It’s been more than two years since the American Hospital Association held its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. — and this past week presented an important opportunity for hospital leaders from across the country to connect with one another and to personally deliver vital messages to policymakers at the highest levels of our nation’s government.
It’s one thing for members of Congress to look at charts about the dire predicament hospitals are in or read news articles about ratings agencies’ increasingly negative outlook for hospitals and health care. It’s quite another for them to sit across the desk and hear directly from a hospital executive who’s trying to scrape together enough funding to hire nurses and other health care professionals, find a way to retain vital community health services despite losing money every day providing them, and plan a long-term strategy to meet the health needs of an aging population.
Thank you to all of you who were able to join us in the nation’s capital to tell your story. Events like these enable you to demonstrate the power of your collective voice thanks to the partnership your association enjoys with our federal counterparts. For those who could not join in person, thank you for attending one of more than two dozen virtual meetings with federal representatives ahead of the annual meeting.
Your voices were heard on our national health care workforce challenge — where figuring out how to adequately replace a 20% loss in staff must be accomplished if you are to continue to deliver the care people need, expect, and deserve.
Your voices were heard on COVID-19 relief — where 51% of California’s hospitals are now operating in the red, after having saved an estimated three-quarters of a million lives in our state.
Your voices were heard on behavioral health — where the pandemic has exacerbated an environment that already had needs far outpacing the capacity of the health care system.
These meetings — virtual and in-person — are part of the ongoing drumbeat of engagement needed to reinforce for policymakers that even though the pandemic may be waning from a clinical perspective, its impact on the ability to provide care will reverberate for years if not decades.
And for many hospitals, if lifelines are not provided at this critical moment of vulnerability, it is the people and patients you serve who will suffer most.