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Governor Signs Executive Order to Address Health Care Staffing Shortages

On Sept. 27th, Governor Hochul signed an Executive Order (EO) to alleviate potential staffing shortages in hospitals and other health care facilities statewide. The EO, available here, seeks to expand significantly the eligible health care workforce by authorizing out-of-state and retired professionals and recent graduates to practice in New York. It also allows additional health care workers to administer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. Of particular note for LeadingAge NY members, the EO authorizes:

  • nurses to order the collection of specimens for COVID-19 testing;
  • physicians and nurse practitioners to issue non-patient-specific orders to nurses and other persons for COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 and flu vaccinations and the performance of tasks under the supervision of a nurse that would otherwise be limited to the scope of practice of a nurse;
  • non-nursing staff to collect specimens for COVID-19 testing and administer COVID-19 and flu vaccinations; and 
  • expanded community paramedicine. 

From the EO:

Governor Hochul has directed a 24/7 Operations Center, led by the New York State Department of Health, to constantly monitor staffing operations and trends statewide, provide guidance to healthcare facilities and help troubleshoot acute situations with providers as necessary. The Governor is engaged in ongoing outreach with local elected officials, hospitals, labor leaders, and other health care organizations to check-in on staffing status and offer State assistance. ...

Expanding Eligible Health Care Workforce to Meet Staffing Needs

To remove barriers to allow additional categories of health care workers to provide care in order to meet staffing needs in New York, the executive order includes a series of provisions, including:

  • Allowing out of state and out of country health care workers including physicians, RNs, LPNs, NPs, PAs, midwives, clinical nurse specialists, licensed master social workers, and licensed clinical social workers to practice in New York;
  • Waiving re-registration fees, creating an expedited re-registration process, and eliminating barriers to re-enter the workforce for retirees;
  • Allowing practitioners to work or volunteer in other facilities;
  • Allowing physician visits in nursing homes to be done using telemedicine;
  • Ensuring removal of barriers for EMTs and Advanced EMTs to practice and assist in additional settings, allowing basic EMTs to vaccinate and test for COVID-19, extending all EMS providers' certification period by one year, modifying certification requirements, and permitting out of state providers to operate in the New York State EMS System;
  • Allowing New York State-licensed providers without current registrations to practice without penalty for lack of registration;
  • Allowing graduates of SED-registered programs (NP, Lab, RN, LPN) to practice in a hospital or nursing home for 180 days following graduation; and
  • Providing flexibilities for clinical labs to increase testing capacity

The executive order also expands the scope of practice for additional health care workers to allow for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, including an expansion of the ability of midwives, registered nurses, physicians, and nurse practitioners to more easily administer and order COVID-19 vaccinations and testing as well as flu vaccinations.

To aid in facilitating faster efficient patient transfers to mitigate any staffing issues, the executive order also permits facilities to discharge, transfer, or receive patients quickly, provided they are protecting the health and safety of patients and residents and complying with federal law. Additionally, the executive order suspends requirements for preauthorization review for scheduled surgeries in hospital facilities, hospital admissions, hospital outpatient services, home health care services following a hospital admission, and inpatient rehabilitation services following a hospital admission, as well as suspends concurrent and retrospective review of claims during the duration of the order.

Additionally, Governor Hochul plans to work with the federal government and other state leaders to explore ways to expedite visa requests for medical professionals and is monitoring whether the deployment of medically-trained National Guard members may be necessary to execute at any point.

Contact: Mark Kepner-Clough, mkepner-clough@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8383 ext. 125