HCA continues to seek clarity and advocate for prioritization of home care and hospice in the statewide vaccination roll out.
Complicating the consistency of information is the fact that statewide logistics appear to have been substantially delegated to ten regional planning hubs, also known as Regional Advisory Task Force (RATF) coalitions, led mostly by hospitals. A list of all ten hubs is provided on the Governor’s website here.
As previously reported, HCA, LeadingAge New York and the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP) jointly wrote to Governor Cuomo earlier this month urging prioritization of home care and hospice in the earliest stage of the vaccine rollout.
Late last week, HCA followed up with another direct appeal, this time to New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and the leaders of all ten RATFs.
“We realize and understand the extreme enormity and challenges of ensuring accurate, clear and effective communication during this time,” wrote HCA President Al Cardillo in the letter. “We ask that you alleviate the confusion and concern regarding vaccine priority for home care/home health care personnel by explicitly and clearly including them in the list of the populations included in Priority 1.”
HCA’s letter, along with continued direct outreach to all RATFs this week, has achieved some important inroads. RATFs are inviting direct HCA participation in the implementation process, and several have reported back to HCA that they have been making connections with home care agencies in their regions about vaccination planning, ostensibly in line with the week 4 vaccine rollout, beginning next week.
The week 4 rollout includes all “front-line, high risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients,” according to a December 27 New York State Vaccination Program Guidance for Facilities Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine. But it is still unclear if these include home care and hospice staff. Meanwhile, the overall flow of communication in the state’s incident command structure for the vaccine distribution remains uneven, fluid, and lacking in uniformity.
HCA is working arduously to synthesize the various pieces of this information flow in an effort to provide members with meaningful instructions about next steps.
It is critical that HCA members also proactively make connections with their RATFs to ensure that your organization is directly included in the flow of information about logistics for your region as HCA continues to gather information for our next update.
HCA is also separately working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and hopes to learn more at a meeting next week.
HCA is working tirelessly on this issue and expects more information soon. We understand members’ frustration with the lack of information about vaccine distribution and will provide members with notice of all material updates.