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Jan. 4th COVID-19 Update

New updates pertaining to the COVID-19 emergency continue to be announced by both the state and federal government on a regular basis. The latest developments for providers of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) and senior services are reviewed below.

As a reminder, LeadingAge NY continues to convene weekly webinars on Mondays at 11 a.m. to address emerging questions on COVID-19. A recording of our most recent webinar, held on Jan. 3rd, is available here, and a list of the items shared by LeadingAge NY staff in the webinar chat can be accessed here. If you have questions for next week’s update or would like the access information, please contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

LATE-BREAKING! DOH Issues Updated Return to Work Guidance and Direction on Notification of Crisis Strategies

On Jan. 4th, the Department of Health (DOH) released new return to work guidance directed to all health care settings and providers, including nursing homes, adult care facilities (ACFs), and home care. The guidance is intended to clarify when to follow the DOH return to work guidance issued on Dec. 24th for health care personnel (HCP) and when to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) return to work guidance for HCP. This guidance supersedes return to work guidance for HCP issued before Dec. 24th. It is noted that the guidance is in flux and may evolve. For LeadingAge NY's matrix on this guidance, click here.

Additionally, the guidance notes that transition from conventional to contingency to crisis strategies should be based on ability to provide essential services, as determined by the facility. Facilities should notify DOH if “crisis” strategies are required; individual staff waivers are no longer required. Until further direction is given, facilities should call the Surge and Flex Operations Center at 917-909-2676 to notify DOH of the need to move to “crisis” strategies.

LATE-BREAKING! DOL Updates FAQs Regarding Paid Family Leave

The Department of Labor (DOL) has updated its COVID-19 leave Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Although entitled “Paid Family Leave,” they appear to apply to employees who are themselves infected or exposed to COVID-19 as well as those who are caring for an infected or exposed family member. Click here for more information.

CMS Issues Guidance on Compliance with Health Care Personnel Vaccination Mandate

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance (QSO-22-07-ALL) on Dec. 28th describing how it will enforce compliance with its HCP COVID-19 vaccination mandate. Providers in New York State that are subject to the CMS mandate, including nursing homes, certified home health agencies (CHHAs), and hospice programs, should be in an excellent position to comply with the CMS mandate as a result of earlier compliance with the New York State HCP mandate. However, providers should take note of the more detailed requirements in the CMS guidance pertaining to documentation of exemptions and vaccination status, additional precautions for unvaccinated staff who have received an exemption or a temporary deferral, and contingency plans for staff who have not completed the primary vaccination series. Click here for more information.

Nursing Home Updates

LATE-BREAKING! DOH Reminds Nursing Homes of Steps to Take During Outbreaks and Will Send Resources

On Jan. 4th, DOH issued a Dear Administrator Letter (DAL) to nursing homes outlining a variety of recommendations to follow during COVID-19 outbreaks. While much of the DAL reminds providers of best practices, there are new recommendations and resources noted. DOH asks that you review the information with all staff. Click here for more information.

Nursing Homes Are Reminded About Resident, Family, and Representative Notification Requirements

Nursing home members are reminded that to ensure that you are not cited under 42 CFR § 483.80 – Infection control, your facility is required to:

  • Inform residents, their representatives, and families of those residing in facilities by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the occurrence of either a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurring within 72 hours of each other. This information must:
    • Not include personally identifiable information;
    • Include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations of the facility will be altered; and
    • Include any cumulative updates for residents, their representatives, and families at least weekly or by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the subsequent occurrence of either: each time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified, or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours of each other.

As noted above, members should be aware that you DO need to post the cumulative number of positive cases in your facility for residents, families, and their representatives to be aware of.

The full CMS QSO 20-29-NH is linked here for your reference.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

DOH Calls for Home Care Agencies to Report Admissions Closures

In light of recent staff shortages due to rising cases of COVID-19, DOH has asked associations to communicate to members that home care providers should report if they have closed admissions or stopped accepting referrals or are planning to do so. Providers should report this closure status to their regional DOH.

LeadingAge NY is aware that many agencies have been unable to accept new cases for some time due to staffing shortages. We have also communicated this to the Department.

An email should also be sent to homecare@health.ny.gov prior to the effective date.

Please let Meg Everett know if you have any questions/concerns or information that should be conveyed to the Department.