COVID-19 Update
May 12, 2020

DQI Survey Process and Letter to Families 
As mentioned on our regular call with the Executive Director Association (EDA) Monday, The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) Division of Quality Improvement (DQI) will be initiating surveys of residential settings related to COVID-19. Today we spoke with Leslie Fuld, Deputy Commissioner of DQI, to obtain additional information. Per Leslie, the process is intended to be assistive and non-disciplinary in nature. The surveys will focus on frontline staff utilizing appropriate protocols for infection prevention and control, health status monitoring, and accessing/utilizing appropriate supplies/materials. 

Some key information about the survey process is outlined below: 
  • The initial survey sample consists of 3% of all residential facilities statewide, including state-operated residential facilities. The initial sample is comprised of providers on Early Alert, those that have received an adverse action (i.e., a 45 or 60-day letter, or with survey results signifying healthcare challenges within the past year. To our knowledge, no Chapter of The Arc New York is included in the initial sample. Subsequent visits may be performed at our Chapters and other providers, based on an assessment of potential risk.
  • Survey activities are tentatively scheduled to begin next week and will consist of an offsite records review and in-person visits by the DQI survey staff who conduct our routine reviews. In-person visits will be one hour or less in duration and focus on adherence to infection prevention and control procedures as staff interact with each other and the individuals they support. Surveyors will be very sensitive to clinical concerns when conducting a visit.
  • There will be no unannounced visits at this time. OPWDD anticipates that providers will receive a minimum of three days notice of intent to survey. This notice may include requests for agency records, such as staff training and policies and procedures pertaining to infection prevention and control.
  • Surveyors may enter programs which have positive cases or are under quarantine, and will follow all proper COVID-19 infection control procedures. They will have their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and must comply with your screening processes upon visit. Follow your typical screening requirements and enforce them with surveyors.
  • The survey will conclude with surveyors sharing observations and recommendations. OPWDD does not expect a formal Plan of Corrective Action (POCA) to be developed and submitted.
  • OPWDD does have a survey checklist that they will be sharing. We will disseminate this checklist upon receipt.
As this change will likely be of interest to people who are restricted from visiting, we have drafted a template letter that you can share with families and other stakeholders about this process.
As a reminder, OPWDD has made available an "Infection Control Refresher Training." Information on how to access this training can be found here
Please notify us if you are selected for survey, and if the survey experience diverges from the expectations outlined above, so we may intervene on your behalf. if necessary. As a reminder, please continue to comply with all COVID-19 reporting requirements. We will continue to update you as we learn more. 
Thank you for your continued dedication to the many individuals we support and staff working every day to ensure their health and wellbeing.

New York Forward 
With the PAUSE order hopefully ending on May 15, New York Forward will be the new reality as we begin reopening of the state. As previously reported, reopening will begin regionally, and will only be possible once a region scores 7/7 on specific metrics. Currently, the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions have met the requirements, and may begin to reopen after May 15. The Governor reports that the North Country and Central New York are "close" to meeting all metrics. A link to the regional dashboard can be found here
Although our Chapters are and have always been essential businesses, remote work requirements appear to remain in place until Phase 2 begins in each regions. Phase 2 includes professional services and administrative support, among other things. 
To prepare for your region's reopening, each business must have a plan that covers three basic elements: 
  • protecting employees and consumers
    • considering adjustments to hours or shifts to reduce density 
    • maintaining social distancing protocols
    • restricting non-essential travel for employees
  • improving safety to the physical workspace
    • requiring masks if employees are in frequent close contact with others 
    • implementing strict cleaning and sanitation standards
  • implementing processes that lower the risk of infection 
    • conducting employee health screening
    • reporting confirmed cases to customers (if applicable) 
This guidance also requires that we pay special attention to vulnerable populations (specifically noting older and immunocompromised New Yorkers), for whom heightened safety precautions and continued social distancing may be required or recommended.  
With regard to Matilda's "law," it is not actually a law, and no executive orders or any other rule has been issued regarding this guidance. We advise you to take individual vulnerability into consideration when implementing or enforcing attendance policies. However, this new guidance on reopening does not require an employer to allow an employee to stay home simply because they fall into a vulnerable category. You should analyze on a case by case basis, whether the employees refusal to work has a legally protected basis: 
  • If the employee refuses to work, have they specified a health or childcare/school closing related issue? 
    • If so, are they covered by the New York Paid Leave statute? 
    • If so, follow the requirements for seeking documentation and documenting the absences.
  • Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) apply?  If so, follow that process.
  • Is the employee protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for raising workplace safety issues?
  • Is there a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or policy that applies?  If so, apply those.
If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to the State Office team. 

The Heroes Act
The House released the next COVID-19 stimulus bill, titled The Heroes Act. As of today, the House is scheduled to vote on the package this Friday, but no action is scheduled in the Senate. Some highlights include:
  • dedicated Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) funding via a 10% Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) increase, in addition to a broader FMAP increase for states;
  • $1 trillion to support state, local, territorial and tribal governments;
  • $200 billion for essential worker hazard pay, including Direct Support Professionals (DSPs);
  • the Standing Up for Small Businesses, Minority-Owned Businesses and Non-Profits Act, which requires the Federal reserve to include non-profits (including larger non-profits) in the main street lending programs, and to create specific repayment terms for non-profits;
  • extended unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payment through January 2021
This and all related updates will be cataloged on  The Arc New York COVID-19 Resource Page   for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.

Josh Christiana , Associate Executive Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations

This email was sent to:
  • President Jack Kowalczyk 
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Executive Directors 
  • Chief Operating Officers
  • Chief Financial Officers  
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • Guardianship Coordinators 
  • State Office Staff