Minnesota Hospital Association


January 13, 2014

MHA Newsline

In this issue

Flu widespread in Minnesota

Resources for hospitals available on MHA website

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), influenza is widespread across Minnesota with 144 influenza-related hospitalizations for the week ending Jan. 4. For the 2013-14 flu season, there have been 378 total hospitalizations. The H1N1 virus is the most commonly identified flu strain reported so far this season. A handful of hospitals have implemented visitor restrictions, with others reminding visitors with flu-like symptoms not to visit. In response to last year’s flu season, a work group developed a number of resources and sample policies to help hospitals respond quickly and consistently throughout the state. Visit www.mnhospitals.org/patient-safety/preventing-flu for sample visitor policies, signage, employee communication and more. return to top  

Check your inbox for MHA 2014 directory survey

Hospital CEOs, their administrative assistants and associate members should watch their email inboxes this week for the MHA 2014 directory membership survey.  

MHA annually updates contact information of senior leaders and key contacts within hospitals, health systems and associate member companies to ensure the MHA database is accurate, up to date and that communications are reaching the appropriate contacts.    

Please complete the survey and return by Monday, Feb. 17 to Ashley Gauster, MHA member services and communications specialist, 651-603-3545. return to top  

Call for entries for 2014 awards program

Nominations due Friday, Feb. 14

MHA seeks nominations for its 30th annual awards program celebrating outstanding work by Minnesota hospitals and health systems.  

Entries are due by Friday, Feb. 14; find the entry form here: MHA Awards: Nomination Form 

MHA award categories recognize excellence involving community health, workforce issues, patient care and career promotion, for example. Honors for individuals recognize trustees, volunteers, hospital executives, caregivers and public officials. Additional information on the categories and judging criteria can be found on MHA’s website.  

MHA will notify all entrants whether they have won in mid-March. A reception and dinner will take place Friday, April 25 at the Metropolitan Ballroom in suburban Minneapolis. All MHA members and associate members are invited and encouraged to attend the awards ceremony. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for this celebration of excellence in Minnesota health care.  

For more information, contact Sarah Bohnet, MHA visual communications specialist, 651-603-3494. return to top  

Newborn Screening lawsuit settled

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Newborn Screening Program announced today that it has settled the Bearder-Skaja, et al. lawsuit. This settlement does not change any procedures at hospitals to collect the specimen for the Newborn Screening Program.   

According to MDH, these court proceedings came as a result of a lawsuit against MDH claiming that the Minnesota State Genetic Information Act of 2006 required written parental consent before the department could store, use or disseminate newborn screening blood spots.  

With the agreement and in order to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and statutory authority, MDH has begun to:

  • Destroy the approximately 1 million blood spots received prior to Nov. 16, 2011 that have been kept in secure storage since 1997.
  • Destroy blood spot test results (both positives and negatives) from any specimen that is older than two years.

In 2012, state law was updated to clearly state how MDH and partners may use, store and disseminate blood spots and test results. Under the revised statutes:

  • MDH retains all negative blood spots for 71 days from the date they are received by MDH and all positive blood spots for two years.
  • All blood spot test results (positive or negative) are kept for two years to comply with federal requirements, and are then destroyed.
  • Parents may consent to retain both the blood spots and test results for a longer period of time.

The MDH Newborn Screening Program may no longer have test results available on children more than two years of age. The department is asking parents to contact the child’s birth facility to obtain any screening records. This settlement does not require destruction of newborn screening results that providers may have in their own medical record systems.  

Click here to read a stakeholder letter from MDH regarding the status of the lawsuit involving the Minnesota Newborn Screening Program and next steps for the program. return to top  

IRS to clarify employer mandate for volunteer EMS departments

Last Friday, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated that final rules regarding employers’ obligations to provide health insurance or face financial penalties will clarify that those obligations do not apply to volunteer emergency personnel, such as volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) and fire departments. The letter can be found here.  

