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covid_19_vaccine_health_equity_resourcesCOVID-19 Vaccine Health Equity ResourcesLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_21/covid_19_vaccine_health_equity_resources<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2021/January/Doctor-Patient-Exam-Room-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="doctor and patient in exam room" /> </div> <h5>January 21, 2020</h5> <h2> COVID-19 Vaccine Health Equity Resources </h2> <p> Public confidence in and willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccines will determine the outcome of this mass-scale public health intervention. As public vaccination begins in Washington, the WSMA will pay particular attention to amplifying resources targeted to minority communities disproportionally impacted by the disease, as part of our effort to support health care's COVID-19 response. </p> <p> The following resources from the <a href="">COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)</a> were provided courtesy of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. </p> <h3> Community Forum with Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett: Everything You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines </h3> <p> On Jan. 27, we invite you to join us and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, leading scientist for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, for a community forum to discuss what you should know about COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more and register <a href="">here</a>. </p> <h3> COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations and Research with Children and Pregnant Persons </h3> <p> The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated the FAQs on its website to include information about vaccine recommendations and research with children and pregnant persons. You can check out those FAQs <a href="">here</a>. </p> <h3> COVID Vaccine Matters </h3> <p> Dr. Larry Corey and Dr. Chris Beyrer of the COVID-19 Prevention Network have penned a series of blogs on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which can be found <a href="">here</a>. </p> <h3> Community Engagement Materials Menu (updated Jan. 4, 2021) </h3> <p> The CoVPN created many community engagement materials to help educate communities about COVID-19 and the research happening. You can access all of the CoVPN Community Engagement materials that have been created and share with your friends, colleagues, and communities via a secure Dropbox <a href="">here</a> (Password: CoVPNTria!$) or see the attached menu document. This menu update includes an mRNA Info Sheet, and several infographics about mRNA vaccines (as JPEGs and ideal for social media sharing/posts). </p> <h3> Iman and COVID-19 </h3> <p> This series was developed to address the concerns of Muslim communities regarding COVID-19 and COVID-19 research. The sessions are recorded and available on the CoVPN Facebook page <a href="">here</a>. </p> <h3> PANDEMIA Series </h3> <p> This series was developed in partnership with the Latino Commission on AIDS to address the concerns of Latinx communities regarding COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine trials. The session recordings of past episodes are available on the CoVPN YouTube page <a href="">here</a>. </p> <h3> COVID in Black Series </h3> <p> This series was developed to address the concerns of Black communities regarding COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine trials. The session recordings of past episodes can be found on the CoVPN YouTube page <a href="">here</a> and on the CoVPN Facebook page <a href="">here</a>. </p> <p> <a href="">The COVID-19 Vaccine and the Black Community</a> was an informative discussion on COVID-19 vaccines and clinical trials organized by Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. and features Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and Dr. Barney Graham (NIH), Dr. Wayne Frederick (Howard University), and Dr. Wayne Riley (formerly with Meharry Medical College), along with other Black health experts and leaders. </p> <p> <a href="">Making It Plain: What Black America Needs to Know about COVID-19 and Vaccines</a> was a powerful town hall discussion hosted by leading Black health, faith, and social organizations to address questions and concerns from Black communities. </p> </div>1/21/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
state_redoubles_covid_19_vaccination_efforts_how_wsma_members_can_helpState Redoubles COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts. How WSMA Members Can HelpLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_21/state_redoubles_covid_19_vaccination_efforts_how_wsma_members_can_help<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2021/January/COVID-vaccine-Illustration-blue645x425px.png" class="pull-right" alt="COVID vaccine illustration" /> </div> <h5>January 21, 2020</h5> <h2> State Redoubles COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts. How WSMA Members Can Help </h2> <p> State officials have announced a multipronged approach to accelerating Washington's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The updated strategy includes increasing eligibility and capacity, organizing mass vaccination clinics, and bringing private partners on board. With the state mobilizing to meet the needs of millions of its residents, these efforts will ramp up quickly in the weeks ahead. Make sure your practice is prepared - and learn how you can assist with this extraordinary public health initiative. </p> <h3> Phase 1B updated - and now underway </h3> <p> The Washington State Department of Health has <a href="">moved up its timeline for public vaccinations</a>, moving the state into the first tier of Phase 1B on Monday. The Department of Health also increased eligibility for the phase, lowering the minimum age in this first tier to all residents 65 or older, in line with the federal government's updated guidance issued last week. The state will continue to prioritize older adults in multigenerational households under the new guidance. </p> <p> State officials say they are moving up the timeline and expanding eligibility to give vaccine providers greater flexibility, and that communities still vaccinating workers in health care settings should continue prioritizing getting them protected. The state has set a goal to vaccinate 45,000 people a day, and is working to build capacity now, under the assumption of increasing vaccine supplies in the weeks ahead. </p> <h3>Using WAIIS to order vaccine</h3> <p>Beginning today, facilities and providers that have enrolled in the COVID-19 vaccination program can order vaccine on the <a href="">Washington Immunization Information System</a>. For those who have not previously used the WAIIS, the Department of Health is sharing a <a href="">training guide on ordering and receiving vaccine</a>, as well as an <a href="">instructional video</a>. There is also a <a href="">checklist</a> for COVID-19 vaccine transfers and redistribution, as well as a <a href="">video</a>.</p> <p>Facilities and providers can submit orders to be delivered the following week beginning on Fridays and closing on Mondays. The DOH is requesting that providers and facilities order the amount of vaccine they are able to administer in one week. They are also cautioning that vaccine supply remains problematic, and that facilities and providers should expect their orders to be cut. Should you have additional questions on ordering, receiving, or transferring the COVID-19 vaccine in the WAIIS, please contact <a href=""></a>.</p> <h3> New reporting requirements for vaccine providers </h3> <p> Part of the state's push to pick up the pace of vaccinations is a new mandate for vaccine providers stipulating that 95% of vaccine allocations be administered within a week of receipt, effective immediately (doses acquired prior to this week must be administered by Jan. 24). Additionally, providers must submit vaccine data to the state within 24 hours of administration, and daily information on dosages (i.e. quantity on hand, number administered) must be submitted to the Department of Health. </p> <p> For these new data submission requirements, the state is requiring vaccine providers to submit data using WA HEALTH. The data to be reported to WA HEALTH is limited in scope and is not patient-level data. Existing vaccine reporting requirements through WAIIS remain in place. The WSMA has shared our concerns with the state that this additional burden would be particularly onerous for small to midsized groups providing vaccines. </p> <h3> Building capacity </h3> <p> To help reach its goal of vaccinating 45,000 people a day, the state announced an expanded distribution system, to include mass vaccination locations across the state and a new statewide public-private partnership called the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center. This public-private partnership will support the Department of Health and the secretary of health in constructing an infrastructure and coordinating available resources to deliver vaccines across the state as effectively and efficiently as possible. The WSMA has been invited to participate in this effort. </p> <h3> Volunteers needed </h3> <p> To help this extraordinary public health effort scale, Washington not only needs more facilities to enroll as vaccine providers, but also needs volunteers - physicians, physician assistants, and health professionals of all stripes. If your practice is not able to take on the logistical challenges of becoming a vaccine provider, consider volunteering to serve in the mass vaccination sites or in other capacities as determined by the state in the days ahead. To volunteer, register with the Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers at <a href=""></a>. </p> <h3> Department of Health vaccine updates webinar </h3> <p> The Department of Health is hosting a vaccine updates webinar on Jan. 26, from noon-1 p.m. covering: </p> <ul> <li>Current and upcoming COVID vaccines</li> <li>Emergency Use Authorization process</li> <li>Vaccine safety profile</li> <li>Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices vaccine recommendations</li> <li>Contraindications and precautions to vaccination</li> <li>Management of anaphylaxis </li> <li>COVID vaccine resources</li> </ul> <p> This free webinar is targeted toward health care providers, local health jurisdictions, school and child care nurses, and other health professionals. </p> <p> Register for the webinar <a href="">online</a>. </p> </div>1/21/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
