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May 11 2021

“For decades policymakers have tried to achieve what COVID-19 did in a year: improve the front lines of health care at scale.

Nearly overnight, virtual visits to hospitals and clinics — including community health centers, which serve our most vulnerable patients —  surged by  more than 50 percent. Between January 2020 and 2021, the number of  VA telehealth appointments  increased by 1,831 percent. Testing for upper respiratory viral illnesses shifted from inefficient and sometimes unsafe settings (e.g., crowded waiting rooms where viruses can be transmitted to other patients and health workers) to drive-through testing sites. Vaccination sites moved from facility-based to community locations (including football stadiums, pharmacies and local organizations) to improve access for hard-to-reach populations.

Although much of our attention to date has rightly been on the national and global tragedy that is the pandemic and efforts to mitigate it, the front lines of care have changed for the better more in the past year than perhaps at any time in recent history.”

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