THA Headlines and Resources

Statement on Ebola from THA President and CEO Craig Becker

“With confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, including cases among healthcare workers, hospitals across the country are on high alert. Tennessee’s hospitals are certainly no exception.

“For the past several weeks, THA has worked with the Tennessee Department of Health and all hospitals in the state to ensure proper readiness should a case or cases of Ebola be identified in one of our state’s hospitals. These preparations include special exercises and drills for putting on and removing personal protective equipment, as well as identifying, diagnosing and isolating a potential Ebola patient.

“Preparations in our hospitals are focused on a single goal – ensuring patients and healthcare workers are protected and safe. High quality care is a hallmark of Tennessee’s hospitals and the safety of hospital environments is always a top priority, not just during a public health crisis.

“People in communities across our state are understandably worried and concerned about the evolving Ebola situation, and the leaders and workers in our hospitals recognize and share this concern. As with any dangerous disease, hospitals, healthcare workers and the public must be educated on how to protect themselves.

“We should not succumb to fear of the unknown. THA and hospitals across the state will continue to work with healthcare professionals who have worked with this terrible disease to learn best practices and ensure these practices are in place at our state’s hospitals.

“Every hospital has in place plans to care for patients with infectious diseases. Tennessee’s hospitals are continuously updating policies and procedures related to such treatment and care.

“THA will continue to work with state and federal officials to ensure hospitals in Tennessee are ready to safely treat patients should circumstances in our state change.”

Register for Leadership Summit at THA Annual Meeting

The Tennessee Center for Patient Safety, along with the Tennessee Organization of Nurse Executives, Tennessee Nurses Association and Tennessee Association for Healthcare Quality, will hold the 2014 Leadership Summit on November 5 during the Tennessee Hospital Association’s annual meeting at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. This program will showcase proven strategies and best practices to help hospitals realize the goals of reducing hospital complications and readmissions.

The summit also brings together hospitals from across Tennessee to demonstrate and share best practices on fostering an organizational culture for excellence, quality and patient safety improvement successes, engaging patients and families, navigating transitions of care, and strategies to promote collaboration and teamwork. This year’s agenda includes 11 best practice oral presentations.

The keynote address will be Modern Medicine’s Transparency Revolution by Marty Makary, M.D. For more information, click here.

Registration is significantly discounted through underwriting by the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety.

THA Issues Call for Leadership Summit Presentations

THA is accepting proposals for presentations and posters for the 9th annual leadership summit, which will be held in conjunction with the association’s annual meeting on November 5 at Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, Nashville.

Hospitals across Tennessee are encouraged to submit proposals that demonstrate and share best practices on fostering an organizational culture for excellence, quality and patient safety improvement successes, engaging patients and families, navigating transitions of care, and strategies to promote collaboration and teamwork. This is a great opportunity to network and share successful strategies among hospitals, as well as recognize and reward staff members' hard work on improving care for patients.

Abstracts must be submitted on the required form and received no later than August 22. For more information,contact Chris Clarke.

Guidance Issued on Communicable Diseases from Travelers

The Tennessee Department of Health recently released updated guidance that heightens awareness for communicable diseases (Ebola and MERS/CoV) among travelers returning from foreign countries.

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Tennessee Surgical Quality Collaborative Saves 533 Lives and $75 Million in Three Years

NEW YORK, NY (July 28, 2:45 pm ET): Ten hospitals in the Tennessee Surgical Quality Collaborative (TSQC) have reduced surgical complications by 19.7 percent since 2009, resulting in at least 533 lives saved and $75.2 million in reduced costs, according to new results presented today at the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) National Conference in New York City.

The hospital collaborative was formed in 2008 as a partnership of the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Surgeons and the Tennessee Hospital Association’s (THA) Center for Patient Safety, with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Tennessee Health Foundation. Through the ACS NSQIP program, TSQC hospitals collected clinical, 30-day outcomes data from 10 participating hospitals to examine and identify trends in and evaluate best practices. Between 2009 and 2012, participating hospitals collected data on more than 55,000 surgical procedures and researchers examined rates of 17 different types of surgical complications.

Compared with complication rates in 2009, participating hospitals in 2012 achieved 19.7 percent fewer postoperative occurrences (p<0.001), and the postoperative mortality rate dropped 31.5 percent (p<0.001). Hospitals prevented an estimated 3.75 deaths per 1,000 surgical procedures and avoided $75.2 million in excess costs. The collaborative saw improvements in 13 of the 17 types of complications, and nine improved significantly (p<.05). The areas of most improvement included all types of surgical site infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infections, which all dropped by approximately one-third.

“Our results show not only have Tennessee hospitals improved care, but we’ve been able to sustain those improvements over time,” said Brian Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, lead author of the study and professor of surgery and chief of the division of trauma and critical care at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville. “Our collaborative approach and use of robust clinical outcomes data through ACS NSQIP is an effective model for quality improvement across our state and nationally.”

