MSSNY eNews: August 7, 2020 – Testing, Testing, Should Be 1..2..3


Testing, Testing, Should Be 1..2..3
Nearly every day since the beginning of the pandemic, newspapers have reported on testing issues impeding efforts to contain the Covid-19 virus in the United States.  Major journals including a recent Lancet article have concluded that minimizing testing delays has the largest impact on reducing virus transmission and that optimizing testing and tracing is essential.

While New York State has so far staved off a resurgence in the virus, there have been increased rates of COVID-19 transmission throughout the United States, with more than 35 states now on the NYS travel advisory/quarantine list due to significant community-wide spread of disease. Add to this that college students will be shortly arriving from all over the US to NYS; schools in NYS will likely be opened; and that, as the weather in the fall changes, there will be more indoor activity and the perfect storm is brewing.  In order for the NYS virus transmission rate to remain low and prevent a surge similar or worse that was experienced by NYS in the spring, it is vital that we maximize testing and tracing and minimize testing delays NOW.

To this end, we have been in constant communication with the NYSDOH.  We have alerted them to the many concerns raised by MSSNY members about testing results taking up to 14 days to process/receive. We have informed NYSDOH of the challenges faced by patients who are scheduled for elective procedures/surgery when they are trying to comply with the NYSDOH protocol requiring a negative Covid-19 test to be received within 5 days of a procedure.  We have also shared stories of the impact of the testing delays including the inability to quickly quarantine positive patients and nursing home staff and canceled/delayed cancer surgery and cancer care.

We have contacted both Quest labs and Lab Corp who both say that they are expanding capacity and that they have systems in place for physicians to request priority testing. In addition, MSSNY continues to advocate for expansion of inexpensive point-of-care testing in physician offices as this can quickly expand testing capacity and decrease the time to contact tracing.

This week, MSSNY sent out a short survey to quantify the testing bottlenecks and we ask that you take a few minutes to complete this survey. We will continue to work with the NYS DOH and the Governor to achieve universal turnaround times of 2-3 days or less in NYS; and we will continue to keep members alerted as to the status of our efforts to ensure prompt testing results.

Bonnie Litvack
MSSNY President

Please Take the MSSNY Survey on COVID-19 Testing Delays
Recently, New York Governor Cuomo had an op-ed in the New York Times that touted the results of labs operating in New York State whereby 85% of the lab tests took a median of 2 days to complete. We have heard anecdotes from physicians regarding instances where it is taking far longer.  As we continue to dialogue with the New York State Department of Health and Governor’s office regarding addressing testing delays, would you place take just a few minutes to complete this survey?

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Cases: 4,824,230
Deaths: 158,268
Recovered: 1,577,851
Counts reflect data available as of 9 a.m. CDT Aug. 6.

Gov. Cuomo at 6:55 PM Thursday, Aug.6
Today is day 159 of the pandemic

  • The total number of COVID hospitalizations continues to remain low. Yesterday, there were 570 total hospitalizations and 132 people in the ICU. The State conducted 72,370 tests, of which 703, or 0.97%, were positive. Sadly, we lost 3 New Yorkers to the virus.
  • Remember, there are over 750 testing sites across New York State. Testing is available to any New Yorker who wants a test and is free at any state-run facility. Find a testing site near you here.

MSSNY Weekly Podcast Update

MSSNY Statement Re Physicians’ PPE Costs in Today’s Crain’s
The Medical Society of the State of New York is urging the state Department of Financial Services to require health insurers to reimburse providers for personal protective equipment costs. “MSSNY does not condone health plan-participating health care practitioners charging their patients for the huge jumps in the cost of PPE, as state regulations limit the ability of such practitioners to bill patients for these costs,” said Dr. Bonnie Litvack, president of the medical society, in a statement.

“At the same time, given the enormous profits of the health insurance industry, MSSNY and others have been urging the [department] to require health insurers to reimburse health care practitioners for these enormous jumps in PPE costs, and the significant difficulty in even obtaining it in the first place.”

