Recent Covid Forum Updates
Updated March 31, 2020
Q Can ACMS organize a centralized teletriage process to allow retired or idle physicians to step up into the gap and take the load off of those who are overwhelmed?
A ACMS won't be organizing this but we do have some members that are. Here is the description of an idea in the works by one local physician (3/31)
As we navigate the Coronavirus
pandemic, physicians around our state would like to be available to Idahoans
via video-conferencing to provide accurate information, answer questions, allay
fears and help people determine next steps if they or their household contacts
have symptoms of Coronavirus. We would also like to provide tele-health
services to help patients manage non-critical symptoms of Coronavirus at
home. A robust network of physicians providing tele-triage could reduce
ER/Urgent Care visits, conserve PPE and decrease exposure and infection.
This is especially important for people who do not have family physicians or
those with family physicians who are overloaded or not available for
tele-health. Each physician in our network would bill separately and a
sliding scale would be available for those who do not have
insurance/means. We may even be able to arrange for coverage for these
services in another way. If you would like to participate, please reach
out to Deb Roman at email@example.com.
Q I still am trying to make my one practitioner healthcare office work virtually - NOT EASY! but I don't I want to let thousands of my patients flounder without any resources available except the hospitals. My office has been closed for 3 weeks now as we had a potential exposure and were asked by H&W to close. The worst of irritants currently for me with a very limited staff of myself and one other now (down from 5) is prior auths for medications. I know this is a insurance issue but is any one raising this issue?
A Yes, this is an area that is being worked on by the Idaho Medical Association who is advocating with all insurance companies in Idaho and with state authorities. It of course is something they have been pushing on all legislative session and updates will be provided by the IMA to members and on its resource page.
personal protective equipment (PPE) acquisition
Q How do we make requests for PPE that comes from the Strategic National Stockpile or local donation drives.
A This is a slowly developing process (and not as rapid as we wish.) In a call on March 25, a Central District Health representative provided IMA/ACMS with the official Idaho Department of Health and Welfare guidance for the prioritization of PPE resource requests. Minutes before the call he received additional information and the guidance will be modified and clarified. We are awaiting a link for how to make resource requests to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
We understand that there is a local PPE drive on Saturday March 28 1-4 PM through Hands of Hope Northwest. This equipment will be distributed via District Health prioritization.
Physician Assistants During State of Emergency
Q Is there any direction you can help APPs? I reviewed the Idaho Board of Medicine on 'state of emergency' but it would be nice to have it confirmed that PAs and NPs are covered (within the law) and not practicing out of our scope before we are in the middle of the mess. For example, I work in a surgical sub-specialty and there is discussion of canceling elective cases and pulling APPs to other needs of the hospital.
A From Anne Lawler, Executive Director, Board of Medicine, Updated 3/18/2020 BOM Proclamation
The Idaho State Board of Medicine (“Board”) is actively monitoring the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state. The Board is dedicated to fulfilling its primary mission of protecting the public during this time, while continuing to ensure that Idaho has the health care workforce it needs to treat and care for patients throughout the state. The following are some of the steps that the Board implemented in its effort to optimize the ability of Idaho’s physicians, physician assistants (PAs), and respiratory therapists (RTs) to provide safe, effective care to Idahoans during the COVID-19 emergency:
The Board will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho and may further adapt its operations as necessary to meet the emerging needs of the public and its licensees. Please be advised that, although the Board is currently operating under business-as-usual procedures, the Board is also dedicated to the safety of its employees. Normal processing of licenses, prelitigation screening panel requests, and disciplinary complaints may be impacted as the severity of the outbreak in Idaho increases.
implementation and reimbursement of telehealth visits.
Q I would love information on implementation and reimbursement of tele-health visits.
A Tele-health policy changes made in the face of addressing COVID-19 have been rapidly developing and changing on an almost daily basis. The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) has developed a fact sheet summarizing the developments thus far as they relate to tele-health policy on the federal and state level. Keep in mind, that this document is a living document as new developments take place and to check the “Timestamp” to ensure you have the latest version. Watch the Idaho Medical Association's COVID resource page for updates.
Centralized location for evaluation of patients at high risk
Q Will there be a centralized place for evaluation of patients that are high risk. Our office called Central District Health this am about a patient that needed to be tested for COVID 19 and her response “aren’t you testing?” and after we said no, she said send them to urgent care or the ER.
A Our local health systems have now stood up some in-car screening sites. Please refer to the following websites for the most up-to-date information.
St. Luke's Boise, Meridian, Elmore, and Wood River Valley Call the Triage Hotline first at 208-381-9500
Saint Alphonsus Health System - COVID Hotline 208-302-2683
Saint Alphonsus is now offering COVID-19 assessments at the Meridian Health Plaza, at 3025 W. Cherry Lane. The respiratory screening will be available every day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saltzer Medical Group
From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saltzer Health’s Nampa facilities, at 9850 W. St. Luke’s Drive and 215 E. Hawaii Ave., are also offering curbside COVID-19 screening.
Primary Health Medical Group (updated 3/26)
Primary Health Medical Group has successfully developed “Respiratory Clinics” at its Garden City, Meridian Crossroads and Nampa offering car-side services for patients with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath and/or diarrhea) while keeping them separate from the general patient population and reducing the risk of exposure to health care workers. Staff and providers at the Respiratory Clinics have received extra training in order to safely evaluate patients and minimize exposure.
Primary Health has 15 additional clinics that remain open, clean and safe for patients who have regular urgent care and appointment-based needs. They also offer telehealth visits for qualifying patients who have upcoming appointments scheduled with family medicine and pediatric providers.
medical volunteer opportunities
Q Are there ways to get involved in any state of emergency volunteer activities?
A There are existing and emerging opportunities for both medical professionals and lay volunteers. These will be managed through the medical volunteer corps, operated by each district health unit. The best thing to do is register as a volunteer with your credentials and availability at central district health.