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Authors Posts by Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

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Mr. Phillips is responsible to assist the association with health policy, which primarily includes member communication and advocacy with the Governor’s office, General Assembly, and state regulatory agencies. Mr. Phillips was most recently at the Pennsylvania Department of State as Director of Legislative Affairs.

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Today, the Legislative, Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) released a study on community mental health services. Last year, the General Assembly adopted House Resolution 515 of 2019, which directed LBFC to conduct a broad-based study of Pennsylvania’s county administered, community-based mental health (MH) services. The resolution directed LBFC to collect and present information on 10 comprehensive and complex data points.

In response to HR 515, LBFC modified the objectives and scope and focused on creating observational summaries of data, which were collected from various state agencies, including the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Corrections (DOC), and the Health Care Cost Containment Council PHC4). LBFC also surveyed all county MH Administrators. The report can be found on the LBFC’s website.

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Rite Aid Pharmacy Partnership with Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Providers
The Pennsylvania Departments of Human Services, Health, and Drug and Alcohol Programs have established a partnership with Rite Aid to ensure providers of congregate care settings throughout the commonwealth have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The partnership is a result of a survey sent to DDAP residential treatment providers on January 26, 2021, to better understand how many providers were still in need of establishing a partnership with a vaccine provider in Pennsylvania.

If you are a residential treatment provider still in need of establishing a partnership, please let us know by contacting DDAP’s Dan Miller. If your facility meets the qualifications to participate in this partnership, we will connect you with a Rite Aid location who can come to your residential facility to vaccinate your residents and staff. To identify a vaccine provider in your local area, visit this web page.

Your Turn Eligibility Tool
If you or your staff are unsure if you qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during phase 1a of Pennsylvania’s vaccine distribution plan, the Wolf Administration recently released the Your Turn tool to identify eligibility and provide notifications when you, or a loved one, are eligible for vaccinations.

Vaccine Supply Remains Limited
It is important to note that the vaccine supply is still very limited throughout the commonwealth and we ask for your patience as more vaccine becomes available. For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine and Pennsylvania’s vaccine distribution plan, visit the Department of Health’s website.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2021

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today provided an update on Pennsylvania’s progress administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities eligible in Phase 1A. To date, more than 193,000 residents and staff of nursing facilities, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose through the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. Additionally, nearly 10,000 residents and staff of other long-term and congregate care facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) have received their first vaccine dose through the partnership with Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid, and this partnership is being expanded to include residential drug and alcohol treatment providers licensed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) who identified as needing a vaccine provider.

“Vaccinating residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities – people who are often most at-risk of a severe case of COVID-19 if exposed – protects our most vulnerable residents who are not leaving their facilities and homes themselves but are most affected by rates of COVID-19 in our broader community,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “This progress is a much-needed reprieve for long-term care facilities that have been particularly challenged by COVID-19 and community transmission, and it’s a line of defense for our health care system as a whole.”

Pennsylvanians living in these facilities eligible for the federal program are receiving vaccines from CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. As of February 19 all skilled nursing facilities have had their first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses, CVS has completed 100 percent of the second dose clinics and Walgreens is working to vaccinate the remaining second dose clinics before all nursing facilities are complete. More than 70 percent of personal care homes and assisted living facilities covered through the partnership have received their first round of vaccine doses, and CVS and Walgreens expect to finish first rounds before the end of the month. To date, the partnership has administered:

Vaccinations as of Feb. 19 First Doses Second Doses Total Doses
CVS Pharmacy 161,935 86,567 248,502
Walgreens 31,358 9,788 41,146

 

“Through the work of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership’s (FPP) we are able to ensure every nursing home resident and staff member who wants a vaccine can receive it – and we are proud of the progress thus far,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “As nursing homes finish administering the remaining second dose clinics, we know that when the federal government’s mission for the FPP program is complete we will remain committed to getting vaccine to incoming residents and staff in the future. The Department of Health and long term care facilities remain vigilant and will continue to vaccinate through existing relationships with health care providers, just as with routine medication and flu vaccinations.”

