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Updates from LeadingAge NY Call with DOH and Governor’s Office

LeadingAge NY participated in a call with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Governor’s Office late last week on issues related to vaccination and COVID-only nursing homes. Below are some highlights from that conversation:

Vaccination Program and MOU

We raised questions regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has been circulated to some providers regarding the ability to receive and administer vaccine. Some providers executed the MOU, and some were uncertain of how to complete the MOU given the wording and the fact that, currently, nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) do not have supply of the vaccine. Given the many questions posed, the Department agreed to recirculate the MOU with some clarifying language to make clear that the MOU is being executed now to plan for the future, when facilities will have a supply of vaccine. Providers can change their answer if the clarifications provided change their interest in participation. We continue to seek clarification regarding whether this is for all providers in the state or only those outside of New York City. LeadingAge NY has also urged the State to permit nurses working in ACFs to be able to administer the vaccine given that they are permitting several professions and paraprofessions that do not typically administer vaccinations the ability to do so.

On a related note, we were pleased to hear that there has been some resolution to the daily Vaccine Tracker Survey that was being circulated. This was yet another required report that was sent to some providers related to supply of vaccine and vaccines administered. We raised concerns with the Department regarding a requirement to complete a daily survey when no supply was available, and we are being told that requirement is being put on hold at this time for providers that are not in receipt of vaccine to administer. We once again shared that the numerous reporting requirements and significant penalties discourage providers from becoming vaccinators, which is counter to the public health goals we all share.

The Department is also developing templates for medical orders for those settings that have medical directors and one for those that do not. A standing medical order can be used for vaccination (it need not be patient-specific) and can apply to residents and staff.

Federal Vaccination Clinic Update

The Department provided an update on the federal vaccination clinic process for nursing homes and ACFs. At this point in time, they expect that all nursing homes have had their first vaccination clinic, and overall, they are reported to have gone fairly well. The focus is now on getting all the ACFs scheduled, with the objective of having all of those clinics with a first clinic date on the calendar by the end of this week (meaning the clinic date may occur later, but the scheduling itself is to be addressed). The Department indicated that the first ACF clinic should be no later than the end of February. We have had some success working with providers and the Department to move some clinics up that had been scheduled late; please let us know if that is the case for you. The Department and the Governor’s Office reported exploring ways to try and expedite this process to get this priority population vaccinated as quickly as possible but also requested patience of the provider community. It is important that ACFs and nursing homes understand that they can now also access community clinics for the vaccination of both staff and residents. Please remember, however, that you will still need to track these vaccinations for the purposes of the Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) reporting and to help ensure that second dose is administered.

COVID-Only Nursing Homes

DOH clarified that COVID-only nursing homes are for hospital discharges only. They are not an option to transfer nursing home or ACF residents. DOH noted that some ACFs have used other nursing homes to assist with inability to effectively cohort COVID-positive residents. We have requested a list of the COVID-only facilities but to date have not received one.