Navigating the Challenges Facing Children's Hospitals

Navigating the Challenges Facing Children's Hospitals

A message from the chair of the CHA board of trustees on how children's hospitals can work together to face the year ahead.

It’s not lost on me that we gathered in November for CHA’s Annual Leadership Conference in the path of Hurricane Nicole in Orlando, Florida. Over the past several years, we’ve come together as children’s hospitals to weather some significant challenges, including a global pandemic and a worsening mental health crisis. While we don’t know what storms lie ahead for us in 2023, the current environment in pediatric health care has given us some strong headwinds, to say the least. And yet, I am going into this year with confidence knowing that we will navigate what’s ahead by working together.

In conversations with many of you, I’m struck by the remarkable consistency of challenges we’re facing in the current environment: increasing volumes of patients who need our care; overstretched staffing models and inadequate workforce pipelines; and fundamental changes in our expense structures with increased labor investments, disrupted supply chains and generalized inflation. Add these to the state of pediatric mental health and the disparities in health equity, and our mandate to chart the course ahead is clear.

This month marks the start of my two-year term as Chair of the CHA Board of Trustees. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to bring us together to pilot new models, learn and share outcomes, and advocate for the greatest needs of our children’s hospitals. As a former Navy officer, I’ve learned that the key to navigating a storm is fixing your compass on your ultimate destination. The path won’t be straight. We will need to adapt to the winds and waves in front of us.

But ultimately, we must stay true to where we need to go. Despite the current challenges, I am optimistic because I’ve seen children’s hospitals at our best when we’ve come together around our clear priority: improving children’s health. It’s what our kids deserve and it’s why we’re called to lead.

I look forward to working with each of you on this journey and am incredibly grateful for your commitment to the future health of our children.

Written By:
Jeff Sperring, MD
CEO, Seattle Children's

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