Mayor de Blasio announced a comprehensive four-part plan today to support nursing homes citywide amid the COVID-19 crisis. Beginning next week, the City will offer on-site COVID-19 testing to patients and staff at all 169 nursing homes across the city. The City will also surge personnel to support existing nursing home staff, and deploy Outbreak Control Teams from the Health Department to help control and prevent outbreaks in congregate settings before they occur.
To minimize the risk of future outbreaks, the City will also help elder New Yorkers shift to a model of home-based care, allowing them to receive the same quality, supportive services under the care of their families and loved ones.
“These past few months have been painful for families across the city—and nowhere has this fear been more acute than among our city’s most vulnerable residents,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Seniors are especially at risk for COVID-19, which is why we are marshaling every resource to our nursing homes to help them save lives and prevent future outbreaks.”
Beginning next week, the City will offer on-site COVID-19 testing to all 169 nursing homes citywide. The City will subsidize the cost of tests for residents and work with a lab partner to ensure timely processing. Over the next two weeks, deliveries will be made to every nursing home who request support with the goal of getting as many people tested as possible, and eventually reduced to regular, weekly tests as requested as appropriate to control transmission.
With this added support, nursing homes will be able to test up to 3,000 people per day in addition to any of their existing testing capacity and that provided by New York State. Under guidance from the CDC during an outbreak, nursing home residents should be tested once a week. Staff members are required by New York State to be tested twice per week. Additionally, the City will work with the State, who oversees nursing homes, to implement these measures and ensure to ensure proper outbreak management and infectious control procedures.
More Staff and Support
The City will continue to surge personnel to nursing homes to aid existing staff. With widespread testing of nursing staff homes now in effect, this added support will help nursing homes avoid potential staffing shortages. To meet urgent staffing needs, the City has already placed 240 additional personnel in nursing homes citywide and will continue to surge personnel to meet the goal of 600 personnel total. By the end of next week, every nursing home will have staffing they’ve requested.
Outbreak Response Teams and More Home-Based Care
To prevent further outbreaks, the City has created 10 Outbreak Response Teams in partnership with the Department of Health. Teams will be deployed to nursing homes and other congregate settings to rapidly respond and control outbreaks, including proper adherence to infectious disease protocol, use of Personal Protective Equipment, and additional retesting protocol as needed after the outbreak has ended.
Each team will be led by an epidemiologist, with mental health and infection control specialists able to assist as needed. The City is also exploring how it can help support home-based care for more senior New Yorkers. By reducing the number of people in congregate settings, the shift would reduce the possibility of future widespread outbreaks and allow seniors to receive supportive services in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes and with more connection to their families.
90-Day PPE Stockpile
To create a 90-day reserve of PPE, the City will gradually add materials to a stockpile reserve consisting of N95s, face shields, goggles, gloves, gowns, face masks, and over 4,000 ventilators. The City will continue to furnish the immediate PPE needs of healthcare facilities, DOC, FDNY, EMS, NYPD, nursing homes, and funeral homes, with the City in possession of enough PPE to last the City through the month of May at its current crisis standard.
Keeping Kids Vaccinated
Citywide pediatric vaccination rates have fallen during the COVID-19 crisis. When compared to the period of March 23 to May 9 this year and last year, there was a 42 percent drop in children 2 years old or younger and a 91 percent drop of children older than the age of two. To ensure children continue to receive vaccinations, the City is offering free vaccinations at over 1,000 New York City facilities through its Vaccines for Children program. Families can call 844-NYC-4NYC to make an appointment at the Center closest to them.