ALBANY — The Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) commends New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing a bill, S.5016-A/A.6549-A, which assures home care and hospice provider input into local emergency planning, including essential-personnel access for home care and hospice staff to reach vulnerable patients when disasters strike.
HCA also applauds the bill’s legislative sponsors, Assemblyman Michael Cusick and Senator Andrew Lanza, for their tireless efforts to develop and frame this legislation for unanimous passage in both houses of the Legislature and for support from the Governor. Both legislators saw first-hand the enormous need for coordinated response in their Staten Island districts when Superstorm Sandy devastated the region.
For further background on the bill, please read HCA’s Memorandum of support here.
“From Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and countless major snow emergencies across New York, we’ve seen home care and hospice providers ready to serve as a vital resource to assist local emergency managers in reaching vulnerable patients who may be alone or without power at home,” said HCA President Joanne Cunningham. “These efforts could be substantially enhanced with a greater voice for home care and hospice in the emergency management planning process, including for addressing ‘essential personnel’ status, as this bill does. Home care and hospice providers applaud Assemblyman Cusick and Senator Lanza for their staunch support of this important bill, and for working vigorously with the Governor’s office to get it signed into law.”
Senator Lanza, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said: “I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law that will provide vital support for disabled, elderly, hospice and medically fragile home care patients. Including these patients in the local emergency planning process will ensure that our most vulnerable residents are taken care of in an emergency and public disaster. I also want to thank Assemblyman Cusick for his leadership and sponsorship of this important law.”
Assemblyman Cusick, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, said: “During times of crisis, home care aides are essential in providing critical support to the elderly, disabled and chronically ill patients who are in their care each and every day. I applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the importance of this bill and Senator Lanza for his efforts in shepherding this legislation through the Senate because what we saw during and after Hurricane Sandy was complete chaos with scores of home care workers unable to reach their patients. There were roadblocks set up to limit traffic to emergency workers only and gas shortages that delayed their ability to reach those in desperate need of care. Seeing first-hand the critical problems that arose, I want to ensure the safety of my community should another disaster strike.”
Ms. Cunningham specifically cited a recent HCA survey of 105 home care and hospice providers. These providers collectively reported that they serve more than 10,000 patients who are coded as “Priority Level I” under state designations. This state-required designation identifies home care and hospice patients most at risk during emergencies who: must have uninterrupted care; who have a highly “unstable condition” that would very likely lead to inpatient admission if unseen by their provider; and for whom “every possible effort must be made to see this patient.”
“These 10,000 patients are just a select sample of the many thousands more we believe could be better supported during emergencies thanks to these new statutory changes,” Ms. Cunningham added.
Roger L. Noyes
Home Care Association of New York State (HCA)
(518) 810-0665 (office)
(518) 275-6961 (cell)