May 2, 2020
Maryland Hospitals: Safe, Ready, Waiting
As your hospitals shore up supplies and staff to care for the surge of COVID-19 patients, you’re also seeing a remarkable decline in other patients—those with emergency care needs.

Rightly, much of our attention is focused on responding to this public health emergency and making sure you have the resources in place to deliver life-saving care. Yet, it’s important also to understand why Marylanders are avoiding emergency departments. Incredibly, some hospitals report seeing half or even less of the volume they did pre-COVID in their EDs.

This trend, likely caused by people’s concerns of catching the virus at our hospitals, is worrying. As you know, delaying or avoiding care can lead to adverse outcomes and, in some cases, death.

Our mission is to care for people. As a state we have made great strides in keeping people well, directing them to the right level of care, and preventing unnecessary use of hospital services. Now, we face a situation where people who are sick and need our care are afraid to come.

These are very real concerns. Next week we’ll ask the MHA Executive Committee to approve an education effort – SAFE. READY. WAITING. Maryland Health Secretary Bobby Neall has even invited us to lead this campaign for the whole state.

Our goal is to convey to the public that your hospitals are safe, ready and waiting to deliver the emergency care they may need. Ensuring people access medically necessary treatment will prevent their health from worsening during this difficult time and allow you to continue to care for your communities.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
Nurse Externs Now Available Through Registry
MHA’s temporary staffing program Chesapeake Registry Program (Registry) added another staffing resource to assist you as prepare for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients. Registry can find candidates and recruit new groups, including those signed up for the Maryland Responds and Medical Reserve Corps, to supplement your staff.
Through Registry, hospitals also can now request nursing externs. There are 50 nurse externs now available to place on assignments, and more than 100 additional externs are expected to be available soon.
Physicians and nurses with critical care or emergency expertise also are available to step into new roles necessary to test and treat patients.
Hospitals that already use CRP and those that do not, can quickly contract with MHA and CRP to access:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Allied staffing
  • Non-clinical staff

To request assistance for filling more than 10 positions, send a surge staffing request to MHA at COVIDstaffing@mhaonline.org . An intake team is ready to begin taking requests. For questions, contact Meghan McClelland .
Guidance Released on Pregnant Patients with COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine released guidance on the management of pregnant patients with COVID-19. According to the guidelines, if hospitalization is required for a pregnant patient with COVID-19, the care should be provided in a facility that has the capability to conduct close maternal and fetal monitoring. Other recommendations include individualized delivery planning as well as a team-based approach with multispecialty consultation. The full guidance is available here .
HRSA Launches COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently launched the COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal , where health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing of uninsured individuals for COVID-19 or provided treatment to uninsured individuals with a COVID-19 diagnosis on or after Feb. 4 can request claims for reimbursement. 

To learn more about the program, including the registration and claim submission process, go to COVIDUninsuredClaim.HRSA.gov . HRSA also developed a video overview of the program.
Applications Open for Md. Community Health Resources Commission’s Emergency Relief Program
Applications are open for the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission’s Emergency Relief Program. Grants of up to $50,000 are available for community health resources and safety net providers. These funds are intended to address the immediate impact of emergency response efforts and minimize the effect on vulnerable populations resulting from reduced capacity and access to community services. The streamlined application process will remain open until May 14 at noon. Awards will be issued in late June. Additional application details can be found here . For questions, contact Chris Kelter , chief financial officer for the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

For a list of grants available to support hospitals’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here
HSCRC Approves COVID-19 Surge Funding Policy
The Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) Thursday approved its COVID-19 surge funding policy. The policy will provide one-time adjustments if hospital revenues increase above global budgeted revenue (GBR) targets. HSCRC will measure actual COVID-19 volume using rate center units at published rate order rates. MHA testified in support of the recommendation.

HSCRC also discussed important considerations for rate year 2020 undercharging and recovery in rate year 2021. This and other updates from the HSCRC public meeting were included in streamlined version of MHA’s Newsbreak available here . For more information, contact Brett McCone
MHA Advocates Future Stimulus Funds be Directed to Hospitals
MHA Wednesday sent a letter to Maryland’s federal Congressional delegation asking that lawmakers urge the Department of Health and Human Services to target future stimulus funding to hospitals. In the letter, MHA highlights that hospitals are losing revenue at a time when they are being asked to significantly increase capacity, maintain staff, halt elective services and remain open 24/7. We have serious concerns about the recent allocation and process for determining funding distribution. We urged our Congressional delegation to advocate that the additional Supplemental 3.5 funding and additional Cares Act tranche funding go to support hospitals on the front lines. Read the full letter here .
Rural Maryland Council Opens Fiscal Year 2021 Grant Programs
The Rural Maryland Council (RMC) is accepting letters of intent to apply for the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF) and the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund (RMPIF) for the fiscal year 2021 funding cycle. Information about these grant opportunities and access to the online application can be found at rural.maryland.gov . Letters of Intent must be received by Friday May 29.
The Council will conduct two virtual information sessions to review program guidelines and criteria as well as answer questions from participants. Sessions will be May 5 at 10 a.m. and May 8 at 10 a.m. Details are available at rural.maryland.gov . Individual appointments will also be available during the week of May 11 and can be scheduled by contacting rmc.mda@maryland.gov . Awards will be announced Aug. 17.
MHEI: Rediscovering Gratitude & Resilience
In celebration of Nurse’ Week and Hospital Week, the Maryland Healthcare Education Institute will host a virtual session May 12 at 10 a.m., Rediscovering Gratitude & Resilience, to help you and your teams examine your strengths, practice resiliency-building tools, and share best practices to recharge. Registration information is available here
Maryland Health Connection Opens Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period
Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance marketplace, opened a Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period. This means that from now until June 15 any eligible Maryland resident can enroll in health coverage. This special enrollment is for private health plans only. People who are eligible for Medicaid can enroll any time of year. A Special Enrollment Toolkit is available to help spread the word. It includes:
  • One-click social media posts
  • Newsletter content in English and Spanish
  • HTML code to cut and paste and add a Maryland Health Connection button to your website
  • Consumer messaging

Blogs also are available in English and Spanish:
Celebrating Maryland's Health Care Heroes
Congratulations to our members who were named The Daily Record’s 2020 Health Care Heroes , honoring organizations and individuals who have made an impact on the quality of health care within our state. MHA is proud to be the event partner for this year’s event, which is June 25 and been changed to a virtual celebration. A full list of winners can be found here .

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, The Daily Record also has added a new category, for COVID-19 heroes. Nominations are being accepted now and can be submitted here .
National Group Buys Program Offers Savings for MHA Members
MHA members are eligible for Vizient’s National Group Buys through MHA Prime . The program offers opportunities to realize substantial savings and enhanced contract value on select products and services. To date, Vizient’s capital equipment group buys have saved hospitals more than $421 million. Group buys are available in 45 major categories, including biomedical engineering, imaging, business office, cardiology, laboratory, central supply, emergency room, medical records, and surgery. For more information contact your MHA Prime Client Executives: Joy Money at 240-856-3303 or Diane Bruno at 410-790-8031.
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Maryland Hospital Association | www.mhaonline.org