Midland Daily News — Local lawmaker confident in Midland coronavirus response

Posted Mar 19, 2020

Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, a member of the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, said that after communicating again Thursday afternoon with city and county officials, she is confident the county’s public health, government, and law enforcement personnel are prepared to respond to the first reported case of coronavirus in Midland County. The case, involving an adult woman with a history of international travel who is now in self-quarantine, was reported mid-morning Thursday by the Midland County Department of Public Health.

“Our communities’ local government, law enforcement, and public and private healthcare leaders’ ability to respond to this development is well-planned and has my full and complete confidence,” Glenn said. “Sen. Jim Stamas and I are doing our part, working faithfully to ensure that our state government provides all the resources necessary to support our local response now that the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Midland County.”

One case of the coronavirus has already been reported in Bay County, which Glenn also represents, involving a man who works as a physician at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, but she said “we know from public health officials that there are likely others in Bay and Midland counties who also have the virus, but who have not yet been tested and confirmed.”

“Whatever that number is in the weeks ahead,” Glenn said, “I know that, working together, the families and local business, community, and government leaders I have the privilege of representing will respond effectively and with great care for each other. Communities that have a reputation and tradition of providing help to each other when we’re in need is one of the great blessings for our families of living in Bay and Midland counties.”

Tuesday, Glenn joined her House colleagues in approving an additional $125 million in emergency state funding to provide support to local governments and health officials’ response to the virus.

She also applauded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for issuing an executive order which temporarily loosens restrictions on the delivery of needed medical services.

“I strongly support the governor’s removal of bureaucratic red tape barriers that for far too long have restricted the delivery of healthcare services to people in need, largely in order to protect large corporations and big hospitals from competition,” Glenn said. “The point that must not be lost is that these protectionist, bureaucratic barriers must not be allowed to return even after this current emergency has passed.”

“It’s unfortunate that it’s taken a public health emergency to prove that removing these protectionist barriers is the correct and necessary thing to do to ensure families in Michigan receive the healthcare they need,” Glenn said. “I urge Gov. Whitmer to keep her executive order in effect permanently, and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to amend state law to ensure that these protectionist, bureaucratic barriers to healthcare delivery for those in need don’t ever return.”

The governor’s order Wednesday:

* Allows the state Department of Health and Human Services to “issue an emergency certificate of need to an applicant and defer strict compliance” with state health regulations. These “Certificate of Need” regulations have historically restricted access to certain medical services by requiring providers to get approval from a state board before expanding or modifying their services.

* Allows the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to grant a waiver to state rules that previously limited the number of hospital beds and mobile health care facilities.

* Allows certified nursing aides to treat patients when needed, with the same autonomy as certified nurses, without completing the required licensing exams. Nurses may also renew their licenses without having to complete continuing education requirements, and the hours worked while responding to COVID-19 will satisfy continuing education requirements for all medical licenses.

* Loosens other government restrictions on workers who assist, coordinate, volunteer or feed patients.

In a separate order, the governor also expanded access to telemedicine, allowing patients to visit their doctor via webcam, thereby lightening the load at health facilities.

Glenn also urged Gov. Whitmer to sign House Bill 4042 — already passed by the House and pending expected approval by the state Senate — that would allow nurses who meet uniform licensing requirements to work in person or through telemedicine in more than 30 states.

The legislation would enter Michigan into the Nurse Licensure Compact, which would enable nurses to practice in the 34 states currently in the compact without having to gain a license in each state.

Glenn, said that applying for multiple licenses to work across state lines is time-consuming and that entering the NLC would increase access to care, protect patients, and reduce healthcare costs.

“Even before the current health challenge,” Glenn said, “this bill would allow nurses, especially in Michigan communities bordering other states, to more freely work across state lines. Now that we face an impending burden on Michigan hospitals, temporary care facilities, and personnel because of the coronavirus, we may find that Michigan needs the help of nurses who are licensed in other states as well.”

Under the legislation, Michigan could still revoke, suspend, or place a nurse’s multi-state license on probation if warranted. The Michigan Health and Hospital Association supports the bill, saying it will allow Michigan nurses “to quickly travel to other states to provide vital services in the event of a disaster or public health emergency,” such as the country now faces, and vice versa, allowing nurses in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and other states to respond to an emergency situation in Michigan, either by physically coming to Michigan or providing care by telemedicine.

Glenn urged concerned citizens who have questions about the coronavirus or any other issue to contact her office at 517-373-1791 or by e-mail at AnnetteGlenn@House.MI.gov.

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