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Monthly Archives

February 2023

Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Transition Roadmap

By News


Based on current COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. Our response to the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remains a public health priority, but thanks to the Administration’s whole of government approach to combatting the virus, we are in a better place in our response than we were three years ago, and we can transition away from the emergency phase.

Over the last two years, the Biden Administration has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in U.S. history, with nearly 270 million Americans receiving at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As a result of this and other efforts, since the peak of the Omicron surge at the end of January 2022:

  • Daily COVID-19 reported cases are down 92%,
  • COVID-19 deaths have declined by over 80%, and
  • New COVID-19 hospitalizations are down nearly 80%.

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Comcast, AT&T bag big wins as S. Carolina awards $133M for broadband

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Source: Fierce Telecom

By Diana Goovaerts

AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Brightspeed were among 15 internet service providers to take home grant money as the state of South Carolina awarded $132.8 million to expand broadband access there.

The grant money covers projects in 33 counties and will see the awardees collectively reach at least 39,606 locations over the next two years. Including matching funds from the operators, the total broadband investment supported by the funding round is expected to amount to nearly $256.8 million.

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Coronavirus Waivers & Flexibilities

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In certain circumstances, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) using section 1135 of the Social Security Act (SSA) can temporarily modify or waive certain Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, or HIPAA requirements, called 1135 waivers.  There are different kinds of 1135 waivers, including Medicare blanket waivers.  When there’s an emergency, sections 1135 or 1812(f) of the SSA allow us to issue blanket waivers to help beneficiaries access care.  When a blanket waiver is issued, providers don’t have to apply for an individual 1135 waiver.  When there’s an emergency, we can also offer health care providers other flexibilities to make sure Americans continue to have access to the health care they need.

Update regarding intent to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations and extensions by way of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) for Fiscal Year 2023

Update: On Thursday, December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law H.R. 2716, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. This legislation provides more than $1.7 trillion to fund various aspects of the federal government, including an extension of the major telehealth waivers and the Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCaH) individual waiver that were initiated during the federal public health emergency (PHE).

Additionally, on January 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced its intent to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11, 2023, related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CMS is committed to updating supporting resources and providing updates as soon as possible. Please continue to use the provider-specific fact sheets for information about COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) waivers and flexibilities.

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Telehealth Challenge at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School

By News

Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) would like to congratulate Savannah Brown, RN on winning the Telehealth Challenge put in place by Palmetto Care Connections, a non-profit organization located in Bamberg focused on increasing access to health care services in rural and underserved communities in South Carolina.  Savannah is a dedicated school nurse serving students at Bamberg Ehrhardt High School (BEHS).  All schools within the Bamberg County School District have telehealth equipment and are connected virtually to the local rural health clinic, Bamberg Family Practice.  Health care providers at Bamberg Family Practice can treat students virtually in each of the schools, making it more convenient and accessible for students and parents.

Savannah has been working at Bamberg Ehrhardt High School for four years. She started her nursing career seven years ago with Colleton Medical Center located in Walterboro working in the Emergency Department.  According to Savannah, the position in the Emergency Department required a a lot of critical thinking, and she did not think she would do much of that in the school setting, but that has not been the case.  Savannah indicated that she became a nurse to help people when they were hurt or sick, when they needed it the most.   Her favorite part of her job is the relationship she builds with each student at the school. “This job is more than handing out band aids and ice packs. I still get to use my critical thinking skills all the time and I love it.” Savannah thinks her job is exactly what God intended for her to do as “It allows me to be the best mom I can be to my boys and to be more available for my family. It also helps that I have the best work family to spend my days with.”

Savannah has been married to her husband Wayne for seven years and they have two beautiful boys Connor (4) and Tanner (2) and a boxer named Millie!  Savannah enjoys going to the beach, traveling, and spending time with her family. Savannah is also a swim coach for the “Special Olympics”, and she adores her team.

Savannah thinks telehealth is important to our community because it provides a means of healthcare when others may not have the option to travel to be seen by a provider. “I have been able to offer both students and staff an option for going to the doctor here at school. Parents don’t have to worry about missing work to take their child to the doctor for something that can be done via telehealth. I love that I have this option here to offer them. I would recommend telehealth to other schools because there are many things that students need a doctor for, but may not be able to get there. Having this option set students up for success. They only miss 15 minutes of class versus hours in school. It is a very beneficial tool to have.”  According to Mr. Jordan Smith, Principal at Bamberg Ehrhardt High School, “Schools, especially in small towns, often function as the center of a community. Utilizing telehealth at BEHS has made a positive impact on the partnership between the classroom and the home.  Nurse Brown is more than a school nurse to us; she is a community leader who cares about our students with the same intent she cares for her own.  Thank you, Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), for recognizing Nurse Brown.”

Please help us congratulate Savannah Brown and her efforts in improving health care in our rural community.