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COVID-19 Updates

June 4, 2020 — 8:00 a.m.

For the latest COVID-19 numbers, go to the DHEC website. SCHA continues to host calls with DHEC to address the concerns of the state’s hospitals and health systems. The next COVID-19 update call with DHEC is scheduled for Thursday, June 4 at 1:00 p.m. If you are an SCHA member and would like to be added to the call or email update, please send an email to subscriptions@scha.org.

Testing

State officials have announced a plan to significantly increase COVID-19 testing in South Carolina. The plan includes testing all of the state’s nursing home residents and staff and a sharp increase in testing availability for the general public. DHEC expects to expand testing to 2% of the state’s population in each of the next two months, which will increase testing to 110,000 tests per month, or 220,000 in May and June combined. Learn more about DHEC’s expanded testing to long-term care facilities here.

DHEC launched a testing site map that easily and clearly identifies COVID-19 testing sites around the state. Clicking on a testing site icon provides the facility name, address, hours of operation, contact phone number and additional details. Testing sites are also listed under the map for easy viewing. View the updated map at scdhec.gov/covid19testing.

In addition, DHEC continues to update its list of mobile testing clinics as these events occur across the state. Mobile testing clinics are available at scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.

Accessing SC’s Supply of Remdesivir

South Carolina has received a limited supply of remdesivir, an antiviral drug that recently received FDA approval for emergency use after it was shown to improve recovery times for COVID-19 patients. Licensed practitioners (MD, DO, NP, PA, PharmD) are eligible to request a 5-day treatment course of remdesivir through REDCap—a secure, HIPAA compliant software managed at MUSC. Learn more about the process for healthcare providers to request remdesivir in SC.

Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System for N95 Masks

The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System is now up and running. This system is free of charge to any SC healthcare provider and uses vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate compatible N95 masks. For contacts and information on how to utilize this valuable service, please review the process here.

Bed Reporting

DHEC is asking all hospitals to report bed status every 24 hours at 6 a.m. into the Bed Availability and Reporting Tool (BART) until further notice. We have developed some helpful reminders and definitions to help you navigate the BART system.

Bed Surge Planning

SCHA has been working closely with DHEC, the Emergency Management Division (EMD) and the National Guard to develop a surge plan for South Carolina. Learn more here.

Lab Developed Tests

Hospitals wanting to conduct their own Lab Developed Test for COVID-19 may do so after submitting the appropriate paperwork, including five negatives and five positives, to the FDA. DHEC can assist with sample validation, and approval from the FDA is not required to begin testing. If you have any questions, contact Dr. Atwell Coleman, Director of DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory at colemaaa@dhec.sc.gov.

Visitor Policies

Hospitals and health systems across South Carolina are adjusting their visitor’s policies to adapt to COVID-19. Many facilities are implementing a “no visitors” policy that would limit visitors to end of life situations.

COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

The federal government is taking aggressive actions and exercising regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers combat and contain the spread of COVID-19. CMS is empowered to take proactive steps through 1135 waivers and rapidly expand the Administration’s aggressive efforts against COVID-19. As a result, these blanket waivers have been made available to healthcare providers. The waivers are retroactively effective as of March 1, 2020; the use of this waiver authority does not require any notice to CMS.

Guidance for Alternate Care Sites

CMS has provided updated guidance on EMTALA requirements related to COVID-19 that provide for the establishment of alternate care sites on hospital campuses, or through off-campus, hospital-controlled sites. All hospitals should contact DHEC to confirm the placement of their alternate care site. CMS has announced that they will suspend all field work other than emergency only at this time and continue to host weekly calls with hospitals every Monday at 12 p.m.

Waste Management

The CDC has determined that medical waste generated in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and patients under investigation be managed in accordance with routine procedures. There are no additional packaging or transportation requirements from the Department of Transportation for regulated medical waste or sharps. Stericycle has updated coronavirus-related packaging guidelines for regulated medical waste and sharps.

Stay connected to Stericycle’s Coronavirus Knowledge Center at https://stericycle.com/coronavirus

The CDC also has a Q&A section dedicated to coronavirus waste management in a healthcare setting.

Temporary Staffing

Aya Healthcare, in partnership with Qualivis, has enacted an emergency preparedness and rapid response staffing unit to assist facilities in planning and caring for increased patient census and/or low core staff availability due to COVID-19. While this is a significant resource for hospitals for covering shifts, know that the rapid response service is available at a premium rate. Because the assignments require quick start dates, are short in duration, and include working in a potentially high-risk environment, hourly rates are higher than typical temporary staffing assignments.

If you need additional staffing resources and are a current Qualivis customer, reach out to your account specialist. If you are not currently a Qualivis client, contact Sherry Kolb at 803.609.6862.

Communications Tools

SCHA and Solvent Networks have created a communications toolkit to support your efforts to remain open and transparent with your staff during this time of crisis. This is not intended to replace any of your current communications strategies. It is simply a resource of ideas, examples and template for your consideration. Resources include:

  • Crisis communications guidance;
  • Ways to say thank you, including visuals for a social media or public service campaign;
  • Ideas for taking your messages to the public;
  • Links to state and national organizations with more communications resources.

These materials are not branded so that each facility can make them their own. Let us know if you have ideas or examples you’re willing to share with other hospitals in a best practices section.

As your facility responds to COVID-19, use your website and social media to educate the public. Tell your story and update your community on any changes in operations at your facility.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

SC Department of Health and Environmental Control

If you would like to be added to DHEC’s email distribution list for updates on COVID-19, please send your contact information to media@dhec.sc.gov. If you have any questions or concerns related to your facility’s ability to respond to COVID-19, please send an email to the SCHA Disaster Team at scdisaster@scha.org.