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Vin Petrini, senior vice president, Public Affairs, spoke about the impact of Governor Dannel Malloy's taxes on hospitals, which have hit YNHH disproportionately hard.

Seven hundred YNHH managers, physician leaders and patient and family representatives attended the hospital's annual management conference at the Omni Hotel on October 6 to hear senior leadership reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year and look ahead to what will become the hospital's 190th year of operation — Fiscal Year 2016, which began October 1.

"We set aside one day each year to gather together so we can enjoy a brief reflection on the past year and hear about the goals and challenges in the year ahead. This is a unique day which really capitalizes on the power of direct communication," said Richard D'Aquila, YNHH president.

D'Aquila emphasized the major accomplishments of the year, citing the focus on improving safety and quality. "We are now reaping the benefits of our investment of 50,000 hours in the last fiscal year to train more than 14,000 employees and physicians. We now have more than 500 employees who have volunteered to continue this training and drive safety and quality.

"HRO is on its way to being very much a way of life in our organization," said D'Aquila. "But we are still early in this journey and we need to take HRO to the next level."

Another big highlight of 2015 was continued investments in the hospital, despite the challenges of the environment — in particular the continued development of the Center for Musculoskeletal Care, the recruitment of the leading national expert to direct the center, Mary O'Connor, MD, and the opening of the Rehabilitation and Wellness Center at Milford Hospital. Other investments included two new advanced operating rooms, a special pediatric MRI unit, cardiovascular imaging system and the Center for Restorative Care.

Hospital staff came together in a strong advocacy effort to oppose the state budget cuts to hospitals. More than 8,500 YNHHS employees and physicians took the time to write to their legislators and 300 went to Hartford to deliver the message that the cuts would impact patient care.

"Although we did not get the outcome we had hoped for, it could have been worse," said D'Aquila. "The state cuts caused a lot of disruption, but we still managed to achieve a positive operating margin without negatively impacting employees."

"Over the past year, we have really begun to operate more as an integrated system and less as three completely different hospitals and a physician practice," said Marna Borgstrom, CEO of YNHH and YNHHS. We will be doing more and more of that because we will have increasingly more challenges as we move this organization forward."

Anticipated 2016 challenges
"We have a lot of challenges ahead," said D'Aquila. "First and foremost we must keep our safety and quality standards high for our regulatory and accrediting agencies." YNHH must also maintain high levels of performance with publicly reported measures. This will require increased engagement from both employees and physicians. At the same time, the hospital is wrestling with an extremely unstable financial environment in which the state continues to cut Medicaid budgets and raise taxes.

Some of FY16's major challenges are expected to be in the following areas:

  1. Regulatory
  2. Publicly reported measures
  3. Physician engagement
  4. Employee engagement
  5. Budget / state cuts

Vin Petrini, senior vice president, Public Affairs, and Jim Staten, senior vice president, Finance, discussed the impact of Governor Malloy's budget cuts on the hospital. They encouraged employees to continue to get in touch with their elected officials about the last round of cuts, which represent an additional loss of $27 million for YNHH, on top of more than $50 million cut during the legislative session.

"Hospitals in this state cannot continue to bear the burden of cuts to help dig the state out of its billion-dollar deficit," said Petrini. "Hospitals did not create the budget deficit; the state did. And the state should assume responsibility for this deficit."