stormy_seasStormy SeasLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Latest_News/2021/stormy_seas<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="/images/Newsletters/Reports/2021/Jan-Feb-2021-Reports-Cover-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /></div> <h5>January 19, 2021</h5> <h2>Stormy Seas</h2> <h5> <em>Members only; sign-in required.</em> </h5> <p>By John Gallagher</p> <p> When the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in early March, Ki Shin, MD, was on vacation in Hawaii with his wife, also a physician, taking a break from their practice in the small town of Montesano. "We got there on Monday and then the governor's restriction happened," Dr. Shin recalls. "All of a sudden, we were out of town and my staff was freaking out. It was an immediate crisis. Not a lot of information was available to us, and we had a lot of scared people, staff and patients included." </p> <p> Upon their return home, the Shins immediately set about trying to stabilize their practice. Faced with a 40% drop in appointments, the couple took a 50% pay cut so that they could keep their staff on payroll. </p> <p> "For us not to get paid for a couple of months was totally doable, but that was not true for the staff," says Dr. Shin. </p> <p> After a rough few months, some of the financial pressures eased. The Shins obtained a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act designed to help small businesses. They also received $30,000 from Medicare, which covered the practice's overhead for a month. </p> <p> Eventually, patients started returning, and Dr. Shin's practice is stable again, but still not entirely recovered. "The [patient] volume is coming up, but it's not back to normal," he says. "It's about 90% of what it was previous to COVID." </p> <h3>Survey answers detail challenges</h3> <p> The recovery of Dr. Shin's practice, and other practices around Washington, is a hopeful sign. However, the new normal falls short of the old one. Moreover, the ever-changing course of the pandemic, including the potential for another lockdown, makes the outlook for practices in Washington uncertain at best. </p> <p> "Physicians are doing okay right now, but they are still so vulnerable," says Jennifer Hanscom, executive director and CEO of the WSMA. "The ground they're standing on is shaky. There might be an earthquake brewing underneath." </p> <p> Shawn Andrews, primary care medical director at Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma, says that the effects of the pandemic seem to vary by type of practice. </p> <p> "In terms of finances, the larger practices will survive," she says. "Our budgets are not pretty but we're viable, and that's not a given for everyone this year. We're not in the same boat as folks in private practice or even some other critical access hospitals." </p> <p> A fall 2020 survey of WSMA members found that the pandemic has taken a significant toll on practices, making their financial viability a real concern. Of 69 members from a range of practices and specialties who responded to the survey, more than half reported a temporary reduction in compensation because of the pandemic. Nearly half the survey respondents said that they had to lay off or furlough staff, including physicians. </p> <p> Almost a quarter of the respondents said that the financial impact of the pandemic on their practice is between $500,000 and $1 million. Those figures echo a national survey of 3,500 physicians conducted by the AMA last summer, which found practice revenue dropped by roughly one-third. </p> <p> While the worst of the pandemic appears to be over, the ripple effects continue. The vast majority of the physicians who responded to the WSMA survey said that their patient volume was down compared to before the pandemic, with more than a third saying it was down between 25% and 75%. Even more troubling was that fact that more than 40% reported having a month or less of cash on hand to pay operating expenses. The WSMA benchmark is 18 weeks. </p> <h3> Extra costs, curtailed services drive need for more financial help </h3> <p> As it did for Dr. Shin's practice, the federal PPP loan provided a financial lifeline for many practices. </p> <p> "Luckily we got one of the PPP loans," says Juliette Erickson, MD, a physician in a private practice in Grays Harbor. "That helped us tremendously and got us over the hump. We stopped having weekly meetings on how to pay the next paycheck and started focusing on medicine again." </p> <p> However, as much as the loans helped, their benefit was limited. More than 80% of the physicians in the WSMA survey said that additional financial support would be helpful. In part, that's because new safety protocols have also meant more expenses. </p> <p> Chelsea Unruh, MD, a physician at Yelm Family Medicine, says that the expenses related to COVID-19 requirements have added up. Like other clinics, Yelm Family Medicine does initial screenings of patients in its parking lot, but the costs don't stop there. </p> <p> "We have had to rebuild our back parking lot for these car visits," says Dr. Unruh. "We have had to outfit our front desk with shields. We are investing in rapid testing and signing contracts for long-term use of specific machines." </p> <p> Then there is the extra expense of additional personal protective equipment. "The cost of PPE went up," notes Hanscom. Now practices are having to bear the costs of full PPE, masks, and sanitizers that previously were used much more sparingly. </p> <p> Like Dr. Unruh, Dr. Erickson also sees clients with COVID-19 symptoms in the clinic parking lot. "I'm dressed in full PPE," she says. "It's not the best way to see an ill person, but it's the best we can do and still protect our staff and patients." </p> <p> The need to sanitize exam rooms thoroughly between patient visits can also have a direct impact on patient volume. "We decreased the number of patients we're seeing per hour," says Dr. Shin. "I was able to see four patients an hour, but with the cleaning between visits, we chose to limit it to three patients per hour." </p> <p> Even with such precautions in place, some staff still have to quarantine because they were exposed to the virus outside of work. </p> <p> "The other income challenge has been the loss of time from our staff, from exposures or from being ill themselves," says Dr. Unruh. "None of those exposures happened at work, but we don't get to control the private lives of our staff. To exclude someone for 14 days because they made a poor choice has been rough on morale and staffing." </p> <p> To protect staff and patients, some practices have curbed services, including Dr. Shin's. "In Montesano, there are no blood draw labs, so lots of patients were coming into our clinic even though [the labs] were for someone else," Dr. Shin says. The practice eliminated that service, forcing patients in the area to travel farther for it. Dr. Erickson says that she is referring more patients to the ER because her clinic lacks the proper PPE to treat suspected COVID-19 patients. </p> <p> But Dr. Andrews says that patient volume at her hospital's ER, as well as its urgent care clinics, is still down significantly. "Many people wait until they are very ill to seek services, and often suffer much worse outcomes," she says. Nonetheless, she says that larger practices have been better positioned to withstand the pressures from the pandemic for a variety of reasons, including business plans less impacted by long term drops in volumes, better PPE availability, and space to separate well patients from symptomatic ones. </p> <h3>Telehealth use soars</h3> <p> The pandemic accelerated several trends that were already underway. Chief among these has been the growth of telehealth. Three-quarters of the physicians in the WSMA survey said that they implemented telehealth as a result of the pandemic. </p> <p> "We had never done telehealth before," says Dr. Unruh. "Then suddenly we had half a day per provider devoted to telehealth visits." </p> <p> As helpful as telehealth has proven, it has its drawbacks. In rural areas, internet connections can be spotty, if patients have broadband service at all. </p> <p> "It's hard to do telehealth where people don't have iPads or iPhones," says Dr. Erickson. </p> <p> For Dr. Erickson, telehealth has also inadvertently caused a staffing problem. One of the three doctors in her practice began doing telehealth at the start of the coronavirus outbreak as a way of bringing income into the practice and fell in love with it. She has accepted a full-time job as a telehealth physician and will be leaving the practice. </p> <p> "This is her way of moving with her career, but she would never have found that job if we were not financially struggling in the first place," says Dr. Erickson. </p> <p> Moreover, as useful as telehealth has proven, its long-term future as a viable option is still in doubt. "CMS holds the key for that," says Dr. Andrews. "CMS will decide what we can and can't get paid to do." If telehealth is not reimbursed or not reimbursed at a reasonable rate, practices will not be able to sustain it. Accordingly, the WSMA has made telehealth reimbursement a priority for its advocacy efforts in the 2021 state legislative session. </p> <h3>Independent practices face tough challenges</h3> <p> Among the other changes hastened were retirement decisions. "We have a group of anesthesiologists who are in their late 50s to late 60s," says Brian Nyquist, MD, a partner at Olympic Anesthesia in Bremerton. "We had several people who were close to retirement that retired. We knew it was coming, but it's not like you can hire people before you need them." </p> <p> The flip side of the retirements, says Dr. Nyquist, is that the "business kerfuffle of COVID" has made recruiting easier. While previous attempts to recruit were uphill battles, he says that there are more physicians applying for open positions at his practice. He believes that because of COVID-19, "a lot of corporate owners, management services, and practices have clamped down on people and contracts," leading physicians to look for new opportunities. </p> <p> Whether that applies to rural practices is an open question. "Recruiting is incredibly challenging, but more physicians are realizing that independent practices are a joy to work in because you are more autonomous," says Dr. Erickson. </p> <p> However, the financial pressures of the past year may make it harder for independent practices to survive. "There's been a nationwide trend away from private groups," says Dr. Nyquist. "We are privileged to continue to be a private group. For now we're positioned pretty well, but there are lots of pressures—most of them financial, some societal—that want to drive physicians to work for hospitals. I fear that this is probably going to exacerbate that." </p> <p> Even when a vaccine is available, the effects of the pandemic will still be felt. "For the next year, I don't see how we don't do things we're doing now, like not have a waiting room," says Dr. Shin. "I don't think we're going to change the number of patients we serve per hour. I think we're looking at this as a long- term issue." </p> <p> While the financial situation for Washington physicians had stabilized by year's end, the specter of another spike in coronavirus cases still haunts practices. "If we went back to a dark winter where we couldn't even see patients in the office, we would absolutely struggle again," says Dr. Erickson. "It keeps you up at night." </p> <p> Still, she remains committed to keeping the clinic afloat. "We've been here 35 years, and there are literally not many options in town," she says. "The most important thing is how we continue to do our work." </p> <p> <em>John Gallagher is a freelance journalist specializing in covering health care.</em> </p> <p> <em>This article was featured in the January/February 2021 issue of WSMA Reports, WSMA's print newsletter.</em> </p> </div>1/19/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
