According to data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missourians’ average life expectancy is just under 80 years. In that span of time, the world has changed remarkably. Consider that antibiotics generally were not available, interstate highways would take more than a decade to appear, and World War II would begin and end.
Humans have a remarkable capacity to forget progress and adversity. Although this column is about Thanksgiving and COVID-19, it is worth remembering that for many among us, the challenges we presently face are small in comparison to those they have lived through.
As I was thinking about our present state of adversity, I kept coming back to the rhetoric of Winston Churchill. In May of 1940, he became Prime Minister of England. Those were very dark days. On his first day, he set the stage for the years to come, saying to Parliament, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
A large percentage of our hospital teams will be working throughout the holiday. It is likely that the next few weeks will be among the most challenging in our struggle with COVID-19. Thanksgiving and the December holidays are unlikely to provide time for relief. The coming weeks and months will be full of “blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
As dismal as that message seems — and as fitting in that time as today — it is a message of resolve. The empire would and did persevere. We will as well.
COVID-19 is spreading through our Missouri communities pell-mell. Since Oct. 1, statewide hospitalizations for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients have increased 137%. As we open the holiday weekend, it’s clear that many Americans will not be adhering to recommended distancing. Millions are flying or driving to gather with family and friends for the holidays, and the result likely will be a post-holiday surge in hospitalization. On Nov. 21, Missouri hospitals reported that 83% of ICU beds throughout the state currently were in use, and 77% of inpatient beds were occupied. Missouri is also facing record levels of new COVID-19 cases, with nearly 25,000 positive test results last week alone.
As unfortunate as this all sounds, there is hope. We are working to bring some needed relief in staffing, which is among the most pressing issues currently. We hope for news on this front in the coming days.
At the same time, a growing chorus of voices is calling on Missourians to help reduce the spread of the virus. Tuesday, MHA — in partnership with business leaders, rural advocates and health care organizations, among others — launched a new initiative to help Missourians understand the importance of wearing masks and engaging in other infection control behaviors that help protect themselves and their communities.
I hope on this difficult holiday, you will find a way to focus on the inspiration, not the adversity. The work of hospitals has never been as important as in this moment. At the same time, Missouri’s health care system has never been as cohesive or our hospital heroes so easy to identify.
Yes. These are very difficult times. And, it may be hard in the coming days to remain positive. However, I am reminded also of Churchill, who in recognizing the enormous contribution of British pilots to success in the “Battle of Britain,” said, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” Our front line is at the bedside. But, the same sentiment is true of our dedicated caregivers in this difficult moment.
Perhaps Thanksgiving, despite this year’s challenges, will stand as a moment of reflection for us on why we serve.
MHA Publishes Issue Brief On Stark Law Reforms
CMS Outlines Acute Hospital Care At Home Initiative
CMS Releases Marketplace Week Three Enrollment Data
MLN Connects Provider eNews Available
OxyContin Manufacturer Pleads Guilty To Criminal Charges In Opioid Epidemic
HHS Distributes Holiday Toolkit
NASEM Offers Workshop On The Security Of America’s Medical Product Supply Chain
Mercy Hospital Aurora And Cassville Name New Administrator
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently issued a final rule updating several regulations implementing the physician self-referral law, commonly referred to as the Stark Law. MHA published an issue brief with additional details.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced new steps to care for patients outside a traditional hospital setting given the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the country. Individual hospitals can apply for a waiver of §482.23(b) and (b)(1) of the Hospital Conditions of Participation, which require nursing services to be provided on premises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the immediate availability of a registered nurse for care of any patient. CMS compiled FAQs for hospitals that may be interested in obtaining an Acute Hospital Care At Home waiver.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released marketplace enrollment data through Nov. 21. For the first three weeks of the 2021 open enrollment period, 2,380,527 beneficiaries made plan selections in states where the HealthCare.gov platform is being utilized. Through the third week of open enrollment for 2020, 1,669,401 plan selections had been chosen. In Missouri, 56,806 beneficiaries made plan selections for 2021, which is approximately 46% more than the 38,802 plan selections through the third week last year.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued updates to MLN Connects Provider eNews. eNews includes information about national provider calls, meetings, events, announcements and other MLN educational product updates. The latest issue provides updates and summaries of the following.
CMS announces historic changes to physician self-referral regulations
prescription drug payment model to put American patients first
policy will increase number of lifesaving organs by holding organ procurement organizations accountable through transparency and competition
polysomnography services: bill correctly
Quality Payment Program Alternative Payment Model: extended deadline to update billing information – Sunday, Dec. 13
Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical manufacturer of OxyContin, plead guilty to three criminal charges on Tuesday. By doing so, Purdue Pharma officially took responsibility for its part in the opioid epidemic, which has impacted the lives of millions. In the past two decades, the drug overdose crisis has contributed to the deaths of more than 450,000 Americans, most of those from opioids both legal and illicit.
In the court hearing, Purdue Pharma admitted to impeding the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to combat the addiction crisis. It also admitted to aiding and abetting the dispensing of opioids without a legitimate medical purpose or valid prescription, and failing to provide the DEA with accurate information about OxyContin. Additionally, it admitted paying doctors through a speaker’s program to induce them to write more prescriptions for its painkillers.
The guilty pleas were entered by Purdue board chairperson Steve Miller on behalf of the company. They were part of a criminal and civil settlement announced last month between the Stamford, Conn.-based company and the Justice Department.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Director of Region VII distributed a messaging document and digital toolkit for health care providers to use when talking about proper public health mitigation techniques to use this holiday season.
The Committee on Security of America’s Medical Product Supply Chain will host a public workshop from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2. The workshop will include information on end-user perspectives of the medical supply chain, current lists of “critical/essential” medical products, key considerations for the formulation of a unified list of critical medical products and tactical approaches for improving supply chain resiliency. Registration is required. To learn more about the speakers and the agenda, visit the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine website.
Valerie Davis replaced Niki Gamet as the new administrator of Mercy Hospital Aurora and Cassville. Davis served as the manager of quality at Mercy Hospital Aurora and Cassville, and will transition to administrator, effective immediately. Gamet will continue to serve as the administrator of Mercy Hospital Lebanon.