As HCA continues its efforts at all levels to press accommodations for home care, hospice agency and employee vaccination under the state’s adoption of an emergency regulatory mandate, the U.S. District Court for the Northern New York District took action entering into the fray today, granting petitioners with a temporary restraining order on the regulations.
HCA is seeking input from agencies and hospices on how New York State’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will impact the ongoing workforce shortage.
As HCA previously reported, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) requires employers to adopt and maintain an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan to be implemented when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.”
While August 5 was the deadline for adopting such a plan, employers also have to provide the plan in writing to all employees by September 4.
The New York State Business Council advises: Currently, while employers must adopt plans as required by the law, no such designation has been made by the Commissioner and plans are not required to be in effect. It is possible, however, that with the increase in infections as the result of the COVID Delta variant, these plans could be activated.
The state Department of Labor has posted resources on the HERO Act, including The Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan and industry-specific templates.
The state Department of Health (DOH) posted a Dear Administrator Letter(DAL) that provides an update on home care and hospice regulatory waivers that were issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DAL is available on the DOH home care website.
The DAL notes that the COVID-19 State of Emergency in New York ended on June 25, 2021 and addresses the resumption of routine services for home care and hospice agencies, and under what limited circumstances DOH will continue to exercise ‘enforcement discretion’ in recognition that providers need time to restart and complete activities previously suspended.
Providers are advised to immediately initiate efforts to restart activities and be able to demonstrate to DOH surveyors that there is a plan in place for compliance as soon as practicable.
The DAL addresses the following areas:
- Supervision of home care aides
- In-Home Initial Assessments and Reassessments
- Annual Performance Evaluations
- Pre-Employment Health Assessments for New Employees and Annual Health Assessments
- Supervised Practical Training
- In-Service Training for Personal Care, Home Health and Hospice Aides
- Home Care Aide Training Program Completion and Submission of Schedules
- Alternative Competency Demonstration for Personal Care Aides
Please note that as it relates to hospice, the DAL mentions that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has waived the requirement that hospice aides receive at least 12 hours of annual training. CMS has modified the regulation that requires hospices to annually assess the skills and competence of all individuals furnishing care and provide in-service training and education when required. Specifically, CMS postponed the annual assessment requirement until the end of the first full quarter following the declaration of the end of the federal PHE. HCA is verifying how these federal waivers currently affect hospices in New York State.
HCA has communicated with DOH, the Legislature and the Executive and has sent regulatory relief recommendations to the state’s key decision-makers. HCA is still reviewing this DAL to determine which relief measures need any further action and which have not been addressed. HCA will continue to monitor all state and federal guidance related to regulatory relief and communicate updates with the membership as more is learned.
The August 26 meeting agenda of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) Special Codes, Regulations and Legislation Committee includes the consideration of an Emergency Rule that would mandate vaccines for “personnel” of Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHAs), Long Term Home Health Care Programs, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Home Care Programs, Licensed Home Care Service Agencies (LHCSAs) and Limited LHCSAs; hospices; and adult care facilities by October 7 (with limited medical and religious exemptions).
Read the Rule here.
The Rule states that “covered entities” will have to continuously require personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the first dose for current personnel received by October 7, 2021 (September 27, 2021 for general hospitals and nursing homes).
Agencies will be required to obtain documentation of such vaccination and retain it in personnel or other appropriate records in accordance with applicable privacy laws.
Medical exemptions to the vaccine requirement are allowed if any licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner certifies that immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine is detrimental to the health of the member of a covered entity’s personnel, based upon a pre-existing health condition.
Covered entities will be able to grant a religious exemption for COVID-19 vaccination for personnel if they hold a genuine and sincere religious belief contrary to the practice of immunization.
Entities must also review and make determinations on requests for medical and religious exemptions, which must also be documented in personnel or other appropriate records, as well as any reasonable accommodations to protect the well-being of the patients, residents and personnel in such facilities.
Upon the request of the state Department of Health, covered entities must report and submit documentation for the following:
- the number and percentage of personnel that have been vaccinated against COVID-19;
- the number and percentage of personnel for which medical exemptions have been granted;
- the number and percentage of personnel for which religious exemptions have been granted; and
- the total number of covered personnel.
The Rule also adds documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or a valid medical or religious exemption to the personnel requirements for CHHAs, LHCSAs and hospices.
These proposed emergency regulations will become effective upon filing with the Department of State and will expire, unless renewed, 90 days from the date of filing.
HCA is currently reviewing this major proposal and its ramifications from all sides with the HCA Board of Directors. This includes critical information that we will send and that must be considered by the PHHPC in weighing these actions on home care, as home care vaccination is an extremely complicated matter.
