Welcome to your latest NCMS Morning Rounds.

Jan. 19, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Last week the state expanded eligibility for vaccination to include all health care workers and anyone 65 years and older. At the same time, state officials emphasized that while the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, there still is a limited supply of vaccine available.

Local health departments and hospitals in your community are the best way to access the vaccination, although the state has set up special mass vaccination sites throughout the state. Check the ‘Find Your Spot, To Take Your Shot’ webpage to find local vaccination sites.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is offering a variety of resources at its vaccine resource webpage here as well as the following videos to help you educate your staff and patients about the vaccine.

• Older North Carolinians, You Have A Spot, Take Your Shot (English / Spanish / Captioned)
Governor Jim Hunt on the importance of taking the COVID-19 shot
Reverend Darryl Warren Aaron of Providence Baptist Church, Greensboro on the importance of taking the COVID-19 shot.
More videos are online.

For NCMS members who have questions or need help, please contact the NCMS’ Vice President for Member Services Ashley Newton at [email protected]. For those who have questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS) contact the NCMS’ Frank Snyder at [email protected]. Having NCMS staff to troubleshoot on your behalf is another valuable NCMS member benefit.

NCMS Legislative Update

It was a busy week last week at the NC General Assembly as legislators returned to officially reconvene and name key leaders. The two chambers unanimously re-elected Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) for his sixth term as the Senate President Pro Tempore and Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) for his fourth term as Speaker of the House.

In the Senate, the new majority leader is Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), the first woman to hold the position. The Senate Health Care Committee will be chaired by Sens. Joyce Krawiec (R-Davie), Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) and Jim Perry (R-Lenoir). In the House the Health Committee will be chaired by Reps. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth ), Larry Potts (R-Davidson), Wayne Sasser (R-Rowan), who is a pharmacist, Donna White (R-Johnston) and Kristin Baker, MD, (R-Cabarrus), the only physician currently serving in the General Assembly. Dr. Baker also serves as a co-chair on the House Health Appropriations committee.

If you live in any of these key leaders’ districts, now is a great time to reach out to them with a congratulatory note on their newly assigned position. In the coming session, your NCMS advocacy staff will be working closely with them on your behalf. This is a good opportunity for you, their constituents, to begin building a relationship with them.

Also, as reported last week, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice met to get an update from NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and from Deputy Secretary for NC Medicaid Dave Richard on Medicaid transformation. Read the NCMS Morning Rounds article on the meeting here, and the summary on our NCMS legislative blog.

HHS Expands Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced last week that it will publish Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder, to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by exempting physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

More than 83,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in June 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and an increase of over 21% compared to the previous year, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The increase in overdose deaths highlights the need for treatment services to be more accessible for people most at risk of overdose and today’s action will expand access to and availability of treatment for opioid use disorder.

Without MAT, the chances of relapse for a person who suffers from OUD are significant; studies have shown that outcomes for people with OUD are much better with MAT. Read more about this announced change here.

The NCMS Foundation through its Project OBOT helps facilitate MAT. Learn more here.

In the News

Can Vitamin D Really Prevent Covid-19? The Advisory Board Forum, 1-14-21

Learning Opportunity

Evaluating Health Center Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic’ webinar –TODAY, Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 4pm. Learn how to gather information about successes and challenges in the health center’s response for COVID-19 and incorporate that information to improve your response going into 2021. You’ll receive an After-Action Report template to use to document your areas for improvement. Register here.

Be sure to join the NCMS Foundation’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership’s Power Hour this Friday from noon to 1 p.m. when the conversation will focus on COVID-19 and Mental Health.

Isolation due to the pandemic and increased stress due to financial and family pressures have taken an extraordinary toll on people’s mental health. Health care providers in particular have to deal with the added stressors of burnout and physical exhaustion from the worsening spread of COVID-19. Tune in for a discussion around caring for your mental health during such challenging times. Learn more and register here.

If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!