The holiday season is a time that we often look to slow down, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the true spirit of the season—the gift of giving to others.  No one exemplifies that spirit more than the women and men of New Hampshire’s hospitals and health systems. 

No one deserves more the rest and a break over the holidays than them.  But as we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended all of our lives and isn’t showing signs of letting up in the weeks ahead.  And that means the health care heroes on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t get the chance to take a break this holiday season.  That’s what they signed up to do when they answered the calling to serve as caregivers.  But they need our help.

They have been there for us and will continue to be there for us, but we need to do all we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that we don’t overwhelm the health care system.  They’ve told us for months:  wear a mask; wash your hands; maintain social distance; avoid gatherings with others outside of your home when you are unable to maintain social distance; and stay home when you’re not feeling well.  Those messages are more important now than ever before. 

As we look to the new year, we do so with renewed hope—hope in the form of safe and effective vaccines.  But inoculating everyone who needs and wants a vaccine will take some time.  That’s why we all have to remain vigilant and continue to follow public health guidelines that we know will help us limit the spread of COVID-19.  Please, don’t let your guard down, continue to do your part and help support the health care heroes on the front lines of this pandemic.  That would be the greatest gift of all.

 

We applaud the leadership in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives in passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provides critical funding relief for the hospitals and health systems who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As New Hampshire today faces the highest levels of infection and hospitalization since the outset of this pandemic, taking its tragic toll on patients, families and healthcare providers, this legislation will help ensure that our health care system can continue the fight against COVID-19 while providing essential healthcare services to their patients and communities.

This COVID-19 legislation provides critical support to hospitals and health systems, including the elimination of cuts to the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program for the next three years, providing additional support to hospitals who serve our most vulnerable populations; greater flexibility for hospitals relative to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting guidelines; additional funding for the PRF; additional funding for COVID-19 vaccines and testing; and provides an important first step in protecting patients from surprise medical bills.

While all of these measures help support hospitals and health systems across the country in their efforts to continue providing needed care to their patients and communities during this public health crisis, additional funding relief will be necessary to ensure the financial viability and stability of the nation’s health care system as it continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We appreciate the leadership of New Hampshire’s Congressional leaders, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Maggie Hassan, Representative Ann McLane Kuster and Representative Chris Pappas, in pushing this legislation through and ensuring crucial support for our hospitals and healthcare systems.  We look forward to its passage by the Administration, and to working with our state and federal partners to carry out this important legislation to strengthen the efforts of health care heroes on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Richard “Rick” Semo, a security guard at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester after an assault while he was working. 

Over the past several months, communities all across New Hampshire have been reaching out to express their gratitude to the health care heroes on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We count Mr. Semo among those heroes for his efforts to support the safety of the patients and staff at Frisbie Memorial Hospital, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and colleagues.

Violence in our society has become far too prevalent. As evidenced by the tragic death of Mr. Semo, health care workers are not immune to this senseless violence. It must stop. We need to come together to protect our health care heroes and prevent these tragic events from occurring in the future.

We are shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Speaker of the House, Dick Hinch. Throughout his years of service in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, he served as a leader for his colleagues and the people of New Hampshire with respect and compassion. He will be deeply missed by all, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

As we prepare to gather for the Thanksgiving holiday this week, albeit much differently than normal, I am reminded of all of the special people and wonderful things to be thankful for in spite of, and perhaps even because of, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As new cases of COVID-19 continue to climb and hospitalizations are on the rise, I am so thankful for the incredibly dedicated caregivers providing care to all of our patients, including those with COVID-19.  Early in the pandemic, when many of us were working remotely or staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, these health care heroes rushed into the hospital to care for those who were ill.  And I’m thankful for all of the other heroes serving on the front lines…the therapists, environmental services, security, food services, support staff, and so many others who are helping to ensure our hospitals can provide the high quality health care services that their patients deserve. They are truly are an amazing group of selfless individuals who deserve our praise and gratitude. 

I’m thankful for the team at the New Hampshire Hospital Association, our Foundation for Healthy Communities and the Granite State Health Care Coalition, for all that they have done and continue to do to serve our members, partners and the citizens of the State of New Hampshire as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It’s truly an honor and a privilege to work alongside them in this important work.