virtual_advocacyVirtual AdvocacyLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Latest_News/2021/virtual_advocacy<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="WSMA Reports Jan-Feb 2021 cover art" src="/images/Newsletters/Reports/2021/Jan-Feb-2021-Reports-Cover-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /></div> <h5>January 19, 2021</h5> <h2>Virtual Advocacy</h2> <h5> <em>Members only; sign-in required.</em> </h5> <p>By Pat Curry</p> <p> As with so many other institutions, the 2021 session of the Washington State Legislature has been fundamentally changed by the coronavirus pandemic. No one thinks it’s a good idea to put hundreds of people together in a room for hours a day over several weeks. </p> <p> So, the structure of this year’s session will be quite different. It will be conducted largely—or entirely—remotely, and the Capitol campus will be closed to the public. </p> <p> Due to the remote nature of the session, fewer bills will likely be considered, with a focus on the state budget and responding to the pandemic. Given the public’s outpouring of support for health care workers, it might seem that this would be the year to shoot for the moon in terms of asking the legislature for health care funding. </p> <p> That would absolutely be true if there was a surplus of cash. </p> <p> “The state’s budget outlook has improved somewhat from the nadir in the spring, but there remains a revenue shortfall,” says WSMA Government Affairs Director Sean Graham. “Actions will need to be taken to keep the budget in balance in the short term and the longer outlook our top priority in the budget realm is staving off any cuts that would impact access to care for the state’s patients.” </p> <p> “I’m grateful we represent the individual physician because we can put a human face on the situation and speak for people who were racing in to solve the problem,” says WSMA Executive Director/CEO Jennifer Hanscom. “That’s an added benefit.” </p> <p> Even with the sympathy that physicians and other health care providers have garnered from policymakers, any number of tax increases are likely to be proposed in the 2021 session and some will impact physicians. Among WSMA’s legislative priorities this year is ensuring the financial viability of practices, including opposing tax increases that will unduly impact the physician community. </p> <p> “We know that virtually all our state’s businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, but that’s particularly true of physician practices and medical groups,” Graham says. “Most physician practices have had a substantial loss of patient volume and some are teetering on the brink financially.” </p> <h3>Advancing telemedicine</h3> <p> The top policy issue for the WSMA this year relates to increasing the availability of telemedicine. Washington state has been a leader in telemedicine policy, but more can be done. For example, the state’s telemedicine coverage is limited to services that require a patient to have internet access. </p> <p> “A lot of our state doesn’t have access to reliable broadband,” Graham explains. “We need insurance coverage for services offered over the phone. We also need to make sure there’s reliable broadband; it’s a health equity and education issue. The pandemic has made it clear that access to the internet isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.” </p> <p> In the regulatory realm, the WSMA will be working to address telemedicine reimbursement inequities. </p> <p> “We found out that some of the insurers are trying to play games with the reimbursement parity requirement passed by the Legislature last year,” he says. “We’ll be working to ensure that payment parity means just that—services are reimbursed the same whether they’re delivered in person or via telemedicine.” </p> <h3>Monitoring scope of practice</h3> <p> The WSMA also will be paying close attention this year to attempts to promote inappropriate scope of practice increases. </p> <p> “Just about every provider advocacy group with a presence in Olympia will be bringing a scope of practice increase in 2021, most of which will have ostensible ties to the pandemic,” Graham explains. “As an example, we know of several provider groups that will look to be granted prescriptive authority or to have their prescriptive authority increased. </p> <p> “They have wanted it for years,” Graham says. “They’ll come in 2021 and say, ‘There’s this need for access to care. Physicians are overwhelmed. Let us take this off their hands.’ When the WSMA looks at those proposals, our lens is balancing access to care with patient safety. We want to make sure any scope of practice increase would include sufficient training to ensure quality of care.” </p> <p> WSMA President Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD, MBA, is more pointed in his position on the issue. </p> <p> “We believe that if you want to be a doctor, you should go to medical school,” says Dr. Schlicher, who also is a former Washington state senator. “We value all our fellow professionals and we want them to be an incredibly important part of the team, but physicians should lead the team and people should practice within their scopes.” </p> <h3>Facing structural racism</h3> <p> In light of the global protests against racism, the WSMA is taking a strong stand in this year’s legislative session to promote health equity and racial justice. To that end, the association is taking the rare stance to advocate for having professional boards develop continuing medical education for physicians and other health care providers to address structural racism and health disparities within the medical community. </p> <p> “This is so outside our box,” says Hanscom. “At the WSMA we have traditionally opposed mandating clinical education. How do you make sure the content, especially clinical content, you’re mandating is accurate? Medicine is ever evolving. </p> <p> “But with this topic, the Legislature wouldn’t be mandating the content and it’s not clinical in nature,” she says. “I think it’s well recognized that we need to look deep in medicine’s history and develop content that addresses what has led to disparities in health care, particularly in the areas of race and culture. It’s a first step to overcoming larger societal issues. You have to start at home first.” </p> <p> And while it might seem like improving cell phone and broadband access is off topic for WSMA’s advocacy efforts, telemedicine has made it important for the WSMA to join with other groups to support those efforts. </p> <p> “With this new way of delivering care, we find it particularly beneficial to physicians to get to know patients in their own environment,” Hanscom says. “Imagine what you can pick up. You’re seeing things that might give you clues to why their chronic conditions aren’t well managed.” </p> <p> In an example the WSMA used in a newspaper op-ed, a physician had a patient who was a cellist and was struggling with her wrists. </p> <p> “She’ll never bring her cello into the clinic,” she says. “In telemedicine, the physician saw her play her cello. Seeing her movements helped the physician develop a course of treatment for her.” </p> <p> Telemedicine visits delivered over the phone are also helping physicians connect with chronic disease patients who aren’t able to take time off from work for a clinic appointment. But they might take a break from work and talk to their doctor on the phone. </p> <p> “That’s just better patient care,” Dr. Schlicher says. </p> <h3>New opportunities for physician advocacy</h3> <p> If there is a silver lining to the elimination of in-person lobbying in the Legislature this year, it's that it exponentially increases the opportunities for WSMA members to serve as advocates. Committee testimony won’t be limited to individuals on the Capitol campus; anyone in the state could testify, Graham says. </p> <p> “People in more rural areas that often feel left out have the same opportunity to participate,” he says. “Those are the areas often with the most dire need for access to care. They have unique needs in their areas; it’s a good opportunity to highlight those disparities.” </p> <p> Plus, the WSMA has been a vital source of information for the state’s elected officials during the pandemic, making them aware of the issues facing physicians. Legislators already know what the medical community is facing and they’re willing to listen. </p> <p> “No one will be surprised by what we have to say,” Hanscom says. </p> <p> Even better, WSMA members can advocate from their own offices. </p> <p> “We need people to send emails and letters and set up virtual meetings, which we’re all getting more familiar with,” Dr. Schlicher says. “It takes a little more planning, but it’s a lot easier on your schedule.” </p> <p> With many of the traditional avenues for advocacy closed in terms of lobbyist access, it will be imperative that the physician community is fully engaged, he says. The 2021 Legislature is still going to be dealing with the pandemic and how to control it, and it’s vital that physicians are there to guide the discussions. </p> <p> “Social determinants of health, access to education, food, internet—all those things impact the health of our community,” he says. “All those issues need our voice.” </p> <p> In addition to the issues affecting patients, Dr. Schlicher notes, the WSMA needs members to remind legislators that the same physicians risking their lives on the front lines of the pandemic are struggling financially. They need and deserve help to be able to keep their doors open and keep serving their patients. </p> <p> “If we’re not involved and we’re not at the table, then we’re on the menu; the Legislature will look at us as a source of revenue,” he says. “Practices are facing significantly higher costs, fewer patients, and impending CMS cuts. Small practices risking their lives shouldn’t be the source of revenue for the budget.” </p> <p> <em>Pat Curry is senior editor of WSMA Reports.</em> </p> <p> <em>This article was featured in the January/February 2021 issue of WSMA Reports, WSMA's print newsletter.</em> </p> </div>1/19/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
wsma_president_urges_patience_as_state_begins_to_vaccinate_the_publicWSMA President Urges Patience as State Begins to Vaccinate the PublicLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Press_Release/2021/wsma_president_urges_patience_as_state_begins_to_vaccinate_the_public<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right"><img src="/images/Logos/Press-Release-Graphic-2019-Branding.png" class="pull-right" alt="WSMA press release logo" /></div> <h5>January 19, 2021</h5> <h2>WSMA President Urges Patience as State Begins to Vaccinate the Public</h2> <p> SEATTLE - Washington State Medical Association President Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Jay Inslee's announced changes to Washington state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: </p> <p> "The WSMA is hopeful that the changes announced by the governor will help quicken the pace of our state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The state's multipronged approach, increasing eligibility and capacity, organizing mass vaccination clinics, and bringing private partners on board, reflects the "all-hands-on-deck" moment, and Washington's physicians stand at the ready. </p> <p> "I am so proud and grateful for the physicians and other health care providers who have already stepped up to serve as volunteers or as vaccine providers. The governor made it clear that because this is an aggressive effort, we will need as many as possible to offer your time and talents to this effort. I encourage physicians and health care providers to volunteer at <a href=""></a>. </p> <p> "And to all Washingtonians: I want to echo the governor's call for patience. Vaccinating everyone in our state is a massive undertaking and many pieces still need to fall in place—including more vaccine supplies. This is an extraordinary effort that will require coordination from federal, state, and local governments, as well as private industry. We ask the public to be patient and understanding during this mammoth undertaking. Making sure you are getting the care and protection you need is our top priority. </p> <p> "To learn more about your eligibility and where you can get vaccinated, visit <a href=""></a>. And remember: Eligibility will not automatically mean you'll have your first dose right away—you may need to wait. Be patient, and trust that Washington's public health officials, your physicians, and health care community are doing everything they can to keep you safe from this virus, working to ensure you get your vaccine as soon as possible." </p> <p> For more information, contact: </p> <p> Cindy Sharpe<br /> WSMA Communications<br /> 813.244.2883 (cell/text)<br /> <a href=""></a> </p> <h3>About the WSMA </h3> <p> The Washington State Medical Association represents more than 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians, and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine for more than 125 years. Our vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care. </p> </div>1/19/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
