Guidance and Policy on Reopening on Day Services, Allowing Community Activities, Bringing Back Residents Currently with Family, and Family VisitsRevised COVID-19 Day Habilitation Guidance Revised Interim COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Community Habilitation Services Revised Interim COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Prevocational Services Interim COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Pathway to Employment Interim COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Respite Interim COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Supported Employment Daily Trip Log Home Visit Questionnaire Extended Home Visit Questionnaire Guidance and Policy Document for Home Visits For Family Members COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Main St. Canton COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Commerce Lane Canton COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Norwood COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Jefferson COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Jefferson CPV COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Watertown COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - St. Lawrence COVID-19 Safety Plan for Certified Day Program Reopening - Ogdensburg
Advocacy Resources and Urgent Action
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
Please contact U.S. Representatives about urgent action needed to sustain the Community Based Services (HCBS) program.
Please ask them to sign onto a letter led by U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA), which will be sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting that the agency "use its regulatory authority to extend the timeframe in which states are allowed to issue retainer payments to qualifying Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) providers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency."
The Affordable Care Act - What's At Risk?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made significant progress in expanding access to health care for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). However, on November 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case seeking to overturn the law. Leading up to the ACA's day in court, here is a primer on what the ACA does for people with I/DD, and what's at stake if the law is overturned. This information may be useful in your conversations with others and any media requests.
Your Right to Vote
If you have questions about voting in your county, the preferred and fastest way to find answers is to directly contact your county Board of Elections. They have information specific to your locality, including dates, times, and locations of early voting sites. You can also confirm the processing of your absentee ballot application or ballot. Additional information can be found on the New York State Board of Elections website.
Your county Board of Elections can give you a sample ballot, which will show exactly where candidates and referenda are located on the ballot. This is helpful to view prior to completing your absentee ballot or going to the polls in person.
Impact on COVID-19 for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in NYS
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) shared data regarding the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths due to COVID-19 within the service system.
As of November 4, 2020:
- 3,906 individuals supported have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
- 3,107 of these cases involve individuals residing in certified residential facilities.
- There have been 477 deaths relating to COVID-19.
- 4,911 staff have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
Procedures and Policy Regarding Visits in Group Homes
The Arc Jefferson- St. Lawrence is pleased to once again be able to allow visitation with family members to our residential locations effective at 4:00 p.m. on June 19, 2020. We understand the concerns of families in regards to visitation with their family member being restricted due to State guidelines for close to three months; but limiting exposure to varied people has been successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in all of our residential sites.
To ensure the safety and well-being of all, visits must be scheduled in advance to ensure we have adequate protections in place and continue to limit virus exposure to the residents.
The following must be followed when looking to visit a family member who resides in one of our group homes:
- Hours of visitation will be between the hours of 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM and the visit must be scheduled with the Residence Manager or designated staff at the residential location. These hours will be in place until we have a better understanding of what day services will look like in the future. Hours will be adjusted accordingly when the status of day services is updated.
- If having difficulty reaching the residence, please call the Administrator on Duty at 315-778-4878 for assistance.
- Only one family may visit at any time and no more than two visitors from that family group, with all being above the age of 18. Visits by different family members will be spread out to ensure we have the opportunity to sanitize and disinfectant the area prior to the next visit and to abide by social distancing.
- To ensure we have adequate time for family members, we must limit visits to one hour unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as visitation from outside the county. The length of time for the visit may be altered based on number of requests or other unforeseen issues.
- Depending on staffing or other issues at the location, such as behavioral or medical issues, the visits may have to be cancelled or rescheduled. We will make a concerted effort to enable visits to continue, but the needs of those who reside at the location will take precedence.
- All residents will be notified of a visitor prior to coming to the site. Training and support will be provided to limit exposure to the visitors and to maintain social distancing.
- Visitors are required to enter the main entrance of the home.
- All visitors must undergo symptom and temperature checks by facility staff at the main entrance prior to the start of the visit. Anyone reporting COVID-19 exposure, symptoms during the prior 14 days, or having a temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit shall be denied visitation.
- Visitors will be required to properly wear a face mask during the visit when social distancing cannot be maintained. Refusal to wear a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained will result in the visitor not being allowed visitation. Visitors must bring their own mask.
- Visitors will be asked to use hand sanitizer on arrival and promote hand washing or sanitizer use during the visit.
- We encourage visits to take place outside when possible with masks worn when social distancing cannot be maintained. Visitations inside the residence will occur in a designated area in the house such as the bedroom, kitchen, dining or other area to limit exposure to other residents, promote social distancing and assist us in sanitizing the area after visits. We ask that you stay in those designated areas during the visit.
