In a letter delivered yesterday to U. S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and the American Medical Association (AMA) jointly asked Congress for an immediate increase in funds to deal with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
The letter asks for an additional $1 Billion to be quickly made available to use for training, personal protective equipment, building of treatment facilities, telehealth needs, and safeguarding the financial stability of many hospitals which are losing income due to the need to turn away elective surgical care to deal with the COVID pandemic.
The groups, representing many of the people providing the front-line defense in the war against Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), wrote, “As Congress considers developing an economic stimulus package, we urge you to ensure that it includes a comprehensive funding strategy to ensure that hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses are viable and directly supported for preparedness and response.”
This is just the latest of efforts by medical practitioners to emphasize the urgency of quick and increasing responses to the deficiencies in personal protection equipment for medical personnel, respirators, and critical care beds for hospitals throughout the United States.
On Monday, New Mexico Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, as well as other state executives, complained to President Trump that the federal government needed to step up its role in providing leadership and necessary equipment to the states.
According to a report by the New York Times, Lujan and others made it clear that the hold-up by the federal governement in getting necessary equipment to states was impeding efforts to test for the disease and mitigate its harm to the public.
Recent reports are shedding increasing light on the lack of enough equipment such as ventilators and the dangerously low number of critical care beds available to address the expected exponential need over the next few months to deal with the coronavirus disease.
The organizations representing nurses, doctors and hospitals provided nine categories of need for their request for the $1 billion:
1. To quickly update, train staff on and implement pandemic preparedness plans to respond to COVID-19 in all health care settings.
2. Obtain scarce supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE), essential for protecting front line health care professionals and testing supplies.
3. Rapidly ramp up infection control and triage training for health care professionals in all health care settings, especially in light of growing supply chain shortages.
4. Provide housing, care and monitoring of patients who do not require hospitalization but must remain isolated to better ensure that hospital capacity is preserved for acutely ill patients who require hospitalization. This includes persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections who experience mild to moderate symptoms and who are not able to care for themselves at home.
5. Construct or retrofit separate areas to screen and treat large numbers of persons with suspected COVID-19 infections. This includes construction of isolation facilities in or around hospital emergency departments to assess potentially large numbers of persons under investigation for COVID-19 infection.
6. Address the financial impacts of cancellations of elective surgeries and procedures due to shortages of PPE, other medical supplies and need to keep beds available for COVID-19 patients, as well as patient cancellations due to fear of COVID-19 in health care facilities. Such cancellations could have devastating financial implications for hospitals, physicians and nurses already at financial risk and may limit access to care.
7. Plan for, train on, and implement expanded telemedicine and telehealth capabilities to ensure that appropriate care can be provided to individuals in their homes or residential facilities when social distancing measures are used to reduce community spread of COVID-19.
8. Increase the numbers of patient care beds to provide surge capacity using temporary structures, such as temporary hospitals that are deployed in a pandemic.
9. Cover the increased costs associated with higher staffing levels, backfilling staff when necessary (due to unavailable staff or greater need for staff) and special infectious disease units needed to care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
In a related matter, and an apparent response to the demands of governors across the United States, the Trump Administration is expected to ask Congress for funding of about $850 billion to address the burgeoning financial crisis that is a direct result of the pandemic.