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  • 3 Mar 2022 2:24 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    White House COVID Plan Stresses 'New Moment' in the Pandemic

    Congressional funding necessary to step up access to treatment, enhanced


    Normal was the watchword, as White House officials unveiled an updated National COVID Preparedness Plan on Wednesday, which included increased access to treatment, enhanced surveillance, keeping schools open, and vaccinating the world. [MedPage 3.3.3022]

    White House COVID Response Coordinator Jeff Zients emphasized that this was a "new moment" in the fight against the virus, with a new plan that expanded on the future COVID strategy that President Biden touched upon in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

    However, Zients prefaced his remarks by saying it requires "additional congressional support and funding." Indeed, a statement released by the White House said that, "to fully execute on this plan requires Congress doing its part to invest in tools that work."

    HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra made a rare appearance at the briefing, though when asked about his role in the pandemic, he reiterated that "HHS is a part of that team" assembled by the president to combat COVID, and that their efforts are "all about getting the job done."

    Full article here>


  • 2 Mar 2022 11:13 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The CDC no longer recommends universal COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing, instead encouraging health departments to now prioritize those efforts for high-risk settings. [Becker's Hospital Review 3.2.2022]

    The guidance, updated Feb. 28, comes nearly two years after the agency called for 100,000 U.S. contact tracers to mitigate virus spread.  

    Now the CDC is pushing health departments to focus solely on high-risk settings, such as long-term care facilities, jails and prisons, and shelters. Case investigation and contact tracing are separate processes, and decisions to begin either should be made separately, according to the CDC. Investigations should focus on COVID-19 cases and close contacts with exposures in the previous five days for groups at increased risk. Health departments should also offer COVID-19 vaccinations, education and other prevention strategies as part of case investigation and contact tracing efforts.

    "The updated guidance is in response to changes in the nature of the pandemic and the increasing availability of new tools to prevent transmission and mitigate illness," Kristen Nordlund, spokesperson for the CDC, said March 1. She said the change was driven by the dominance of variants with short incubation periods and rapid transmissibility, along with high levels of immunity from infection or vaccines and the wide availability of vaccines for most ages.

    "This is a big change," Crystal Watson, DrPH, senior scholar at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The New York Times March 1. "It does reflect what's already happening in states and localities, particularly with omicron. There was no way contact tracing could keep up with that. Many of the cases are not being reported, so there's no way of knowing the incidence."

    Full article here>


  • 1 Mar 2022 6:25 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Institute of Medicine of Chicago is pleased to host 'The Intersection of Education and Community Engagement ' with Rosalind Franklin University.

    This is a four-session series addressing interprofessional education, pathways to health careers, the intersectionality of education and community engagement with in-depth research, and the pursuit of achieving health equity.  Over 20 speakers are involved in the full series. 

    The first virtual session is Friday, April 1st at Noon. Check out the full agenda and to register here


  • 28 Feb 2022 6:22 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Effective February 28, the City has lifted the mask mandate and proof of vaccination requirement for certain public spaces. 

    Activities can resume without wearing a mask indoors, except where required by federal, state, or local rules and regulations, or when as otherwise required by any particular business establishment.

    Visitors to City of Chicago public buildings will not be required to wear a mask. 

    Masks will continue to be required in the following settings:

    ·    Healthcare settings

    ·    Congregate settings (long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, shelters, etc.)

    ·    Public transportation (airplanes, trains, buses, taxis, ride-hail, maritime transportation, trolleys, etc.): Follow federal guidelines

    Businesses can make independent decisions to continue to implement public health measures, including requiring masks and proof of vaccination. Optional signage is available by visiting COVID-19 Communication Resources. Signage may serve as informational messaging, and is not required. 

    Many Chicagoans may continue to wear masks for a variety of reasons. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends Chicagoans who may be immunocompromised or have a family member who is immunocompromised still wear a mask, as well as residents who are unvaccinated.

    Please be kind and considerate of your fellow Chicagoan’s choice as to whether or not to wear a face mask.

    Visit the COVID-19 Dashboard  for data on key metrics.                                                        ###

  • 25 Feb 2022 1:41 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Chicago - With Chicago violence at a fever pitch, a new study looked at the  mental health of young men of color. [Fox32  2.21.2022]  Video Link

    The study, conducted in part by Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is trying to make health care better for everyone.

    The study recruited young African American and Hispanic men to conduct their own research, among their peers, to determine what was impacting their mental health the most. They found systematic inequity and the normalization of trauma were the leading factors to a worsening mental state.

    "Our mental health system is really based on focusing on one kid at a time. I think it's really important to learn from this research that we need to think about programs that live and exist in the community and meet people where they are," said Dr. John Walkup, with Lurie Children's Hospital.