And I am thankful for my family and their love and support during these challenging times.  It is my sincere hope that each and everyone one of us will be able to pause, even if only for a moment, to reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives and enjoy the comfort of our family, even if that means we don’t get to spend it with them on Thanksgiving as we usually would.  We’re all in this together and I’m confident that because of your efforts, we will get through it.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and socially-distant Thanksgiving holiday!

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association

 

It’s here.

The surge of COVID-19 patients that we’ve all heard would be coming to New Hampshire when the weather turned cooler and people were forced back indoors where social distancing would be much more difficult has arrived.  With seemingly daily new record cases of COVID-19 and a staggering 100% increase in hospitalizations over the past several weeks, there should be no doubt that we are going to be in for a very long and difficult winter for many as we wait for a vaccine to be widely available in the late spring or summer of 2021.

Doctors, nurses and hospitals have been on the front lines of this pandemic and they will continue to be.  They’ve worked tirelessly over the past several months to prepare for the coming surge of COVID-19 patients and are much better prepared and equipped today to respond to the pandemic.

But they need your help.  They are tired, stressed and worried about the health of their patients.  If we are going to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hampshire so that it doesn’t overwhelm our health care system, it will take every Granite State resident to play their part in protecting their own health, as well as protecting the health of the caregivers who are providing care to extremely vulnerable patients. 

These women and men are often described as heroes in their efforts to support patient care in the face of dangerous diseases like COVID-19 and we couldn’t agree more.  And while they appreciate the respect and admiration their patients hold for them, their plea to their patients and communities is very simple:  please do your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  When you do that, you not only protect yourself and others around you, but you’re also helping to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed and you help keep our schools and businesses open, and our economy thriving.

Public health officials are driven by the science behind their recommendations--science that has proven that these simple measures work in reducing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask;
  • Maintain physical distance;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;
  • Stay home when you’re sick; and
  • Limit your holiday travel and gatherings to your immediate household.

The Governor’s most recent Executive Order requiring Granite State residents to wear a mask when they are unable to maintain social distance is very important and a signal of just how serious this situation is as we seek to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. 

We are not powerless in the battle against COVID-19.  We can make a difference by following these simple, commonsense measures.  We can get through this together.  But we have to act now.  New Hampshire is counting on you to do your part.

 

Steve Ahnen                                   Jim Potter, CAE                           Pamela DiNapoli, PhD, RN, CNL

President                                        Executive Vice President              Executive Director

NH Hospital Association                   NH Medical Society                      NH Nurses Association

 

 

Download:  NHHA, NHMS, NHNA Issue Joint Statement Asking NH Residents to Remain Vigilant Leading into Holiday 

 

New Hampshire Hospital Association issued the followed statement following a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire and Governor Sununu’s announcement of a statewide mask mandate to begin Friday, November 20, 2020:

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New Hampshire, with today’s number of new cases being the highest recorded in a single day, we applaud Governor Sununu for implementing a statewide mask mandate to slow the rate of community transmission.  Until we have a vaccine, wearing a mask is one of the most simple and effective things we can do to keep the virus from shutting down our state and overwhelming our healthcare system. 

We are not powerless in this public health crisis. Recently, New Hampshire’s physician and nurse leaders from every hospital issued a joint statement urging residents to continue to adhere to the public health guidance known to slow the community rate of transmission of COVID-19.  New Hampshire residents can play a critical role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by practicing everyday prevention measures like social distancing, wearing masks when in public, frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and covering coughs and sneezes. 

Our actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. Doing so not only protects each other and our loved ones, but it also helps to keep our businesses open, our kids in schools and our economy thriving. 

 

In honor of New Hampshire’s rural health providers, the New Hampshire Hospital Association is proud to join the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), as well as other state and national rural stakeholders, in celebrating National Rural Health Day.

National Rural Health Day was created to recognize and honor those rural healthcare providers who serve the vital needs of our most vulnerable patients, working tirelessly to address the barriers patients face in accessing healthcare when they need it.  And like so many others across the country, our rural hospitals and frontline workers have responded with strength and resilience to the COVID-19 crisis on behalf of their patients and communities.  Today and every day, they exemplify the Blue and White H of health, healing and hope, and the promise it makes to its community during these challenging times.

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 engage in innovative programs with partners statewide to address accessibility issues, a shortage 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 to improve the health status of the communities they serve.  Beyond the issue of caring for the patients and communities who depend on them, 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.

