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May 30, 2020
A New Way Forward
COVID-19 has upended all our lives. In the process, it has revealed how we might deliver even better care and make the system work more efficiently for all.

The most striking example is telehealth, which became the norm in Maryland and nationwide almost overnight. With the need to keep social distance, many patients and health care providers turned to their computers, phones, and other devices to seek and to deliver care.

Many of you have told us that a good number of patient encounters could continue to be done remotely, though some are still figuring out which visits are most suitable and which modalities work best.

MHA strongly advocated for telehealth legislation that passed during this year’s abbreviated General Assembly session. Gov. Larry Hogan issued executive orders starting in March to expand telehealth in Medicaid—allowing services in patients’ homes, audio-only services, and email communications. Medicare also greatly expanded telehealth in response to COVID. MHA pushed all payers to cover audio-only telehealth permanently and advocated for additional changes to improve telehealth.

We also have seen how changes to the licensure process for health care professionals during this crisis could help to shore up our hospital workforces into the future. With that in mind, MHA will pursue opportunities to extend improvements made to the provider licensure process, with a focus on physicians and physician assistants.

Finally, the threat of lawsuits has risen even as you respond to the crisis and comply with government orders. Maryland law offers immunity under a public health emergency, yet more is needed to protect from unwarranted lawsuits. The MHA Liability Work Group and Legislative Strategy Group already are developing legislation to strengthen liability protections in a public health emergency.

We look forward to applying lessons learned to make permanent some of the policy and rule changes we’ve seen make sense for hospitals and patients.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center Opens ICU Inpatient Wing for COVID-19, Critical Patients
Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center became the first hospital in the nation to install STAAT Mod TM (Strategic, Temporary, Acuity-Adaptable Treatment) modular units to care for COVID-19 and other critically ill patients. These units arrived on site April 25, were assembled and connected to the hospital infrastructure, and are ready to receive their first COVID-19 patients this month. This durable solution provides quality care to the surrounding community throughout the uncertain curve of infection. Unlike other fabricated structures designed for lower acuity patients, the innovative STAAT Mod is highly engineered to hospital-quality environments. It is a critical care inpatient unit with Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIR) that provide increased safety for both patients and caregivers. Twelve modules were installed adjacent to the hospital offering 16 private ICU rooms with isolation and adequate support space.
Photos courtesy of Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center
HHS Deadline for Data for Remdesivir Distribution is June 8
The next deadline to submit data to inform the next Remdesivir distribution is June 8 at midnight. Hospitals will receive information June 1 from HHS ( teletracking@hhs.gov ) with instructions on how to submit.
 
This request is a follow up to prior Remdesivir data requests and will follow the normal protocols established for previous requests through the TeleTracking platform. Hospitals will be asked for the most up-to-date information for the same data points previously submitted. These are:

  • Number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, confirmed or suspected
  • Number of ICU patients with COVID-19, confirmed or suspected
 
For questions or more information, contact Katie Eckert .
Joint Commission to Resume Surveys
The Joint Commission announced this week that they will begin to resume regular surveys and reviews in June. Joint Commission staff will contact organizations due for a survey to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their operations. Hospitals in low-risk areas will be prioritized. The survey will not retroactively review compliance or implementation of an organization’s emergency operations plan. Instead, they will focus on how the hospital adapted to the pandemic and review current practices. 
MHA Submits Liability, Delegation, and Visitation Policy Letters
This week, MHA submitted three letters on issues of interest to the hospital field:

  • Medical Liability Letter to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Coronavirus Recovery Team: MHA submitted a letter asking the Coronavirus Recovery Team members to join us in advocating that the administration issue a new directive clarifying problematic liability language included in Secretary Robert Neall’s May 6 directive on the resumption of elective and non-urgent procedures.
  • Congressional Delegation Letter: MHA submitted a letter to our Congressional delegation with several requests we’d like to see included in the fourth federal Coronavirus recovery bill. The letter also asks federal lawmakers to demand that the Department of Health & Human Services release relief funding to hospitals in an expedited manner.
  • Visitation Policy Letter: MHA submitted a letter to Secretary Neall and Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty seeking clarification on two provisions of the newly released visitation guidance for people with disabilities. 
Guidance Issued on New Law, Regulations for Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Collection and Consent
The Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding (SAEK) Committee released two guidance documents addressing new regulations for the collection and testing of sexual assault evidence kits. The Frequently Asked Questions document on consent and anonymous reporting and statewide untested kit review process guidelines summarize the policy changes. In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation requiring hospitals to transfer sexual assault evidence kits to law enforcement within 30 days of performing the exam. The law also requires health care providers to give the victim law enforcement contact information and a description of state laws pertaining to the testing, preservation and disposal of sexual assault evidence. MHA is working with the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Maryland State Police and members of the SAEK committee to develop a statewide form with the relevant laws and policies. Attorney General Frosh and Assistant Attorney General Zenita Hurley, the chair of the Maryland SAEK Committee, released a video which provides an overview of the SAEK Committee, actions taken during the 2020 legislative session, and an overview of the policy changes. 
Maryland Primary Care Program COVID-19 Webinar Series
The Maryland Primary Care Program’s Program Management Office is hosting twice weekly COVID-19 webinars, on Mondays and Wednesdays. Each webinar will include information on current guidance, updates and select special topics. The Wednesday webinars will focus on behavioral health. The next webinar is scheduled for Monday, June 1. For more details and to register, click here . An archive of the COVID-19 webinar recordings and slides can be accessed here
Free Resources to Support Health Care Workers
In light of these extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances facing our organizations due to COVID-19, the Maryland Healthcare Education Institute and the Healthcare Experience Foundation teamed up to launch a Compassion Tribe for health system leaders, staff, physicians, and providers. The goal is to create a forum for support, encouragement, and problem solving. Each forum is free, but registration is required. Here are some upcoming programs:
 
  • Tuesday, June 2 at 2 p.m., Strengthening Resiliency and Grit, Register Here
  • Tuesday, June 9 at 2 p.m., Emotional Intelligence in Crisis, Register Here
  • Tuesday, June 16 at 2 p.m., Leading Change and Building Trust, Register Here
  • Tuesday, June 23 at 2 p.m., Patient Communication in a New Normal, Register Here
  • Tuesday, June 30 at 2 p.m., Healthy Conflict and Courageous Conversations, Register Here

For more information, email Katrina Coleman at  kcoleman@mhei.org .
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