Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

Homecare, home health, and hospice agencies should prepare for altered and crisis standards of care as a result of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A review of your pandemic plan should be occurring right now and processes should be updated. Home-based care is dependent on personnel, so up-to-date information and training is essential. PHA will continue to update this page as more information and resources become available. 

A Message for PHA Members...

PHA is committed to staying connected with members as we all navigate these unprecedented times. But for now, we simply want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to the nurses, therapists, administrators, direct care workers, aides, chaplains, social workers, managers, schedulers, and everyone working to bring care home to the people who need it most.


Latest Updates

Resources for Members

Staff Screening Tool
Sample Staff Education & Awareness Plan
Letter for Agencies to Access Facilities
Sample Essential Letter for Staff
OLTL Letter for Essential Travel
Instructions for Making Face Masks
Sample Emergency Triage Plan
Sample Letter to Consumers
COVID-19 Homecare and Hospice Checklist
PPE Resource Request Form
County Emergency Management Contacts
Remote Team Leadership During COVID-19 (Webinar)
Hospital to Post Acute Transfer Form for COVID-19

Federal Funding for Meals for Seniors

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, provided additional funding for nutrition services programs authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA). The Pennsylvania Department of Aging will receive $10.2 million of this funding - $6.8 million will support meals to seniors in their homes through Meals on Wheels; and $3.4 million will support congregate meals. PDA will distribute the money to Area Agencies on Aging for these programs. The federal CARES Act also has expanded language regarding who is eligible for home delivered meals, ensuring that seniors who are social distancing can qualify. PHA would like to thank U.S. Senator Bob Casey for advocating on behalf of Pennsylvania’s seniors. 

DHS Creates Searchable Database For Childcare Services

DHS has created a database of childcare centers that have been approved to operate during the COVID-19 crisis. Life-sustaining personnel can utilize these centers for childcare services during this time. The site is searchable by location and is being updated as information is received. As of yesterday, more than 690 childcare providers have been granted permission to operate with a waiver and DHS continues to receive and process additional waiver requests. Click here to access this resource.

Gov. Wolf Signs Bill to Aid Health Care Providers

Gov. Wolf has signed HB 1232, which will create a $50 million
fund under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Governor’s
Budget Office. The fund is specifically designated to provide
funding to health care entities to acquire medical equipment
and supplies to meet the urgent patient and staff needs and
address the surge in demand. Under the law, health care
entities include, “but are not limited to” hospitals, nursing
facilities, and emergency medical services. 

Gov. Wolf Announces New Funding For Small
Businesses

Today, Gov. Wolf announced that up to $60 million dollars
of no-interest loans will be available for small businesses across the Commonwealth that are impacted by COVID-19.Businesses with 100 employees or less can apply for a no-interest loan up to $100,000 and will be able to defer payments for a year. Funds are expected to be available later this week. Click here to view the full statement.

National PPE Clearinghouse

Project N95 is a national personal protective equipment (PPE) clearinghouse. Rapid response teams have been coordinating with manufacturers globally. Within weeks, millions of units of  PPE should be available for distribution. PHA has not worked directly with this group, but it is led by former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt and could be a source of masks and other supplies. Click here to complete an online equipment request form.

Other News

Regulatory Updates

PA 1135 Waiver For Medicaid Flexibility Approved

Pennsylvania's request for a 1135 waiver for Medicaid flexibility during the Coronavirus emergency has been approved by CMS. Click here to view the approval notice. It is important to note that the mere “approval” of the waiver does not change requirements; DHS must still take action to use the authority granted by the waiver.

The waiver applies to the Medicaid Fee-for-Service Program, HealthChoices managed care for physical and behavioral health services, Community HealthChoices (CHC), Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers, and others. 

Click here to view the letter of request and here to review the checklist.

Temporary CHC Changes

DHS announced temporary changes to the CHC waiver to accommodate potential issues with staffing and services during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the changes allows spouses, legal guardians and POAs to serve as paid direct care workers when scheduled workers are not available due to COVID-19. PHA confirmed with OLTL that this applies to consumers under BOTH the agency model AND the comsumer-directed model. 

Quality Reporting Relief for HH, Hospice

This afternoon, CMS announced quality reporting program relief for providers, including home health and hospice. Click for details. 

DOS Suspends Some Nurse Licensing

The Department of State has suspended certain administrative requirements for nurses, including temporarily extending license expiration dates and waiving associated fees during the coronavirus emergency. Click for details. On March 27, the State Board of Nursing added additional temporary waivers.

CMS Issues Face-to-Face Guidance

CMS issued guidance permitting physicians to conduct face-to-face encounters for home health via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic under the expansion of telehealth under the 1135 waiver.

DOH Guidance on Facilities

The Department of Health provided guidance for nursing facilities in conjunction with CMS guidance issued last week. DOH clarified that “home health” and “hospice services” SHOULD NOT be restricted access to the facility. OLTL has instructed Assisted Living Facilities and Personal Care Homes to follow the same guidance.