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Study: Northwell Workers Test Positive for COVID at Similar Rate as Public
Health care providers at Northwell Health have not experienced a higher rate of positive Covid-19 tests than the general community, according to a study published in JAMA on Thursday. The study included 40,329 health care personnel in the greater New York area who voluntarily took an antibody test regardless of whether they had Covid-19 symptoms or not. Results showed 13.2% of Northwell staff tested positive for antibodies, or seropositive. Neither age, gender, ethnicity, location nor primary specialty was a significant predictor of seropositivity.

However, what did correlate was the workers’ self-assessment of their exposure risk. Employees were asked to rate their suspicion of having been exposed to Covid-19 on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being “no” and 9 being “definitely.” Of subjects who rated themselves in the high category (7 to 9), 60% tested seropositive, whereas those who rated themselves in the low category (1 to 3) had 5.3% who tested positive.

These findings provided two significant takeaways, said Karina Davidson, professor, and senior vice president at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. The 13.2% positive rate is similar to community rates of about 14%, indicating that health care professionals are adequately protected in hospitals. This study should placate concerns of transmissions in a hospital setting, she said.

The next is that because health care workers have shown that their own assessment of risk correlates to whether or not they have Covid-19, free and convenient testing should be made available to them, Davidson said. These include point-of-care tests either near their home or workplace for quick turnaround and availability at all hours to account for late shifts, she said. “As testing becomes more available and the supply chain improves, there’s little reason for public health officials and hospital administrators not to provide convenient access to testing for these essential frontline workers,” Davidson said.

Fauci at Harvard Med School: Does Not Believe US Will Go into Another Shutdown
While speaking at an online event jointly hosted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN that he doesn’t believe the country will need to go into another economic shutdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“We can do better without locking down,” Dr. Fauci said. He added that the U.S. has struggled with an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases due to human behaviors that contribute to the spread of the virus.

“As long as you have any member of society, any demographic group, who’s not seriously trying to get to the end game of suppressing this, it will continue to smolder and smolder and smolder, and that will be the reason why, in a non-unified way, we’ve plateaued at an unacceptable level,” Dr. Fauci said.

MLMIC Presents: Million Dollar Claims: A Closer Look Now on MSSNY CME Website
MSSNY proudly announces the availability of MLMIC Presents: “Million Dollar Claims a Closer Look” on the MSSNY CME website. If you do not have an account, you will be required to create one.

Educational Objectives:

  • Identify the leading causes of loss in million-dollar claims;
  • Analyze the key factors leading to significant payments in these claims;
  • Recognize the chief medical factors identified in these files; and
  • Implement risk management strategies to lessen the risks of high-exposure professional liability claims within your organization.

MLMIC is accredited by the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) to provide CME for physicians.  

MLMIC designates this live educational activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Beware: HIPAA Compliance Scam

Earlier today the United States Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights “OCR” issued an alert concerning fraudulent postcards sent to health care organizations claiming to be official communications from OCR. The postcards, with a Washington, D.C. mailing address and claiming to be from the Secretary of Compliance, HIPAA Compliance Division, encourage health care organizations to visit a website, call, or email the sender “to take immediate action on a HIPAA Risk Assessment” and lists potential penalties for noncompliance. Anyone that does contact the sender is diverted to a non-government website offering consulting services.

As a reminder, all communications from OCR will come from either an official office or an email address ending with You can find a complete list of OCR’s headquarters and regional offices here.


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Analysis Shows Millions More Uninsured Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
There is clear evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn are causing millions of Americans to lose not only their jobs but also their employment-based health insurance. What is less well known is how many of these workers are remaining uninsured, and how many are shifting to other coverage—such as a spouse’s plan, Medicaid, or Medicare. Federal data on these changes will not be available until next year. In the interim, a new Families USA analysis seeks to partially fill this information gap.

The Families USA report examines the insurance and employment patterns of adults ages 18 to 64 in order to estimate the number of uninsured workers among the newly unemployed in each state. This methodology reveals that of the 21.9 million Americans who lost their jobs or left the labor force between February and May 2020, 5.4 million became uninsured as a result.

