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Sept. 29th 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 described 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 Tues., Sept. 29th due to Yom Kippur, is available here. If you have questions for next week’s update, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

NYC DOHMH to Hold COVID-19 Update Webinar for New York City Health Care Providers on Oct. 2nd

LeadingAge NY members are invited to join the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) for a webinar providing updates on the COVID-19 emergency on Fri., Oct. 2nd from 1 to 2 p.m. Click here for more information and here to register.

NYSHealth Foundation Issues Report: “Preparing for New York’s Flu Season During a Pandemic”

A new New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) report, Preparing for New York’s Flu Season During a Pandemic, was released last week. The report examines why early and aggressive flu preparation in New York is needed to limit preventable deaths, counter the widening of racial and ethnic health disparities already worsened by COVID-19, and reduce added strain on the health care system. It explores the new challenges presented by the pandemic and innovative approaches to achieve high flu vaccination rates. The report also offers key actions and strategies that have the potential to mitigate the harm of a co-occurring COVID-19 pandemic and influenza season this fall. Click here for more information.

Nursing Home and Adult Care Facility (ACF)/Assisted Living (AL) Updates

Nursing Home Level 3 SAMS Access

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking that nursing homes that enrolled into the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) through the streamlined process to facilitate the mandatory COVID-19 reporting upgrade their NHSN enrollment to Level 3. This entails completing the Secure Access Management Services (SAMS) identity verification process and will allow the user to report patient-level data to NHSN, access modules other than COVID-19, and utilize NHSN data analytic tools and data reports. In mid-October, NHSN is expected to begin accepting COVID-19 test result data that may lead to reporting efficiencies for providers. The instructions for upgrading to Level 3 are available here and indicate that the first step will be for homes to receive a message from SAMS via sams-no-reply@cdc.gov. Nursing homes that do not receive a communication from SAMS may want to email nhsn@cdc.gov to indicate that they are interested in increasing their NHSN security.

ACF Full Evacuation Drill Requirement Flexibility

The Department of Health (DOH) has indicated a willingness to be flexible with the enforcement of the requirement for a full evacuation drill for ACFs, similar to the flexibility offered regarding fire drills. DOH asks that providers reach out to their regional office program manager to request this flexibility.

Urge Lawmakers to Allow Beautician Services to Resume in Nursing Homes and ACFs

It has been over six months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and seniors living in nursing homes and ACFs are still living without basic social activities that enhance quality of life. Activities such as beautician services (hairdressing, barber, etc.) are still not permitted under current guidance from DOH, and as a result, many seniors living in these settings are battling with depression, anxiety, and cognitive and physical decline.

With proper social distancing and infection control practices in place, a resident of a nursing home or ACF should be able to enjoy the simple pleasures that allow an individual to feel connected, fulfilled, and confident. Seemingly simple social activities such as getting one’s hair done are critical to the overall wellbeing of seniors, and it is time for the State’s policies to strike a more reasonable balance between quality of life and infection control.

LeadingAge NY understands why families of nursing home and ACF residents are concerned about the mental wellbeing of their loved ones. We have drafted the below letters for family members to use in their advocacy, urging lawmakers to allow beautician services in these settings to resume.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

Home Health and Hospice Providers to Receive Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Last month, the Trump Administration announced the purchase of 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests to be distributed across the country to several provider types, which will now include home health and hospice providers. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted a webinar for home health and hospice providers to discuss the Abbott BinaxNOW test. It is our understanding that HHS will direct the point-of-care (POC) test kits to agencies with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificates of Waiver that are in areas with a significant COVID-19 infection rate. HHS is funding the costs of the tests for staff testing, not patient testing. LeadingAge is researching whether agencies can accept test kits if affiliated providers have a CLIA Certificate of Waiver.

Training videos, modules, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the BinaxNOW test can be accessed on the Abbott website. For questions regarding the BinaxNOW test, please call Abbott Technical Services at 1-800-257-9525 or email ts.scr@abbott.com. For shipment issues or questions, email ARDxUSGovernmentSupport@abbott.com.

Slides from the Abbott webinar regarding the BinaxNOW program can be accessed here. LeadingAge NY will post the audio recording of the presentation when it becomes available and keep members informed as we learn more about the specifics of this initiative.

Access to NYC PPE Stockpile – LHCSA Training Soon

NYC DOHMH is currently working to finalize access to the NYC Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Stockpile for licensed home care services agencies (LHCSAs). Providers will soon be trained on how to order emergency PPE supplies through the Medline platform, NYC’s contractor managing the stockpile.

The “go-live date” on which LHCSAs can start ordering is set to be Oct. 12th. NYC DOHMH will be conducting a webinar training for LHCSAs the week before (dates to be determined). As they have done with other providers, NYC DOHMH will email LHCSAs with the relevant information, dates for the training webinar, and account information.