COVID-19

Affordable, high quality N95 masks available soon in WNC

September 29, 2020

WCMS has been working with the CEO of Capstone Health Alliance, Tim Bugg, to source high quality, affordable N95 masks for WNC healthcare providers

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WNC COVID Update: Is it Safe to Dine Out and 4 Other Things You Should Know

September 25, 2020

In this week’s streamlined regional report you’ll find:

COVID Graph Icon Blue.png Updated WNC Trends

COVID Icon Blue.pngNew data on community exposure risks

COVID Tool Icon Blue.pngTools to encourage flu vaccination

COVID Book Icon Blue.pngMAHEC COVID-19 Library Guide updates

COVID Mask Icon Blue.pngNEW resources & online trainings

 

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: COVID-19 update

September 21, 2020

Situation Update:

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - September 4, 2020

September 8, 2020

This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends, updated ob/gyn recommendations, health inequities in ob/gyn care, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and patients.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - August 21, 2020

August 21, 2020

This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends, school reopening updates, information on virtual inequities, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and patients.

 

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NC Medicaid To Cover COVID Test for Uninsured

August 21, 2020

Effective Sept. 1, NC Medicaid will begin reimbursing COVID-19 testing costs for uninsured individuals who enroll in the NC Medicaid Optional COVID-19 Testing (MCV) program.

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Will COVID-19 help move primary care physicians away from the fee-for-service model?

August 21, 2020

The “medical MacGyvering” that took place early in the pandemic wasn’t limited to emergency physicians jerry-rigging personal protective equipment or ICU docs using FaceTime to connect patients to families. Small primary care practices also pivoted hard, but it’s come at a cost.

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The Physicians Foundation 2020 Survey of America's Physicians

August 18, 2020

The Physicians Foundation today released its biennial Survey of America’s Physicians revealing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices and their patients. This year’s survey is a three-part series examining how COVID-19 is affecting and is perceived by the nation’s physicians.

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Resources and Engagement Opportunities for Organizations Supporting Under-Served Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

August 14, 2020

The NC Inclusive Disaster Recovery (NCIDR) network has developed this living document for organizations serving historically under-resourced and marginalized communities.

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FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR MILLIONS OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS NATIONWIDE

August 13, 2020

Many health care providers are experiencing significant financial hardships in the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress provided $175 billion in relief funds to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to deliver financial relief to hospitals and other health care providers, including those on the front lines of the coronavirus response. The latest phase of funding is now available through August 28, 2020.

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New Rural Healthcare Resource Portal and Twitter Chat

August 13, 2020

Rural healthcare faces unique challenges in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help communities address these challenges, the Federal Healthcare Resilience Working Group (HRWG) has developed the Rural Health Surge Readiness web portal,

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The NCMS Offers Free PPE to Independent Practices Statewide

August 13, 2020

The NCMS heard your calls for crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) during this pandemic and mobilized to secure a $5 million grant from the NC General Assembly to provide FREE PPE to independent practices across North Carolina. Thanks to your conversations with legislators, the efforts of the NCMS legislative team and our existing purchasing ability via ActionPPE, we are ready to begin distribution of this valuable resource to ensure you can effectively and safely care for your patients.

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From NCMS: Survey Tracks NC Practices’ Continuing COVID-19 Journey

August 11, 2020

Sixteen weeks ago the NCMS along with the NC Medical Group Management Association (NCMGMA) and Curi began surveying NC medical practices on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This summary of the data collected since March give a snapshot of the changing landscape and the continuing challenges NC practices have experienced over the past four months.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - Friday, August 7, 2020

August 7, 2020

This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends, WNC case updates, a new CDC lab test in development, information on inequities for those living with disabilities, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and patients.

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NC Medicaid Extends COVID-19 Provisions

August 7, 2020

With the recent extension of the federal Declaration of Emergency through Oct. 25, 2020, NC Medicaid has extended its COVID-19 related temporary Clinical Coverage Policy provisions to Dec. 31, 2020.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - Friday, July 31, 2020

August 3, 2020

Friday, July 31, 2020

This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends, pandemic impacts in LatinX communities, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and patients.

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Employer-Based Health Insurance Loss Due to the COVID Pandemic

July 30, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the scope of the impact continues to become clear. North Carolina, like much of the country, has seen significant impacts to employment. According to a recent brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nearly 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits through both federal and state support systems since the beginning of March.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - July 24, 2020

July 27, 2020

Friday, July 24, 2020
 
This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends in comparison to historic wars and disasters, the movement for reparations in Asheville, and new resources and training opportunities focused on PPE acquisition, acute care of COVID-19 patients, health equity, and reproductive and perinatal care.

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Renewal of a Public Health Emergency

July 24, 2020

FROM AMA:

As anticipated, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar extended for an additional 90 days the current COVID-19 public health emergency, which was set to expire on July 25.  Many physicians have expressed concern about the impending deadline and the implication for various regulatory waivers implemented because of the pandemic, including those pertaining to telemedicine. Click here to access a copy of the renewal determination.

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An option for PPE bulk purchasing

July 21, 2020

Dear NC Healthcare Providers:

As diagnosed COVID-19 cases rise, health care providers continue to face high demand and low supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gowns, and gloves. The pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, healthcare providers need a better way to discover verified sellers that can offer access to quality supplies and equipment at the best possible prices. North Carolin Healthcare Association Strategic Partners (NCHASP) has developed a collaborative purchasing model to assist in acquiring some of the PPE that is most needed for healthcare facilities in NC.  

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NEW CDC Guidance on Duration of Isolation

July 21, 2020

FROM NCMS:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on the duration of isolation for those testing positive for COVID-19. The updated guidance recommends: 

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Duration of isolation - important update to CDC guidance

July 21, 2020

Lab-confirmed cases in Buncombe County residents continue to rise significantly on a daily basis. Our staff is doing their best to try to keep up, but the volume is overwhelming our capacity at this time, so there is a delay in case investigations. We are working on hiring and training additional case investigators, but expect continued delays in the short-term if the volume of new cases continues at this level.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - July 10, 2020

July 13, 2020

Friday, July 10, 2020
 
This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends, pandemic-related state legislation, best practices for telemedicine treatment for opioid use disorder, data on the impacts of racism on well-being, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and their patients.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated NCDHHS COVID guidance for clinicians on testing, patient education & reporting

July 13, 2020

Situation Update:

  • As of noon on July 10th, there have been a total of 802 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, including 31 fatalities. Due to a significant increase in the volume of cases being reported over the last few days, the Buncombe County COVID-19 data dashboard, which relies on manual data entry, shows a lag in case count compared to the county data on the state’s dashboard. Basic demographic information on cases and deaths is available on these dashboards.