In honor of National Rural Health Day, NOSORH highlights rural health providers across the country for delivering excellence in rural health settings over the past year through its Community Star recognition program.  We’re pleased to congratulate Keith Shute, MD, MMM, FAAP Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, NH, for being honored as New Hampshire’s 2020 Community Star for his tireless efforts, dedication and commitment to improving the health of his patients and community, and for his innovative work on a regional education program for the New Hampshire Stroke Collaborative.  You can read more about Dr. Shute's story at the PowerOfRural.org.

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. 

 

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Calling on New Hampshire residents to remain vigilant in practicing the public health safety measures we know help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, New Hampshire’s clinical leaders released a joint statement highlighting the importance of doing what we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. 

We are not powerless in this public health crisis. Each one of us can play a critical role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by practicing everyday prevention measures like social distancing, wearing masks when in public, frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and covering coughs and sneezes. 

“Keeping patients and the public safe through vigilant prevention measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 is a priority for every hospital in New Hampshire,” noted New Hampshire Hospital Association President Steve Ahnen.  He went on to add, “As cases continue to rise, physician and nurse leaders across the state are urging all residents to practice the simple steps we know can help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands, and staying home when you don’t feel well.”

We can all do our part in helping turn the tide of this pandemic, and because our actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. Doing so not only protects each other and our loved ones, but it also helps to keep our kids in school, our businesses open, and our economy thriving. 

 

Joint Statement Issued by New Hampshire's Healthcare Leaders:

As the physician and nurse leaders of hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the state of New Hampshire, we have an important safety message regarding COVID-19.

We want to make it clear that our doctors nurses, hospitals and healthcare systems across the state are standing with our public health colleagues as a united front in our efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative that every New Hampshire resident join us in taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

Our hospitals and healthcare facilities will continue requiring staff, patients, and visitors to follow public safety protocols, including mask-wearing, screenings upon entry to our facilities, and limitation of visitors/caregivers. We ask that you do the same: wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart, avoid crowds, wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough and stay home if you are experiencing any respiratory or unexplained symptoms, such as a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or other common COVID-19 symptoms. We do this to keep our patients, visitors and healthcare workers safe.  And when you do this, you’re helping to keep the ones you love and others around you safe.

In recent weeks, we have seen COVID-19 cases trending upwards in all regions of the state, and while hospitalizations remain relatively low today, they have more than doubled in the past month.  This concerning increase puts our entire healthcare system at risk. If these trends continue, doctors, nurses, therapists, environmental services, security, food services,  support staff and so many others who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March will suffer additional stress and risk their own infection, illness, and mortality.

The decision to continue these safety measures is driven by data and guidance from healthcare experts, not politics. Public health draws on data to chart the route from where we are now, to where we need to go. It keeps hospitals and healthcare facilities safe places for patients to receive both routine and emergency care as needed. These measures will not only help prevent another catastrophic surge in hospital admissions and COVID-19 deaths, but they will also help to keep our schools and businesses open and our economy thriving.  But we need your help.

While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19, the simple acts of wearing masks, washing our hands and socially distancing are the most effective tools we have in the fight against COVID-19.  It is incumbent upon each one of us to do all that we can to limit the spread.

Help keep COVID-19 under control by doing what you can to prevent more infections and hospitalizations. Support our dedicated and courageous healthcare heroes as they continue the fight against COVID-19 while safely caring for all of your health care needs.

Working together with you, we are confident that we can make a difference and keep this dangerous virus under control.

 

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Download the Joint Statement Issued by New Hampshire's Healthcare Leaders

Download the New Hampshire Hospital Association Statement

 

 

 

The New Hampshire Hospital Association and the Foundation for Healthy Communities recently held their 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, and though it was done in a very different manner than years past, it provided us the opportunity to demonstrate our deepest appreciation and gratitude to our healthcare heroes on the front lines of COVID-19.

 

Like many across the country, New Hampshire hospitals and our frontline workers have adapted with strength and resilience in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis on behalf of the patients and communities they serve.  Today and every day, they exemplify the Blue and White H of health, healing and hope, and the promise it makes to its community during these challenging times.

 

We often talk about the important role hospitals play in their communities every day and they have demonstrated time and again throughout this pandemic and countless challenges before, their commitment to being there, prepared to care for all of their patients when they need it most.

