Duty Calls: Frontline Service in New York City

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Original story posted on: May 29, 2020

A letter from the president of the ACPA Dr. Charles Locke, reflecting on his service on the frontline at the Javits Center Field Hospital in New York City.

This week Chuck Buck, Sr. Vice President at Medlearn Media reached out to me and asked if RACmonitor could reprint a letter I recently sent, as President of the American College of Physician Advisors (ACPA), to the ACPA membership.  I have had a long and positive relationship with Chuck both personally and professionally, so my answer was (after checking on some administrative details with ACPA leadership), “Of course.”  As I mention in my letter, these are turbulent times and the pace of change in the healthcare regulatory and payer environment is unprecedented.  ACPA plans, through on-line CME and other educational material, to be at the forefront in meeting the needs of the Physician Advisor community during the COVID pandemic and beyond.  In addition, I look forward to continuing ACPA’s relationship and collaboration with Chuck Buck and RACmonitor. 

Dear ACPA Membership:

I am happy to report that I am back at home and have resumed my duties and responsibilities as ACPA President. Before I go any further, I want to express my sincerest thanks to Dr. Juliet Ugarte Hopkins who, without hesitation, took on the duties and responsibilities as ACPA President in my absence.  During the past two months, Juliet not only “kept things going,” she advanced ACPA in the areas of our website, on-line education, and updates on the latest regulatory news involving COVID-19.

In my last President’s Message, I relayed to you that, as a physician in the US Army Reserves, I was being deployed as part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I was fortunate to have been asked to serve in a medical unit that was assigned to provide direct patient care in the Javits Center Field Hospital, NYC.  Professionally, it was an interesting opportunity for me in two distinct aspects: 1) As an internist.  Our knowledge and treatment of COVID-19 changed almost daily during the time I was in NYC.  Additionally, I am still challenged to explain the experience of directly caring for patients who were suffering from severe hypoxia, yet, were fully lucid and comfortable that went against 25 years of experience and training.  2) As a Physician Advisor.  To care for hospitalized patients in a setting free from visit status determination and third-party payer rules and regulations was invigorating and allowed me a fresh perspective on what things are truly necessary to provide medical care to hospitalized patients. 

In my civilian job, I left a hospital that was preparing for COVID-19.  I now return to a fully post-COVID hospital.  Similar to many other aspects of our health care system, the Physician Advisor world has undergone a sea change.  I cannot count the number of waivers that CMS has issued in the last few months that directly affect our work.  Similarly, third party payers are writing new rules to address COVID-19.  If we approach this correctly, I see COVID-19 as an opportunity for Physician Advisors to use their experience and expertise to advocate for permanent changes to our payer models that will benefit our patients and hospitals long after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. 

ACPA plans to be at the forefront of this advocacy through on-line education, future newsletters, and postings on our website.  We will be looking to our membership more than ever to assist in these efforts.

Be safe. Be well.

Charles Locke, MD, CHCQM-PHYADV
President, ACPA

Charles Locke, MD, CHCQM-PHYADV

Charles Locke, MD, CHCQM-PHYADV, is a senior physician advisor of care coordination and clinical resource management at Johns Hopkins and is assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is also a member of the board of directors of the American College of Physician Advisors.

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