International Infection Prevention Week

International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) reminds us that while our industry was turned upside down and continues to be challenged by COVID-19, basic practices to prevent procedure- and surgical site-related infections remain critical to protecting patients and maintaining the reputation of ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) as providers of safe, high-quality care.

Consider using this year's IIPW as an opportunity to put infection prevention and infection control in the spotlight in your ASC. Encourage staff members to take this week to further step up their infection prevention and control efforts and then hold themselves accountable to the highest level of performance in these areas going forward. Let's review some of the key facets of a successful ASC infection prevention and control program.

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TASCS Hosts Successful & Safe Annual Conference

Last month, the Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society hosted its annual conference in Fort Worth. For (10) years, TASCS has hosted this conference to educate and build connections within the healthcare community. This year, the conference faced a new challenge, with COVID and its variants, but the society made sure to provide masks, temperature-testing and other safety measures — including sponsor DisinfectWell’s disinfecting system — to create a comfortable environment for the 145 guests.

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Leadership in ASCs

How important is an ASC administrator? For many surgery centers, they essentially fill the role of CEO. And depending upon the ASC, they could be the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company.

That's why it is imperative that the selection of an administrator is a decision that a center's management should not take lightly. The right administrator can help an ASC maximize its potential, delivering great care and outcomes for patients and a strong return on investment for owners. The wrong administrator can cause an ASC to struggle or even fail.

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Modernizing Medicine Associates Explain How to Combat Health Inequities

On August 19, three Modernizing Medicine associates spoke to Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society members about implicit bias in the healthcare system and how healthcare providers can work to narrow these inequities.

Julie Servoss, senior medical director of gastroenterology, Tacoma Perry, a medical consultant, and Michael Rivers, director of ophthalmology, began the conversation by contextualizing health inequities in the United States. Servoss talked about several areas of noticeable discrimination, including infant mortality rate and age-adjusted mortality rate. 

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Halosil International & The Importance Of Disinfection In The Healthcare Setting

On July 22, Maryalice StClair, the chief commercial officer with Halosil International, spoke to TASCS members about eliminating pathogens in healthcare facilities. During her presentation, she explained the importance of having a simple and affordable solution at ambulatory surgery centers.

Halosil International was established in 2008, with a line of products that help decrease healthcare-associated infections. The company prides itself on having superior disinfection solutions that achieve a 6-log kill, meaning they are extremely effective at killing pathogens and reducing the risk of spread — even more so than competing technology, such as UV lights or electrostatic sprayers.

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Membership Monday: ImageFIRST

ImageFIRST Provides The Healthcare Industry With Laundering (& So Much More) 

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How You Can Get Involved In National ASC Month

Ambulatory surgery centers have been around since 1970, and National ASC Month is celebrated each year in August. During this time, facilities can boost awareness and help inform more people about the benefits of ASCs.

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Membership Monday: HST Pathways

Robert Marinich is the head of sales at HST Pathways and has been working there for almost 10 years. During this time, he has fallen in love with the job and feels blessed to wake up every day, getting to help the healthcare industry with efficiency, cost-savings and so much more. “We care less about the politics and more about the client,” Marinich said. “And this client-first mentality is key to success.”

HST Pathways offers technological solutions and innovations for ambulatory surgery centers through several programs: case coordination, practice management and electronic health records. These programs work in tandem to create the ultimate experience for patient caregivers, and these three services bundled together computerize every step of the process to make for a more efficient facility that allows caregivers to spend more time with the patients and less time charting.

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9 Emerging Leaders in the ASC Industry

Facing a pandemic over this past year has been a whirlwind for the healthcare industry. Throughout all the problems that arose, though, people began to step up and go above and beyond in their healthcare roles. The Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society sent out a survey to find out who members believe are emerging leaders in the surgery center community … caregivers and administrators alike, who truly stepped up and shined in their roles.

Three administrators stood out to the TASCS members as emerging leaders in the world of ambulatory care.

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The Key to Running Efficient Drills in Your ASC

On June 24, Laura Schneider, the senior clinical director at AMSURG, explained some key issues and tips for running drills in ambulatory surgery centers. With over 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Schneider has dealt with most situations for which these drills are built to help staff be ready.

One of the biggest differences between hospitals and surgery centers is the amount of resources they have, so when ASCs are preparing for potential emergencies, it’s important that they allocate their resources and staff effectively. “There’s not always extra people around, so you’ve got to use your resources wisely,” Schneider said. “You want to make sure you’re prepared.”

