Today's COVID-19 Report: Everyday Heroes, Adult Day and Senior Centers to Close
Today's COVID-19 Report:
Everyday Heroes, Adult Day and Senior Centers to Close
Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Saturday, March 21 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor DeWine's daily press conferences with Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton and Lt. Governor Jon Husted have continued to relay important information for providers as well as encouragement.
Dr. Acton specifically called out long-term care workers, calling them everyday heroes and asking all Ohioans to support them. "I want to thank everyone who's out there on the frontlines," stated Acton as she recognized the hard work and sacrifices of our workforce.
We continue to stand with this Administration in the fight against COVID-19, and appreciate their genuine concern for the long-term care workforce.
Adult Day and Senior Centers to Close Monday COB
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced yesterday that he is ordering all of Ohio's senior centers and adult day care services to stop providing care in congregate care settings. Congregate care settings are single locations where more than 10 people, including staff and providers, are in a confined space.
The closure will be effective at the end of business on Monday, March 23.
"It is a significant risk for anyone to be in a group setting, and that certainly includes our senior citizens," said Governor DeWine. "We have been telling providers that this day was coming, so they have already been working to ensure every senior will have continued care in a different setting."
This order does not prohibit providing services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in residential settings, which are not congregate in nature. Rules that require day services and vocational habitation to be provided in community or work settings are being relaxed to recommend those services be provided in a person’s residence.
DeWine stated they’re working to provide this meal delivery and other home services as quickly as possible. He stated that they are working to ensure that needs can be met, and also making sure that services that support healthcare workers remain intact.
ODM Extends NF Cost Report Deadline
ODM is granting Nursing Facility (NF) Cost Report automatic extensions until April 14. Providers do not have to submit extension requests. This is part of a series of efforts by ODM to provide the long-term care providers with additional flexibility.
LeadingAge Ohio Outlines Housing Needs to Governor
On Friday, LeadingAge Ohio delivered a letter to the Administration making several ‘asks’ involving senior housing in order to ensure that both residents and staff at these properties remain safe (e.g. discourage visitation) and served (e.g. expand services and supports) during this pandemic.
LeadingAge, meanwhile, continues to urge HUD to provide guidance. The LeadingAge COVID Affordable Housing page provides sample letters to residents, infection control posters and other resources.
Director Corcoran Addresses Medicaid Changes, Telehealth Expansion
On Thursday, Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Maureen Corcoran addressed the state, nothing that ODM is currently serving 60,000 Ohioans in home- and community-based services, 41,000 Ohioans with developmental disabilities, and 50,000 Ohioans in nursing facilities.
Director Corocoran announced Telehealth Emergency Rules, which will remain in effect as long as the Governor maintains the State of Emergency in Ohio. ODM acknowledged that “additional work is underway” to ensure it is encompassing enough for long-term care needs, some key aspects of the bill may already encompass services some members provide.
Expansion of telehealth rules include:
- Patient site expansion. The location of the patient at the time telehealth services are being delivered.
- Practitioner site expansion. The physical location of the treating practitioner at the time a health care service is provided through the use of telehealth. There is now no limitation on the practitioner site.
- Definition of telehealth expanded. The direct delivery of health care services to a patient via synchronous, interactive, real-time electronic communication comprising both audio and video elements; or activities that are asynchronous and do not have both audio and video elements such as telephone calls, images transmitted via facsimile machine, and electronic mail.
Director Corcoran described these changes as an important way to “take pressure off” emergency rooms and hospitals. It will also create access in remote areas of the state and better protect families and healthcare practitioners from COVID-19. Private insurers are also going in this direction.
Director McElroy Encourages Ohioans to Check on Elderly Neighbors
Director of the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) Ursel McElroy on Thursday noted Ohio's population of 2.8 million older adults, the sixth largest population in the nation. Director McElroy described how nursing homes train for infection control every day, and stated that “our job has been to listen to them, and know how to help them and support them.”
Director McElroy encouraged Ohioans to think of alternative ways to provide services for Ohioans who receive services in senior centers, adult day, and housing options. She stated that ODA is working to transition to home-delivered meals. She also stated that personal care services will remain important during this period, and echoed the need to support the long-term care workforce.
Insurance Grace Period
The Ohio Department of Insurance is issuing an order for insurers in Ohio to allow employers to offer employees a grace period for insurance premiums.
The grace period is for all health insurers, and it must provide the option of deferring premium payments interest free for up to 60 calendar days from the original premium due date, which means employers can defer their premium payments for health insurance for up to two months.
Health insurers must allow employers to continue covering employees even if the employee would otherwise become ineligible for insurance because of a decrease in the hours worked a week.
First Death from COVID-19
Governor Mike DeWine announced Friday that Mark Wagoner, Sr. is the first person to die from COVID-19 in Ohio. Wagoner had recently traveled to California. Both DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said they personally knew Wagoner, 76, a prominent Toledo attorney who was involved with the Ohio Republican Party.
Director Acton Shares COVID-19 Numbers
Dr. Acton shared updated COVID-19 numbers, as of Friday afternoon.
Ohio has 169 confirmed cases with an illness onset date range from February 7 to March 18. Age range is 1 to 91 years, with a median age of 49 years. 69 females and 100 males. 39 hospitalizations and 1 death. COVID-19 reported in 28 counties.
Healthy individuals are encouraged to donate blood, as blood drives across the state have been cancelled.
Dr. Acton answered questions regarding the development of a vaccine, describing new drug trials, including anti-malarials in combination with an antibiotic.
Support for Businesses and Nonprofits
Lt. Gov. Husted stated that Ohio asked for small businesses and nonprofits to pay for fixed debts, payroll, and other expenses that can’t be paid for because of the pandemic. Ohio is approved, and help can be found on the online portal or by calling 1-800 659-2955.
Raise the Flags
Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted also assured Ohioans that the banks and grocery supply chain are working fine and will continue to do so. They urged families and individuals returning from travel to remain in their homes, and cautioned against scams and individuals trying to take advantage of the pandemic.
The Governor asked Ohioans to “put their flag up,” similarly to how they did following 9/11 and other national emergencies, comparing the challenges we face as a nation to these struggles of the past.
LeadingAge Ohio has updated its Q&A document to include the latest information on survey relief, home health and hospice questions, and childcare. This edition is greatly expanded to incorporate questions asked on the Friday, March 20 all-member call, which was attended by over 300 LeadingAge Ohio members.
There will be another all-member call to be held on Thursday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m.
Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org.