At the April Board of Directors’ meeting, I had the privilege of leading the recognition of two individuals who have provided outstanding service to the organization for many years and who have announced their retirements. The first was George Bergstrom, American Hospital Association (AHA) vice president of provider relations and 43-year employee of the organization. George has been a great friend to our Association and its leadership in his role as principal liaison with AHA over the past 23 years. In his remarks to the Board, George stated somewhat emphatically that IHA has earned a reputation across the country as one of the highest-functioning state organizations due in large part to the cooperation and collaboration demonstrated by the Board and membership that consistently puts patients first and competition among and between competitors second. That observation is one for which we all can be quite proud.
The second person recognized was John Render, J.D., general counsel to IHA for the past 32 years. John and the firm he co-founded, Hall, Render, Killian, Heath and Lyman, have been foundational in their impact on this organization. Beginning with this issue, Harmony will feature a series of stories detailing the rich history of the long and ongoing relationship between John, his firm and IHA. One important note is that John has been a constant at the Board meetings and with membership over several decades. Knowing John and his calm, deliberate and diplomatic manner, it is reasonable to attribute IHA’s glowing reputation to his direct influence on the Board and its business conduct over the years.
Also, this past meeting was the last for Doug Leonard in his 10-year role as IHA’s president. This issue of Harmony contains an in-depth profile of Doug and his many contributions to Indiana hospitals and the communities they serve. Doug is a good friend to us all, and his leadership, perspective and presence will be missed.
Discussion at the April Board meeting was largely focused on the ongoing opioid crisis afflicting the state and the nation. Dan Evans, deputy to Governor Holcomb’s appointment, Jim McClelland, executive director for Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement, gave an overview of the state’s priorities in addressing the situation. He then discussed the work that McClelland’s office is doing to create a comprehensive plan to address and hopefully prevent the catastrophic impact the epidemic can have on individuals and communities. Those who attended last year’s IHA Annual Membership Meeting will remember gripping accounts of the crisis as described by Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland, and Dr. Kendall Stewart, a practicing physician from Portsmouth, Ohio. More recently, many of you may have followed the series of articles by Laura Ungar of the Louisville Courier-Journal and carried by the Indianapolis Star and USA Today. Her articles focus on the multiple dimensions of the crisis as presented to Dr. Will Cooke, the lone physician in Austin, Indiana, within Scott County where addiction, HIV and hepatitis C are rampant.
In early May, a survey was sent to every IHA-member hospital’s CEO that is intended to identify resources and possible best practices across the membership in local efforts to address or avert the opioid crisis. Ideally, the survey will be completed by the CEO in his or her subject or area of expertise within the organization or community. The information gathered will be offered to Jim McClelland and Dan Evans but will also serve the Association and its Drug Abuse Task Force as IHA works to enable its participating hospitals to contribute to solutions at the local level and across the state. This is clearly a life and death issue and one where IHA’s reputation for cooperation and collaboration among and between hospitals will affirm that patient care and the health of our communities are our highest priorities.