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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Hosts COVID-19 Briefing, Collaborating with CAMC


    Allyson Perleoni, Director, Government Relations

    The AAMC, in collaboration with the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus (CAMC), hosted a congressional briefing on Sept. 24 that discussed how the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are actively responding on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The briefing, “On the Front Lines: COVID-19 and the Way Forward,” discussed how academic medicine is adopting innovative methods to overcome challenges brought on by COVID-19.

    Panelists also focused on COVID-19 mitigation and the immediate, evidence-based, commonsense steps that could be taken by the nation to contain the virus and end the pandemic that were recommended in the AAMC’s The Way Forward on COVID-19: A Road Map to Reset the Nation’s Approach to the Pandemic.

    CAMC co-chairs Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) opened the event, with Roe reminding the participants that “more needs to be done.” Castor agreed and added, “We’ve all got to work together to crush this virus, especially going into flu season.”

    AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, moderated a roundtable discussion among AAMC experts Atul Grover, MD, PhD, executive director of the AAMC Research and Action Institute; Janis Orlowski, MD, chief health care officer; and Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, senior director for science policy and regulatory counsel.

    During the briefing, Orlowski highlighted the work that teaching hospitals and faculty physicians have done to combat the virus, noting that though supplies are still an issue, many “teaching hospitals and schools of medicine [are] using 3-D printers to create supplies, and coming together to share supplies.” She discussed other actions academic medical centers took, including developing the “capability to provide telehealth to the nation” overnight, coming together “to discuss how to sterilize and reuse N95 masks,” and “welcoming new residents without a blip” on July 1.

    Pierce noted the indispensability of academic and clinical labs as part of the testing research ecosystem, stating that they are “creating new testing methodologies, new ways of screening and surveillance of large populations like nursing homes, K-12 schools, and university campuses.” She continued that the “road map includes a recommendation that we vastly increase testing to do far more tests. To crush this virus, [we] need to be testing millions per day. In the course of the entire pandemic, we’ve done a little over 90 million tests. In six months, we’ve done in total less than half that what we should be doing each month in testing.”

    Grover discussed the unique ability of academic medicine to “create virtuous cycles in our institutions,” and that for something like COVID-19, “we take the sickest patients, and while treating them, we learn and disseminate to the community and we are often the resource for many providers and clinical settings that look to us for guidance. At the same time, [we] try to rapidly adjust how we teach the next generation of clinicians.”