Watch the recording of “Leading Through Crisis: Lessons Learned from COVID-19,” July 11, 2020 (password required). Featuring:
- Rex Archer, MD, director, Kansas City, Mo., Department of Health
- Lee Norman, MD, secretary, Kansas Department of Health and Environment
- Sarah Hon, DO, neurologist, North Kansas City Hospital
- Moderated by Mary Anne Jackson, MD, dean, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
- Jim Denning, Kansas state senator and senate majority leader
- Bridget McCandless, MD, MBA, former Health Forward Foundation CEO
- Qiana Thomason, current Health Forward Foundation CEO
- U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids
- Moderated by KCMS past President Mark Brady, MD, and medical student Elliott Brady, MPH
July 11 – “Leading Through Crisis: Lessons Learned from COVID-19”
- Dr. Norman: Messaging nationwide early on was inconsistent about mask-wearing. I have really tried to be consistent on messaging. Have had other good leaders locally promote masks, but I’m not sure we’ve moved the needle. People in Kansas and Missouri do not do well with mandates. Try to stay on message and convince people with data and principles. Have to practicer what we preach and wear masks in public. Another major misconception is that this is not a bad disease–how do we convince people it is serious?
- Dr. Archer: Communication is the largest public health challenge. More challenging today in that masks have been politicized. Should develop messages that people will respond to. Perhaps instead of telling people to wear masks, say “understand it is uncomfortable but needs to be done anyway.”
- Dr. Jackson: We know that mask-wearing works. Survey at the end of June found that only 34% in the West North Central region said they were wearing masks.
Other Unique Challenges of COVID-19
- Level of infectiousness and the suddenness of onset
- Spread by asymptomatic people makes it harder to trace
- Chaotic response from top levels of government
- Loss of 50,000 public health workers over the last 10 years
- Dr. Jackson: Astounding that we do not have a national testing program four months into this.
- Dr. Hon: COVID has helped us realize how important ethics and bioethics are important in our institutions. Pandemic planning is part of ethics function.
July 18 – “Medicaid Expansion: Impact on Access to Care”
- Sen. Denning: Review of his bipartisan Medicaid expansion proposal. It contained many features beyond expansion, including reinsurance, hospital cost-shifting. Many items could have bent the curve for the consumer. Due to dynamics of legislature, unfortunately not optimistic about it next year. Encourage others to read his SB 252. It could be used as reference for future policy proposals in Kansas and beyond.
- Dr. McCandless: Missouri can pass expansion through ballot initiative; Kansas is limited to the legislature. In Missouri, this is our time to make this happen for our friends and neighbors. August primary is typically a low turnout election, so it is important to get our friends and neighbors out to vote. No question that access to care has increased in expansion states. Longer-term studies in expansion states are starting to show a decline in mortality.
- Qiana Thomason: This will be a close vote; important to get out the vote. Number of uninsured in our bi-state area is a dangerous recipe for shorter life expectancy and co-morbidities. COVID crisis has taught us how public health and the economy are related. This is why groups like the KC Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce have endorsed Amendment 2. Individuals who will benefit from Medicaid expansion are the essential workers–grocery workers, etc. They have been taking care of us; it’s time for us to take care of them.
- Rep. Davids: Expanding Medicaid has many benefits. Whatever we can do from the federal level, we will keep pushing for.