May 22, 2020

HHS on Tuesday issued an advisory opinion stating that the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act overrides state and local laws that prohibit pharmacists from administering diagnostic tests for Covid-19, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Florida, and Ohio.

  • District of Columbia: HHS on Tuesday issued an advisory opinion stating that the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act overrides state laws that prohibit pharmacists from administering diagnostic tests for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The advisory opinion means pharmacists nationwide can administer the tests. HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement said, "Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information," and "the Trump administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the Covid-19 response, alongside all of America's heroic health care workers" (Anderson, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/20; HHS advisory opinion, 5/19).
  • Florida: Rebekah Jones, a former geographic information system (GIS) manager for the Florida Department of Health, has claimed that department officials removed her from the position earlier this month and fired her on Monday after she refused to "manually change" the state's Covid-19 data "to drum up support for the [state's] plan to reopen." Jones, who developed Florida's Covid-19 data portal, in an email to a group of users who rely on the data said officials' decision to remove her from the role calls into question the "level of accessibility and transparency" of the data included in the portal. A spokesperson for Florida Gov. Ron De Santis (R) said the GIS team will continue "to manage and update the dashboard providing accurate and important information that is publicly accessible" (Wieder, Miami Herald, 5/18; Sassoon, USA Today, 5/19; Campo-Flores, Wall Street Journal, 5/19).
  • Ohio: University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center on Wednesday announced that Phillip Chang is serving as the medical center's VP and CMO, effective last winter. Chang previously was the system CMO at University of Kentucky Healthcare and a faculty member with the university's surgery department (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/20).

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