Author: Roger Noyes

September 2020 Capitol Report: COVID Hearings, Sepsis Month, Collaborations and Workforce

In the September 2020 edition of HCA’s Capitol Report newsletter, HCA sums up testimony delivered by HCA President Al Cardillo during a legislative hearing on COVID-19, highlighting home care’s response to patients’ needs, as well as systemic challenges that have impeded this vital work.

We also highlight Sepsis Awareness Month, including an HCA interview on WNYT NewChannel 13’s Health Beat program, plus HCA’s work to promote pre- and post-acute partnerships among hospitals and home care as part of our “Statewide Hospital-Home Care Collaborative for COVID-19 and Beyond.”

Plus, a recent report on home care shortages helps explain the importance of reforms to help build capacity in the current pandemic, including a recent move by the state Department of Health to permit an online component to aide training programs.

Sepsis Month: Senate Resolution, NYSOFA PR, Plus HCR, VNSNY & Americare Features

The state Senate has passed a resolution recognizing September 2020 as Sepsis Awareness Month in the State of New York.

HCA, our Stop Sepsis at Home NY screening initiative, and allied partners recognize and greatly appreciate this action initiated by the Senate’s Health Committee Chairman Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Full text of the resolution is posted to our Stop Sepsis at Home NY website here.

As previously reported, our partners at Sepsis Alliance are working to achieve similar resolutions in all 50 states, and HCA is proud to be part of efforts to put New York State in that number as we work alongside other leading advocacy and awareness organizations like End Sepsis: The Legacy of Rory Staunton. Continue reading “Sepsis Month: Senate Resolution, NYSOFA PR, Plus HCR, VNSNY & Americare Features”

NYC PPE Stockpile Information Released

New York City (NYC) has been working to compile an emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for home care and other health care providers that service NYC in the event that there is a COVID-19 resurgence. 

To streamline the product request process, NYC is partnering with Medline to support the requesting and delivery process. Once in effect, this will replace the system that HCA and the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP) worked out with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) whereby some of our members devoted much time and resources to serve as distribution sites for PPE furnished by the City for home care providers in all boroughs. Continue reading “NYC PPE Stockpile Information Released”

Home Care Hero Julie Howe

Julie Howe is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

JULIE HOWE

#HomeCareHeroes like Julie Howe are the eyes and ears for potential environmental health or safety risks in a patient’s home.

Julie, an assessment clinician for Rochester Regional Lifetime Care, was performing an evaluation and smelled gas. Both the patient and their caregivers did not smell the odor. The patient and family did not feel it was a big deal.

Julie took the patient for a walk outside the apartment and, upon returning, the patient acknowledged the odor and Julie was able to convince the patient and caregiver of the safety risk. She helped facilitate a call to 911 and to the local gas company which discovered two gas leaks that were repaired later the same day. The patient and family were extremely thankful.

Julie Howe is a #homecarehero who assesses and evaluates her patients on a daily basis. These skills keep her attuned to all potential risks in a patient’s home environment — some of them dangerous and potentially life threatening — so they can be addressed immediately.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Shelly Falbo

Shelly Falbo is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

SHELLY FALBO

Speech Therapist Shelly Falbo has been an incredibly resourceful and knowledgably advocate for her patients at Rochester Regional Lifetime Care.

Working with a patient who has ALS and relies on a ventilator, Shelly researched novel tools like a tobii dynavox communication platform that allows her patient to communicate, text, operate a TV, and more using eye gaze.

Backup generators are a vital emergency planning resource for people who need ventilators. But this patient did not have the means to purchase one, requiring a trip to the emergency department every time there was a power outage.

Shelly explored some options. She reached out to Shades of Greatness Inc., a philanthropic organization founded by former Buffalo Bills Running Back LeSean McCoy (whose grandmother had ALS), to procure a generator for this patient’s home.

Shelly consistently demonstrates a very high level of care to her patients and their families. She is a #HomeCareHero.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Free Series: 7 Hospital-Home Care Collaboration Models for Improved Patient Care

In a September 3 presentation, we introduced hospitals and home care providers to the HCA-HANYS-IHA “Statewide Hospital-Home Care Collaborative for COVID-19 and Beyond.”

As part of this program, we are offering seven upcoming webinars free of charge for all hospital and home care organizations in New York State. Continue reading “Free Series: 7 Hospital-Home Care Collaboration Models for Improved Patient Care”

Register: HCA’s Senior Finance Managers Retreat on Sept. 15-16

Online registration is now open for HCA’s Senior Financial Managers Retreat, our signature finance program for CHHAs, LHCSAs, hospice and MLTC.

While the retreat (on September 15 & 16) was originally planned for the Mohonk Mountain Resort in New Paltz, New York, we have transitioned to a virtual live event this year that will be broadcast through Crowdcast to any location using your computer, tablet or smart phone.

Continue reading “Register: HCA’s Senior Finance Managers Retreat on Sept. 15-16”

Home Care Hero Karla Germano

Karla Germano is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

KARLA GERMANO

While most people are watching TV, getting ready to enjoy their weekend or sleeping, Karla Germano is responding to urgent calls from patients in need.

In her role as the weekend overnight on-call nurse for Lifetime Care of Rochester Regional Health, Karla is prepared for anything a day or night may bring. She collaborates with members of the patient care team and often contacts providers to enable her patients to remain safely at home, avoiding a hospital admission.

COVID-19 has added to the anxieties of patients and families. In this environment, no one wants to go to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, and Karla does everything possible to avoid that outcome by working closely with doctors to provide patient-specific treatment in the home.

In one instance, Karla was called to see a patient who was rapidly declining. The patient did not want to go to the hospital and the family wanted to respect her wishes; they had recently endured a long separation while she was previously in the hospital, followed by several more weeks in a nursing home for rehab.

Karla was able to work with the doctor to obtain an order for fluids, arrange pharmacy delivery on a Saturday night and work with other members of the team to coordinate needed services at home.

Karla does it all with a smile, providing reassurance and encouragement to anyone who comes across her path.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Melissa Distler

Melissa Distler is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

MELISSA DISTLER

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Melissa Distler provided very thoughtful and instrumental suggestions in caring for patients suffering from the illness.

Melissa was an integral part of creating a process that her agency, Lifetime Care-Rochester Regional Health, has since adopted when seeing all COVID-19 positive patients.

Her recommendations have allowed not only for staff to remain safe during the visit, but these procedures have also protected patients and families by more efficiently delivering care with the least amount of time in the patient's home while continuing to provide the exceptional care that they need.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Cliff Reichner

Cliff Reichner is a #HomeCareHero. Read his story. 

CLIFF REICHNER

Cliff Reichner is a caring and dedicated certified occupational therapy assistant who goes above and beyond in every therapy session.

In order to engage a medically complex population at St. Mary's Hospital for Children Home Care, Cliff was able to think outside the box when it came to teletherapy for kids.

He captured everyone’s interest with his warm personality and creative ideas for a fun therapy session which included music, costumes and games. During the daily therapy sessions, Cliff would dress up as different animals or characters and use music and games to target their skills.

The patients started to look forward to what Cliff would do next and so he began to drop off themed props at patient homes so they could participate in the session more effectively.

Cliff’s creativity and dedication gave him the capacity to deliver exciting and engaging therapy sessions and bring joy to children during such an uncertain time.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Billy Campbell

Billy Campbell is a #HomeCareHero. Read his story. 

BILLY CAMPBELL

As Billy Campbell, a physical therapist with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, lay in a hospital bed with COVID-19 a few months ago, he fought the disease with the same determination that he brings to his work caring for New Yorkers every day — and it worked.

Today, Billy is back on the front lines caring for patients again. But in the dark days of April he depended on a ventilator to breathe — yet even then, he found a way to focus not only on his own health, but on the health of others as well. 

  “The nurses were impressed that I was in bed doing exercises,” says Billy. “I was making my roommates sit up on the edge of the bed. We did breathing exercises together, and I was telling them the importance of standing up and sitting down a few times to keep yourself moving — as opposed to just sitting there dying.” 

Billy would go on to lose about 50 pounds and 50 percent of his lung capacity over the course of his convalescence. 

“All the doctors tell me I shouldn't be here,” says Billy, who was in excellent physical shape before the illness. After a carefully monitored recovery, including clearance from his doctor and “practice” walks through the city with his PT equipment to make sure he could cover his cases, Billy is back on the job. 

He is still challenged by fatigue and reduced lung capacity, but he applies his expertise as a physical therapist to his own recovery.   Courageously, Billy used his first-hand experience to not only put himself in patients’ shoes but to also develop protocols to improve recovery and outcomes for his patients.

He notes that too many COVID patients are prescribed oxygen upon discharge from the hospital and not taught how to use it. Now that he is well and back in the field, he’s been working to help people better understand how to use the equipment and monitor their oxygen levels, and he coaches using a post-COVID exercise program to enhance recovery as well. 

Billy is just as concerned about the wellbeing of people without COVID who are newly homebound—or couch-bound. Many of these individuals are afraid to go outside but should still be doing some type of physical activity on a daily basis, he knows. His practical tips and solutions for maintaining physical strength, releasing anxiety and improving cardiovascular strength while isolating at home make him an inspiration to many. 