An earlier study based on TSQC data was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in 2012; it showed the 10 TSQC members reduced complication rates and saved more than $8 million in excess costs from 2009 to 2010. This new study shows TSQC hospitals continued to improve in the years after the program was launched. In 2012, the collaborative expanded and now includes 22 Tennessee hospitals.

“Participation in an ACS NSQIP collaborative is helping Tennessee hospitals accelerate their improvements by sharing data, comparing results, and evaluating best practices among peers,” said Oscar Guillamondegui, MD, MPH, FACS, chair of TSQC’s leadership committee and an associate professor of surgery and director of the Vanderbilt multidisciplinary traumatic brain injury clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“The TSQC has helped align the efforts of hospitals and surgeons around quality improvement, which supports the THA board's commitment toward zero incidents of preventable harm in our state's hospitals,” stated Craig A. Becker, THA president. “This collaborative is an excellent example of how the hospital association, physicians, hospitals and payers can work together to improve care using clinically valid measures in a cooperative way.”

ACS NSQIP is the leading nationally validated, risk-adjusted, outcomes-based program to measure and improve the quality of surgical care in hospitals. The program provides a prospective, peer-controlled, validated database of pre-operative to 30-day surgical outcomes based on clinical data, not claims data.


Other study authors include Joseph B. Cofer, MD, FACS; William C. Gibson, MD, FACS: Scott A. Copeland, MD, FACS; Chris Clarke, RN; William Cecil, MBA; and Barbara J. Martin, RN, MBA, CCRN.

Cindy Siler Named 2014 Outstanding Network Leader

Cindy Siler, deputy director, Tennessee Rural Partnership, recently received the outstanding network leader of the year award from the National Cooperative of Health Networks (NCHN). The award recognizes a network leader for leadership in managing a successful health network organization.

Siler was recognized for:

  • Providing outstanding leadership;
  • Involvement with the network members;
  • Long-term sustainability of the network;
  • Active participation in the network’s service community; and
  • Lasting contributions to the overall health care system of the area.

Karen Utley Honored With THA Small or Rural Hospital Leadership Award

Karen Utley, vice president of system services, West Tennessee Healthcare, Jackson,was presented with the 2013 THA small or rural hospital leadership award in recognition of her service to rural healthcare in Tennessee at the association’s recent small or rural hospital conference.

Photo of Karen Utley and THA President Craig Becker

Karen Utley and THA President Craig Becker

Utley has served as the chair of the Future of Rural Hospitals Task Force, which has developed a set of specific actionable strategies to best position Tennessee rural hospitals for financial sustainability. She also serves on the Tennessee Rural Partnership board of directors and previously served as the west Tennessee district representative on the THA board of directors. She has been a major advocate for rural health issues in Tennessee and a tremendous asset for THA.

65 Hospitals Recognized for Leadership in Improving Infant Health

Sixty-five hospitals are being recognized by the Tennessee Hospital Association’s (THA) Tennessee Center for Patient Safety for their leadership in reducing the number of babies born electively between 37 to 39 weeks. There is a greater risk of complications associated with births prior to 39 weeks, and waiting until 39 weeks allows for better growth and development of vital organs such as the brain, lungs and liver. 

These hospitals successfully met their goals of decreasing the number of babies delivered electively between 37 to 39 weeks gestation to 5 percent or less and have maintained this goal for a minimum of six consecutive months. This dramatically increases the chances for good physical and developmental health of babies. It also allows for better health and safety of the mother. The hospitals are being awarded congratulatory banners to recognize their teams’ outstanding efforts by the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety.

“Babies born too early are at risk for respiratory distress, jaundice, hypoglycemia and other conditions that require more medical care and put them at greater risk for death before their first birthday,” said Craig A. Becker, THA president. “That is why the work being done at these hospitals is so vitally important to all Tennesseans. Results like these represent the combined efforts of every single professional at the hospital, from the physicians and nursing staff to the board of trustees.”

The hospitals are part of a statewide Healthy Tennessee Babies Are Worth the Wait initiative launched less than two years ago to increase awareness of the benefits of full-term delivery. In May 2012, nearly 16 percent of all Tennessee deliveries that occurred prior to 39 weeks gestation were considered elective. Today, the number of early elective deliveries has been reduced by almost 85 percent.

Among other activities, these hospitals adopted a strict hard-stop policy that prohibits early elective deliveries before 39 weeks unless there is a clear medical risk to the mother or the baby.

The Healthy Tennessee Babies Are Worth the Wait program is a partnership among local hospitals, the Tennessee Department of Health, THA, Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care, March of Dimes and Tennessee Center for Patient Safety. The coalition has been recognized nationally as an example of successful collaboration in patient safety. For more information about the Healthy Tennessee Babies Are Worth the Wait program, go to