Category: COVID-19

Requirements Established for County In-Home Vaccination Plans

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.

Continue reading “Requirements Established for County In-Home Vaccination Plans”

Vaccine Information Sessions for Home Care Workers 

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:

The webinars will be recorded for people unable to make the above times.

Please e-mail ecabato@health.nyc.gov if you have questions about the webinars.

Yankee Stadium Mass Vaccination Site, Plus Town Hall & Provider Webinar on Feb. 5

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.

Continue reading “Yankee Stadium Mass Vaccination Site, Plus Town Hall & Provider Webinar on Feb. 5”

Vaccine Update: Governor Opens Eligibility to Phase 1b as HCA Continues to Provide Critical Resources for Home Care and Hospice

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”

Vaccination Update: New County Health Dept. Info and Messaging to Encourage Your Staff

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.

Continue reading “Vaccination Update: New County Health Dept. Info and Messaging to Encourage Your Staff”

Home Care, Hospice Workers Now in Week 4 Vaccination Following HCA Appeals

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).

Continue reading “Home Care, Hospice Workers Now in Week 4 Vaccination Following HCA Appeals”

HCA Continues Pressing Home Care, Hospice Vaccine Prioritization with Commissioner, Regional Task Force Coalitions 

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 “

NYC Home Care, Hospice Workers Included in Phase I as HCA Discusses Vaccine Logistics with City Officials

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.

Continue reading “NYC Home Care, Hospice Workers Included in Phase I as HCA Discusses Vaccine Logistics with City Officials”

DOH Confirms COVID-19 Vaccination Enrollment Program Open to Home Care

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.

Continue reading “DOH Confirms COVID-19 Vaccination Enrollment Program Open to Home Care”

NYC Removes Requirement That Home Care Providers Have Less Than 1 Week of PPE Before Ordering from City Stockpile

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”

NYSACHO to County Health Commissioners: Include Home Care in Your Partnerships on COVID-19 Testing, Equipped by HCA Training 

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 “

12 New Webinars: Best Home Care Practices in the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond

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.

Continue reading “12 New Webinars: Best Home Care Practices in the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond”

COVID-19 Briefs for November 9, 2020: Out of State Travel & Vaccine Updates

New York has submitted its COVID-19 Vaccination Program to the federal government.

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.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for November 9, 2020: Out of State Travel & Vaccine Updates”

October (Phase III) Report: Workforce, Referral Patterns, Fiscal Impacts and Telehealth Use in the Pandemic

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.

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”

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”

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”

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.

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.”

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.”

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”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

April (Phase II) Report: Home Care Provider Survey Examines Workforce, Supply, Financial Impacts of COVID-19 in NYS

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.

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.”

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.”

HHCN: Home Health Industry Watches On As New York Providers Navigate Coronavirus Minefield

“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.”

March (Phase I) Report: Home Care Needs Priority Supplies, Regulatory Flexibility & Emergency Aid for COVID-19 Response

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”