Catholic Health Association joins call for ramp-up of Covid-19 response

People at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., form a queue to enter a tent erected to test for coronavirus March 19, 2020. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)People at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., form a queue to enter a tent erected to test for coronavirus March 19, 2020. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

The Catholic Health Association of the United States joined 17 other national organizations representing the nation’s health care providers, including hospitals, clinical laboratories, health insurance providers, health care professionals and biopharmaceutical manufacturers, in calling on the Trump administration and Congress “to take immediate and coordinated action to address the critical needs of capacity and supply in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In a joint letter to the vice president and congressional leaders, C.H.A. and the other organizations emphasized the need to increase medical capacity and testing, enhance the national supply of critical medical equipment, protect front-line care providers and technicians and improve coordination in treating patients.

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“C.H.A. and our partners from other health care organizations recognize the critical importance of the private sector and the government joining together for an urgent national response to this public health emergency,” said Mary Haddad, R.S.M., the president and chief executive officer of C.H.A. “Our members are on the front lines caring for those affected and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the necessary resources to treat patients and be protected while delivering care.”

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In their letter, the U.S. health care professionals told Vice President Mike Pence, who has been placed in charge of the administration’s response to the crisis, as well as House leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer that the nation faces an unprecedented challenge with Covid-19. “From expanding public health capacity and access to and the availability of testing, to taking action to mitigate the economic and societal impact, we know these are serious and significant times. But we also know that immediate, collective action—by the private sector and all levels of government—to address the critical needs of capacity and supply can help resolve this challenge.

“The private sector will deploy every necessary resource to match this moment,” the health care leaders said. “It is absolutely essential for a coordinated government response to leverage the full force of the president’s national emergency declaration.”

Among the priorities outlined in the appeal to Washington: ensuring a stable, continuous supply of medical supplies by moving quickly to increase the production and distribution of items such as gowns, gloves, masks, testing materials and respiratory machines; strengthening provider capacity by identifying and modifying properties and sites that can be used to deliver care and encouraging patients to use alternate sites of care such as telehealth; assuring there is continued access to critical medications and related goods and that there are minimal supply chain disruptions.

The health care leaders urged the federal government “to expeditiously move to spur massive, increased production, distribution and access to gowns, masks, gloves, testing kits, testing swabs and respiratory machines.” They asked for regulatory flexibility “to facilitate safe and expedient patient access through home delivery and early refills where needed, while guarding against unnecessary stockpiling that could lead to drug shortages.”

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