Jmore held its second annual JBiz “Innovation in Health Care” panel discussion on Oct. 27, via Zoom.

The hour-long discussion was moderated by George Nemphos of Nemphos Braue Attorneys at Law.

Panelists included Dr. Bruce E. Jarrell, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore; Dr. Todd E. Peters, chief medical officer and chief medical informatics officer at Sheppard Pratt; and Dr. Andrea R. Levine, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a critical care physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

After introductions by Jmore Publisher Dr. Scott M. Rifkin, Nemphos began the discussion with some questions for Dr. Jarrell.

Dr. Jarrell spoke about the importance of the search for a safe and effective vaccine to eradicate the coronavirus. He encouraged audience members to take part in vaccine clinical trials at the University of Maryland’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health.

The university is involved with three trials, he said, including vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax, a bio-tech company based in Gaithersburg.

“I’m participating in the Moderna study,” said Dr. Jarrell. “It’s important that all different people of different ages, races participate in the COVID-19 vaccine trials. This is the fifth vaccine trial I’ve been in. I’m proud of it, and so far it hasn’t hurt me and it’s probably helped me.”

(The doctor urged people interested in participating in a study to visit the UMD website for information.)

Dr. Jarrell also offered tips for Marylanders during the winter months when the virus is expected to spike and influenza will put an additional strain on the health care system.

“’COVID Fatigue’ is a real thing,” said Dr. Jarrell. “If you follow [safety precautions] by 95 percent, that’s better than following them by 50 percent, but it’s still not 100 percent. [The] University of Maryland Medical Center has extremely good data to show that if you follow precautions like PPE [personal protective equipment], handwashing and social distancing really work.”

Dr. Peters spoke about the expansion of Sheppard Pratt’s telehealth program over the past eight months.

“Telehealth is a wonderful tool in medicine, but especially in psychiatric care,” he said. “A lot of the work I do as a psychiatrist can be done by telehealth. We’ve been doing telehealth for two decades, but now we’re reaching out to audiences we never did before.”

Dr. Peters said one reason for the expansion of telehealth is that many of the regulations have “loosened” up during the pandemic. “This allowed lots of people who never had access before to receive treatment,” he said.

In addition, Dr. Peters spoke about Sheppard Pratt’s new virtual walk-in clinic. “We’ve had a walk-in clinic for years, but in April we opened our virtual walk-in clinic,” he said. “Our main goal is to decompress the emergency rooms and to protect people by allowing them to stay home. My hope is that after the pandemic, we’ll continue to offer [expanded telehealth services].”

In response to a viewer’s question, Dr. Peters said that children and young adults are struggling even more than others with the stressors and losses associated with the pandemic.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m afraid the effects of the pandemic will be long lasting, and it will have ripple effects,” he said.

Dr. Peters advised families to be aware that anxiety and depression are somewhat inevitable for children and adults during the pandemic, and to incorporate “daily check-ins with their kids.”

In her talk, Dr. Levine described her experiences caring for COVID-19 patients at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“I spent four to six weeks caring for COVID-19 patients here in our ICU at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and countless weeks caring for COVID-19 patients in our outpatient clinic that are COVID-19 survivors,” said Dr. Levine. “I actually took care of the very first patient in our hospital who had COVID-19, so I’ve really been involved in this since the beginning.”

Dr. Levine created the hospital’s post-COVID-19 recovery program, in which she cares for coronavirus patients who were previously hospitalized in the ICU but continue to have symptoms.

“We know more and more that patients who get critically ill come into a medical or surgical ICU, [and] when they recover from a critical illness, they have multiple different complications,” said Dr. Levine. “They may have physical ailments from being in bed for a long time, being sick and being deconditioned. They’ll have cognitive problems like memory loss and amnesia, and then they’ll have psychiatric issues. So lots will have anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. And that’s referred to as the post-ICU syndrome.

“More and more, we’re thinking the post-ICU syndrome is a really important thing to be thinking about, [as is] providing critical care survivors with longitudinal and convalescent care, even after they leave the ICU,” she said.

The post-COVID-19 recovery program is multi-disciplinary, said Dr. Levine, and survivors remain in the program for as long as needed.

“There are also a group of patients who call themselves ‘long-haulers,’” she said. “These are people who weren’t critically ill and may not have been hospitalized, but are still very symptomatic. Many of them can’t work, and complain of fatigue and shortness of breath.”

But it’s not all bad news, said Dr. Levine.

“For the first time, we have two excellent peer-reviewed clinical trials for the drugs remdesivir and corticosteroids, which are effective in reducing mortality or improving length of hospitalization and ICU stays,” she said. “This is tremendous. This is a huge tool in our toolbox as critical care doctors. These are well-executed studies, peer-reviewed and published in excellent journals. … I think for the first time, we are in a good place.”

Watch video of the event here:

The event was sponsored by University of Maryland, Baltimore, Nemphos Braue LLC, Sheppard Pratt and University of Maryland Medical System.

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