Weekly Updates

09/8-09/22 Updates

Vaccine Information

Misinformation is impacting vaccination rates of health care workers, with nurses and nursing home aides having lower rates than physicians.

A new executive order includes mandates for health care workers requiring vaccination, especially in facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding.

Vaccine Information

(09/18/21) In the Fight Against COVID, Health Workers Aren’t Immune to Vaccine Misinformation
In the United States, 27% of health care workers are still unvaccinated, with lower vaccination rates among nurses and nursing home aides than physicians. This article from NPR highlights how misinformation works to create vaccine hesitancy among staff, with vaccine mandates potentially scaring off more, especially among rural hospitals.

(09/14/21) President Biden Enacts Executive Orders Requiring COVID-19 Vaccines Across Federal Government and in Private Sector
A recent executive order signed by President Biden includes multiple new mandates relating to health care workers, especially those who receive Medicare or Medicaid funding. The order mandates that workers will be required to vaccinate for COVID-19 in any facility that receives reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Access to Care

Weekly updates from a tracking tool developed by the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity finds rising workforce strain at county levels throughout the country.

Access to Care

(09/13/21)COVID-19 County Workforce Deficit Estimator
Weekly updates from a interactive tool developed by the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at the George Washington University tracks hospital workforce strain at county levels throughout the United States.

State Workforce Strategies

The governor of Washington is requesting assistance from the federal government as the delta variant pushes hospitals to their limits.

New Hampshire is enacting temporary executive orders to help address workforce shortages caused by the pandemic.

Kentucky has deployed the National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency to hospitals throughout the state as it breaks records for weekly hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19.

State Workforce Strategies

(09/21/21) Washington State Seeks 1,200 Health Care Workers for COVID-19 ‘Hospital Crisis’
The governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, has requested help from the federal government to staff hospitals and long-term care facilities amidst recent surges in the delta variant of the coronavirus. Both clinical and non-clinical positions are needed as addressing surge capacity continues to be a challenge for the state.

(09/16/21) State Pursues Fixes to Deal With Health Care Workforce Shortage
Due to a chronic workforce shortage in hospitals and clinics coupled with staff losses since the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in New Hampshire has been strained. In response to the re-surge of COVID-19 cases, the state administration is planning to extend the executive order that has allowed health providers with an out-of-state license working without going through the licensing process of the state and considering mobilizing National Guard troops or other state workers.

(09/10/21) ‘World Is on Fire’: Kentucky Health Care Workers Exhausted Amidst Latest COVID-19 Surge
Hospitals in Kentucky are struggling to address surge capacity as Governor Andy Beshear claims the COVID-19-related hospital situation in the state is the worst in a lifetime. New weekly records of cases and high rates of hospitalization for unvaccinated individuals is contributing to burnout and fatigue among health care workers, as well as requiring the Kentucky National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy at hospitals throughout the state.

Telehealth

Telehealth utilization will likely continue as opposed to recede to pre-pandemic levels, according to an expert interview.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has used the pandemic as an opportunity to implement telehealth and other digital services, seeking to address long-standing issues in veterans’ health care delivery.

Access to mental health services for children and adolescents could potentially be expanded through use of telepsychiatry, given wide-scale changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth

(09/21/21) What Will the Next Year Look Like for Telehealth? ‘Well Above Pre-pandemic Levels’
This interview in Healthcare IT News offers an expert perspective on what to expect in terms of telehealth utilization over the next year. The major takeaway from this expert is to expect operational changes and new trends that mirror COVID-19 pandemic-level utilization more than utilization of telehealth prior to the pandemic.

(09/21/21) How the Veterans Affairs Department Went Digital During the Pandemic
This article, published by Nextgov, details how the United States Veterans Affairs Department utilized the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to address long-standing issues in the way health care is delivered to veterans. Improvements to digital infrastructure and new practices allowed a quintupling of telehealth visits and other improvements for the agency.

(09/20/21) Increasing Access to Quality Mental Health Care Through Telepsychiatry
The author of this Psychiatric Times article argues for utilizing telepsychiatry to improve access to mental health services for children at a time when all but 7 states are experiencing a shortage in psychiatrists specializing in children and adolescents, as both the workforce and these patients have experienced increased stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Long-term Care

Long-term care workers, including home health care workers, will be required to be vaccinated if they receive funding through Medicaid or Medicare.

Long-term Care

(09/09/21) CMS to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Workers in ‘Most Health Care Settings’ – Including Home Health Care
New guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will require COVID-19 vaccination for workers in most settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including home health care settings.

Health Workforce Safety and Resiliency

Resources are available to help health care providers struggling with stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, with psychological support seen as an effective strategy to assist physicians and nurses.

Health Workforce Safety and Resiliency

(09/16/21) For Doctors Hit Hard by COVID-19 Stress, There Are Tools to Help
This article from the American Medical Association focuses on physician health given the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic over the previous year and a half. New legislation at the federal level as well as organization tools and resources seek to improve physician health and well-being and safeguard against loss of life for doctors.

(08/31/21) Practical Strategies and the Need for Psychological Support: Recommendations From Nurses Working in Hospitals During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This journal article from the Journal of Health Organization and Management provides some practical recommendations for mitigating difficulties of frontline healthcare workers based on semi-structured interviews with 36 nurses living in Canada and working in Canada or the US. The article suggests six recommendations, including clear communication of work-related policies and psychological support from trusted providers, managers and peers.

Health Professions Education

New federal funding seeks to expand health agencies and associated organizations with an emphasis on public health education.

A coalition is urging reforms for the transition of medical students to residency, including requests for more lenient and easier access for students impacted by COVID-19.

Health Professions Education

(08/31/21) Generation Public Health: Fixing the Broken Bridge Between Public Health Education and the Governmental Workforce
In light of staff losses during the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic underfunding for public health education, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 would spend $7.4 billion in health agencies and associated organizations to recruit, employ, and train personnel. In this AJPH article, Krasna and Fried suggest to evaluate workforce requirements, expand educational opportunities for future public health professionals, and reduce the burden of high student loan debt.

(08/26/21) Report Urges Major Reforms in the Transition to Residency
In August, the Coalition for Physician Accountability, which is the organization supported by several major stakeholders in the field of medicine, announced 34 recommendations for improving the process of transitioning from medical students to residents. The recommendations include professional developments for avoiding racism and enhancing equity, specialty-specific caps on the number of applicant interviews, and standardized feedback provided to medical schools regarding their graduates.