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February 1, 2021

Around the nation: How a snowy traffic jam became an impromptu Covid-19 vaccination site

Daily Briefing

    Health care workers in Cave Junction, Oregon, were returning from a Covid-19 vaccination site when they got stuck on a shut-down highway in the snow—and because their extra vaccine doses were in danger of expiring, they walked from car to car, offering vaccines to other people stuck in traffic, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Indiana, and Oregon.

    • District of Columbia: The Biden administration on Wednesday said it was calling off a plan announced by former President Donald Trump's administration that would make it easier for more physicians to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. The Trump administration had directed federal agencies update guidelines to exempt physicians with a Drug Enforcement Administration narcotics prescribing license from a two-decades-old requirement that mandated physicians complete a day's training before they could prescribe buprenorphine. According to the Washington Post, two officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said there were a number of legal and operational issues with the plan, including that the initiative wasn't cleared by the White House's Office of Management and Budget. A spokesperson for the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy said the Biden administration "supports broader access to medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder, and is working to find ways to lift burdensome restrictions on medications for opioid use disorder treatment" (Diamond, Washington Post, 1/27).
    • Indiana: The CEOs of Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health, and Indiana University Health (IU Health) during a virtual public forum sponsored by the Greater Indianapolis NAACP and the Indianapolis Recorder last month announced changes they've planned to address racial health disparities. For example, Dennis Murphy, IU Health's president and CEO, said the health care system will segment clinical trial data by race to help determine what's driving racial health inequities and what needs to be changed. According to IU Health officials, the health system also has invested $20 million to increase its starting minimum wage to at least $18 an hour within the next two to three years. Meanwhile, Lisa Harris, Eskenazi's CEO, said the hospital is planning to build a primary care site in the 46218 ZIP code, which has a 73% Black population, and the hospital has invested almost $2 million in a career ladder program to improve the opportunities available to employees of color. And Bryan Mills, Community Health's CEO, said the hospital will be mandating education on bias for the first time and has dedicated $10 million for a newly formed committee aimed at addressing racism (Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, 1/28).
    • Oregon: Health care workers in Cave Junction on Tuesday got stuck on a shut-down highway in the snow while returning from a Covid-19 vaccination site—and because their extra vaccine doses were in danger of expiring, they decided to walk from car to car, offering vaccines to other people who were stuck in traffic. According to Michael Weber, Josephine County's public health director who led the team of 20 staff members and volunteers who were administering the vaccines, most of the people the team approached during the endeavor declined the vaccine. As a result, it took about 45 minutes to administer the six doses the team had. "I can't imagine a better way to spend four hours stuck in a snowstorm," Weber said (Levenson, New York Times, 1/28; Salcedo, Washington Post, 1/28).

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