By the New York State Health Facilities Association
Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living (NYSHFA|NYSCAL), a statewide association representing over 425 nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout New York, delivered a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling on the state to revise its current policies concerning nursing home and assisted living COVID-19 staff testing and resident visitation restrictions.
NYSHFA|NYSCAL is calling on New York to implement CMS’ new COVID-19 testing requirements that were issued on Aug. 26 in place of the state’s current one-size fits all mandate that all staff be tested once a week.
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 health care facility is located. Under its new rule, CMS is requiring testing once a month for facilities in counties with less than a 5% infection rate; once a week for facilities in counties with a positivity rate between 5% and 10%; and twice a week for facilities in counties with a positivity rate of over 10%.
Additionally, NYSHFA|NYSCAL is calling on the state to reduce its current 28-day in person visitation restriction to allow for family visitation in long-term care facilities after 14 days of no new COVID-19 cases. A recent survey by NYSHFA|NYSCAL showed 77% of providers statewide were unable to open for in-person visitation under the state’s 28-day restriction.
“Nursing homes and assisted living providers throughout New York have made incredible strides in eradicating COVID-19 from their facilities, and the state’s policies must be revised to reflect this success,” Hanse said. “The state’s current policy must be replaced with CMS’ 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.”
He added, “It is critical that the state move from its out-of-date 28-day restriction to a 14-day policy for visitation throughout New York. 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. Moving from a 28-day restriction to a 14-day policy is essential for the health and well-being of our residents and their families and loved ones.”