Hospital Rounds

Friday, February 21, 2020

Kansas Hospitals Enthusiastic About Bipartisan Collaboration on Medicaid Expansion

The Kansas Hospital Association is delighted to learn that Gov. Laura Kelly and Sen. Jim Denning have reached an agreement on a Medicaid (KanCare) expansion plan. The plan allows for expansion up to 138% of the federal poverty level beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

In addition to expanding eligibility, the plan includes a requirement that Kansas pursue a Section 1332 reinsurance waiver. Advocates are pleased that the plan does not include a work requirement nor a lockout. An essential component of this agreement insisted on by both Gov. Kelly and Sen. Denning is a “hospital surcharge” that will be used to help offset the state’s share of expansion costs.

“This agreement is clearly the most significant progress we have seen in the Medicaid expansion debate in Kansas,” says Tom Bell, KHA President and CEO. “The fact that Gov. Kelly and Sen. Denning have agreed in principle on a plan is momentous. It represents real compromise and is undoubtedly the best, and maybe the only, way to get this through the legislature.”

KHA members are enthusiastic about the opportunity to expand healthcare coverage to thousands of hardworking, low-income Kansans. KanCare expansion is a benefit to individual Kansans, Kansas healthcare providers, Kansas businesses and Kansas communities.

This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when Republicans and Democrats work together in a bipartisan manner, and our state will be better off for it.

The Kansas Hospital Association is a voluntary, nonprofit organization existing to be the leading advocate and resource for members. KHA membership includes 219 member facilities, of which 123 are full-service, community hospitals. Founded in 1910, KHA’s vision is: “Optimal Health for Kansans.”


Stormont Vail Health and Children’s Mercy Announce New Affiliation

In early January, Stormont Vail Health and Children’s Mercy Kansas City announced their intent to affiliate, bringing advanced specialty pediatric services to Shawnee County and the surrounding areas.

Stormont Vail Health has spent years investing in pediatric specialty services in the area through its Pediatric Intensive Care, Neonatal Intensive Care, Pediatric Oncology, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Endocrinology and more. The two systems will work to collaborate, building upon the current services that Stormont Vail Health provides to patients today, and expanding to include on-site and telemedicine services from Children’s Mercy.

Children’s Mercy has been serving patients in Kansas and Missouri for more than 100 years. U.S. News & World Report has named it one of the best children’s hospitals in America, ranking in all 10 pediatric specialties for five consecutive years.

“Stormont Vail Health has a great foundation when it comes to the investments we have made in pediatric specialty care,” says Robert Kenagy, MD, CEO and President, Stormont Vail Health. “While recognizing these investments, we know that by partnering with a system like Children’s Mercy we will be able to further advance specialty care, close to home.”

In 2019, Stormont Vail Health partnered with Children’s Mercy to provide a pediatric cardiologist at the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center. They also provide teleconsulting services and backup pediatric oncology and pediatric ophthalmology services.

“We are excited to work with Stormont Vail to bring the highest level of pediatric care to the children of this region,” says Paul Kempinski, MS, FACHE, President and CEO of Children’s Mercy. “Our two health systems share a common commitment to put patients and families first, and through this new affiliation, we will work to continue to deliver on that promise.”


Kansas Hospitals Keep Kansas Healthy and Economically Strong

Hospitals and healthcare systems are a powerful economic force in Kansas. The state’s healthcare sector generated $17.9 billion in income and $31.4 billion in sales last year, ranking it fifth among all economic sectors in the state. Hospitals were the biggest contributor in the health sector, generating $8.4 billion in income and $16.4 billion in sales. Kansas hospitals employ more than 97,000 of the 240,000 health service employees in the state. The healthcare sector is the third largest aggregate employer in the state.

These are just a few of the findings in the January 2020 report, The Importance of the Health Care Sector to the Kansas Economy, which details estimates of the gross impact of the healthcare sector on economic activity in the State of Kansas. In the report, K-State researchers identify three primary ways health care influences local economic development: health care attracts and retains business, attracts and retains retirees, and creates local jobs.

