Happy Friday! Here is your NCMS Morning Rounds.

Dec. 11, 2020

Curi Renews As Exclusive Agent of NCMS Employee Benefit Plan

Curi Benefits Solutions, the employee benefits consulting subsidiary of Curi, has renewed its agreement to be the exclusive agent of the NCMS Employee Benefit Plan (NCMS Plan). Starting Jan. 1, 2021, this five-year renewal marks the continuation of a long-term partnership between Curi and the NCMS to support the physician community across the state. Curi, which was founded as Medical Mutual Insurance Company of North Carolina in 1975, continues its commitment to meet the ever-evolving needs of physicians.

The NCMS Plan is the only statewide employee benefits plan designed specifically for North Carolina physicians, their practice employees and their dependents. Offering a unique combination of health, life, and dental programs, the NCMS Plan has benefit designs to meet the needs of a variety of practice sizes and budgets.

“Curi Benefits Solutions is uniquely qualified to meet the needs of the physician practices that rely on the NCMS Plan for their benefits,” said Robert Gossett, MD, Chairman of the NCMS Plan Board of Trustees and a Urologist with Carolina Urology Partners.

The NCMS Plan provides practices with flexible offerings that are not standard in the commercial marketplace, including special eligibility classes for retirees, surviving spouses and domestic partners; an option to offer two plans regardless of practice size; and guaranteed coverage for all qualifying practices. In addition, the plan also offers Practice Wellness programming to help practices promote employee well-being.

“Curi has and continues to be an important partner for us in the promotion of the NCMS Plan to our members,” said NCMS Senior Vice President, Member Services and Business Operations Shawn Scott, MBA. “We’re thankful for their partnership and dedication to our community of physicians, especially in this challenging season for many medical practices in our great state and beyond.”

Learn more about the NCMS Plan here. Curi Benefits Solutions also offers other employee benefit products, including disability insurance, long-term care, and voluntary benefits. Learn more about these offerings here.

CDC: Similarities in Symptoms of COVID-19 and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reached out to physicians and PAs to make them aware of the overlap in symptoms between COVID-19 and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. With cooler weather upon us and the greater use of heating systems, CO poisoning incidence rises, so please be aware of this possibility.

Symptoms that may overlap between COVID-19 and CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and altered mental status with no alternative explanation. The CDC advises that when assessing a patient, if it is possible to obtain a focused history, the source of CO exposure may become apparent.

Physical findings coupled with confirmatory testing and a suggestive history likely indicate CO poisoning. A high level of suspicion is needed in patients who present with general or non-specific signs and symptoms, altered mental status, or both, as obtaining a detailed history may be difficult. The key to confirming a CO poisoning diagnosis is measuring the patient’s carboxyhemoglobin (COHgb) level. An elevated COHgb level of 2 percent for non-smokers and >9 percent COHgb level for smokers strongly supports a CO poisoning diagnosis.

For further information, please see the CDC’s Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning.

NC Medical Board President’s Message on Self Care and Handling Stress

New NC Medical Board President Venkata Jonnalagadda, MD, recently issued a message encouraging physicians and PAs to seek the help they need to handle the stress of the ongoing pandemic and to support friends and colleagues in crisis.

She notes in her message the the NCMB has seen an uptick in the number of alcohol and substance use relapses among licensees with a history of substance use disorder. Stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms are all associated with an increased risk of relapse in individuals with substance use disorder. They also increase the chances that someone with no prior history of misuse may turn to alcohol or other drugs as an unhealthy way to cope.

“Please remember that it is possible to seek assistance for depression and/or substance use without your identity becoming known to NCMB and get help if you need it,” she writes. “Nor is it necessary to notify NCMB if you have initiated treatment. NCMB understands how important it is for its licensees to have the ability to get help without fear.”

Dr. Jonnalagadda also offers resources for help if you need them. Read her message and access the resources here.

In the News

Factbox: How the Novel Coronavirus Has Evolved, Reuters, 12-10-20

Learning Opportunity

Join us for the next NCMS and NC Medical Group Management Association Lunch and Learn webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 15 from noon to 1 p.m. when the topic will be “Intentionally Creating Culture at a Startup Practice.”

Scott Paviol, MD, and Pamela Myers, practice manager with Paviol Dermatology, will share their experience in establishing a new practice in place of a long-standing, well- established 44-year old dermatology private practice in the Charlotte area. They will discuss how they decided to pay tribute to the old while creating a new way to work with patients, staff. Learn more and register here.


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