OPWDD Critical COVID-19 Vaccination Information

The following letter was sent by OPWDD Deputy Commissioner Leslie Fuld to providers late Sunday, Jan. 31:

Dear Providers,

As you are aware, the Federal Government has made a commitment to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccine to states for a minimum of three weeks. We are hopeful this commitment will be extended and further increased.

Beginning this week and going forward, all Local Health Departments (LHDs) will be coordinating with OPWDD and working with providers in their counties to prioritize and vaccinate residents and eligible staff of certified residential facilities as quickly as possible and in the most appropriate manner.  As you know, staff of OPWDD certified day programs and other community-based and self-directed staff are also eligible for vaccination as part of phase 1a of the NYS vaccine program. OPWDD will work with you over the upcoming week to refine its understanding of the numbers of this type of staff working in each county so that additional direction can be provided to the counties.

All LHDs must accept the NYSDOH consent form for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The form can be found here.

It is imperative all agencies continually monitor communications from OPWDD and their LHD beginning immediately to facilitate sharing of information.  OPWDD will communicate using the CEO/Director emails and the agency dedicated mailboxes. The LHDs have been provided with this same contact information for programs in their county.

Please submit any questions to .

Thank you for your assistance in this matter of critical importance.

Quality & Compliance Challenges Conference Jan. 12-14, 19-21

Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS and The Arc New York present the 13th Annual Conference for Providers Serving People with Disabilities. 

This year’s conference will be held virtually January 12-14 and January 19-21.

The cost is $150 for The Arc New York Members and CP of NYS Affiliates, and $200 for non-members



President & CEO Susan Constantino and Executive Director Mike Alvaro will close out this year’s virtual conference with messages of appreciation for our Affiliates and their staff.

And, of course, there will be giveaways! 

Prizes will be raffled off throughout the closing session. All you need to do is attend a previous session to have your name automatically entered in the drawing! 

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Missed this session? Watch it now!

The telemedicine project awarded to Cerebral Palsy of NYS, and funded by DOH’s Transformation Grant, successfully rolled out in early 2020. 

The COVID-19 crisis posed challenges to its implementation, but ultimately StationMD’s telemedicine program has provided a crucial access point to health care for individuals with IDD with successful results. Moreover, a silver lining to COVID-19 crisis has been a relaxation of telemedicine at a state and federal level, opening up further opportunities to address needs of this population.

This session will explore the advances, opportunities and positive outcomes of telehealth for individuals with I/DD.


Dr. Matthew Kaufman, Station MD

Meghan Calichman, MPA, Station MD

Download the presentation.

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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has never been more important!

Professionals in the staff-development field will discuss the impact of defining culture at your agency; diversity and inclusion as part of employee training initiatives; and incorporating more stakeholders and programs in advancing these initiatives.


 Elaine Angelo, Performance Consultant, ProKnowledge

Delphia Howse, D. Howze Solutions

Maureen O’Brien, President & CEO, NYSID

Raeshell Harris, Assistant Director of Human Resources, CP of Long Island

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These are trying times, but disability advocates have always had to overcome adversity!

During this time of year, everyone begins to think about their goals for the next year with renewed hope and excitement.  However, as we approach the end of 2020, it’s important to take time to consider those individuals that made significant contributions to the field of intellectual and developmental disability within the U.S. over the past 20 years.

This session will look at the National Historic Recognition Project, which is an effort by a dozen national and regional organizations to recognize the key individuals who have contributed to the transformation of the I/DD field.  Our speaker will highlight the improvements made as the field moved toward personalized supports, the role of individuals with I/DD as advocates, and the value of the contributions of direct support professionals!

The past 20 years have seen a significant shift toward individualized and inclusive supports, an increase in employment options, and a greater emphasis on small, community-integrated residential settings.  The advent of managed care, changes in funding, and mergers have strongly influenced organizational approaches to the service they provide.  As individuals in long-term leadership roles are retiring and the next generation of leaders enter these positions, it’s important to remember the contributions of their predecessors.  Our intent is to create a web‐based archive for the 2000‐2020 period.  We feel this effort is critical for the field and should establish a collection that future generations can utilize to build a strong understanding of what happened and who played a significant role.  The history in our field will be told through the lives of people supported, their families, and the professionals who have come before us and those who will follow.


