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  • 29 Sep 2021 10:28 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    National Quality Forum (NQF) furthers its commitment to combat the overdose crisis in the U.S. with a new report from the Opioids and Behavioral Health Committee. More than 255 individuals die each day from a drug overdose as our nation continues to grapple with a continuing opioid and substance use disorder (SUD) crisis; and the latest data shows 9.5 million adults within the U.S. have both a mental illness, and a co-occurring SUD. [NQF 9.29.2021]

    Download the Report here

    Opioid-related overdose deaths and morbidity demand national attention and have emerged as some of the most complex and persistent challenges facing the healthcare delivery system. This crisis has drastically worsened during the COVID-19 public health emergency, especially for individuals with co-occurring behavioral health conditions. In 2020, opioid-involved overdose deaths increased to an estimated 69,769 according to provisional data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Factors related to the pandemic, such as social isolation, increased anxiety and depression, and disrupted access to SUD support services likely contributed to the increase in overdose deaths. 

    ...The report was developed to improve the prevention and monitoring of SUD, opioid-related overdoses, and opioid-related mortality, specifically in individuals with co-occurring behavioral health conditions. It outlines opportunities for coordination and partnerships across care settings and enables stakeholders to adapt and improve their readiness in a rapidly changing landscape. Collaboration and coordination from diverse stakeholders are critical to transitioning from measure concepts to quality measures that can be used to improve health and outcomes. Given the ever-changing nature of the crisis, it is important to ensure measure concepts and recommendations evolve as the latest research and data emerge.

    "The ongoing opioid and SUD crisis has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are seeing opioid-related overdoses and deaths at increasing rates. As we continue to combat this crisis, we must employ high quality measurement science to identify, assess, and improve equitable access and care for people with co-occurring SUD and behavioral health conditions," said Meredith Gerland, MPH, Senior Director, Quality Innovation, National Quality Forum.



  • 28 Sep 2021 4:31 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    More than 180 million Americans, including more than 80 percent of people over age 65, are fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. There’s no question that full vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against this devastating virus and reduce your chances of developing severe or long-lasting illness if you do get sick. But, to stay ahead of this terrible virus, important questions do remain. A big one right now is: How soon will booster shots be needed and for whom? [NIH 9.28.2021]

    The answers to this question will continue to evolve as more high-quality data become available. But here’s what we know right now for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. Late last week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended that:

    • Those 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot at least 6 months after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,
    • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot at least 6 months after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,
    • Individuals aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot at least 6 months after getting fully vaccinated with their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, based on their individual benefits and risks.
    • Frontline workers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may receive a booster. This group includes anyone age 18 through 64 whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of COVID-19. [1]

    Taken together, these CDC recommendations are in line with those issued two days earlier by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [2].

    More details here>


  • 27 Sep 2021 6:03 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday it will adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for certain populations. [Health News Illinois 9.27.2021]

    The federal agency last week recommended booster doses for seniors 65 and older, residents in long-term care settings, adults with underlying medical conditions and workers whose job places them at higher risk, including healthcare workers.

    “While the vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing severe illnesses, hospitalization, death, as we learn more about COVID-19 and the science evolves, so too must our recommendations,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “The information reviewed by the FDA shows that there is clear evidence of the benefit of booster doses at this time.”

    COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue their statewide decline, though hospitalizations remain higher in southern Illinois.

    More details here>


  • 24 Sep 2021 6:13 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    As students return to school, COVID-19 infections among children are up by about 240 percent since July. This week, the COVID-19 death toll in the United States surpassed that of the 1918 flu pandemic, with more than 1 in 500 Americans having lost their lives to COVID-19. Death rates continue to be disproportionately higher among Black, Latino, and American Indian and Alaskan Native people. At the same time, the summer surge of COVID-19 cases seems to be slowing, with averages of new daily cases and hospitalizations declining. [IMPAQ 9.24.2021] 

    Vaccine and Booster Updates. The FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer booster shot. Use is limited to adults 65 or older adults, 18 or older at high risk for severe illness, and those at high risk of exposure due to their jobs, such as health care workers. Additionally, recent CDC research concluded that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have been vaccinated. In other vaccine news:

    ·    President Biden’s recently announced vaccine mandate for employers with at least 100 workers will be written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

    ·    A pediatric study of the Pfizer vaccine showed that children ages 5-11 who received a lower dose of the vaccine had comparable antibody responses to participants ages 16-25 who received the typical adult dosage. Children also had comparable side effects to the 16-25 group. Pfizer plans to file for emergency authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 11 in October.


