Thank you for reading this special edition of the CHAD Connection. CHAD plans to release weekly editions of the COVID-19 Digest as needed to cover COVID-19-related news and updates for our members. We also encourage you to visit our COVID-19 webpage for up-to-date resources and links.

In this newsletter, you will find updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of Community Health Centers. You will also find information we thought would be useful, including health center data trends, remote patient monitoring vendors, and funding news.

CHAD will be publishing weekly data representing the number of positive COVID-19 tests for the current week as compared to the previous week, the cumulative number of cases diagnosed, current and cumulative hospitalizations, the percent of health center visits compared to the determined baseline, and the percent of visits that are being done virtually. This data will be compiled for North Dakota and South Dakota each week. This week’s data covers the week beginning Thursday, June 18 to Wednesday, June 24.
CHCs in the News!
Wade Erickson, with Horizon Health Care and Shelly Ten Napel, with CHAD, talk to South Dakota News Watch about the effects of the pandemic on rural health care in South Dakota.

Horizon Health Care announces details of their move to the new Yankton location via Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan.
Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas Awarded Telehealth Funding
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau awarded the Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas (CHAD) $443,417.00 for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program provides $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations. The program provides immediate support to eligible providers responding to the pandemic by funding their telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services. To date, the FCC has approved 444 funding applications in 46 states plus Washington, D.C., for a total of $157.64 million in funding.

The telehealth funding will provide resources members of the Great Plains Health Data Network (GPHDN) to purchase:
  • laptop computers;
  • tablets;
  • a telehealth platform;
  • videoconferencing equipment and software;
  • mobile hotspots;
  • remote monitoring equipment; and,
  • network upgrades.

These purchases will allow community health centers to sustain access to health care for patients in community health centers serving remote, rural, and underserved populations across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Great Plains Health Data Network Receives Year Two Funding
The Great Plains Health Data Network (GPHDN) has received the year two award for the health center controlled networks (HCCN) funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The funding period for this $520,000.00 award begins on August 1, 2020, and will continue until July 31, 2021. This award is for the second year of a three-year grant totaling $1.56 million. The GPHDN works with members to achieve the HRSA grant goals, which include leveraging health information technology (HIT) to enhance the patient and provider experience, advance interoperability, and use data to enhance value.

The GPHDN brings together 11 health centers consisting of 70 sites, collectively serving over 109,000 total patients. The health centers are in underserved and low-income urban and rural areas across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The mission of the GPHDN is to support members through collaboration and shared resources, expertise, and data to improve clinical, financial, and operational performance.

Health Center COVID-19 Survey Data Trends
Each week, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) requests information from community health centers across the country to track the impact of COVID-19 on capacity, operations, patients, and staff. The data is used to plan for training and technical assistance, funding, and additional resources. The latest report, dated June 12, indicated the following changes from the previous week. 

Patient Testing
  • COVID-19 testing capacity is 100% of health centers for both North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • ND reported an average turn-around of 2-3 days for COVID-19 test results, and SD reported turn-around times ranging from less than an hour to 4-5 days, with about half in the 2-3 day range.
  • Both ND and SD saw a slight decrease in the total number of tests performed.

  • Both states reported an increase in weekly visits compared to pre-COVID-19 visits, with ND increasing from 70% to 74%, and SD reporting an increase from 70% to 80% of pre-COVID visits.
  • ND health centers reported a slight decrease in the number of visits conducted virtually, dropping from 32.5% to 31%. SD health centers conducted 10% of visits virtually, a slight increase from 8.75% the previous week.
CDC Releases New Guidance on Contract Tracing and Medical Follow Up with COVID-19 Patients
Contract tracing is an important step in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing works by identifying people who have come into contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and working with them to interrupt the spread of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a new infographic explaining the steps of contract tracing and medical follow up with patients.

Contract tracing typically involves:
  • Interviewing those with COVID-19;
  • Identifying every person that they had close contact with during the time they may have been infectious;
  • Notifying close contacts of their potential exposure and referring them for testing;
  • Monitoring close contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19; and,
  • Connecting contacts with services they may need during the self-quarantine period.

