Today’s NewsStand — Dec. 24, 2020

Iowa news

COVID-19 vaccine plan means some states will lag in getting shots to highest-risk groups

As health care workers and nursing home residents await the first scarce syringes of COVID-19 vaccine, few realize that when they will get a dose depends a lot on what state they live in. Though they’re first in line for the vaccine, some people in those groups may end up getting vaccinated after people in other states who are deemed lower priority. The vaccine is allocated according to the number of adults in each state, which doesn’t correlate to the number of high-risk people there. As long as supplies are limited, some states won’t get doses proportionate to their needs. In those places, medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be exposed to the coronavirus for weeks or months longer. They’ll be more vulnerable to sickness and death. (Des Moines Register)

Saint Luke’s nurse shares firsthand account dealing with the sickest COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Unit

A worker at UnityPoint Health-Saint Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids is sharing her story of working with some of the sickest Iowans because of  COVID-19, to help people better understand the effects of the virus. Beth Parilo has been a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Saint Luke’s in Cedar Rapids for the past 10 years. A typical day now is dealing with the sickest COVID-19 patients, those coming to them from another floor or hospital already on a ventilator or needing to be put on one. An average ICU stay is about 40 days, and many don’t survive. But the experience has brought the ICU team even closer, leaning on each other to keep morale up. Parilo said when this is over, she predicts a big need for counseling. (KCRG)

NAMI south central Iowa advocate uses her experience to fight mental health stigma

Employees of an Iowa nonprofit are hoping to end the stigma about mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a support system that has helped millions of affected Americans. The nonprofit’s south-central Iowa chapter helps families in Appanoose County — and is expanding its services to Wapello, Davis and Mahaska counties. Families in those areas soon will have access to mental health support groups and educational resources at no cost to them. The chapter’s development director, Bethany Woodard, says she’s passionate about helping others who struggle with mental illness because it’s an issue that’s dear to her heart. (KTVO)

National news

US gets more help in raging battle against COVID-19 as FDA authorizes Moderna vaccine, the second allowed for emergency use

Americans will soon have access to a second COVID-19 vaccine. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, granted emergency authorization Friday to a vaccine made by Moderna, a week after giving similar clearance to one made by Pfizer and its German collaborator, BioNTech. His is “authorizing” rather than approving the vaccine, because longer-term research is needed to meet the full standards for approval, which officials don’t want to wait for during the public health emergency. The speedy path to authorization was possible because the agency “cut through regulatory red tape,” Hahn said. “We worked quickly based on the urgency of this global pandemic … we have not cut corners.” The US is the first country to authorize two COVID-19 vaccines. (Des Moines Register)

Top 10 telehealth stories of 2020

The COVID-19 crisis prompted an enormous uptick in virtual care use from patients and providers – but it has also raised a number of questions about telehealth’s security, accessibility and longevity. There’s no question the COVID-19 crisis ignited unprecedented patient interest in telehealth. But with the skyrocketing appointment rates and glowing reports about patient and provider satisfaction came concerns about security, accessibility and longevity. Many of those questions are still unanswered as we turn the corner into 2021. But to gain a sense of the landscape going forward, here’s a refresher of Healthcare IT News’ top 10 telehealth stories from 2020. (Healthcare IT News)

$1.4 trillion spending package grants home health OTs more authority

As different health care stakeholders combed through the new $1.4 trillion spending package approved by Congress on Monday, many likely felt a mix of excitement and disappointment. Included in the nearly 6,000-page spending package was a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, changes to home health therapy rules and certain hospice provisions. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, too, as it’s unlikely that even the lawmakers who voted on the package read it in its entirety. Home-based care insiders are in the process of doing so. So far, there’s reason to be happy about the relief package, which now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature. (Home Health Care News)