Here’s an HFMA riddle for you: When does 63 – 4 = 60? The answer: When four local chapters consolidate to form a single chapter. And that’s what happened recently when four existing chapters — Central New York, Hudson Valley New York, Northeastern New York and Western New York — joined to form the Empire New York Chapter, bringing HFMA’s total chapter count to 60.
Challenges prompt change
The move toward consolidation began when the legacy chapters found it becoming more difficult to recruit volunteer leaders and others willing to help with chapter events and programs. There also was increasing duplication among the four chapters as they competed for sponsors, speakers, education event attendees and more.
“It just didn’t make sense to have four groups basically doing the same thing,” said Barbara Piascik, chief compliance officer at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, New Jersey, and president of the Empire New York Chapter. “So we began a discussion, and it was decided that consolidation was the best option.”
The first step was to form a transition team with representation from all four chapters. The team discussed the chapters’ similarities and differences, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. They determined that all embodied similar cultures and structures. At that point, the consolidation process began in earnest as the transition team and the leaders of the legacy chapters worked closely to make it happen.
“We met on a regular basis to talk through everything from bylaws to how to establish the board to planning events and filling out the committees,” Piascik said.
The proposed consolidation was put to a vote of the members of all four chapters last September. It passed, and Empire New York began operating as a single Chapter on Oct. 1. It currently has nearly 800 members.
Benefits for members
The new, bigger Chapter means a larger pool of volunteers. And those who step up to help won’t have to do it all but can find a spot that matches their talents and available time. Piascik says an engaged group of volunteers will allow Empire New York to do more for its members.
“Our inaugural event took place in November at four in-person locations with a speaker at each place who was live streamed to the other three locations,” said Piascik. “The technology was a huge success. And while we would have liked to have had more attend, it was successful in enabling us to try a new format.”
Events planned for the coming months include CRCR and CHFP study groups, chargemaster review, an institutional cost report roadshow and the Chapter’s annual conference May 3-4 at Tioga Downs in Nichols, New York.
Keys to a successful consolidation
Piascik notes one of the challenges in forming the new Chapter was addressing member concerns, particularly those regarding losing the local geographic-centric events to which members had become accustomed. Ultimately, they came up with reasonable answers to such concerns.
“Collaboration and cooperation were key — no question,” said Piascik. “It was an amazing process led by some tremendously talented HFMA volunteers and was done to improve both the volunteer and member experience. We look forward to a bright and successful future with the Empire New York Chapter.”