HHS issues new guidance for facility reporting of COVID-19 data. Additional optional data fields have been added to help track health care personnel and patient vaccinations. These fields can be reported weekly starting January 13.
Vaccine eligibility expanded, but supply remains constricted
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Operation Warp Speed said this week they will immediately broaden the population of those eligible to be vaccinated from COVID-19 to include patients over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions that place them at risk for COVID-19. The basis upon which vaccines are distributed to states is also changing; weekly shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be determined by the size of states’ 65-and-over population, along with how quickly vaccines are administered.
In response to this guidance, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced Arizonans age 65 and older will be able to register for vaccine starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, January 19 in counties that are currently vaccinating those in prioritized Phase 1B of vaccination. However, counties may prioritize based on available vaccine, so hospitals and other stakeholders should check with their local health department on its plan. Information on the phase each county is currently vaccinating, the number of doses ordered by each county and location of vaccination sites can be found here.
During a member call Thursday, AzHHA members asserted efficient and swift distribution, as well as the administration of vaccines is of paramount importance right now. AzHHA staff were directed to work with state and federal partners to improve the pipeline and remove any barricades.
HHS adds vaccine data fields to COVID-19 metrics
HHS issued new guidance for facility reporting of COVID-19 data. Additional optional data fields have been added to help track health care personnel and patient vaccinations. These fields can be reported weekly starting January 13. Providers are asked to report previous weeks that vaccines were provided when they start this new reporting.
AzHHA is concerned the process is not in place to currently support efficient and accurate reporting of this this data. We are working with our state and federal partners to address these concerns. ADHS reports the vaccine data fields will be open EMResource if and when reporting becomes mandatory.
Crisis Standards of Care
With COVID-19 caseloads at their highest level so far and available hospitals beds stretched thin these past few weeks, there is a renewed focus on the possibility of hospitals needing to soon implement crisis standards of care. During an AzHHA member call Thursday, Chief Medical Officers affirmed they are committed to avoiding this status shift. They noted the Arizona Surge Line remains key to helping hospitals “load level” patients during the current surge and thus avoiding widespread implementation of crisis standards of care.
The state is reviewing the current crisis standards of care protocols in response to a recent meeting with the Office of Civil Rights. The goal is to ensure all protocols are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.
ADHS announces second state-run vaccine site
ADHS announced Thursday it will open its second COVID-19 vaccination site next Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. ADHS launched Arizona’s first 24/7 state vaccination site in Glendale earlier this week and reports the site is “fully booked for January.” Read more here.
Hospital resources for times of civil unrest
HHS Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has a packet of resources available for hospitals to prepare for times of civil unrest. The packet includes planning resources and lessons learned from around the country, resources on injuries and treatment related to riot control strategies and symptoms and treatment for individuals exposed to tear gas and/or pepper spray.
Palliative care telehealth now available in Arizona
Palliative Care Telehealth is a referral source for healthcare providers across Arizona to help their patients navigate through the complexities of COVID-19 related symptoms, or those chronic conditions exacerbated by COVID-19. The free telehealth program offers patients the opportunity to talk directly to a palliative care specialist to discuss symptom management in their home as opposed to in the hospital when possible. Please visit our website for more resources including patient and provider flyers and frequently asked questions: https://palliative.vsee.me/u/clinic.
Healthcare heroes, in their own words
The testimonials are quite compelling. Arizona’s doctors, nurses and EMTs give their first-hand accounts of the effects of COVID-19 in our hospitals.
“This is real. People are dying.”
“Some people won’t be able to come back from this.”
“Protect the ones who can’t protect themselves.”
We hope the words our healthcare heroes use will invoke action on behalf of those who watch and slow the spread of COVID-19. Please join us in sharing the message on social media and throughout your respective network. Go to SlowTheSpreadAZ.org to learn more.