Jobs are an essential part of the economic impact; however, funds also flow to businesses and throughout the economy as hospitals purchase goods and services. Hospitals generate nearly $4 billion in local retail sales in Kansas each year. Additionally, the hospital sector generates more than $259 million in state sales tax. These are critical funds that the state uses for important programs, such as education and transportation.

“Hospitals and health services truly are an economic anchor in our state,” says Tom Bell, President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association. “This report documents the importance of the healthcare sector to the Kansas economy. While the estimates of economic impact are substantial, they are only a partial accounting of the benefits that health care in general, and community hospitals in particular, provide to the state. Kansas community hospitals help stabilize the population base, invigorate their communities and contribute significantly to quality of life.”

According to the 2020 economic report, Kansas hospitals employ 4.8% of all job holders in the state. The report calculated economic multipliers, or “ripple effects,” and estimated hospitals account for 88,143 additional jobs throughout all other businesses and industries in the state. In other words, for each new job in the hospital sector, another 0.91 jobs were created in other businesses and industries in Kansas. The hospital sector employment had a total impact on state employment of approximately 185,153 jobs.

Furthermore, the entire health sector in Kansas employs about 240,000 people, or 12% of all job holders in the state. This puts Kansas ahead of the national average, which is 10% of job holders in the United States working in healthcare services. The total employment impact of the health services sector in Kansas is nearly 417,000 jobs, making it the third largest aggregate employer in the state. This report confirms heath care is directly or closely related to more than 20% of all Kansas employment.

The study also found Kansas hospitals generate more than $7.1 billion in direct labor income to the Kansas economy each year. For every dollar of income generated in the hospital sector, another $0.60 was generated in other business and industry. As a result, the hospital sector had an estimated total impact on income throughout all businesses and industries of $11.4 billion.

The full statewide report and links to county reports can be found on the KHA website.


KHA President and CEO Announces Retirement: Tom Bell expresses gratitude for members and the opportunity to serve them

Tom Bell, President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association, will retire in September 2020.

Bell began his career at KHA in 1986 as Vice President and legal counsel after working as a healthcare attorney for the Topeka firm of Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds and Palmer. He also served as Senior Vice President/legal counsel and Executive Vice President before he became President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association in January 2005.

Bell has led the association through many milestones, including the 100th anniversary of the association in 2010. Under his leadership, KHA increased its focus on quality and patient safety in numerous areas, including the founding of the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative with the Kansas Medical Society and the development of one of the strongest Hospital Engagement Networks in the country. Bell stressed the importance of advocacy on behalf of Kansas hospitals, especially in areas of maintaining the state’s strong tort laws, holding managed care companies accountable, reversing proposed Medicaid cuts, and most recently in moving Kansas closer to adoption of Medicaid expansion. The association also increased collaborative efforts with stakeholders throughout the state as the healthcare system changed to focus more on preventive and population health. Under Bell’s leadership, KHA is recognized as a national leader in the development of new models of healthcare delivery and advocacy efforts that support the evolving rural healthcare system.

“I am most grateful for the work that our members do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to serve their communities. People who work in the healthcare system care for our most vulnerable citizens at their most vulnerable times, and we should express our gratitude to them every single day. I also am incredibly appreciative of the extraordinary staff of top-notch people who work at the Kansas Hospital Association,” Bell says.

Bell is a native Kansan from Holton and graduated from Kansas State University and Washburn University School of Law. After graduation from law school, Bell clerked for Kansas Supreme Court Justice Harold Herd prior to joining Goodell Stratton. He earned his certified association executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives and has been a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, the Kansas Association of Hospital Attorneys and the Kansas Society of Association Executives, where he served as President in 1996.

