Clinically Integrated Network Briefing

12.21.21: Jan. 6, 2022 COVID-19 Update Webinar l Message from Dr. Osborn l COVID-19 Info for Patients l New Boston Vaccine Requirement l Holiday Party Safety l Omicron l New Programs for Our Network
A Message for the Wellforce Clinically Integrated Network, including primary and specialty care physicians, practice administrators, Network leaders (Presidents, Administrators, and Medical Directors) and Network staff
Save the Date: COVID-19 Update Webinar
Thursday, January 6, 2022
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Fellow Clinicians,

I want to start out by saying thank you. I appreciate all of the hard work from you and your staff in the face of a never ending pandemic. I would also like to thank all of the hospitals and all of the hospital’s staff both directly within the Wellforce System, and those outside of our system, for their continued effort in unprecedented times. I encourage all of you to thank them as well.

We continue to experience significant volume issues, staffing issues and financial challenges in our offices and hospitals.
  • Urgent care volumes have been exceedingly high, with one of our urgent care sites seeing over 400 patients in a day.
  • The average census of our hospitalized COVID-19 patients has continued to climb, along with the need for ICU levels of care.
  • Emergency room wait times are longer than we have ever experienced.
  • The overall burden of hospitalized patients, due to mental health issues, delayed care, or other factors is mind boggling.

In the face of crisis, our system has done some amazing things to help.
  • Our Human Resources departments have taken aggressive steps to recruit for all open positions and to support our current staff, also bringing in traveling nurses to support our workforce.
  • Tufts Medical Center has been providing immunoglobulin therapy for our patients. Lowell General Hospital is currently working with the state to bring immunoglobulin therapy to the Saint’s campus to provide better local access.
  • The Wellforce hospitals have stepped in to re-balance patients, taking Lowell General Hospital COVID-19 patients and bringing them to Melrose Wakefield Hospital and Tufts Medical Center.
  • The Wellforce hospital system continues to carry significant financial costs to combat the situation.

What can you do to help in this crisis?
  • First, be aware that we are in a true crisis. Communicate this fact to your staff and your patients.
  • Open your schedule for emergent care, either in person or via telehealth.
  • Help order COVID-19 testing for your patients, or direct them to state testing sites. If warranted, talk to patients about obtaining home testing kits for COVID-19.
  • Ask about COVID-19 and Influenza vaccination at each visit.
  • Encourage people to get vaccinated, and if they are 6 months out from their first vaccinations, encourage them to have a booster.
  • Encourage mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.
  • Lastly, be kind and sympathetic to each other. The hospital, Emergency Department, Urgent Care, nurses, fellow physicians and all of our staff need your kindness and support in the face of this continued crisis.

Thank you,
Frank Osborn M.D.
Interim Chief Medical Officer
COVID-19 Information to Share With Patients
Please consider posting the following information to your patient portal, practice website, and social media channels.

Breaking News: Boston Mayor Announces Plan to Implement a COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for "select indoor public spaces."
Starting January 15, patrons will be required to show they have received at least one vaccine dose to enter indoor dining, bars, nightclubs, gyms and entertainment in Boston MA. Proof of full vaccination will be required for adults by February 15. Read more.

Boost Your Immunity with a Booster Shot
Understanding COVID-19 Booster Shots
A booster shot is not something unique to COVID-19. Booster shots are common for many other vaccines, such as for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) every 10 years. The COVID-19 booster shots can help your body maintain a higher level of immunity and protection against breakthrough infections.
Yes, You Should Get the Booster Shot Now
With cases of Omicron being reported across the United States and with multiple states currently recording new highs in daily COVID-19 cases, we need to remain vigilant and the time to enhance your immunity with a booster shot is now. This will give you an added layer of protection should you need it. Millions of COVID-19 booster shots have been given and no new safety concerns have arisen. You may have heard that there is a chance we might need an “Omicron-specific booster.” While that is a possibility, our infectious diseases experts believe it would be a mistake to hold off on a booster now while waiting for that unknown possibility. View our one-pager for more information, including eligibility.
Holiday Party Safety Tips
The holiday season is a time to be together with family and friends. Please remember extra precautions and planning are necessary to ensure a safe and healthy holiday party. Review our one-pager for tips.
Traveling for the Holidays?
If you are considering traveling for the holidays, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family.
From the CDC: What we know about Omicron
  • How easily does Omicron spread? The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
  • Will vaccines work against Omicron? Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
  • Will treatments work against Omicron? Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.

Testing Positive with an At-home Test
At home antigen tests are becoming more and more popular, especially around the holiday season. It is important to note that if you test positive with an at-home test you should get a confirmatory PCR test. There are two important reasons to do so – (1) Antigen tests have a higher false positive rate; and (2) if you are infected, proper documentation of a diagnosis of prior COVID-19 is often necessary for exemptions from testing (i.e. air travel and surgery). 
Mark Your Calendar: Programs for Our Network
IEP for Home Seminar Series  
Featuring Erik von Hahn, MD, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician with the Center for Children With Special Needs (CCSN) at Tufts Children's Hospital.
Download the flyer here
Wednesday, January 5: 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
This Webinar Series is on the FIRST Wednesday of Each Month Through June, 2022
New Year Risk Coding Webinar 
Wednesday, January 19: Noon - 1 p.m.
A recording of this session will be available here.
EpicCare Link Orientation Session
(Multiple times) Beginning Tuesday, January 11
Recommended Attendees: Private practice physicians and staff members not implementing the Wellforce instance of Epic, but interested in learning more about Web-based access to Epic (EpicCareLink).
ICYMI: Please visit the Wellforce Webinar Series Page for links to past recordings/presentations

Visit the Wellforce Webinar Series Page for more details on upcoming events.

You're encouraged to bookmark this page on your computer (pictured right) so you can easily return to check for updates.

The Wellforce Clinically Integrated Network is a distinctively different population health enterprise and value-based care contracting entity. It comprises 2,300 primary care and specialist physicians and advanced practice clinicians, in private and employed practices, working in community and hospital settings. The Network’s purpose is to build healthier communities and to create healthy, rewarding experiences for our participating physicians and care teams. The Network was launched in July 2021 by building upon the legacies of two long-standing, high-performing organizations – Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization and New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA).