Medical Rehab

The disability community is seeing an issue come up across the country: the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for people living in nursing homes, institutions, and group homes.

In NYC, group homes for people with disabilities were told that they were not a priority to receive NYC’s Office of Emergency Management’s supply of PPE. When they attempted to purchase it themselves from a manufacturer, they were told they lacked the FDA license to do so. Now they are crowdfunding to get donated masks, sterile gloves, gowns, and goggles.

A second issue is that when residents in the group home become sick, the lack of PPE can jeopardize the safety of direct service providers (DSPs) and residents once that person is discharged from the hospital. If DSPs feel unsafe serving the people in the group homes, they will not go to work. And that will leave seniors and people with disabilities without the care that they need.

If you know of nursing facilities or group homes that need personal protective equipment, please have them complete Section I & II of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Resource Request Form. The resource request process direction provided by DHS and PEMA is for providers to contact their county emergency management agency (EMA) and submit a resource request. If the county cannot fill the resource request it will be forwarded to PEMA by the county EMA. Attached is the list of county EMC contacts provided by PEMA and directions to submit a resource request. In the directions is a link to a fillable resource request form to submit. Providers should contact their county EMA for assistance in submitting the resource request.

For Philadelphia providers:
Please send your completed form to this email. Thanks to Koert Wehberg, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, for his advocacy and assistance with getting this form. For the Philadelphia Public Health hotline, call 800-722-7112.

CMS has issued a Long-Term Care Nursing Homes Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kit. CMS says:

“This document contains electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine. Most of the information is directed towards providers who may want to establish a permanent telemedicine program.

There are specific documents identified that will be useful in choosing telemedicine vendors, initiating a telemedicine program, monitoring patients remotely, and developing documentation tools. However, there is also information that will be useful for providers who wish to care for patients through the virtual services that may be temporarily used during the COVID-19 situation.

The OCR flexibilities with HIPAA are particularly important during this time as it allows the immediate utilization of commonly available programs such as FaceTime and Skype (in addition to others), which are now a very low cost option for any provider in any setting.”

This may be of interest to members with ICFs.

Due to the recent disruption in operations caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the decision was made to shift the electronic visit verification (EVV) implementation date. The implementation date has been changed to October 1, 2020. Questions about this change should be sent via email.

On March 28, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a bulletin to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs, including in the provision of health care services during COVID-19.

OCR is particularly focused on ensuring that covered entities do not unlawfully discriminate against people with disabilities when making decisions about their treatment during the COVID-19 health care emergency.

OCR enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination in HHS funded health programs or activities. These laws, like other civil rights statutes OCR enforces, remain in effect. As such, persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. Decisions by covered entities concerning whether an individual is a candidate for treatment should be based on an individualized assessment of the patient and his or her circumstances, based on the best available objective medical evidence.

“Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” said Roger Severino, OCR Director. “HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency, and helping health care providers meet that goal.” “Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills, and older persons should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” Severino added.

The Bulletin may be found here.

Today’s bulletin also reminds health care covered entities of unprecedented HIPAA flexibilities recently made available by OCR in response to the COVID-19 emergency concerning:

  • Guidance that empowers first responders and others who receive protected health information about individuals who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 to help keep both first responders and the public safe.

For general information regarding COVID-19, please visit this website.

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Governor Tom Wolf announced the Closure of All Businesses That Are Not Life-
Sustaining on March 19, 2020, and child care is not considered life-sustaining on the
list. Child cares have been asked to remain closed until the Governor lifts the order but
child care is still available for life-sustaining personnel.

Governor Wolf recognizes the importance of caring for the children of life-sustaining
personnel, which is why the Office of Child Development and Early Learning created the
Exemption to Operate During Temporary Closure waiver for child care programs.

To see a list of child care programs operating on a waiver, visit the Department of
Human Services’ COVID-19 Resources Child Care Centers Map.

Family Child Care Homes and Group Child Care Homes operating in a residence are
permitted to remain open without a waiver and operate at their own discretion.

ELRCs can help working families by assisting them in finding open child cares with
waivers in your area.

ELRCs can assist families with applying for CCW (child care subsidy) or finding
other community resources they may need during this time, such as food pantries.
Locate your ELRC.