March 23, 2018
Opioid Response Gaining Steam
Earlier this month, Gov. Larry Hogan made his way to the nation's capital to testify before Congress for the first time in his nearly four years leading Maryland. His purpose was singular: to ask for help in combating a deadly crisis that has afflicted our state for years.
"I urge you and your colleagues to make increased funding for the opioid crisis a top priority," Hogan told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "We simply can't stop it without the federal government stepping up."
Hogan's pleas were amplified by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, who earlier this week led a discussion on opioid abuse attended by stakeholders statewide, intended to advance strategies that could help mitigate Maryland's crisis. The event was hosted by Anne Arundel Medical Center. I had the opportunity to join that discussion. Two things are abundantly clear:  
  • All stakeholders - hospitals, community-based providers, law enforcement, educators, families, communities - will need to work in harmony to resolve this crisis
  • Hospitals over the past couple of years have made strong progress to build a foundation for long-term solutions, though we cannot rest
As but one component of what will ultimately be a multifaceted response to the crisis, hospitals have begun to implement several crucial strategies related to their discharge protocols. Among hospitals:  
  • 100 percent have committed to expanding access to naloxone, a life-saving intervention that helps remove the stigma associated with overdose
  • 68 percent utilize universal substance use disorder screenings with another 13 percent employing screenings with cause
  • 63 percent employ facilitated referrals to treatment facilities
  • 65 percent incorporate peer recovery specialists into the care process
This is in addition to strict opioid prescribing guidelines that hospitals adopted two years ago and correlate with a marked decrease in such prescriptions from health providers, according to Maryland Department of Health data.
From left to right: Tori Bayless, president and CEO of Anne Arundel Medical Center, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, and Bob Atlas, MHA President & CEO
Also, a bill to create a multi-million dollar grant program to support community-based treatment for behavioral health services is likely to pass in the final weeks of the General A ssembly's legislative session.
Even with the strong work you've been doing to mitigate the opioid epidemic, true progress will take the full commitment of everyone to help our state recover. If you haven't already, please make use of MHA's collection of opioid resources for hospitals and reach out to our team with any ideas, information or questions.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO

At Work in Annapolis
Monday was Crossover Day and the General Assembly moved hundreds of bills to the opposite chamber, whittling down from more than 3,000 bills introduced this legislative session. Among the bills to cross was legislation that would allow Maryland to participate in the Interstate Physician Licensure Compact. On the 20 percent rule, MHA worked with the House Judiciary committee on an amendment that would tie the rule to the year in which a case was filed; the amended bill was voted out of the House Judiciary committee March 22. Given that the Senate version of the bill passed without amendments, the House and Senate versions will be debated in conference committee. On the budget, both the Senate and House capital budget committees recommended fully funding the hospital grant program at $5.5 million for six projects. With less than three weeks before Sine Die, the General Assembly will be focused on a final budget to deliver to the governor. Your MHA team will continue to engage the budget conference committee, advocating to maintain the spend-down of the sick tax. Throughout the legislative session, you can track MHA's activities via our dashboard , which provides an overview of the previous week and a look at important hearings and events for the following week.
Webinar on MHA Bond Program Scheduled
MHA will host a webinar Monday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m. to provide an overview of the 2018 Hospital Bond Program. The Hospital Bond Program application process opens March 29 and is an opportunity to apply for state-allocated funding to complete private capital projects. Hospitals applying for funding under this program must request the appropriate approvals/exemptions from both the Maryland Health Care Commission and Health Services Cost Review Commission no later than Friday, April 20. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 22, including HSCRC and MHCC correspondence and other letters of support. Application materials will be available next week on the MHA website , with updates to the project selection scoring guidelines and other application materials. Application forms and other supporting documentation are submitted via hospital-specific SharePoint site. If you have questions, contact MHA's Brett McCone , Jennifer Witten , or Jane Krienke . To register for the webinar, click here .
Grants Issued to Expand Health Care Access
Atlantic General Hospital this month received one of 15 grants awarded by the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC), an independent commission within the Maryland Department of Health, to expand access to health care in underserved communities, reduce health disparities, and increase the capacity of safety net providers to serve vulnerable residents. The grants total $3 million and the programs are projected to serve more than 14,000 Maryland residents. This is the first cycle of grants awarded this year; the CHRC may award additional grants later this spring. The Atlantic General Hospital grant will fund a project to develop a new interdisciplinary chronic pain management center that would provide access to somatic health, behavioral health, and therapy services to help patients relieve chronic pain without the use of opioids. Click here for the list of grantees; click here for the announcement from the CHRC.
Report Shows Value of Telehealth
The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) has released a report on findings from five telehealth grants awarded in December 2015 and June 2016 to demonstrate the impact of telehealth. Three organizations, Associated Black Charities, Gerald Family Care, LLC , and Union Hospital Cecil County, implemented telehealth projects. Two organizations, MedPeds, LLC. and Gilchrist Greater Living, implemented projects using telehealth in a primary care medical home model. Grantees demonstrated that telehealth is a promising alternative in certain situations to an in-person office visit. Widespread adoption of telehealth can improve access to quality care and make it more convenient for individuals to receive care. The recent report and previous telehealth reports are available on MHCC's website .
Tools Available for National Public Health Week
The American Public Health Association is asking hospitals to participate in National Public Health Week April 2-8. Some of the ways to become involved include joining APHA's 1 billion steps challenge , participate in the NPHW Twitter Chat on April 2 at 1 p.m., or plan your own event. Leaders from Maryland's hospitals have been invited to the opening day ceremony of Maryland National Public Health Week April 2 at 11:30 a.m. in the lobby of 201 W. Preston St. in Baltimore. The ceremony will include presentations by several public health services organizations highlighting the work they do to keep Marylanders safe and healthy.
What Is Unique About Physician Leadership?
As the majority of those of us in leadership positions worked through our career, we gained knowledge and experience related to leadership by assuming greater responsibility over time, assisted by role models and colleagues in similar situations with the support of other leaders in our organizations.

Looking for a Cutting Edge Provider for Blood and Associated Services?
For more than 60 years, Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) has provided blood and blood components to hospitals throughout the Delmarva region, helping avoid blood shortages and saving thousands of lives with assistance from more than 150,000 current donors.

AHA to Host Webinar on Oral Health and Non-Ventilator Associated Pneumonia
AHA will host a webinar March 27 at 1 p.m. with a research team that has shown how effective oral health can keep patients from developing non-ventilator associated pneumonia.

The Washington Post , By Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason, March 16
The Frederick News-Post , By Kate Masters, March 16
The Baltimore Sun , By Jay Hancock, March 16
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels, March 19
Baltimore Business Journal , By Morgan Eichensehr, March 19
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels
Baltimore Business Journal , By Morgan Eichensehr, March 20
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels, March 21