This increase in the number of uninsured adults is 39% higher than any annual increase ever recorded. The highest previous jump took place from 2008 to 2009, when 3.9 million adults became uninsured. Notably, because the Families USA estimate does not capture family members, many of whom also lost health insurance, or workers ages 65 and older, the actual number of uninsured Americans is likely even higher.

Medicaid Recipients May Not be Billed for COVID-19 Related Provider Expenses
This is a reminder that the Medicaid program prohibits enrolled providers from billing recipients for charges for COVID-19 protective measures, including sanitizing exam rooms and using personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves (collectively, “PPE”). Cost-sharing for Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care members is limited to applicable copays based on federal rules, including the New York’s Medicaid State Plan and 1115 Medicaid Redesign Team Waiver.

Billing Medicaid recipients for PPE is considered an “Unacceptable Practice” under Medicaid rules, which may result in provider sanctions up to and including termination from the Medicaid program.

Join MSSNY’s preferred wealth manager Altfest on Wednesday, August 12, 11:00-11:45 am for a free interactive webinar on Retirement Planning for Physicians Amid COVID-19

Topics Include:

  • Evaluating where your retirement plan stands today
  • Recognizing risks in retirement planning and how to manage them
  • Taking advantage of timely retirement planning opportunities

Altfest will also cover key takeaways from the most recent government stimulus plan. Submit questions to by Monday, August 10.


Learn more about Altfest’s custom comprehensive wealth management services for physicians and their families at

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The 12 Risk Factors Tied to 40% of Dementia Cases
A new report from the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention identifies 12 risk factors linked to 40% of all dementia cases, adding three new risk factors to the Commission’s original 2017 report, Sue Hughes reports for Medscape. The 2017 report identified nine modifiable risk factors that were estimated to account for a third of all dementia cases. The Lancet Commission included those same nine risk factors in this year’s report, as well, but the Commission updated the weighted population attributable fraction attributed to the risk factors. They are:

  • Midlife hearing loss, accounting for 8.2% of dementia cases;
  • Not completing secondary education, accounting for 7.1% of cases; Later-life smoking, accounting for 5.2% of cases;
  • Later-life depression, accounting for 3.9% of cases;
  • Later-life physical inactivity, accounting for 1.6% of cases;
  • Later-life social isolation, accounting for 3.5% of cases;
  • Midlife hypertension, accounting for 1.9% of cases;
  • Later-life diabetes, accounting for 1.1% of cases; and
  • Midlife obesity, accounting for 0.7% of cases.

The Commission also included three new modifiable factors in the updated report:

MSSNY’s YPS Calling for Nominations for Councilor, AMA Delegates and Officers
The YPS Governing Council would like to call for nominations from MSSNY YPS members for the following positions:

·        MSSNY Young Physicians Section Councilor for 2021-2024 (1 nomination to be made)

·        MSSNY AMA Delegation (3 nominations to be made)

·        MSSNY YPS Officers Nomination (1 nomination to be made)

Self-nominations will be accepted. Nominees should submit a CV and statement of interest to

Nominations will close at 5 pm, Wednesday, August 12th. Nominees, CVs, and statements of interest will be emailed out to members on Thursday, August 13th.

An election ZOOM meeting will be held on Sunday, August 16th at 7pm, when speeches by candidates will be made.

ZOOM meeting call-in information is below:

Topic: MSSNY YPS Election Meeting
Time: Aug 16, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 1893 3127
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+16468769923,,89818933127# US (New York)
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Daniel E. Choi, MD
Chair, Young Physicians Section, Medical Society of the State of NY (MSSNY)

48% of Americans Would Get COVID-19 Vaccine Right Away, Survey Finds
Less than half of Americans would receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available, according to a poll from SurveyMonkey and COVID Near You, a joint project of Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston-based Harvard Medical School.

The survey includes insights from more than 1.2 million U.S. adults polled weekly between Feb. 11 and Aug. 2.