Always kind, always thinking of others, Billy Campbell shows every day how much he cares. He’s a true #HomeCareHero who is grateful to be back at work with VNSNY.  

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Karen Lane

Karen Lane is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

KAREN LANE

Karen Lane, RN is a Case Manager with Lifetime Care – Rochester Regional Health In Rochester NY. Many of Karen’s patients reside in Assisted Living Facilities or Independent Living facilities. With COVID-19, these facilities suspended visitation, changing many of the routines that these seniors were used to, such as eating in the dining room or social activities.

Karen was often the only outside visitor these patients had.

True to form she not only provided excellent nursing care but also listened to the little things patients told her.

One patient lamented that the facility was no longer bringing ice cream to the patients for dessert. The next week, Karen brought this patient the ice cream she had been missing. The family so appreciated Karen’s simple kindness in bringing a little joy to their loved one during trying times.

"The isolation has been difficult on our elderly patients and we are so appreciative of Karen and her ability to assess and treat the 'whole person,' remark her colleagues at Lifetime Care.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Nicole Dioguardi

Nicole Dioguardi is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

NICOLE DIOGUARDI

Nicole Dioguardi is not only a Home Care Hero, but a Weekend Warrior. Her willingness to work every Saturday and Sunday helps to ensure that patients receive excellent nursing care each day of the week.

COVID-19 presented many challenges, but Nicole continued to provide outstanding nursing care to her patients, along with thorough and detailed documentation to aid in appropriate follow-up.

As a Certified Diabetic Educator, Nicole continued to make visits not only in Monroe County, but in surrounding counties to make certain that her patients’ needs were met and they had appropriate education. Nicole is also an IV preceptor and is sought out by other nurses for support and training.

Nicole is qualified to handle any assignment and does it all with a smile. She often goes above and beyond to pick up extra visits to support the team. There were times when she filled the role of urgent responder so that patients' needs were met in a timely manner and care was not delayed.

Under the most stressful circumstances, Nicole is always calm, patient and pleasant – always professional. Even though she faced extenuating circumstances personally this year, providing care for people within her own family, she always responded to the needs and concerns of others.

Nicole consistently strives to provide the best possible nursing care for each patient, listening attentively and helping to alleviate fear and anxiety. She works closely with other disciplines and providers to develop the best plan for each patient. She is a true Home Care Hero at every visit!

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Senator Gillibrand, Colleagues Press HHS for Home Care Supports

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today issued a press release and letter to federal health officials seeking vital supports for home and community-based providers in the pandemic. Among them: priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE); telehealth reimbursement for home health agencies; and funding support for Medicaid home and community-based providers and workers.

HCA and HCA member the Visiting Nurse Service of New York have been working closely with Senator Gillibrand’s office on this appeal.

Continue reading “Senator Gillibrand, Colleagues Press HHS for Home Care Supports”

HCA Comments on Home Health Rule, PDGM

HCA Vice President for Finance and Management Patrick Conole has submitted comments to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on its proposed 2021 payment rule for home health. The comments can be downloaded here.

The proposed rule includes updates on a mix of longstanding payment-related programs and structures, but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, left the existing 2020 Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) intact.

CMS is expected to finalize the rule, following the comment period, in late October, with the rule going into effect on January 1, 2021.

Home Care Hero Maxine Foster-Day, In Memoriam

Maxine Foster-Day is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

MAXINE FOSTER-DAY
In Memoriam

“If I could only choose one word that best describes Ms. Maxine, I would choose faithful,” writes Dorothy Sanchez, Director of Operations at Selfhelp Community Services’ Licensed Home Care Services Agency, in memory of Maxine Foster-Day, a Home Health Aide at Selfhelp who lost her life to COVID-19 in April 2020.

“Maxine Foster-Day was a faithful employee, a faithful co-worker, a faithful friend.” Sanchez adds:

"In my 20 years of employment at Selfhelp, I’ve never seen anyone so proud of being a home health aide as Maxine Foster-Day. Her eyes would sparkle when she would come to the office. She always had a warm firm hug that was deliberately long. I knew it was her way of showing that it mattered."

"Maxine Foster-Day’s devotion to her job compelled admiration. It’s because of extraordinary people like her that have hope for the true mission of home care, and our ability to provide excellent care to those in need."

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Join Sept. 3 Webinar Unveiling HCA-HANYS-IHA Care Collaboration Initiative for Home Care and Hospitals

Hospital and home care leaders are invited to join HCA, the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) and the Iroquois Healthcare Association (IHA) for a September 3 webinar launching our “Statewide Hospital-Home Care Collaborative for COVID-19 and Beyond.”

Registration for the launch webinar, at 4 p.m., is here.

This HCA-HANYS-IHA collaborative is being supported by a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. It is designed to promote pre- and post-hospital collaboration among hospitals and home care providers to address patients’ needs not only in the COVID-19 pandemic but also on a lasting basis.

Continue reading “Join Sept. 3 Webinar Unveiling HCA-HANYS-IHA Care Collaboration Initiative for Home Care and Hospitals”

Home Care Heroes: Latoya Connolly & Angel Yohoulamanga

Latoya Connolly and Angel Yohoulamang are #HomeCareHeroes. Read their story.

LATOYA CONNOLLY & ANGEL YOHOULAMANGA

Latoya Connolly (left) and Angel Yohoulamang (right), Home Health Aides at Westchester Care at Home, immediately jumped to the front of the line to be fit tested for an N-95 mask and be trained with PPE to care for a client in a facility who was COVID-19.

They went above and beyond, especially during the beginning of the pandemic when much was still unknown about COVID-19 and how to prevent or treat it.

Westchester Care At Home thanks Latoya and Angel for their bravery, dedication to their profession, and willingness to help during a time of crisis.

They are among a team of aides who bravely, and without question, volunteered to work with COVID-19 positive patients during the pandemic. They stepped up to the plate during a time of great fear and uncertainty to help patients in their community suffering and recovering from COVID-19.

To be as prepared as possible for their COVID-19 assignments, they underwent hours of extensive additional infection control training.

They performed their duties in full PPE attire in order to protect their patients and themselves. And despite the extreme conditions, they consistently delivered the level of comfort, care and compassion that has always defined Westchester Care at Home.

Please join us in celebrating the commitment made and dedication shown by these brave caregivers.

They both deserve recognition a big THANK YOU for their service.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Lorena Hebrado

Lorena Hebrado is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

LORENA HEBRADO

Lorena Hebrado of St. Mary's Hospital for Children is a caring and dedicated Manhattan field nurse.

As this video shows (click the image above), Lorena provided a telehealth visit for a patient and his caregiver all while using sign language. She made the patient feel extremely comfortable during the visit and was able to ask him to show her how he washes his hands singing happy birthday all while signing.

Lorena reinforced infection control measures inside and outside the home. The patient was so happy to see Lorena and chatting back and forth with her via telehealth using sign language.

Lorena was patient and conducted a professional nursing visit all while signing back and forth between caregiver, patient and nurse.

A #HomeCareHero puts her unique skills to work in helping others, and Lorena Hebrado embodies that ethic.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Heroes: Paulette Coley, Darlena Harding, Maxine Foster-Day and Suzane Roaches

Paulette Coley, Darlena Harding, Maxine Foster-Day and Suzane Roaches are #HomeCareHeroes. Read their story.

PAULETTE COLEY, DARLENA HARDING, MAXINE FOSTER-DAY & SUZANE ROACHES

A home care aide is someone who can persevere through any obstacle while providing quality care for another person in their own home.

"Our staff are prepared every day at 6 a.m. to respond to any emergency coverage needed in any borough, for any number of hours without question," says Dorothy Sanchez, Director of Operations at Selfhelp Community Services’ Licensed Home Care Services Agency.

In such cases, these committed individuals “don’t have the privilege of time to develop trust with clients,” Sanchez added. “They depend on their professionalism and their experience to evoke trust from clients in need."

Home Care Heroes (left to right above) Paulette Coley, Darlena Harding, Maxine Foster-Day and Suzane Roaches are among this elite team who are so skilled at what they do that clients will often request their services to continue beyond what otherwise may be an interim case assignment. That is a testament to their success.

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, there was never a day that these committed staff were unavailable to help when called upon. They traveled across boroughs and stayed on live-in cases. While many aides were understandably afraid to work, or had child care challenges, this team of aides stayed the course. They are role models for all of us and true heroes to those at greatest risk in the community.

In April 2020, one of these four beloved aides, Maxine Foster-Day, lost her life to the coronavirus. (Please see our separate recognition here.)

“Maxine’s loss devastated our team. The threat of the pandemic hit Selfhelp home care in the heart,” Sanchez added. “Through the grief, through the loss, through the fear, our staff aides continued to answer the call to meet the needs of our community.”

“While there may be a lot of incredible stories about heroes during this pandemic, for Selfhelp, these caregivers are our Selfhelp Heroes,” she added.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero JoAnn Racino

JoAnn Racino is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

JOANN RACINO

Nascentia Health’s Director of Staff Development & Clinical Informatics, JoAnn Racino, is part of the sixteen-person “Virus Hunters” who have been working non-stop conducting COVID-19 testing throughout the region.

