JEMS | Armstrong Ambulance Tackles COVID-19 Together

From the Journal of Emergency Medical Services on July 8, 2020.

To cope with the unprecedented challenge that remains before them, Armstrong’s first responders have been finding the support they need in numerous ways, whether it be from a member of the team, those working in a similar industry, or members of the many communities they serve delivering food and messages of encouragement to local bases.

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CNN | Contact Tracing Not Possible in the South

From CNN Health’s Contact tracing is no longer possible across the US South due to rapid coronavirus surges, health expert says on July 7, 2020

“The cases are rising so rapidly, that we cannot even do contact tracing anymore. I don’t see how it’s possible to even do that,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday.
The rapid rise in cases is considered a surge, not a second wave, because the infection numbers never lowered to where officials hoped they would, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream Monday.

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NYT | The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus

From the New York Times on July 5, 2020 by By Richard A. Oppel Jr., Robert Gebeloff, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Will Wright and Mitch Smith

Early numbers had shown that Black and Latino people were being harmed by the virus at higher rates. But the new federal data — made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reveals a clearer and more complete picture: Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.

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WSJ | TX, AZ and FL have been some of the worst-hit states in recent days

From the Wall Street Journal on July 5

Some Hospitals in Southern, Western U.S. States Near Capacity Amid Coronavirus Outbreaks

Top officials in southern and western U.S. cities and states with growing coronavirus cases sounded the alarm Sunday, saying hospitals were near capacity and that stricter social-distancing enforcement was needed to stem the growing outbreaks.

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The AAA Public Relations Campaign Continues

AAA has once again teamed up with Mercury Public Affairs to run a public affairs campaign to ensure that Emergency First Responders are not forgotten by Congress.

For this campaign, our key message is as follows:

America’s front-line first responders, including paramedics, EMTs, and critical care nurses, are the very first medical professionals seen by all citizens that access healthcare using the 9-1-1 system.

 Surpisingly, Washington has forgotten all about them as the virus spreads, and our emergency response providers are being infected with COVID-19. Ambulance services are the public health and safety net for our country, but they have only gotten one tenth of the relief they are owed. Some are even being forced to shut down operations in communities across our country.

 Ambulance services have also been treating more and more patients at home for ailments like diabetes and asthma because emergency rooms are full. They have not been reimbursed for these critical services.


To take action and participate in this campaign, please visit the American Ambulance Association Action page.

Public Affairs Campaign

We have worked with our government relations team to identify the following Senators as the focus of our campaign:

  • Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Todd Young (R-IN)
  • Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
  • Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
  • Steve Daines (R-MT)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)

News Coverage

In addition to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, this effort has yielded even more news coverage:

Fear of Hospitals Driving Changes for Ambulance Pay in Medicare

May 29, 2020 in   Bloomberg Government

“Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has been discussing with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) how Medicare can reimburse ambulance services for “treat in place” services, a Cassidy spokesman confirmed in an emailed response to a question.”

Ambulance services getting crushed by being roped into virus response

May 25, 2020 in the Washington Examiner

“In an effort to combat hospital overcrowding during the coronavirus pandemic, states have required ambulances to treat patients at home if possible. Yet Medicare only reimburses ambulances when they transport a patient to a hospital, and most private insurers follow Medicare’s lead. This Catch-22 has cut deeply into ambulance companies’ revenues during the pandemic.”

Yonkers ambulance company seeks Medicare payment for treat-at-home calls

June 16, 2020
By: Jonathan Lamantia and Jennifer Henderson in Crain’s Health Pulse New York

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, New York’s ambulance companies increasingly found themselves treating lower-acuity patients at their homes rather than bringing them to overcrowded hospitals.

Empress EMS, a Yonkers-based ambulance company that covers parts of New York City and the Hudson Valley, provided about 1,200 treat-in-place visits during one 30-day period at the height of the crisis, including helping more than 300 individuals who were in cardiac arrest, said Hanan Cohen, Empress’s director of corporate development, mobile integrated health care and community paramedicine.

But none of the visits were reimbursable by Medicare, which Cohen estimates cost Empress more than $700,000 during that 30-day span.

Medicare shouldn’t make ground ambulance services take a financial hit for providing at-home care

June 29, 2020 By: Hanan Cohen STAT

Hanan Cohen is a paramedic and director of corporate development at Empress EMS, a partner of PatientCare EMS Solutions, which operates in New York in the Bronx and Westchester County.

 Balance of Power: Gen. McChrystal, Rep. Hill

July 1, 2020

By: David Westin on Bloomberg Radio (Interview begins around 54:12)

Hanan Cohen interviewed by David Westin, one of the network’s most prominent anchors and the former president of ABC News.

The program is syndicated across 300 stations in the US, including leading news radio stations in major cities from coast to coast. In addition, it is heard nationally on Sirius XM.