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SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #107: Continuation of COVID-19 Enhanced Rates

July 10, 2020

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

NC Medicaid is committed to ensuring beneficiaries continue to receive Medicaid and NC Health Choice services with no interruptions or delays due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

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NCMS COVID-19 ALERT: State Health Director Issues Temporary COVID-19

July 8, 2020

Today, July 7, 2020, North Carolina State Health Director Elizabeth Tilson, MD, MPH issued a temporary order requiring physicians, laboratories and others ordering or conducting COVID-19 diagnostic tests to report negative test results in addition to the requirement to report postive results. 

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - July 2, 2020

July 2, 2020

Thursday, July 2, 2020
 
This week’s report highlights COVID-19 trends, identified risks for pregnant women, updated data on COVID-19 inequities, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and patients.

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The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus

July 6, 2020

FROM NYT

Teresa and Marvin Bradley can’t say for sure how they got the coronavirus. Maybe Ms. Bradley, a Michigan nurse, brought it from her hospital. Maybe it came from a visiting relative. Maybe it was something else entirely.

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE

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American Medical Association COVID-19 Efforts

July 2, 2020

FROM AMA:

The U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis asked the American Medical Association (AMA) to submit comments on personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. Our recommendations include establishing a national response strategy on this issue that delineates federal and state responsibilities; focusing on the needs of all practice settings; the creation of a permanent home for federal logistical planning; and strict measures again price gouging that can occur during national emergencies.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020
 
This week’s report highlights the mounting evidence for the effectiveness of face coverings, information on how racism contributes to disproportionate COVID-19 impacts, and new resources and training opportunities for providers and patients.

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Trump admin asks Supreme Court to kill ACA as COVID-19 surges in West, South

June 26, 2020

Dive Brief:

  • President Donald Trump's Department of Justice again argued the Affordable Care Act should be struck down in opening briefs due before the Supreme Court filed late Thursday. The move comes as COVID-19 cases are rising in many states across the country, posing significant health risks to Americans and the economy. 
  • Legal experts were watching closely for the legal brief as the agency has changed its position in the past. But the administration did not flinch in its quest to overturn the law despite the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the upcoming election.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat of California, blasted the administration's attempts to "rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis." Calling it "an act of unfathomable cruelty."

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Learn More About Provider Relief Fund Payments

June 23, 2020

FROM NCMS:

Last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched an application portal to distribute $15 billion in CARES Act Provider Relief Fund payments to eligible Medicaid and CHIP physicians and organizations. Read more about this allocation in this June 9 NCMS COVID-19 News Alert.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - June 19, 2020

June 22, 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020
 
This week’s report updates state trends and highlights data on the effectiveness of face coverings, how structural racism creates an epidemic of risk for Black communities, and new COVID-19 resources for providers and vulnerable patients experiencing health inequities.

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Provider Relief Fund Update

June 19, 2020

FROM AMA:

Last week, HHS launched an application portal to distribute $15 billion in CARES Act Provider Relief Fund payments to eligible Medicaid and CHIP physicians and organizations. The payment will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care, and the final amount will be determined based on submitted data, including the number of Medicaid patients served. Eligible physicians and organizations have until July 20, 2020, to submit their application and report other necessary information, such as annual patient revenue data.

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NC Medicaid Implements 5 percent Rate Increase

June 17, 2020

The NC General Assembly’s recently approved HB 1043—2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act includes a 5 percent rate increase for all Fee-For-Service (FFS) Medicaid providers who had not yet received a 5 percent increase during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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COVID-19 Testing

June 16, 2020

Thursday, June 18th

Laurel Community Center

12-2pm

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Update: New COVID-19 testing guidance & updated PPE recommendation

June 15, 2020

Situation Update:

  • As of noon on 6/14/2020, there have been a total of 437 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, including 35 fatalities. Basic demographic information on Buncombe County cases is updated daily on the Buncombe County COVID-19 data dashboard.

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NC DHHS COVID-19 Provider Guidance

June 9, 2020

This memo updates previous guidance shared on May 15, 2020. It is intended to provide the latest information to all North Carolina clinicians and laboratory staff regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Please read thoroughly as there are several updates, including:

  • Updated laboratory testing guidance
  • Updated resources on testing sites, PPE, and specimen collection supplies

North Carolina’s response to COVID-19 will continue to rapidly evolve. The most up-to-date information and guidance can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020
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This week’s report updates regional trends and highlights new testing guidance, harm reduction strategies, new online tools for checking symptoms and finding testing sites, and new COVID-19 resources and virtual trainings to address health inequities and support vulnerable patients.

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$15B More in Relief Available for Those Participating in Medicaid/CHIP

June 10, 2020

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced additional distributions from the Provider Relief Fund to eligible Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers who participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs. HHS expects to distribute approximately $15 billion to these eligible clinicians who have not already received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - June 5, 2020

June 5, 2020

 
Friday, June 5, 2020
 
This week’s report updates regional trends and highlights new research on the effectiveness of preventive measures, how to address implicit bias in your practice, the latest COVID-19 practice guidance, and new resources and trainings to support vulnerable patients and balancing office-based services with telehealth.

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Requesting PPE from NC DHHS

June 3, 2020

Requesting PPE from NC DHHS

The section of the NC DHHS website for Requesting PPE has been updated outlining healthcare and non-healthcare allocation schedules.

The process has been streamlined with a form for healthcare entities and a separate form for non-healthcare entities to complete a request for PPE.

