Dr. Rod Hochman, the president and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health, has assumed the chair position for the American Hospital Association's Board of Trustees for 2021.
The role is a three-year commitment. As such, Hochman served as the chair-elect last year and will be the past-chair in 2022.
Hochman takes over for Dr. Melinda Estes, the president and CEO of Saint Luke's Health System, who served as chair during 2020.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Hochman is taking over the helm of one of the nation's leading hospital advocacy organizations at a time of great change. He comes to this position amidst COVID-19 and will be responsible for the organization as the country works to end the pandemic this year.
As chair, he will focus on health systems' financial standings post-COVID-19, improving rural healthcare, advocating for AHA's healthcare providers and accelerating innovation in the industry, he said during a recent interview with AHA.
"For healthcare leaders, I always say this is our finest hour," he said. "This is the time when our country needs us the most."
THE LARGER TREND
Providence's chief medical officer for the Well Being Trust and the clinical chair for the Providence Behavioral Medicine Leadership Council, Dr. Arpan Waghray will also be joining AHA as the 2021 chair-elect of the Behavioral Health Services Council. The role is also a three-year commitment. In 2022 Waghray will be the council chair, and in 2023 he will be the council past-chair.
The 51-hospital health system was not spared from the financial fallout of the pandemic, as it reported $214 million in operating losses for the first nine months of 2020. Although Providence brought in $18.9 billion in operating revenues, it incurred $19.1 billion in operating expenses over the same period of time.
A significant portion of the operating losses was attributed to the mandated cancellation of elective procedures last spring, according to Ali Santore, senior vice president of government affairs and social responsibility at Providence.
To ensure those kinds of losses don't continue, the health system has cross-trained staff, worked to keep volumes up and begun using predictive analytics to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks.
ON THE RECORD
"As we've seen throughout the pandemic, America's hospitals play a critical role in our communities," Hochman said in a statement. "I'm honored to serve as the AHA board chair this year. There could not be a more important time to support and advocate for our nation's hospitals and all our caregivers on the front lines."
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