    Full article here> 

    Download report here


  • 24 Feb 2022 10:08 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)


    More survivors and first responders could receive mental health support after natural disasters, under a bill spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. [Health News Illinois 2.24.2022]


    Now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides short-term mental health and trauma support for survivors and first responders after major disaster declarations. But, the support isn’t available following emergency declarations. Durbin’s bill would change that. 


    “Whether it’s tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes or mass violence, victims and first responders should be able to access the same mental health resources in the aftermath of tragedies,” Durbin said in a statement. 


    Over the last decade, there have been more than 4,000 emergency declarations in 37 states, according to FEMA’s database.


    That includes the tornadoes that struck central and western Illinois in December, leaving six dead and others injured. Because it was declared an emergency, and not a major disaster, the state was unable to seek reimbursement from FEMA for its mental health support program. 


    “Overall, this bill recognizes that post-trauma services may also be needed for those affected by smaller-scale disasters,” a statement from Durbin’s office said. 


  • 23 Feb 2022 5:27 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Top 10 list includes:

    • How cybersecurity attacks can disrupt care and patient safety.
    • Supply chain shortfalls and risks to patients.
    • Damaged infusion pumps and the medication errors they may cause.
    • Inadequate emergency stockpiles and the impact of that during a public health emergency.
    • Telehealth workflow and human factors shortcomings that can cause poor outcomes.
    • Poor duodenoscope reprocessing ergonomics and workflows.

    Download the Executive Brief here.


  • 22 Feb 2022 5:36 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The omicron subvariant BA.2 should still be classified as an omicron sublineage rather than getting its own name, the World Health Organization said Feb. 22.

    The WHO's statement comes about a week after Japanese scientists published research on BA.2's genetic differences from its parent strain, which they said warrant it being labeled as a separate variant of concern with its own Greek letter.

    The WHO's Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met Feb. 21 to discuss the latest evidence on omicron, including the new research from Japan. 

    "Based on available data of transmission, severity, reinfection, diagnostics, therapeutics and impacts of vaccines, the group reinforced that the BA.2 sublineage should continue to be considered a variant of concern and that it should remain classified as omicron," the WHO said.

    Public health officials worldwide should continue to monitor BA.2 as a distinct sublineage of omicron, the group said. 

    View WHO's full statement here.


  • 21 Feb 2022 5:15 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently given new flexibilities to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to provide supplemental benefits that address long-term services and supports (LTSS) needs and social determinants of health (SDOH) among their members. However, limited information is available about the extent to which plans have provided or plan to provide these expanded supplemental benefits. Furthermore, Medicaid managed care plans may be concurrently offering similar benefits to Medicaid beneficiaries. This potential duplication is particularly relevant for dual eligible beneficiaries accessing services from Medicare and Medicaid managed care plans. This report synthesizes information gathered from an environmental scan and case studies to provide an overview of early implementation of the expanded supplemental benefits.

    This research was conducted under contract #HHSP233201600021I between HHS’s ASPE/BHDAP and Research Triangle Institute. Please visit https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/long-term-services-supports-long-term-care for more information about ASPE research on long-term services and supports (LTSS), or BHDAP at https://aspe.hhs.gov/about/offices/bhdap.

    Available Report


  • 18 Feb 2022 4:54 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The daily total of patients who acquired COVID-19 while in the hospital hit a record of about 4,700 in January — when omicron peaked — according to an analysis of federal data from The Wall Street Journal. [Becker's Hospital Review 2.18.2022]

    This figure peaked at about 1,100 patients during the delta wave, and reached 2,050 during the peak of the pandemic's first winter surge in 2020. 

    Thomas Tsai, MD, a public health researcher at Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard University, who helped the Journal review HHS data, said the proportion of patients with hospital-acquired COVID-19 as a share of all non-coronavirus patients closely aligns with case numbers in their surrounding communities. The data indicates the overall percentage of patients who contract COVID-19 in the hospital doubles on days when surges reach their highs compared to days when cases are at low points. 

    In New York, for example, hospitals reported a daily peak of 620 patients in January, or 2.2 percent of total non-coronavirus caseload, who caught COVID-19 while there, coinciding with a time when communitywide cases were high. 

    Despite all the precautionary measures hospitals take, such as routinely screening patients and screening staff, "the hospital itself is not an island," Dr. Tsai told the Journal, adding that when there is a surge, there is a high chance that people with undetected infections will bring the virus inside hospitals, making it hard to keep track. "That's where the fire skips the fire line," he said.  

    An analysis of COVID-19 hospitalizations at four U.S. healthcare systems from March 20 to Aug. 21 put incidental admissions around 26 percent.  

    HHS stopped collecting and disclosing data on the number of patients who developed COVID-19 while in the hospital in mid-2020. 

    It has since published daily statewide totals for the total number of patients without the virus and those who caught it while admitted. Not all hospitals are required to report both figures every day, which makes it difficult for researchers to calculate the totals. 

    Researchers said the data is likely an undercount, in part because facilities don't have to report patients testing positive after less than two weeks while admitted or after being discharged.


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