Steve Lawler: Hospitals meeting and exceeding standards

December 20, 2012 

Hospitals meeting and exceeding standards

Regarding your Dec. 16 article “Doctors join hospitals, and prices soar”:

North Carolina’s hospitals continue to care for their communities at a time in which regulatory complexion and burden have become extraordinarily challenging. We have the responsibility of balancing the needs of our patients with the mandates related to the Affordable Care Act, greater accountability, insurance complexities and sustainability. We help and support accident victims, sick children, mental health patients denied treatment needed to avoid crises and physicians weighted down by insurance regulations who want only to continue serving their patients.

Readiness on the part of our institutions is expected, demanded and provided. Such readiness requires thoughtfulness, financial resources and wise investments for the future. Government and insurance bureaucracy and underpayment leave no other options.

Therefore, we want to present another view of hospitals – broader than what has been presented in recent news articles. North Carolina hospitals are this state’s safety net. Hospitals focus in three areas: preparing, serving and improving. Our hospitals’ preparations now extend into the regulatory murk of the Affordable Care Act. Our leaders know we must be prepared to deal with the certainty of $7.5 billion in federal cuts to our hospitals in the coming decade.

Failing to plan and marshal now the resources needed to sustain service to our patients and communities would be both contrary to our missions and irresponsible.

While hospitals prepare for a great upheaval in health care, we continue to serve. Last year 113,000 babies were born in our maternity departments. All North Carolina hospitals this year stepped forward to ensure more healthy babies by pledging to stop early elective deliveries without medical necessity. That’s just one of hundreds of steps our hospitals are taking to improve quality and to make patients’ experiences better.

Hospital researchers are finding cures. Every day, we look for ways to provide care more cost effectively. And we are finding them. Hospitals are developing systems of care that will be relevant and sustainable in the future, despite the regulatory burdens and risk-shifting from government.

Hospital offerings, like the provider-based services that all too easily draw attention, are held to a higher standard and level of accountability by state and federal regulators. Our people meet and exceed those standards daily.

During this special time of year, I am thankful for the incredible people who have made it their life’s work to care for others. I celebrate what the hospital field is accomplishing, the values that we embrace and the selfless and compassionate service provided, knowing with certainty that our institutions will place the needs of their fellow man before every other consideration.

Steve Lawler

Chairman, N.C. Hospital Association Board

Greenville

The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the story.

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