As if things aren’t busy enough while on-location, JoAnn managed to take some life-savings measures to save a community member who went into cardiac arrest while at a testing site.  She heroically utilized her CPR skills to revive the individual who was then taken to the hospital by ambulance. 

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Carol Stash

Carol Stash is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

CAROL STASH

Carol Stash is a full-time physical therapist who works primarily in Yates County. She has worked at Rochester Regional Health System for several years and demonstrates a high level of clinical skill with both pediatric and adult patients.

Carol consistently has positive outcomes with her patients and works tirelessly to advocate for them.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Carol has been able to ensure her patients’ needs were met despite the many challenges. She takes extra time to obtain needed equipment, which is often difficult in a rural community.

She also communicates extensively with members of her patients’ care teams both within and outside of the agency.

Carol is empathetic, dedicated, well respected, and a very hard worker. She is a #HomeCareHero.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Gina Pugliese

Gina Pugliese is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

GINA PUGLIESE

Gina Pugliese, of St. Mary's Hospital for Children and its home care division, is a dedicated and outstanding Physical Therapist. Recently, Gina has gone above and beyond for a patient, Madison, with an inoperable brain stem tumor that is extremely rare and is fatal.

Since starting treatment, Madison has had a couple of setbacks, mostly due to illness and hospitalization. She is also unable to move all of the muscles in her body. She is only able to communicate with eye gaze by answering yes or no questions. 

Recently, Madison's insurance company denied her PT services, stating lack of progress as the reason. Gina Pugliese, who is a PT Clinical Supervisor, conducted a peer-to-peer and was able to get the patient unlimited visits for a period of time.

The clinical director also gave Gina his personal cell number to contact him and informed her that he will authorize more visits if necessary.

   Gina happened to be on vacation during this time and spent the better part of a day trying to get in contact with the clinical director. Gina was also able to get the patient fitted for long leg braces so the clinicians could stand her more efficiently and without risking her knees hyperextending or buckling.

  She was able to get an orthotist to come to the home the NEXT DAY to do the casting.

When the orthotics were delivered, the family was beyond excited and thankful to see Madison standing without maximum assistance!

  This is just one of many examples showcasing Gina’s extraordinary dedication. She also has played a very big part in helping to convert patient care to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gina consistently goes above and beyond every day and is truly a dedicated therapist.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero: Nascentia Health’s “Virus Hunters”

Nascentia Health’s “Virus Hunters” are #HomeCareHeroes. Read their story. 

NASCENTIA HEALTH "VIRUS HUNTERS"

Nascentia Health’s “Virus Hunters”, a name affectionately given by Syracuse’s Post-Standard, consists of sixteen fearless clinicians who first entered the front lines of the COVID-19 battle when they bravely put on their PPE, loaded up their vehicles with equipment and started looking for COVID-19 cases throughout the Central New York region.

This hard-working team was part of an aggressive collaborative effort with Onondaga County and the Syracuse Community Health Center who were all on a mission to find the virus among some of the most vulnerable populations living in retirement centers, memory care facilities and other senior living residences. The goal was to find people with no symptoms but who could potentially spread the virus among other residents. In just the first two days, they visited three sites and tested approximately 200 patients.

Little did they know that this was just the beginning and the team would be pounding the pavement non-stop for many months to come.

In four months alone, the team completed nearly 9,000 tests in facilities and over 4,900 tests at mobile testing sites set up throughout the area.

Nothing can slow this team time as they are still going strong!

The team consists of the following #HomeCareHeroes: Amy Davis, Andrea Lazarek-LaQuay, Casey Rulison, Elizabeth McFadden, Elizabeth Olmstead, Gail Carmichel, Jacqueline Mullen, JoAnn Racino, Maria Giannino, Melissa Rogers, Nicolas D’Alessandro, Patrick Remenicky, Rebecca Albaugh, Samantha Gallup, Suezette Van Horn and Valerie Dorsey.

We are so grateful to these front-line troops taking on this incredible challenge!

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Melissa Gary

Melissa Gary is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

MELISSA GARY

Melissa Gary has been a Home Health Aide at the Gurwin Health Care System for 16 years. In that time she has continually shown outstanding loyalty and provided superior care to those she has cared for.

In her early years with us, she courageously persevered through hip-high water to get to her patient’s apartment in Long Beach the morning after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, knowing her patient was alone and unable to leave the apartment without assistance. Given the dire situation and realizing how many other people needed help, Melissa garnered the assistance of an EMT and together, using heavy blankets, they carefully negotiated the patient down the staircase from the fourth floor of the building.

Melissa’s bravery and selflessness continued this year through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This past March, Melissa was on a case in a facility where the virus started to take hold. She never hesitated when the level of fear about the virus was rising among all workers in the facility. She knew how vital her care was to the patient and she was committed to providing that care. When others cancelled, Melissa was always willing to take on additional coverage because she was so dedicated to the mission of the agency and the care of our patients.

Unfortunately, despite the continual use of PPE and her own diligence with safety protocols, Melissa herself began showing signs and symptoms and tested positive for the virus in late May 2020. She was hospitalized for a few days, courageously returning to work six weeks later.

Melissa has been the recipient of various recognition awards in her time with Gurwin and continues to stand out as one of the agency’s brightest stars. She is a #HomeCareHero.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Elsy Brizuela

Elsy Brizuela is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

ELSY BRIZUELA

Home Health Aide Elsy Brizuela has been recognized many times for her compassionate care delivery over her 16 years with Gurwin Home Care Agency.

Elsy played a pivotal role as Gurwin launched its telehealth program in 2020 to reduce hospital ER visits for individuals who were at most risk during the COVID-19 health emergency.

The dementia population was clearly a focus of this effort, and so Elsy was given training on the telehealth devices with the goal of having her work with the dementia population at Gurwin's Assisted Living Community.

Elsy provided undivided attention to each of the residents in the memory care unit, encouraging conversation and laughter with each interaction. By developing a special relationship with the residents, she was able to effectively report subtle changes in their condition. Her ability to recognize these changes was a significant advantage to the clinical teams when providing assistance to residents. It also allowed those teams to address clinical concerns more readily. Most of all, her care enabled the residents to remain home where their routine was consistent and comforting.

During the COVID-19 crisis, she made sure that each resident felt safe and supported as she took their blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and pulse oximetry readings, making a difference in each of their lives.

Elsy embodies the passion of the Gurwin mission. She cares for residents as if they were a member of her own family and she shows profound compassion for people with dementia. She is a #HomeCareHero.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Theresa Schliff

Theresa Schliff is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

THERESA SCHLIFF

Theresa Schliff is an exemplary nurse. She is compassionate, caring, and consistently goes above and beyond in her daily work.

During the time of COVID-19, Theresa recognized the need for RN assistance in the Rochester Regional Health System’s long term care facilities. Though a home care nurse, Theresa immediately volunteered to work in the facility setting, at Hill Haven.

Following her orientation, Theresa began to work as a floor nurse, passing medication, providing treatments and jumping in for any bedside care that was needed. The staff of the facility are extremely appreciative of Theresa’s efforts, skill and outstanding care.

Theresa’s knowledge, family-centered approach and innovation have impacted numerous nurses, patients, and families. She is an extraordinary nurse and a #HomeCareHero doing amazing work across settings, embracing change as an opportunity to expand and to provide help where it is most needed.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero: Fegs Home Attendant Services Team

The team at Fegs Home Attendant Services are #HomeCareHeroes. Read their story.

FEGS HOME ATTENDANT SERVICES TEAM

Fegs Home Attendant Services recognizes its committed staff who are home care heroes, including Fegs’ dedicated receptionist, case coordinator, HR representative, Director of Operations and intern/volunteer who collectively worked to maintain PPE supplies, address payroll/employment issues, coordinate various departments, and make sure that all clients had service continuity during the coronavirus public health emergency.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Shaunae Phaire

Shaunae Phaire is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

SHAUNAE PHAIRE

VNSNY Home Health Aide Shaunae Phaire knows that one of the most important things she does with the elders in her care, especially those on hospice, is help them get up in the morning to start their day. That was as true during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City as it is any day, and Shaunae was so dedicated to those in her care that she vowed to show up no matter what, day after day, despite the stories she heard on the news.

“Once your feet hit the floor, you sit up and think, ‘thank God, I got up this morning and I can move.'” Shaunae says this is a realization held by those in her care — a sentiment she works to reinforce.

When she first started caring for a 101-year-old nursing home patient last November, her client was in bed all day. But with Shaunae’s help, the patient soon found her days full of light and life.

Shaunae’s daily greeting — “Hello gorgeous, hello beautiful” — roused her client from bed and helped her face each day. Shaunae visited daily, suiting up in an N95 respirator and gown and using so much Purell that the protective routine became second nature to her. Though the client was isolated in her room, Shaunae still made sure she received a radiant greeting and faced each day in a positive, upbeat way.

“We laughed together, and I told her, ‘you’re getting out of that bed and walking to that chair,’” Shaunae says. “'I’ll do your nails, and we’ll converse.'” Shaunae also called her client’s family every day, so they could video-chat. Instead of isolation, the client’s room became a temporary salon or other destination manifested through conversation.

