WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

Friday, 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.
Regional Comparison of COVID-19 Cases
As of April 23, there are 455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in WNC with the highest number of cases reported in Henderson, Rutherford, and Burke counties.
Key Observations this Week

Congregate living facilities continue to be a key area of concern, accounting for 25% of North Carolina’s confirmed cases and 40% of the state’s COVID-related deaths.

  • Burke, Henderson, and Polk Counties are all currently responding to outbreaks in assisted living and long-term care facilities
  • State correctional facilities are demonstrating vulnerability for high rates of transmission

North Carolina’s COVID-19 Action Plan outlines three requirements for safely easing restrictions to support economic recovery and daily activities: expanded testing, contact tracing, and declining trends.

  • Testing: This week NC DHHS expanded criteria for who can be tested for COVID-19; this new guidance and greater availability of testing supplies should increase testing across WNC
  • Tracing: Local health departments currently report capacity to trace all positive cases, and North Carolina is finalizing a plan to expand the contact tracing workforce
  • Trending: Self-reported symptom trackers are available in McDowell and Transylvania counties. Buncombe County will launch a symptom tracker on Monday.
Ob/Gyn Patient Care Recommendations 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine have issued updated guidance for pregnant women and their healthcare providers.

Pregnant patients should self-quarantine at 37 weeks, with no outside contact, to reduce their risk for infection and limit the number of COVID-positive patients in labor and delivery units.

Consider testing all pregnant patients at 38 weeks. Depending on the availability of testing supplies, this can help ensure test results are available before admission to the hospital for delivery.

All L&D patients and their birth partners should be tested. These expanded testing recommendations can help ensure PPE and isolation protocols are used appropriately during and after delivery. Some hospitals are opting to use PPE for all deliveries.

Click here for additional COVID-related guidance for labor and delivery.

Medicaid Beneficiary Letters 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has mailed 1.2 million letters to Medicaid beneficiaries with COVID-19 health information and resources, with the final letters mailed on April 22. You can review this letter in English and Spanish

Emotional Support for Healthcare Workers

Care for Corona is a grassroots professional collective offering short-term free virtual counseling and healing sessions for medical personnel and psychotherapists in WNC.

Greater Good Online Institute for Health Professionals is offering a free 2-day virtual training May 2-3 to support resiliency, empathy, and connection with patients and colleagues during this stressful time.

Stanford Wellness is sharing their fireside chat series with national experts for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. These 30-minute conversations offer strategies for coping and improving resilience.

MAHEC Project ECHO for COVID-19

COVID-19 Practice Support Tip Sheets

*For practices that participate in an ACO, such as Mission Health Partners, Aledade, or Carolina Medical Home Network, we recommend you contact your ACO provider representative for the most accurate information about payor-specific telehealth services based on the contracts negotiated on your behalf by the ACO.

For more practice support resources, please see MAHEC’s COVID-19 Regional Response Guidance.

Protocol for Obtaining PPE

PPE continues to be a top need in our region to ensure healthcare providers can safely test and treat patients with COVID-19, including asymptomatic patients.

The following steps should be taken to secure additional PPE for current and projected needs:

  • Implement measures to conserve PPE
  • Check with PPE vendors for availability
  • For non-urgent PPE needs, check with your county’s Emergency Manager for assistance sourcing PPE locally; if you do not get a response within 48 hours, contact him/her again
  • For critical PPE needs, ambulatory practices can submit a request using NCDHHS’ online form
  • You can also request and donate PPE using the community resources below
Community Resources to Help You Serve Your Patients

Please fill out this survey to help NC DHHS identify available medical staffing resources to support the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina.

Personal Protective Equipment. Please review our COVID-19 Regional Response Guide for information and resources for conserving, obtaining, and donating PPE.

N95 Respirator Fit Testing

Dental and Oral Healthcare. MAHEC Dental Health Center is open for emergent referrals, virtual consultations, and has created a help guide to support WNC primary care providers and their patients.

Home Health Care. New CMS guidelines make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to qualify for home health services related to COVID-19 as part of their plan of care.

Language Services

  • News in Spanish. Blue Ridge Public Radio has released a Spanish version of their website.
  • Interpreter Services. The WMCS Interpreter Network can support telehealth visits in 10 languages including American Sign Language. Visit their website to learn more.

Social Supports. Patients who qualify Project Access care can be connected to additional resources to address SDOH needs through the Wellness Emergency Connection Access Network (WE CAN).

Telehealth Implementation Support. This week the FCC announced it will provide $200 million in emergency funding to support implementation of COVID-19-related telehealth services and up to
$100 million in additional funds under a connected care pilot program for vulnerable populations.

Additional Resources. Please review our COVID-19 Regional Response Guide for more resources.

Regional & State COVID-19 Trainings & Virtual Support 
MAHEC Developing Resilience for the Healthcare Workforce
Mondays from 7:00 to 8:00 am (beginning May 4)

MAHEC Primary Care COVID-19 Collaborative
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

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

NC AHEC COVID-19 Webinars
Daily with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available
New webinars on teledentistry and navigating financial challenges

NCDHHS COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition
Tuesdays and Fridays from 1:00 - 2:00 pm
Click link above and select “add to distribution list” to receive weekly meeting invitations

Using Telehealth to Bridge Social Distancing During COVID-19, Eastern AHEC
April 28, 2020 from 12:00 - 1:30 pm

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) - Suicide Prevention, Vaya Health
April 30, 2020 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm (limited to 25 participants)

Virtual 2020 START National Training Institute
May 4 – 6, 2020
Free online training in the evidence-based START model of community-based crisis intervention for individuals with IDD and mental health needs
April 17 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 10 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
Regional Response Partners
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