Nursing home and assisted living association pushes for new pandemic policies

Regional

Coronavirus and senior citizens. (NIAID-RML / AP, Gerd Altmann / Pixabay)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A statewide association representing over 425 nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout New York is calling on the state to revise its pandemic policies on testing and visitation at such facilities.

NYSHFA|NYSCAL wants New York to implement new COVID-19 testing requirements set forth on August 26 by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Currently, New York requires all nursing home and assisted living staff to be tested weekly.

NYSHFA|NYSCAL—an Albany-based nonprofit composed of the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living—sent an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday. In it, they requested an update on the protocols surrounding COVID-19 staff testing and resident visitation restrictions at their facilities.

“The State’s current policy must be replaced with CMS’s rule in order to both focus testing where it is needed most and alleviate the State’s unfunded mandate that is imposing unsustainable financial constraints on providers,” said Stephen Hanse, President and CEO of NYSHFA|NYSCAL.

CMS’s new testing requirements would apply to both staff and residents and are based on the positivity rate of the COVID-19 virus in the respective county where a healthcare facility is located. CMS suggests a scaled testing model, requiring:

  • Monthly tests in counties with under 5% infection rate
  • Weekly tests in counties with an infection rate between 5% and 10%
  • Twice-weekly tests in counties with over 10% infection rate

NYSHFA|NYSCAL also wants 28-day in-person visitation restrictions lowered, allowing family visits to longterm care facilities once no new COVID-19 cases have been identified after 14 days. They say a survey of their providers showed that 77% statewide couldn’t allow visitation with the 28-day restriction.

“It has been since early March of this year that a majority of our residents have been unable to receive visitors in person as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Hanse.

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