Other long-term and congregate care settings included in Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s Interim Vaccination Plan, including group homes for people with disabilities; residential treatment facilities and long-term structured residences for adults with behavioral health needs; and private psychiatric hospitals, are not included in the federal partnership but are still in the Phase 1A due to the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings.

These settings serve people who have co-occurring medical needs that put them at higher risk of severe cases and death if they contract the virus. Some personal care homes and assisted living facilities also were not enrolled in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program and may be served by the Rite Aid partnership for DHS-licensed facilities.

Vaccine clinics for these facilities are being held on-site for facilities where people served are not able to travel off-site. Additional clinics are being scheduled at centralized locations when possible to accommodate more facilities and community group homes, which are typically small, private residences. To date, the partnership has administered:

Facilities with First Doses Administered Total Doses Administered to Date Facilities Scheduled for Vaccination Expected Doses through Scheduled Clinics
Office of Developmental Programs Facilities 1,512 4,978 102 753
Office of Long-Term Living Facilities 83 3,539 32 1,920
Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Facilities 13 1,342 13 988

 

Nearly 9,900 people have been vaccinated so far through this partnership. Approximately 3,660 people living and working in 147 DHS-licensed facilities and group homes are currently scheduled to be vaccinated through this partnership. Expected reach of this partnership has shifted as some facilities have ended up receiving vaccinations through other contacts.

Additionally, the Rite Aid partnership is expanding to vaccinate residential drug and alcohol treatment providers licensed by DDAP who identified as needing an established partnership with a vaccine provider through a survey administered by the department. Approximately 450 people will be vaccinated at 12 scheduled clinics at residential treatment providers where people served are not able to travel off site through early March.

“Often, residential drug and alcohol treatment providers are forgotten among other congregate care settings, however some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens are receiving treatment for the disease of addiction in these facilities,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “The Rite Aid partnership is another tool in our COVID-19 toolbox to minimize community transmission and ensure all health care providers have established partnerships with vaccine providers.”

Learn more about the partnership with Rite Aid and view more data here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Every day tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.

  • This week, a total of 326,850 doses will have been allocated through February 20:
    • 183,575 first doses will have been allocated this week.
    • 143,275 second doses will have been allocated this week.
  • To date, of the 2,766,400 doses allocated through February 20, we have administered 1,867,240 doses total through February 18:
    • First doses, 86 percent (1,387,443 administered of 1,610,175 allocated)
    • Second doses, 41 percent (479,797 administered of 1,156,225 allocated) 

Vaccine Order signed Feb. 12
Last week, Sec. Beam signed an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers deliver 80 percent of doses within seven days of receipt, provide a phone number where people can speak to an individual to make an appointment and report race and ethnicity data for everyone vaccinated.

Your Turn tool
Last week, Pennsylvania launched the Your Turn tool to help everyone understand where they fall in the vaccination prioritization effort. The Your Turn tool directs eligible residents to the department’s vaccine provider map online to locate a trusted local provider and schedule a vaccination appointment. Your Turn also allows people to register to receive updates about vaccine distribution and allows the department to let you know when it is your turn to get vaccinated.

In addition to the Your Turn tool and while vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

Community preparedness and procedures materials

MEDIA CONTACTS: Barry Ciccocioppo, Health – ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov
Erin James, DHS – ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov
Rachel Kostelac, DDAP – 717-547-3314

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As part of its campaign to end the stigma surrounding opioid use disorder in Pennsylvania, Life Unites Us will host a webinar at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 23, “Life Unites Us: Recovery in the Workplace.”

Sarah Kawasaki, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and Department of Medicine at Penn State, will lead the webinar.

Register Here

In this webinar, participants will learn about:

  • Methadone and the stages of recovery;
  • Stigma in the way the medical community treats substance use disorder;
  • Effective terminology to use when discussing substance use disorder in the workplace; and
  • How best to support co-workers and employees at work.

See the flyer for more information and registration.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2021

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the newly formed joint task force with the legislature today reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that Pennsylvanians will have access to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine within the CDC-recommended timeframe of up to 42 days after the first dose.

Acknowledging communications shortcomings and the need for more frequent outreach to providers, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam outlined plans moving forward.

