The American Hospital Association's board of trustees has tabled until the end of the year a plan to adopt a new "value statement" for the Chicago-based trade group.
The value statement was the last piece of the AHA's new strategic plan, which now likely will not be completed until the board's next meeting in January.
The statement was to have accompanied new vision and mission statements the AHA board adopted last year. The vision and mission statements essentially expand the AHA's focus to include all communitywide healthcare issues and open the association's membership to other providers who share the same objectives.
But several AHA sources who requested anonymity said the list of nine values proved to be contentious for the association's nine regional policy boards, which reviewed and debated the list at their summer round of meetings last month. Sources said the boards "picked apart" a seemingly noncontroversial list of attributes, such as integrity and public trust, that the AHA contended its members shared.
Speaking to a group of several hundred hospital trustees gathered at a special forum before the start of the AHA's convention last week in Philadelphia, association President Richard Davidson said members of the AHA's regional boards liked the idea of a value statement. But he said they "thought there were too many" values in the statement. Davidson said the AHA board took the regional panels' views under consideration at the meeting in Philadelphia. According to Davidson, the board reaffirmed its commitment to drafting a value statement but agreed that the list should be consolidated.
Davidson said the AHA staff will revise the value statement and send out another draft to the regional policy boards to consider in December. If they agree with the revisions, the AHA board will consider it for final approval in January at a meeting in Washington, Davidson said.
Christine McEntee, the AHA's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the hospital executives on the regional policy boards-many of whom have had to draft new mission, vision and value statements for their organizations-felt a concise list would be more effective. She said the regional panels did not reject the list because members disliked specific attributes.
"People need to be able to articulate our values, and they felt a smaller number of very powerful words would be more useful," she said.
McEntee also said that some members of the regional boards felt some of the values were redundant and others proposed attributes to be added to the list.
Reginald Ballantyne III, the chairman-elect of the AHA's board, said many hospital executives who reviewed the draft statement felt it lacked passion and compassion.
"Almost to a region, they said they would like to see the word `patient' more often in the value statement," said Ballantyne, who spoke at an open AHA board committee hearing in Philadelphia.
That hearing, an annual event, proved more lively than usual this year when Robert Sigmond, a scholar in residence at Temple University in Philadelphia, recommended the AHA appoint a task force to examine the role of the hearing committee. Sigmond said the task force should determine "whether the hearing committee still serves a useful purpose."
That prompted former AHA President John Alexander McMahon to defend the open hearing. He said that while the meetings often do not generate much interest or forge new policies, it is important to have an open forum for AHA members when a major issue needs to be brought to the attention of the board.