HCA Meets with DOH on Hybrid Aide Training Programs, Discusses CHHA Surveys and Other COVID Issues 

Situation Report | June 1, 2021

Last week, HCA, along with the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP) and LeadingAge NY met with the state Department of Health (DOH) to discuss the status of hybrid aide training programs.

At the meeting, HCA and the other associations expressed concerns about the delays in hybrid training program approvals by DOH during a time of aide shortages, discussed certain areas that are leading to such delays, and suggested ways to streamline the application process.

In particular, HCA advocated that DOH:

  • Provide additional guidance on required policies and procedures, as this is one area that many applicants were asked to supplement.
  • Revise its policy so that entities with approved Home Health Aide (HHA) Training Programs, but no approved Personal Care Aide (PCA) Training Programs, can submit applications for hybrid PCA Training Programs.
  • Allow entities with existing approved PCA (in-person) Training Programs to submit applications for hybrid PCA Training Programs if their program has not received at least one re-approval after three years of operation.
  • Permit students to make up classes by utilizing a video or recording of the class instead of requiring the nurse instructor to conduct a separate virtual make-up class for that student.

DOH seemed open to some of our recommendations and related suggestions by the other associations and will discuss them internally.

DOH also announced that it has assigned another staffperson to review the hybrid aide training program applications in an effort to shorten the approval process.

The associations will send DOH a list of areas and recommendations that we discussed with them and continue to work with them to improve the application process.

HCA is tracking the status of applications submitted by members and asks that you communicate with Andrew Koski (akoski@hcanys.org) if you have submitted or plan to submit one.

As reported previously, HCA, HCP, LeadingAge New York and a select group of association members developed a plan in July 2020 to allow for virtual training of HHAs and PCAs, advocating for implementation of this plan by DOH. This grew out of an aide workforce shortage that has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic when many training programs have had to shut down due to prospective aides’ fears of contracting COVID-19 in classroom settings and social distancing requirements that limited class sizes.

The associations had meetings with DOH to discuss our proposal, which led to DOH issuing a Dear Administrator Letter (DAL) in September 2020 allowing for previously approved and “active” HHA and PCA training programs to offer a hybrid model of virtual and in-person training programs in combination.

Other Issues

In addition to the discussion on hybrid aide training programs, HCA also requested that DOH consider reducing the three-days-per-week frequency for submission of the Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) and Hospice Health Electronic Response Data System (HERDS) COVID-19 surveys. DOH indicated that it would not be reducing the CHHA/hospice survey but is open to eliminating some questions.

HCA asks members that have suggestions for streamlining the surveys to send them to Andrew Koski at akoski@hcanys.org.

Lastly, HCA also advocated that DOH send out guidance prior to reinstating any regulations and/or policies that have been waived or altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.