The American Hospital Association will close its nine regional offices and replace them with a series of one-person offices at state hospital associations.
AHA President Richard Davidson unveiled the plan to reorganize the association's field operations at a staff meeting last week at the AHA's Chicago headquarters.
Richard Wade, AHA senior vice president for communications, said the purpose of the plan is twofold: increase the AHA's service and educational presence in the field and streamline its grass-roots advocacy efforts.
As it has done with many AHA policy initiatives, the association has given the new strategy a name. This one is dubbed "Value in Partnership."
The plan will complete the dismantling of the AHA's nine regional offices that began two years ago. In May 1993 Davidson had the offices report directly to the association's Washington office instead of Chicago. And last December the AHA eliminated the assistant director positions in each of the nine offices.
To fulfill the offices' advocacy efforts, the AHA will create a seven-member "advocacy team," Wade said. Five members will be stationed at yet-to-be-determined offices around the country, while two members will "float" to advocacy hot spots, he said.
On the member service and education front, the AHA will open one-person offices in the headquarters of at least 20 state hospital associations, Wade said. It hasn't decided which ones.
"Ultimately, we'll be increasing our field presence but not through our traditional regional offices," Wade said.
Wade said the plan may result in "a few" lost jobs, but its net effect on AHA positions likely will be neutral.
He also said the AHA hasn't determined the cost of the plan. The reorganization likely will involve some start-up expenses but save the association money in the long term.
Wade said the regional offices will be closed by this fall, with the new offices opening next year.