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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.  

The letter informs county officials about HCA’s grant-funded “Home Care Clinician Training for COVID-19 Testing” encouraging them to enroll their own nurses in the training (if their county sponsors a home care program) and to likewise collaborate with fellow home care agencies whose staff are trained.

“As the lead health strategists within New York’s communities, we want to be certain that local health departments are aware of this resource,” the letter states. “If you have not done so already, NYSACHO and HCA jointly encourage county health departments to connect and coordinate with the home care agencies serving your communities.”

Just as importantly, the letter also has a message for home care providers: “Home care agencies whose staff are trained to test are being encouraged to contact their county health department to offer availability and willingness to collaborate on in-home specimen collection for COVID-19 testing.”

If your organization is not among those trained to provide testing, please enroll your nurses in HCA’s program today by completing the form here. The entire on-demand learning module takes just 1.5 hours to complete. It can help bolster your role with local health departments in the COVID-19 response and other public health needs. But you must act soon. Tuition is supported by a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation that expires at the end of 2020.

If your organization is already trained, please take NYSACHO’s advice: contact your local health department and use the NYSACHO/HCA letter for reinforcement in that outreach.

Reminder: Medicaid Rate for COVID-19 Specimen Collection 

It’s not often that the state Medicaid program issues new service rate codes, as it did last week for COVID-19 specimen collection by home care providers.

HCA worked arduously to include in-home testing as a covered Medicaid service for home care. We encourage providers to act on this new line of reimbursement support as you prepare, or newly evaluate, your agency’s plan to support the health care system’s response to COVID-19. If you missed our alert on the new rate codes, you can read it here.