Udow-Phillips in MLive: Where we need to take COVID-19 interventions to protect vulnerable populations

“By multiple measures, COVID-19 has been particularly deadly in Michigan,” writes Julie Mack in an MLive story that examines the causes. Mack reports that “Michigan’s death count equates to almost 10% of the state’s confirmed cases. That’s the highest percentage in the country.”

Looking at why Michigan has such a high coronavirus death rate is “really quite important, so we can have the best informed strategy” going forward, Marianne Udow-Phillips tells Mack, though she cautions that “there’s a problem with some comparisons between states because some states are not reporting accurately” or in a timely manner.

“A large percentage of deaths are in congregate living settings such as nursing homes and a large percentage are occurring in African-American populations,” Udow-Phillips says. “That informs us on where we need to take interventions; we need to do more to protect those populations, in particular.”

Read the full story.



Marianne Udow-Phillips in Bridge Magazine on ways to battle COVID-19 in our state’s vulnerable nursing homes

In “Michigan nursing homes linked to 1 in 4 coronavirus deaths. Tally will grow,” a Bridge Magazine story, Marianne Udow-Phillips describes one practice that Michigan could employ to battle COVID-19 in our state’s highly vulnerable nursing homes.

The disclosure of death counts by nursing homes should be a trigger for further action, Udow-Phillips told Bridge reporters.

She went on to describe nursing home “strike teams” other states have been using since early April. Maryland, for example, has sent teams composed of hospital health care workers, National Guard members and state and local health care workers to nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks. The teams assist with testing and provide on-site medical support.

Read the full story. 

Related content

COVID-19 rapid response brief: Best practices for protecting populations in nursing homes, long-term care settings

Udow-Phillips on Marketplace Morning Report: Why patients are putting off health care, even when they need it

Marianne Udow-Phillips is cited in a Marketplace Morning Report segment, “It’s safe to see your doctor, ailing health-care industry tells prospective patients.” The story focuses on what health care providers are doing to encourage clients to return for needed treatments.

“But even with reassurances, people across the country are putting off routine care,” says NPR Reporter Erika Beres. “Childhood vaccination rates are down, and emergency departments are seeing about half the volume they’d typically see.”

Marianne Udow-Phillips says people are afraid. “There is a lot of fear that when people go to the hospital they will become exposed to COVID-19, and they may actually end up sicker than they would if they just stayed home,” Udow-Phillips said.

Listen to the full segment. 

Michigan’s independent doctors are facing new hardships during coronavirus pandemic: Udow-Phillips explains

doctor, independant

The novel coronavirus is not only causing massive stress on hospital systems, but it is also threatening the existence of independent practices in Michigan. Ted Roelofs, in his latest story for Bridge Magazine, shares that as cases started to increase, and social distancing rules were implemented in March, private practices saw a dramatic decline in patients and revenue. 

With this decline in patients, private practices are facing hardships in determining if they will be able to recover from the loss in business. Some are able to receive aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program to continue essential operations and pay staff and bills for the near future. However, without the certainty of when this will all end, there is no indication if there will be more aid available to keep these operations running for longer. 

The Center for Health Research and Transformation’s executive director Marianne Udow-Phillips shares that it is very possible to see a decline in medical practices, especially in rural Michigan, which already has a shortage in primary care physicians. She also points out that as more independent physicians become less available, there will be a decline in personalized care. and that smaller practices do not have the same infrastructure to get through a “massive disruption” like this pandemic.

You can read the full article here.

–Summary by Emmen Ahmed

In MLive, Udow Phillips explores Michigan’s approach to reopening the economy: Slow, steady and safe

CHRT Executive Director Marianne Udow-Phillips discusses the uncertainties surrounding reopening Michigan’s economy in MLive story.

As Governor Whitmer and a 29-person Economic Recovery Council roll out a plan for restarting Michigan’s economy, the emphasis is on caution and flexibility. In a May 6 article, MLive’s Malachi Barrett explores the public health, regional, and economic factors that go into decision-making about safe business practices in nine different categories of workplaces in Michigan.

In the article, Barrett captures insights from Economic Recovery Council members on striking the balance that protects citizens and allows economic activity to increase. Looking ahead, CHRT Executive Director Marianne Udow-Phillips echos the concerns of public health experts and the health care community. “There’s a lot of worry in the public health community that as things open as people become more lax in social distancing, we will see that spike of illness and deaths again,” Udow-Phillips said.

While health and business experts evaluate risk of exposure in different workplaces, Barrett notes that policymakers are also considering regional differences in the number of cases reported and the capacity of different health care facilities. In combination with that data-based approach, Udow-Phillips notes that “…we’re going to have to open gradually, see what happens with those first openings and then over time things could start again.”

Read the entire MLive article here

Udow-Phillips in Michigan hospitals are needed now more than ever. Why are they laying off workers?

For hospitals and health systems in Michigan and the U.S., outpatient and elective procedures are the foundation of sustainable business. The March 10 executive order putting a hold on “non-essential procedures” in Michigan has had a profound effect on the viability of large and small health providers. MLive’s Malachi Barrett spoke with CHRT Executive Director Marianne Udow-Philips about the conditions that led up to the precipitous drop in hospital revenues, and the perils that may lie ahead for health facilities and systems.

