CM Chin Calls For Emergency Assistance To Frontline Senior Center Workers

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Photo: Alice Teeple

In charge of feeding and protecting the most at-risk population to COVID-19, providers ask for emergency resources and guidance from the City

Today, Council Member Chin sent a letter to the Department for the Aging to elevate a number of requests and concerns from senior providers at the frontlines of the effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

As New York City grapples with this global health crisis, senior service providers have been taking on a herculean challenge to deliver essential services while protecting the most vulnerable groups impacted by the virus: our City’s seniors, particularly those who are immuno-compromised or have underlying health conditions.

However, without clear guidance from the City, community groups have been forced to make tough calls on their own to shift their work plans to address evolving needs and meet unprecedentedly high demand.

In the face of much uncertainty, Council Member Chin is joining providers to urge for clear assurance from the City that providers will not be penalized if they are unable to meet contract deliverables, a plan to distribute additional resources such as face masks, and a commitment to reimburse providers, many of whom have been dipping into their already strapped budgets to pay for to-go boxes, gloves, hand sanitizers and thermometers.

In the letter, Council Member Chin said, “Our community based organizations have been stepping up in bold new ways to continue their services with the least disruption. They should be rewarded, but many are adjusting their staffing and protocols to meet unprecedented demands while existential fears about their organization’s survival loom over their heads. Our City should be doing all it can to lift the barriers hamstringing these organizations from doing the work being asked of them.”

While DFTA has announced a two-week delay of the Home-Delivered Meals RFP, Council Member Chin is asking for a full pause on the RFP and any other pending procurements.

Attached is Council Member Chin’s letter to the Department for the Aging.

Dear Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez:
As New York City grapples with the global health crisis before us, senior service providers have been rising to the occasion and exceeding expectations to deliver essential services while protecting the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19 – older New Yorkers, particularly those who are immuno-compromised or have existing health conditions – from infection. As Chair of the Committee on Aging, I am calling on the Department for the Aging to immediately administer additional funding and resources to the senior service
system, waive all penalties related to utilization rates and other contract deliverables, reimburse providers for emergency expenses, and delay the Home Delivered Meals RFP.
Our community-based organizations have been stepping up in bold new ways to continue their services with the least disruption. They should be rewarded, but many are adjusting their staffing and protocols to meet unprecedented demands while existential fears about their organization’s survival loom over their heads. Our City should be doing all it can to lift the barriers hamstringing these organizations from doing the work being asked of them. At minimum, providers need clear, written assurance that DFTA will not penalize them if they
are unable to meet contract deliverables, and these guidelines should continue through the end of this Fiscal Year on June 30, 2020, as well as assurance that they will continue to receive full reimbursements for existing contracts, even as the nature of these programs shift or come to a halt entirely. We must have their backs.

A crisis of this magnitude allows zero room for ambiguity. Without clear guidance, providers are left to their own devices and forced to make tough calls overnight to adjust their work plans as needs evolve. A lack of clarity and support puts the safety of seniors, staff and volunteers at risk. There has been little guidance from the City on protocols such as wearing face masks, and how staffing will be made whole if staffers are sent home to
quarantine. Further, there has been limited direct guidance from DFTA, with the agency sharing procedures from the federal CDC and state health department though failing to provide additional instruction specific to the programs it knows best. And with many groups further dipping into their already strapped budgets to pay for to-
go boxes, gloves, hand sanitizers and thermometers, they need a commitment that they will be reimbursed for these expenses, and for DFTA to expeditiously share more of these resources directly with providers, especially to supportive senior housing.

Over the past week, providers have taken on a herculean amount of work, and time and time again, they have risen to the challenge. The crisis we are confronting has made the fight for adequate home delivered meals funding all the more salient. While I thank DFTA for moving the RFP, a two week delay is not enough. I am
asking for a pause on this and any other pending procurements. I also request that emergency funding be made available to ensure that providers are reimbursed the full cost of home-delivered meal services. At this state of emergency, we cannot continue to risk insolvency for the providers of this, or any, critical service.

DISTRICT OFFICE:
101 LAFAYETTE ST., SUITE 903
NEW YORK, NY 10013
212-587-3159
FAX: (212) 587-3158
CITY HALL OFFICE:
250 BROADWAY, SUITE 1762
NEW YORK, NY 10007
(212) 788-7259

It is resoundingly clear that New York City’s seniors and senior service providers deserve the utmost attentionand support. Now more than ever, your partnership is critical to providing clarity and direction throughout this period of instability. If you have any questions or want to discuss further, please reach out to Marian Guerra, my
Deputy Chief of Staff, at mguerra@council.nyc.gov.

Margaret S. Chin
Council Member, District 1

 

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