340B Insight Podcast
Episode Three: Lessons Learned from the Earliest Days of COVID-19
June 1, 2020
In this episode, we speak with Mike Bonck, Manager of Pharmaceutical Services for CHI Franciscan Health (CHIFH) in Tacoma, Washington, about the impact of COVID-19 on the US health care system. Tacoma was one of the first affected regions in the U.S., having experienced a major surge of COVID-19 cases in March and April. We also provide updates in this episode on the top 340B stories. (Transcript)
340B Insight Episode Three – Mike Bonck
In this episode, we speak with Mike Bonck, Manager of Pharmaceutical Services for CHI Franciscan Health (CHIFH) in Tacoma, Washington, about the impact of COVID-19 on the US health care system. CHIFH is a system with four DSH hospitals, one rural referral center, and one critical access hospital that participate in the 340B program.
Tacoma is one of the most significantly affected regions of the U.S., having experienced a major surge of COVID-19 cases in March and April. CHIFH was one of the first hospital systems in the U.S. to face the enormous challenge of responding to COVID-19. Mike offers his perspective on the impact of the novel coronavirus on hospitals, staff, and patients. Some major takeaways include:
Planning, Communication, and Support: Hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 face severe equipment and drug shortages. Other major complications include scheduling surgeries and establishing new visitation policies. To address these challenges, hospitals must engage in meticulous planning, system-wide communication, and support for health care employees.
Financial Challenges: COVID-19 has severely threatened the financial health of U.S. hospitals. Federal stimulus money for hospitals through the CARES Act is helping but likely insufficient. As such, it will take a concerted effort to recover from COVID-19, from both a public health and financial health perspective.
Impact of the 340B Program: The 340B program has mitigated CHIFH’s financial challenges, helping the hospital continue to provide critical health services to low-income and underserved patients.
340B Regulatory Flexibility: Policies adopted by the Health Resources & Services Administration to provide greater flexibility to 340B hospitals have helped and should be made permanent.
Long-Term Impact of COVID-19: Innovations such as telemedicine will improve and expand health care in the long term. However, the U.S. health system faces more immediate challenges of caring for the millions of Americans who are newly unemployed and without insurance coverage.
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