alec stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

The alarmingly quick spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has put a strain on the U.S. healthcare system, including the availability of personal protective equipment and other safety resources.

The speed at which the virus spreads requires an even swifter response from federal agencies, government officials, and public health experts to combat the disease. To cut the red tape and accelerate data collection, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has used statutory authority under the Paperwork Reduction Act to survey Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) healthcare institutions to understand the current COVID-19 response, challenges institutions are facing, and ways to help.

“Reaching out to health centers will give us a better sense of how the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding and what stresses our healthcare system is experiencing as a result. Health centers are on the frontlines of providing accessible, affordable care in many of our communities, and health centers have been and will be playing a vital role in the COVID-19 response,” Alex Azar, HHS secretary, said. “This action under the emergency authorities given to the secretary of HHS is just the latest example of the Trump administration cutting red tape that may be impeding the COVID-19 response.”

Adding support for the expedited survey, HRSA Administrator Tom Engels said, “HRSA-funded health centers provide high-quality primary care services to 28 million people in the United States. That is 1 in 12 people nationwide. Approximately 1,400 grantees operate 13,000 service delivery sites that are essential to the communities they serve. These health centers are overseen by the people of those communities who play a key role in directing the types of services that are provided. Today's announcement is a strong step to making sure we know what they are going through so HRSA can do all we can to support health centers as they take on the task of responding to COVID-19.”

For HHS, the goal is to maintain a level of safety and efficacy while transforming the federal government’s role in dispensing appropriate healthcare services directly to patients and the public during the pandemic. Patients with cancer are an at-risk population for COVID-19 infection, and oncology nurses are vital to their safety. ONS offers up-to-date oncology nursing resources and the opportunity to share ideas, questions, and information with colleagues across the country on the ONS Communities.