Please share link and information with others as appropriate.

https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/information/health-care/requesting-ppe

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Share with your patients about Buncombe County’s new COVID-19 Self-Checker

June 3, 2020

Share with your patients about Buncombe County’s new COVID-19 Self-Checker

Following CDC guidelines Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker is a quick, confidential, easy-to-use assessment tool.  It can be used online or by phone to help your patient determine if they have COVID-19 symptoms. The tool can connect your patient to individual level follow-up with public health staff and help connect those in need to COVID-19 testing and offer additional support. Non-English speakers can access the Self-Checker online in Spanish and Russian and can be taken over the phone in multiple languages via 211.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020

Friday, May 29, 2020
 
This week’s report updates regional trends and highlights challenges experienced by the I/DD community, CDC’s request for reports of suspected COVID-19 reinfection, economic disparities, and new resources to support PPE acquisition, safely reopening, and the LatinX community.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

 
Friday, May 22, 2020
 
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

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Care for Corona is Expanding Services

May 22, 2020

Contact :
Xanet Pailet: xanet@powerofpleasure.com 415-562-701
Benita Silver: benita@fearlesshealers.com 828-505-3780

Asheville Psychotherapists and Healers expand “Care for Corona” to provide free sessions to all essential workers, their families and Covid-19 patients and their families.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Update: Tonight's webinar on COVID testing; how to request test supplies; and more

May 21, 2020

Tonight, the NC Medical Society is partnering with Medicaid, CCNC and the NC AHEC Program, to host a webinar entitled “COVID-19 in NC:  Testing Strategy, Guidance and Priority Populations.” This webinar will address new options for telephonic and telehealth delivery of care for changes in testing recommendations, an overview of the testing modalities, and a discussion on how NC DHHS is working with community partners to reach high priority populations. The webinar will feature NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, State Health Director and CMO for NCDHHS Dr. Betsey Tilson, CMO for Medicaid Dr. Shannon Dowler and Dr. Scott Shone, Director at the NC State Laboratory of Public Health.  You can register and access the webinar here

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ALERT: Advisory on COVID-19 Related Syndrome in Children

May 20, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) have issued a Health Advisory for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The CDC also hosted a call with clinicians yesterday on this advisory and how you can recognize the symptoms of MIS-C. You can review the presentation slides and download the transcript here.

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JIC Notice: COVID-19 Community Testing Site at Pisgah View Cancelled Today Due to Inclement Weather

May 19, 2020

May 19, 2020  |  COVID-19 Community Testing Site at Pisgah View Cancelled Today Due to Inclement Weather

Due to the strong possibility of a high impact storm event, today’s COVID-19 Community Testing Site in the Pisgah View community is cancelled for May 19, 2020.  COVID-19 testing at this site will be rescheduled for a later date and the public will be notified via all Buncombe County Government media channels.

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HHS Provider Relief Fund clarifications

May 19, 2020

FROM AMA:

The AMA has received many questions from physicians and medical societies related to the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, and we have been in touch with senior HHS officials about them. Certain formulas that were previously on the HHS website led some physicians to believe they may have received more money from this fund than they were supposed to and they were worried that it will be recouped by HHS. Because the AMA informed the administration of the concerns and alarm the previous formulas and language about overpayments were causing many physicians, HHS removed it from the website. 

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More surgical masks donated to community, via WCU-based group

May 18, 2020

Some 15,000 much-needed surgical masks are now available for health care providers across the 18 counties of Western North Carolina, thanks to big efforts by a small group centered at Western Carolina University.

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Notice: Community Testing Sites and Expanded Guidance 5/18/20

May 18, 2020

FROM BCHHS:

Buncombe County Government and Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) will partner to offer community-based COVID-19 testing in the coming weeks for people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. This is an important and necessary step in understanding and addressing the spread of COVID-19 in Buncombe County.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated COVID-19 testing guidance

May 18, 2020

Situation Update:

  • As of 2pm on 5/16/2020, there have been a total of 134 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, including 4 fatalities. Basic demographic information on Buncombe County cases is updated daily on the Buncombe County COVID-19 data dashboard.

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Convalescent plasma donation during COVID-19

May 15, 2020

Mission Health is using the FDA-approved procedure of convalescent plasma as a treatment for those with COVID-19, and is participating in an NIH study on it as well. Recently, WLOS did a news piece on plasma donation, and the need to spread the word about the opportunity for recovered patients to consider donating plasma if they are able and eligible. The news story states patients must be symptom-free for 28 days, but that requirement has since been decreased to only 14 days.

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NCDHHS Reiterates Testing Guidance

May 15, 2020

Today, State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, MD, MPH sent a memo reminding clinicians of the guidance issued on April 20, which recommended conducting or arranging for diagnostic testing for any patient in whom COVID-19 is suspected. Read his full memo here.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Friday, May 15, 2020
 
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

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Practice Resumption Resources

May 15, 2020

As the state eases some of the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, some practices that suspended non-essential procedures or closed completely to stem the spread of the virus, may be looking for how best to resume services. A new AMA checklist provides helpful step-by-step guidance to manage the safe reopening of practices in a manner that protects patients, clinicians, staff and the public. Learn more and download the checklist here.

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Statewide Free Pharmacy dispensing hope in midst of crisis

May 12, 2020

FROM NC MedAssist:

North Carolina (May 1, 2020) – NC MedAssist is the only free mail-order pharmacy serving all 100 counties in NC since 1997. Although they are most known for their mobile pharmacy events where they distribute over-the-counter medicine into impoverished communities, this organization’s primary focus is their Free Pharmacy Program.

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Call for COVID-19 Stories, Poems, and Reflections from WCMS members

May 11, 2020

Are you writing at all during this pandemic? Would you write if you had an audience?

My name is Laura Hope-Gill. I direct the Narrative Healthcare program at Lenoir-Rhyne University. The program hosted the nation's first Narrative Healthcare Symposium at MAHEC last October. Now, students and faculty have repurposed the website to provide "Soul Support in Covid-19" in the form of poems, meditations, art, music, and journal prompts. Already, the site has subscribers from a number of hospitals and clinics. I will be gathering stories, poems, and reflections or essays for the site's blog.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

Friday, May 8, 2020
 
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

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Navigating the New Normal

May 7, 2020

FROM NCMS: 

North Carolina has taken agressive action to save lives 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

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COVID-19 Guidance from NCDHHS

May 7, 2020

Phase 1 of easing restrictions: 

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Update: COVID-19 testing info; how to address STD and TB testing during COVID

May 5, 2020

FROM BCHHS:

Situation Update:

  • As of noon today, there have been a total of 79 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, including 4 fatalities. Basic demographic information on Buncombe County cases is updated daily on the Buncombe County COVID-19 data dashboard.
  •          At this time, there have been no lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any nursing homes or congregate living facilities in Buncombe County.

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Announcement: NC Rapid Recovery Loan Program Update

May 4, 2020

FROM NC RAPID RECOVERY:

Dear Rural Partners,

As you may know, the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program was launched by the NC Rural Center on March 24 with an initial allocation of $15 million provided by the Golden LEAF Foundation. The goal of the program was to provide emergency bridge loans to our state's small-business owners who were being affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.

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New COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal

May 4, 2020

FROM NC DHHS Office of Rural Health: 

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently launched a COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal where health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing of uninsured individuals for COVID-19 or provided treatment to uninsured individuals with a COVID-19 diagnosis on or after February 4, 2020 can request claims for reimbursement.