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with more than 50 employees will be required to offer affordable health coverage or pay financial penalties if their employees receive federal subsidies for insurance coverage purchased through a health insurance exchange. Many communities that rely upon volunteer EMS, fire departments and other first responders expressed concern that the new requirements would dramatically increase the costs of these services and, in many areas, leave residents without access to the life-saving paramedic and first-response services needed.  

Although the IRS has not promulgated final rules governing the new requirements for employers, it responded to concerns by stating that, “As a result of [the agency’s] review and further analysis concerning the appropriate treatment of volunteer firefighters and voluntary emergency personnel . . ., the forthcoming final regulations generally will not require volunteer hours of both volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical personnel at government entities or tax-exempt organizations to be counted when determining an employer’s full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees.”  

For more information, contact Matt Anderson, MHA vice president of regulatory and strategic affairs, 651-659-1421 or Jen McNertney, MHA policy analyst, 651-659-1405. return to top  

Trustees hear from Attorney General Swanson

Seventy-seven hospitals were represented at the annual Trustee Conference Jan. 10-12. Attendees heard from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson on Friday about her role in consumer protection, enforcer of anti-trust laws and regulator of charitable institutions.

“An active trustee can be an active ambassador for your community,” she told attendees. “You care about your communities; you care about your patients. You are the moral compass, the voice of the community.”  

She reminded trustees of their fiduciary duty, duty of care, duty of loyalty and duty of obedience. She urged trustees to actively oversee management, and said her door is open to trustees. return to top  

MHA report on Minnesota hospitals’ community health needs assessments

For years, many Minnesota hospitals and health systems conducted formal or informal assessments of their communities’ health needs. Because of new requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and proposed rules from the Internal Revenue Service, for the first time charitable hospitals are completing comparable, formal community health needs assessments (CHNAs).  

MHA has collected and analyzed 84 CHNAs from hospitals across the state. MHA’s preliminary report can be found here and its catalog of hospitals’ CHNAs can be found on the MHA website.  

MHA reached four key conclusions based on the priority needs that each hospital identified and intends to address in the years ahead:

  • Identifying and prioritizing health needs are very community-centric activities, and each hospital and its community sets their priorities and areas of focus in their own way.
  • Despite Minnesota’s nation-leading health care delivery system, securing access to care remains a significant and high priority for many communities. Out of the 84 CHNAs, 33 indicated ensuring or increasing access to care and 15 specifically noted access to primary or specialty health care services are among the most significant priorities in their community.
  • Promoting wellness and reducing obesity and its corresponding chronic diseases are nearly ubiquitous needs that hospitals and communities across the state hope to impact.
  • Mental health and substance abuse services are commonly identified as some of the most pressing needs of communities of all sizes, locations and demographics. The growing strains on current mental and behavioral health systems are no longer regarded as sustainable, and 45 of the 84 CHNAs documented mental health as a high priority and 27 noted forms of substance abuse areas as high priorities.

MHA plans to release additional reports and analysis from its CHNA collection in the future. 

To help build momentum from the CHNA process to creating the community-wide initiatives that will make the greatest impact on the high-priority needs, MHA and the Minnesota Association of Local Public Health Agencies are hosting “Building Collaborations for Local Community Health” from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Dakota Lodge in West St. Paul. Mark your calendars and watch for registration information soon.  

For more information, contact Matt Anderson, MHA vice president of regulatory and strategic affairs, 651-659-1421 or Jen McNertney, MHA policy analyst, 651-659-1405. return to top  

The Itasca Project Workforce Alignment Team to launch pilots

The Itasca Project Workforce Alignment Team will soon launch four different pilots aimed at helping academic leaders and employers work together more quickly to meet real-time job demands and to help students and job seekers to make more informed decisions about their options based on the labor market.  

The Itasca Project is a civic alliance focused on building a thriving economy and improved quality of life in Minnesota. In 2012, the Itasca Project convened a higher education task force to identify strategies that should be implemented for higher education in Minnesota to drive long-term, sustainable economic growth and prosperity.   