In his role as President and CEO of KHA, Bell is the President of the Kansas Health Services Corporation and APS; and Chairman of the Board of the Health Alliance of Mid-America, a joint venture between the Kansas Hospital Association and the Missouri Hospital Association. He also serves on the boards of the Kansas Health Education and Research Foundation, the Kansas Hospital Association Workers Compensation Fund, the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative, KaMMCO, the Kansas Health Information Network and the Regional Policy Board of the American Hospital Association. Most recently, he has served as a member of the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion.

Beyond his state leadership role, Bell also serves in a number of capacities in regional and national healthcare-related initiatives. He works closely and frequently with top management of the American Hospital Association and represents perspectives unique to Kansas at various national healthcare conferences.

“Not only is Tom esteemed in Kansas but he has the admiration of healthcare leaders across the nation. Kansans have been fortunate to have Tom’s guidance and expertise. There is not a healthcare advocate that is more respected,” says Melissa Atkins, Administrator and CEO of Graham County Hospital and 2020 KHA Board Chair.


Chad Austin selected as next President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association

The Kansas Hospital Association Board of Directors has selected Chad Austin to fill the position of President and CEO for the Kansas Hospital Association upon the retirement of current KHA President and CEO Tom Bell on Sept. 1, 2020. Until that time, Austin will serve as Executive Vice President of KHA.

“Chad Austin has a tremendous knowledge and understanding of Kansas hospitals no matter their size or geographical location. He already has a stellar record of serving those hospitals in many capacities, and he will continue that exceptional service as President and CEO,” says Bell.

Austin began his career at KHA in 1999 after graduating from the University of Kansas with a master’s degree in Health Services Administration. Throughout his career at the hospital association, he has held responsibilities for managing all of the association’s data-related activities, rural health and Critical Access Hospital issues, and the oversight of the Kansas Rural Health Options Project.

In Austin’s previous role as the Senior Vice President of Government Relations, he oversaw all state and federal advocacy initiatives for the association. His duties also included the oversight of the association’s public relations, finance and reimbursement activities.

Austin serves as an adjunct faculty member at Washburn University. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Kansas Association of Health Care Executives. He also is actively involved with the American Hospital Association, National Rural Health Association and the Kansas Society of Association Executives. Austin is a 2011 graduate of the Leadership Kansas program.

“Chad exemplifies all the best qualities of a true leader. He is an amazing advocate and resource to KHA members, and we are looking forward to him serving in this role,” says Melissa Atkins, Administrator and CEO of Graham County Hospital and 2020 KHA Board Chair.


Cardiologist Rashmi Thapa, MD, Joins Cotton O’Neil Manhattan

Stormont Vail Health and Cotton O’Neil are proud to announce that cardiologist Rashmi Thapa, MD, will join our team and practice, located at Cotton O’Neil Manhattan, 1133 College Ave., Suite E-110, Manhattan, Kansas.

Dr. Thapa was drawn to the field of medicine because of her mother, who worked in a library of a nursing school. Being around nursing staff and physicians helped her to realize that becoming a physician was the path for her.

“The feeling of being useful to society and the joy of improving the lives of our patients are what keeps me coming into the office each day,” Dr. Thapa says. “I take the time to listen to the problems of our patients and at the same time, continue providing the care that they need to overcome these conditions so that they can lead a healthier and happier life.”

Dr. Thapa earned her medical degree in 2007 from Tribhuvan University, Institute of Medicine, Kathmandu, Nepal. Dr. Thapa completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee, in 2011. She then completed her fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, in 2014.

Dr. Thapa has founded some not-for-profit organizations. She does charitable work in Kansas as well as her home country of Nepal. She enjoys hiking and traveling back to Nepal.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Thapa, call 785-537-2651.


Stormont Vail Health Presented Check to United Way

Stormont Vail Health presented the United Way with a check from the proceeds of its 2019 employee campaign on Thursday, Jan. 16.

One of the tenets of the organization is “Together we honor our heritage, embrace diversity and work every day to improve the health of our community.” Stormont Vail Health team members lived this tenet by raising $169,000 for the United Way of Greater Topeka.

