July 2004

South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association
Celebrates 60 Years

by John Fries

My, how times change. In 1944, Americans were swinging to the big bands sound of Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, while the bobby-soxers were causing near-riots over a new solo singing sensation named Frank Sinatra. The Dodgers still played in Brooklyn, and Casablanca was playing at your local movie house. Families rode in cars that were like boats with wheels, and got their news and entertainment on the huge radio in the living room. Cape Canaveral was just sun-drenched beachfront property, and the artists hadnÕt yet begun to arrive en masse in Coconut Grove.

And, such progressive concepts as comprehensive cancer care, health system business models, and even the polio vaccine were still several years from being developed.

Although the practice of medicine was drastically different in 1944, some of todayÕs administrative issues were the same. That year, when a group of South Florida hospital and healthcare administrators met for the first time as the Dade-Broward Hospital Association, they discussed and debated such issues as the federal governmentÕs role in healthcare, safety and security, blood supplies, and how to provide care for the uninsured.

This year, the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association (SFHHA) Š as itÕs known today Š celebrates 60 years of advocacy, education and communication in the Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties, and those topics continue to be as relevant as ever.

"ItÕs interesting," said Linda Quick, SFHHA president since 1994. "The organization has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 60 years, but the fundamental concerns remain."

Quick has in her office a leather-bound copy of the minutes from all SFHHA meetings held between 1944 and 1951. The notes, which have faded a bit with time, were written and corrected by hand, then typed into the planner-style book and signed in fountain pen.

"On September 27, 1944," she continued, "the organization began with a total amount of $35 cash on hand." As she gently flipped through the worn pages, the past began to come alive.

"On March 16, 1945, Dr. Van Riper said that the blood bank holds hospitals responsible for blood collection. He wanted to set up a council for reimbursement."

Quick, who today sits on the board of the Community Blood Center of South Florida, confirms that this is still very much an issue. Moving through the book, she landed on May 26, 1948. On that day, we learned that the association met at the Coral Gables Country Club to discuss changes to policies regarding hospital staff nurses, and to advocate training nurses to provide home care. In 1948, nursing instructors were paid $2.83 per hour.

"The more things have changed, the more theyÕre remained the same," said Chandler Bailey, senior vice president at Aon Risk Services, a firm that deals with hospital and medical malpractice issues.

Bailey, who served as vice president of planning at SFHHA from 1985-1990, recalls that "the big issues, then as now, were medical malpractice, the nursing shortage and timely Medicare and Medicaid payments."

During his tenure at SFHHA, he was responsible for developing new enterprises, one of which was in response to malpractice issues at community-based hospitals. He also staffed a task force that addressed nursing issues and another that explored how trauma and emergency transport patients could be directed to the appropriate facility.

"At the time," he said, "emergency departments at many hospitals were often on "by-pass" for a number of reasons. This created problems for local fire rescue teams trying to get their patients to the closest available facility. Our task force worked with hospital trauma centers and emergency departments to try and find order in what was a chaotic situation, with regard to patient flow through those centers and emergency departments."

About the SFHHA
The SFHHA was formed to create a cooperative alliance among healthcare providers across South Florida. It actively represents the interests of its members though communication with elected officials, legislative advocacy, sponsorship of an ongoing schedule of educational programs and seminars, shared services, networking opportunities, and improvement of the local industry through interaction and communication. Members, in turn, serve their communities through a number of cooperative planning and outreach efforts.

Today, the association has a membership of more than 55 hospitals and over 100 organizations in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. These include long term care organizations, educational institutions, insurance agencies, development, design and construction firms, information system and technology companies, accountants, attorneys, consultants and others.

"Geographically, weÕve grown to represent a pretty wide area," said David Stansberry, administrator at the University of Miami Cancer Center and chairman of the SFHHA board.
"Our membership reaches from the Keys to north of Martin County."

He added that the current membership includes many of the successors of the hospitals that were original SFHHA members. "We have a good history of being advocates. We also know thereÕs always an opportunity to do better," he said.

In addition to interacting with elected officials, Stansberry said the SFHHA works closely with other organizations, including the American Hospital Association and the Florida Hospital Association.

The Association has several committees and task forces, and encourages its members to become involved. Standing committees address broad areas are Bylaws; Healthcare Finance and Management; Legislative and Government Relations; Membership; Public, Professional and Continuing Education; and Safety and Security. Single-issue task forces are Nursing Shortage, Ethics and Compliance, and Malpractice and Professional Liability.

According to Quick, the nursing shortage is a major issue in South Florida.

"WeÕre working with hospitals, and trying to encourage nurses to move to South Florida from other parts of the country," The SFHHA has been pursuing a strategic approach in an effort to accomplish this. "We identified a number of nurses, working at SFHHA member facilities, who moved to South Florida less than three years ago. We set up two focus group sessions and brought in a professional moderator to ask them such questions as why the made the decision to move here and what they like about the area. Their input was very instrumental in helping us to determine the look and feel of the promotional materials we developed for nursing recruitment. Those materials are now on our web site."

As president, QuickÕs roles include developing policies and programs to meet the goals and objectives of the SFHHA board of directors. She directs the delivery of member services, executes contractual agreements, spearheads advocacy activities, and supervises the association staff.

SFHAA also has a valuable subsidiary in the South Florida Hospital Research and Education Foundation, which provides two special seminars each year for SFHHA members and the community.

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