Virtua president/CEO named chairman of NJHA
Claiming optimism towards the future of New Jersey's hospitals, Richard P. Miller, Virtua Health President and CEO, took over the reigns as chairman of the board of the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) on February 29. Miller's installation was held during NJHA's 89th Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Princeton.
Although optimistic, Miller is acutely aware of the challenges NJ hospitals face during his chairmanship. "We have the mounting problem of the uninsured, even though New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, based on per-capita earnings," he said. "There are about 1.3 million of our Garden State neighbors living without health insurance."
Chronic under-funding of healthcare also plagues New Jersey hospitals. "Even the state's own panel of experts - the Reinhardt Commission - points to chronic federal and state government under-funding as a leading cause of the fiscal distress gripping so many of our hospitals," said Miller. "New Jersey hospitals stand to lose more than $2.9 billion in the next five years under the federal budget proposed last month by President Bush."
At the state level, Miller believes that if the Governor's proposed cuts to charity care funding are enacted, the Reinhardt Commission report will not matter because there will be a rash of unplanned hospital closures that no amount of reform can prevent. "NJHA has always been forthright in saying that some New Jersey hospitals may need to close to make our healthcare system stronger overall," Miller said. "But our greatest fear may be at hand - the wrong hospitals, closing for the wrong reasons, creating an access-to-care crisis, not only for charity care patients, but also for all Garden State residents."
Capitalizing on NJHA's annual meeting theme, "Building a Brighter Future," Miller suggested building partnerships to accomplish a better future for healthcare in the face of enormous challenges. "It is imperative for us to forge partnerships with other associations, with other healthcare providers, with business and industry and with all who have a stake in improving healthcare in our state and nation," said Miller.
Miller cited an example from his own experiences when Virtua formed a partnership with General Electric (GE) in 2002 and adopted GE's process improvement techniques. The incorporation of these proven methodologies into the daily practices at Virtua not only improved processes, but also improved the way healthcare is delivered, creating a model for success that is being considered by other organizations nation-wide.
The GE partnership and the resulting successes earned the respect of GE President and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who provided the keynote address for Miller's installation. Immelt told the crowd of more than 300 in attendance that healthcare is one of the most promising growth industries in America and the world, despite its current obstacles. Warning that the great industry will "implode" without change, he challenged healthcare leaders to advocate for significant changes in healthcare coverage, technology, efficiency and reimbursement to ensure a positive outlook for healthcare and the people who depend upon it.
Miller indicated that he is prepared for the many challenges ahead as he guides NJHA, the 111-member advocacy organization. He has made a commitment for NJHA to help hospitals engage employees, educate communities and work with legislators to develop a state budget that will preserve the future of healthcare for the people of New Jersey. "Together we will remain committed to caring, committed to our patients and committed to a brighter future," concluded Miller.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare
, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
and the Fox Chase Cancer Center
. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org