Regardless of the decision it takes, the Council and the state must attend to the urgent access and support needs in home care, and direct its COVID-related policies in the full and necessary support of this sector, its workforce, agencies and patients.
HCA will follow with an update to the membership on the proposal’s status and the imminent actions the Association takes with the Council.
HCA has confirmed that mandate will not apply to home care
In a press release this morning, Governor Cuomo announced a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers, with first doses to be required by September 27.
The Governor’s press release does not mention home care, but HCA has confirmed with state health officials today that the new requirements announced will not apply to home care workers.
While the announcement said the mandate was required for “all healthcare workers in New York State,” it references imminent Section 16 Orders for hospitals, nursing homes and other long term care facilities (including adult care and other congregate care settings).
The Governor’s announcement also says that Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was briefed on today’s announcement, signaling coordination on the issue between the outgoing Cuomo administration and the incoming Hochul administration following Governor Cuomo’s announcement last week of his resignation, effective August 25.
According to today’s press release, the Section 16 Orders will require providers to develop and implement a policy mandating employee vaccinations, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons.
The announcement does not mention testing as an alternative to vaccination.
Applicability to Contractors?
HCA is seeking to determine whether the mandate for workers in congregate settings would also apply to contractors in those settings, such as home care or hospice providers whose workers provide services in skilled nursing facilities and adult care facilities.
Reminder about the NYC mandate for contractors
HCA has already reported on a vaccine mandate for all New York City employees and NYC-contracted employees. Contracted employees include home care staff employed by agencies that have contracts with NYC Human Resources Administration for personal care services and personal assistants providing consumer directed services whose Fiscal Intermediaries have contracts with NYC. This would also include those agencies that have contracts with the NYC Department for the Aging and provide services under the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) and other city agencies.
While the Governor’s mandate does not apply to home care, we are watching developments very closely and discussing concerns with state officials.
We are also redoubling our effort to ensure that vaccines are readily available for home care and hospice workers while calling for funds to cover non-reimbursed COVID-related costs such as education, infection control initiatives, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other expenses to help provide critical relief and stability to the home care and hospice infrastructure.
Please stay tuned as we learn more about this major development.
The Governor also announced that the Department of Health has authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for New Yorkers with compromised immune systems, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation last week.
Eligible New Yorkers can receive their third dose 28 days after the completion of their two-dose vaccine series, effective immediately.
The following are updates on new vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 briefs for August 2, 2021. Continue reading “Vaccine Requirements for NYC-Contracted Staff, Including Home Care, and other COVID-19 Briefs”
The state Department of Health (DOH) this afternoon sent an e-mail to health plans and associations clarifying an earlier guidance (on July 26) that had rescinded certain emergency measures for physician orders and assessments.
The state Department of Health (DOH) has posted a new guidance rescinding several COVID-emergency-era flexibilities in the requirements for physician orders and various assessments.
On July 23, the state Department of Health (DOH) released a Dear Administrator Letter (DAL) on in-service training requirements for Personal Care Aides (PCAs), Home Health Aides (HHAs) and hospice aides. Continue reading “Guidance Issued on In-Service Training for PCAs, HHAs and Hospice Aides”
The following are COVID-19 briefs for July 20, 2021. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for July 20, 2021”
On June 30, the state Department of Health (DOH) issued new guidelines regarding COVID-19 testing requirements for staff and contracting staff, including home care and hospice personnel, who provide services in adult care facilities (ACFs) and nursing homes. Continue reading “COVID-19 Testing Rules Changed for ACFs and Nursing Homes “
Late last week and throughout the weekend, the state Department of Health came out with a set of guidance documents extending the continuity of telehealth service allowances now that the state’s declared emergency for COVID-19 has ended. Continue reading “State Guidance Extends Emergency-Era Telehealth Allowances”
The following are COVID-19 Briefs for June 7, 2021.
NYSIIS/CIR: The state Department of Health (DOH) has posted reminders about submitting vaccine information to the NYS Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) or Citywide Immunization Registry/CIR (for NYC providers) and the use of the Excelsior Pass. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for June 7, 2021”
The following are COVID-19 briefs for June 1, 2021.
Paid Leave for Vaccine Recovery: On May 27, Governor Cuomo announced that the New York State Department of Labor will be issuing guidance to all employers that any necessary recovery period from the COVID-19 vaccine is covered under the state’s Paid Sick Leave Law. More information is here. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for June 1, 2021”
The following are COVID-19 briefs for May 17, 2021. Continue reading “COVID-19 Vaccination Briefs for May 17, 2021”
On May 4, the state Department of Health (DOH) and state Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) sent a joint letter to county leaders that asks each county and local health department to develop an in-home vaccination plan.
