It’s Friday and time for your

NCMS Morning Rounds 

  April 3, 2020

 Our message to all who pass our NCMS headquarters: 

Reminder: If you would like to volunteer as a medical professional to help when and where needed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has an online platform where you can sign up. The state will deploy medical volunteers as needed. Learn more and sign up here.

We apologize for the technical difficulties on the call with Governor Roy Cooper  yesterday. They were outside of our control. We are working to reschedule a conversation with the Governor in the near future in which all phones will be muted. Watch your email and your NCMS Morning Rounds for details.

Results from Sunday Survey #5 – Help During COVID-19

Thank you to everyone who shared your perspective on what is needed most in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by responding to this week’s NCMS Sunday Survey. The biggest need based on these results show personal protective equipment (PPE) is the top priority among NCMS members right now.

Respondents were asked to select the one priority that is most important to their practice now and in the immediate future. Here are the results:

NC Medical Board Actions in Response to COVID-19

Below is a summary of actions taken by the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) to remove barriers and support physicians, physician assistants and the state’s health care system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Approved a new type of emergency licensure to bring recently inactivated licensees back to the work force during the state of emergency. NCMB now has two types of free and quick emergency licensure available:

*Retired or inactive licensure – allows physicians and PAs with a recently inactive NC license to return to service during a state of emergency; must have been inactivated within the last two years.
*Limited Emergency Licensure – allows out-of-state physicians and PAs to volunteer or work in North Carolina during a state of emergency. Examples include: telemedicine or providers coming from other states.

Go to the NCMB’s emergency licensure resource page for more information.

  • Temporarily suspended background checks for license applications due to lack of availability of fingerprinting services, which is a key element to conducting a background check. NCMB can access secondary sources to provide this information. Applicants who were granted a license without a background check will be required to complete this process once fingerprinting services resume.
  • Adopted rules requested by NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, to reduce the occurrence of reported stockpiling or inappropriate prescribing of chloroquine, azithromycin and other medications, and ensure that these drugs are available to patients who need them. The rule restricts the use of these drugs as a preventative medication for COVID-19 but does not ban prescribing these medications for treatment of a patient diagnosed with the illness.
  • Approved an order to postpone USMLE and COMLEX–USA Step/Level 2 testing requirements for medical students prior to beginning a residency program. This will allow medical students who have otherwise completed the requirements to graduate from medical school and been accepted into a North Carolina residency training program to start their residency, which will almost certainly include assisting in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Approved an order to allow Fellows with a Resident Training License (RTL) to apply for a Limited Emergency License, which provides a temporary unrestricted and full medical license during the declared state of emergency. This action will allow several hundred physicians with proven competence in a primary specialty to take care of patients and ease the potential strain on physicians currently in the health care system.
  • Approved an order to allow hospitals, health systems, or multi-specialty group practices to temporarily reassign a physician assistant to a new practice area to meet a critical need without formally notifying NCMB of the new supervisory arrangements. The supervising physician and facility administration should ensure the physician assistant:

*Is reassigned to perform only those medical tasks for which they are competent and qualified to do;
*Has reasonable and immediate access to a physician, either in person or        electronically, should medical issues arise;
*Complies with all applicable rules including the requirement to confer at least monthly with a physician to ensure meaningful supervision and quality assurance within the new practice setting.

Visit the NCMB’s COVID-19 page for more information, FAQs and resources.

In the News

Listen: Why It Takes So Long to Get COVID-19 Test Results, Kaiser Health News, 4-1-20

Learning Opportunity

Monday, April 6 from 1 to 2 p.m. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC will offer another “Virtual Rounds” with special guest Chief of Behavioral Health Dr. Kate Hobbs Knutson to answer your questions on how to apply the insurer’s expanded telehealth measures to behavioral health services. Sign up on our registration form.

Also, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been hosting regular calls with a variety of clinicians, hospitals, other facilities and states in an effort to keep stakeholders updated on its COVID-19 efforts. Since not everyone is available to attend the calls live, they have shared access to recordings of the calls along with transcripts here.