- Regulations state that visitation may only occur on at the residence and shall not include sitting in a non-agency vehicle or leaving the site.
- Visitation will not occur with any site or individual that has someone in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 or isolation as a result of COVID-19. We will notify the family member of such when they call for a visit.
- Failure to abide by this guidance could result in restricting future visits.
Howie Ganter held a virtual Town Hall for family members on 6/17/20. Video of the open forum is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1IX8OEKPBc.
Call to Action: Oppose OPWDD Cuts by July 1st!
Write the Governor and OPWDD to Avoid Drastic Cuts in Funding
On May 27, 2020, the Department of Health published a public notice in the New York State Register announcing proposed cuts in reimbursement for IRA and ICF residential programs by eliminating the occupancy adjustment resulting from vacancies and slashing reimbursement by 50% for retainer days when residents are in the hospital or are taking therapeutic leave days for family visits. Finally, after cutting reimbursement by 50% for leave days, the proposal also would impose an annual “cap” of 96 days of therapeutic leave days, after which reimbursement would be reduced to zero.
Ostensibly, this is being done to save taxpayers from paying for “empty beds,” which implies services aren’t delivered. But you know these are not empty beds, they are the homes that our loved ones return to, and you know that service doesn’t stop simply because they’re not in their bed.
If you would like to write your own letter in opposition to the vacancy rate cuts, we have provided some context below for how the proposed cuts would affect service to people with I/DD.
Tips for Writing Your Letter
Say why you are writing and who you are. List your credentials, your relationship to the I/DD field, and state that you are a constituent. It also doesn't hurt to mention if you voted for or donated to them.
Tell your elected official why this legislation matters to you and the people you know. If you have one, include a personal story that shows how this issue affects you and your family.
Be emotional and factual
Provide detail without exaggeration about how the vacancy rate cuts would affect you and others.
Close with a request
Close by requesting the action you want to be taken. Ask that the state do away with cuts to the vacancy rates and find savings elsewhere.
The proposed vacancy rate cuts in reimbursement for IRA and ICF residential programs would:
- Take about $200 million every year from our loved ones with I/DD.
- The proposed cuts will severely limit funding for individuals simply because they require hospitalization due to medical or psychiatric illness or choose to take a therapeutic leave to spend time with family members.
- Reduce reimbursement by as much as 7.5% for certain residential programs with significant vacancies, including vacancies due to deaths from COVID-19.
- Disproportionately harm individuals with serious medical or psychiatric conditions, as they spend more time away from a residence and therefore create more “empty beds.”
- Drastically cut funding to providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, after providers were seemingly abandoned to the point of having to purchase their own personal protective equipment.
- Come at a time when voluntary providers are already owed funding from the state. The proposed cuts will directly offset rate enhancements previously provided by the NYS Legislature in 2019. The Legislature approved two 2% salary enhancements for direct care and clinical staff working in OPWDD residential programs – one increase to be implemented on January 1, 2020, and the second on April 1, 2020. Neither has been implemented as of this date but remain “under review” with the Division of the Budget.
Where to Send Your Letter
OPWDD Commissioner Dr. Theodore Kastner
Written comments on the proposed cuts will be accepted from June 1, 2020 through July 1, 2020 and may be submitted by mail to:
OPWDD, Division of Policy and Program Development
44 Holland Ave
Albany, NY 12229
or by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Mail: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Submit a message online at https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
Please share your voice! Contact your legislators and let them know that you oppose these funding cuts!
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY:
Assemblyman Billy Jones
115th Assembly District
Legislative Office Building 551
Albany, NY 12248
202 U.S. Oval
Plattsburgh, NY 12903
Assemblyman Mark Walczyk
116th Assembly District
Legislative Office Building 940
Albany, NY 12248
Jefferson County District Office
Dulles State Office Building, Suite 210
317 Washington Street
Watertown, NY 13601
St. Lawrence County District Office
3 Remington Ave, Suite 1
Canton, NY 13617
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush
117th Assembly District
Legislative Office Building 322
Albany, NY 12248
15 Bridge Street
West Carthage, NY 13619
NEW YORK STATE SENATE:
Senator Elizabeth "Betty" Little
NYS Senate District 45
188 State Street
Legislative Office Building 711B
Albany, New York 12247
5 Warren Street Suite 3
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Senator Patty Ritchie
48th Senate District
Legislative Office Building 302
Albany, NY 12247
330 Ford St.
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
Dulles State Office Building, Room 418
Watertown, NY 13601
OPWDD Visitation Guidance 06182020
Journal of ID Report on Serving People During the Pandemic
Click here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jir.12740 to review The Journal of Intellectual Disability's abstract on serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic.