The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) is working to support critical care professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns about adequate ICU workforce and equipment could put patients and clinicians at unnecessary risk. SCCM’s efforts to support clinicians during this pandemic reach far beyond education and research and include specific actions to drive advocacy.
SCCM President Lewis J. Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCP, FCCM. “Critical care professionals are on the front lines and are risking exposure to this virus. Delays endanger the lives of these dedicated clinicians and their families, as well as patients.”
Immunization rates among children and adults have fallen during the pandemic, threatening heard immunity. The Society has signed on to a letter urging Congress to introduce the Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act, which will provide funding to state and local public health departments to promote recommended vaccinations during the COVID-19 public health emergency. (December 12, 2020)
Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act
SCCM supports the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, which aims to temporarily address the shortage of doctors and nurses in the United States. The act would allow the “recapture” of up to 40,000 unused immigrant visas and make them available to 25,000 nurses and 15,000 physicians who are currently unable to finalize their green card applications due to backlogs.
Mental Health Resources for Front Line Healthcare Workers
SCCM has supported a letter to Congress leadership advocating for providing mental health resources to frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic and beyond.
Personal Protective Equipment
SCCM has worked with numerous organizations to develop mechanical ventilation strategies to provide guidance for augmenting staff, ventilator supplies, and advice for clinicians considering placing multiple patients on a single ventilator. Dr. Kaplan served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/FEMA COVID-19 Co-Ventilation Task Force to provide guidance for those who may be out of options and attempting such measures.
Clinician Financial Support
SCCM is joining the AMA in demanding financial support for healthcare clinicians through tax relief, student loan forgiveness, and other methods. After receiving reports that some members were facing pay reductions as cost-saving efforts by hospitals, SCCM insisted to HHS that employers maintain clinician salaries. Pay should be held to at least the same level as before the pandemic as a condition of receiving federal relief funds. SCCM continues to work with the U.S. Congress to ensure that the next relief package includes considerations for clinicians working on the front lines, including hazard pay, special death benefits, and other items (similar to what was provided to first responders after 9/11).