While state officials have yet to issue home care- or hospice-specific guidance on novel coronavirus (COVID-19), HCA has requested an immediate meeting and discussion with the state Department of Health’s Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management and Office of Health Emergency Preparedness on a range of preparedness and response issues.
As a baseline, HCA has recommended that DOH explore a request for federal emergency waivers so that patient and staff needs are put first, where regulatory/compliance procedures might otherwise impair priority response and necessary flexibility.Other issues raised by HCA members for this meeting include: provider access to supplies (i.e. N95 masks); specific regulatory waivers; use of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) among organizations to manage staff shortages amid the COVID-19 public health emergency; and other issues.HCA will immediately report back to the membership on any further developments arising from this discussion.
New York State now has six confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time of this writing. Governor Cuomo and his health leadership team just this morning held a press conference to announce the latest findings, including what is believed to be New York’s first documented case of “community spread” among a Westchester man, his family and a neighbor.
Meanwhile on Monday, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, an emergency appropriations bill of $40 million for COVID-19 response. The bill, sought by the Governor, also provides what appear to be broad discretionary powers to make directives or orders (such as quarantine measures) in response not only to COVID-19 but other disasters as well.
The Governor is also requiring insurers to waive cost sharing associated with testing for novel coronavirus, including for emergency room, urgent care and office visits, and is suspending Medicaid co-pays for any testing related to COVID-19.
As previously reported, HCA has added a COVID-19 resources link to our home care and hospice emergency preparedness website at http://homecareprepare.org/covid-19/. We will post new resources on an ongoing basis as we receive them.
Among these is a new guidance document prepared by HCA Member Barbara Citarella of RBC Limited to help organizations prioritize and organize their preparedness actions in the form of a comprehensive checklist. A direct link to the checklist is here.
CDC Call for Clinicians
Also tomorrow (March 5) from 2 to 3 p.m., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is holding a call for clinicians on what they can do to prepare for COVID-19, including identifying persons under investigation, applying infection prevention and control measures, assessing risks for exposures, optimizing the use of personal protective equipment supplies, and managing and caring for patients (inpatient and at home). Registration details for the call are here.
HCA will continue to keep the membership apprised of developments and COVID-19 news.