Responding to the national/world-wide shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment, even as several healthcare professionals, including physicians and nurses, who are in the forefront diagnosing and treating patients, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, has launched a Fund Raising to support their fellow professionals, providing them with Masks that are so vital to prevent them from getting transmitted with this deadly virus.
Due to production and distribution delays in China, where most personal protective equipment, or PPE, is manufactured, healthcare facilities are experiencing shortages of much needed Masks and PPEs.
During a Teleconference organized by AAPI, and attended by hundreds of physicians on Saturday, March 21st, Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI, said, “As we are not prepared well, our frontline soldiers (physicians) are working under suboptimal conditions with severe shortage of GS masks and other protective gear. As a result, some of the foot soldiers (front line physicians) have succumbed to this deadly virus. To protect our fraternity, we have established a donation box on AAPI website under the banner “DONATE a MASK.”
A Task Force consisting of Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President-Elect of AAPI, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chairwoman-Elect of AAPI’s BOD, and Dr. Ami Baxi, has been constituted to identify the hospitals and sending the supply of Masks/PPE directly.
During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies. Some of these technologies, and the manner in which they are used by HIPAA covered health care providers, may not fully comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Rules.
Dr. Stella Gandhi, President of YPS, updated the members on the conference call on Telemedicine, which has become more prevalent in the past five years in the US.
Quoting the Notification from the Federal Government on Enforcement Discretion for telehealth remote communications during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, Dr. Gandhi said, “A covered health care provider that wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients. OCR is exercising its enforcement discretion to not impose penalties for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth using such non-public facing audio or video communication products during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. This exercise of discretion applies to telehealth provided for any reason, regardless of whether the telehealth service is related to the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions related to COVID-19.”
Dr. Soumya Reddy Neravetla, Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery, through a chart for providers that has a diagnostic code for each type of services one could provide to patients via telehealth, offered an overview of the set up options for physicians who are new to telemedicine. “You can use your tablet or smartphone for the telemedicine software/video call with the patient next to a computer that you are logged on to for regular EMR. Thus allowing documentation/chart review simultaneous. We are working with Cure Companion to provide discounted easy to use options for our members,” she said.
Dr. Hetal Gor, specialized in OBGYN, educated the participants on how the data on people with symptoms keeps changing everyday. She said, Pregnant women are more at risk for Covid infection and it could possibly impact the newborn and breast feeding by these mothers could adversely impact the newborn.
Dr. Arunachalam Einstein provided an update on identifying Covid Infection, various symptoms, including diarrhea to respiratory. He advocated for adequate precaution while caring for patients with such symptoms as a way of staying off this virus. He stressed the need for close monitoring of such patients after discharging these patients by Tele Nurses for any symptoms and follow up after discharge.
Dr. Kusum Punjabi, who is specialized in Emergency Medicine and works in New Jersey, gave an overview of the fast changing data on prevalence of people diagnosed with COVID 19. She said, corona-virus and Influence can co-exist in each patient. With rapid increases of people diagnosed with symptoms, an alarming phase doubling every day, hospital in her state have set up tents outside of the hospital for triaging patients prior to admitting them depending on the need.
Describing the current times and circumstances and as “an extra ordinary and unprecedented time and that never before in the modern history have we have experienced this kind of health-related calamity,” Dr. Reddy said, “Covid -19 also called Corona Virus disease is playing havoc on our streets and isolating family members at home. The results are catastrophic. We don’t have vaccines or anti-viral agents to effectively treat the patients with this strange disease. In the next four weeks, we will have a lot more Americans helplessly dying due to this “rakshas” virus. Now even young people in their 20s are dying from this viral disease. This is a global war on this “rakshas” virus. We request all the members to donate generously to fight this ferocious virus, which has put basic existence of entire human race at stake.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Suresh Reddy has announced that AAPI has launched a Help Desk Button on AAPI’s website, and AAPI has started a Covid Advisory Committee for the community under the leadership of Dr. Jayesh Shah, past President of AAPI.
|· AAPI has also decided to have Teleconference regularly to discus, educate and share information on Corona Viryus related topics, Dr. Anumama, Gotimukula, Vice President of AAPI anounced. The next conference will be on Wednesday, March 25th with the following speakers:
1. Pulmonary/ Critical care- Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine Section
2. Cardiology: Dr. Brahma Sharma, Cardiologist, Faculty, UPMC ,Pittsburg
3. Anesthesiology : Dr. Kumar Belani ,
4. Dr. Krishan Kumar, Pediatric Emergency Medicine , New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital
Moderator- Dr. Lokesh Edara; Followed by Q& A session.
For more information, please visit: www.aapiusa.org
Want to Know More About COVID-19?
· The pandemic that’s spread to nearly every country in the world is picking up pace, with global cases edging close to 400,000 and deaths soared past 16,000. And here’s how. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while it took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus, it took only 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just 4 days for the third 100,000 cases.
· And while asking people to stay at home and other physical-distancing measures were an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described them as “defensive measures that will not help us to win”. On the contrary, testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and chasing and quarantining every close contact, is the way to go.
· However, the outbreak could overwhelm health systems around the world in just a few weeks. Think intensive care units, doctors and nurses utterly exhausted. World health officials estimate more than 26 million healthcare workers may end up treating Covid-19 patients.
· The need of the hour is ramping up production of personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses and to avoid placing export bans on the life-saving gear. Note: If we don’t prioritise protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their lives is sick.
· The WHO said the success in controlling the pandemic will depend on “densely populated countries” like India. Michael J Ryan, executive director of the WHO, however, expressed confidence in India’s ability to step up. “India led the world in eradicating two pandemics, small-pox and polio so India has a tremendous capacity,” he said.
- A revelation: Nearly 1 out of every three people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in China was an asymptomatic carrier of the virus — “silent carriers” who show no symptom of the disease such as fever or cough — classified Chinese government documents show, reports South China Morning Post. More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, SCMP reports. China, against WHO’s norm, did not count these positive cases in the official tally at the time — around 80,000. They were, however, quarantined. China’s doesn’t appear to be a lone case. Research by a group of Japanese scientists led by Hiroshi Nishiura, an epidemiologist at Hokkaido University, has found that nearly 30.8% who tested positive after evacuation from Wuhan were asymptomatic. In South Korea, where wide-scale testing (nearly 300,000) was conducted, 20% of positive cases were asymptomatic.
- Why it matters? Most other nations, including India, do not test asymptomatic carriers unless they have been in contact with a confirmed case. After all, that they do not exhibit “sickness” means they slip under the radar. The WHO had said transmission of virus through asymptomatic carriers was “extremely rare”. But data from China and South Korea suggest, by ignoring asymptomatic carriers, the world may only have a tunnel vision of the pandemic. Note: Since carriers themselves wouldn’t know they are infected, only extensive testing of the population would bring such cases under the light.
- But they could transmit the virus. That these “silent carriers” do not show symptoms such as coughing does reduce the chances of transmission. But it is not fool-proof, Ho Pak-leung, a professor with the microbiology department of the University of Hong Kong, tells SCMP. “Of course it is hard to say if they may be less infectious if they don’t cough. But there are also droplets when you speak,” he said. Another joint study by specialists from Columbia University, the University of Hong Kong, Imperial College London, Tsinghua University, and the University of California had earlier reported that an estimated 86% of infections in China before January 23 — when Beijing finally locked down Wuhan — were not documented.