Weekly_Rounds_January_15_2021_Preparing_For_Public_VaccinationsWeekly Rounds: January 15, 2021 - Preparing for Public VaccinationsLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/Weekly_Rounds_January_15_2021_Preparing_For_Public_Vaccinations<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/Weekly%20Rounds/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-2021-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Weekly Rounds logo" /></div> <h5> January 15, 2021 </h5> <h2> Preparing for Public Vaccinations </h2> <p> Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO </p> <p> Washington state is on the cusp of moving beyond health care into vaccinating the wider public, with the Department of Health <a href="">moving up its timeline</a> for Phase 1B of its vaccine rollout. While much is still to be determined, including the effect of potential increased federal support, here are some developments this week that can help you assist with the vaccine rollout. </p> <h3> Phase 1B and impact of changing federal guidance </h3> <p> The state has broken its Phase 1B into four tiers. At this time, the Department of Health has not decided if it will align with the updated guidance announced by the federal government this week. State public health officials are also waiting to hear from the Biden administration on what its plan is, and if it aligns with the new federal announcements. </p> <h4> 1B1 (Tier 1) </h4> <ul> <li>All people 70 years and older.</li> <li> People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households.</li> </ul> <h4> 1B2 (Tier 2) </h4> <ul> <li> High-risk critical workers 50 years and older who work in congregate settings: <ul> <li> Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); child care; corrections, prisons, jails, or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h4> 1B3 (Tier 3) </h4> <ul> <li> People 16 years or older with two or more comorbidities or underlying conditions.</li> </ul> <h4> 1B4 (Tier 4) </h4> <ul> <li> High-risk critical workers in congregate settings under 50 years old.</li> <li> People, staff, and volunteers of all ages in congregate living settings: <ul> <li> Correctional facilities; group homes for people with disabilities; shelters for people experiencing homelessness.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h3> Regulatory flexibilities for vaccine providers </h3> <p> To encourage more practice and clinic enrollment in the federal COVID-19 Vaccination Program and assistance in public vaccinations, the Department of Health has confirmed this week that: </p> <ul> <li> The activities of everyone engaged in the operation of vaccination clinics (and other vaccine efforts related to the COVID-19 response) is afforded the liability protections granted under the federal PREP Act.</li> <li> Reporting vaccine administration information to the Washington Immunization Information System (WIIS) satisfies any reporting that might be required in an electronic medical record to capture that a vaccine has been administered.</li> </ul> <p> For details on these flexibilities, see this <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Department of Health notice</a>. To enroll your practice or organization in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, visit the <a href="">DOH website</a>. Check that page for a detailed FAQ. In addition, the WSMA has learned the following: </p> <ol> <li> <strong>When will vaccines be delivered to outpatient practices that have signed up to be COVID-19 vaccine providers? </strong>Similar to the state's childhood vaccine program, after the Department of Health approves a vaccine order for a provider, vaccines are delivered via FedEx from a central CDC warehouse directly to each provider facility, according to the facility's office hours.</li> <li> <strong>How are vaccines ordered?</strong> Currently the program is placing orders for providers based off information shared through a weekly survey. In the next few weeks, the DOH will transition to ordering through the Washington Immunization Information System (WIIS).</li> <li> <strong> Are there plans in place for mass vaccination sites?</strong> The Department of Health says that mass vaccination plans are in process.</li> </ol> <p> For questions about the enrollment process or for technical assistance, contact <a href=""></a>. </p> <h3> Volunteers needed for mass vaccination clinics </h3> <p> The state is calling for more clinician volunteers to assist with its COVID-19 response, including mass vaccination clinics. Register with the <a href="">Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers</a> (WAserv) to partner with public health and others who need assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. </p> <h3> Finishing Phase 1A </h3> <p> This week, the Department of Health called on all workers in health care settings to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. The DOH is asking workers in health care settings to use its Phase Finder tool at <a href=""></a> to locate a vaccine provider site and to confirm eligibility when presenting at the site. </p> <p> Phase Finder will launch broadly on Jan. 18. The tool will be available in multiple languages and is intended to be used to provide eligibility confirmation on site. </p> <p> Local health jurisdictions and some county medical societies are assisting in the vaccine rollout. Check your <a href="">local health jurisdiction website </a> and your <a href="[@]WSMA/About_Us/Partner_Organizations/County_Medical_Societies/WSMA/About/Partner_Organizations/County_Medical_Societies/County_Medical_Societies.aspx">county medical society website</a> for information. If you would like WSMA's help getting connected with your local hospital to get you and your staff vaccinated, <a href="">complete our clinic form</a>. (Note: If you are in King County, fill out this <a href="">King County Medical Society form</a>.) </p> <p> The Department of Health has clarified that some communities may move into phase 1B before other communities have finished 1A, in recognition of the differing makeup and needs of localities. For in-depth guidance for all released phases, see the Department of Health's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Guidance and Interim Allocation Framework</a> or visit their <a href="">COVID-19 vaccine webpage</a>. </p> <h3> More information </h3> <p> While information and guidance are developing daily, the WSMA is meeting regularly with the Department of Health, the Washington State Hospital Association, and other stakeholders to assist with the largest mass vaccination effort in recent history. If you have additional questions, reach out to <a href=""></a>. </p> </div>1/15/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
2021_wsma_legislative_summit_save_the_date2021 WSMA Legislative Summit - Register Today!Latest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_7/2021_wsma_legislative_summit_save_the_date<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2021/January/2021-Leg-Summit-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /> </div> <h5>January 7, 2020</h5> <h2>2021 WSMA Legislative Summit - Register Today! </h2> <p>As a result of the pandemic, leadership in the state House of Representatives and Senate have decided to hold the 2021 legislative session remotely and close the Capitol to the public, following public health guidelines. In response, the WSMA will hold the 2021 Legislative Summit virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The event is free for WSMA members - one of the many benefits made possible by your dues dollars. The event is free for WSMA members—one of the many benefits made possible by your dues dollars. Registration is now available.</p> <p>This year's session will be dominated by issues of import to the physician community, as legislators seek to respond to the pandemic, balance the state's budget, and continue to reform the state's health care system. During the Summit you will receive an update on everything happening in Olympia, including WSMA's legislative priorities.</p> <p>The event will again feature prominent speakers and information on how to connect with your legislators via Zoom. And now there is no need to travel to Olympia to participate! We appreciate your understanding as we move this event online.</p> <p><a href="[@]WSMA/Events/Legislative_Summit/WSMA/Events/WSMA_Legislative_Summit/Legislative_Summit.aspx?hkey=795731a5-79ba-45b0-b78b-b9dfbfc336e5">Learn more and register for the 2021 Legislative Summit</a>.</p> <h3>About the 2021 legislative session</h3> <p>The 2021 legislative session will convene on Monday, Jan. 11 for a virtual "long session," lasting 105 days. During session, the WSMA Outreach and Advocacy report will be disseminated on a weekly basis and will include updates about WSMA's advocacy efforts and opportunities for engagement - if you'd like to receive this weekly report, send your request to Alex Wehinger at <a href=""></a>. Legislators will spend the majority of the first few weeks of session in virtual committee hearings, which will be streamed live and archived on <a href="">TVW</a>, Washington's public affairs network, for your viewing.</p> </div>1/7/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
