illness. 

It was a powerful example of just how important a story can be, how it can capture in one vignette the struggles and challenges so many face, not just that one person.  And as Judge Broderick and others leading the initiative both locally and nationally discussed, there is so much we must do to bring mental health care out of the shadows and into the mainstream.  There isn’t one of us who isn’t touched in some way by mental illness…either personally, a family member,  friend, neighbor, or co-worker.  And it’s going to take all of us, working together, to make progress.  But that’s what Granite Staters do…they come together to solve the challenges in their communities. 

So find out how you can be part of this effort to change direction to change the culture of mental health in New Hampshire.  Log on to the website, www.changedirection.org/nh, and take part in this important initiative.

 

Steve Ahnen

President 

Throughout New Hampshire hospitals, there are hundreds of nurses protecting the health and safety of the patients they see every day.  Nurses are a vital part of our healthcare system, existing as providers at hospitals, outpatient, home-based and long-term care facilities.  United by a desire to care for others during their greatest time of need, they serve at their patients’ bedside with compassion, comfort and healing hands. 

In honor of our outstanding nurses and the quality care they deliver, we are proud to join the American Nurses Association and numerous health care organizations across the country to celebrate National Nurses Week (May 6 to 12).   During this week, we honor these individuals for their commitment to delivering safe, patient-centered care to ensure that every patient and their families have the best experience with the best possible outcome.  

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our nurses for their unwavering commitment to their patients, their community and their profession, and are honored to be celebrating the hard work and dedication of these skilled health care professionals.

In addition, Sunday marked the beginning of National Hospital Week, May 8 – May 14, where we honor those individuals who support the health and wellbeing of their communities – from physicians and nurses, to food service, engineers, volunteers and administrators.  Every individual within a hospital plays an integral role in the care that’s delivered within their walls to every patient, every day.

New Hampshire hospitals are dedicated to providing their patients with dedication and compassionate care from the heart.  All throughout our state, the blue H sign exists as a promise to deliver quality, patient-centered care when you and your family need it most.

We remain inspired by those in your organizations who deliver compassionate, high quality care to your patients, and your commitment to serving your communities as places of health, healing and hope.

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

American Hospital Association's National Hospital Week Thank You Video

The New Hampshire Hospital Association released the below statement on the Senate vote to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan:

“We applaud today’s bi-partisan vote by the NH Senate to reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program. Their leadership in addressing one of the biggest challenges facing our health care system today is commendable, as is their commitment to a New Hampshire-based solution that benefits patients, providers and businesses of New Hampshire,” said Steve Ahnen.

Approving the reauthorization of the NH Health Protection Program ensures private health insurance coverage to more than 48,000 low-income, uninsured New Hampshire residents so that they can continue to get the primary and preventative care they need. To date, the program 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.

“Today’s vote in the New Hampshire Senate to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) represents a significant step forward for patients, providers, businesses and our state’s economy,” added Ahnen.

 

Steve Ahnen is president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

National Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 13th – March 19th, is an opportunity to celebrate the current efforts being undertaken at all New Hampshire hospitals to ensure that the safety of each patient is at the heart of the care they deliver every day.

New Hampshire hospitals have been leading the nation in providing high quality, evidence‐based care, enhancing a culture of patient safety, and reducing or eliminating adverse drug events and healthcare associated infections. Specific efforts toward patient safety and health care improvement across the state’s hospitals continue in many areas, and focus on enhancing patient and family engagement, as well as care coordination among hospitals, long term care facilities, home care agencies and other healthcare providers to reduce preventable readmissions.

Working with the Foundation for Healthy Communities, our hospitals continue their quality and patient safety improvement efforts through the Partnership for Patients, Hospital Engagement Network 2.0, a federal quality initiative aimed at reducing patient harm and increasing quality of care.  We’re extremely proud that all 26 hospitals committed to continue their focus on preventing readmissions and adverse events causing patient harm, and we’re the only state in the country affiliated with the AHA HRET that has 100% of its acute care hospitals participating in this important work.   As a result of their efforts in the previous Partnership for Patients initiative,  New Hampshire hospitals improved care, reduced harm by preventing nearly 5,000 adverse events, and achieved over $40M in healthcare cost savings from 2011 – 2014. 

New Hampshire took a leading role in HRET’s Safety Program for Long-Term Care, the first of five states to pilot a national effort to improve the patient safety culture and quality standards in long-term care facilities by preventing Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs) and other Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs).

New Hampshire hospitals remain committed to delivering the highest quality of care, improving patient safety, and enhancing patient engagement and care coordination.  This is what makes New Hampshire hospitals places of health, healing and hope for every patient, every family, and every community.  As their work continues, we remain inspired by the compassionate care they deliver every day.