The CDC guidance says a COVID-19-positive patient needs medical follow up daily, including daily temperature monitoring. People with COVID-19 can have rapid changes in symptoms and severity, so it is important to contact these individuals daily. Daily evaluation of a patient’s signs and symptoms can be done by a case manager, a nurse, or someone with a clinical background.
Patient Care with Remote Patient Monitoring
One aspect of telehealth that has not received much attention is remote patient monitoring (RPM). The use of RPM by health centers has the benefit of caring for patients remotely, which helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect both the health center staff and patients. RPM devices can be used to treat patients with less severe COVID-19 conditions allowing them to remain at home.

By using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, RPM devices have become a powerful tool allowing providers to proactively care for patients by collecting a wide range of health data to help prevent a possible health crisis. The health data collected can include vital signs, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, electrocardiograms, and weight. Some devices can transmit data directly to the health center’s EHR. Otherwise, data can be sent via e-mail or text to a health center or displayed in a cloud-based dashboard that health centers can monitor. 

For vendors, a simple example of an RPM device is the Fitbit wearable fitness tracker. Fitbit can track metrics such as activity levels, sleep information, and heart rates that can be helpful for providers. Another example related to COVID-19 is the no-touch thermometer that is now used in many public environments. Other examples of devices are pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors, body composition scales, and echocardiogram devices. Before choosing any device, check with your EHR vendor on their recommendations. They may have a solution that easily integrates with the EHR. For more information on RPM vendors and how they can be used within health centers, click here.
Webinars & Meetings
Find these and other events on the CHAD website.

South Dakota Department of Health COVID-19 Update

The South Dakota Department of Health hosts a weekly COVID-19 webinar for health care facilities, medical providers, laboratorians, long-term care facilities, EMS providers, and other health professionals.

Thursdays in June (reoccurring)
10:00 am MT/ 11:00 am CT
For weekly call-in information, please join the listserve here. Find archived calls and slides here.

Reimagining Care: Reducing Talent Burnout & Increasing Workforce Resiliency

NACHC’s new webinar series, "Reimagining Care," will focus on how health centers will continue to lead the primary health care industry through flexibility and innovation in a post-COVID world.

The second session in this series,
Reducing Talent Burnout & Increasing Workforce Resiliency, offers guidance on reducing burnout in a time of increasing stress on health center staff. Session two of the series offers "real world" perspectives, guiding tips and resources. Though the webinar targets C-suite, human resources directors/managers, workforce development directors/managers, administrators, managers, supervisors, all are encouraged to attend. More information and archived sessions can be found here.

Thursday, June 25
11:00 am MT/ 12:00 pm CT
Join the webinar here.

COVID-19 and Oral Health

This webinar, organized by the Mountain West AIDS Education and Training Center (MWAETC), is aimed at helping private dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants deliver patient care during the pandemic. The presenter will review recent CDC guidance for dental settings during the COVID-19 response and discuss options to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission in dental settings. Participants will be able to share lessons learned of recent clinical practice alterations.

Friday, June 26
10:30 am MT/ 11:30 am CT
Register here.

Vaccine Virtual Days

Due to COVID-19, health care professionals have missed out on critical opportunities to connect with experts and peers while facing a global crisis that requires collaboration and knowledge sharing like never before. Hosted by GSK, Vaccine Virtual Days is an interactive 2-day program designed by an independent scientific committee of leading experts to bring health care professionals together on a virtual platform.

More than 40 international experts will cover a variety of topics, including vaccine development (including SARS-CoV-2 vaccines), assessing vaccine safety and confidence in the COVID-19 era, life-course immunization, and respiratory pathogens.

Monday and Tuesday, June 29-30
5:00 am MT/ 6:00 am CT
Register here.
Registration is free and gives you access to both live sessions and on-demand recordings.

Today with Macrae: Health Center Program Updates

Join Jim Macrae for updates on COVID-19 and other topics, such as the multi-year transformation effort to advance community health. Missed recent Today with Macrae calls? Recordings and transcripts are posted on the Bureau of Primary Health Care’s Emergency Preparedness and Recovery Resources for Health Centers webpage as soon as possible after each call.

Monday, June 29
12:00 pm MT/ 1:00 pm CT  
Join the webinar on the day of the session.

Implementing Telemedicine Webinar Series

The COVID-19 pandemic is demanding that health care providers rethink how they deliver care in ways that reduce the risk of further spreading infection. In response, the Mountain West AIDS Education Training Center (MWAETC) has designed a 6-session webinar series on implementing telemedicine. The focus of the series will be on helping providers build a successful telemedicine strategy for their clinics, and will be led by John D. Scott, MD, MSc, associate professor of medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and medical director of digital health at the University of Washington.

