HCA is working at all levels on behalf of home care patients and staff to support federal and state COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
On December 16, HCA’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution urging all home care and hospice providers to encourage vaccination of personnel and patients “at the earliest possible time,” and to make the necessary supports and education to facilitate this effort.
HCA has also advised all home care providers to register with New York City and State Department of Health vaccine programs and registries. In addition, we continue to meet with officials at all levels of government about vaccine prioritization protocols and logistics to ensure that front-line home care staff and their medically vulnerable patients have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.
Logistical Challenges and Questions
For home care, such logistics are complex.
The headline of one recent Philadelphia Inquirer story summed things up concisely: “home health workers are a top priority to get COVID-19 vaccines, but don’t know when or where.”
There are hundreds of thousands of home care personnel in New York State, many of whom are employed by more than one agency. Reporting to patients’ homes, their practice setting is not a centralized or concentrated location that can serve as a point of vaccine dispensing, which is why it is essential for policymakers to design an orderly process that includes home care personnel — early — in any new or existing vaccination hubs.
Nor are home care patients congregated in facilities, like nursing homes, that may otherwise serve as a nucleus for dispensing vaccine among an entire census of patients. And many of these patients — among the most medically vulnerable — are homebound, lack transportation, or do not want to risk the health and safety risks of leaving home for procedures at an offsite location when they are otherwise receiving vital services at home.
While HCA’s understanding is that home care workers are in phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, the practical challenges are immense. Vaccine dispensing plans must factor all of these practical realities, and HCA continues to inform state and local authorities of these important considerations as the statewide vaccination rollout marches forward.
Calls, inquires and communications from Legislative officials to state vaccination planners could help ensure home care and hospice worker and patient prioritization and logistical access to vaccination.