Shaunae met her client’s family in February, before COVID-19 hit the U.S., when they came for a very special celebration of their relative’s 101st birthday. The entire family was effusive in thanking her for the care she was providing. “Everyone said, ‘Oh, you’re the one taking care of Grandma. Thank you! You’re doing such a wonderful job, everyone’s talking about you,’” she recalls.

When “Grandma” passed away this summer, the family once again expressed their gratitude for Shaunae’s care and commitment during these trying times. “They said, ‘Not everyone would come to the nursing home when there was COVID,’” Shaunae says. “But if I didn’t come in, who would take care of her? I promised to stay as long as I possibly could. That’s just me.”

Shaunae embodies the mission of both VNSNY's Partners in Care and of hospice care — to elevate a person’s quality of life at the end of life. “It feels good, knowing that you’re making the rest of their days easier,” Shaunae says of her clients on hospice.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Extend Federal Relief and Other COVID-19 Updates

On Saturday evening, President Donald J. Trump signed four executive actions that would: extend unemployment benefits; prevent residential evictions and foreclosures; assist with student loans; and suspend the collection of payroll taxes.

Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questioned the constitutionality of these actions amid a stalemate on negotiations over the next coronavirus aid package. Continue reading “President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Extend Federal Relief and Other COVID-19 Updates”

Home Care Hero Mitali Vyas

Mitali Vyas is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

MITALI VYAS

Mitali Vyas relishes her role as Rehabilitation Manager for The New Jewish Home’s Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA), which helps ensure that older adults living in their own homes receive the support they need to remain healthy, safe and comfortable.

Mitali oversees a team of 20 physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. These employees are providing critical in-home services, even more so during the COVID-19 outbreak. And during this difficult time, Mitali is pitching in and stepping out from behind her desk, joining her colleagues on the front lines, even if it means potentially putting her family in harm’s way.

Originally from Mumbai, India, Mitali received her bachelor’s degree there and earned her master’s degree in physical therapy after moving to the U.S.

Mitali adds that while it’s been more challenging to treat patients in times of COVID-19, her team has always had proper personal protection equipment (PPE) and is well trained in infection control.

“We help our recovering COVID patients do the things they were able to do before getting sick — cook, dress and clean themselves and regain their strength and balance — all with the goal of getting them to be as independent as possible,” Mitali says.

She tells the story of one patient, Mr. H., a hairdresser who recently had to have his left leg amputated below his knee. As someone who had to stand up for great lengths of time in his work, this amputation was not only physically challenging but it took an emotional toll. On top of all of this, Mr. H contracted COVID-19 during his recovery at a nursing home that is not part of The New Jewish Home system.

Upon returning home, Mitali was determined to help Mr. H get to a better place. Initially, Mr. H was not on board with his plan of care. Aside from his emotional challenges, he had put on a lot of weight. “He could not even get out of bed. Basically, Mr. H had to relearn activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, cooking and using the bathroom all over again. And this time with a prosthetic leg,” Mitali describes.

Mr. H’s family members were struggling too — they were overwhelmed. But Mitali persisted. She worked with Mr. H over the course of seven weeks with good progress. In time, following the program Mitali and her team set up, Mr. H became able to dress himself, he could get around his home on his own and use the bathroom. By the end of his course of physical therapy, Mr. H was even cooking breakfast for his family, essentially back to his pre-hospitalization level of ability — and equally important, with a renewed spirit and passion to return to his hair salon.

While inspiring achievements like this really resonate with Mitali, she realizes that even with taking all of the necessary COVID-19 precautions, she could be putting her husband and 18-month-old son at risk. Despite these concerns, Mitali says she loves being in the field and couldn’t imagine working with a better team

“My husband asked me: What would I rate my job satisfaction on a scale of one to ten? This was easy: 10! I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.”

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

HCA to Testify Today at Legislative Hearing on COVID-19 and Long Term Care

HCA will be testifying today in the second of two state legislative hearings examining the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes and other long term care settings. The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

At the first hearing — for New York City, Westchester and Long Island last week — lawmakers raised numerous questions focused on nursing home fatality rates, how the data were represented, nursing home visitation policies, and more. Continue reading “HCA to Testify Today at Legislative Hearing on COVID-19 and Long Term Care”

Home Care Hero Marie Deolall

Marie Deolall is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

MARIE DEOLALL

Marie Deolall was recently honored by RiverSpring Health as an aide of the year for her care of Suzette Marcelin, a 101-year old Haitian woman living at home in Brooklyn — accolades that were recently reported in The Haitian Times.

Marie has proved to be a great advocate, actively participating in discussions about her patients' needs.

One of her priorities is to make sure that a patient's plan of care is visible at all times and to all staff working on the case.

During the public health emergency, Marie takes every safety precaution, wearing a mask and gloves at all times, following all preventive recommendations, cleaning thoroughly all food items brought in from outside. Most importantly, she creates a positive, loving environment which is essential for coping with the current situation.

Marie's care is perhaps best summed up in a quote from The Haitian Times, attributed to her patient's son: “In my entire life, I’ve never seen a woman care so much for her patient,” Marcelin’s son, Ricot Antenor, is quoted as saying. “She’s an outstanding worker. She opened her eyes wide to take care of my mom. She fills everything my mother needs. They’re like mother and daughter. I feel great, I can just leave her with my mother with my eyes closed.”

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Laura Maldonado

Laura Maldonado is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

LAURA MALDONADO

Since the onset of COVID-19, we have all been heartened by stories of how home care workers have stepped up to care for infected patients under extremely difficult conditions. At VNS Westchester, Wound and Ostomy Care Nurse (WOCN) Laura Maldonado “has stepped up on a variety of fronts from the earliest days of the pandemic, earning the respect and admiration of her patients, her peers and the leadership of our agency,” says Director of Patient Services Joann Parliament.

Laura was one of the first of VNSW's clinical staff to volunteer to visit COVID-positive patients at home, especially high-risk patients with complex wounds. She did so with calm assurance that helped to soothe anxieties, not only among her patients and their families but also among other members of the home care team.

She quickly emerged as a role model and a mentor. She even volunteered to accompany other clinicians on COVID-related cases, if needed, as the pandemic raged on in the VNSW region — one of the state’s hardest-hit areas in the early days of the crisis.

As a frontline nurse and staff mentor, Laura already had her hands full. However, that did not stop her from volunteering her time to address other urgent needs at the agency. She was a tremendous asset to VNSW’s leadership by helping to prepare policies and procedures related to patient care in the pandemic. She played an essential role in reinforcing rigorous guidelines among staff for proper hand-washing, procedures for donning and doffing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and droplet precautions — critical knowledge needed to protect their patients and themselves from the spread of infection.

With facemasks serving as a vital barrier in preventing infection, Laura volunteered to learn how to use a fit-test machine to fit-test N95 masks for over 100 field staff, a means of preventing air leakage and ensuring the integrity of the mask. She also volunteered to learn how to conduct COVID-19 tests, offering herself as a test subject to promote learning among the rest of the team.

“Through strength of character and selfless dedication, Laura is an extraordinary individual stepping up to perform multiple roles with equal doses of passion, determination and effectiveness,” Parliament adds.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

HHCN: The Forgotten Field: ‘Invisible’ Home Care Workers Seek Agency Support

Home Health Care News reached out to HCA for comment on a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which queried home health aides on their experiences early in the COVID-19 health emergency.

“Many of the key themes in this study echo what our organization has identified in our own survey of the home care field,” said HCA’s Communications Director Roger Noyes. “This includes the need for a more coordinated effort at all levels of emergency management to overcome personal protective equipment supply challenges.”

Noyes points out that many home care leaders participated in grassroots efforts to establish voluntary PPE distribution sites in all boroughs of New York City to coordinate with city officials and partner organizations on this area of need.

Home Care Hero Kate Enyan

Kate Enyan is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

KATE ENYAN

Getting to the COVID-19 recovery phase is a team effort, and this is especially so when patients and staff alike are directly impacted by illness.

One such patient, Mrs. G, suffered a deep vein thrombosis on March 18 and was hospitalized for three days at the height of the pandemic. Following hospitalization, she came home on blood thinners to avoid future clotting and happily returned to the care of her aides. (Mrs. G has received aide care 12 hours a day since coming to Americare Certified Special Services following a severe stroke in 2013.) A few days later, it was reported that Mrs. G had symptoms mirroring COVID-19.

Americare's RN team called the daughter and the MD and a plan was put into place: to monitor the patient and keep her at home as long as possible.

Soon after, in a scenario that has been repeated throughout this crisis, the two aides caring for Mrs. G, one by one, called Americare's RN team to also report symptoms, requiring the caregivers to go into quarantine.

In an effort to continue providing care, Americare's Service Coordination Team reached out to Kate Enyan who accepted Mrs. G's case, knowing that the patient suffered from COVID-19 and needed assistance.

Kate provided exceptional care to Mrs. G, who is 100 percent recuperated; and both of her longstanding aides, Bertha Reyes and Argentina Prado, have also fully recuperated and are back at work!

