Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of July 6

MHA Covid-19 update

During a July 9 news conference, the governor and her team commented on the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state. Many Michigan residents have seemingly relaxed their attitudes toward physical distancing and wearing masks, both of which are critical to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

The MHA issued a joint news release with the Michigan State Medical Society and Michigan Osteopathic Association (which make up the Partnership for Michigan’s Health) urging residents to remain vigilant about distancing and wearing masks to prevent a second large surge of COVID-19 in the state. In addition, the association July 10 provided member organizations with a variety of downloadable tools for educating their communities about the importance of wearing masks to guard against the disease. Questions about the news release and educational tools should be directed to Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates on how the pandemic is affecting Michigan hospitals are outlined below.

Executive Directive Issued on Implicit Bias Training for Healthcare Workers

In an executive directive issued July 9, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer directed that all licensed healthcare workers receive implicit bias training in the future. The administration’s COVID-19 task force on racial disparities recommended the training as one way to improve equity of access and care going forward.

Under the directive, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will begin stakeholder outreach and rule development for implementation. It was noted during a July 9 news conference that it generally takes six to 12 months for requirements of this nature to take effect. Following the announcement, the MHA issued a statement of support for increased implicit bias training, noting that the MHA Keystone Center’s work in promoting health equity will continue.

The association encourages members’ continued participation in current efforts to improve health equity and will keep hospitals apprised of LARA’s next steps for stakeholder input on the new directive. For more information, contact Brittany Bogan at the MHA.

MIOSHA Plans to Inspect Hospitals’ Use of Personal Protective Equipment

The MHA is seeking clarity on a recent Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) announcement that it would be conducting inspections of hospitals for adequate personal protective equipment through the end of 2020. The MHA is seeking additional time and details about the timing and evaluation methods of these inspections to allow time for hospitals to have their plans/supplies voluntarily reviewed by the agency. The association will update members on any developments regarding this issue; those with questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Hospitals Should be Alert for Defective Testing Supplies, False Positive Tests

The MHA is aware of reports of Puritan HydraFlock Nasopharyngeal swabs breaking within patients’ nares during specimen collection. These swabs were part of Lot #7272 provided by the state lab in recent weeks. The Michigan Bureau of Laboratories is aware of these events and will be notifying sites that may have received swabs from that shipment. Hospitals that received these swabs are encouraged to consider pulling this inventory from use until more information is made available. Sites that experience issues with swabs of any brand or type should report the adverse event through the MedWatch Voluntary Reporting webpage provided through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as to any applicable Patient Safety Organization to which the site belongs.

In addition, the FDA released an alert July 6 about the increased risk of a false positive result with BD SARS-CoV-2 Reagents for the BD Max System test. Providers are encouraged to contact the FDA regarding suspected or actual adverse events connected with these tests.

The MHA and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) host weekly calls with lab directors to discuss COVID-1 testing issues. To learn more, contact Brittany Bogan at the MHA.

Medicare Quality Reporting Requirements Resumed July 1

July 1 was the expiration date of the blanket data reporting exceptions and extensions that were implemented in March across Medicare quality reporting and value-based payment programs. In response to COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made it optional to submit data from the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first two quarters of 2020 and announced it will not use claims data from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2020, to calculate performance in those programs. Due to the expiration of those provisions, the CMS expects hospitals to collect and report data for the third and fourth quarters of 2020 in accordance with regular program requirements. While the blanket reporting exception has ended, hospitals that are unable to meet third and/or fourth quarter 2020 data collection and reporting requirements due to events beyond their control may use the programs’ existing policies to request an exception within 90 calendar days of the extraordinary circumstance. Members with questions should contact Brittany Bogan at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members: