Reminder: Discharging Homeless Individuals (COVID-19 and Non-COVID-19)

November 12, 2020

As the region continues to address COVID-19, GNYHA has been asked by the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to remind members of protocols for discharging existing DHS clients and making referrals for newly identified homeless individuals.

Discharge of DHS Clients with COVID-19 or COVID-19-like Illness

Hospitals discharging DHS clients with COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness who require isolation are instructed to call the DHS Hospital Referral Line (212-361-5590), which is available 24/7, to verify if the patient who continues to need isolation is a DHS client and to confirm whether the individual:

  1. Lives in a congregate setting
  2. Shares a bathroom
  3. Is in a self-enclosed unit

Those in self-enclosed units can be discharged with appropriate isolation instructions (14 days from symptoms onset AND 72 hours since last fever without use of antipyretics AND symptoms improvement), specific self-monitoring instructions, and information on who to call if they feel worse. For those living in congregate or shared units, DHS will provide an isolation room. Hospitals are instructed to follow the above only for patients seen in the emergency department and those admitted for COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness. All referrals will be reviewed Monday – Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Patients can be discharged any time after approval.

Hospital staff are required to complete the attached DHS Isolation Site Referral Form and e-mail it to after confirming the patient is an existing DHS client.

DHS Clients Not Requiring Isolation (Recovered from COVID-19 and Non-COVID-19)

For patients being discharged who do not need isolation either because they have recovered from COVID-19 and are past the 14-day isolation period recommended by the New York State Department of Health for persons living in congregate settings or who were hospitalized for other conditions, please complete the usual institutional referral form and follow the standard referral procedure.

If the patient is new to a shelter, the institutional referral form and patient signed consent form should be submitted to for males and for females. For patients that already have shelter assignments, the institutional referral form should be submitted to the patient’s current shelter and approved by the shelter before the patient can be discharged. These patients can be discharged Monday – Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Please note: Homeless individuals requiring isolation in a DHS hotel room cannot require nursing services, medical care, or assistance to perform their activities of daily living as these services are not available in DHS isolation hotels.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to minimize community spread of COVID-19 among this vulnerable population. Please distribute this widely to discharge planners, social workers, care coordinators, and other staff as appropriate.

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