This summer has marked several significant changes for Iowa’s hospitals and our state hospital association. As a member of the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) Board of Officers and Trustees and the IHA Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors, I’d like to highlight key developments that have taken place in recent weeks.
First, earlier this month the IHA Boards of Officers and Trustees announced the appointment Christopher (Chris) Mitchell as the new president & chief executive officer. Chris has been selected to replace Kirk Norris, who has served as leader of the IHA for the past 19 years. A longtime member of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association advocacy and executive team, Chris will begin his tenure with the IHA in October. Please join me in welcoming Chris to Iowa and our statewide association when he arrives later this year.
Second, August marked the annual retreat for the IHA board and included several key decisions and updates of note:
- The board has nominated three new members, of which include two familiar faces and outstanding leaders from UnityPoint Health: Leah Glasgo, president & CEO of UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge, and Jennifer Havens, president & CEO of UnityPoint Health – Grinnell. The new IHA board members nominated will be officially approved at the October 6 House of Delegates at the IHA Annual Meeting. Once approved, the new board members will serve a three-year term. Please join me in congratulating Leah and Jennifer!
- The board also selected Brian Dieter, president & CEO of Mary Greeley Medical Center, as Chair-Elect and Bob Kroese, CEO of Pella Regional Health Center, as the next Chair. Brian and Bob are both strong leaders and will serve the IHA well in the coming years as current IHA board chair, Jason Harrington, finishes out his term.
- The 92nd IHA Annual Meeting will be held October 5-7. This year’s meeting will be virtual and will feature keynotes from Jane Pauley, journalist longtime host of CBS Sunday Morning, as well as WIRED Magazine Contributing Editor Ben Hammersley and Medal of Honor recipient and Iowa native Sal Giunta.
- Five key workgroups have been meeting over the summer to help inform the association’s 2022 state legislative priorities. Comprised of clinical and administrative leaders and staff from IHA member hospitals, the groups are focused on the following areas of health care: behavioral health, hospital operations, maternal health, telehealth and workforce & DEI. UnityPoint Health has representation on all five workgroups and our system and regional leaders are helping to support the development of final recommendations that will be brought forward to the IHA Council on Representation & Advocacy and the IHA board later this year for consideration and approval.
- Liz Summy, our state’s Regional Executive for the American Hospital Association (AHA), was in attendance and provided the board with an update on the current status of, and the AHA’s advocacy efforts for, Provider Relief Funds that are still yet to be distributed to hospitals and health systems. Additionally, the IHA and leaders from member hospitals continue to work with the AHA and members of our Congressional delegation on details specific to the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation that was established by Congress earlier this year. Thank you to Ralph Heasley and James Roetman from our UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge region, and Cathy Simmons and Ashley Thompson from our government & external affairs team for their leadership in this arena.
- The board reviewed and approved a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) pledge. While more details regarding the pledge will be shared in the weeks to come, I’m pleased to share the pledge is consistent with our health system’s ongoing work in DEI.
- We learned that longtime IHA government relations leader, Kim Murphy, will be leaving the association later this month. Kim was a strong voice at the Iowa Capitol and worked collaboratively with our UnityPoint Health government & external affairs team and leaders to pass legislation of great importance to the communities and patients we serve across the state, including mental health funding and telehealth, among others. We wish Kim well in her new endeavors and thank her for her dedication to support Iowa’s hospitals.
Finally, the IHA PAC annual campaign is in full swing. Participation in the PAC is voluntary and serves as a great opportunity for us to support advocacy efforts for Iowa’s hospitals. I’d very much appreciate your support and encourage you to reach out to your regional UnityPoint Health CEO or Ashley Thompson for more information.
The IHA is well positioned for a fresh start with new leadership and I’m personally excited to see the difference the IHA is going to make on behalf of its members. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. Thanks for all that you do.
President and CEO, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines