Getting Real: The Maryland Healthcare Ethics Committee Network’s COVID-19 Working Group Debriefs Lessons Learned

HEC Forum 33 (1):91-107 (2021)
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Abstract

Responding to a major pandemic and planning for allocation of scarce resources under crisis standards of care requires coordination and cooperation across federal, state and local governments in tandem with the larger societal infrastructure. Maryland remains one of the few states with no state-endorsed ASR plan, despite having a plan published in 2017 that was informed by public forums across the state. In this article, we review strengths and weaknesses of Maryland’s response to COVID-19 and the role of the Maryland Healthcare Ethics Committee Network in bridging gaps in the state’s response to prepare health care facilities for potential implementation of ASR plans. Identified “lessons learned” include: Deliberative Democracy Provided a Strong Foundation for Maryland’s ASR Framework; Community Consensus is Informative, Not Normative; Hearing Community Voices Has Inherent Value; Lack of Transparency & Political Leadership Gaps Generate a Fragmented Response; Pandemic Politics Requires Diplomacy & Persistence; Strong Leadership is Needed to Avoid Implementing ASR … And to Plan for ASR; An Effective Pandemic Response Requires Coordination and Information-Sharing Beyond the Acute Care Hospital; and The Ability to Correct Course is Crucial: Reconsidering No-visitor Policies.

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