The New York State Department of Health (DOH) today issued the attached “Dear Administrator Letter” (DAL) to advise hospitals on the process for obtaining emergency approvals of plans for alternative facilities or additional capacity to accommodate global coronavirus (COVID-19) surge planning.

Facilities seeking to create additional capacity for COVID-19 response must submit a written notice to the appropriate DOH Regional Office. The notice must include the following information, as appropriate:

  • Description of the project, including the areas being constructed, modified, or repurposed
  • Anticipated purpose, capacity, and type of space, e.g., screening and testing, treatment rooms, inpatient space, triage areas, airborne isolation rooms/areas
  • Assurances that the space and plan have been reviewed and approved by hospital and infection control leadership, and that the project will comply with the most current State and Federal guidance related to the treatment of patients with known or suspected COVID-19

Hospitals in the metropolitan region should contact Kathleen Gaine in the DOH Metropolitan Area Regional Office. Here is a listing of other DOH regional office contacts.

The following are examples of the types of actions that would be subject to this approval process:

  • Installation of tents, trailers, or other temporary space
  • Repurposing of existing space within a hospital or on the hospital campus
  • Use of alternative sites outside a hospital, hospital campus, or other facility
  • Requests to exceed bed capacity or modify bed types

DOH notes that the management of patients presenting to hospital emergency departments must comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), and that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to issue updated EMTALA guidance.

The DAL further details various factors that should be considered in connection with these plans, including environmental services, air exchange, infection control, staffing and training, fire protection, privacy and confidentiality, and local permits or approvals.

DOH notes it is committed to having a rapid turnaround time for these approvals.