 Susan Constantino, President & CEO, CP State

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Executive Order continues limits on visitation

The Governor has released Executive Order 202.48  that, among other things, continues the state’s visitation limits for our homes. The policy restricting visitors unless the recently implemented attestation process is followed will continue beyond July 6.

Also, for child care providers licensed under social services law, this latest executive order rescinds the exemption from the criminal background check process.  This does not affect OPWDD programs which are authorized under mental hygiene law – those exemption rules remain in place.

The Executive Order continues the directive contained in Executive Order 202.41, regarding phase three industries and entities, but modifies it to prohibit indoor food services New York City.

The Executive Order also continues the suspensions and modifications of law, and any directives, not superseded by a subsequent directive, made by Executive Order 202 and each successor Executive Order up to and including Executive Order 202.14, as continued and contained in Executive Order 202.27, 202.28, and 202.38, for another thirty days through August 5, 2020, except:

  • The directives contained in Executive Order 202.3, that closed video lottery gaming or casino gaming, gym, fitness center or classes, and movie theaters, and the directives contained in Executive Order 202.5 that closed the indoor common portions of retail shopping malls, and all places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, as amended, are hereby modified to provide that such directives remain in effect only until such time as a future Executive Order opening them is issued.

Further, the provisions of Articles 11-A and 11-B of the State Finance Law, and any regulations authorized thereunder, to the extent necessary to respond to the direct and indirect economic, financial, and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are suspended or modified through August 5, 2020.

The Executive Order discontinues, as of July 7,  the following suspensions, modifications, and directives made by previous Executive Orders, and such statutes, codes, and regulations are in full force and effect:

  • The directive contained in Executive Order 202.28, as extended, that prohibited initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of either an eviction of any residential or commercial tenant, for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure of any residential or commercial mortgage, for nonpayment of such mortgage, is continued only insofar as it applies to a commercial tenant or commercial mortgagor, as it has been superseded by legislation for a residential tenant, and residential mortgagor, in Chapters 112, 126, and 127 of the Laws of 2020;
  • The suspension which allowed for the Commissioner of Education to reduce instructional days, as such suspensions and directives have been superseded by statute, contained in Chapter 107 of the Laws of 2020;
  • The suspension permitting providers to utilize staff members transport individuals receiving services from the Office of Mental Health or a program or provider under the jurisdiction of the Office of Mental Health during the emergency;
  • The suspensions allowing the director of the Authorities Budget Office to disregard deadlines due to a failure by a State or local authority to meet the requirements proscribed during a state of emergency, are continued only insofar as they allow a State or local authority a sixty day extension from the original statutory due date for such reports;
  • Section 390-b of the Social Services Law and regulations at section 413.4 and 415.15 of Title 18 of the NYCRR, relating to criminal history review and background clearances of child care providers;
  • Subdivision 8 of section 8-408 of the Election Law, relating to absentee voting by residents of nursing homes, residential health care facilities, facilities operated or licensed under the Department of Mental Hygiene, hospitals, or facilities operated by the VA;
  • Subdivision (28) of Section 171 of the Tax Law, to the extent that the Commissioner has extended any filing deadline;
  • The directive related dispensing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, as recent findings and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s revocation of the emergency use authorization has alleviated supply shortages for permitted FDA uses of these medications;
  • Business Corporation law sections 602, 605, and 708, as such suspensions have been superseded by statute, as contained in Chapter 122 of the Laws of 2020;
  • Banking Law Section 39 (2), as such suspension has been superseded by statute, as contained in Chapters 112 and 126 of the Laws of 2020, as well as the directives contained in Executive Order 202.9;\
  • Insurance Law and Banking Law provisions suspended by virtue of Executive Order 202.13, which coincide with the expiration of the Superintendent’s emergency regulations;
  • Sections 3216(d)(1)(c) and 4306 (g) of the Insurance Law, and any associated regulatory authority provided by directive in Executive Order 202.14, as the associated emergency regulations are no longer in effect;
  • The suspension requiring a personal appearance of the defendant, and there is consent, in any jurisdiction where the Court has been authorized to commence in-person appearances by the Chief Administrative Judge; provided further that the suspension or modification of the following provisions of law are continued:
    • The 20-day timeframe for the return date for a desk appearance ticket is extended to 90 days from receiving the appearance ticket;
    • The 45-day time limit to present a matter to the grand jury following a preliminary hearing or waiver continues to be suspended and is tolled for an additional 30 days;
    • Speedy trial time limitations remain suspended until such time as petit criminal juries are reconvened or 30 days, whichever is later;
    • Suspending the Criminal Procedure Law that would prohibit the use of electronic appearances for certain pleas, provided that the court make a full and explicit inquiry into the waiver and voluntariness thereof;
    • Allowing an incarcerated defendant to appear virtually with his or her counsel before the grand jury to waive immunity and testify in his or her own defense, provided the defendant elects to do so;
    • Suspending the Criminal Procedure Law, as modified by Executive Order 202.28, is hereby continued for a period not to exceed 30 days in any jurisdiction where there is not a grand jury empaneled; and when a new grand jury is empaneled to hear criminal cases, the criminal procedure law shall no longer be suspended beginning one week after such grand jury is empaneled;
    • Suspending the protective orders to be utilized at preliminary hearings, is continued for 30 days;
    • Suspending the use of electronic appearances for felony pleas, or electronic appearances for preliminary hearings or sentencing in extended for 30 days.