CMS Waiver/Regulatory Relief Summary

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare has shared an updated document on the status of current CMS waivers and relief measures. The list includes the status of face to face via telehealth, RAPs, use of virtual/telephonic home health visits, homebound status, PPE, and more. Click here to view the document as of March 25.

Provider Issues and Concerns

Unemployment Compensation FAQs for Employers

According to guidance from the state Department of Labor and Industry, employees affected by a business closure, reduction in hours, or a medically or government directed quarantine or isolation may file for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits if no other compensation, such as paid leave, is available to them. The department has developed a list of FAQs for employers.

COS-C Grace Period for Coders

OASIS Answers, Inc. announced it is extending a temporary grace period for COS-C testing. For those certificate holders who have renewal dates between March 31 and July 31, the three-year COS-C designation will be extended for up to an additional six months after the expiration date, as long as PRIOR to the expiration date, the individual has registered for either a Paper & Pencil exam, or Computer Based Testing, and successfully completed testing within six months of their expiration date. The renewal discount will be available for either renewal option. 

Homecare IS Healthcare

PHA is aware that some agencies are being turned away from assisted living and other facilities when they arrive to provide care and services to consumers. If this happens to your agency, please direct your workers to readily show their ID badge and refer to guidance from the Secretary of Health which defined “essential services and sectors,” including healthcare. As homecare providers, we are not there as visitors, but rather as healthcare providers. PHA drafted a sample letter that agencies can customize and provide to their workers caring for patients and consumers in facilities.

Flexibility for Form I-9 compliance

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will defer the requirement for employers to review, in person, Form I-9 documents. The change applies only to those employers that have instituted remote work. The physical documentation review requirements will not be excused if any employees are physically present at a work location. Click for details.  

EVV Delayed Until October 

DHS announced it is shifting the implementation date for electronic visit verification (EVV) to October 1 in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

NEW! HHAeXchange Adds Set of COVID-19 Missed Visit Reasons 

HHAeXchange, in coordination with the Pennsylvania MCOs, has added a new set of COVID-19 Missed Visit Reasons. With these new Missed Visit reasons, Pennsylvania providers can better track and understand issues associated with COVID-19. These new reasons have been automatically enabled in the system and you can begin using them immediately.

Updates on PHA Events and Conferences

PHA is continuously monitoring the impact of the coronavirus and its potential impact on scheduled events and conferences. Check back frequently for updates about our upcoming events. The health and welfare of our members, as well as the patients and consumers you serve, is our top priority.

PHA Advocacy Day

  • PHA has made the decision to CANCEL Advocacy Day at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on April 7. The health and welfare of our members, as well as the patients and consumers you serve, is the number one priority for all of us. We are committed to staying focused on the crisis and being your voice at the table every day with DOH, CDC, CMS, and other emergency preparedness leaders. Stay tuned for updates. 

PDGM Summit

  • NEW! Virtual PDGM Summit Dates Announced! More information is now available for the Virtual PDGM Summit. Four session times will be offered: 
    • April 28, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., EST
    • April 28, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., CST
    • April 29, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., MST
    • April 29, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., PST
Interested participants can register for ANY of the four virtual sessions. Click here to register and click here to see the update program schedule. 

PHA ANNUAL CONFERENCE

  • PHA has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Annual Conference in Lancaster indefinitely. We understand that this affects many people, from members who were planning to attend, to presenters, to exhibitors. We will be in touch in the coming days with additional details for those who have registered.

Regional Health Care Coalitions

PPE Requests

There is a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the state AND the country. The limited supplies that are available are being prioritized first to those locations with confirmed COVID-19 patients. Since there are now no supplies available at the regional levels, agencies in need of PPE should complete a Resource Request Form and submit it to your county emergency management contact. There are no guaranteed supplies, availability is based on triaged need. 

Weekly Post-Acute Call with Coalitions

PHA members are invited to participate in a weekly call for post-acute providers to learn the latest updates and guidance. The call is on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. Login info is below:

https://zoom.us/j/137269226
Meeting ID: 137 269 226
Dial: 929-436-2866 US

Outreach to Regional Coalitions

PHA members are encouraged to contact regional coalitions to sign up for updates and situation reports from Pennsylvania's emergency preparedness leaders. 

 

COVID-19 Related Educational Opportunities

March 31

LIVE Q&A Webinar for PHA members
Barbara Citarella, RN, BSN, MS, CHCE, NHDP-BC, President and CEO of RBC Limited, one of the most trusted voices in homecare, infection control, and disaster preparedness, will provide the latest updates on COVID-19 and what home-based care providers should be doing. This webinar is for PHA members only...bring your questions! 
Click to register

 
Resources

Governor's Office

Office of Long-Term Living 

Department of Health

Office of Developmental Programs

CMS

Department of Aging

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

U.S. Department of Health, Human Services

Department of Homeland Security

 

World Health Organization (WHO)

 



Updated 3/29/2020