IHA Daily Briefing: Sept. 3

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
IHA Hosts Special Member Meetings in October
Rural Health Network Grant Opportunity
CDC, FDA Update on E-Cigarette-Related Illnesses

IHA Hosts Special Member Meetings in October
Implementation of Medicaid MCO reforms, nurse staffing ratios and Phase II of the Hospital Assessment Program will be discussed at a five special member meetings, held regionally in October for member hospital and health system CEOs, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Nurse Executives and Government Relations staff.

Please join IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi and IHA Board Chair Mary Starmann-Harrison, President and CEO of Hospital Sisters Health System, for one of the five meetings. You can attend at any location:

  • Springfield on October 4—noon to 1:30 p.m.;
  • Benton on October 10—12:30-2 p.m.;
  • Edwardsville on October 11—8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.;
  • Naperville on October 14—12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.; and
  • Chicago on October 15—9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast or lunch will be served depending on the time of the meeting you choose. We encourage all IHA members to participate to share your input so we can discuss together our advocacy efforts in the coming months.

See our program webpage for more information on locations. Register today.

Rural Health Network Grant Opportunity
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced a new Notice of Funding Opportunity for The Rural Health Network Development Program. This program will support up to 46 applicant organizations, which are either public or nonprofit private rural entities who represent a network of three or more separate, existing health care entities.

HRSA says that it expects to invest $13 million for this program to support integrated rural healthcare networks that combine the functions of the network entities and include skilled, experienced staff, with a high functioning network board, in order to address healthcare needs of the targeted rural community.

Objectives and goals for this program include improving access and quality of healthcare in rural areas through network collaboration, utilizing and/or adapting an evidence-based model in the delivery of health care services, and promoting the sustainability of rural health networks through the creation of diverse products and services. Formal networks are encouraged to implement innovative solutions for local health care needs identified by local communities and strengthen network sustainability.

Details about the program and requirements for applicants are available at Grants.gov. The application deadline is November 25, 2019.

CDC, FDA Update on E-Cigarette-Related Illnesses
As of Aug. 27, 215 possible cases of severe respiratory disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported from 25 states, including Illinois, and additional reports of pulmonary illness are under investigation. So far, one death has been reported: an adult in Illinois who had been hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness following the use of an e-cigarette product. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say while some cases in each of the states are similar and appear to be linked to e-cigarette product use, more information is needed to determine what is causing the respiratory illnesses. In many cases, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms, including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization. Some cases reported mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea, or other symptoms such as fevers or fatigue. In many cases, patients have also acknowledged recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing e-cigarette products while speaking to healthcare personnel or in follow-up interviews by health department staff.

On Friday (Aug. 30), the CDC and FDA provided several updates about efforts between CDC, FDA, and state health officials to investigate these incidents that have impacted both youth and adults across the country, including:

  • Updating the number of potential cases of respiratory illnesses reported after use of e-cigarette products;
  • Sharing more details about the work CDC and FDA are undertaking as part of the investigation, including current status; and
  • Providing the public and health partners across the country with information to help mitigate the risk of additional incidents and what health officials and clinicians can do to help us gather as much data as possible to better understand these illness and potential causes.

The CDC and FDA note that even though cases appear similar, “It is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations, which is why our ongoing investigation is critical. CDC and the FDA are providing consultation to state health departments and working closely with them to gather information on any products or substances used. For example, our agencies are working to standardize information collection at the state level to help build a more comprehensive picture of these incidents. This includes investigating the brand and types of e-cigarette products, whether any of them are products that would fall within FDA’s regulatory authority, as well as where they were obtained.”

The CDC is helping involved states investigate whether the illnesses may be linked to specific devices, ingredients or contaminants in the devices, or substances associated with e-cigarette product use, with assistance from FDA. Current assistance to states includes:

  • Deploying CDC staff to Illinois and Wisconsin to assist their state health departments with the respective state investigations;
  • Releasing a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Clinical Action Alert describing this investigation and asking providers to report possible cases to their state health departments;
  • Developing and distributing to involved states a standardized case definition, medical chart abstraction form and case interview questionnaire with input from states that are running investigations;
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on data collection and health messaging tools for states; and
  • Facilitating information sharing between states with possible cases.

The CDC on Friday also issued a Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory. The advisory includes the recommendation that while this investigation is ongoing, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, consider refraining from the use of e-cigarette products. Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids) and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

See the joint statement from CDC and FDA here.