Telehealth webinar on April 17

On Friday, April 17, there will be a webinar to talk about the tools and methods clinics are using for telehealth.  Many of you may be aware of them but we thought this could be a useful way to connect and learn how all of you are doing during this time frame since we last spoke.  If you have any questions, please email Deb Williams at

There is no need to register ahead of time.  We will record the meeting so if you can’t join, the recording will be available after the close of the webex call.

The two tools to be discussed are

  2. iPad and Zoom platforms for “telehealth” audio/visual feed

Once we get through the presentations we can open the discussion for other issues – so please feel free to send me any specific questions you may want raised and we will work to get as many answers.  We have not heard yet about the clinic funding from OPWDD but advocacy continues.

Please join my meeting on April 17 at 1 p.m. from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (646) 749-3131

Access Code: 311-357-005

Join from a video-conferencing room or system.
Dial in or type: or
Meeting ID: 311 357 005
Or dial directly: 311357005@ or

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Group home residents contracting coronavirus at five times the city rate

The following appeared in Crain’s Health Pulse on April 9, 2020.

The residents of group homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York City are getting sick with Covid-19 at about five times the rate of the overall city population, according to data shared with Crain’s from a coalition of agencies that operate the residences.

The New York Integrated Network and AHRC New York City said they had confirmed 117 cases among their 2,800 residents as of April 5. Nearly two-thirds of those individuals needed to be hospitalized, and 17 people had died. The organizations reporting data operate about one-fifth of the city’s residential beds regulated by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

“These are individuals who work together, socialize together. And staff come in every day,” said Arthur Webb, executive director of New York Integrated Network. “It’s a 24/7 model. It’s been a real struggle to do containment, quarantine or isolation in the homes. These were not set up as treatment centers, unlike nursing homes.”

The coalition is hoping to receive state support to purchase more protective equipment for its workers, pay staff for overtime and get more clinical support in the homes.

The agencies also reported 92 staff members had been diagnosed with Covid-19, and three had died as of April 5.

The homes provide residential care to individuals with a wide range of conditions, including autism and cerebral palsy. To comply with state guidelines, the facilities have canceled day programming and work opportunities.

Webb attributed the higher hospitalization rate among clients to the degree to which residents have underlying conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

The homes have used an existing telemedicine relationship with StationMD to keep clients out of emergency departments.

Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, part of the coalition, received a $13 million grant to expand telemedicine at the residences last year.

“The telemedicine has been just a fantastic added value, and fortunately we were ahead of the curve in using it,” Webb said. —J.L.