Today, Monday, March 23, during his daily press conference Governor Cuomo announced that the state has acquired some new personal protective equipment (PPE). HCP has been in contact with the Department of Health to urge them to ensure that PPE is available to home care. The guidance is for providers to continue using the same process for acquiring PPE.  That is, to contact your local office of emergency management and county executive in addition to copying DOH at covidhomecareinfo@health.ny.gov

In making your request, consider including the following information with your order:

How much equipment do you have on hand? 
When do you anticipate running out?
At what rate are you using equipment?  How much per day?
What types of equipment do you need? Be as specific as possible. What sizes?  Has your staff been fit tested for N-95s?
How many patients are you serving? Under what conditions?

DOH Updates Guidance for Home Care and Hospice

Late Sunday night, March 22, the Department of Health issued updated guidance for home care and hospice. This document updates and supersedes the guidance issued by the Department of Health on March 14, 2020 in DAL: DHCBS 20-08.

The new guidance, available here, covers screening patients upon admission and screening staff.

Patient Admissions

With respect to screening patients, rather than mandating that LHCSAs contact local health departments as the previous guidance had, the updated guidance “strongly recommends” that step to determine if the prospective patient is under quarantine.  

Prospective patients must be screened for COVID symptoms and should be referred to a health care provider for evaluation if it is determined that the patient is at high risk of infection.

Staff Screening

With respect to screening staff, they MUST be screened upon “arrival at work”, but because arrival at work for a home care worker means the patient’s home, DOH is recommending that home care staff use CDC guidance and self-monitor for fever twice a day.  

Agencies must have a policy to contact employees daily before they begin home care visits to confirm the employee is self-monitoring and has no symptoms. Home care workers must contact their employer if they develop symptoms and must stop seeing patients. Agencies must communicate to workers that if they continue work with symptoms, they risk continued spread of COVID. 

Avoid Staff Congregating

It is recommended that agencies avoid having staff come to or congregate at agency offices. Recognizing that staff may need supplies and may pick up supplies at central distribution sites, the Department recommends that agencies develop a mechanism for distributing supplies in a manner that avoids staff congestion while protecting scarce patient care supplies. 

It is important for all agencies to keep apprised of current guidance by regularly visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NYSDOH websites, as well as the NYSDOH Health Commerce System (HCS), for the most up-to-date information for healthcare providers. 

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 
NYSDOH: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus.htm  
HCS: https://commerce.health.state.ny.us  

Agency management must also keep their staff updated as the situation changes and should educate staff about the disease, its signs and symptoms and necessary infection control to protect themselves and their patients. The NYSDOH distributes alerts and advisories through the HCS notification system, and therefore it is key that providers maintain their up-to-date contact information in the HCS Communications Directory.

Medicaid Update Special Edition – Telehealth and Telephonic Services 

Late Saturday evening the New York State Department of Health issued a Medicaid Update Special Edition, featuring Comprehensive Guidance Regarding Use of Telehealth including Telephonic Services During the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

▪ During the state of emergency, all Medicaid provider types are eligible to provide telehealth, but services should be appropriate for telehealth and should be within the provider’s scope of practice.
▪ Telehealth services will be reimbursed at parity with existing off-site visit payments or face-to-face visits (i.e., 100% of Medicaid payment rates). Specific billing guidance is included, as well as a directive for Medicaid Managed Care plans to follow the telehealth billing policy included in this guidance.
▪ The guidance also addresses some technological barriers to telehealth by allowing healthcare organizations to bill for telephonic services if they cannot provide the audiovisual technology traditionally referred to as “telemedicine”.

This Medicaid Update Special Edition is available on the Medicaid Update webpage. It will also be posted on the COVID-19 Guidance for Medicaid Providers webpage, which is updated regularly with guidance and information.

Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave - NYS Guidance on New Sick Leave Law

The State has created a new web-page to provide guidance and answers to questions regarding New York’s new sick leave law. The web-page includes an outline of the benefits, documents and resources for employers and employees, a frequently asked questions page.  The web-page can be accessed here

Governor Cuomo Calls on Health Care Officials to Assist in COVID Response

Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 Task Force has asked for HCP’s assistance in distributing its call to New York State’s health care professionals to assist in the emergency response. 

A survey for health care professionals can be found at the following link: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/health-professional-survey.  

During this crisis the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force is engaging everyone available in our healthcare community to help.  If you have additional recommendations for contacting and engaging the healthcare community please reach out to us at COVID19workforce@health.ny.gov.  

In the request, the Governor asks that in the event that the novel coronavirus crisis worsens, we need the help of additional qualified health professionals and related professionals to supplement our hospital capacity on a temporary basis to treat seriously ill coronavirus patients including those that may need to be intubated. 

If you are available, we need the following information immediately: 

Your specific qualifications and experience 
Date of last certification and license 
Last date of practice 
Role in last practice 
Contact information including location 
Current age 
Would you be willing to work in other parts of New York State? 
Describe your interest and ability to be able to provide your services to treat patients if the need should arise in the future. 

Please provide responses within 36 hours using this survey: www.health.ny.gov/assistance. If you have any questions please contact workforce@exec.ny.gov. Your immediate attention is necessary and appreciated. 

With your help, New York State is working to protect our residents and strengthen our public health system to deal. We appreciate your commitment to the health and safety of all New Yorkers and look forward to building on our partnership.

HCP Staff is Remote, but Available

HCP staff is working remotely as directed by Governor Cuomo in his Executive Order. You can still reach staff by email and telephone.  Our telephone extensions are forwarded to our remote telephones. If you reach our voice mail and leave a message, we can access the message through our email system.

Kathy Febraio, President, ext. 809 febraio@nyshcp.org   

Kevin Kerwin, Vice President of Public Policy, ext. 806 kerwin@nyshcp.org  

Mary Dworakowski, Senior Director of Administration & Finance, ext. 804 dworakowski@nyshcp.org 

Dena Collins, Director of Information Systems, ext.815 collins@nyshcp.org
Marissa Crary, Director of Marketing & Education, ext. 824 crary@nyshcp.org  

Cora Smith, Associate for Marketing & Education, ext. 825 smith@nyshcp.org