Masks, OUD, HRSA Grants

CDC Relaxes Mask Mandate

When the CDC last Thursday relaxed the indoor mask-wearing rules for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, President Joe Biden called it a “great day for America.” Yet, it is important to note, the CDC specifically indicated that its May 13 guidance on masks is “not intended for healthcare settings.”
Citing the continued threat to their immunocompromised patients, to their staffs on the front line, and to all patients, staff, and visitors within their walls, Massachusetts hospitals are unlikely to drop the indoor mask mandate immediately. 
Governor Baker said last Friday that he will announce this week the state’s new, revised reopening plans based on the CDC’s mask guidance. Baker called the CDC indoor mask guidance “great news.”

A Troubling Statistic

The state’s Public Health Council met last Wednesday and presented the latest statistics on opioid-related deaths in the commonwealth. While the estimated 507 deaths in the first three months of 2021 – a 2% increase over the same period in 2020 – was sobering, another statistic demonstrated how some communities have been more affected by the scourge of opioids and the ever-present fentanyl: according to DPH, between 2019 and 2020, the confirmed opioid-related overdose death rates for Black non-Hispanic men increased by 69%. The increase for Hispanic men during the same period was 1% and for White, non-Hispanic men the opioid-related death rate between 2019-2020 decreased 6%.
The new statistics come at a time when the state is devoting resources to curb the opioid crisis, especially in communities disproportionately affected by opioid use disorder (OUD). The Baker Administration has specifically targeted federal funding to fight OUD in communities of color and in individuals with a history of homelessness or incarceration. One program devotes $2.3 million in federal grants to fund a re-entry pilot to provide services for incarcerated Black and Latino men with a history of substance use, who are at risk of fatal overdoses upon release. 

Six New Funding Opportunities Through the American Rescue Plan

The federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) announced last week that it plans to open new grant programs with funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
HRSA said the grants are for Resiliency Workforce Training to reduce burnout and promote resiliency; Promoting Health Workforce Provider Resilience and Wellness to assist assists healthcare organizations in establishing, improving, or expanding evidence-based programs to promote mental and behavioral health among their employees; and Workforce Resiliency Technical Assistance Center, to provide tailored training and technical assistance to HRSA's workforce resiliency programs.
Other new grant programs will help create new residency programs to increase the primary care physician workforce. View details of these HRSA grants and others here.

See What Our Caregivers Have to Say

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the people in the healthcare field that we’ve always held in high regard deserved our praise and admiration as never before. What inspires them to do the caring work they perform? Last week – National Hospital Week – MHA asked its members to share their thoughts on the careers they’ve chosen and we compiled their answers on this webpage


What is the Future of Nursing? New Report Lays Out Agenda

The National Academy of Medicine has released The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity – a 500-page report that shows how strengthened nursing expertise can help the United States achieve health equity. Its recommendations range from strengthening nursing education to promoting diversity and equity to protecting nurses’ health and wellbeing. It also reiterates its recommendations from the first report in 2011 for more nurses to earn PhDs, for all nurses to lead in developing policy, and for the removal of barriers that prevent nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education and training. MHA has advocated for legislation that expands advanced practice registered nurse scope of practice, and its Caring for the Caregiver initiative (see education program above) details ways to advance the healthcare workforce. Click here for more information on the National Academy of Medicine report.

Webinar Takes a Deep Dive into Clinician Scribe Services

MHA’s Breakfast Accountable Care Organizations Network (BACON) is holding a virtual meeting on Wednesday, June 2 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. to discuss the topic: “Can Scribe Services Help you Promote the Quadruple Aim?” (The quadruple aim in healthcare is to improve population health, enhance patient experience, reduce cost, and improve the work life of healthcare providers and their staff.) 
Presentations will include: “Documentation Support and Provider Experience”; “Scribes Rebuilding the Patient-Provider(s) Relationship”; and “Transforming the Patient-Provider Experience in an Era of AI-Rich Healthcare”. The webinar is free and open to all, and will feature speakers from Reliant Medical Group, Mindleaf Technologies, Nuance Communications, and Cape Cod Ortho. Register here.

PICCK Webinar on Promoting Quality and Equity

Partners in Contraceptive Choice and Knowledge (PICCK) is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, June 3, from noon to 1 p.m., entitled “Promoting Quality and Equity to Make Birth Safer for All.” The webinar will address the rising rates of severe maternal morbidity and maternal mortality in the U.S., and the stark racial disparities that exist. The perinatal quality collaborative (PQC) for Massachusetts is working to eliminate preventable maternal morbidity/mortality and the racial difference. Webinar participants will learn about the most common causes of severe maternal illness and maternal death in the U.S. and the factors that contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health. They’ll also learn about the components of a “maternal safety bundle” – the quality improvement process and strategies to reduce morbidity and eliminate disparities. To learn more and to register, visit here.
PICCK is a clinical and public health program designed to promote contraceptive choice and contraceptive counseling across the commonwealth. The five-year program is funded by the state and is housed at Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine.

Caring for the Caregiver Webinar Series, Session 1: Employee Wellbeing

Thursday, May 20; 1:30-2 p.m. ET

In a first-of-its-kind examination of workforce challenges, leaders from across the Massachusetts healthcare community recently joined together to form the Caring for the Caregiver Task Force, convened by the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association.
This webinar series will follow key pillars of the taskforce's areas of focus. In this first webinar, experts from UMass Memorial Health will provide recommendations and best practices around employee wellbeing. The presenters will share case studies and lessons learned within the organization.
Jena Bauman Adams, Manager, Caregiver Experience, Human Resources, UMass Memorial Health
Doug Brown, President, UMM Community Hospitals and Chief Administrative Officer, UMass Memorial Health
Will Erickson, Organizer for Process Improvement, UMass Memorial Health
Thomas Ward, Wellness Program Manager, UMass Memorial Health
Patricia M. Noga, Vice President, Clinical Affairs, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

To register for this important webinar, please visit here.

John LoDico, Editor