 

Study | Nationwide EMS Calls Have Dropped 26%, Attended Deaths Doubled

From the University at Buffalo News Center

Since early March and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., 911 calls for emergency medical services have dropped by 26.1 % compared to the past two years, a new study led by a University at Buffalo researcher has found.

But the study also found that EMS-attended deaths have doubled, indicating that when EMS calls were made, they often involved a far more serious emergency.

Study Details

Effect of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‐19) Pandemic on the United States Emergency Medical Services System: A Preliminary Report
E. Brooke Lerner PhD
Craig D. Newgard MD, MPH
N. Clay Mann PhD, MS, MBA

Always In Our Hearts

Please join the American Ambulance Association in honoring those who have fallen serving their communities in the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does it mean to be a hero? Paramedics, EMTs, nurses, and firefighters risk their lives every day to serve on the…

Posted by American Ambulance Association on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Stat | Treatment in Place

From Stat on June 29, 2020 by Hanan Cohen of Empress EMS and Patient Care EMS Solutions

Medicare shouldn’t make ground ambulance services take a financial hit for providing at-home care

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping across the U.S., ambulance crews have been treating some patients at home rather than risking a hospital surge — and aren’t getting paid for it. At a time when ambulance services are on the frontlines of care, not just transport, Medicare is treating ambulances like expensive taxicabs.

Treating people in place — at the scene of a medical emergency, which can include the home, a long-term care facility, or other location — has become the expected standard of care, especially during the pandemic. Some states even mandate it. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare payments, refuses to pay companies for the cost of providing medically necessary health care services if the patient is not transported to a hospital or other designated destination.

As a result, ground ambulance organizations that are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic on the frontlines by treating people with everything from low blood sugar to dehydration are taking a massive financial hit. And it’s coming at the worst time.

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CDC Chief Says COVID-19 Cases May be 10x Higher Than Reported

From the Washington Post on June 25

CDC chief says coronavirus cases may be 10 times higher than reported

The number of Americans who have been infected with the novel coronavirus is likely 10 times higher than the 2.3 million confirmed cases, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a call with reporters Thursday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said, “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections.”

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CMS Launches the Office of Burden and Health Informatics

From Becker’s Health IT:
CMS launches new health informatics office to ease regulatory, administrative burdens: 5 details

CMS on June 23 unveiled the Office of Burden and Health Informatics, which will bridge tech and innovation initiatives with the agency’s efforts to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens for providers and beneficiaries.

“Specifically, the work of this new office will be targeted to help reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies, continue administrative simplification, increase the use of health informatics, and improve the beneficiary experience,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a news release.

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Bloomberg | Hospitals Are Counting Beds Again With Virus Cases

From Bloomberg Law on June 24, 2020

With all states reopened to some degree, cases and hospitalizations are rising. Arizona, California and Texas all set records for new cases on Tuesday. The question now is whether hospitals will be able to handle it, and what will happen if they can’t. “Many of them still have a lot of available capacity, but who knows how long that’s going to last,” said Eric Toner, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “They should be getting themselves ready now.”

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WP | ‘Heroes, Right?’ Paramedic Perspective on COVID-19

From the Washington Post on June 21, 2020, as told to Eli Saslow.

Nobody wants to know about what I do. People might pay us lip service and say we’re heroes, but our stories aren’t the kind anyone actually wants to hear about. Kids in this country grow up with toy firetrucks, or maybe playing cops and robbers, but who dreams of becoming a paramedic? That’s ambulances. That’s death and vulnerability — the scary stuff. We’re taught in this culture to shun illness like it’s something shameful. We’d rather pretend everything’s fine. We look the other way.

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UK | AACE Welcomes New Chair

ASSOCIATION OF AMBULANCE CHIEF EXECUTIVES WELCOMES NEW CHAIR DAREN MOCHRIE AS ANTHONY MARSH COMPLETES SECOND TERM OF OFFICE

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) has welcomed the Chief Executive of North West Ambulance Service Daren Mochrie QAM as its new Chair, following the culmination of two successful terms and almost eight years at the helm for Anthony Marsh QAM, the Chief Executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service.

AACE Managing Director Martin Flaherty OBE said: “The backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic means this is a particularly challenging time for ambulance services so the kind of strong leadership that we have enjoyed over the past eight years will be absolutely key to the ongoing progress of AACE and the wider ambulance sector. This is why we are especially pleased to welcome Daren Mochrie as our new Chair and look forward to working alongside him to support the development of our growing organisation while ensuring the voice of the ambulance sector is clearly heard.

“Our outgoing Chair, Professor Anthony Marsh, has been an inspirational figure in so many ways and has overseen the growth of AACE since July 2012. We are all grateful for the commitment and hard work he has devoted to the role and know that he will continue to play an important part in the future of AACE, providing input and ideas as a highly proactive chief executive.”

