John W. Bluford Inducted as AHA Chairman
Calls on hospitals to recognize special role they play in health of community
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Today before an audience of hospital leaders, John W. Bluford, president and chief executive officer of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo., called upon them to tackle their community's toughest ills. He asked that they learn from each other and recognize that hospital leaders will be judged not only by the care administered within the walls of the hospitals but also by the health status of the community they serve.
The statements were made as part of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Membership Meeting (April 10 - 13) where Bluford was officially inducted as AHA chairman. He assumed the AHA's highest elected position in January and will chair the AHA Board of Trustees for one year.
"Your community has its own dynamics that create its own barriers - solid walls that stand between people and the health that will allow them to achieve their full potential." said Bluford. "Tearing down those walls will be painfully slow. But we will never get to the destination - if we don't start the journey."
Truman Medical Centers has led in this area and achieved success with their Passport to Wellness program. Passport is targeted toward people who are frequently in need of hospital services and through creative actions, helps these patients and their families make lifestyle changes that will in turn help them better manage their health, resulting in fewer hospital visits.
Using guided protocols and case management through team-based care, including a physician, nurse, pharmacist, and social worker, the results have been impressive with the:
Sickle Cell readmission rates reduced by 26 percent;
Asthma patients in the program experiencing a collective 25 percent reduction in patient days;
And a reduction in emergency department visits by 23 percent.
"Every community, from the most urban to the most rural, has social and health disparities. It's our job to know our communities, our schools, our community gathering places, our churches, and in general the overall human circumstance of our neighborhoods so that we can address those disparities with passion," said Bluford.
Bluford also noted that community starts at home - with hospital employees. He urged hospital leaders not to overlooks employee wellness and highlighted AHA's "A Call for Action: Creating a Culture of Health" report that provides a wide variety of creative programs from hospitals across the country. Truman Medical Centers, for example, holds a farmer's market so that staff and the community have a convenient source of fresh fruits and vegetables since their community does not provide many food store options.
Bluford said the career accomplishments of which he is most proud involve changes to the culture of the hospitals he has led to become more focused on patient safety oriented and customer service focused, as well as more innovative. His current board memberships include Morehouse College School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., Missouri HIO Board of Directors, DeCare International, and H&R Block. He is also the past chair of the Missouri Hospital Association. Additional AHA activities have included membership on the Committee on Nomination, the Task Forces on Coverage and Access, the Health Care Systems Governing Council and the AHA Award Advisory Panel.
Bluford earned an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Business in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor's degree from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which includes more than 5,000 member hospitals, health systems and other health care organizations, and 38,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends.
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