The early months of this COVID-19 crisis already feel like a blur, as we were all riding the “corona coaster” together. Many regions that were spared some of the worst conditions in the spring are being hit heavily during these late summer months, so here’s a quick summary of the COVID-19 response so far to highlight the most helpful resources for ACEP members.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 39 – No 08 – August 2020
Wellness and Support
ACEP wants you to be able to seek help if you are suffering from depression and PTSD without concerns about its impact on your licensure or hospital credentials, so we developed a strong and impactful statement opposing such obstacles that was signed by more than 40 medical societies and advocacy organizations, including the American Medical Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Federation of State Medical Boards. This initiative has moved to phase two, in which we and our partners reach out to individual state licensing boards and have meetings with hospital associations and hospital systems to try to remove these obstacles and barriers for our members.
In late 2019, ACEP launched the Member Assistance & Wellness Program as a new member benefit, providing for three free counseling or wellness sessions with a professional, along with the option to receive legal assistance.
The Physician Wellness Hub was launched in June. Designed to help you find the right support, the Hub has options for peer support, crisis counseling, or addressing your stress at the source (financial, legal, personal, clinical, or workplace).
To address the tough economic impact this pandemic has had on our members—and medicine as a whole—ACEP compiled the COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide.
ACEP forged new relationships with consumer companies and called upon existing health care partners to step up and support ACEP members in truly unique and meaningful ways:
- We led the call for free and discounted rooms for emergency physicians to protect themselves and their families with Marriott and Hilton.
- We partnered with GrubHub on a virtual benefit concert resulting in $250,000 in free meals for ACEP members.
- We partnered with Amazon Business to get members unrestricted, hospital-level access to cleaning and other supplies that support their personal safety.
- We partnered with multiple companies that provide our members generous discounts and freebies in support services—including food, child and pet care, and other travel support.
Federal and Regulatory Progress
ACEP’s Advocacy team developed a comprehensive and evolving list of needed policy changes related to workforce protection and mobility, access to care, personal protective equipment (PPE), liability shields, and frontline financial support. We sent this list to all members of Congress and policymakers, and chapters have used it for state-level advocacy.
On April 28, we coordinated 474 members from 45 states to hold 306 legislative meetings during Virtual Hill Day to discuss COVID-19 policy priorities in lieu of our normal Leadership & Advocacy Conference.
ACEP President Bill Jaquis, MD, FACEP, participated in a small White House meeting with the vice president and key senior Trump administration officials to help inform the administration’s pandemic response.
On the regulatory side, we sent several letters to Alex Azar, secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), outlining specific changes and regulatory waivers that would protect emergency physicians and other frontline health care staff while increasing patient access to care.
Our advocacy efforts kicked off a quick cascade of significant changes for emergency medicine:
Pushing for PPE
ACEP’s grassroots campaign generated more than 120,000 letters to members of Congress, urging them to prioritize PPE for frontline personnel and to release PPE in the Strategic National Stockpile. This was one of our most successful grassroots efforts ever!
After discovering some hospitals were sanctioning staff for wearing donated or self-purchased PPE, ACEP discussed this problem with The Joint Commission (TJC), sharing firsthand accounts we had solicited from our members. TJC then issued a statement of support for allowing staff to bring their own standard face masks or respirators to wear at work.
ACEP is also addressing this problem with the American Hospital Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Food and Drug Administration. ACEP is also working with GetUsPPE.org to connect private industry with hospitals and clinicians in need.
Expanding Access to Care Through Telehealth
When initial CMS guidance was unclear about how emergency physicians could deliver telehealth services, ACEP was in constant contact with CMS and successfully advocated for two major policy changes.