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

New Hampshire hospitals have long supported the reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) because it is helping to ensure our patients are able to get the care they need in the most appropriate setting to manage their health and chronic conditions. 

Data collected from the first year of operation clearly shows that fewer uninsured patients are seeking care in hospital emergency departments; patients are getting better care in a more appropriate and less costly setting; and we are reducing the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals to those without insurance.

This is good news for New Hampshire businesses and citizens, because it means we are reducing the cost shifting that has historically occurred when costs for the uninsured are shifted to those with insurance.

The New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) and our members are pleased to support the amendment to HB 1696 that will provide for reauthorization of the NHHPP and ensure that the more than 46,000 patients receiving private health insurance coverage through this important program are able to continue to get the care they need.

 

Steve Ahnen is the president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

The New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) applauded Governor Hassan for signing two bipartisan bills as part of her efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis that the state of New Hampshire is currently facing.   NHHA President Steve Ahnen noted that, “This is a terrific step in helping to address the ongoing substance abuse crisis that is afflicting so many of our residents and their families.”

The two bills, Senate Bill 576 and Senate Bill 447, which increase penalties for the illegal sale and distribution of fentanyl, improve access to necessary treatment and recovery resources, and strengthen the prescription drug monitoring program, were expedited as part of the overall recommendations of the Joint Task Force on the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic. 

“We commend Senator Jeb Bradley and members the Joint Task Force, as well as the Governor, members of the Legislature, law enforcement, providers, advocates and others, for their collaborative efforts in addressing one of the worst public health issues we’ve faced, as well as their commitment to combat the substance abuse crisis.  We look forward to supporting the continued efforts of all stakeholders as our State continues this important work to ensure that our residents, providers and law enforcement have the resources they need to combat this crisis.”

 

Steve Ahnen is the president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

The New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) applauded the news that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved the State’s 1115 Transformation Waiver to transform the behavioral health delivery systems in New Hampshire and shore up an underfunded program.  NHHA President Steve Ahnen noted that, “This is a terrific step in helping to address the ongoing mental health strain and substance abuse crisis we currently face as residents, family members, employers, and community leaders.”

“By helping to create integrated delivery networks, this Transformation Waiver provides New Hampshire the opportunity to strengthen our behavioral health system by integrating mental health and substance abuse treatment with primary care.  Increasing provider capacity and access to behavioral health services allows our healthcare providers to better address mental health and substance abuse disorder needs and meet the growing demand for services.  By strengthening services through the delivery of integrated care that transitions the patient from treatment to recovery and beyond, we better support those who are facing mental health and substance abuse challenges.”

“We commend the Governor, Commissioner and his staff, as well as members of the Legislature, for their commitment to combat the substance abuse crisis.  We look forward to working with the Governor and DHHS to identify opportunities that provide for the development of integrated delivery networks, and supporting our healthcare providers, and our communities, as we face these challenges together.”

Steve Ahnen

President, NHHA

Recently, the New Hampshire Hospital Association and the Foundation for Healthy Communities held their Annual Meeting at the OMNI Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.  It is at this meeting that hospitals, healthcare leaders and community partners from across the state come together 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, Transforming Healthcare through New Partnerships, reminded us how partnering together is what makes our work so meaningful as leaders.  It’s also what makes possible the hospitals' ability to deliver on the goals we strive to deliver every day - accessible, high quality, affordable health care.  What we’ve learned together over the past several years reminds us how important it is that we work even more closely together across the health care system - from primary to acute care, rehabilitation to long-term care, and home care to chronic care management.

Transforming Healthcare through New Partnerships is a theme that speaks to the work that our hospitals and partners are doing every day to change the way health care is delivered and to improve the outcomes for every patient.  There was an extraordinary array of topics that were very timely and relevant, all of which were kicked off by Keynote Speaker, Ken Kaufman of Kaufman Hall, and the conversations throughout the annual meeting were thoughtful, collaborative and engaging.  

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.  Full press release highlighting incoming and outgoing board members can be seen here.

One of our favorite portions 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 all of our award recipients.   For a full list of 2015 Award Recipients, please click here.

And of course, a big thank you to our sponsors, whom without their support the Annual Meeting wouldn’t be the same.

We look forward to continuing the great conversations and working together over the next year!

Steve Ahnen

President

Recently, a terrible tragedy reminded us how important it is for communities, public and state officials, local agencies and healthcare facilities to engage in disaster preparation and recovery planning.  The town of Lancaster experienced a devastating event that rocked the community, killing a young daughter and her father from Vermont, and leaving 50 others injured as a result.  Since this event, the community has come together to support each other with vigils for those who were lost, wishes for those who suffered, and thanks for those who responded. 

