I’m pleased to share some key takeaways from our recent Associates and Partners Event in September. The gathering brought together over 30 HASC partners, along with staff members and hospital leaders in our LA board room. This year, we expanded the event to include Endorsed Business Partners. It was great to see so many of our partners engaging with one another and eager to learn about our members and their needs.
We started the day with lunch and networking, followed by a program of speakers. In my opening remarks, I discussed HASC’s strategic goals and gave an update on SB 525, the statewide minimum wage bill. I then introduced guest speaker Dr. Erin Trish, an expert in health care economics at USC who focuses on the intersection of public policy and health care markets.
Dr. Trish shared some eye-opening facts about health care costs and how they affect hospitals. This topic led to a lively conversation about the financial woes facing hospitals today, which continued during our panel discussion with hospital CEOs. Precious Mayes, CEO of Pacifica Hospital of the Valley; Joe Avelino, CEO of College Medical Center and a former HASC board chair; and John T. Chapman, CEO of San Antonio Regional Hospital, provided updates on the challenges their hospitals are undergoing.
Mayes shared that Pacifica, a safety net hospital caring for underserved and low-income patients, is facing increased costs as it works to improve quality outcomes. Avelino shed light on the soaring costs of medical specialties such as psychiatry and anesthesiology. College Medical is aiming to offset such costs through creative partnerships and other ways to improve reimbursement for graduate medical education and Medi-Cal.
Chapman explained that, as health care continues moving to value-based care, San Antonio’s way forward is to become a “one size fits all” facility. For example, the hospital has opened a new center focusing on aging, is considering including rehabilitation services, and is working to ensure equity — “how to bring health care to those who need it most.”
The panelists also discussed efforts to hire and retain staff amid the ongoing health worker shortage. Successful strategies have included targeting students with internships, externships, a high school shadowing program and a community college training partnership. The leaders agreed hospitals must better accommodate work-life balance. They also expressed the need to take care of employees and show appreciation through offering excellent benefits, gift cards and special events, and taking time to communicate with workers.
Increasingly, these hospital leaders also are seeking vendor partnerships to help them streamline workflows and cut costs. HASC is aiming to host more events such as this one that enable members and partners (especially diverse-owned firms) to develop relationships. We look forward to continuing to expand our associates and partners programs and offer hospitals the services they need to thrive in a rapidly changing health landscape.