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NCDHHS Sec. Cohen Issues New Guidance on Elective, Non-Urgent Surgery

May 1, 2020

FROM NCMS:

NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH today announced that hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers may resume elective and non-urgent surgeries in accordance with updated guidance.

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report: Friday, May 1, 2020

May 1, 2020

Friday, May 1, 2020
 
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Read more


2nd Virtual WCMS Membership Assembly

May 1, 2020

WCMS is hosted our 2nd Virtual Membership Assembly to continue the conversation about the many changes happening in our WNC healthcare system right now in light of COVID-19. We welcomed everyone from the WNC medical community to participate, including Practice Managers.

For this meeting, Dr. Mark McNeill of Trillium Family Medicine first led us in a discussion about the impact on independent practices and then we introduced Grant Osborne and Michael Fields of Ward and Smith, PA to share information and answer questions regarding employment law, the CARES Act and the FFCRA. 

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Useful NCMS Summary of Regulatory Changes Due to COVID-19

May 1, 2020

FROM NCMS:

NCMS staff has been carefully monitoring all of the federal and state regulatory changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic – and there have been many -- and how they may impact your practice. To help you quickly access these new regulations here is a helpful grid.

The information includes updated federal regulations regarding Medicare, the Quality Payment Program deadlines, HIPAA and telehealth among others. The grid also includes regulatory changes prompted by Governor Cooper’s Executive Orders, measures taken by the NC Medical Board and advisories from the NC Department of Insurance. We will be updating these as new regulations are enacted.

Access this useful reference tool.

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Face shields being developed by Greg Williams and distributed by WCMS

April 30, 2020

At the beginning of April, WCMS was approached by Greg Williams, a Western North Carolina community member, asking if we knew of any providers or practices in need of face shields. Williams developed a detailed and thoughtful sanitizing process and was prepared to design and donate several face shields immediately. At the time, we hadn't recieved any requests for face shields specifcially. However, WCMS and Williams decided to work together in hopes of distributing the shields as soon as the need arose. Williams delievered the first batch of 60 face sheilds within 5 days of our initial communication and 80 additional sheilds have since been produced by Greg and will be allocated to providers by WCMS shortly.

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Reimbursement portal opens for providers that test, treat uninsured COVID-19 patients

April 28, 2020

FROM HEALTHCARE DIVE: 

Dive Brief:

  • The Trump administration on Monday launched an online portal where hospitals can apply for reimbursement for COVID-19 testing and treatment for the roughly 30 million uninsured patients in the U.S.
  • Providers that tested or treated uninsured patients for the disease starting Feb. 4 could begin signing up on Monday, and can submit patient information and claims for reimbursement beginning May 6. Claims will generally be paid out based on current Medicare rates, and providers will begin receiving reimbursements in mid-May, HHS said, as long as funding is available.
  • To participate, hospitals and doctor's offices must ensure the patient is uninsured and agree not to balance bill the patient for any part of his or her medical treatment.

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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

April 28, 2020

FROM NC DEPT. OF COMMERCE:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) North Carolina independent contractors and self-employed workers out of work because of COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance beginning Friday, April 24 at des.nc.gov.
Read more
des.nc.gov

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HHS FAQ on CARES ACT Provider Relief Fund

April 27, 2020

FROM AMA:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted new Frequently Asked Questions regarding the second tranche of disbursement of the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.  Please note there is conflicting information about whether a provider who hasn’t previously received money from the first round of funding can apply for this round.  The AMA is trying to clarify this and other questions with HHS. 

https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/20200425-general-distribution-portal-faqs.pdf

 

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HHS General Allocation Fund Portal

April 27, 2020

FROM AMA:

General Allocation Fund

Late this past week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will begin distributing the second tranche of funds from the $100 billion in funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers impacted by the coronavirus response.  The funding will be used to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.  HHS announced that $50 billion of the Provider Relief Fund is allocated for general distribution to facilities and providers which billed Medicare in 2019, and are impacted by COVID-19, based on providers' 2018 net patient revenue.  Of this $50 billion, the initial $30 billion was distributed between April 10 and April 17, and payments to providers from that $30 billion were calculated based on providers’ portion of Medicare fee-for-service revenue. 

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WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

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NCMS + NCHA Task Force: Guidance on Re-Opening the Economy and Resuming Certain Health Services

April 24, 2020

FROM NCMS:

Today the joint NCMS and NC Healthcare Association (NCHA) Task Force on Virus Mitigation in an Open Economy, which includes physicians from a variety of specialties and representatives from the NCHA, issued a media statement on resuming economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Task force members emphasized the need, above all, to protect public health through continued social distancing and other efforts to slow the spread of the virus and recognized that a thoughtful and measured approach to resuming business activities is necessary. Read the media statement on reopening the economy.

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CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Additional Information

April 23, 2020

FROM AMA:

Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided additional information about allocation of the $100 billion CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. This updated information is available at https://www.hhs.gov/provider-relief/index.html .

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Medical Liability Protections - Action Needed!

April 23, 2020

FROM NCMS: 

 

The NC General Assembly is currently discussing providing limited civil liability protection for you and other front-line responders to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your NCMS lobbying team has been working tirelessly on this issue for the past four weeks.  While Gov. Cooper has provided relief to the extent allowed under NC law, NCMS has sought to make sure that all COVID and COVID impacted services were equally protected.

We need your help communicating with your legislators about this fundamental need! Please use the following link to contact your NC House and NC Senate member.

Thank you!

Read more


Understanding and Addressing Sources of Anxiety Among Health Care Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 22, 2020

FROM JAMA:

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has become one of the central health crises of a generation. The pandemic has affected people of all nations, continents, races, and socioeconomic groups. The responses required, such as quarantining of entire communities, closing of schools, social isolation, and shelter-in-place orders, have abruptly changed daily life.

Read more


BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated COVID-19 Provider Guidance

April 21, 2020

Situation Update as of 12pm today:

  •          There have been a total of 48 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, including 3 fatalities. Basic demographic information on Buncombe County cases is updated regularly on the county website.
  •          There have been no lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any nursing homes or congregate living facilities in Buncombe County.

