Over the past century, hospitals have gone from voluntary, charitable pro-viders to integrated, market-driven healthcare delivery systems operating in a $1 trillion industry.
Making the transition along with them has been the American Hospital Association, which celebrates its centennial this year.
It's been 100 years of change for the Chicago-based trade group, which has members from rural, suburban and urban areas and represents public, private, religious, not-for-profit and investor-owned hospitals.
Unifying such a diverse membership under common goals is among the key topics AHA leaders will address at the association's annual membership meeting in Washington, Jan. 31 through Feb. 3.
The leadership also must answer the question, "Will we be able to meet the needs of a marketplace that's growing in so many different ways?" says Richard Wade, the AHA's senior vice president for communications.
While it won't be easy, the AHA plans to show it's been up to such a transition in the past. The celebration will remind members of the AHA's transformation from a society of hospital superintendents into one of the most influential trade associations in the country.
"I think the significance (of the celebration) is the 100th anniversary of an organized hospital effort to influence healthcare in America," says Gail Warden, president and chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Warden was AHA chairman in 1995.
Without the AHA, he says, "the country's healthcare probably would not be doing as well as it is."
Warden is chairman of the AHA's 21-member centennial committee, which comprises past and present board members, staff and state association executives.
The centennial celebration was budgeted for $1 million and already has raised more than that through corporate sponsorships and other contributions, Warden says. Any money remaining-which Warden says will be a "significant amount"-will be turned over to the AHA's Hospital Educational and Research Trust.
The commemoration kicks off Jan. 31 with a black-tie dinner and gala at the Washington, D.C., Hilton. The $50-per-ticket celebration features a multimedia presentation on a century of hospital history and performances by the Children's Chorus of Washington and singer Maureen McGovern.
The Jan. 31 revelry will be followed by three days of membership meetings, educational workshops and symposiums with various healthcare industry leaders (See accompanying story for highlights).
And the celebration won't stop there.
The AHA plans to take its centennial commemoration on the road throughout the year. For state associations, it will make available a centennial video and a traveling exhibit on the evolution of hospitals in the 20th century.
In July the organization will commemorate the site of the AHA's founding. The board of trustees will meet in Cleveland and hold the organization's second regional leadership forum, a "town meeting" that replaced the AHA's now-defunct annual convention.