The formation of chapters in the early years of the American Association of Hospital Accountants (AAHA), which eventually would become HFMA, was not an event — it was a process, with the Illinois Chapter leading the way in October 1948. And that process unfolded over many years.
In response to the Illinois Chapter’s bold step, the AAHA’s leaders recognized the need to draw up rules and guidelines governing Chapters and how they could be formed. Frederick T. Muncie, the Association’s national president, announced, “While a formal article of organization was not drawn up, it was agreed by acclamation that the charter and bylaws of the AAHA would govern the actions of the chapter, and memberships in AAHA would be a prerequisite for membership in the chapter.”
How different HFMA’s history might have been had it not been for that simple decision!
The following notice appeared in the November 1948 issue of Hospital Accounting:
The officers-elect were very interested in the formation of chapters after hearing of the success in Chicago . . . In order to promote the formation of Chapters, it was agreed that any group of 10 or more could form a chapter of the national organization and that for a six-month period ending June 30, 1949, the association would waive the application fee.
It was decided chapters had to meet no less then four times per year, and notices in advance of meetings had to be submitted for listing in Hospital Accounting’s news bulletin.
In the February-March 1949 issue of the journal, AAHA’s secretary-treasurer, William G. Follmer announced in his column, “At a recent meeting of the Northwest Pennsylvania Accountants, it was unanimously approved that this group be affiliated with the AAHA as a chapter.”
That decision gave the Northwestern Pennsylvania Chapter the distinction of being the second to elect to become a Chapter of the Association. But because the group did not meet all the requirements to become a Chapter, it had to wait to complete its charter, and the distinction of actually being second fell to Wisconsin, which finalized its charter in Sept. 26, 1950. Nonetheless, Hospital Accounting included a notice that the Northwestern Pennsylvania Chapter was already holding meetings as a Chapter (if only in spirit) as early as Aug. 25, 1949.
Follmer also queried in his earlier column, “Who will be the third chapter?”
That distinction belongs to the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, which finalized its charter on May 5, 1951.