I wanted to update you on our COVID-19 planning efforts, decisions we have made, various tools and resources we have made available, and advocacy and outreach efforts on your behalf.
Access to ASHP Resources for All
Earlier this week, ASHP opened access to our evidence-based online resources and tools on ashp.org, making them widely available to all pharmacists and healthcare professionals. Tools and resources that are now available include various Member Resource Centers (e.g., Emergency Preparedness, Geriatrics, Inpatient Care), relevant webinars and online programs (e.g., infectious diseases, disaster and mass casualty preparedness, and well-being and resilience), and select AJHP articles. Additionally, public access to AHFS Drug Information® is available for the next 60 days with the username "firstname.lastname@example.org" and password "covid-19."
ASHP Advocacy Efforts
I want to assure you that ASHP is working hard in Washington, D.C., to try to ensure the expertise of pharmacists is fully utilized and that healthcare providers are equipped to safely and effectively respond to the pandemic. We sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence last week urging the administration to take immediate steps to maximize pharmacist engagement in COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts. We also continue to advance ASHP’s federal and state policymaker recommendations to address shortages of drugs and medical supplies, reimburse pharmacists for patient care services provided to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and provide resources for clinician readiness and resilience.
In addition, we have been working with several of the other national pharmacy professional organizations to develop joint recommendations that reflect our shared views on the optimal and expanded use of pharmacists during this crisis. This includes relaxing some state and federal requirements that currently limit the ability of pharmacists to maximize their contributions during this time of great need. We will share these recommendations when they become available.
Effect of Pandemic on Pharmacy Residents and Students
ASHP and our Accreditation Services team is monitoring and managing, to the extent possible, disruptions to residency training and accreditation activities as a result of COVID-19, and we will be flexible. Our primary goal is to minimize work disruptions while respecting public health guidance and the potentially harmful and disruptive effects of COVID-19 illness on healthcare systems, staff, residents, and patients. We are also concerned about the impact of canceled student experiential rotations on timely graduation, subsequent licensure, and ability to start a residency. We are monitoring this issue closely and will work to provide flexibility to help residents and programs. Updated information is being regularly posted to the Residency Program Director Connect Community.
You are likely aware that some pharmacy student experiential rotations are being canceled either by colleges of pharmacy or hospitals and health systems. We know, however, that many hospitals and health systems are successfully continuing to precept student pharmacists at this time, recognizing that they are valuable patient care providers and integral to their operations and patient care teams. I would like you to know that we are having ongoing discussions with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, and we will keep you updated in the days to come on this issue.
Updates on ASHP Resources and Events
ASHP’s COVID-19 Resource Center is being updated regularly with new resources and tools from various sources, including ASHP. Our newest addition includes ASHP’s COVID-19 Pandemic Assessment Tool for Hospital and Health-System Pharmacy Departments, which is designed to assist in COVID-19 pandemic planning efforts in departments of pharmacy and to foster pharmacist involvement in preparedness at the institutional and community levels. The tool includes a detailed checklist to help with the development and implementation of preparedness plans.
Finally, with the country working to avoid gatherings and limit travel to slow the spread of the disease, I want to assure you that ASHP is also following suit to ensure the health and safety of our members and staff. We are canceling the face-to-face Regional Delegates Conferences scheduled for the end of April and moving to a virtual format instead. We will continue using the House of Delegates Community on ASHP Connect for member input. Any member is welcome to join that community, and we encourage you to do so. We will provide more information about these efforts in the weeks to come, as well as updates on all of our upcoming member events as we continue to assess them in light of this dynamic, evolving situation.
We have not yet made a decision about our Summer Meetings scheduled for June 6 – 10 in Seattle, but we are prepared to cancel if necessary and will make that decision as soon as we are able. We are actively preparing to offer our educational programming online and hold our House of Delegates virtually should we need to cancel the Summer Meetings.
In closing, please take care of yourself during these unprecedented times, as practicing self-care is a critical part of caring for your patients. Know that ASHP is here to help and stands ready to assist in any way that we can.
Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for everything that you do for your patients and our profession.