Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 21

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateWith the number of new cases trending downward, Michigan hospitals continued to have patients with severe cases of COVID-19 in their intensive care units (ICUs). As of March 25, 100 Michiganders with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were in ICUs, 44 of them on ventilators. They were among the 516 adults and 22 children hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases that day.

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Legislative Action Will Assist Hospitals in Providing High-quality Care

The Legislature has sent Senate Bill (SB) 247 to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be signed into law, making significant changes to prior authorization in the state of Michigan. The MHA-supported  bill would shorten the timelines for approval of authorization requests, ensure that emergency care can be provided without prior approval, and require insurers to post their prior authorization policies on their website and accept electronic requests, among other improvements to the process.

Whitmer signed SBs 246 and 435, increasing forgivable loan amounts for health professionals who work in medically underserved communities as part of the Michigan Essential Health Provider Program and expanding the physician specializations that qualify for the program to include behavioral health professionals. The new law also extends the sunset on the interstate Physician Licensure Compact, ensuring that physicians coming to Michigan from another compact state can quickly become licensed to practice in the state.

More information on these bills and other legislation affecting hospitals is available in a related article.

Vaccination Progress Among Michiganders Highlights Racial Disparities

More than 60% of all Michigan residents aged 5 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, only slightly more than 40% of Black residents are among those fully vaccinated. Nearly 28% of Michigan children aged 5 through 11 years have received their first dose of the vaccine, but fewer than 17% of Black Michigan children in that age range have received their first dose. Providers should continue efforts to reach families with young children and nonwhite patients to reduce the disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on different populations. For information on vaccines, contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

MHA Creates State/Federal COVID-19 Guidelines Tracker

The MHA recently developed a tracking tool outlining state and federal COVID-19 protocols for healthcare personnel. The document is updated as agencies revise their guidelines or mandates and includes vaccination, masking and COVID-19 testing guidelines from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The downloadable tool can also be found on the MHA website on the COVID-19 Resources page under Resources for Healthcare Professionals. Members with questions may contact Lucy Ciaramitaro 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).

Implicit Bias Training Rules Officially Adopted

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs adopted new administrative rules that require implicit bias training as part of the knowledge and skills necessary for licensure or registration of healthcare professionals in Michigan, which were ordered in Executive Directive 2020-07. Adopted June 1, the new training requirement will take effect one year later, June 1, 2022.

During the fall of 2020, the MHA and several member hospitals were among nearly 80 stakeholders that participated in the Implicit Bias Training Rules Advisory Work Group to help develop the draft rules. The MHA also provided testimony in support of the rules during the public hearing held March 9 and expressed its support to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

The MHA and its member hospitals support unconscious bias training for all healthcare personnel. Ensuring equitable access and care for all patients is an MHA strategic priority, and eliminating health disparities is crucial to the MHA mission of advancing the health of individuals and communities.

Even before Executive Directive 2020-07 was ordered, the MHA and the MHA Keystone Center were working to make strides in this area. Addressing health disparities is a foundational concept that shapes all the organizations’ quality improvement and safety efforts. There is ample evidence of the impact bias has on health, and healthcare systems have a moral obligation to equalize care, starting first by identifying and addressing any bias that may exist within their organization. The training helps individuals identify and acknowledge the biases they have, which often exist outside of their conscious awareness; this process helps providers deliver the best care possible. For more information, contact Paige Fults at the MHA.