doh_announces_details_on_next_phase_of_covid_19_vaccinationsDOH Announces Details on Next Phase of COVID-19 VaccinationsLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_7/doh_announces_details_on_next_phase_of_covid_19_vaccinations<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2021/January/COVID-vaccine-docs-syringe-645x425px.png" class="pull-right" alt="COVID-19 vaccine syringe behind held by physicians" /> </div> <h5>January 7, 2020</h5> <h2>DOH Announces Details on Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccinations</h2> <p>Washington State Department of Health officials this week announced details on the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, Phase 1B, while also committing to redoubling efforts to ensure all workers in health care settings in Phase 1A are able to get their vaccination.</p> <p>The state made clear in its announcement that it is not moving into Phase 1B yet, and that Washington is still in Phase 1A. Details and a timeline are being released by the DOH to allow for logistical and administrative planning.</p> <h3>Phase 1B details and timeline</h3> <p>The state has broken its Phase 1B into four tiers. This next phase is based upon the broad guidance provided by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as well as input from state partners and the public.</p> <h4>1B1 (Tier 1) </h4> <ul> <li>All people 70 years and older.</li> <li>People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households.</li> </ul> <h4>1B2 (Tier 2)</h4> <ul> <li>High-risk critical workers 50 years and older who work in congregate settings: <ul> <li>Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); child care; corrections, prisons, jails, or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h4>1B3 (Tier 3)</h4> <ul> <li>People 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying condition.</li> </ul> <h4>1B4 (Tier 4)</h4> <ul> <li>High-risk critical workers in congregate settings under 50 years old.</li> <li>People, staff, and volunteers of all ages in congregate living settings:</li> <li>Correctional facilities; group homes for people with disabilities; shelters for people experiencing homelessness.</li> </ul> <p>The DOH has released a <a href="">timeline for phase 1B</a> and in-depth guidance for all released phases to in its <a href="">COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Guidance and Interim Allocation Framework </a>(updated Jan. 7, 2021). More details on the state's vaccine distribution planning can be found on the <a href="">DOH COVID-19 Vaccine webpage</a>.</p> <h3>Phase 1A vaccinations</h3> <p>In announcing the new phase, DOH officials emphasized that pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals in Washington are still hard at work vaccinating people in Phase 1A, tiers 1 and 2. The DOH is working closely with the WSMA, the Washington State Hospital Association, and other health care partners to help ensure all workers in health care settings get vaccinated as quickly as possible. However, the state did indicate some communities may move into phase 1B before other communities have finished 1A, in recognition of the differing makeup and needs of localities. If you are having issues accessing vaccinations for yourself or your staff, see our update in this issue ("<a href="[@]Shared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_7/getting_you_and_your_staff_vaccinated.aspx">Getting You and Your Staff Vaccinated</a>").</p> </div>1/7/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
getting_you_and_your_staff_vaccinatedGetting You and Your Staff VaccinatedLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_7/getting_you_and_your_staff_vaccinated<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2021/January/COVID-19-Vaccine-Illustration-Black-645x425px.png" class="pull-right" alt="COVID-19 vaccine illustration" /> </div> <h5>January 7, 2020</h5> <h2>Getting You and Your Staff Vaccinated</h2> <p>All workers in health care settings can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the state's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Phase 1A, tiers 1 and 2</a>. However, the WSMA continues to hear from members facing hurdles accessing the vaccine for their practice and staff. The following guidance can help.</p> <h3>Phase Finder tool</h3> <p>The Washington State Department of Health is piloting "Phase Finder," a new tool now available for health care workers in Phase 1A, tiers 1 and 2, that does the following:</p> <ul> <li>Assesses eligibility confirmation and provides confirmation that can be used at a vaccine administration site in lieu of an official letter (note: providers are likely to ask for ID and/or badge).</li> <li>Identifies where they can go to get vaccinated.</li> </ul> <p>To access the tool, go to <a href=""></a>. Once you get to the final screen, you will find sites where you can get vaccinated. Please note: The state has clarified that this is a "soft launch" of the tool; in testing, WSMA staff found some of the vaccine site information neither complete nor accurate. This is especially true for the urban hospitals and the contacts listed. WSMA staff also found the tool to be slow; patience, and retries, are advised.</p> <p>Phase Finder will launch broadly on Jan. 18 (state officials have advised not to share the tool beyond Phase 1A individuals at this time). The tool will be available in multiple languages and is intended to be used to provide eligibility confirmation onsite.</p> <h3>How the WSMA can help your practice get vaccinated</h3> <p>If you would like WSMA's help with getting your clinic connected with your local hospital, please complete our clinic form, emailed to all outpatient, non-hospital-affiliated physicians in our records on Wednesday, Jan. 6. We will share your information with your local hospital so that you and your staff are vaccinated as soon as possible. If your practice did not receive the email and form, <a href="">click here to access</a>. For questions, email <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>Please note if your practice is in King County: The King County Medical Society is providing assistance for clinics in King County. Go <a href="">here</a> to access the KCMS form. WSMA members in King County are welcome to reach out to KCMS directly with any questions or concerns at <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>We know several county medical societies are also collecting this information and coordinating with local public health departments. To learn more about what's happening at your local county medical society, <a href="[@]WSMA/About/Partner_Organizations/County_Medical_Societies/County_Medical_Societies.aspx">reach out to them directly</a>.</p> <p>If you have additional questions, reach out to <a href=""></a>.</p> </div>1/7/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
register_for_our_next_covid_19_virtual_grand_rounds_q_and_a_sessionRegister for Our Next COVID-19 Virtual Grand Rounds Q&A SessionLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/2021/January_7/register_for_our_next_covid_19_virtual_grand_rounds_q_and_a_session<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/November/Virtual-Grand-Rounds-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="COVID-19 Virtual Grand Rounds logo" /> </div> <h5>January 7, 2020</h5> <h2>Register for Our Next COVID-19 Virtual Grand Rounds Q&A Session</h2> <p>With a focus on what front-line physicians need to know about the virus, the WSMA brings together Washington state's public health leaders and leading experts for free CME sessions that offer the latest information on COVID-19 that directly impacts you, your practice, and your patients. This members-only webinar series addresses the evolution of the disease, management of COVID-19 patients, vaccines, and our state's response to the pandemic.</p> <p>For this next session on Wednesday, Jan. 27, we will once again convene an expert panel of physicians and public health professionals to answer your questions about COVID-19 testing, treatment options, long-term follow-up, and vaccines. Panelists include:</p> <ul> <li>SheAnne Allen, MPH, MCHES, COVID-19 vaccine director and deputy PCH response director, Office of Immunization and Child Profile, Washington State Department of Health</li> <li>Jason Goldman, MD, MPH, infectious disease and organ transplant, Swedish Medical Center</li> <li>Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH, senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute</li> <li>Scott Lindquist, MD MPH, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, Washington State Department of Health</li> <li>Francis Riedo, MD, medical director of infection control, EvergreenHealth</li> <li>Yuan-Po Tu, MD, medical director, anticoagulation clinic, Epic provider efficiency, and flu services, The Everett Clinic</li> </ul> <p><a href="[@]WSMA/Education/Upcoming_Webinars/WSMA/education/Upcoming_Webinars/Upcoming_Webinars.aspx">Register online to reserve your spot today</a>. This activity has been approved for <em>AMA PRA Category 1 Credit</em>â„¢.</p> </div>1/7/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
the_latest_on_washington_states_vaccine_distribution_planThe Latest on Washington State's Vaccine Distribution PlanLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Latest_News/2021/the_latest_on_washington_states_vaccine_distribution_plan<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/May/COVID-19-Response-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="COVID-19 Response graphic" /> </div> <h5>January 5, 2021</h5> <h2>The Latest on Washington State's Vaccine Distribution Plan</h2> <p> The WSMA has been working closely with the Washington State Department of Health on the state's vaccine distribution plan. On Dec. 30, the state announced an addition to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Washington's 1A vaccine allocation guidance</a>. </p> <p> According to the DOH, some communities in Washington have already completed or are very close to completing vaccination of their high-risk workers in health care settings as outlined in current DOH guidance. <strong>They have added a second tier to 1A that allows for the vaccination of all other workers in health care settings once high-risk workers are vaccinated.</strong> </p> <p> Please note some communities are still working through 1A and others will be able to move to this second tier of 1A more quickly. The DOH has instructed health care systems around the state to actively reach out to and provide access to COVID-19 vaccination for those in the community-based health care workforce outside their systems and in their community—this includes other health care providers, school nurses, and behavioral health providers—in order to complete this phase and ensure we have a protected health care system. </p> <p> The state is still working to finalize prioritization for phases 1B and 1C and expects to release this guidance shortly after the new year so communities can begin planning outreach and vaccination of these groups. </p> <p> The WSMA will continue to keep you up to date on any future developments. Be sure to read our Membership Memo or visit our <a href="[@]WSMA/Resources/COVID-19/covid_19_vaccines/covid_19_vaccines.aspx?hkey=fce03e80-d2e1-463c-b1f3-7257addd7814&WebsiteKey=c182ff6d-1438-4899-abc5-614681b54927&_zs=A3aFd1&_zl=PINK7">COVID-19 vaccine webpage</a>. </p> </div>1/5/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_january_4_2021_a_new_year_new_opportunitiesWeekly Rounds: January 4, 2021 - A New Year, New OpportunitiesLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2021/weekly_rounds_january_4_2021_a_new_year_new_opportunities<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Weekly Rounds logo" class="pull-right" src="/images/Logos/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-645x425px.jpg" /></div> <h5>January 1, 2021</h5> <h2>A New Year, New Opportunities</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> Reflecting on this most unusual of years - though obviously full of challenges - I'm a bit surprised to find a silver lining to inform my New Year's resolution. </p> <p> In the "beforetimes," I rarely worked from home, my calendar was full of cross-country travel, and important meetings were held in person. Had it not been for COVID-19 universally upending our world, we wouldn't have had such a radical transformation in how we do business. That sea change allowed me more time for family, even while I was working around the clock. I also learned that if we're willing to do things differently - for example, doing a meeting via Zoom rather than flying to meet in person - it's possible to do both. </p> <p> And so, my resolution for this brand new - and hopefully, brighter - year is to embrace the acceptance and openness to do things differently. </p> <p> What about you? I know we've all had to adapt to these new times we're in. I hope as you consider how you might do things differently in 2021 that you'll consider these "investment" ideas for your New Year's resolutions. </p> <ol> <li><strong>Invest in a brighter future</strong>: WSMA's ability to follow our mission to improve the medical profession is fueled by the membership investment you make with us. When you partner with us, we are enabled to raise the physician voice with the clout associated with being the <em>largest physician association in the state</em>. We are part of the highest-level health care conversations because of our size, credibility, influence, and stature within the health care community. As policymakers grapple with complex issues that impact patients and health care, it is the WSMA that brings forth the unique clinical view that only a physician can provide. I hope you will resolve to <a href="">renew your membership</a> today!</li> <li><strong>Invest in the profession</strong>: Next week, the January/February issue of <em>WSMA Reports</em> will be in your mailbox. Within its pages, you'll read about how the challenges of 2020 will shape the 2021 legislative session. This year's session will be conducted remotely, with many legislators remaining in their districts as they convene to shape new laws and regulations via Zoom. WSMA's Legislative Summit offers members an opportunity to hear insights about how the pandemic is impacting state policy, as well as the downstream impacts on the profession and health care in general. We'll also provide a briefing on legislative and budget policy issues that will set you up for more constructive outreach with your elected officials, particularly on items critical to the profession and patients. Mark your calendar for Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. The Summit is free to all members. <a href="[@]WSMA/Events/Legislative_Summit/WSMA/Events/WSMA_Legislative_Summit/Legislative_Summit.aspx">Find out more here</a>.</li> <li><strong>Invest in yourself</strong>: The WSMA is committed to your professional development, particularly enhancing and building your leadership skills, regardless of where you are in your career or the type or size of your organization. Our <a href="[@]WSMA/Education/Physician_Leadership/WSMA/Physician_Leadership/Physician_Leadership.aspx">Center for Leadership Development</a> offers multiple opportunities to develop your leadership skills without taking time away from your practice. This year, we are also launching a new quality improvement course to help our members lead in the transformation of care. Many physicians did not receive training in medical school on how to lead quality improvement. But with this training, physicians can acquire the skills to guide their organizations to deliver safe and effective care. Let this be the year you take advantage of these educational opportunities.</li> </ol> <p> As we embark on a new year, one thing will not change: The WSMA will remain committed to aggressively advocating for you, our members, at the highest levels of influence so that we can continue to advance strong physician leadership and advocacy that shapes the future of medicine and improves quality care for all Washingtonians. </p> <p> Here's to 2021. Happy New Year! </p> </div>1/1/2021 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
congressional_agreement_reached_on_government_funding_emergency_covid_19_stimulus_e_m_fix_inCongressional Agreement Reached on Government Funding, Emergency COVID-19 Stimulus, E&M FixLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/20201223/congressional_agreement_reached_on_government_funding_emergency_covid_19_stimulus_e_m_fix_in<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/May/COVID-19-financial-relief-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="COVID-19 financial relief logo" /> </div> <h5>December 23, 2020</h5> <h2> Congressional Agreement Reached on Government Funding, Emergency COVID-19 Stimulus, E&M Fix Included </h2> <p> Federal lawmakers have reached an agreement on a $900 billion stimulus relief effort, a long-awaited follow-up to the CARES Act from March. Intended to facilitate the pandemic response, the agreement provides $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines so they can be available at no charge to patients, and appropriates $9 billion for distribution of the vaccines and $22 billion to states for costs associated with testing, tracing, and COVID-19 mitigation. The bill also addresses previously announced cuts to the physician fee schedule with funding to offset two-thirds of the cuts to providers in 2021. A prohibition on "surprise" or "balance" billing was separately negotiated and included as a part of the final agreement. </p> <p> Notable provisions include: </p> <h3> Paycheck Protection Program "second draw" loans </h3> <p> Creates a second loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, called a "PPP second draw" loan, for smaller and harder-hit businesses, with a maximum amount of $2 million, permitting certain borrowers to receive a second loan. </p> <h3> COVID-19 </h3> <p>Provides $25.4 billion to support testing and contact tracing to effectively monitor and suppress COVID-19, as well as to reimburse for health care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to the coronavirus, including: </p> <ul> <li>$22.4 billion for testing, contact tracing, and other activities necessary to effectively monitor and suppress COVID-19, including $2.5 billion for a targeted effort to improve testing capabilities and contact tracing in high-risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minority populations and rural communities.</li> <li>$3 billion in additional grants for hospital and health care providers to be reimbursed for health care-related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency resulting from coronavirus, along with direction to allocate not less than 85% of unobligated funds in the Provider Relief Fund through an application-based portal to reimburse health care providers for financial losses incurred in 2020.</li> </ul> <h3> Additional 2020 recovery rebates for individuals </h3> <p> The provision provides a refundable tax credit in the amount of $600 per eligible family member. The credit is $600 per taxpayer ($1,200 for married filing jointly), in addition to $600 per qualifying child. The credit phases out starting at $75,000 of modified adjusted gross income ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married filing jointly) at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income. </p> <h3> Extension and benefit phaseout rule for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance </h3> <p> Extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to March 14, 2021 and allows individuals receiving benefits as of March 14, 2021 to continue through April 5, 2021, if the individual has not reached the maximum number of weeks. </p> <h3> Medicare payment changes </h3> <ul> <li>Provides for a one-time, one-year increase to all payments in the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule by adding $3 billion and delaying payment of HCPCS add-on code G2211 for three years. This provision is intended to support physicians and other professionals in adjusting to changes in the Medicare physician fee schedule during 2021, and to provide relief during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The AMA has provided <a href="">a breakdown by specialty of the combined impact of these updates to the conversion factor</a>.</li> <li>Provides for a three-month delay of the Medicare sequester payment reductions through March 31, 2021.</li> <li>Increases payments for the work component of physician fees in areas where labor cost is determined to be lower than the national average through Dec. 31, 2023.</li> <li>Creates 1,000 new Medicare-funded graduate medical education residency positions.</li> <li>Expands access to mental health services provided via telehealth past the expiration of the public health emergency.</li> </ul> <h3> Surprise/balance billing</h3> <ul> <li>Requires health plans to hold patients harmless from surprise medical bills.</li> <li>Provides for a 30-day open negotiation period for physicians and payers to settle out-of-network claims.</li> <li>States that if the parties are unable to reach a negotiated agreement, they may access a binding arbitration process, referred to as independent dispute resolution (IDR), in which one offer prevails.</li> </ul> <p> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Click here for a comprehensive summary of the appropriations bill.</a> </p> <p> Thank you to all our members who joined in our calls to actions to seek additional relief for physician practices and to mitigate the originally announced physician fee schedule cuts. </p> </div>12/23/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
covid_19_vaccine_updates_for_physicians_and_practiceCOVID-19 Vaccine Updates for Physicians and PracticeLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/20201223/covid_19_vaccine_updates_for_physicians_and_practice<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/December/Dr-Schlicher-COVID-Vaccine1-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" /> </div> <h5>December 23, 2020</h5> <h2> COVID-19 Vaccine Updates for Physicians and Practices </h2> <p> After <a href="">FDA emergency use authorization</a> and subsequent <a href="">review and approval</a> by the Western states' COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being shipped this week to facilities across the state - including many primary care clinics and practices. More on this and other vaccine-related news in this update. </p> <h3> State targets primary care facilities with Moderna doses </h3> <p> On the Moderna vaccine, the state estimates 128,000 doses will be allocated this week, along with an additional 44,850 of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Pfizer doses will continue to go to hospitals that can accommodate the ultra-cold storage requirements, while the Moderna doses, which are easier to handle and store, shipped to many primary care clinics, private medical groups, public health facilities, and other facilities enrolled in the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Program. </p> <p> <strong>Important:</strong> The Department of Health continues to encourage facilities interested in administering the vaccine, including outpatient practices not affiliated with a hospital, to enroll. To learn more, visit <a href="">the DOH website for details</a>. According to the DOH, enrollment will allow practices to get the vaccine directly and administer it to their patients and staff. For clinics needing less than 100 doses, the DOH recommends partnering with another practice nearby for the purposes of vaccinating staff. </p> <p> For questions about the enrollment process or general question on the state's vaccine rollout, please contact <a href=""></a>. </p> <h3> Vaccine prioritization </h3> <p> Washington is currently in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Phase 1a of its COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Guidance</a>, which focuses on vaccinating two groups: High-risk health care workers and first responders, and residents and staff of nursing homes and other congregate living settings where people over 65 are getting care or assistance. Early this week, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices released its <a href="">interim guidance for the next stages of COVID-19 vaccine allocation</a>. The advisory panel recommended for Phase 1b, COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to persons aged ≥75 years and non-health care front-line essential workers, and in Phase 1c, to persons aged 65–74 years, persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in Phase 1b. </p> <p> The Department of Health is expected to release the next two phases of Washington's distribution plan based on the ACIP guidance in the days ahead. State officials have said they expect to have all front-line health professionals in Phase 1a vaccinated with their first dose by the end of January. </p> <p> <strong>Important: </strong>We continue to hear from