This support comes through employee contributions during Stormont Vail’s week-long campaign and an annual gift basket raffle. Individual departments also organize their own bake sales, penny wars and similar fundraising activities. Many also make a point to participate in community service projects during the campaign.


Mercy, Ortho Four States Sign Acquisition Agreement: Organizations to come under Mercy ownership immediately

Orthopedic Specialists of the Four StatesPremier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center signed an agreement to become part of Mercy, effective Jan. 26.

“For more than a decade, Ortho Four States has been providing compassionate high-quality orthopedic and pain management care to our patients in Joplin and the Four-State Region,” Ortho Four States CEO Joe Caputo says. “We are honored to be the trusted providers in restoring patients’ quality of life through state-of-the-art surgical and nonsurgical procedures. Today, we are proud to announce the strengthening of our ability to treat patients as we become part of the Mercy ministry, an organization with a 100-year legacy of healing.”

In recent years, Ortho Four States has expanded its footprint and services to include multispecialty care. Premier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center are home to leading specialists in orthopedics, gastroenterology, gynecology, otolaryngology, dentistry, pain management, podiatry and more.

Orthopedic Specialists of the Four States and Mercy have had a connection for years. Founding Ortho Four States physicians Christopher Banwart, Jonathan Grantham, Brian Ipsen, John Ogden, Terry Schwab, Robert Stringer and Paul Toma had privileges at the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

“This agreement creates a powerful force for good,” says Tracy Godfrey, MD, President of Mercy Clinic Joplin. “Bringing together the experience and talent of multiple organizations can only mean one thing — providing the best orthopedic care in the Four-State Area. At Mercy, we’re excited to offer our current patients new services while bringing our ministry of healing to those we have yet to serve.”

“We believe that the community will benefit greatly from bringing these organizations together as part of Mercy,” says Jeremy Drinkwitz, President of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “Mercy is thrilled to add these well-known, high-quality healthcare providers to our ministry.”

The organizations will continue to operate under their current names and branding as Mercy begins the process of transitioning them to its electronic health record software, Epic. It’s estimated that process will be complete in August, at which time a blessing and grand opening will be held and the organizations will begin using the Mercy name and branding.

In the immediate future, patients and community members should notice very little change. All current Ortho Four States, Premier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center patients should be able to continue their care uninterrupted, and Mercy plans to retain all staff as Mercy coworkers.


Kansas Business Group on Health Selected for Employer-led Effort to Improve Mental Health and Substance Use in Kansas and Nationally

The Kansas Business Group on Health (KBGH) has been selected to lead efforts in Wichita and throughout Kansas to improve mental health and substance use care. This is part of a transformative initiative called The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use led by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association Foundation Center for Workplace Mental Health and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

“KBGH is honored and excited to be chosen as one of eight regions in the country to carry out this much-needed work,” says Shelley Duncan, KBGH Executive Director. “Our member employers will greatly benefit from the outcomes of this work and ultimately help transform the provision of mental health and substance use treatment in Wichita and beyond.”

KBGH will lead one of eight Regional Employer Stakeholder Engagement Teams (RESET Regions) to leverage the influence of their employer and other healthcare purchaser members to work with health plans, medical and behavioral health groups, consultants, and brokers to combat this public health crisis. To gain national traction, similar efforts are underway in California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

A report published last month by Milliman found the current state of mental health and substance use treatment in America is dire and only getting worse. Results showed that patients were much more likely to resort to “out-of-network” providers for behavioral health treatment than for other conditions.

To overcome these issues, The Path Forward has identified Five Priority Strategies that constitute our nation’s best opportunity to transform behavioral health care at a population level and improve access to necessary early detection and appropriate treatment. These best practices include (1) improving access to “in-network” behavioral health specialists, (2) expanding use of the collaborative care model to integrate behavioral health into primary care, (3) implementing measurement-based care in both primary care and behavioral specialty care to improve quality and outcomes, (4) expanding tele-behavioral health and (5) ensuring mental health parity compliance.