DC releases report on ‘lessons learned’ from the coronavirus pandemic

With the end of the District’s public health emergency on Sunday, Mayor Muriel Bowser, along with DC Health, released a report on lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic.

Bowser called it moving toward a “new normal.”

The 43-page report set forth many proposed goals and changes including an effort to engage with more partners to make changes in the health system.

The report focuses on equity and offers solutions for improving the health system through five areas including the workforce, health care facilities, health information technology, health planning and community health services.

“Since the earliest days of this pandemic, our community has worked together to protect each other and crush the virus,” Bowser said. “Now, we have the opportunity to build a new and better normal and attack long-standing disparities in health outcomes. As we recover strong, let’s keep working together to build a healthier, more equitable D.C.”

The workforce changes include an “immediate” effort to provide implicit bias and discrimination training to health care workers, the utilization of digital credentials to reduce application processing times and an update to licensure categories to reflect telehealth-specific credentialing.

The report also suggests, given the shortage of health providers that certain procedures that traditionally require specific oversight like cardiac rehabilitation may need to be “reexamined for more flexible supervision options.”

Health care facility changes outlined in the report include increased Health Regulation and Licensing Administration oversight, expanding administration of services for Medicaid-eligible people through telehealth or home-based models and increasing home care options.

One aspect of this plan is assessing the utilization of urgent centers as it says some are underutilized and residents may not know of their availability.

Health information technology changes include looking at data collection to address health equity, using data dashboards to “operationalize data” for decision-making, incorporate the use of apps and tools to enhance telemedicine and make data sharing easier among electronic health record systems.

Health planning changes include using community partners, expanding the scope of school-based health providers, and reviewing COVID-19 rates and clinical outcomes and its impact on social needs among populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Community health changes proposed in the report include using telehealth for more of these, ensuring health care delivery systems are easily accessible, and using federal and local food access programs to build partnerships with health care partners.

Read the full report on the DC Health website.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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