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Lizbeth Velez Cruz

Lizbeth Velez Cruz is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

LIZBETH VELEZ CRUZ

During a time of crisis true leaders emerge and pave the way to the path of mitigation and eventual normalcy.

Since the pandemic onslaught in early March 2020, Americare Certified Special Services had a number of leaders who revealed their mettle at the frontlines in the form of Americare's field nurses.

The pandemic blindsided and changed everything imaginable: the way we work, communicate, socialize, eat, and live. One constant remained: the way we take care of our patients in the community.

One such brave, dedicated, selfless nurse is Lizbeth Velez Cruz. "Liz is our LEADER in initiating home care services for all the COVID-19 patients in Queens," writes Bridget Gallagher, Vice President at Americare. "She pioneered the way we service these patients in all other boroughs and simply paved the way for the rest of our field staff by her magnificent example. We are truly grateful to have such Leaders here at Americare CSS."

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Henry Hill, In Memoriam

Henry Hill is a #HomeCareHero. Read his story. 

Americarehero2

HENRY HILL
In Memoriam

As a home care provider in the initial COVID-19 hotspot of NYC, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, Americare Certified Special Services quickly recognized that it was dealing with an emergency of unprecedented scale and timeframe.

Americare nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and home health aides are serving thousands of patients. They are joined by a team of clerical/support staff doing the foundation work that makes this care possible, including an Information Technology division that has been front-and-center in Americare's planning effort.

Americare needed to establish the capability for staff to work from home wherever possible, enhance existing telehealth programs with video capabilities for clinical visits, establish online screening and educational tools for use on laptops and cellphones, and reporting systems for timely updates to track symptoms, infections, and overall status.

Right in the middle of this IT fray was Henry Hill, Americare's Manager of Network Services.

As Americare established work-from-home procedures, Henry guided the IT team to ensure quality review RNs could access Americare's system while home health aides and field nurses could conference over Zoom or Microsoft Team when anxious patients in need of care were refusing visits.

A longstanding employee of Americare, Henry knew our IT systems in and out. But more importantly, he had an invaluable understanding of Americare's employees, their roles, and their IT capabilities.

Screening questions were blasted to Americare's entire field staff daily to ensure timely symptom reporting. Staff extensions were connected to cell phones so that patients calling Americare's lines were connected directly to the team they knew.

Not surprisingly, all these efforts required a massive amount of handholding. In the midst of it all, Henry guided the IT team to ensure that all staff not only had their problems resolved but, even from a distance, always felt supported by Americare.

Henry Hill and his IT team were able to accomplish the unimaginable for Americare. Americare was not only able to ensure all of its existing patients were serviced but it also admitted hundreds of COVID-19 positive patients in need of care. Accomplishing this level of technology implementation under enormous pressure and anxiety is a true testament to our IT team under Henry’s leadership.

Sadly, Henry Hill passed away of COVID-19 in April. Henry and the impact he had on Americare's team and patients will always be remembered and cherished.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Eileen Baez

Eileen Baez is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

EILEEN BAEZ

While the coronavirus pandemic has been a fearful and uncertain time for all of us, one Staten Island nurse, Eileen Baez, with The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), has played a vital role in the lives of her patients throughout the crisis with attentive care, education and perhaps the most overlooked tool of all: a smile.

Baez has been a nurse with VNSNY for more than 28 years and has seen firsthand the resilience of her New York colleagues and patients. During this unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis, she has been helping patients as they recover and grow stronger after being discharged from hospitalization with COVID-19. Going the extra mile day in and day out, she helps quell the anxiety brought on by the pandemic with facts, compassion and highly skilled care.

Armed with VNSNY’s special COVID-19 care kits, she ensures the safety of her patients — and herself — as she makes her daily home-visit rounds.

Patient and family education is paramount as the crisis continues, and is always an integral part of home care.

“I like to do one-on-one teaching,” says Baez, “It’s one of the reasons I chose home care. In their homes, patients are very receptive and willing to ask questions, whether it’s about drinking water, doing their exercises or taking medications."

She adds: "With COVID-19 and a possible second wave on the horizon, we make sure all of our patients, and especially those in COVID-19 recovery, know about and are practicing precautions like wearing masks, hand-washing and social distancing."

VNSNY also makes sure they know what symptoms to watch for in case there’s a relapse or a family member is exposed outside the home. "There’s a lot of confusion and fear out there," Baez adds. "We work to calm people and make sure they stay safe.”

While in the field, Baez is also helping to educate the next generation of home care nurses.

With PPE and a smile, Baez has displayed the same kind of resilience she’s seen in her own patients, all while helping New York battle the COVID-19 crisis each day with care, optimism, humor and encouragement.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Chris Curley

Chris Curley is a #HomeCareHero. Read his story. 

CHRIS CURLEY

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that the ability to secure essential personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies was vital to keeping staff and patients safe.

The national PPE supply chain was broken, critical shortages were an everyday health care crisis, and UR Medicine Home Care's normal supply channels were sold out, with most products on backorder.

Fortunately, UR Medicine Home Care had a champion and hero, Chris Curley. He worked tirelessly to get the supplies needed, demonstrated calm, and helped employees feel confident that they would have the protective equipment they needed to do their job and to stay safe.

He made it look easy and kept stress levels down. In reality, every day was a race for him. He made countless phone calls to every connection he had in the city, county, and state. He networked with local manufacturers that had switched their product lines to produce PPE supplies and, as a result, he secured donations of face shields, masks, and hand sanitizer worth tens of thousands of dollars. He also traveled thousands of miles in his car picking up supplies and transporting them back to the agency.

Chris Curley, Safety and Security Manager, is a creative problem solver and an out-of-the-box thinker. Pre-COVID-19, he was in charge of emergency management and security for the agency. He quickly embraced the new responsibilities and demonstrated a passion and dedication to his fellow workers by keeping them safe while helping limit the negative financial impact of unbudgeted and in-demand PPE supplies.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Sam Vanini

Sam Vanini is a #HomeCareHero. Read his story. 

SAM VANINI

Sam Vanini is a full time Physical Therapist in the eastern region of Monroe County.

He has been in home health care for a few years and is a high achiever. He won Rochester Regional Lifetime Care's rookie home health care clinician of the year during his first year. He is extremely personable, hardworking, kind, and caring. Sam covers a busy case load.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lifetime Care supported the Rochester Regional Health system in many areas. When some clinicians were redeployed to assist other departments, including skilled nursing facilities, Sam stayed in home health care and absorbed multiple clinicians' caseloads. He ensured continuity of care for all of his patients and allowed a smooth transition for their care.

During recent months, Sam has worked with a few patients that were COVID-19-positive or under investigation as suspected of having the illness. He wore additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and carefully followed all infection control guidelines.

Sam is an excellent home care therapist. He has maintained a positive attitude as he has worked through the challenges of the pandemic, allowing Rochester Regional Lifetime Care to maintain caseloads and timely care during this challenging time by going above and beyond for home care patients.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

July 2020 Edition of the Capitol Report Newsletter

In the July edition of HCA’s Capitol Report newsletter for the New York State Legislature and state officials, we report on the recent July legislative session, including some actions to mitigate prior-instituted limits on home care eligibility and access.

HCA is urging the Legislature to further revisit these and other faulty Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) changes instituted in the state budget earlier this year. Continue reading “July 2020 Edition of the Capitol Report Newsletter”

Register Now for HCA’s Virtual Annual Conference: August 25 & 26

Two days, ten sessions and a much-needed time for learning, reflection, collaboration and morale!  

Registration is now open for HCA’s Annual Conference on August 25 and 26, our flagship yearly event, now virtual!

A global health pandemic. Long-pressing industry needs. Some of the most consequential program changes in recent history. We need this gathering more than ever before: a moment for learning, reflection, collaboration and morale.

Participants have ten sessions to choose from, spaced across two days and streamed through our new online learning management systemRead our agenda at-a-glance to learn more.

To register through our learning management system, you’ll need to create a profile first and then follow the instructions. We will provide you with all the details for accessing our conference stream on August 25 and 26, including the opportunity to watch content on-demand as well.

Every crisis is an opportunity. While we would love to see you in person, this virtual format offers convenience, flexibility and lower registration fees, including a new group discount rate for an UNLIMITED number of staff to attend from your organization.

Got questions? Contact HCA’s Director of Education Celisia Street.

Spectrum News: As Nursing Homes are Scrutinized, New York State Grapples with a Lingering Home Care Shortage

In a recent report on home health aide shortages in the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum News cites HCA data noting that:

hundreds of the thousands of individuals and their families rely on the home care system for care and support; that home care workers are underpaid; and that New York State’s Medicaid program covers only 87% of the cost of home care services.

The news gets worse.

Twenty-nine percent of home health agencies use lines of credit or borrow to meet operating expenses. These are the very agencies that are expected to recruit, train, retain and supervise thousands of home health care aides. But because wages are so low, they are having a tough time. Turnover among some groups is as high as 58 percent.

The report adds: “Again, the HCANYS’ report was released before the worst of the pandemic in the U.S, back in December when most COVID-19-related news was coming out of China and Americans were focused on the holidays.”