“As the Department of Health continues to review and improve the complex processes necessary to get COVID-19 vaccine from the manufacturers into the arms of Pennsylvanians as quickly as possible, we discovered some providers inadvertently administered the Moderna vaccine shipped to them intended as second doses, as first doses,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “We are taking immediate action to remedy the situation and are committed to ensuring that second doses are available.

“After careful review and discussion with legislators on Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force we have a clear path forward that may include adjusting the timing of second dose administration following CDC guidelines that set the minimum time between doses at 21 and 28 days and the maximum time at 42 days.”

“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are both two-dose vaccines,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “While the second dose was given either three or four weeks later during the clinical trials, the CDC has provided some leeway in the schedule given the limited amounts of vaccine available. Immunologically, waiting six weeks after the first dose to administer the second dose will surely result in the same booster response as that found during the three to four week interval.”

“We are in the desert with little water to drink,” Sen. Art Haywood, Senate Democratic Caucus Task Force member, said. “So it is with a scarce vaccine.  Now, we can’t waste the first dose of vaccine by not giving the second.”

“This second dose issue was the first major problem addressed by this task force and we have demonstrated that we are able to respond in real time and in a bipartisan manner,” said Sen. Ryan Aument, Senate Republican Caucus Task Force member. “However, we recognize that much work remains to implement a highly efficient and effective statewide plan to ensure that all Pennsylvanians who want to receive the vaccine, can. It is my hope that the task force will continue to work in a collaborative way to streamline and strengthen Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout.”

“Our task force is laser focused on getting the vaccine into the arms of every eligible Pennsylvanian,” said House Democratic Caucus Task Force member, Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “The supply clearly does not meet the demand. It is pertinent that we have the second doses available to providers that have already administered the first dose. I am very optimistic that the supply will continue to increase as we enter into the next phase of the vaccine rollout.”

“It is vitally important that we collectively work together to improve the state’s vaccination rate and get shots in arms,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal, Task Force member for the House Republican Caucus. “This is a first step in moving forward. I look forward to collaborating with other members of the task force to remove all barriers, streamline vaccination efforts and provide clear direction to all.”

“By working with local vaccine providers to help them better understand the delivery of first and second dose vaccines and by extending the time between doses, while remaining within CDC guidelines, we can minimize any disruption to first dose vaccinations,” Acting Sec. Beam said. “Our goal remains getting the extremely limited supply of vaccine to people as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The department is very closely monitoring the inventory of vaccine in Pennsylvania. To maximize the amount of vaccine getting to people, the department will begin pulling excess inventory from throughout the vaccine provider system to get it to providers that can get 80 percent of it into arms within seven days.

This week, Pennsylvania has been allocated 183,575 first doses of vaccine; and 143,275 second doses of vaccine. In addition, the federal government is sending thousands of vaccine doses directly to Rite Aid and Topco stores in Pennsylvania under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership program. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health receives its own, separate allocation of vaccine.

“The department is working directly with vaccine providers throughout this process and, in line with the vaccine order I signed last week, will be able to provide more precise information on vaccine allocations each week to increase transparency and predictability with first doses,” Acting Sec. Beam said.

The task force is working with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as an integral part of these important conversations on how to ensure second doses are allocated accordingly.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Every day tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are the latest vaccination statistics through Feb. 16:

  • Local vaccine providers have administered 1,749,949 doses.
    • First doses, 82 percent (1,313,538 administered of 1,610,175 allocated)
    • Second doses, 38 percent (436,411 administered of 1,156,225 allocated)

Vaccine Order signed Feb. 12
Last week, Sec. Beam signed an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers deliver 80 percent of doses within seven days of receipt, provide a phone number where people can speak to an individual to make an appointment and report race and ethnicity data for everyone vaccinated.

Your Turn tool

Last week, Pennsylvania launched the Your Turn tool to help everyone understand where they fall in the vaccination prioritization effort. The Your Turn tool directs eligible residents to the department’s vaccine provider map online to locate a trusted local provider and schedule a vaccination appointment. Your Turn also allows people to register to receive updates about vaccine distribution and allows the department to let you know when it is your turn to get vaccinated.

In addition to the Your Turn tool and while vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

MEDIA CONTACT:  Barry Ciccocioppo, ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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