Read more


CARES Act Provider Relief Fund – Acceptance of Funds Comes with Conditions

April 21, 2020

FROM WARD & SMITH: 

Healthcare providers are among those financially adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

survey conducted by the Medical Group Managers Association ("MGMA") on April 7 and 8, 2020, found that 97% of medical practices have experienced a negative financial impact directly or indirectly related to COVID-19.  MGMA also indicates that, on average, practices report a 55% decrease in revenue and a 60% decrease in patient volume since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

Read more


Virtual Membership Assembly Recap

April 21, 2020

On Thursday, April 16, WCMS membership along with other leaders of hospital systems and medical communities in Western North Carolina assembled virtually to discuss our region's preparedness for COVID-19, future predictions, available resources, current challenges, and more. Click here to listen to the recording and stay tuned for our next meeting!  

Read more


Telehealth Helping North Carolinians Access Care

April 20, 2020

FROM NCDHHS: 

COVID-19 Telehealth Information

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FLYER

Why Using Telehealth Is Important During the COVID-19 Pandemic

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

Read more


Governor Cooper Shares Path Forward for North Carolina

April 20, 2020

FROM NC GOVERNOR COOPER:

Testing, Tracing and Trends will help determine when to loosen restrictions

Read more


CMS Issues Recommendations to Re-Open Health Care Systems in Areas with Low Incidence of COVID-19

April 20, 2020

As the United States continues to face the unprecedented public health emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic, the tide is turning and some areas throughout the country are seeing a decline in cases. As states and localities begin to stabilize, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing guidance on providing essential non-COVID-19 care to patients without symptoms of COVID-19 in regions with low and stable incidence of COVID-19. This is part of Phase 1 in the Trump Administration’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

Read more


Economic Relief Resources

April 20, 2020

FROM NCMS:

Many organizations, government agencies and elected officials are working to address the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help you navigate the flood of information, we’ve distilled it down into what we hope are useful key categories. NCMS staff continues to vet and add resources to this page to ensure the latest and most credible content.

Read more


WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

Friday, April 17, 2020
 
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Read more


WCU develops face shields for WCMS to distribute

April 16, 2020

Dr. Patrick Gardner, Director of the RAPID CENTER at WCU helped organize his students and engineering faculty to manufacture face shields using 3D printing technologies. Dr. Lane Perry, Executive Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at WCU, then developed an initiative to connect with WCMS and other community partners across WNC to distribute these face shields to practices and providers in need. 

Read more


Ensuring At-Risk Providers That Rely on Medicaid Promptly Receive An Appropriate Share of CARES ACT Provider Funding

April 15, 2020

Dear Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma:

Thank you for the ongoing work to respond to the effects of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). North Carolina is currently working closely with CMS regarding several high priority outstanding requests for Medicaid flexibility under the 1115 and Disaster SPA processes, and I appreciate your team’s partnership in those efforts. The purpose of this letter is to urge you to act quickly to dedicate a portion of the $100 billion CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to the essential providers that disproportionately serve Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, as recently was done for Medicare providers. This step is needed to keep essential providers afloat until Congress, CMS and states can identify additional resources to sustain them through the pandemic.

CLICK HERE TO READ the full letter from Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH, NCHHS Secretary

 

Read more


CARES Act: Relief for Hospitals, Physician Practices & Other Providers

April 15, 2020

FROM JPS: 

The CARES Act includes relief to physician practices who are suffering financial loss due to COVID-19 by designating funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. CARES Act provides relief to individuals, businesses, nonprofits and others affected by COVID-19.

Read more


NC AHEC and the Office of Rural Health (ORH) Telehealth Webinar Series

April 14, 2020

EVERY MONDAY FROM 12 TO 1 P.M.

Join the Zoom meeting room or dial-in at (646) 558-8656 with webinar ID 985 104 650.

Access the recordingslide deck, and transcript from April 6, 2020.

Read more


MAHEC Practice Support guide for COVID-19

April 14, 2020

Here you'll find NC AHEC tip sheets and links to other guides on COVID-19 topics, including PPE, telehealth, testing & patient care, financial health, and clinical specialties.

Created by MAHEC librarians with collaboration from MAHEC Practice Support and Regional Response Team

Read more


Checklist to Prepare Physician Offices for COVID-19

April 14, 2020

FROM AAFP:

Universal Early Preparation Educate staff and patients about changes they can expect to be implemented in the office during an outbreak or pandemic, and about ways to prepare themselves and their families.

Read more


For Providers: New COVID-19 Help for Your Patients

April 14, 2020

FROM CCNC:

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a tremendous strain on health care providers, the people on the front-line in efforts to control the pandemic. CCNC is pleased to announce a toll-free helpline aimed at answering your patients’ COVID-19 questions and helping them find the care they need. Our mission is to help patients while reducing the immediate demands on your office staff. We’re calling the new helpline COVID-19 Triage Plus. 

Read more


Additional Federal Financial Relief

April 13, 2020

SOURCE: NCMS

On Friday the federal government announced release of additional funding to provide financial relief to physicians, PAs and hospitals as the health care system responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES Act Provider Relief Fund
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the initial delivery of $30 billion in provider funding as part of the $100 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Immediate relief funds began being delivered on Friday April 10 to Medicare enrolled hospitals, physicians and PAs based on their share of 2019 Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement. The funds do not need to be paid back.

Read more


WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - April 10, 2020

April 10, 2020

Friday, April 10, 2020

Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Read more


Live Webinar Today on CMS Advance Payment Program/Physician Relief Line

April 10, 2020

Colleagues, I trust this email finds you well. 

In the spirit of continuing to provide assistance to our providers, the Corporate team is in the process of standing up a HCA CARES Physician Relief line/website that will allow our providers to access info real time and ask questions. The hotline and website will be live on Monday, April 13th.

Read more


Emergency Fund Disbursements

April 10, 2020

This morning the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the immediate disbursement of the first $30 billion out of the $100 billion that Congress allocated to hospitals, physicians and other health care providers in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The distribution policy adopted by HHS reflects the recommendations from organized medicine made to Secretary Azar by the AMA and 137 medical societies earlier this week, although it is not exactly what we proposed. In part, the difference stems from the administration's approach of first disbursing $30 billion and later determining how the remainder of the funds will be allocated.

Read more


New Paycheck Protection Loan Guidance for Businesses and Lenders

April 10, 2020

The CARES Act was passed into law on March 27, 2020, and on April 2, 2020, the Small Business Administration ("SBA") published its guidance on the new legislation's Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP").

Read more


SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #37: Patient Information and Support Line Available

April 9, 2020

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

DHHS and Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) have launched a toll-free Patient Information and Support Line aimed at helping health care providers answer their patients' questions related to COVID-19. Their goal is to relieve some of the tremendous strain the pandemic is putting on health care providers and their staff.  

