June 10, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the changing information surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to provide accurate and helpful information to POMA members, we have gathered some of the resources we are finding to be most useful and accurate at this time. We hope this helps you in staying on top of the latest developments in the spread of the disease and in helping your patients.

Stay safe and healthy!


Pennsylvania DOH Requires Hospitals to Implement Safety Measures to Protect Staff and Patients

Yesterday, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine issued an order requiring all hospitals take additional steps to further protect their staff and patients from COVID-19.  The order requires all hospitals to develop, implement and adhere to safety measures by Monday, June 15.  While many hospitals are already taking steps to protect their staff, the order "ensures that the necessary steps are in place to deliver a safer environment so these workers can continue providing high-quality care during these extraordinary times" which includes:

  • Notifying hospital staff members who have been in close-contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case within 24 hours of the known contact and provide instruction for quarantine;
  • Testing symptomatic and asymptomatic hospital staff members who received notice of a close contact with a confirmed or probably COVID-19 case upon request
  • Procuring and distributing nationally approved respirators to the hospital staff member when the staff member determines the mask is soiled, damaged or otherwise ineffective
  • Requiring universal masking for all individuals entering the hospital facility except for people for whom wearing a mask would create a further health risk or individuals under age 2.

In addition to medical and nursing staff, hospital staff members include therapeutic services, social services, housekeeping services, dietary services and maintenance.  If there are concerns about the safety at a facility, anonymous complaints can be filed with the Department of Health at 1-800-254-5164 or fill out the online form.

New Testing Facilities Opening Across Pennsylvania

Beginning today, five more COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites will open in Walmart parking lots across the state.  This is part of the state's new partnership with Walmart and Quest Diagnostics to increase testing for residents living in areas where there are fewer testing sites.  Over the next few weeks, additional free testing sites will open at Walmart locations across north central and northwest Pennsylvania.  Residents must register one day in advance through Quest.  Click here for a map of testing sites in Pennsylvania and to find a link to Quest's patient portal.

Gov. Wolf Provides Guidance to Resume High School and Other Summer Sports

Today, the Wolf Administration today issued preliminary guidance for high school and recreational sports teams to resume voluntary workouts and other in-person activities in the state's yellow and green phases.  The guidance includes college and professional sports.  The guidance balances keeping student athletes safe from COVID-19 while allowing them to participate in an important part of their lives.  The Wolf Administration will continue to work with stakeholders to revise the guidelines in the months ahead.

The Wolf Administration also updated guidance on outdoor recreation today and previously released summer guidance for camps, pools and child care.

HHS Provider Relief Funding Update

The US Department of Health and Human Services has been distributing provider relief payments to healthcare providers with funding provided through the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.  HHS has received a total of $175 billion through these two legislative packages and has distributed more than $50 billion through general distribution and additional funds throughh targeted distributions.  To date, payments have primarily been predicated on either Medicare fee-for-service claims data or COVID-19 data.

Beginning today, HHS will distribute $15 billion in provider relief funds to healthcare providers who participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs.  This funding will supply relief to Medicaid and CHIP providers experiencing lost revenue or increased expenses due to COVID-19.  HHS will also distribute an additional $10 billion in provider relief funds to safety net hospitals.

HHS provider relief payments to Medicaid and CHIP providers is a step forward, however, the criteria and payments are still limited and the AOA is continuing to advocate to HHS and Congress that these payments need to be expanded to include more physicians.  Please be on the lookout for sign-on letter opportunities and requests for grassroots advocacy from the AOA in the coming weeks.

Pennsylvania Suspends Licensing Regulations

Due to COVID-19, Governor Wolf has granted a number of temporary waivers for health care professionals to increase the available number of practitioners in the Commonwealth and reduce barriers to temporary licensure. Following are a list of waivers relevant for osteopathic physicians:

Click here for a complete list of suspended licensing regulations. For all licensing-related inquiries, please use the email addresses found here to contact the appropriate licensing board.

Updated Pennsylvania Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Cases, Graphics, Resources

Daily Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine

Resources from the CDC

The CDC has provided guidance and resources for healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, laboratories, as well as information for schools and childcare, businesses and employers, community and faith-based organizations, and the general public. Visit the CDC COVID-19 webpage for more information.

POMA will continue monitoring COVID-19 and provide updates and recommendations from PA-DOH, the CDC, the WHO and local health agencies. POMA's COVID-19 webpage and social media channels will be updated as information is shared from these organizations.

If you have any comments or questions for POMA, please email us at [email protected]. 

Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association | 1330 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 939-9318 | www.poma.org