ASHP continues to work across multiple fronts to help our members and all healthcare professionals to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We have intensified our advocacy efforts and continue to create new and timely resources to ensure that you are prepared to meet the demands of this sustained public health crisis.
Based on concerns expressed by ASHP members who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had calls with a wide array of industry stakeholders, including wholesalers, about ways to help ensure that providers have the medications they need to treat their patients. Please continue to let us know of challenges you may be facing related to COVID-19, and we will work to do everything we can to help address them at the national level.
To that end, today, we launched a new COVID-19 microsite to better organize our resources and optimize access for those who need them. The microsite features content for pharmacists and other healthcare providers in key areas, including patient care, infection prevention, policy and advocacy, and more. We will continue to enhance the site with new and updated content, which remains open to all professionals who are engaged in the COVID-19 response.
A critical focus of our continued support remains facilitating real-time information sharing among pharmacists, including those in the current epicenters, to help ongoing response efforts and prepare areas where the peak of the pandemic is yet to come.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have accelerated production on our popular @ASHPOfficial podcast, moving to a daily release schedule. We have produced 20 episodes to date dedicated to COVID-19 on topics that include managing drug shortages, evaluating the scientific literature, and ethical considerations. Last week, a member let us know that information from an @ASHPOfficial podcast helped her to change treatment protocols for patients at her long-term care facility, potentially saving many lives. I encourage you to subscribe to @ASHPOfficial to receive this free, timely content that includes credible information, best practices, and important experiences from your peers who are working on the front lines of the pandemic.
We have also recently launched a free webinar series dedicated to COVID-19 response. Tomorrow’s live webinar describes how New York’s Mount Sinai Health System and Montefiore Health System responded to their COVID-19 patient surge, and the coordinated efforts of New York City's pharmacy leadership to support hospitals and health systems. Please be on the lookout for new webinars each week that will provide valuable perspective and intelligence on how pharmacists in varied settings are responding to the pandemic.
Our COVID-19 Connect Community has become a robust venue for discussion and information sharing among pharmacists. There are more than 52,000 community members actively engaged in 800 different discussion threads covering a range of topics. ASHP is also using this platform to help inform our efforts to develop and deliver crucial resources to assist those on the front lines.
I would also like to make you aware of another new initiative launched this week by ASHP. The Pharmacy Executive Leadership AllianceTM – or PELATM – was created for chief pharmacy officers and multi-hospital system pharmacy executive leaders who face distinct challenges working within highly complex, vertically and horizontally integrated networks and multi-hospital health systems.
PELA will leverage ASHP’s resources for information exchange on issues unique to this executive-level group. PELA participants will gain valuable insights on market trends and innovations for advancing medication use that is always optimal, safe, and effective for all people across our nation’s complex health networks. Key areas of focus will include health-system-wide integration of digital and telehealth, effective enterprise revenue cycle management, strategies for addressing industry disrupters, optimization of horizontal and vertical integration, and new technologies and science. Emerging issues related to COVID-19 business recovery will also be addressed.
Although ASHP has been planning the launch of PELA for some time, the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the importance of providing opportunities to connect and share critical information for pharmacy executives. I look forward to sharing more information about this exciting initiative, as well as relevant outputs from the group, with our members in the future.
Finally, I wanted to share some news from the advocacy front. This week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced flexibilities for satellite hospitals or clinics as a result of COVID-19. During the national emergency, DEA will allow a DEA-registered hospital or clinic to handle controlled substances at a satellite hospital or clinic location under the organization’s current registrations. DEA is relaxing limits on the distribution of controlled substances between practitioners. Under the new flexibility, registered practitioners can distribute or dispense more than 5% of their total doses to another registered practitioner without registering as a distributor. Practically speaking, this will better enable health systems and hospitals to get controlled substances where they are most needed. DEA is also allowing distributors to ship controlled substances directly to these satellite hospitals or clinics. This is a significant change for many of our members who use additional satellite hospital and clinic locations to accommodate the large influx of COVID-19 patients presenting for treatment. Having these flexibilities will allow our members to more effectively treat their patients.
I am also pleased to note that, at the urging of ASHP and its members, USP has issued "Operational Considerations for Sterile Compounding During COVID-19 Pandemic," a new document that supports risk-based enforcement discretion of compounding standards. The document addresses the assignment of beyond-use dates and considerations for certification and recertification of engineering controls, and reinforces CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting a facility when someone is ill.
On Tuesday, ASHP, the American Pharmacists Association, and the National Community Pharmacists Association authored a letter to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer thanking him for recognizing pharmacists as providers of essential patient care services and asking him to support pharmacists’ critical role as frontline healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASHP will continue to work with Sen. Schumer and others to recognize the vital patient care role of pharmacists and to support the proposed Heroes Fund legislation that provides premium pay for essential front line workers – including pharmacists – during this current public health crisis, and we will continue our broader efforts to advocate for expanded patient access to pharmacist services.
In closing, please know that we remain committed to supporting you by providing robust, timely, and relevant resources to assist you in your practice, to advocate on your behalf, and to help you focus on your own health and well-being during this ongoing public health emergency.
Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for everything that you do for your patients and our profession.