In the face of such tragic events, communities are forced to pull together, learning from the tragedy to prevent future disasters, and recover in ways that inspire hope and facilitate resilience.     We congratulate the first responders, emergency management services and hospitals for their readiness in carrying out a multi-faceted emergency action plan.  It is because of their proactive disaster planning that EMS was able to appropriately transfer patients based on the level of injury, coordinating availability of beds and capabilities of hospitals.  The communication that took place between EMS and the Emergency Management Coordinators at Weeks Medical Center, Littleton Regional Hospital, Androscoggin Valley Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center ensured immediate access for the injured, as well as support for each other as they took care of the patients and their families.  As the patients were treated and normal operations returned, EMS and hospital staff at these hospitals remained committed to restoring the calm quiet this community enjoyed just hours before.   To complete the circle, other hospitals offered their support and services to their fellow hospitals, extending the network and depth of those willing to help.  And while the work to carry this community through its recovery will continue for some time, we will remain inspired by the dedication, commitment and support to each other.

While we mourn the ones we lost and pray for those who suffered, we gratefully thank the first responders and healthcare facilities for mitigating the disaster with their quick actions, collaboration, and compassion.   

Steve Ahnen

President

Today provides important predictability for Granite Staters who can now continue to afford health insurance through the federal exchange as a result of today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The decision impacts approximately 30,000 people in our state with moderate to lower incomes who would have lost eligibility for tax credits, and as a result, become uninsured without affordable options for coverage. This will strengthen New Hampshire’s insurance market to provide more options for our citizens to access much needed health care.

Increased coverage is an important factor to help ensure people are able to receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place. And
an increase in the number of people with insurance means less uncompensated care, which ultimately decreases costs for patients, providers and businesses.

 

Steve Ahnen

President

 

NHHA is pleased to announce a new educational program available to it’s members:
2015 Lean in Healthcare Certificate Program.

In this unique 8-week program, participants learn the fundamentals of continuous improvement/lean in a classroom setting.

They will then work in small teams to apply the principles and tools of an actual healthcare process at Concord Hospital in
Concord, NH. During each session, participants will be introduced to appropriate best practices to address the challenges facing healthcare
professionals. This learn-by-doing method will prepare students to return to their own workplace with the confidence to implement continuous improvement methodologies within their own organizations.

Special thanks to our partner, GBMP, for bringing this program to New Hampshire and to Concord Hospital to hosting the on-site
sessions. It’s partnerships like this that bring the expertise to a local level that makes a difference to the patients and communities our hospitals serve. The first session kicks off on September 11, 2015. Registration materials are available HERE.

 

Steve Ahnen

Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) released a white paper showing the impact that the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan (NHHPP) was having by reducing the number of patients without insurance who were being treated in hospital emergency rooms across the state by 17 percent as of the end of last year. Reducing the amount of uncompensated care and the hidden tax that businesses and those of us with insurance pay to care for those without insurance was a major driver in the debate over whether to expand New Hampshire’s Medicaid program, and this data continues to show that the program is having a significant impact on doing just that.

And recent data from the NHHA shows those trends continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program. Based on a 12-month period from April, 2014 to March, 2015, hospitals in New Hampshire saw a decline of 22 percent in the number of people without insurance who were treated in the emergency department. These reductions were also seen in the number of patients being treated in the inpatient and outpatient departments as well, 27 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

These are important trends and we expect they will continue as more people become eligible for the program. To date, nearly 40,000 hard-working, low-income Granite state residents now have health insurance and access to the type of ongoing, primary and preventive care that is so important for people to improve and maintain their health and manage their chronic conditions. It is much more cost-effective to provide primary care than it is to treat someone’s condition after it has become a crisis, and the NHHPP is helping to make that possible for tens of thousands of our friends and neighbors. The NHHA has begun profiling stories of individuals who are now benefiting as a result of the coverage that is now available through the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan and you can see them by checking www.nhha.org.

Bending the cost curve in health care is often referred to as one of our generation’s greatest challenges. If we are going to do so in a meaningful way, we have to move aggressively to make certain that patients are getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Hospitals are working hard to help develop systems of care that will ensure people are able to get the right level of care, when and where they need it. We are working collaboratively with our medical staff and physician partners, health plans, other providers and patients themselves to ensure they are able to access that high quality care in the most cost-effective manner and care setting. That’s what population health care is all about, and New Hampshire’s hospitals are eager to work collaboratively with others to make this vision a reality.

We look forward to continuing to provide ongoing information about how the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan is working to benefit patients, our businesses and families and our state budget. This is an important investment and step forward in helping shape the future of health care in New Hampshire. We urge the Legislature, the Governor and stakeholders across New Hampshire to work together to reauthorize the program.

 

Steve Ahnen

President