NYAAEM Statement Regarding COVID-19
The New York Chapter Division of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (NYAAEM) understands the extreme and significant impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has on our community. We consist of physicians that are board certified in emergency medicine, many who hold leadership roles in emergency departments across New York State.
We support New York Governor Cuomo collaborating with New Jersey Governor Murphy and Connecticut Governor Lamont in their attempts to minimize community spread of COVID-19, including curfews, school and establishment closures, and advocating for social distancing.
We find the following actions to be urgent and necessary in response to COVID-19:
- Temporarily cancel all elective surgeries, diagnostic tests, and admissions, as we need every available resource for surges in acutely ill patients.
- Ensure that all emergency department and hospital staff who care for patients infected or potentially infected with COVID-19 have adequate personal protective equipment including N95 masks or PAPR, gloves, face and eye masks, and gowns. Many emergency physicians have reported inadequate protection or have been rationing and reusing masks. Exhaust every option to increase PPE availability and prioritize distribution to emergency physicians and other frontline providers, even if it means depletion of the Strategic National Stockpile; we cannot risk losing our frontline medical response to illness.
- Change regulations so that the healthcare system may treat as many patients as safely as possible. High impact solutions may include:
- Waivers to HIPAA laws so that physicians can utilize their personal phones and provide healthcare services without fear of privacy risks
- Suspension of EMTALA so that the influx of non-urgent or non-emergent health concerns do not utilize ED resources
- Relaxation of telemedicine regulations to allow for its much needed support to our healthcare system. [These include those such as strict reimbursement requirements (that are originally intended to prevent fraud and abuse), geographic and originating site restraints]
- Support the acute care hospital system by expanding onsite resources for patients that live in group facilities (e.g. group homes, homeless shelter, dormitories, nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and prisons).
- Protect emergency physicians against medical malpractice claims during this time where operations will be strained and physicians are truly triaging to provide the best care for the most people.
- Allow licensed physicians to practice across state lines. This will help to buffer the dynamic shifts in staffing requirements as the outbreak continues in various areas of the United States.
NYAAEM understands that the needs and issues regarding his current public health emergency are fluid and will continue to make recommendations as this crisis evolves.
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