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TASCS Hosts Member Networking Event in Austin

After over a year of virtual meetings during the pandemic, the Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society got back to in-person events on June 23. The event, held at Austin Eastciders, was the first stop on TASCS’s Member Networking Texas Tour, which safely helps the healthcare community network.

In attendance was Woody Moore, the founder of this organization, who said he was proud of TASCS executive director Krista DuRapau’s hard work towards keeping the society relevant during the pandemic. “Many advocacy organizations have not survived so (DuRapau’s) work and that of (TASCS’s) board going forward is immensely important,” Moore said. “Now in its 50th year, the ASC sector is once again in an aggressive growth phase with a number of models in play.”
 

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HST Pathways Associate Explains the Importance of Electronic Health Records in Your ASC

On June 10, Bob Marinich, head of sales for HST Pathways, talked to Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society members about implementing electronic health records successfully in their surgery centers.

In the past, EHRs received a bad name because they were slow and hard to use, Marinich said. They were designed by programmers rather than the people who would be using them. Today, though, EHRs are significantly better, due to technological advancements and an increasing understanding of healthcare needs. Still, less than 10% of ASCs are utilizing EHRs. This is in part due to their poor history but also because these programs are not subsidized and have no CMS guidelines.  

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How to Honor National Safety Month All Year Long at Your ASC

It is the 25th anniversary of National Safety Month. Since 1996, the National Safety Council has brought awareness to safety issues and encouraged everyone to help others stay safe, whether it be at the workplace or anywhere else.

This year holds special value to the safety of the nation, because our country only recently started to recover from a pandemic that devastated all aspects of our lives and flipped the medical industry on its head, as everyone struggled to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. Centers were shut down, people were overworked, and supplies were constantly in shortage.

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87th Texas Legislative End-Of-Session Report

 
 
As we pull our minds out of Session Mode and review the last five months, we’re caught somewhere between astonishment and relief. At the close of the interim, Texas was staring down one of the most challenging social, economic, and political periods in modern American history. We watched COVID-19 rage around the globe and a controversial Presidential election play out, and anxiously waited to determine the capacity of the 87th Legislature. Our mid-2020 revenue update from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA) Glenn Hegar was grim, projecting a fiscal 2021 ending shortfall of almost $5B and a severe reduction in General Revenue-Related (GR-R) funds. State agencies and higher education institutions were directed to identify savings within their budgets that would reduce total GR and GR-R appropriations by five percent, and budget writers were charged with leveraging every available dollar to help Texans facing a global pandemic, a recession, and mass unemployment.
 
Amidst all of this, the 87th Texas Legislature got to work. House District 21 Rep. Dade Phelan was sworn in as Speaker of the House with broad support, and his endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott suggested some much-needed harmony among state leadership. January’s revenue estimates from the Comptroller were surprisingly optimistic, projecting a much smaller shortfall and a little more flexibility in GR-R. We were reminded to be cautious, but able to exhale and enjoy Texas’ economic resilience. The Governor announced his priorities for the session and the Senate lowered the threshold of votes required to bring bills to the floor in a way that (almost magically) extended precedence to Republican legislative priorities. House and Senate committee assignments mitigated possible discord between the chambers by establishing Republicans as Chairs of nearly every powerful committee. Really, the biggest uncertainty (COVID-19 aside) was when we would receive updated Census numbers. Redistricting committees scheduled hearings and sought stakeholder feedback with little more than a hypothetical to work with. It was uncomfortable and hectic, but “Better the devil you know…”.
 
February’s winter storm was the devil we hadn’t met. The grief visited upon Texas homes and the realization that our carefully designed system didn’t protect them inspired grief in everyone else. We all wanted accountability, but no one seemed to know who was in charge. Finger-pointing was executed so freely we thought someone would lose an eye. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) were both—voluntarily or otherwise—gutted of their leadership. A flurry of bills was drafted and debated, and we appeared on the verge of dramatically changing Texas’ energy market structure. From a strictly logistical perspective, we were already short on time—bills were still awaiting committee referrals when Winter Storm Uri swept through Texas. Legislators, many of whom experienced the consequences of the storm firsthand, became consumed with finding a fix. For about a month Uri was the lead in every story, and you were an energy expert whether or not you’d ever intended to be. Between the infrastructural damage, grid-wide debt incurred by the emergency pricing protocol, the funds lost due to load-shed, and more, the storm created so much financial devastation that a recovery seemed impossible. The crises of the day expanded and multiplied, delaying the legislative process and further taxing a budget process that was already filled with difficult decisions.
 
