Kentucky’s health care providers like the innovative strategies they have developed to improve access to health care for their patient populations. They are investing in new locations, improved services and better communication to help the members of their communities build relationships that can help address health problems early on for better outcomes. The concern nearly everyone expresses, however, is the ability to recruit, train and keep the staff they need to provide those services and execute their strategies. Providers expect a busy year in 2022.
“With the wide availability of vaccines/boosters and a potential new drug on the horizon to better treat COVID-19, I am optimistic about our state, national and even global economy for 2022. Consumers have already demonstrated that they are ready to invest in the economy again, so we in health care are continuing to focus on the importance of the vaccine in order to move past the pandemic. At CHI Saint Joseph Health, along with the entire health care sector, we remain diligent in our efforts to recruit and retain quality providers and employees. This is important to reduce the need for expensive, temporary staffing that health systems have been required to utilize even more during the pandemic. Reducing the incidence of COVID infections in our communities is a priority, not losing sight of the need to care for non-COVID needs. Unfortunately, we have experience in treating patients who have delayed needed screenings, surgeries or other types of care over the past several months, and it is important that we remind them not to delay care that could be lifesaving. In the coming year, we will continue to invest in facility improvements and new technology across our ministry, as well as invest in our employees to ensure that we make good on our commitment to foster a healthy future for all.”
–Anthony A. Houston CEO, CHI Saint Joseph Health
“I’m optimistic about 2022. Last year, our team worked extremely hard to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone. Now that boosters are being offered and children ages 5 and older also are eligible to be vaccinated, I believe the economy will continue to make positive strides and the overall health of our community will improve. This year, we anticipate investing in hospitals, technology, programs and employees, as well as expanding access to care in innovative ways, especially in areas of greatest need. In recent months, Norton Healthcare opened the Institute for Health Equity in West Louisville and the region’s first fully bilingual health clinic. We’re also expanding our mobile units so we can provide care to people where they live and work. We will continue to explore ways to meet the growing and evolving health care needs of our community.”
–Russell F. Cox President/CEO, Norton Healthcare
“Health care has always been a trailing economic indicator and I see the same for 2022, with the economy and employment continuing to rise and a return to some normality. The last year challenged all in health care, dedicating new resources toward vaccination and responding to those in need with a declining work force, reflected in the nationwide nursing shortage. Many individuals postponed or delayed their care because of concerns about the pandemic. We see health care transitioning back to a wellness environment, with a focus on individual health, that will result in increased volume as the pent-up demand starts to fade. The workforce, especially nurses, will remain in short supply with demands causing further increases in salaries. I do wish there was a reduced need for health care services in 2022, but it looks to be another busy year. UofL Health considers it our responsibility to support our communities and I believe, with our Healthcare Heroes, we will further improve the health of our commonwealth.”
–Tom Miller CEO, UofL Health
“The pandemic has created challenges, but also great opportunities to improve the health of our communities through a strong commitment to patient access to high-quality patient care. One bright spot is our expanded virtual care platform, accelerated by the pandemic. To ensure we are meeting our patients “where they live,” we also continue to invest in ambulatory care facilities closer to our communities we serve. And while the workforce is our biggest challenge, Baptist Health—as Kentucky’s largest health care provider—is committed to workforce development. We’re looking creatively at how we help build the workforce of the future, and engaging multiple partnerships in education to do so.”
–Gerard Colman CEO, Baptist Health
“With all the pressures right now for labor, both indirect and direct, and how that affects supplies and material, labor will be the key component shaping the regional and national economy. Inflationary pressures will dampen aggressive growth, but I expect the overall economy to be relatively stable. Labor trends are quite concerning. The cost for labor is aggressively escalating, and I don’t see hospital revenues keeping pace with inflationary pressures. Some hospitals will really struggle in 2022 absent of any reimbursement adjustments. We have measures and initiatives in place to recruit and retain our workforce but they come with a significant cost. Investment in innovation, aggressive cost containment and care delivery redesign will play key roles in sustaining a positive margin while enhancing quality. We have access to capital dollars through our health system, but the cost of any of those capital items will undoubtably escalate along with our direct staffing costs.”
–Michael Yungmann Kentucky Market President, Bon Secours Mercy Health
“At UK HealthCare, as well as across the nation, we expect to see an extremely high demand for both health care services and people to fill health care-related jobs. Even as the impact of COVID-19 declines, we are seeing a tremendous need for health care services—locally and nationwide—due to so many patients who delayed care and health screenings during the pandemic. Furthermore, a statewide and national shortage of physicians, nurses and other patient-care providers that existed prior to COVID-19 has greatly intensified due to the pandemic. At UK HealthCare, we plan to combat these challenges by continuing to invest in creating a healthier Kentucky by increasing access to care and by partnering with UK’s health care colleges to meet the current and future workforce needs of the commonwealth.”
–Mark F. Newman Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, UK HealthCare
“The pandemic highlighted long-standing barriers individuals and families faced long before 2020. An equitable economic recovery is possible if we sustain collaborative coordinated care networks that emerged to protect public health and help families access resources to meet basic needs. Long term, Unite Us will continue to connect traditional clinical health care with social care and community-based organizations to improve community infrastructure and overall health outcomes. As new federal funding and flexibilities take shape locally, our network members are drawing insights from outcomes data, through the Unite Us Platform, for better decisions and impactful public and philanthropic investments for a stronger recovery to ensure no one is left behind.”
–Christian J, Motley State Network Director-Kentucky, Unite Us
Click here for more Kentucky business news.