Home Care Hero: PT Team at Peconic Bay Home Health Services

A team of physical therapists at Peconic Bay Home Health Care are #HomeCareHeroes. Read their story.

THE PT TEAM AT PBHS

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Peconic Bay Home Health Services (PBHS) realized it needed to be a part of the solution to the fact that the coronavirus was negatively impacting the Hispanic and African-American communities in greater numbers.

The cancellation of elective surgeries in New York State allowed Peconic Bay’s Physical Therapy team to spring into action in a comprehensive Community Outreach Initiative. Backed by the Suffolk County Department of Health’s Office of Minority Affairs and Hudson River Healthcare, PBHS PTs began working at county COVID-19 testing sites, including at-risk communities of Brentwood, Coram/Gordon Heights, and Riverhead.

In total, PBHS PTs volunteered over 400 hours of community service at these sites during the height of the pandemic in April and May 2020. They met with people getting tested for COVID-19, gave out COVID-19 materials and PPE, and provided instructions on proper hand washing and strategies to minimize spread. They also volunteered at weekly food lines of the Lighthouse Mission. The team handed out surgical masks, hand sanitizer, and COVID-19 education materials in both English and Spanish to the community members who were in need. PBHS team members did similar efforts at St. John Church in Riverhead and The Faith Alive Ministries in Central Islip thanks to a partnership between Northwell Health and church leaders.

Rather than furloughing physical therapists and telling them to stay home, PBHS did the exact opposite. In response, these committed individuals rallied. They showed courage and heart.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

Home Care Hero Lovencia Ciceron

Lovencia Ciceron is a #HomeCareHero. Read her story. 

LOVENCIA CICERON

Lovencia Ciceron, a Home Health Aide at Hamaspik HomeCare, continued to provide care for a patient with advanced dementia at an extraordinarily trying time. The patient and his family were both stricken with COVID-19, but Lovencia stayed on the case, providing care for him when no other aide would do so. Because of her, the patient received total care. She is a #HomeCareHero.

Do you have a #HomeCareHero to recognize? Complete our online form here. We’ll post their story and picture on our website and social media. Please share on your social media accounts, too. 

A Virtual Senior Center for Your Home Care Patients: Learn More at July 24 Webinar

Interactive online platform helps overcome social isolation in older adults during COVID-19 health emergency 

Join HCA Education and Research (E&R), Selfhelp Community Services and public officials on July 24 at 10:30 a.m. to see first-hand a powerful, interactive Virtual Senior Center (VSC) platform open for all home and community-based clients to enroll. Register for the webinar here.

Continue reading “A Virtual Senior Center for Your Home Care Patients: Learn More at July 24 Webinar”

COVID-19 Briefs for July 13, 2020

State DOH Issues Return to Work Guidance 

As announced in a member alert last week, the state Department of Health (DOH) released guidance on revised protocols for home care and other health care personnel to return to work following COVID-19 exposure or infection.  

The guidance outlines the conditions under which entities may allow staff to return to work after: 1) being confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 exposure or infection; or 2) after traveling to a state with a significant degree of community spread (see DOH’s travel guidance and update below), among other situations.  Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for July 13, 2020”

HCA Letter to the Editor Published in NY Times: A Remedy for Home Health Workers

In a letter to the editor published by the New York Times this week, HCA responded to an op-ed by E. Tammy Kim highlighting a number of vulnerabilities faced by home health aides in the COVID-19 pandemic — “a global health crisis that has laid bare systemic government gaps,” writes HCA President Al Cardillo in the published letter. He took the occasion to write about HCA-sought remedies, including “funding … urgently needed for wages that match the courage of caregivers at a time when Medicaid rates fall short of this obligation, with warnings of still further state budget cuts to come.”

Cardillo also noted the home care provider community’s voluntary effort to distribute PPE for peer home care providers and workers, noting the need for “a dedicated collective effort by government, payers and emergency management … to further provide these most essential protections.”

New 7/10 Webinar: Applying for Medicaid CARES Act Financial Relief

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $15 billion in CARES Act relief funds for Medicaid providers who lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has clarified that home care agencies are eligible, under fee-for-service and managed care. This includes Licensed Home Care Services Agencies and Certified Home Health Agencies who meet all of the conditions.

On July 10, in two days, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement expert Koy Dever of BKD, LLP will lead a webinar offering the latest information on eligibility criteria, navigating the application process, terms and conditions, reporting and audit requirements, as well as frequently asked questions.

Continue reading “New 7/10 Webinar: Applying for Medicaid CARES Act Financial Relief”

June 2020 Edition of the Capitol Report

In the June 2020 Capitol Report, we highlight two grant initiatives to support patients in the COVID-19 emergency through testing procedures and virtual services for seniors.

Also, HCA and partners urge continuation of an existing coordination effort with the New York City Department of Health to provide PPE for home care.

Plus we link to recent news reports featuring Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk, HCR Home Care, and others. Read it here: https://tinyurl.com/yaouword.

HCA Comments on FY 2021 Hospice Proposed Rule

In comments to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), HCA focused on three principal areas of the proposed hospice rule for fiscal year (FY) 2021: hospice wage index updates and revisions based on new Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) designations published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2018; CMS’s proposed elimination of the Service Intensity Add-on (SIA) budget neutrality factor; and upcoming changes to the hospice election statement, along with a new addendum requirement.

 

HCA, Selfhelp Community Services to Expand Pioneering ‘Virtual Senior Center’ for All NY Home Care Patients Amid COVID-19 Social Isolation

Grant from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to fund statewide technical expansion of Selfhelp’s online VSC platform so home care providers statewide can offer service, connect patients

The distress of social isolation and technology’s power to help overcome this divide are well understood by all New Yorkers amid the COVID-19 health emergency. Older adults, especially those who are homebound, are uniquely susceptible to these perils – now more so than ever.

To help, the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) was awarded a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to leverage Selfhelp Community Services’ Virtual Senior Center (VSC) web-based platform so that all home care providers in New York State can offer the VSC to their patients. Continue reading “HCA, Selfhelp Community Services to Expand Pioneering ‘Virtual Senior Center’ for All NY Home Care Patients Amid COVID-19 Social Isolation”

In Comments to CMS, HCA Seeks Clarification and Broader Regulatory Revisions Amid Public Health Emergency

HCA Vice President for Finance and Management Patrick Conole submitted comments to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) on CMS’s interim rule regarding home care and hospice “regulatory revisions” that have been issued in response to the public health emergency.

In our comments, HCA recognized CMS’s efforts thus far on regulatory relief and waivers, including CMS’s responsive interpretation of the “homebound” status definition in light of COVID-19, new allowances for non-physician practitioners to order home health services, and the modest expansion of remote telecommunications services to help shield against exposure risk and to help augment care.

On this latter area, however, HCA made several recommendations. We noted the recently extended or expanded flexibilities, permissions and payments for telehealth by other practitioners that should be likewise provided broadly to home health and hospice providers whose patients and staff also face infection exposure risks.

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending June 7, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending June 7, 2020.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending June 7, 2020”

HHCN: NY Home Health Facing $200M in 2020 Losses Due to COVID-19

Home Health Care News covered HCA’s call for Congressional funds to New York home care providers at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis who, we estimate, have weathered at least $200 million in losses.

“We need the NY delegation action to include, by whatever acceptable method, a priority fiscal aid target of $200 million for our state’s home health agencies,” HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo wrote to the entire New York Congressional Delegation. “We appeal to you to work with congressional colleagues to provide for this urgent constituent support.”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 31, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending May 31.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 31, 2020”

Act Now on Urgent Call for Federal COVID-19 Funds to Home Care in Congress

Please act today here on a new HCA Legislative Action Center campaign urging direct federal funds for New York home care providers at the front line of the COVID-19 epicenter.

As previously reported, HCA has estimated home care’s COVID-19 financial impact to be at least $200 million in New York State, a conservative estimate. We are calling on Congress to appropriate this baseline, threshold amount needed in the next aid package to stabilize New York home care providers who have, to date, received little aid relative to other settings. Much of this aid has come in the form of advance payments, loans and other financial mechanisms primarily through Medicare-funded programs but with little comprehensive support for providers of all home and community-based programs, including Medicaid services. Continue reading “Act Now on Urgent Call for Federal COVID-19 Funds to Home Care in Congress”

HCA Presses Congress for Direct Financial Relief

Congress is debating another coronavirus aid package, and it is imperative that home care receives vital stabilization funds as part of it.

As reported last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion aid bill. It is opposed by U.S. Senate leaders, who are seeking an alternative approach. All forecasts suggest that a new package — however it may look — is not conceivable until sometime in June.

HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo this week wrote a letter to all members of New York’s Congressional Delegation appealing for funds to home care in this upcoming aid package, noting that prior relief measures have yielded billions in support for hospital needs while “home care’s fiscal chasm” in COVID-19 relief “has been substantially unaided by these measures.”

NBC News Report Features HCA, Selfhelp and Virtual Senior Center Project

HCA and HCA Member Selfhelp Community Services joined industry voices from around the nation in an NBC News report “Coronavirus concerns show increased need, demand for home care, experts say.”