While the executive order was aimed at protecting tenuous supplies of personal protective equipment as hospitals prepared for a wave of COVID-19 patients, it unavoidably halted the “non-emergency” procedures that provided a major income stream for hospitals. In the MLive article. the Michigan Health and Hospital Association estimates that without non-emergency and elective procedures Michigan hospitals are losing $300 million a week while simultaneously spending $100 million on COVID-related equipment, staff and treatments.

This widening gap between revenue and expenses is forcing layoffs of healthcare workers throughout Michigan and threatening the existence of some rural hospitals. Udow-Phillips expressed guarded optimism that hospitals may be able to resume elective procedures sometime in May. “I am expecting that we’ll start seeing in May some cases coming back into the hospital.” But, she says, “it really depends on how well we do in containing this virus. If the health system gets overwhelmed again, then they’re going to have to cut back.”

Udow-Phillips also discussed how providers are adapting to COVID-imposed health protocols and the expansion of telemedicine.

Read the entire MLive article here….

CHRT speaks with Huffington Post about improving senior housing options as COVID-19 ravages nursing homes

In “As COVID-19 ravages nursing homes, a new push for better senior housing,” medical writer Patricia Anstett looks at why nursing home residents, who in some states account for more than 50 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, are so vulnerable. These alarming statistics, writes Anstett, “have intensified an important discussion the nation will wrestle with for years to come: How can the United States expand community-based alternatives for seniors and improve care in larger facilities?”

CHRT’s Marianne Udow-Phillips, just one of the many experts Anstett cites in the piece, says governments, foundations, insurance plans, philanthropic organizations and advocacy groups have to come up with more creative solutions for elder care. Among the solutions Anstett features in the Huffington Post story is the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation’s Vital Seniors Initiative, which CHRT supports. 

Related content:

COVID-19 rapid response brief: Best practices for protecting populations in nursing homes, long-term care settings

Telehealth services have expanded to address COVID-19 emergency. Let’s preserve the most effective innovations.

Rural hospitals continue to suffer financially due to coronavirus, even hospitals with few COVID-19 patients

As the COVID-19 pandemic forces hospitals to focus on essential procedures, reducing revenues at health care facilities across Michigan, many rural hospitals are struggling to stay open. In this Michigan Health Watch series, Bridge Magazine’s Ted Roelofs examines some of the ways the coronavirus response is squeezing operating margins for rural health care providers, even if they may not be treating many COVID-19 patients.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 crisis, 18 rural hospitals in Michigan were at risk of closing, threatening access to care for about one-quarter of Michigan’s rural communities. Long-term population loss, fewer revenue-generating procedures to help pay for expensive diagnostic tools, and costly staffing of 24-hour emergency rooms all contributed to precarious financial situations. Now, the March 10 Executive Order  that puts a hold on “non-essential” procedures is further compounding an already-tenuous revenue situation for rural – and some non-rural – health facilities.

There may be some relief on the horizon, with possible federal assistance for hospitals that treated COVID-19 patients and, importantly, a loosening of restrictions on elective and outpatient procedures says Marianne Udow-Phillips, founding executive director of the Center for Health and Research Transformation. “I think there’s going to be some ability to be doing some of these procedures soon,” she reports.

The Bridge article also examines how hospitals in other states are responding to the focus on COVID-19 patients and looks at the financial impact of the coronavirus caseload on larger hospitals in Michigan.

Read the entire article here.

Udow-Phillips in HuffPo on what’s missing in the debate over Michigan’s ongoing stay-at-home orders

michigan state capitol lansingMichigan has been especially hit hard by COVID-19. In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus and to reduce the strain on hospitals and healthcare workers, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued aggressive stay-at-home orders. In “Something big is getting lost in the debate over stay-at-home orders,” Jonathan Cohn, a Huffington Post reporter, explores why these guidelines have sparked protests by those who believe their freedoms are unnecessarily inhibited.

Marianne Udow-Phillips, CHRT’s founding executive director, talks about the strain public health agencies are under as they work to support the health and human needs of Michiganders who have lost employment during the crisis. Udow-Phillips believes that state and local agencies are struggling to support the wave of needs because “we’ve underinvested in public health forever.”

Read the entire Huffington Post article here

CHRT Health Policy Fellow Denise Anthony talks to WEMU about immunity certification, unintended consequences

WEMU’s Lisa Barry explores the idea of an immunity certification system that could exempt those who have COVID-19 antibodies from some social distancing restrictions and allow them to go back to work. Dr. Denise Anthony, CHRT Health Policy Fellow and Professor of Health Management and Policy at the U-M School of Public Health, joins Barry, cautioning that in the U.S., “There is not yet a certified test…It is in the development and research phase.”

The interview explores the potential use of technology to track people with a COVID-19 diagnosis and how testing data could be misused to discriminate against those who test negative for the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony points out that “It’s possible that people, if they are found to not have the antibodies, could end up suffering from a surprising form of reverse discrimination…They might try to seek out exposure…or face restriction on their movement, employment, or other access to resources.”

In the interview, Dr. Anthony also points out that socioeconomic factors play a role in the transmission effects and deaths related to COVID-19. She articulates the critical policy safeguards that will be necessary to prevent discrimination and inequitable community impacts as immunity testing moves forward.

Listen to the entire interview here….