outpatient health care workers struggling to access the vaccine. WSMA staff has relayed these concerns to the DOH, who in turn has reassured us that the agency is working on increasing points of access, and expects to release guidance shortly on how to help those who are eligible for the vaccine but not able to vaccinate themselves or aren't affiliated with a hospital or health system. The WSMA will make this guidance available as soon as we receive it. In the meantime, some hospitals are setting up "pods" to vaccinate outpatient workers. Hospitals operating a pod will be required to designate themselves as such. Reach out to your local hospital today to learn about their plans for vaccinating outpatient health care workers. </p> <h3> Clinical information and vaccination training </h3> <p> New from the CDC is <a href="">COVID-19 Vaccine Training: General Overview of Immunization Best Practices for Healthcare Professionals</a>. This is an online, self-paced module for health care providers who will be administering COVID-19 vaccine. For more accredited training on administering COVID-19 vaccines, see <a href="">this searchable database</a> from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. </p> <p> ICYMI: A WSMA Virtual Grand Rounds panel on Dec. 16 featured an hour-long Q&A session for physicians on COVID-19. The panel featured six physician experts with a deep understanding of COVID-19 vaccine, testing, and treatment knowledge, answering questions on: </p> <ul> <li>Vaccine distribution and prioritization</li> <li>Immune response to the vaccine</li> <li>Vaccinations for pregnant women and women who are breast feeding</li> <li>Vaccinations about people with auto-immune disorders</li> <li>Adverse reactions to the vaccine</li> <li>Testing strategies - testing at volume</li> <li>Current treatment strategies</li> </ul> <p> The panel was recorded and is now <a href="">available on demand</a>. </p> <h3> Guidance on reimbursement </h3> <p> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offers a toolkit to help physicians and others in health care prepare to swiftly administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Because the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be federally purchased, the toolkit primarily focuses on coverage of vaccine administration. This toolkit covers: </p> <ul> <li>How health care providers can enroll in Medicare to bill for administering COVID-19 vaccines.</li> <li>The COVID-19 Vaccine Medicare coding structure.</li> <li>The Medicare reimbursement strategy for COVID-19 vaccine administration.</li> <li>How health care providers can bill correctly for administering vaccines, including roster and centralized billing.</li> </ul> <p> Find the toolkit on the CMS website <a href="">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Pictured: WSMA President Nathan Schlicher, MD, receiving his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.</em></p> </div>12/23/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
health_alerts_on_tuberculosis_and_youth_suicideHealth Alerts on Tuberculosis and Youth SuicideLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/20201223/health_alerts_on_tuberculosis_and_youth_suicide<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/August/Stethoscope-on-table-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="stethoscope" /> </div> <h5>December 23, 2020</h5> <h2> Health Alerts on Tuberculosis and Youth Suicide </h2> <p> The Washington State Department of Health issued the following provider alerts this week. </p> <h3> Delayed and misdiagnosed TB due to COVID-19 </h3> <p> State epidemiologists have noticed a significant uptick in tuberculosis cases throughout Washington during the pandemic. Believing the increase is due to a reduction in the number of TB cases reported, delayed diagnosis, and undiscovered cases, the state has issued a health advisory asking physicians to consider pulmonary TB disease in patients presenting with symptoms and risk factors consistent with TB, regardless of COVID-19 test results. The advisory provides these clinical recommendations: </p> <ul> <li>Include pulmonary TB disease in the differential diagnosis of cough for more than two weeks, fever and/or weight loss among those from a country with an elevated TB rate.</li> <li>If the patient's symptoms are consistent with active TB, obtain a chest X-ray.</li> <li>If the chest X-ray is consistent with TB disease (e.g., an opacity in the upper lobe with or without cavitation), contact your local health department.</li> </ul> <p> <a href="javascript://[Uploaded files/News and Publications/Newsletters/2020/TBandCOVID-HealthAlert_20201220.pdf]">Download the DOH health advisory</a>, issued Dec. 21, 2020. The DOH also offers a poster as part of its TB health advisory - <a href="javascript://[Uploaded files/News and Publications/Newsletters/2020/420-300_TB-Poster_FINAL_121420.pdf]">click here to download</a>. </p> <h3> Screening youth for suicide risk </h3> <p> State public health officials are warning that a convergence of factors, including an extended disillusionment phase associated with the pandemic, the disruption of school, social isolation, and seasonal changes, may be leading to an increased risk of suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and psychological distress among youth in Washington. In a provider alert issued this week, the Washington State Department of Health is asking physicians to: </p> <ul> <li>Screen patients for suicide risk, particularly children, teens, and young adults.</li> <li>Share information and resources with patients and their families on crisis support, suicide warning signs, and suicide risk factors.</li> </ul> <p> The DOH has provided resources to assist physicians and health care providers in screening and sharing resources with patients and families. <a href="javascript://[Uploaded files/News and Publications/Newsletters/2020/COVID-19-Provider-Alert-Regarding-Suicide-Risk-in-Youth.pdf]">Download the provider alert with links to associated resources</a>. </p> </div>12/23/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
new_webinar_complying_with_state_opioid_regulations_through_improved_prescribing_practicesNew Webinar: Complying with State Opioid Regulations Through Improved Prescribing PracticesLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/20201223/new_webinar_complying_with_state_opioid_regulations_through_improved_prescribing_practices<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/December/opiates_hydrocodone_645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="hydrocodone bottle and pills" /> </div> <h5>December 23, 2020</h5> <h2> New Webinar: Complying with State Opioid Regulations Through Improved Prescribing Practices </h2> <p> In the latest in our Continuing Professional Development series, Dr. Nathan Schlicher, president of the WSMA, and Jeb Shepard, director of policy at the WSMA, will review the Washington state opioid prescribing requirement and outline strategies to comply with specific requirements of opioid prescribing rules. They will detail additional resources available for up-to-date evidence-based information on opioid prescribing. This activity has been approved for <em>AMA PRA Category 1 Creditâ„¢</em>. Completion of this enduring material CME activity about state opioid prescribing rules meets new state opioid CME requirements. <a href="">Register online</a>. </p> </div>12/23/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
public_health_funding_covid_19_response_take_center_stage_in_governor’s_budget_proposalPublic Health Funding, COVID-19 Response Take Center Stage in Governor’s Budget ProposalLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/20201223/public_health_funding_covid_19_response_take_center_stage_in_governor’s_budget_proposal<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/December/State.Capitol.Olympia_2015-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="Washington state capitol building" /> </div> <h5>December 23, 2020</h5> <h2> Public Health Funding, COVID-19 Response Take Center Stage in Governor's Budget Proposal </h2> <p> Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee released his budget plan for the two-year fiscal cycle that will begin next July, proposing a $57.6 billion operating budget that covers the state's costs associated with health care, education, and other general government functions. An annual sign that the legislative session is approaching, the governor's budget proposal sets the table for negotiations that will commence in earnest when the 2021 Legislature convenes on Jan. 11. </p> <h3> Pandemic and public health investments </h3> <p> Many elements of the governor's spending plan were shaped by or a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health took center stage, with around $400 million in funding dedicated to pandemic response in the form of vaccine administration, containing the spread of the virus, supporting the purchase of supplies and taking other measures necessary to keep our state's residents healthy and our health care system online. An ambitious plan to fund Foundational Public Health Services through a new fee on health insurers was among the highlights of the budget, though it relies on a regionalization of the local public health system that many in the public health community feel would be disruptive. In the coming months, the WSMA will work with the governor's office, the Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials and other stakeholders in the public health community to support a well-funded and organized state and local public health system. </p> <h3> Taxes and revenues </h3> <p> As he has in the past, the governor is again seeking to establish a capital gains tax, proposing a 9% tax on the sale of stocks and other assets, which would impact around 2% of households in the state and raise more than $1 billion per year once it goes into effect in 2023. The Legislature has debated the creation of a capital gains tax extensively in recent years and while many majority-party Democrats advocate for its establishment in the interest of increasing state revenues and making Washington's tax structure less regressive, it's not clear if there is sufficient support for the measure to pass this year. </p> <p> The push for tax increases is driven in part by the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. While forecasts for future state revenue receipts have improved since the spring when many physician practices and other businesses were limited or shuttered altogether, the state still figures to take in around $3 billion less over the next three years than was anticipated before the pandemic. In addition to the capital gains tax and health insurer fee proposed by the governor, the Legislature will likely consider establishing a statewide payroll tax and may look to again increase the state's business and occupation (B&O) tax. These taxes would layer on top of a potentially significant increase in the state's unemployment insurance rate for businesses. The WSMA will participate in these revenue negotiations, acknowledging the state's budget picture but also reminding legislators that many physician organizations are struggling financially and not in a position to absorb more costs. </p> <h3> Mental health/primary care investments </h3> <p> Elsewhere, the governor's budget proposal seeks to make considerable investments in the state's mental health system, increasing staffing at the state's psychiatric hospitals, supporting patient competency evaluation and restoration, and increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate for behavioral health services. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved Medicaid rate increases for behavioral health and primary care services, but the appropriations were vetoed by the governor as he sought to get ahead of the looming budget shortfall. While the primary care rate adjustments were not included in the governor's budget, seeking its restoration will be the top budget priority of the WSMA in the 2021 session. </p> <p> And while finding agreement on a new state budget will be the primary duty of the 2021 Legislature, any number of policy proposals will be considered as well when the gavel drops next month. It'll all play out in a very different format as legislators will meet almost entirely remotely this year, with committee hearings and other functions of the legislative process taking place via Zoom. </p> <h3> Join us on Jan. 8 to learn more </h3> <p> WSMA's Government Affairs & Policy team will host a session preview webinar at noon on Friday, Jan. 8, giving a rundown on our legislative priorities and other key issues for the physician community. <a href="">Register for the free session</a>. </p> <p> For questions on our advocacy efforts, email WSMA Government Affairs Director Sean Graham at <a href=""></a>. </p> </div>12/23/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