 

New Hampshire’s healthcare heroes have been on the front lines of this pandemic since March, experiencing significant trauma, physical and mental stress, but have remained steadfast in their commitment to provide essential, compassionate care to their patients.  As healthcare leaders, we know that simple things such as wearing masks, socially distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home when sick saves lives.  These healthcare heroes are our most valuable asset, and for them to continue to be ready to care, practicing these measures is an absolute.  Together, we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and our caregivers. 

 

As we make our way through this unprecedented time, our hospitals continue to rise to meet the challenges of their COVID-19 response and recovery, and we remain inspired by their unwavering resolve, heroic sacrifice and absolute commitment to delivering the critical care patients need and deserve. 

 

We’d like to thank our 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting Sponsors for their continued support and partnership, and for joining us in celebration of our healthcare heroes for all they have done and continue to do on behalf of their employees, families and communities.

 

To the healthcare heroes throughout our state and beyond, our gratitude is as deep as your courage, and we thank you for your dedication to keeping your community healthy, and for the bravery, compassion and empathy you provide to your patients every day. 

NHHA FHC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting Livestream Link

  

NHHA FHC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting Sponsors 10152020

 

July 6, 2020

 

An open letter to the American public,

 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have urged the American people to protect themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones amidst the worst global health crisis in generations. After months of physical distancing and staying at home, infections and deaths began to decline.

But in the weeks since states began reopening, some of the steps that were critical to the progress we made were too quickly abandoned. And we are now watching in real-time as a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases is erasing our hard-won gains. Hospitals in some states are at or nearing their ICU capacity. Shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies continue to pose a dire threat to health care workers and patients alike. And last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that the U.S could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases each day if we do not take more precautions.

This is why as physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts, we are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands. We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health—by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions.

The toll of this pandemic is already staggering, and it will take many more months, perhaps years, to truly understand its impact on our country and our way of life. But what is certain – and what the science and evidence are telling us – is that COVID-19 is not behind us and we must resist confusing re-opening with returning to normalcy. Doing so will escalate this crisis and result in more suffering and death.

To those of you who are doing your part in helping turn the tide of this pandemic – thank you. Your actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this – together.

 

Your continued partners in health,

 

American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Nurses Association

 

Download:  AHA, AMA, ANA Open Letter Urging Public to Wear Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Hospitals & Health Systems Facing Devastating Financial Challenges due to COVID-19 Pandemic

 

New Hampshire hospitals and health systems continue to face unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19, so we’re very pleased with Governor Sununu’s decision to allocate $24.9 million from the State Emergency Healthcare System Relief Fund to help hospitals confront the pandemic.  The additional funding of $24.9M is a welcomed allocation to those hospitals who have experienced a great financial burden as they responded to this ongoing pandemic.  

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create significant financial pressures for hospitals throughout the state as they remain on the frontlines of the pandemic.  The critical steps hospitals took to prepare and respond to COVID-19 created drastic reductions in both inpatient and outpatient volume, the recovery of which will last long into the next year before pre-COVID baseline operating levels are realized.  These reductions in volume and revenue were made worse by increases in hospital expenses associated with purchasing personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies to strengthen their response. 

We’re grateful for this funding in support of those hospitals’ efforts in responding to the pandemic, but there’s no question that hospitals across New Hampshire face the greatest financial challenge in their history due to the pandemic and will need further significant financial support to help them navigate through this crisis in recognition of the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue they have experienced to-date and will continue to experience in the months ahead.

We look forward to working with the Governor and our federal delegation on securing the critical financial resources our hospitals need to ensure they can continue to be there for their patients and communities today and into the future.

 

Steve Ahnen is president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

I think we have all watched the events unfolding over the past several days in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests across the nation and even the world calling for change and racial justice.  As health care providers and administrators, you came into this field with one goal: to serve others.  And you do so without regard to one’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.  It is truly inspiring to observe how you fulfill that fundamental mission in all that you do on behalf of your patients and the communities that you serve. 

Today’s events have shown again the deep racial divisions that exist in our nation, but they also demonstrate all that is possible and hopeful.  To witness thousands of our fellow citizens raising their voice in peaceful protest, or to see a police officer kneeling with those protestors or holding a sign that reads, “We hear you!”, we know that we can make progress on these challenging issues if we are willing to listen to one another, to understand and to work towards reconciliation and moving forward together

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  It is to these ideals that we must pledge ourselves in order to heal the divisions that exist and build a better community for all.

 

Steve Ahnen

President, New Hampshire Hospital Association