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HAP through the Years: 1980–1990

August 13, 2021

During 2021, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) proudly marks its centennial with a look back at 100 years of milestones, advocacy, and support for Pennsylvania’s hospitals.

This week, HAP recaps the 1980s, a transformative decade that saw the continued growth of health care technology, new regulatory and clinical challenges, and HAP again on the move.

The 1980s

Key challenges:  HAP and its members addressed several challenges during the 1980s, including cost containment policy debates, uncertain Medicare and Medicaid funding, and the emergence of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

HAP played a key role to support hospitals in each of these areas. During 1986, it provided critical input for the legislation that created the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. With the emergence of AIDS, the association organized a steering committee sharing up-to-date information and guidance to members. Hospitals’ growing advocacy needs also spawned the formation of so-called Grass Roots Intelligence Teams designed to spur action on important issues at the local, state, and national level.

Growing role of technology:  The 1980s saw dramatic adoption of new technology across Pennsylvania’s hospitals, including magnetic resonance imaging and coaxial tomography, as well as advances in laser surgery and cardiovascular care. These advances helped dramatically shorten the time patients stayed in the hospital, leading to the rise of outpatient surgery during the following decades.

A hub for research:  HAP formalized its longstanding interest in research with the creation of the Hospital Research Foundation during 1984. The nonprofit entity aimed to support HAP’s activities in the field and improve hospital operations.

A new leader:  James Neely’s tenure as HAP’s CEO came to an end during 1983. Neely’s successor, John A. Russell, previously served as CEO of Hershey Medical Center and as HAP’s senior vice president, hospital services.

On the move:  With a growing scope of programs, employees, and services, HAP moved to its new headquarters in Swatara Township during July 1989. The 84,000-square-foot modern headquarters was home base for more than 90 HAP employees, as well as the association’s for-profit subsidiary. The facility would serve as HAP’s home until 2016, when the association returned to downtown Harrisburg.

An enduring mission:  At the start of the decade, HAP’s leaders carefully studied the association’s strategic long-range goals and future needs. The outcome from the project included a new mission statement carrying familiar themes. HAP’s ultimate goal, the mission statement said, was to create an “effective and efficient health care delivery system through which high-quality health care is made available to every person in the Commonwealth.”