NYC Launches Telehealth Program in Hard-Hit Housing Developments

New York state officials are partnering with a home healthcare services provider to extend telehealth care to public housing residents facing access issues during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week that the state is working with New Orleans-based Ready Responders to deliver connected health and COVID-19 testing services to low-income residents in some of the hardest-hit areas of New York City. Ready Responders uses EMTs, paramedics and nurses to deliver mobile integrated health services to the home, and has been pressed into use in several locations across the country to deal with resident affected by the pandemic.

‘We have a need and responsibility to get the assistance we need to people in low income communities,” Cuomo said during his April 20 press conference, in which he announced the pilot program in conjunction with the New York City Housing Authority. “That’s where the virus spreads. We are going to set up a test program in NYCHA, where we’re going to have on-site health services and testing in the New York City area, with New York City Housing Authority projects, working with local officials. We’re doing it as a pilot program to see how it works. If it works well, we will go further with it.”

The program is initially targeted at eight public housing complexes in four boroughs. Healthcare teams will visit residents to conduct tests and offer other non-emergency care and, if necessary, connect with a clinician via telemedicine.

Initially developed as a means of reducing unnecessary 911 calls by bringing telehealth services to the home, MIH programs – including community paramedicine programs – are being tailored to address the ongoing pandemic. Healthcare providers are using these programs to triage and treat people at home rather than have them visit overcrowded hospitals and clinics.

The program is already up and running in southeastern Louisiana and Reno, NV, and was recently launched in Las Vegas, with care provided to residents in their homes at a new facility for the city’s homeless population. Other programs are planned for Washington DC, Maryland, Florida, California and Texas.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles County Fire Department launched its own mHealth program to reduce stress on local ERs and emergency clinics.

“The program connects patients who do not require emergency care with a provider who can assess the patient’s condition, provide a treatment plan, and even call in prescriptions to support the treatment plan,” Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Roland Sprewell said. “To date, the program has diverted many patients who otherwise would have gone to an emergency department, keeping those beds available for those who really need them.”