Gov. Cuomo announces emergency executive order to ensure healthcare during storm

Posted at 9:57 AM, Nov 21, 2014

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Fryday announced an emergency executive order to help protect the health of Western New Yorkers during the midst of the current snowstorm and recovery efforts.

The order temporarily suspends some regulatory measures in order to help ensure all patients receive their medications and care during this emergency. The order takes effect immediately and runs through December 1.

“This action will help ensure that necessary and potentially life-saving medication remains available to those who need it, even in these severe conditions,” Governor Cuomo said. "Additionally, this order gives healthcare facilities more flexibility to admit, transfer, and discharge patients in order to better preserve access medical care as the region recovers from this extreme weather."

The order will provide the following for individuals unable to access medication:

  • Allows patients to obtain refills of their prescriptions at any pharmacy with a shared database;
  • Allows practitioners to issue an early prescription;
  • Replaces a prescription for controlled substances that has already been filled;
  • Allows the transfer of prescriptions or medications between facilities if a hospital or nursing home patient must be moved in an emergency, ensuring that their medication follows them.

The order also works to ensure flexibility in the staffing of health care providers. Currently, many health care workers are unable to get to or leave work, creating staffing shortages and causing many employees to stay on for multiple consecutive shifts. Facilities now have the temporarily flexibility to provide adequate staffing until they are able to fully staff their facilities as usual.

This includes the processes for admitting and discharging patients, which under this order will lessen the amount of paperwork and free up staff time. Home care workers typically must receive timely approvals to continue treating patients, and these have been temporarily relaxed so that patients can still receive visits during this emergency from staff that are able to reach them.

Additionally, health care volunteers may assist at any general hospital in the region, even if that is not where they normally practice medicine.

Medical residents and attending physicians in hospitals may work beyond the normal number of hours and physicians at those hospitals may supervise more staff than normal. All of these provisions in the executive order are intended to help alleviate the health care worker shortage the storm has caused.