Four survey findings, based on responses collected between July 12 and Aug. 2:

  1. 48% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine right away.
  2. 29% said they would “wait some time” to receive the vaccine; 10 percent would “not receive the vaccine anytime soon”; and 13 percent said they did not ever want to get the vaccine.
  3. Americans over age 75 were most likely to say they would get the vaccine right away (42%), while millennials were least likely (24 percent).
  4. 35% of Black respondents said they would get the vaccine right away, compared to 50 percent of white respondents, 49 percent of Asian respondents and 46 percent of Hispanic respondents.

To view the full survey, click here.

NYC Setting Up Checkpoints to Track Visitors Residents from COVID Surge States
Those coming into the city from the 35 states and territories on New York’s travel advisory list must complete the state health department’s traveler form and self-quarantine for 14 days. Those who do not comply with quarantine orders will be subject to a $10,000 fine, and those who refuse to fill out the traveler form will be subject to a $2,000 fine. (Becker’s Hospital Review, Aug. 6)


Elegant, Custom Built Home with Unparalleled Craftsmanship – Rhinebeck, NY
Set on 10.6 acres in one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Rhinebeck, this stunning home borders Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill (a conservation land and the highest point in Rhinebeck). Features beautifully landscaped gardens with sweeping hilltop views and a well established vegetable garden and barn. This handsome home is generously proportioned throughout, with an inviting foyer entry with tastefully designed staircase, millwork, high ceilings, cherry wood floors and custom windows.

Rhinebeck Estate for SaleA world class kitchen with a marble counter-topped island, enjoys both a cozy fireside seating area perfect for winter evenings, and glass doors in the hexagonal eat-in-kitchen opening onto the expansive stone terrace for three season enjoyment and entertaining.

A luxurious Master suite, with high vaulted ceiling design, his and hers walk-in closets and a gorgeous master bath with cast iron clawfoot tub. The second floor also includes two spacious bedrooms with generous closets and 2 full bathrooms, An additional large sitting room/office could easily make a lovely fourth bedroom. Lower level features a media room, exercise room, bar, wine cellar and full bathroom. Additionally there is a two story barn equipped with water and electricity.

The house is located 7 minutes to the charming center of Rhinebeck village with its many superb restaurants, boutiques & shops. The highly rated Northern Dutchess Hospital, the excellent Rhinebeck schools and the County Fairgrounds, a most desirable venue destination throughout the year, are all nearby. Rhinecliff train station is a mile beyond with Amtrak service south to NYC(1hour 40 minutes) and north to Hudson, Albany, Niagara Falls and Montreal. View full listing Contact Nader Kayal, MD, 845-518-7780 / or Joshua M. Briggs at Heather Croner RE-Sotheby’s 917 213-9042 /

Upper East Side Office to Share
Includes waiting room, 2 exam rooms and room for medical assistants. Flexible schedule. Call Bianca at 212-327-1851.

For Sale: 715 Park Avenue
Medical office, 1,800 sq. ft. Rectangular, 11 1/2 ft ceilings, street level access. Private entrance on 70th Street, side of the building. Windows on Park Avenue and 70th Street. Excellent office space for plastic surgeon, dermatologist or dental practice. Central air conditioning, high voltage electric service, two bathrooms. *Sale could include active Cardiac / Medical Practice. Please contact Janet @ 212-288-5468.

Office Space and Quad-A Certified O.R. for Rent
Plastic surgery office and/or quad A – certified operating room available for rent. We welcome you to tour our facility, where safety and luxury are combined in the most prime location on the upper east side. We assure you will be delighted by what you discover. We take pride in our facility, where your patients’ safety and satisfaction are our number one priority.
    • Fully equipped operating room perfect for a board-certified plastic surgeon
  • Pre-op and recovery areas
  • A bright and modern waiting area
  • 3 consultation rooms, administrative room, kitchenette, and 2 bathrooms
  • Full day office rental per week / O.R. rental per case

For inquiries please call 212.737.8700, email

Office Space and Quad-A Certified O.R. for Rent