Read more


COVID-19 Project ECHO Resources

April 9, 2020

If you were not able to attend one of our COVID-19 Project ECHO sessions or would like to review the resources discussed in your session, we encourage you to click on the links below.

Using Telehealth: Practice Support for COVID-19 Preparedness
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

Read more


Manufacturing community at The Carolina Textile District to collectively make a mask and cover that will meet extreme protective needs

April 9, 2020

As our communities face shortages of medical supplies, one thing we can do to help is make PUBLIC mask covers. These are not a substitute for the coveted FDA approved N95, but COULD help to preserve the contamination on the N95 and therefore extend its life. We’re working with our manufacturing community at The Carolina Textile District to collectively make a mask and cover that will meet extreme protective needs. These are more of a minimal protective covering for our other public who are also valiantly putting themselves at risk and just for the general public.

Read more


CARES Act PPP Virtual Presentation

April 9, 2020

The first CARES Act presentation on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for physicians went very well based on physician feedback. Physician Relations worked with you to personally invite physicians to meeting. Despite a 10 hour invitation window, over 1,000 physicians attended, which highlights the demand for this content.

Read more


Potential Resources on Medical Supplies

April 8, 2020

Read more


Volunteer opportunities for nurses and medical professionals during the COVID-19 response

April 7, 2020

Hello,

Thank you for expressing your interest in serving as a volunteer nurse/medical professional to support our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more


BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Clarification of COVID-19 provider guidance & Buncombe County update

April 6, 2020

As of this morning, there have been a total of 33 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, including the one fatality. We are developing a report of basic demographic info on these cases that I hope to share with you later this week.

Read more


FAQ: Paycheck Protection Loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans

April 6, 2020

We've been sharing client alerts and articles about the passage of the CARES Act in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Among other things, the CARES Act allocates federal funds towards making small business loans available to eligible applicants. The CARES Act became law on Friday, March 27, 2020, and lenders across the country are gearing up to be in a position to accept and process those loan applications beginning April 3, 2020.  Lenders are continuing to collect additional guidance from the Secretary of the Small Business Administration so that they can answer nuanced questions that arise from unique borrower entities, and actually process loan applications. 

Read more


Dr. Carrie Brown of NCDHHS on Support and Resources During COVID-19

April 6, 2020

Dr. Carrie Brown, Chief Medical Officer of Behavioral Health and IDD at the NC Department of Health and Human Services, on ways to support yourself during COVID-19 social distancing, quarantine and isolation. Learn more about how to reduce anxiety and stress.

Read more


Vital Information on Your Financial Options During COVID-19

April 6, 2020

Mark your calendar for Monday, April 6, at 3 p.m. when two experts from the NCMS' outside counsel firm of Smith Anderson will offer some clarity and detailed information on your financial options during this pandemic. 

Read more


FFCRA Health Care Providers Exemption: New Guidance Published

April 2, 2020

We previously posted that the "health care provider" exemption from the obligation to provide "paid sick time" and paid "public health emergency leave" under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 ("FFCRA") was limited to the traditional definition of "health care provider" under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA") given the language of the FFCRA. 

Read more


NC Medical Board Eases Some Requirements in Response to COVID-19

April 1, 2020

The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) held an emergency meeting last Friday during which they took several actions to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more


New DEA Buprenorphine Guidance

April 1, 2020

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) late yesterday issued guidance to DEA-registered physicians providing new flexibility for physicians managing patients with opioid use disorder. The new guidance permits physicians and other health professionals with a waiver allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder to issue these prescriptions to new and existing patients based on an evaluation via telephone. The new policy is effective from March 31 for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

Read more


Asheville Therapists and Healers Launch “Care for Corona” to provide free counseling sessions to frontline healthcare workers

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

Asheville, North Carolina

A consortium of therapists and healers have formed “Care for Corona”, a grassroots support system comprised of therapists and healing practitioners who offer no-cost online sessions to Buncombe County medical personnel and psychotherapists who are reeling from the demands to care for our community.

Read more


Western Carolina Medical Society and WCU working together to take inventory of Personal Protective Equipment in WNC

April 1, 2020

ASHEVILLE AND CULLOWHEE, NC – The Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) is working in collaboration with Western Carolina University (WCU) to identify available resources for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Western North Carolina and beyond. If you possess non-essential and unused Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that you’re willing to donate, please contact WCMS Program Director, Nadia Z. Mazza, at nadia@mywcms.org. WCMS and WCU are organizing a comprehensive list of what’s available in an effort to connect those in need of PPE with those who have the capacity to donate. If you are a medical practice or community-based non-profit in need of PPE, please contact Nadia. If you are working on a similar initiative, please reach out to Nadia to collaborate and avoid duplicate efforts.

Read more


Cheat Sheet: Strategies to Optimize PPE & Equipment

March 31, 2020

Overview of CDC’s new guidelines following PPE shortages due to COVID-19

Read more


Trump Administration Makes Sweeping Regulatory Changes to Help U.S. Healthcare System Address COVID-19 Patient Surge

March 31, 2020

At President Trump’s direction, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today is issuing an unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to equip the American healthcare system with maximum flexibility to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. CMS sets and enforces essential quality and safety standards for the nation’s healthcare system, and is the nation’s largest health insurer serving more than 140 million Americans through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Federal Exchanges.

Read more


H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) Health Care Highlights

March 31, 2020

Provisions that will benefit physicians and physician practices.

• Small business loans. Small businesses, including physician practices, with no more than 500 employees are eligible to apply for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) section 7(a) Payroll Protection Program. This allows a small business to apply to an SBA-approved lender for a loan of up to 250 percent of the business’ average monthly payroll costs to cover eight weeks of payroll as well as help with other expenses like rent, mortgage payments, and utilities. The maximum loan amount is $10 million. Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other selfemployed individuals are eligible. A loan can be forgiven based on maintaining employee and salary levels. For any portion of the loan that is not forgiven, the terms include a maximum term of 10 years, a maximum interest rate of four percent. Small businesses and organizations will be able to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This program is retroactive to February 15, 2020 and are available through June 30, 2020. (Division A) 

Read more


Coronavirus practice guide, part 1: Financial steps to save your practice during the coronavirus outbreak

March 30, 2020

The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus is having a financial impact on private practices nationwide. Experts say that many practices are seeing a decline in patient volume as people try to avoid doctors’ offices unless they have no other choice, and that decline is expected to continue as the crisis broadens.

Read more


CARES Act 2020

March 30, 2020

On Friday the President signed the $2 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package, which Congress approved last week. The AMA provided this brief overview of how the package might impact your medical practice.

