Throughout the year, the American Hospital Association urges hospital leaders, including trustees, to engage federal legislators and advocate on issues important to the patients and communities the hospitals serve.

Advocacy is, in essence, sharing your organization’s story. And trustees in particular are well-equipped to help legislators understand all that their hospitals or health systems do for the communities they serve 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the challenges that they face as they strive to continue to deliver those services.

Advocacy also raises community awareness of a hospital’s mission and the role of trustees in ensuring the success of that mission. In addition, it strengthens communities by giving a voice to the people served by hospitals who lack effective representation: children, the poor, the elderly and others.

I encourage you to learn more about how you can advocate for your patients and organization at both the federal and state level by speaking with your hospital’s leadership team. It’s crucial to work with them to coordinate any contact with legislators to make sure you’re on the same page and not working at cross-purposes, thereby confusing your legislators. And they will be able to share information with you on where you may be able to weigh in most effectively.

Another way to be more involved in shaping the future of health care is to become involved in the AHA’s policy development process by joining one of its committees. These committees are now accepting candidate applications for 2019.

The Committee on Governance, the AHA’s leading trustee involvement group, spearheads grassroots advocacy and provides input into the AHA’s policy development efforts. Members serve three-year terms, are expected to attend three meetings annually and must be associated with an AHA-member hospital or health system throughout the length of their term.

The regional policy boards serve as one of the primary lines of communication between the AHA and its members. Members provide input on policy issues and serve as an ad hoc development committee when appropriate. They also help to identify needs and challenges unique to each region and to develop solutions.

Interested trustees can view the AHA Invitation for Involvement and submit an application through Feb. 22. For more information, visit trustees.aha.org or contact Rita Harmata at rharmata@aha.org or (312) 422-3311. 

David Hyman, D.D.S. (dhyman@hymanmamberdental.com), is chair of the American Hospital Association Committee on Governance and a director of Hartford HealthCare in Hartford, Conn.