The article explains the impact of COVID-19 on services, including what the future holds for home care. HCA noted the vital role of technology, and the need for reimbursement of telehealth. “We’re finding that telehealth is vital for reducing exposure in a time of crisis like this,” said HCA Communications Director Roger Noyes.

Selfhelp’s COO Russell Lusak, an HCA Board Member, discussed his organization’s pioneering Virtual Senior Center. Under a grant from the Mother Cabrini Foundation, HCA and Selfhelp are working collaboratively to make the platform available to all providers statewide. “That connection to other people is so important,” Lusak said. “It’s a great option for people that otherwise wouldn’t have the ability to go to a senior center. It’s such an incredible thing to see.”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 25, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending May 25.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 25, 2020”

Home Health Care News: In-Home COVID-19 Testing Initiative Could Serve as National Roadmap

The Home Care Association of New York State (HCA-NYS), along with two health organization partners, announced a new COVID-19 training initiative for in-home testing on Tuesday, reports Home Health Care News. “Moving forward, the initiative will serve as an early example of how the home setting can fit into the country’s progressive return to normalcy.”

“This is a situation where we are creating a home care infrastructure,” HCA President Al Cardillo said in the report. “If you are ill because you have COVID symptoms, the last thing you should be doing is waiting in line in a congregate area for a test. This will enable doctors or facility care settings to contact in-home agencies to conduct tests for their patients.”

Groups to Train Home Care Clinicians on COVID-19 Testing Vital to NY’s Reopening, Public Health & Safety

Just-announced Mother Cabrini Health Foundation grant will support joint statewide training effort being led by Home Care Association of New York State, Iroquois Healthcare Alliance, and Mohawk Valley Health System

New York’s COVID-19 reopening plan hinges on the state’s testing capabilities. Three organizations are joining forces to help build such potential in home health care, thanks to a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

Under this grant, the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) will engage the training team of the Iroquois Healthcare Alliance (IHA) and the expertise of clinical faculty at the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS). Together they’ll deliver and promote web-based training for as many as 18,000 home health RNs and other personnel on COVID-19 testing procedures that can be conducted at home. Continue reading “Groups to Train Home Care Clinicians on COVID-19 Testing Vital to NY’s Reopening, Public Health & Safety”

HCA Featured in Home Care Pulse Article: 12 States Share COVID-19 Effects in Home Care

HCA President Al Cardillo was featured in an article for Home Care Pulse last week with comments from state association executives in 12 states on COVID-19. The article shared a “high-level take on the state of home care in their prospective states.”

“The miracles, dedication and impact of New York’s home care agencies and personnel are at unprecedented levels,” he writes. “Home care is serving core roles in hospital decompression, surge mitigation and assistance across the continuum in addition to the extensive in-home care it provides. Agencies are also voluntarily acting as receiving and distribution sites to further render protective supplies to hundreds of fellow agencies in cases where, stunningly, no formal structure was instituted by government’s incident command to deliver these essentials to the home care sector.”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 17, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending May 17.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 17, 2020”

HCA Op-ed: In COVID-19 Fight, Essential Home Care Needs Essential Supports from Congress

HCA President Al Cardillo published an op-ed on the Empire Report over the weekend “In COVID-19 Fight, Essential Home Care Needs Essential Supports from Congress.” An excerpt is below.

Well before the present crisis shut down business operations and activities deemed incidental, New York law created a process for governments to confer home health care nurses, aides and therapists with “essential-personnel” status in public emergencies.

The law, signed in 2017, was designed expressly for a crisis like our present one; and it arose fresh from the memory of home care’s needs, struggles and heroism during Hurricane Sandy.

Those needs – and countless others – have come roaring back in the COVID-19 pandemic, with New York at the epicenter.

Again, home care rightly holds essential-business responsibilities in this public health fight, caring for our nation’s most vulnerable. But these providers and their frontline staff also still need essential-business supports. Many of these supports require action from Congress.

HCA surveys show that the vast majority of home care agencies in New York State are seeing at least a 10 percent decrease in their workforce capacity due to COVID-19 as well as near-term revenue losses of up to 30 percent or higher. We’ve appealed to Congress for funds to both stabilize home care providers and permit wage enhancements.

New York State, in its administration of Medicaid, is allowing powerful tools like telehealth and other remote communications in place of home care visits, wherever feasible, so that home care providers get their own surge capacity relief. Home telehealth can maximize a clinician’s reach and help providers commit more resources to patients with the greatest needs. 

Our state’s Medicaid program is also allowing providers to bill for these services. Not so for Medicare, where we need Congress to similarly respond on behalf of millions of beneficiaries nationally.

Home care in New York has long led the country in use of telehealth to expand the reach of nursing and therapeutic care and clinical monitoring of patients at home. Our state elected leaders have employed a broadly flexible and visionary use of telehealth to promote patient care as well as worker and patient safety in the COVID-19 emergency. Washington should follow suit for Medicare.

 

AP: “‘You Are a Miracle’: Home Care Is New Front in Virus Fight”

“‘You Are a Miracle’: Home Care Is New Front in Virus Fight,” proclaims the headline in an AP article recently published in the New York Times, noting that “home health care is becoming a new front in the national fight against COVID-19 as some patients come back from hospitals and others strive to stay out of them.”

As COVID-19 patients become medically stable, hospitals look to home care for continued care and monitoring to keep patients safe and prevent a recurrent hospitalization, including services provided by HCA members featured in the article: Americare and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

April 2020 Capitol Report: COVID-19 “Essential Personnel” Responsibilities Demand “Essential Personnel” Supports

HCA’s April 2020 edition of the Capitol Report for the New York State Legislature includes several news features and photos from HCA members fighting COVID-19 and supporting patients in the community.

Please make sure your legislative representatives have seen this month’s edition, especially if your agency is featured. In the April 2020 edition, we worked to show how providers are: deploying nurses to test for COVID-19, treating COVID-19 patients at home, volunteering to provide a solution for personal protective equipment supply chain and distribution problems, and deploying telehealth.

Our main takeaway message: home care has “essential personnel” responsibilities and it needs “essential personnel” supports.

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 26, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending April 26.

This is a weekly digest of new updates as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 26, 2020”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 19, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending April 19. This is a weekly digest including updates already provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week. To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here).

Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 19, 2020”

NY Has Allowed Medicaid Home Telehealth Flexibility to Keep Patients & Staff Safe in COVID-19; Washington Should Follow Suit for Medicare

A statement from HCA President Al Cardillo

“I greatly commend the New York State Department of Health for employing a broadly flexible and visionary use of telehealth through home health providers to promote patient care as well as worker and patient safety in the COVID-19 emergency.” Continue reading “NY Has Allowed Medicaid Home Telehealth Flexibility to Keep Patients & Staff Safe in COVID-19; Washington Should Follow Suit for Medicare”

HCA and Managed Care Organizations Write to Governor’s Office on PPE Plan

HCA has joined forces with four partner groups representing long term care and managed care organizations on a letter (see here) to the Cuomo Administration calling for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution and prioritization protocols inclusive of home care. We also sought approval of recommended measures to safely provide care where PPE or staffing are insufficient, such as the enlistment of alternate care providers, voluntary plan-of-care changes, and other flexibilities.

New Executive Order Requires Face Coverings

A new Executive Order going into effect today at 8 p.m. (see here) requires that all employees of “Essential Businesses” in New York State “shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public.”

Home care, as with other health care settings, has been defined as an “essential business” since early in the state’s emergency declaration; providers are, therefore, subject to the new requirement in the Governor’s Executive Order.

The state Department of Health (DOH) has issued a guidance for health care settings, defining “face covering” as including, but not limited to, “cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields.” Continue reading “New Executive Order Requires Face Coverings”

Providers Begin Receiving $30B in Emergency Funding from HHS, Plus Newly Suspended State Regs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun releasing emergency funds to health care providers today as part of the recently signed federal CARES Act.

Home care and hospice providers are included in the list of providers to receive funds. As of this morning, HCA members have already reported receiving electronic payments.

Continue reading “Providers Begin Receiving $30B in Emergency Funding from HHS, Plus Newly Suspended State Regs”

Oneonta Daily Star: Virus fears impact retention efforts by home care providers

“Fear of COVID-19 exposure is having an impact on the ability of home care agencies to find workers willing to go into patients homes, according to a statewide survey,” reports the Oneonta Daily Star on April 9. “The Home Care Association, a statewide umbrella group, said the survey also found many local provider agencies reported they have patients who are now rejecting care due to concerns about the virus.”

“These findings strongly support the need for priority access to supplies, like personal protective equipment, amid dangerous shortages and the absence of community-based providers from the prioritization lists when supplies are made available,” said Al Cardillo, the association’s president.

Modern Healthcare: Staffing shortages, lack of PPE strain home health agencies

“More than 80% of 176 home health and hospice providers surveyed March 31 said the virus has reduced up to a fifth of their workforce, a Home Care Association of New York State poll found,” reports Modern Healthcare on April 9, noting that “telehealth can help mitigate PPE shortages and staffing constraints as well as boost COVID-19 containment efforts.”

