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Coronavirus Planning for Home Care, Hospice

“No one should be surprised when we have positive cases” of novel coronavirus in New York State, remarked Governor Cuomo yesterday about the illness that has spread rapidly from its initial origins in China.

COVID-19 has now reached 37 countries, including 60 confirmed cases in the U.S. (at the time of this writing), with one case (announced yesterday) involving a person who “did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While 83 people have been reportedly quarantined on a voluntary basis in Nassau County, there are no as-of-yet confirmed cases of the virus in New York State to date, according to reports. Yet national public health officials have warned of possible “community spread” in the future, the importance of preparation for such an event, and the prospect of future containment measures by public health or preparedness officials.

New York State Response

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced a $40 million appropriation to hire additional staff at the state Department of Health (DOH) and to procure resources related to COVID-19 response.

The Governor announced he will also propose legislation to grant authority to DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker “to ensure local health departments and public and private hospitals statewide take certain actions and measures in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as needed,” according to a press release. DOH will also be convening local health departments and providers statewide to review protocols, best practices and procedures.

Home care and hospice

To date, DOH has not issued a home care- or hospice-specific advisory related to COVID-19. However, HCA encourages providers to read the state’s February 25 facility-specific advisory here for further information that may be applicable to home care or hospice regarding methods for minimizing exposure. The advisory also offers guidance for necessary provision of health care to patients who are asymptomatic but are being monitored for the virus.

  • Home care and hospice providers must ensure that their required emergency preparedness plans are up-to-date, including your communications planning, your infection-control procedures, and other factors vital to all-hazards planning.
  • It is essential that home care and hospice providers keep their Health Commerce System (HCS) communications directory and other HCS accounts up-to-date and closely watched for vital communications from state health and emergency preparedness officials, including home care- and hospice-specific advisories.
  • We also encourage you to reach out to your regional Health Emergency Preparedness Coalitions (HEPCs) to join their listservs or participate in upcoming meetings for the exchange of critical updates locally. Information on the HEPCs is here.

HCA will continue to keep providers updated as necessary and will post these updates to our home care emergency preparedness website at www.homecareprepare.org.

Below is a list of helpful resources. These links are by no means exhaustive, and HCA will continue to add to the list on our home care prepare website.

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