Paul Benz, MD
Medical College of Wisconsin Emergency Medicine Residency
Class of 2022
On April 28, 2020 I had the opportunity to join fellow WACEP Board Members Drs. Lisa Maurer, Brad Burmeister, Aurora Lybeck, Bill Falco and Stephanie Wagner and other Emergency providers from across the state for ACEP’s first Virtual Hill Day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings were held virtually. We participated in conference calls with the staff of Wisconsin Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson as well as those from all eight Wisconsin Representatives, many including the Congress members themselves.
Though the meetings were held virtually, it was a great learning experience, and I was happy to help advocate for our specialty. Now more than ever Emergency Medicine providers as well as all personnel working in Emergency Departments across the country must have our perspectives understood as we truly are the frontline providers of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that we were able to successfully highlight the importance of that message to our Congress members on Virtual Hill Day.
During each meeting we discussed four topics agreed upon as the most pertinent by ACEP leaders nationwide given the current climate in Emergency Medicine. These included personal protective equipment (PPE), liability, hazard pay, and patient coverage. We stressed the importance of our rights for appropriate and adequate PPE including N-95 masks. Across the board, the Congress members and their staff acknowledged the magnitude of this issue and offered to continue supporting us on this effort. We discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the practice of Emergency Medicine in terms of provider liability, and that many providers are forced to make economic sacrifices that should be compensated with hazard pay. We also asked the Congress members to advocate for extending healthcare coverage beyond COVID-19 tests and testing related services to encompass additional care that COVID-19 positive or suspected positive patients receive.
Overall, we were encouraged by the discussions that took place and are optimistic for the future. While there is still more work to be done and we are all adapting to living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic, Virtual Hill Day was successful in its goal to advocate for the well-being of Wisconsin Emergency Medicine providers.