The plan is to be inclusive of all relevant county departments as well as other providers of home care services within the county.
The state Department of Health (DOH) has issued guidance on predrawn vaccines for providers vaccinating homebound individuals, and vaccination for individuals in nursing homes and adult care facilities.
DOH Again Modifies Return-to-Work Guidance: The state Department of Health (DOH) has updated its “Interim Health Advisory: Revised Protocols for Personnel in Healthcare and Other Direct Care Settings to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure — Including Quarantine and Furlough Requirements for Different Healthcare Settings” here. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for May 3, 2021”
Governor Cuomo recently signed a COVID-19 emergency Executive Order (202.102) with a provision reflecting HCA’s request for flexibility in the timeframes for vaccination administration.
The following are COVID-19 Briefs for April 19, 2021.
Travel Guidance: The state Department of Health (DOH) has posted Updated Interim Guidance for Travelers Arriving in NYS (April 10, 2021). Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for April 19, 2021”
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker today announced that New York State is temporarily pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines statewide following recommendations from federal health officials who are investigating reports of blood clots.
The following are recent briefs on COVID-19 and vaccinations.
Walk-Up Vaccine Sites for Home Care Workers and Seniors
Home care workers can take a senior who is 75 years or older for a walk-in vaccine appointment at one of 26 city-run vaccination sites. Both the senior and an eligible companion can be vaccinated as walk-ins without prior appointment. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for April 12, 2021”
See below the following COVID-19 briefs for March 29, 2021.
DOH Guidance on Health Care Services: The state Department of Health has issued an Updated Interim Guidance: Ensuring Access to Health Care Services During COVID-19. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for March 29, 2021”
What follows are important developments in the COVID-19 health response and vaccination effort, as well as related resources, from the past week. Continue reading “COVID-19 Public Health and Vaccine Briefs for March 15, 2021 “
Below are several important updates on vaccination opportunities, resources, and planning efforts for home care workers and patients statewide, including some region-specific information. Continue reading “Home Care and Hospice Vaccine Updates for March 8, 2021 “
Below are several important updates on vaccination opportunities, resources, and planning efforts for home care workers and patients statewide, including some region-specific information.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will be offering online COVID-19 vaccine information sessions for home care workers. It will include a question and answer period to address questions or concerns home care staff might have.
Webinars will be offered in multiple languages:
- English on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, from 1 to 2 p.m. (registration is here)
- Mandarin on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, from 3 to 4 p.m. (registration is here)
- Spanish on Thursday, February 25, 2021, from 4 to 5 p.m. (registration is here)
- Russian on Friday, February 26, 2021, from 3 to 4 p.m. (registration is here)
The webinars will be recorded for people unable to make the above times.
Please e-mail email@example.com if you have questions about the webinars.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced new COVID-19 vaccination efforts to reach homebound New Yorkers and home health aides, including a focus on Brooklyn residents.
As of February 14, state-run vaccination sites are now open to New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions. Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates: Vaccine Eligibility Now Open for Underlying Conditions, Changes in Quarantine for Vaccinated Individuals “
This past week, HCA continued to be in communication with representatives of the Governor’s office, the state Department of Health (DOH), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and regional vaccination hubs across the state about the lack of vaccines for home care workers. Continue reading “Vaccine Update and Other COVID-19 Briefs for February 8, 2021”
New York City providers or organizations with staff residing in New York City, please see the following updates and share with your staff accordingly.
Yankee Stadium Mass-Vaccination Site
The Governor and New York City Mayor have announced that a mass-vaccination site at Yankee Stadium will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible Bronx residents on Friday, February 5.
The state Department of Labor recently posted guidance about use of COVID-19 Sick Leave. Continue reading “COVID-19 Sick Leave Guidance Posted”
According to a letter here from the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the nation’s Governors, the Public Health Emergency (PHE) is likely to last through this year. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for February 1, 2021”
HCA continues daily outreach and advocacy efforts with state, county, local and hospital-based regional planning officials to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is made available to home care and hospice staff as the state adjusts its vaccine rollout amid supply shortages.
Throughout the past week — a time when home care and hospice workers were included among phase 1a priority workers — HCA compiled and circulated to members a series of spreadsheets with links for accessing the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the state and city vaccine appointment pages.