Read more


From NCMS: Keeping up with Covid-19: Special Message from NCDHHS for Primary Care Providers

March 17, 2020

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recognizes that many primary care and outpatient clinics may be feeling overwhelmed with the vast amount of nearly hourly news about Covid-19 and are looking for easy access to practical information as they are on the frontlines of patient care.

Read more


Administration Provides Financial Relief for Medicare Providers

March 30, 2020

Trump Administration Provides Financial Relief for Medicare Providers

Action comes to aid providers and suppliers facing challenges in responding to COVID-19 pandemic

Read more


BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated COVID-19 provider guidance & Buncombe County update

March 30, 2020

This memo updates previous guidance shared on March 23rd, 2020. It is intended to provide the latest information to all North Carolina clinicians and laboratory staff regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Please read thoroughly as there are several updates, including: 
 
• Updated criteria for submission of specimens to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health

• Providers no longer asked to fill out person under investigation forms for patients tested for COVID-19

• Requirement for reporting of COVID-19-associated deaths 

Read more


CMS Announces Relief for Medicare Providers

March 30, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This program expansion includes changes that were part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 

Read more


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Buncombe County Reports Additional Cases

March 30, 2020

Latest Coronavirus Updates on Confirmed Cases

Watch the daily briefings from Buncombe County Public Health on the Coronavirus and preparedness efforts in Buncombe County.

Read more


COVID-19 Financial Hardship Offerings from Curi

March 30, 2020

Curi has three options to support our insureds with financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Read more


Pardee CEO: COVID-19 peak may be months off, hundreds could be hospitalized in weeks, ventilators a concern

March 30, 2020

COVID-19 cases could peak in Henderson County as far off as mid-May to early June, according to President and CEO of Pardee UNC Health Care Jay Kirby, adding that locally we are just now seeing “the outer bands of a hurricane.”

He shared his opinions based on recent models and data to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners Friday.

“Today I am not here to lead, guide or direct your governance, what I am here today is to tell you what Pardee hospital, its frontline nurses and its medical staff are up against,” Kirby said.

He explained that the data he is receiving from medical experts is alarming.

Read more


One Buncombe

March 30, 2020

Our community is engaged in a battle with an invisible enemy; COVID-19. Each day brings new reports of shuttered businesses, layoffs and furloughs, and children unable to attend school. These are the moments that define communities, and ours will be defined by its willingness to help one another. It is this spirit that has driven the creation of the “One Buncombe” Fund. Together we will get through this.

Read more


NCMS Statement on Governor's Stay-at-Home Order

March 30, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home order this afternoon. Below is the NCMS' statement to the media in response to the order.

Read more


NC DHHS Issues New Telepsychiatry/Telehealth Policy Guidance

March 27, 2020

Effective Monday, March 30, 2020, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is temporarily modifying enhanced behavioral health policies and telemedicine and telepsychiatry policies to better enable the delivery of remote care to Medicaid and state-funded beneficiaries during the COVID-19 outbreak. This will include dates of service on or after March 10, 2020 and will remain in effect until the State of Emergency is declared over or when this policy is rescinded.

Read more


Business Interruption Resources from Ward and Smith, P.A.

March 27, 2020

Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19)

We are writing about the outbreak on a regular basis, and plan to keep our clients updated about key issues as they happen. Bookmark this page to stay up to date.

Read more


NC Pharmacy Board Files Emergency Drug Preservation Rule

March 27, 2020

The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy has filed an emergency rule, effective April 1, 2020. Read the rule and  notice for temporary rulemaking

Read more


Topline Summary of Stimulus Legislation

March 26, 2020

Late Wednesday night the Senate approved a massive $2 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package.

Provisions of particular interest to physicians and their practices include the following:

Read more


Buncombe County Emergency Services Memo

March 26, 2020

Here are the instructions for how providers can request PPE:

Read more


Join Our Primary Care Collaborative and Discuss Telehealth Benefits in Response to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

Telehealth in the setting of COVID-19 offers an essential solution for separating the sick and well. In this critical time, telehealth enables us to declutter waiting rooms, to provide ongoing monitoring for patients, and to reduce the exposure from ill persons with staff, other patients, and facilities. Telehealth is able not only to expand the reach of services to communities that have limited access, but also to minimize the exposure for both the health workers and patients who are at high risk for infection. Many clinics and medical offices already use these methods to triage and manage patients as part of usual practices. MAHEC is offering a free, region-wide ECHO (Extension in Community Healthcare Outcomes) to explore local ways to maximize the benefits of telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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NC AHEC offering physicians and providers up-to-date information on COVID-19

March 25, 2020

In light of developing reports of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in North Carolina, the NC AHEC Program is committed to helping health care professionals, providers, and communities across our state access the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This page will continue to be modified as new and updated resources are developed. https://www.ncahec.net/news/resources-and-courses-on-covid-19/

Read more


AMA releases special coding advice related to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

New guidance from the AMA provides special coding advice during the COVID-19 public health emergency. One resource outlines coding scenarios designed to help health care professionals apply best coding practices. The scenarios include telehealth services for all patients.

Read more


NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Lending Program

March 25, 2020

Dear friends and partners, 

I am pleased to announce that earlier today, in partnership with the Golden LEAF Foundation, Thread Capital, and other nonprofit lenders throughout the state, the NC Rural Center launched a new emergency small business lending program in response to the ongoing economic impact of COVID-19 on North Carolina’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

Read more


Coding during the Coronavirus pandemic

March 25, 2020

A1:  There are numerous options when it comes to reporting visits that are not the traditional face-to-face office visit. This varies somewhat by payer, of course.

As you mention, on 3-17-20 Medicare has temporarily relaxed some of the geographic and security/privacy restrictions on Telehealth visits – including the office visit codes. This will allow patients to call your office, and as long as there is some type of combined audio/video communication between the provider and the patient – these ‘visits’ can be billed with the 99201-99215 series codes, adding the 95 modifier.

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NCDHHS Calls for Medical Volunteers

March 24, 2020

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is asking for medical volunteers to “bolster our health care system to ensure we can care for those impacted by the Covid-19 virus. A crucial part of that effort is recruiting volunteers to supplement our health care workforce. We are asking for your help to meet these needs,” wrote NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH in a letter to health care organizations.

Read the full letter.  (PDF)

Read more


MATRC Telehealth Resources for COVID-19

March 24, 2020

STARTING A TELEHEALTH PROGRAM

What is the Different Between Telemedicine, Telehealth and Remote Monitoring?

