Updated May 18, 2020
If you have a family member or friend in a Nursing Home or Adult Home here are important things you should know during the trying times of the COVID-19 epidemic. If you cannot communicate with a resident and are concerned about their status and well being:
- Call the facility first. Speak to admissions or the social work office. If they are not helpful then call the Long Term Care Ombudsman for your county (see this website to find their phone number.)
- If you cannot reach your Ombudsman you can call the New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman at 1-855-582-6769 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Ombudsman is a federally mandated resource for older adults and people with disabilities who live in nursing homes, assisted living, and other licensed adult care homes.
On May 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Interim Final Rule Updating Requirements for Notification of Confirmed and Suspected COVID-19 Cases Among Residents and Staff in Nursing Homes. Source: cms.gov
Nursing homes must:
- Inform residents, their representatives, and families of those residing in facilities by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the occurrence of either a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms occurring within 72 hours of each other. This information must—
- Not include personally identifiable information;
- Include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations of the facility will be altered; and
- Include any cumulative updates for residents, their representatives, and families at least weekly or by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the subsequent occurrence of either: each time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified, or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours of each other.
The Questions and Answers section of this directive notes:
- Facilities must notify all residents in the facility, their representatives, and families, not just those who are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- Notification must include data when a confirmed COVID-19 case is identified or when three or more residents or staff have new onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours of each other in the facility.
- Cumulative updates must be provided when other confirmed cases or clusters of three or more residents or staff with respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours of each other, and at least weekly.
- We note that there are a variety of ways that facilities can meet this requirement, such as informing families and representatives through email listservs, website postings, and/or recorded telephone messages.
- We do not expect facilities to make individual telephone calls to each resident’s family or responsible party to inform them that a resident in the facility has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. However, we expect facilities to make all reasonable efforts to properly inform residents, their representatives, and families of the information facilities are required to provide.“
On April 19, 2020 The New York State Department of Health sent nursing home administrators a letter providing Guidance for Resident and Family Communication in Adult Care Facilities and Nursing Homes. Source: coronavirus.health.ny.gov
- Executive Order 202.18 provides that any skilled nursing facility, nursing home, or adult care facility licensed and regulated by the Commissioner of Health shall notify family members or next of kin for all residents if any resident tests positive for COVID-19, or if any resident suffers a COVID-19 related death, within 24 hours of such positive test result or death.
- This letter also provides several suggestions to Nursing Homes to help them communicate better with families.
April 4, 2020: Guidance for Resident and Family Communication in Adult Care Facilities (ACFs) and Nursing Homes (NHs), the New York State Department of Health has requested that Nursing Homes and Adult Homes communicate with residents and their families as soon as they are aware of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. This guidance memorandum state that they must send an email or letter to residents and families and, if possible, call families and speak to residents in person.
April 16, 2020: Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.18 which includes the following directive for nursing homes and adult care facilities: “Any skilled nursing facility, nursing home or adult care facility licensed and regulated by the Commissioner of Health shall notify family members or next of kin if any residents test positive for COVID-19, or suffers a COVID-19 related death, within 24 hours of such positive test result or death.”
- The Department of Health suggests that such facilities also establish a list serve or email news to inform families of what they are doing to prevent COVID-19.
- Facilities that do not have a reported case should be periodically meeting with residents and send communications to families regarding the facility’s status and measures being taken to protect the residents and staff from COVID-19.
- If you have questions or concerns related to this policy you can contact the NYS Department of Health; for nursing home issuesor for adult home issues
Complaints about Nursing Homes
- In response to the many problems at Nursing Homes, New York State’s Attorney General Letitia Jameshas implemented a hotline where residents, families, or members of the public can share complaints about nursing homes that have not provided required communications with families about COVID-19 diagnoses or fatalities. The hotline will also accept complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect, including failure to follow rules to keep residents safe. You can file a complaint online, or call 833-249-8499. Press Release
- If you believe a Nursing Home is not following this policy or have complaints about the care your loved one is receiving you can make a complaint by calling the New York State Nursing Home Complaint Hotline (1-888-201-4563) available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The hotline is manned by Nursing Homes and ICF/IID Surveillance staff from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. A voicemail message may be left during non-business hours. Please include your name, phone number (with area code), and a brief description of the issue or concern to which you called. All information provided is kept confidential.
- You can also download a complaint form or file a complaint on line by clicking HERE
Complaints about Adult Care Facilities
- If you believe an Adult Home is not following this policy or have complaints about the care your loved one is receiving you may make a complaint by calling the New York State Adult Care Facility Centralized Complaint Intake Program 1-866-893-6772.
- Business hours are from 8:30 am to 4:45 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Complaints made after hours may be left on the hotline’s voicemail system and will be addressed within 1-2 business days.
- Please include your name, phone number (with area code), and a brief description of the issue or concern to which you called. All information provided is kept confidential.
- You have the option to remain anonymous. If wishing to remain anonymous, it is important for you to leave as much detailed information (if known) regarding the circumstances about which you are calling, such as the facility name and address, names of involved residents and staff, and date and time of the incident.
New Federal Requirements for Nursing Home COVID-19 Reporting:
April 19: The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) issued a memorandum to all States requiring that all nursing homes must notify State and local health departments, CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about:
- Residents with COVID-19 or who are suspected to be infected.
- Residents with severe respiratory infections that resulted in death or hospitalization.
- If they have greater than 3 residents or staff with new-onset respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other.
- This information will now be required to be reported on CDC’s Health Safety Network.
In addition, facilities must notify residents and their representatives to keep them informed of conditions within the facility. This includes:
- Nursing homes must inform residents and their representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19 or if they have three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours.
- Updating residents and their representatives weekly or each time a confirmed infection is identifies or whenever 3 or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours.
- Facilities must include information on mitigating actions implemented or prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations in the nursing home with be altered. Nursing homes must do this reporting in compliance with existing privacy rules.
As always, if you have questions or concerns about these issues or need help filing a complaint figuring out what to do to get the information about your loved one you can always call NEW YORK STATEWIDE SENIOR ACTION COUNCIL’S PATIENTS RIGHTS HELPLINE AT: 1-800-333-4374. Or visit our Website at nysenior.org. We will do our best to assist you.