GNYHA is writing to update you on COVID-19 planning activities with several key agency stakeholder groups including:

  • New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS)
  • New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)
  • New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) and Mental Hygiene Legal Services (MHLS)

We are having conversations with each of these agencies to ensure access to resources for individuals who do not require hospitalization, are stable for discharge, and require DHS and/or OMH services. We are also speaking with OCA and MHLS about conducting mental hygiene proceedings using real time audio/visual equipment or, alternatively, telephonic technologies to maintain timely access to the court system and reduce burdens on hospital personnel while mitigating potential COVID-19 exposure to all parties. All discussions are ongoing and evolving.

New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS)

DHS is reviewing and revising its policies and procedures related to exiting DHS clients and new referrals from health care facilities. At this time, all hospitals seeking DHS services for individuals should follow the below protocols until DHS issues further guidance:

  • Existing DHS clients
    • For clients presenting to emergency departments (EDs) without COVID-19 concerns, hospitals should follow routine DHS health care facility referral processes back to DHS settings. To the extent possible, DHS is asking hospitals to provide documentation reflecting the reason why COVID-19 testing was not indicated (e.g., sprain, sutures, etc.).
    • For clients presenting to EDs who require COVID-19 testing and are awaiting test results, but who do not require acute care hospital services, hospitals should also follow routine DHS referral procedures, with documentation that COVID-19 test results are pending. DHS medical staff will then review and determine the appropriate setting for those individuals rapidly. DHS may place these individuals at alternate sites for isolation purposes and may require further information from hospitals on a case-by-case basis. Hospital cooperation with information requests is strongly encouraged.
  • New DHS referrals
    • Patients with no COVID-19 concerns are subject to the routine DHS referral process, but the referral should contain documentation noting why the individual was not tested.
    • Referrals for patients with pending or positive COVID-19 lab tests requiring isolation consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines must be sent to DHS’s new designated email at dhsmedical-covid19@dhs.nyc.gov

New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)

OMH has undertaken significant planning for patients residing in OMH-operated programs, as well as those certified by OMH as it relates to COVID-19. OMH will work collaboratively with hospitals to address those individuals requiring Article 28 and/or 31 acute care services also identified with or as suspected COVID-19 cases. OMH is currently identifying alternate facilities that can be used for isolation purposes and is drafting guidance for providers serving individuals that may test positive for COVID-19. GNYHA will continue to provide updates at it becomes available.

New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) and Mental Hygiene Legal Services (MHLS)

GNYHA continues to discuss the use of audio/visual technologies to conduct time sensitive mental hygiene hearings for certain psychiatric patients. At this time, OCA and MHLS are open to discussing audio/visual hearings to mitigate exposure and spread of COVID-19 to involved parties. Discussions are ongoing and will evolve in the coming days.

GNYHA will continue to provide updates as information becomes available. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. I also encourage you to contact me with any concerns related to individual patients.