Fighting Back a Possible Second Surge
We are working very hard to prevent a second wave. We are very concerned about a second wave and doing all we can to prepare for the possibility. The numbers are still relatively low compared to March and April but continue in a steady uptick. NYC Health + Hospitals is closely monitoring data across the city and the health system looking for signals of potential surges to ensure we can be prepared to respond. We are in regular and close contact with each of our facility leadership teams on the front lines to monitor and manage staff, space and other resource needs. We have real-time data and multiple dashboards that give us visibility to the volume of patients in every emergency room and ICU across our system. We’ll be prepared to adopt an improved patient level-loading process, open up flex spaces, and meet our staff resource demands. And we are keeping a close eye on the flu season to ensure we aggressively follow influenza testing strategies.
NYC Test & Trace
To fight against rising COVID-19 case counts, the NYC Test & Trace Corps has expanded its fleet of mobile testing vans with a new weatherized model that will allow us to reach even more New Yorkers during the winter season. The retrofitted mobile units will allow for patients to utilize a large service window to safely share their information and provide a safe environment for our mobile teams to continue serving New Yorkers through cold, winter months. As part of this initiative, more than 10 of these next-generation mobile units will bring testing to communities identified as COVID cluster areas. The first vehicle in this new fleet was deployed last week to the Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service (BACDYS) in Ozone Park, Queens.
In addition, we are also expanding the availability of COVID-19 rapid testing in Queens and on Staten Island. The rapid tests, which can be analyzed for traces of the coronavirus quickly, will be accompanied by on-site contact tracing, which offers a greater chance of having effective and timely communication and acting quickly to find those contacts, and direct people to the resources they need. The on-site contact tracing is available in multiple languages. The City has opened approximately 240 testing locations since the pandemic struck New York in March, and since last week has been able to complete more than 60,000 tests a day.
As Washington DC continues to emerge from Election Day and into the Presidential transition, NYC Health + Hospitals is returning to advocacy efforts in support of additional COVID and FEMA relief and ongoing regulatory flexibility. Our health system also continues to focus on staving off Medicaid DSH cuts, which are again due to go into effect on December 11. The opposition to these cuts remains a bipartisan priority, and we and many hospital partners continue to advocate for another delay, if not a complete elimination of the cut. In addition, we are working with our Congressional champions and association partners to make a necessary technical fix to the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentages provided as part of COVID relief, so it does not have an unintentional negative impact on our DSH funding.
NYC Health + Hospitals continues to work with our State colleagues to implement the UPL transaction and behavioral health centers of excellence/ special population arrangements. In addition, we are advocating actively against any Medicaid or other budget cuts at the state level.
It is the policy and practice of NYC Health + Hospitals to treat substance use disorders (SUD) as medical conditions, not moral problems. As of September 2020, NYC Health + Hospitals has adapted a new universal policy and procedure for substance use disorder (SUD) screening and testing for pregnant patients. The new policy requires all pregnant patients seeking care at any of our health care facilities to be notified of the policy and be given a verbal SUD screening to help providers identify risk factors. Toxicology testing should be provided only when necessary, and with written consent from the patient, or in an emergency when clinically indicated for diagnosis or treatment. If the patient has a positive screen or self-admits to having a SUD, they are referred to our social workers who can ensure they receive additional support. This support includes counseling about the risks to their heath and the potential risks to the fetus and newborn, referral to the appropriate treatment for the identified substance dependency – whether alcohol, nicotine or other substances. In addition, the support offered may include a full psycho-social assessment related to parenting behaviors. This is an important new practice that reinforces our commitment to equity in our clinical practices, and creating a supportive environment focused on the patient’s health needs.
On November 12th, NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter LTACH successfully completed a 3-day Joint Commission Triennial Accreditation Survey involving 3 Surveyors who reviewed a wide range of clinical, operations and environmental standards, including Infection Prevention and Control, Medication Management, Quality Assurance / Performance Improvement, Emergency Management, Environment of Care and more. The Joint Commission surveyors were particularly impressed by the facility’s Infection Control and Emergency Management practices, and our team’s exceptional COVID-19 response and outcomes. The surveyors also shared kudos for our staff’s commitment to provide quality care, effective communications, and work collaboratively to serve our residents and their families. Congratulations to the team at NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter.
This past week was Facilities Management week and I would like to take a moment to thank all of our Facilities Management staff, including our Directors of Engineering and trade staff, for all the great work they do each day to ensure our facilities can operate safely and continue to provide excellent service to our patients. Our trade staff were essential in keeping our staff, patients and buildings safe during the initial period of the COVID pandemic and they continue to work to ensure our buildings can provide a safe environment for patients and staff in the event of a second COVID surge. They are an indispensable part of our workforce and I am deeply appreciative of all the work they have done and continue to do.