Commenting on his appointment Mr Mochrie said: “I am honoured to be the new AACE Chair and will aim to maintain the high standards of exemplary leadership shown by Anthony Marsh during his double term in office. With thirty two years of NHS & ambulance sector experience I believe I’m ideally placed to lead AACE during these unprecedented times. My priorities are to ensure that AACE speaks with one strong voice while building relationships and networks that will increase our prominence within the Health and Social Care system and show how ambulance services can provide genuine solutions to so many system-wide challenges.”

The outgoing Chair Professor Anthony Marsh said: “It has been a real pleasure to lead AACE, taking the organisation from its infancy into the powerful agent for change that it is today. It is vital that the ambulance sector has a strong membership body to fight its corner and to help support the development of constantly evolving patient care. I know that Daren will do an excellent job and feel comfortable that I have passed the baton on to a very safe pair of hands.”

Daren will assume the AACE Chair role from 01 August 2020 for a three-year term.

About the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE)

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) is a membership organisation providing ambulance services with a central body that supports, coordinates and implements nationally agreed policy. The primary focus of AACE is the ongoing development of the UK ambulance service and the improvement of patient care. Aside from this, the organisation provides the general public and other stakeholders with a central resource of information about UK ambulance services. AACE also engages in carefully chosen consultancy activities designed to help improve ambulance services in general, both at home and abroad. More information is available at www.aace.org.uk.

About Daren Mochrie QAM, MBA, Dip IMC RCSEd, MCPara

Daren Mochrie is the CEO of North West Ambulance Service, which covers a population of 7.5m, over 5,400 square miles, around 8,500 staff & volunteers responding to 5.3m 999, 111 & non- emergency calls a year. With over 32 years’ experience in the NHS (29 in the ambulance sector), Daren is a registered paramedic, holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Napier University, Edinburgh and was one of the first paramedics to gain a Diploma in Immediate Medical Care, Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. Daren has spent most of his career in Scotland, several years working in Operating Theatres in NHS Lothian, 26 years in the Scottish Ambulance Service, two years as CEO of South East Coast Ambulance Service before joining NWAS. In 2013 he was awarded the Queens Ambulance Medal (QAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for distinguished service.

For further information

Carl Rees, AACE Head of Communications, Mobile: 07958 547727, E: carl.rees@kognitive.co.uk

NYT | Low-Cost Drug Reduces Coronavirus Deaths, Scientists Say

From the New York Time on June 16, 2020

LONDON — Scientists at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday that they had identified what they called the first drug proven to reduce coronavirus-related deaths, after a 6,000-patient trial in Britain showed that a low-cost steroid prevented the deaths of some hospitalized patients.

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Politico | Nursing Homes Go Unchecked As Fatalities Mount

From Politico on June 15, 2020 by Rachel Roubein and Maggie Severns

Thousands of nursing homes across the country have not been checked to see if staff are following proper procedures to prevent coronavirus transmission, a form of community spread that is responsible for more than a quarter of the nation’s Covid-19 fatalities.

Only a little more than half of the nation’s nursing homes had received inspections, according to data released earlier this month, which prompted a fresh mandate from Medicare and Medicaid chief Seema Verma that states complete the checks by July 31 or risk losing federal recovery funds.

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Pandemic Lockdowns Saved Millions From Dying

Modelers Suggest Pandemic Lockdowns Saved Millions From Dying Of COVID-19
From  Nature via  NPR

Two new papers published in the journal Nature say that lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus were highly effective, prevented tens of millions of infections and saved millions of lives.

“Our estimates show that lockdowns had a really dramatic effect in reducing transmission,” says  Samir Bhatt, a senior lecturer at the Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, who worked on one of the papers  published in Nature.

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Iowa | Former George EMS treasurer pleads guilty to theft

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — The former treasurer of the George, Iowa, Emergency Medical Services has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $26,000 in agency funds.

Chad Wessels, 48, of George, entered a written plea Friday in Lyon County District Court to one count of third-degree theft, an aggravated misdemeanor. The charge was reduced from felony first-degree theft as part of a plea agreement.

Continue reading in the Sioux City Journal ►

WP | A Long Road Home

New York EMS Captain Hugo Sosa survived the ICU. But for coronavirus patients like him, that’s just the start of recovery.

Hugo Sosa arrived here a hero, triumphant over the worst that covid-19 can inflict on the human body. Nearly 100 of his fellow first responders whooped and cheered as Sosa was wheeled out of a hospital last month. They chanted his name. He flashed them a thumbs-up from his gurney.

Twelve days later, frail and drawn in his room at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Sosa puzzled over a pile of coins his speech pathologist had set before him.

“Forty-five cents from a dollar, what do you get back?” Kristen Lucke asked.

“Fifty-five cents,” Sosa responded quickly.

“Good, show me 55 cents.”

That was more difficult. Sosa would have to hold the number in his head while he searched for the right coins. Today that was too much to ask. Perhaps tomorrow.

Read Hugo’s story by Lenny Bernstein in the Washington Post►