A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
Thank you for continuing to share your experiences with us, as well as your questions and concerns so that we may work to address issues you are facing. We have taken your stories and concerns directly to the governor and legislative leaders, particularly regarding the immense financial impact on physician practices during this pandemic. Also in response to those concerns, we will be hosting a podcast this week to outline newly available opportunities for practices to obtain financial relief—please watch for forthcoming details via email. We know you are continuing to show up for your patients—with or without COVID-19 infection—and we are working hard to support you in the ways you need most.
KDHE updates, including Personal Protective Equipment
The state of Kansas continues to respond to growing concerns over shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). At a press conference yesterday, KHDE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said the agency had recently received a shipment of 15 pallets of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile, including N95 respirators, surgical masks, face shields, surgical gowns, and gloves.
In conversations with the state adjutant general, KMS has been advised that physician practices should first call their local emergency manager for PPE supplies. Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) regional contact information is available here.
Providers may additionally contact their regular distributors. If distributors cannot fulfill an order, providers should then contact their county public health officials to request supplies from potential local stockpiles. A directory of all Kansas county health departments is available here. Providers still in search of PPE supplies may also contact KDHE officials to submit a request (request form available here). More collected PPE guidance is available here: www.kmsonline.org/covid19-ppe.
Important note: KDHE is hosting a weekly call that is limited to clinicians on Thursdays at 10 a.m. The call-in number is (312) 626-6799, ID: 349 823 849.
KDHE officials expect COVID-19 cases to peak in Kansas around April 24, then subside during summer months, and likely rise again in the fall. KDHE said that the statewide “stay at home order” issued on Mach 28 by Gov. Laura Kelly would be critical in suppressing infection rates, particularly as recent outbreaks have been connected to large gatherings. View executive order.
CMS announces increased flexibility for physicians amid COVID-19
On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a number of new policies to help physicians and hospitals amid COVID-19. The new policies include Medicare coverage for telephone services, significant additions to the list of covered telehealth services such as emergency visits, and greater clarity on the use of remote patient monitoring for acute conditions like the novel coronavirus. View the CMS fact sheet on the new policies.
CDC updates COVID-19 testing and preparedness guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its COVID-19 testing priority guidance, which gives first priority to testing hospitalized patients and symptomatic health care workers. The agency also updated its interim guidelines for collecting, handling, and testing COVID-19 clinical specimens to allow for self- or health care worker-collected nasal or nasal turbinate swabs if nasopharyngeal swab is not possible. In addition, CDC updated its checklists and resources for health care professionals preparing for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
The CDC also issued a health advisory for severe illness associated with the use of non-pharmaceutical Chloroquine Phosphate to prevent and treat COVID-19.
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