  • 23 Sep 2021 8:25 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Healthcare workers are now among those eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, as the FDA on Sept. 22 granted emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for Americans who are ages 65 and older, have a job that increases their risk of infection and are at high risk of severe COVID-19.

    Five things to know:

    1. Those who are eligible may receive a Pfizer booster shot at least six months after their second dose.

    2. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, said the country's booster strategy is subject to change as more data becomes available on COVID-19 vaccines' protection over time. The booster rollout will likely be staggered, starting with the populations deemed most vulnerable.

      Dr. Woodcock said the FDA is prioritizing healthcare workers, teachers, day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons due to their institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19.

    3. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold a meeting Sept. 23 at which they will decide who falls under the category of people who are at high risk of severe COVID-19.

    4. The FDA has not explicitly addressed when or if the millions of Americans who received COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be eligible for booster doses. The agency still needs to review data produced by those drugmakers.

    5. About 22 million Americans received their second Pfizer dose at least six months ago, according to the CDC. About half of them are 65 and older. 


  • 22 Sep 2021 6:08 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Young and middle-aged adults (25-64 years old) in the U.S. have been dying at higher rates since 2010, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults says that rising death rates are striking working-age Americans, whose risk of dying from certain conditions — such as drug overdoses or hypertensive heart disease — has been climbing since the 1990s.

    The comprehensive report, based on data from 1990-2017, documents a public health crisis sweeping the American workforce, which has profound implications for families, employers, and the U.S. economy. This trend was prevalent before the pandemic arrived, but working-age Americans have been deeply affected by the pandemic, the report notes. Americans are more likely to die before age 65 than peers in other rich nations.

    The rising death rate is due primarily to drug overdoses, alcohol, suicides, and cardiometabolic conditions — a category that includes diabetes and heart diseases caused by high blood pressure and other conditions. The report recommends urgent policy actions in light of this crisis, including addressing the overdose epidemic, the underlying causes of substance use disorders more broadly, access to mental health services, and stronger efforts to tackle obesity.

    New Report release: The past century has witnessed remarkable advances in life expectancy in the United States and throughout the world. In 2010, however, progress in life expectancy in the United States began to stall, despite continuing to increase in other high-income countries. Alarmingly, U.S. life expectancy fell between 2014 and 2015 and continued to decline through 2017, the longest sustained decline in life expectancy in a century (since the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919). The recent decline in U.S. life expectancy appears to have been the product of two trends: (1) an increase in mortality among middle-aged and younger adults, defined as those aged 25-64 years (i.e., "working age"), which began in the 1990s for several specific causes of death (e.g., drug- and alcohol-related causes and suicide); and (2) a slowing of declines in working-age mortality due to other causes of death (mainly cardiovascular diseases) after 2010.

    Download: High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults | The National Academies Press (nap.edu)

    More online info here


  • 21 Sep 2021 8:37 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Lightfoot outlines COVID-19 relief spending in $16.7 billion budget

    Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday unveiled her $16.7 billion pandemic "recovery budget" for the coming year, including plans to spend about $1.9 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds. [Health News Illinois 9.21.2021]

    Of the federal dollars, nearly $1.2 billion will be used to replace revenue losses in 2021 and 2022 stemming from the pandemic, with $782.2 million allocated for this year's budget and $385 million for next year. An additional $152.4 million is set aside for revenue replacement in 2023.

    Along with the budget, Lightfoot also introduced the Chicago Recovery Plan, a strategic plan for how the city will employ resources to respond to the negative impacts of COVID-19 and drive economic recovery. The $1.9 billion in investments will be paid for through federal relief funds, as well as the city’s corporate fund and other local funds.

    “With $1.9 billion in key and enhanced investments, we will develop Chicago into a safer, stronger and more prosperous place in which people can safely raise a family, build a business and make a better life for themselves,” Lightfoot said. “As much as these investments are a commitment to our city’s immediate and most urgent needs, they are also bridges to the brighter future that is just over the horizon.”

    The investments include $86 million to increase access to mental health services, $144 million to connect families with resources to improve health outcomes and $202 million to expand homelessness initiatives and housing opportunities.

    “With this recovery and resiliency budget, we not only have the opportunity to deepen our commitment to being good financial stewards, but also to lead our residents into a better tomorrow,” Lightfoot said.

    The budget also calls for additional funding for a recent pilot program for 911 alternate response initiatives, including 911 call diversion and establishing alternate destinations for patient transport.

    Lightfoot announced last month the city is ​​looking at a revenue shortfall of $733 million next year.

    The estimated 2020 revenue loss totals $1.4 billion, according to the budget overview.

    The proposal will need approval from the full city council, who will take it up later this year.


  • 20 Sep 2021 6:38 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The recently announced U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grant will support projects that broaden access to rural health care services by increasing telehealth capabilities in rural America. Is your organization prepared to apply?

    During this 60-minute interactive webinar, grant experts Angela Connor, Director of Grants and Public Funding at Amwell, and Maureen Meyer, MBA, GPC, an independent grants consultant for Amwell, offer an in-depth overview of the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant and tips for developing a competitive application.

    Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • Applicant eligibility and scoring
    • Eligible uses of funding and cost-sharing
    • The application process

    Webinar and details here


  • 17 Sep 2021 2:13 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Racial Disparities in Maternal Health -U.S. Commission on Civil Rights-2021 Statutory Enforcement Report (9.15.2021)

    Excerpt from the report: 

    Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, testified to the Commission about some of the causes of racial disparities in maternal health outcomes, writing that:

    We know the root causes of poor maternal health—racism and gender oppression inside of healthcare systems and every other facet of society. Women of color are more likely to experience a comorbid illness and report being unfairly treated within healthcare settings based on their race or ethnicity. The inequities that Black women face have become even more urgent as the pandemic and civil unrests show the many ways racism can kill,  whether from COVID, police brutality or hemorrhaging during childbirth. 26  Each year, nearly 700 women in the U.S. die due to complications of pregnancy or delivery  either during their pregnancy or within one year of the end of their pregnancy.27 A woman today  is “50 [percent] more likely to die in childbirth than her own mother was.”28

    During the Commission’s briefing in November 2020, Associate Director for Science in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shanna Cox testified that:

    [T]he pregnancy-related mortality ratio in the U.S. is not decreasing, and given these  deaths are largely preventable, these numbers are absolutely unacceptable. Considerable racial disparities exist, with Black and Native women two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women.29 25

    Download full report 


  • 16 Sep 2021 4:48 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    More States Seeing Uptick of Pregnant COVID Patients in ICUs

    Nearly all are unvaccinated, sources say

    A report from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in August revealed that there had been a sharp increase in the number of pregnant patients who were being hospitalized with COVID-19. Nearly a month later, physicians from other states have started to voice similar concerns about the growing number of unvaccinated pregnant patients who have been admitted to ICUs with severe infection. [ MedPage Today]

    Mississippi state health officials announced on September 9 that eight pregnant women had died from COVID-19 in recent weeks; their babies were all delivered prematurely and survived, said state medical officer Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH, during a press conference. 

    ... In Illinois, cities like Springfield and Peoria are also seeing more ICU admissions for pregnant COVID patients.  Michael Leonardi, MD, an ob-gyn who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at OSF HealthCare in Peoria, told MedPage Today that, starting roughly 6 weeks ago, pregnant COVID patients have been admitted to OSF with growing frequency.

    Full article here


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