This series is free and separate registration is required for each session. Participants may attend the whole series or chose only to select the sessions of most interest. All sessions will begin at 11:30 am MT/ 12:30 pm CT.
Session #3: Telemedicine and Payment Policy
Monday, June 29

Session #4: Telemedicine Technology
Monday, July 13

Session #5: Clinical Best Practices for Telemedicine
Monday, July 20

Session #6: Telemedicine Q&A
Monday, July 27
Ask Me Anything: Caring for LGBTQ people in Health Centers

NACHC’s first-ever virtual Ask Me Anything: Caring for LGBTQ people in Health Centers is in honor of Pride Month. Featured expert, deputy CEO at Howard Brown Health, Kristin Keglovitz Baker, PA-C, AAHIVS, will answer clinical and administrative questions during this 30-minute virtual event via Webex. Participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance to

Tuesday, June 30
11:00 am – 11:30 am MT/ 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm CT
Register here

Shared Care Planning Optimization Using the EHR

Join the HITEQ Center, in collaboration with the National Council for Behavioral Health, for a webinar on shared care planning optimization using the EHR. The webinar will provide an overview of the importance of shard care planning and how we can better optimize the electronic health record to make it the most successful and inclusive of the team. Components of shared care planning and different tools that will help with the creation and accessibility of shared care plans will be discussed. This event will be useful for C-suite staff, information technology (IT) leadership and staff, and clinical staff.

Tuesday, June 30
11:00 am MT/ 12:00 pm CT
Register here.

2020 Virtual Prevent Cancer Dialogue

Keeping with the true spirit of the Prevent Cancer Dialogue, the Prevent Cancer Foundation will have engaging presentations as part of moderated panels, interactive Q&A with panelists, facilitated peer-to-peer conversations on trending topics, and informative poster presentations. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and nationally certified health education specialists can earn up to nine continuing education credits by attending the full series. Separate registration is required for each presentation. This year’s virtual event will conclude with this final free webinar.

Part 3: Challenges and Opportunities for Cancer Prevention and Screening in Indian Country
Wednesday, July 1
10:30 am – 2:30 MT/ 11:30 am – 3:30 pm CT
Register here | Agenda

Substance Use Services in South Dakota

Presented by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO), this presentation will provide a comprehensive overview of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services available in the state of South Dakota. The speaker is Stacy Krall, addiction program specialist for the South Dakota Division of Behavioral Health. She will include information on the intensive methamphetamine treatment services, and medication assisted treatment (MAT). Materials from the campaigns and other community resources will be made available at the presentation. This presentation has 1.2 contact hours available for licensed nursing home administrators and social workers.

Tuesday, July 7
12:00 pm MT/ 1:00 pm CT
Register here.

Utilizing Telehealth Technologies to Improve Screening for SUDs, Behavioral Health, and Chronic Disease Management

This 2-session series, intended for medical providers, behavioral health providers, IT staff, and clinical managers, will provide strategies for enhancing and extending your integrated behavioral health efforts and for adapting these services to use telehealth technologies in novel and effective ways. Throughout both sessions, experienced trainers from Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center (gpTRAC) will provide ways of increasing provider comfort, fluency, and effectiveness in using live video to provide clinical care. The presenters will provide attendees with specific and actionable information with steps to improve their program and its effectiveness. Opportunities for further follow up with specific health centers will also be available.

he first session will focus on integrated behavioral health care as a service. It will include an overview of the spectrum of integrated care services and a discussion of ways to improve screening, referral rates, efficiency, and effectiveness of these vital programs.

Friday, July 17
11:00 am MT/ 12:00 pm CT
Save the date! Registration link coming soon.

In the second session, presenters will provide examples of how telehealth technologies can be used to simplify and streamline procedures like handoffs, referrals, case reviews, and other critical parts of an integrated care program.

Friday, July 24
11:00 am MT/ 12:00 pm CT
Save the date! Registration link coming soon.
CHAD Network Team Meetings

Tuesday, June 30 at 12:00 pm MT/ 1:00 pm CT – O&E Network Team Meeting
Tuesday, July 7 at 1:30 pm MT/ 2:30 pm CT – COVID-19 Response Open Discussion (bi-weekly)
Thursday, July 9 at 10:00 am MT/ 11:00 am CT – HR Network Team Meeting

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