While health care workers remain a priority (including, specifically, home care and hospice), the Governor on Friday announced the expansion of vaccine priority to phase 1b, which includes certain other essential workers and individuals age 75 and older. Continue reading “Vaccine Update: Governor Opens Eligibility to Phase 1b as HCA Continues to Provide Critical Resources for Home Care and Hospice”
Yesterday, HCA shared information about vaccination sites and appointment scheduling. Several county health departments have also begun posting vaccination information. All of this is compiled in a new series of spreadsheets on our COVID-19 resource page to further assist in your effort to facilitate staff vaccinations. Please also be sure to review the state and city vaccine eligibility sites.
While not all county agencies are actively vaccinating at this time, many are doing so, and this information is constantly changing.
HCA has some new information to support home care and hospice staff vaccinations for the week 4 prioritization schedule and ongoing vaccination effort. Continue reading “Vaccine Logistics, Resources and Member Zoom Meeting on 1/13”
Vaccine scheduling information now posted to our COVID-19 page. Please bookmark this site and check it regularly for updates.
Following HCA’s daily and continuous outreach to officials at all levels of the statewide vaccination effort, the state Department of Health (DOH) last night revised its guidance to move up the schedule for home care and hospice worker vaccination.
According to the new guidance, home care and hospice workers are now included in the week 4 vaccine prioritization schedule this week (beginning January 4).
On January 2, the state Department of Health (DOH) posted guidance that, for the first time, specifically identifies home care and hospice staff as a priority group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Continue reading “DOH Includes Home Care and Hospice Workers in Vaccine Distribution Guidance “
HCA continues to seek clarity and advocate for prioritization of home care and hospice in the statewide vaccination roll out.
Complicating the consistency of information is the fact that statewide logistics appear to have been substantially delegated to ten regional planning hubs, also known as Regional Advisory Task Force (RATF) coalitions, led mostly by hospitals. A list of all ten hubs is provided on the Governor’s website here. Continue reading “HCA Continues Pressing Home Care, Hospice Vaccine Prioritization with Commissioner, Regional Task Force Coalitions “
While the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for all health care personnel and patients remains fluid, HCA wanted to provide members with a status update on our several recent advocacy efforts, deliberations, and briefings with New York City, regional, and state vaccination planners. Continue reading “COVID-19 Vaccine Planning Update for Home Care, Hospice “
New DOH Vaccine Website
New York State has launched a new website dedicated to COVID-91 vaccine information. It includes information about the vaccine, the state’s distribution plan, safety measures, the process for providers to order the vaccine, frequently asked questions, and more. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for December 21, 2020”
ALBANY – The Board of Directors of the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) has unanimously adopted a resolution urging home care and hospice provider vaccination efforts for COVID-19. Continue reading “NY Home Care Association Board Unanimously Adopts Resolution Urging Provider Vaccination Efforts for COVID-19”
On Friday, HCA reported to members about our meeting with New York City immunization officials who confirmed that home care and hospice workers would be included in phase one of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Continue reading “NYC Includes Home Care in Phase I Vaccine Rollout, as HCA and Partners Urge Gov. to Do Likewise Statewide “
The Governor last night issued Executive Order No. 202.82 with new flexibilities related to COVID-19 and influenza testing and vaccination. Continue reading “New Executive Order Offers Flexibilities on Testing, Vaccination”
Updated Zone Metrics, Hospital Directives and Business Guidelines
Last week, Governor Cuomo announced new metrics by which micro-cluster focus zones will be determined to help control COVID-19 spread and protect hospital capacity. Continue reading “Updated Zone Metrics and Other COVID-19 Briefs for December 14, 2020”
HCA today spoke with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) immunization officials about logistics for COVID-19 vaccination of home care and hospice workers.
Notably, in response to our ongoing emphasis about home care’s vital patient care role, the city is including home care workers in phase I of its plan, along with other phase I workers (in hospitals and nursing homes) in New York City, consistent with advisory recommendations made at the federal level.
HCA has received confirmation from the state Department of Health (DOH) that home care providers who intend to receive and administer COVID-19 vaccine should prepare now by enrolling in the state’s vaccine program for providers outside of New York City. A separate process is in place for New York City providers.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) has removed the requirement that agencies serving NYC must have less than one week of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to request PPE from the city’s PPE Service Center. Continue reading “NYC Removes Requirement That Home Care Providers Have Less Than 1 Week of PPE Before Ordering from City Stockpile”
The state Department of Health (DOH) has issued a 20-minute survey here for all health care providers on provider experiences using telehealth during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The survey is due December 15.
The Governor and state Health Commissioner have requested all county health departments to establish plans for COVID-19 testing and immunization capabilities.
Yesterday, this request was given a major signal for county health officials to work with home care agencies on these efforts, equipped by HCA’s training program.
