Welcome to a new week of NCMS Morning Rounds.

Sept. 21, 2020

NCMS Legislative Update

As we hope you already know, the NC General Assembly appropriated $5 million to the NCMS to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to independent practices in the state by the end of the year. This is free PPE and we encourage all independent practices to order today – even if you have adequate supplies now, it makes good sense to stockpile these products for future needs. Order here.

The legislature also appropriated $25 million to the NCMS to offer to financially distressed independent practices. NCMS Foundation staff is developing the quick and easy process that will allow you to apply for this money if you are an independent practice and can demonstrate need. Shortly we will be distributing more information on how to qualify for these funds, which also must be spent by Dec. 30. Watch your email for details – and be sure to spread the word to your colleagues about both the PPE and the financial assistance.

Another important reminder: if you haven’t already completed your US Census form, be sure to do so. It’s important everyone in the state is counted since North Carolina could be eligible for another seat in the US House of Representatives depending on an accurate count. Census data also is used to determine funding for programs like CHIP and Medicaid.

Be sure to be counted and encourage your patients to complete their form as well. All the information, including the ability to respond online and a state by state response rate (NC is at 89.3 percent of households counted as of Friday) is available on the US Census website.

Finally, there are just 43 days until the Nov. 3 General Election. If you are considering voting by mail, you can request your absentee ballot online here. For other information about voting, visit the State Board of Elections website. To help as you make your voting decisions, visit the NCMS legislative blog to see which NCMS members and their spouses are running for elected office.

Survey: Pandemic Hits Physicians Hard

The results of The Physicians Foundation 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians: COVID-19’s Impact on Physician Wellbeing, released last week, finds nearly 1 in 4 physicians (22 percent) know a physician who committed suicide and the majority (58 percent) expressed feelings of burnout.

The survey report also revealed that half of physicians responding have experienced what they characterized as inappropriate anger, tearfulness or anxiety over the pandemic’s impact on their practice or employment. The results show nearly 1 in 5 physicians have increased their alcohol, prescription or illicit medicine intake as a result of the pandemic.

More than three-quarters said the general public’s noncompliance of mask-wearing and other recommendations is their number one source of frustration.

The report was compiled based on responses from more than 2,300 physicians surveyed in mid-August. Read the full survey report here.

What is the future for health care post-pandemic?
The third and final installment in The Physicians Foundation’s 2020 series of surveys will focus on the future of the health care system post-COVID-19 and what direction physicians believe it should take. Give your opinion in this quick, 3-minute survey. Include your email to enter the drawing for four $500 cash prizes.

Take the survey here.

NCDHHS Urges Flu Vaccine Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Health officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) are urging everyone to protect themselves, their families and those around them by getting vaccinated against Influenza as the state enters flu season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This flu season, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated against the flu. We will have both the flu and COVID-19 widely circulating this fall and winter, and we are learning that people can get both infections at the same time,” said State Health Director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH. “We want people to protect themselves from the flu and also avoid overwhelming our hospitals so people can get care if they need it.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine. Vaccination against the flu can make illness milder and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes, making it especially important for those at higher risk of complications, such as people over 65, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Some of those same groups are also at high risk of complications from COVID-19.

COVID-19 and flu symptoms are similar, so encourage patients who feel ill to call ahead before coming into your practice, local health department or urgent care. Flu symptoms include:

More information about flu is available online through the Division of Public Health and from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/flu. For information about COVID-19 in North Carolina, visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov.

Weekly updates on flu surveillance data are posted online at flu.ncdhhs.gov. The flu report will be posted every Thursday beginning Oct. 8 throughout the flu season with updated data from around the state on flu activity and other viral respiratory illnesses.

In the News

About 1 in 5 Households in American Cities Miss Needed Medical Care During Pandemic, NPR, 9-17-20

Learning Opportunity

The 2020 NC Psychiatric Association (NCPA) Annual Meeting & Scientific Session will be held fully online from Friday, Oct. 2 (starting at 5 pm) to Sunday, Oct. 4 (ending at 4 pm). Click here for detailed FAQs on the virtual program format. There will be 14 sessions (recorded for re-watch), with a maximum of 12.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits available. Scheduled topics include: the psychiatric toll of COVID-19; structural racism and health disparities; new approaches to postpartum depression; collaborative care to an SMI population; top research findings of 2019-2020; and more. Social activities include a Women in Psychiatry lunch, virtual cocktail hour, morning yoga and even a family friendly “Plague Doctor of Prague” virtual walking tour on Saturday evening. This is not your average Zoom meeting! Non-psychiatrist MDs are welcome! View full agenda 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!