telemedicine_medical_professional_training_now_availableTelemedicine Medical Professional Training Now AvailableLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Membership_Memo/20201223/telemedicine_medical_professional_training_now_available<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/images/Newsletters/MembershipMemo/2020/December/Telemedicine-Doc-On-Tablet-645x425px.jpg" class="pull-right" alt="physician on tablet screen" /> </div> <h5>December 23, 2020</h5> <h2> Telemedicine Medical Professional Training Now Available </h2> <p> In 2020, the Legislature passed <a href="">Senate Bill 6061</a>, making telemedicine training mandatory for all licensed, registered, or certified health care professionals providing telemedicine services, beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Physicians are excluded from the mandate; however, they are encouraged to complete such training. The Washington State Telehealth Collaborative has published <a href="">a webpage with detailed guidance on the training requirement</a>, and has partnered with the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center to offer free telemedicine training to meet the new state requirement. To enroll, visit the <a href="">Washington State Medical Professional Telemedicine Training</a> webpage. </p> </div>12/23/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
weekly_rounds_december_18_2020_covid_19_vaccines_arrive_in_washington_stateWeekly Rounds: December 18, 2020 - COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive in Washington StateLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Weekly_Rounds/2020/weekly_rounds_december_18_2020_covid_19_vaccines_arrive_in_washington_state<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Weekly Rounds logo" class="pull-right" src="/images/Logos/Weekly-Rounds-Article-Graphic-645x425px.jpg" /></div> <h5>December 18, 2020</h5> <h2>COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive in Washington State</h2> <p>Jennifer Hanscom, Executive Director/CEO</p> <p> So much of this past year has made history, but surely nothing has been more historic than the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine in mere months. Considering that vaccines for mumps, yellow fever, typhoid fever, smallpox, and others took years to develop, seeing the first COVID-19 vaccines in our state being administered this week is nothing short of a minor miracle. </p> <p> I know all of our members are following these developments closely, but I wanted to summarize a few things here that you need to know. </p> <p> With COVID-19 vaccines now on the ground in Washington state, initial allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are on their way to selected health care facilities and FDA authorization is expected for a Moderna vaccine shortly. </p> <p> The WSMA continues to work closely with the state to help inform its efforts, including providing input on the state's interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, hosting public health leaders and physician experts in our member education efforts, and coordinating with health care stakeholders to help instill confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and ensure successful and equitable distribution and administration. </p> <p> The Washington State Department of Health released Phase 1A of the COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Guidance on Dec 10. Phase 1A focuses on vaccinating two groups: </p> <ul> <li>High-risk workers in health care settings and high-risk first responders.</li> <li>Residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other community-based, congregate living settings where people over 65 are getting care or assistance.</li> </ul> <p> The DOH estimates around 500,000 people in Washington will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1A. For more specific information, please see the <a href="">WA State COVID-19 Allocation Guidance for Phase 1A PDF</a>. The DOH will make decisions on who will be vaccinated in later phases based on guidance made by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. </p> <p> For an overview of the state's vaccine distribution plan, see the Washington State Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan available on the <a href="">DOH website</a>. The plan is a living document and will change over time as we learn more about the vaccines and figure out the most equitable way to protect people. </p> <p> <strong>The DOH recommends that outpatient practices not affiliated with a hospital enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider as soon as possible.</strong> <a href="">Complete enrollment information is available here</a>. According to the DOH, enrollment will allow practices to get the vaccine directly and administer it to their patients and staff. For clinics needing less than 100 doses, the DOH recommends partnering with another practice nearby for the purposes of vaccinating staff. </p> <p> Some hospitals will be setting up "pods" to vaccinate outpatient workers. Hospitals operating a pod will be required to designate themselves as such. Reach out to your local hospital today to learn about their plans for vaccinating outpatient health care workers. </p> <p> The Department of Health is continually gathering feedback on the COVID-19 vaccination process. Visit the <a href="">DOH website</a> to learn more about engagement efforts and how to provide feedback. </p> <p> I never cease to be amazed at the creativity, tenacity, and commitment of the medical profession and the physicians who care for us all. That includes each of you. Thank you! </p> </div>12/18/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
wsma_president_receives_covid_19_vaccine_calls_it_a_triumph_for_science_and_medicineWSMA President Receives COVID-19 Vaccine, Calls It a Triumph for Science and MedicineLatest_NewsShared_Content/News/Press_Release/2020/wsma_president_receives_covid_19_vaccine_calls_it_a_triumph_for_science_and_medicine<div class="col-md-12"> <div class="col-md-5 pull-right"><img src="/images/Logos/Press-Release-Graphic-2019-Branding.png" class="pull-right" alt="WSMA press release logo" /></div> <h5>December 17, 2020</h5> <h2>WSMA President Receives COVID-19 Vaccine, Calls It a Triumph for Science and Medicine</h2> <p> SEATTLE - Washington State Medical Association President and emergency medicine physician Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD, MBA, on Wednesday morning received the first of two doses of the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to protect against COVID-19 disease. The WSMA, which represents more than 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, residents, and medical and physician assistant students in Washington state, is hailing the vaccine as a triumph for science and medicine and a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. </p> <p> "As an emergency department physician, I'm honored to be among the first to receive this vaccine, and I'm beyond grateful for the extraordinary efforts by our public health and scientific communities to ensure its safety and effectiveness," said Dr. Schlicher, who practices at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and serves as the regional director of quality assurance for the emergency departments of CHI Franciscan. "But like a lot of us on the front lines, I'm exhausted. Right now, I'm thinking about my patients and how this vaccine will help keep me and thousands of other health care workers healthy and able to continue providing needed care. I'll save my celebration for when this pandemic is truly over." </p> <p> COVID-19 vaccines are now on the ground in Washington state, with initial allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on their way to selected Washington health care facilities. Following the FDA's emergency use authorization on Dec. 12, an independent scientific review committee comprising immunization, public health, academic, and other physician experts from Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, and California, independently reviewed the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine. The committee granted its unanimous recommendation of the vaccine on Dec. 12. </p> <p> "I think I can safely speak for so many of us in and outside of medicine, that we are humbled to bear witness to history being made - made all the more bittersweet by the shadow of tragedy we still live under. More than 300,000 Americans are not with us to share in this moment," Dr. Schlicher said. "I can't say this enough, that we all owe a debt of gratitude for our health researchers, our public health servants, and to health workers everywhere. This moment belongs to them and their tireless efforts to serve and protect all of us." </p> <p> The WSMA continues to work closely with state officials to help inform its pandemic response, including providing input on the state's interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and coordinating with health care stakeholders to help instill confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and ensure successful and equitable distribution and administration. </p> <p> "I hope physicians and health care workers everywhere will get the vaccine when their time comes. We must continue to model good, science- and public health-based behavior for our patients," Dr. Schlicher said. "And for our patients, please, when your time comes to be vaccinated, protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and friends, and get the COVID-19 vaccine. </p> <p> "We can now see the end to this pandemic - but we must not let down our guard. Get vaccinated when your time comes and keep following sound public health practices. Celebrate, but remain vigilant." </p> <p> PHOTOS: <a href="">Dr. Schlicher receives vaccine</a> and <a href="">Dr. Schlicher gives thumbs up</a>. Photo credit: Cindy Sharpe for WSMA </p> <p> VIDEO: Available upon request </p> <p> For more information, contact: </p> <p> Cindy Sharpe<br /> WSMA Communications<br /> 813.244.2883 (cell/text)<br /> <a href=""></a> </p> <h4>About the WSMA</h4> <p> The Washington State Medical Association represents more than 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine more than 125 years. Our vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care. </p> </div>12/17/2020 12:00:00 AM1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
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