ALBANY — Fear of COVID-19 exposure is having an impact on the ability of home care agencies to find workers willing to go into patients homes, according to a statewide survey.

The Home Care Association, a statewide umbrella group, said the survey also found many local provider agencies reported they have patients who are now rejecting care due to concerns about the virus.

The association’s leader said the local agencies are often dealing with patients who, while home-bound, have medical needs that can be as great as people admitted for hospital treatment.

“These findings strongly support the need for priority access to supplies, like personal protective equipment, amid dangerous shortages and the absence of community-based providers from the prioritization lists when supplies are made available,” said Al Cardillo, the association’s president.

Patients at the highest risk levels, he noted, “cannot go without services, including care that requires high level of contact.”

Of the 176 agencies that responded to the survey, 73% reported that since the state of emergency began, they have had decreases ranging from one to 10% in the number of personal care aides and home health aides available for patient care.

Two out of three agencies reported their pool of professional staffers, such as nurses, therapists and social service workers, has been reduced by as much as 10% since the outbreak, the association said.

One area of urgent need, Cardolillo said, is for more flexibility and reimbursement under Medicare for remote-monitoring technologies that can be used to manage patient care and allow for contact to in-home patients remotely for some circumstances in a patient’s care plan.

“While New York’s Medicaid system has rightly allowed such flexibility for telehealth services and billing, the same must be done under Medicare so that these powerful tools can be brought to bear more uniformly for safety reasons,” he said.

New York is the nation’s epicenter for the contagion, with a total of 6,268 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Recommended for you