“One other important area of urgent need is greater flexibility and reimbursement under Medicare for remote-monitoring technologies — like home telehealth — that can be used to manage patient care and extend the point of contact to in-home patients remotely in certain circumstances or phases in the care plan,” [HCA President Al Cardillp] said in prepared remarks. “While New York’s Medicaid system has rightly allowed such flexibility for telehealth services and billing, the same must be done under Medicare so that these powerful tools can be brought to bear more uniformly for safety reasons.”

New Survey of Home Care Providers Examines Workforce, Supply, Financial Impacts of COVID-19 in NYS

Findings again validate call for prioritization of supplies, Medicare home telehealth service and billing allowances to protect home care patients and staff

The Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) has again surveyed home and community-based providers in New York State – at the COVID-19 epicenter – to learn more about specific impacts of the health emergency on home and community-based services delivered to nearly 900,000 New Yorkers. It is available at here.

This is HCA’s second survey on the home care impact. (The first was conducted in mid-March and shared publicly on March 17.)

Our latest survey, finalized on April 6, further examines: the number of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases among home care staff and patients; what agencies are doing to cope with equipment shortages; percentage changes in patient counts due to COVID-19; the numbers (in ranges) of patients refusing care for fear of exposure; what agencies are doing in cases where patients are refusing care; projected financial impacts for the foreseeable future; and more. Continue reading “New Survey of Home Care Providers Examines Workforce, Supply, Financial Impacts of COVID-19 in NYS”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 5, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending April 5. 

HCA Continues to Press on PPE Needs, Prioritization

Severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to pose dangerous health and safety risks across all health care settings. A yet further constraint is the fact that the New York City Department of Health’s directives on supply prioritization have thus far categorically omitted home care and hospice.

HCA has raised these alarms repeatedly, in direct outreach to all levels of government and in the press.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 5, 2020”

New Medicaid Telehealth Q&As, Plus Updated Guidance on Personnel and COVID-19 Exposure

The state Department of Health has issued two new COVID-19 guidance documents.

One of these (dated March 31) replaces a prior guidance on protocols for personnel returning to work following COVID-19 exposure and infection (see here). It explains the conditions under which entities may allow health care personnel to return to work in the event they have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or have traveled internationally.

The other is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on new Medicaid service and billing allowances through telehealth and telephonic means during the COVID-19 emergency (see here).

Continue reading “New Medicaid Telehealth Q&As, Plus Updated Guidance on Personnel and COVID-19 Exposure”

New CMS Waivers: Incremental Telehealth Flexibility, Plus Latitude on Homebound Requirement

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued some new regulatory waivers and flexibilities, including a very incremental allowance for home telehealth and important latitude on the “homebound” requirement. This information is here.

Congress, in the recently enacted CARES Act for coronavirus relief, called upon federal officials to “encourage” telehealth. CMS has responded in a limited fashion, based on our read of the latest CMS communication, determining that the law does not permit CMS to pay home health agencies for telehealth. (The state Medicaid program, meanwhile, has already provided much more flexibility in this regard for Medicaid services, as previously reported to the membership.)

The CMS change, circulated last night, ostensibly allows expanded telehealth as a means to reduce costs, but not as a service billable under Medicare. HCA is further analyzing the language, speaking with federal officials and partners, and preparing to redouble our efforts on more expansive telehealth permissions for service and billing.

Continue reading “New CMS Waivers: Incremental Telehealth Flexibility, Plus Latitude on Homebound Requirement”

Albany Times Union: COVID-19 crisis leaves N.Y. home health aides, visiting nurses without masks, gowns

The Albany Times Union, on March 26, reports that: “A recent survey by the Home Care Association of New York found that nearly 300 home care providers are serving a collective 14,000 New Yorkers who are considered ‘priority level 1’— meaning they are patients who, without home care, would face a ‘rapid, immediately life-threatening deterioration’ of their health and require transport to another setting such as a hospital.”

“The survey also found that 68 percent of home- and community-based providers say they do not have access to adequate personal protective equipment.”

“‘Almost half (48%) report instances where patients and/or family members refuse entry of staff in the home due to concerns about the virus at a time when home health agencies are working vigorously to screen caregivers and patients alike for the safety of both,'” said HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo.

Reuters: U.S. home healthcare industry warns of possible ‘collapse’

“It’s a hair-on-fire crisis,” said Roger Noyes, spokesman for New York’s Home Care Association in a March 26 report for Reuters, which made headlines globally.

“As hospitals continue to handle an influx of coronavirus cases, patients who need care but are not critically ill are likely to be sent home. If home care providers can’t stay afloat or decline to offer services, those patients will ‘face a rapid, immediately life-threatening deterioration’ of their health, said Al Cardillo, president of the New York group.”

Weekly COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending March 29. 

CARES Act, NPP Authorization, and HCA’s Call for Permissive Implementation of Telehealth Provisions 

Congress passed, and the President signed, a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package. It includes a long-time priority of HCA and national organizations: allowing non-physician practitioners to order and refer for home care services. (HCA awaits further implementation information from federal administrators.)  Continue reading “Weekly COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29, 2020”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending March 29.

CARES Act, NPP Authorization, and HCA’s Call for Permissive Implementation of Telehealth Provisions 

Congress passed, and the President signed, a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package. It includes a long-time priority of HCA and national organizations: allowing non-physician practitioners to order and refer for home care services. (HCA awaits further implementation information from federal administrators.) Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29”

March 2020 Capitol Report Spotlights Home Care and COVID-19, Plus MRT II Proposals

The March 2020 edition of HCA’s Capitol Report has several features about home care’s response and needs serving patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home care is keeping many thousands of patients “from needing to go to the hospital or nursing home. They do so at quieter times or, as now, amid the din of a global health emergency like COVID-19 that is placing enormous new stresses on the health care system.”

In short, “home care needs priority access to supplies, regulatory relief and financial assistance in its work at the front lines.”

Another article, “COVID-19 Impact on Home Care by the Numbers,” quantifies those needs, drawing from an HCA survey which netted responses from over 300 providers.

We also share some COVID-19 headlines about home care’s role and requests from City and State News, Home Health Care News, Crain’s Health Pulse, and a feature about UR Medicine Home Care’s Meals on Wheels program on WHAM13, the Rochester ABC affiliate.

Reporting on the state budget, we note the “far-reaching consequences” of Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) recommendations that “are speeded for state budget adoption without vetting, without transparency, at a time when providers are asked to take on overwhelming roles in the crushing global health crisis.”

The MRT’s swift approval of recommendations impacting long term care prompted a statement to the media from HCA President Al Cardillo, covered by the New York Daily News and Politico New York.

COVID-19 Impact on Home Care by the Numbers

HCA last week shared with state health officials the findings of a home care provider survey on COVID-19. It uncovered that the vast majority of home and community-based providers (68%) do not have access to adequate personal protective equipment in their COVID-19 response.

Almost half (48%) report instances where patients and/or family members refuse entry of staff in the home due to concerns about the virus at a time when home health agencies are working vigorously to screen caregivers and patients alike for the safety of both.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Impact on Home Care by the Numbers”

City & State: Home care attendants helping elderly, disabled lacking equipment

“More than 80% of providers reported that they were in high need of hand sanitizer, according to a recent survey the Home Care Association of New York State, which represents home care agencies, sent to state health officials on March 18,” reports City and State News. “Nearly as many said they had a similar demand for face masks, with most respondents saying they lacked sufficient personal protective equipment. This shows how difficult it may be for home care workers to abide by state guidance encouraging people visiting at-risk people to don face masks.”

“Some other guidance has also been difficult to implement. Home care providers have been pushed to take the temperature of their staff, but that can be difficult given that workers tend to go directly to their patients’ homes rather than to a central office, said Roger Noyes, director of communications for the Home Care Association of New York State. There has been flexibility given on other regulations however, allowing mandated in-home supervision from nurses to be done through ‘indirect means’ such as by telephone or video calling to reduce in-person interactions.”

New COVID-19 Telehealth Guidance More Explicitly References Home Care 

The state Department of Health (DOH) has updated its previous Medicaid Update on COVID-19 telehealth/telephonic billing and services allowances to more explicitly include home care and each discipline within home care following multiple appeals from HCA.

The new Medicaid Update, dated March 23, is here and may undergo future updates that providers should watch for. Continue reading “New COVID-19 Telehealth Guidance More Explicitly References Home Care “

State Medicaid Guidance Authorizes Telehealth, Telephonic Services and Billing for COVID-19 Emergency

A special edition of the state’s Medicaid Update issued last night (see here) includes a guidance broadly expanding the use of telehealth, telephonic services and other communications methods by Medicaid providers during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Effective for dates of service after March 1, and for the duration of the state of emergency, “New York State Medicaid will reimburse telephonic assessment, monitoring, and evaluation and management services provided to members in cases where face-to-face visits may not be recommended and it is appropriate for the member to be evaluated and managed by telephone.” HCA has confirmed with DOH officials that the guidance applies to Article 36 home care providers.

Continue reading “State Medicaid Guidance Authorizes Telehealth, Telephonic Services and Billing for COVID-19 Emergency”