Telemedicine typically refers to the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance. A physician/clinician in one location uses a telecommunications infrastructure to deliver care to a patient at a distant site.  Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth.

Read more


NC Medicaid Requests Temporary Plan Changes to Respond COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has sought authority from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to temporarily waive certain Medicaid and NC Health Choice policies as part of North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19. The waivers will provide flexibility to NC Medicaid and providers to address the urgent health care needs of beneficiaries during this public health emergency.

Read more


New State COVID-19 Guidance

March 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Apologies for so many communications, but in this rapidly evolving world we feel it is better to over communicate rather than leave you in the dark. The state released new guidance today which is attached and posted on our MissionandMe/COVID-19 website.

Read more


COVID-19 Response and Resources from WCMS

March 24, 2020

NEW COVID-19 WCMS WEBPAGE

WCMS will continue to update this webpage with COVID-19 news and articles relevant to our WNC community

Read more


CMS Approves NC Medicaid's Request for Flexiblity During COVID-19

March 24, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced approval of an additional 11 Section 1135 waiver requests, including North Carolina's, intended to give states and providers regulatory relief under Medicaid to respond to COVID-19. North Carolina submitted its waiver request on March 17. The waiver will help physicians and PAs address requirements for prior authorization for services, provider enrollment, fair hearings and appeals, nursing home pre-admission reviews, reimbursement to providers for care in alternative settings due to facility evacuations (telehealth), and public notice and deadlines for state plan amendments related to COVID-1. CMS Administrator Seema Verma emphasized that the agency “has been able to swiftly remove barriers and cut red tape for our state partners.”

Read more about North Carolina's waiver approval.

Read more


BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: COVID-19 Updated Provider Guidance

March 24, 2020

As I mentioned in yesterday’s email, attached is the updated clinician guidance from NC DHHS with changes related to testing for COVID-19.

Read more


PPE Recommendations/Update - Please Read

March 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

We continue to hear concerns/need for clarification about PPE Guidance for patients suspected of having COVID-19. I have attached a slide set that delineates the current recommendations. Please review as soon as you can. It is imperative that we use our PPE judiciously as we move forward with unknown needs facing us.

Read more


BCHHS Public Health Provider Update: Additional guidance on testing for COVID-19

March 23, 2020

As you have likely heard this weekend, residents of several WNC counties, including Buncombe, were found to have lab-confirmed COVID-19. Our case count in Buncombe has continued to increase throughout the day today and we expect that to be the case for the coming days as well. Based on contact investigations that are underway, it is likely that we have local community spread.

Read more


CMS Announces Relief for Clinicians, Providers, Hospitals and Facilities Participating in Quality Reporting Programs in Response to COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced unprecedented relief for the clinicians, providers, and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs including the 1.2 million clinicians in the Quality Payment Program and on the front lines of America’s fight against the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Read more


Important Update on Elective Surgeries

March 23, 2020

Starting Monday, March 23, 2020 all “non-essential surgery” as defined by CMS guidance will be canceled.

Read more


Message from William Hathaway and Anthony Spensieri

March 23, 2020

William R Hathaway M.D., CMO NC Division, HCA Healthcare

Anthony M. Spensieri, MD CMO Mission Hospital

Read more


CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations

March 18, 2020

Limit all non-essential planned surgeries and procedures, including dental, until further notice

Read more


BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updates on COVID-19 response and Buncombe County Community Testing Sites

March 20, 2020

As you may have heard yesterday afternoon, there is now documented community transmission of COVID-19 in North Carolina with a case identified in Wilson County. Data from NC and elsewhere in the US indicate that we are moving into the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more


NC Medicaid Requests Temporary Plan Changes to Respond COVID-19

March 20, 2020

Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has sought authority from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to temporarily waive certain Medicaid and NC Health Choice policies as part of North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19. The waivers will provide flexibility to NC Medicaid and providers to address the urgent health care needs of beneficiaries during this public health emergency.

Read more


The Physicians Foundation Announces The Telehealth Initiative to Improve Access to Quality Health Care

March 19, 2020

Initiative launches as the world grapples with surging demand for medical care in the midst of COVID-19 

Read more


HHS Office of Civil Rights Enforcement Discretion related to HIPAA

March 17, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is exercising its enforcement discretion and, effective immediately, will not impose penalties on physicians using telehealth in the event of noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Read more


NC Division of Public Health (DPH) guidance on COVID-19 for Providers

March 10, 2020

Summary

A respiratory disease named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”) caused by a novel coronavirus named “SARS-CoV-2” was first detected in China in late 2019 and has subsequently spread to many other countries, including the United States.  The World Health Organization announced a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020.   

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NCDHHS and NC AHEC Offer Forum to Answer Your Questions

March 11, 2020

The NC DHHS, Division of Public Health (DPH) and NC AHEC are partnering to enhance communication about and preparedness for COVID-19 by holding weekly forums for health care providers. The forums will be held on Fridays from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, beginning this Friday, March 13 and will continue until they are no longer needed.

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COVID-19 testing through LabCorp

March 12, 2020

To facilitate greater access to testing for the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, NC DHHS encourages providers to submit specimens to LabCorp when the following conditions are met: 

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated COVID-19 Guidance & Local Response

March 16, 2020

This [COVID-19] remains a rapidly evolving situation of course, but as of noon today, there have been 23 cases (presumptive + and confirmed +) in NC.

Still no cases identified in Buncombe County or WNC at this time, although numerous tests are pending.

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Medical Staff COVID-19 Update

March 16, 2020

Medical Staff COVID-19 Update: We are writing to communicate an update on COVID-19 testing guidelines and test availability. We recognize the challenges and appreciate the concerns with the historical limitations in testing access.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Request that clinics setting up community testing sites coordinate with Buncombe County EOC

March 16, 2020

Medical Practices, Community Partners, and Healthcare Providers:

We appreciate your efforts to assist with this evolving situation. In an effort to ensure that our community has access to supportive and lifesaving measures, effective and efficient multiagency coordination is a necessary strategy. This is occurring at a very high level through Buncombe County Emergency Operations Centers (EOC).

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Buncombe County Confirms First Case of COVID-19 in Visitor to County 3/16/19

March 16, 2020

Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) wants our community to know that their health and safety is our number one priority. Today, Macon County Public Health announced a presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in a person who visited Buncombe County last week. This is the first known presumptive positive case of COVID-19 associated with Buncombe County.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated Provider Guidance and Info on Buncombe County Community Testing Sites

March 17, 2020

Updated Provider Guidance and Info on Buncombe County Community Testing Sites

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