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Hospital Week 2021 provides opportunity to reflect on importance of hospitals

Virginia Hospital & Healthcare AssociationThis week in Virginia, we celebrate National Hospital Week – May 9-15 – after enduring a challenging year caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic and all the harm it caused.

On reflection, the past year has been one of sadness due to so many losses, and of triumph of the human spirit exemplified by the resilience of so many, including Virginia hospitals, health systems, and their teams of dedicated caregivers who have made great sacrifices to serve their communities.

“When we talk to our hospital team members and associates about what attracted them to health care, the response we hear is strikingly consistent: they tell us their motivation is to help people in their hour of need,” said Steve Arner, Carilion Clinic executive vice president and chief operating officer, and the chairman of VHHA’s Board of Directors.

“When COVID-19 descended on us, hospital staff members from across the Commonwealth galvanized to respond to a widespread public health threat unlike anything seen in our lifetimes,” Arner said. “Over the past year, my colleagues and I have proudly witnessed the resolve of our colleagues as they exerted themselves to care for people stricken by this virus. Even during the most challenging times, hospital employees have demonstrated their passion for meeting the medical needs of our fellow Virginians. It is an honor to serve alongside so many dedicated health care professionals and I am grateful to be able to salute them as we celebrate National Hospital Week.”

“It is an understatement to say that we have all been through a difficult ordeal in the past year that has forever changed us,” VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton said. “As challenging as conditions have been, what has been reassuring during so much uncertainty and upheaval is the steadfast focus on public health demonstrated by our hospitals, health systems, and the people who work in them. Without fail, these health care heroes have risen to the moment each time a new, unexpected challenge arose.

“Whether it was finding ways to boost inadequate COVID-19 testing early on, acquiring ventilators and personal protective equipment when those resources were in short supply, adjusting staffing and operations to rapidly expand treatment capacity, retrofitting facilities to respond to a surge in patients, implementing new therapeutic treatments, and administering vaccine doses, Virginia hospitals have taken every measure necessary to battle the pandemic. Speaking on behalf of everyone at the Association, it is a privilege to support the work of Virginia hospitals and it has been awe-inspiring to watch their heroic efforts over the past year,” Connaughton said.

Highlights of Virginia hospitals’ work in response to COVID-19 include: treating and discharging more than 55,000 patients who contracted COVID-19 and required hospital care; adding nearly 3,700 beds to increase patient treatment capacity; pursuing effective strategies to boost testing and address shortages; supporting efforts to increase overall ventilator capacity in Virginia; administering more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Virginians; serving as a national leader in the use of new treatments and therapeutics such as remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies; and adapting staffing models and developing innovative solutions to expand the health care workforce to serve patients.

Virginia hospitals did all that and continued to provide other non-COVID medical care to patients in need while also enduring combined revenue losses exceeding $1.8 billion, partly due to a temporary halt on non-emergency scheduled procedures, as well as sharp declines in inpatient and emergency department volumes due to stay-at-home directives. Amid the turmoil, Virginia hospitals continued to lead the way on working to make Virginia healthiest state in the nation by focusing on enhancing health care quality and safety.

That work has been recognized in the Ready or Not 2021: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, which lists Virginia as one of the top states prepared to protect public health against disease, disaster, and other calamity, and in the latest Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Grade national rankings for Spring 2021 which show Virginia is again rated as a top state for hospital safety.


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