After publishing a white paper entitled “Higher Education Partnership for Prosperity,” the task force launched the Itasca Workforce Alignment Team, which is comprised of employers, educators, and state agencies, and is co-chaired by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Chancellor Steven Rosenstone and Schwan’s Chief Human Resources Officer Scott Peterson. MHA is represented on the team.  

The team is charged with ensuring that the human capital available in Minnesota readily meets the foundational and technical skills needed by employers in today’s economy and in the years ahead.

Through interviews or surveys, 600+ workforce stakeholders helped the team identify specific information and process challenges faced by workforce decision-makers. The pilots will bring new data tools and approaches to decision-makers to ensure workforce stakeholders have the appropriate information, tools and supporting enablers to make better decisions.  

The pilots will involve 14+ academic institutions, four workforce centers and 75+ employers. Several of the pilots will be focused on questions related to programs in health care. For example, Saint Paul College will review its new Pharmacy Technician program involving employers representing: Target Corporation; Walgreens; CVS; Walmart; Regions Hospital (HealthPartners); Allina Health; HealthEast Care System; and Fairview Health Services.  

Also, Winona State University will use the new tools as it engages in conversations with employers about the feasibility of developing a new online adult baccalaureate completion degree in health information management and health informatics.  

Pilots will be active through June followed by recommendations to scale and potentially test additional pilots as needed in fall 2014.  

For more information, contact Ann Gibson, MHA vice president of federal relations and workforce, 651-603-3527. return to top  

Proposals sought for Minnesota Rural Health Conference

The 2014 Minnesota Rural Health Conference, "Weaving the Threads of Rural Health," is scheduled for June 23-24, 2014 in Duluth.   

The Conference Committee is seeking proposals from those interested in presenting a breakout session at the conference.    

The first day of the conference, Monday June 23, is focused on critical access hospitals (CAHs) and their communities. The second day takes a broader look at rural health in Minnesota. Conference focus areas include: promising practices; tools and resources; operational effectiveness; collaborations and partnerships; and patient access and engagement. Within those focus areas, proposals explicitly related to state and federal health reform trends and provisions will be given preference.    

View the call for proposals here. Use the 2014 Breakout Session Proposal Form to submit your proposal by Feb. 7, 2014. For questions contact Kim Nordin, 218-737-9390 ext 237. return to top   

CentraCare Health President and CEO Terry Pladson to retire Dec. 31

Terry Pladson, MD, has announced he will retire as president and CEO of CentraCare Health on Dec. 31, 2014. Pladson assumed the role of co-president in 1995 with the merger of St. Cloud Clinic of Internal Medicine and St. Cloud Hospital and became sole president of the newly formed CentraCare Health in 2002. CentraCare Health has grown from one hospital, one clinic and one senior living campus into an organization of more than 8,000 employees operating six hospitals, nursing homes and senior apartment communities in six communities, and 17 clinics.   

Pladson has been an active member of MHA, serving on the board of directors since 2003 and as board chair in 2010. He served as the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board (RPB) 6 representative and on the Minnesota Hospital Association Political Action Committee board. In 2009, he earned the MHA Grassroots Champion Award advocacy on behalf of hospitals and health systems and was honored with the Stephen Rogness Distinguished Service Award in 2012.  

Gene Windfeldt, chair of the CentraCare Health board of directors, praised Pladson: “Dr. Pladson has been an inspiration to the board and the entire organization through his commitment to the CentraCare mission, ‘to improve the health of every patient every day.’ He has been the right person at the right time for the CentraCare organization.” return to top  

ICSI to host webinar on new acute pain assessment and opioid prescribing protocol

Every chronic pain patient started out with acute pain, so what can be done to manage pain and minimize the risk of dependency or addiction? At this webinar you'll hear from a panel of clinicians from the work group that developed the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement’s (ICSI) new protocol that considers care and treatment of patients in acute pain. The webinar is free and open to members and non-members. The webinar will take place Monday, Feb. 10 from noon to 1 p.m. CST. For more details and to register by Feb. 5, visit http://bit.ly/1c0Wacn. return to top