Though seemingly impossible, by the end of April—we had House and Senate versions of a two-year budget in hand. Both documents incorporated the five percent reduction to agency budgets, stayed within constitutional spending limits, and honored last session’s commitments to education and public health in addition to prioritizing public safety. The chambers’ symbiosis was enhanced by a May revenue estimate from the CPA projecting increased ending balances for this biennium and the next, as well as improved conditions for the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF or “Rainy Day Fund”) for 2022-23. The Conference Committee’s work was accepted by both chambers in the final week of May, and but for the contention regarding distribution of federal funds, it was a conflict-free process. HB 2, the supplemental appropriations bill, was also passed without a hitch.
 
Elections, abortion, bail reform, broadband, public safety, religious and second amendment freedoms, etc. have dominated the last few weeks of session. While a few of those priorities have crossed the finish line, we’re not going to be able to tie this session up with a bow and lay it to rest. Though we’ve received new census numbers (and with them, two new U.S. Congressional seats), there will still be a special session required to finalize redistricting. Sixteen billion dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds are on their way, and the Governor and Legislature have been playing tug-of-war with federal monies since well before the session started. The Lieutenant Governor recently called for another special session after several of his priorities died on the House floor; and in the last 48 hours of session, Democratic House Members organized a walk-out to prevent a final vote on SB 7—this session’s highly controversial elections bill and one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities. The Governor shortly thereafter responded by promising that the issue would be taken up during a special session (without specifying when that would take place) and expressing his intent to veto state budget appropriations for the legislative branch. “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned.” 
 
In recent days since Sine Die, the Governor spoke to the estimated timing of a special session or two, stating there will be two special sessions: one on redistricting and COVID relief funds in September or October, and the other occurring before the Fall 2nd called Special.  The 2nd called Special Session agenda will include SB 7, bail reform, and other issues yet to be determined.  In other words… we’ll see you soon for the 87th First and Second Called Special Sessions.

Membership Monday: Jeff Blankinship

The Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society has a new board member: Jeff Blankinship!

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VMG Health Associates Explain Fair Market Value and Referral Risks at Town Hall

Bartt Warner, director of compensation arrangements at VMG Health, and Dylan Alexander, manager for business valuation and transaction advisory at VMG Health, presented information to Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society members on May 27 about fair market value in the surgical center industry, as well as an Office of Inspector General opinion that speaks directly to ASC investment concerns.

VMG Health is a company that specializes in healthcare valuation, strategy and compliance. The company provides fair market value on all assets of the medical field, from equipment to physician salaries, and has developed experts to look at each component of the industry to satisfy customers’ total needs. It also helps with tailoring a compliance program specific to your organization that will ensure compliance with Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as other governmental regulations.

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The History & The Future Of Ambulatory Surgery Centers

The History & The Future Of Ambulatory Surgery Centers

According to Texas Health & Human Services, there are 560 ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) — medical facilities specialized in elective, same-day and outpatient surgical procedures — in Texas. 

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AAAHC Officer Explains How to Prepare for Accreditation Surveys

On May 13, Dr. David Shapiro, an officer for the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), spoke to Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society members about the survey process and steps ASCs can take in preparation for their surveys.

When it comes to AAAHC’s approach, Shapiro explained the surveyors work to be consultants with facility staff and collaborate with them to ensure they become accredited and are able to keep that status. “A lot of our standards are very open-ended,” he said. “We ask you to define things.” For example, pediatrics could mean something different for every center, and some centers might not even have pediatric departments, so it’s up to the facility to define what they have and what the cut-offs are for their departments.

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Texas Health and Human Services Commission Answers Questions About COVID-19 Updates

In April, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission answered some questions from the Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society about survey updates, rule changes and other helpful resources for ASCs.

As it pertains to surveys, HHSC is not authorized to do any virtual surveys at this time, and in-person visits are expected to meet the established expectations for infection control. All visits for surveys are addressed on a case-by-case basis. When it comes to the top survey citation since COVID, the staff expressed that surveyors have a special focus on infection control practices throughout all CMS-certified providers.

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TASCS Hosts Infection Control Week

April 26 to April 30, the Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society hosted Infection Control Week. This virtual conference brought together industry experts, discussing the initiatives, expectations and future of infection prevention in ambulatory surgery centers.

On Monday, Lisa McKown, the manager of research and development for Beyond Clean, spoke about public health initiatives to reduce healthcare-associated infections and offered helpful ways the community can get involved to prevent HAIs.

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