Sarah Ravenhall, Executive Director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), joined HCA President Al Cardillo in a letter to all county health commissioners whose departments oversee the local public health response to COVID-19. Together they urge commissioners to look to home care agencies as a critical partner and resource that can assist with county-level COVID-19 testing capacity through in-home specimen collection. Continue reading “NYSACHO to County Health Commissioners: Include Home Care in Your Partnerships on COVID-19 Testing, Equipped by HCA Training “
HCA Education and Research (E&R) is pleased to present Best Clinical and Operational Practices in COVID and Beyond, a grant-funded online learning series curated by HCA E&R under a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.
These 24/7, on-demand webinars are free of charge. They provide model insights and innovations pioneered by home and community-based providers. Our faculty include home and community care clinicians, operational leaders, and executives covering a range of clinical and operational topics.
The state Department of Health (DOH) has recently updated its state Medicaid billing guidance to explain how Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHA) can bill for COVID-19 specimen collection under fee-for-service Medicaid.
It describes steps and protocols to ensure the safe and efficient distribution and administration of vaccine to New York residents. The document includes: guidelines and vaccine planning considerations; measures to ensure vaccine safety; a vaccine prioritization matrix; a distribution and delivery process; training and support of providers administering the vaccine; data and IT infrastructure to coordinate and monitor the program; public education and community outreach; and a budget and procurement process. A Vaccine Central Command Center is proposed to manage the entire vaccine program.
In late September and early October, HCA conducted our third survey of the industry to determine home care and hospice provider experiences in the ongoing public health emergency following the springtime surge and in anticipation of additional surges. The results are compiled in a Phase III COVID-19 Survey: Summary of Impact on Home and Community-Based Entities, Staff and Patients in New York State.
This third survey (Phase III) was completed on October 14, 2020, netting responses from 77 respondent organizations serving the home and community-based care needs of New Yorkers.
It examines the latest workforce, referral, access and fiscal impacts of the public health emergency on home and community-based care as well as trends like telehealth use as a means of protecting patients and staff and expanding access.
The state Department of Health (DOH) has posted two Dear Administrator Letters (DALs) for home care and hospice agencies on the status of various emergency regulations.
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”
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.
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 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.
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.”
The federal COVID-19 public health emergency has been extended another 90 days. It was set to expire on July 25.
Alex Azar, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services signed the extension last week (July 23), putting the new expiration date in late October. Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for July 27, 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”
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.”
What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending June 21, 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. Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending June 21, 2020”
What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending June 14, 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. Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending June 14, 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”
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.”
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”
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.”
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.”
“‘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.
“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.
“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.”
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. Our latest report is called Phase II COVID-19 Survey: Summary of Impact on Home and Community-Based Entities, Staff and Patients in New York State.
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.
“While hospitals are on the front lines of the pandemic, home care providers play a vital, often unnoticed role in keeping patients out of hospitals and nursing homes getting stretched to their limits,” reports The Syracuse Post-Standard on the vital COVID-19 public health role of organizations like Nascentia Health.
“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.”
“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.”
“To get a sense of what the situation on the ground looks like for home health and home care agencies, the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA-NYS) recently surveyed hundreds of providers,” reports Home Health Care News.
“‘Different states and regions are at different stages in surveillance and monitoring,'” Roger Noyes, director of communications at HCA-NYS, told Home Health Care News. ‘Certainly due to our population and the size of our home care programs, the situation in New York can be instructive for other states, including the scale of remedies under consideration and how well they’ve worked.'”
“Broadly, home health and home care agencies in New York are already experiencing challenges that many others throughout the continuum of care are as well, including hospitals. That’s particularly alarming because the need for home-based care will likely rise in the coming weeks, especially as quarantines become stricter and more patients are sent home from institutional settings.”
“Among its findings, the HCA-NYS survey found that most home-based providers lack access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). More than 300 home health, home care and hospice agencies participated in the survey, conducted over a roughly 40-hour period this week.”
In a just-completed HCA survey on the COVID-19 crisis, nearly 300 home care providers in every region of New York State report that they collectively serve more than 14,100 priority level 1 patients in the community. These are patients who, without home care, would face a rapid, immediately life-threatening deterioration in their existing health condition or would need to be transferred to another setting, such as hospitals or nursing homes already stretched to capacity. Many of these most at-risk patients are homebound, or dependent on technology or ventilators, with severe life-limiting conditions. Continue reading “March (Phase I) Report: Home Care Needs Priority Supplies, Regulatory Flexibility & Emergency Aid for COVID-19 Response”