Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Telehealth Update from NASW-NH

With Covid-19 impacting the safety of our communities and our social workers we hope to provide easily accessible information on a variety of topics. Please refer to this document and the links embedded to support you in your daily work as well as resources for your clients. Telehealth may be a new platform for many of our social workers and the information provided is to help navigate practice in this state of emergency. 

Safety Considerations

We suggest that all providers follow the guidelines from the CDC, as well as directives and guidelines from state and local governments as information is being updated sometimes daily. Following the CDC and state guidelines to the best of your ability will ensure you and your client’s safety.

There are many other resources for providers on the NASW Coronavirus webpage as well as helpful ethical considerations.


Malpractice Insurance

Review your own professional insurance policy on malpractice and review the information around telehealth and where it is provided. 

Review the NASW Assurance Services bulletin issued on March 17, 2020. This is a reminder to policyholder that the RRG professional liability policy provides coverage for teletherapy as long as it is an accepted practice conducted according to the individual practitioner’s state regulations, state licensing board requirements, and HIPPA privacy standards which vary by state and are continually evolving.

HIPAA

On March 17, 2020, HHS issued information announcing to “waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”

We advise caution with this, and to utilize HIPAA-compliant platforms if at all possible or consult your liability insurance company. 

Typically, you need to choose a HIPAA-compliant platform. Some are free, and some involve a cost, especially for full HIPAA compliance.

You may need to sign up with a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for true HIPAA compliance. Read the platform policies carefully.

Some available platforms are listed below. None are endorsed by NASW. The first two listed have been recommended by a number of NASW members.

 

Informed Consent

Some insurers may require a signed telehealth informed consent form. This is good practice regardless of requirements of the insurers you work with. NASW has created a Telemental Health Informed Consent form that you can use. 

NH Emergency Orders

We suggest reviewing the current state emergency orders as well as checking regularly for updates as orders are being created frequently. You can find out them all here. Below are a few of the orders that could be important to you and your clients.

Provider Information:

Emergency Order 8 (March 2020)

– Temporary expansion of access to Telehealth Services to protect the public and health care providers. 

Information in this order explains the requirement of health insurance carriers regulated by the New Hampshire Insurance Department to allow all IN-NETWORK providers to deliver clinically appropriate services via telehealth and the inclusion of reimbursement for all modes of telehealth. 


NH Office of Professional Licensure and Certification update regarding Emergency Order 8


Emergency Order 15 (March 2020)  - Temporary authorization for out of state medical providers to provide medically necessary services and provide services through telehealth. 

Any out-of-state medical provider whose profession is licensed within the State and in good standing in another United States jurisdiction shall be allowed to perform any medically necessary services subject to certain conditions listed in the order. 


Emergency Order 21 (April 2020) - Establishment of the COVID-19 Emergency Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Fund. 

Fund provides authorization to disburse up to $600,000 for domestic and sexual violence crisis centers to support assisting victims, emergency shelter, and crisis center operations. 


Emergency Order 22 (April 2020) - Authorization of emergency funding for child protection services. 

Expansion of funds for Family Violence Prevention Specialist DCYF staffing, Strength to Succeed Program, DCYF clients in need of tech/internet support, and the Family Resiliency Support Line. 


Client Information: Below are emergency orders that may directly affect your clients, please provide this information when necessary. 


Emergency Order 3 (March 2020) - All providers of electric, gas, water, telephone, cable, VOIP, internet service, and deliverable fuel services will be prohibited from disconnecting or discontinuing service for non-payments for the duration of the State of Emergency. 

Customers will be provided the opportunity to make reasonable payment arrangement over no less than a six-month period and shall not be charged any fees for late payment for arrearages (bills owed) accrued during the State of Emergency.  


Emergency Order 4 (March 2020)   – Landlords will not be allowed to start eviction proceedings for those unable to pay due to their financial situations during the state of emergency. 

Any violation of Section 1 of EO 4 by a landlord, as that term is defined in RSA 540-A:1 is considered prohibited and a violation of RSA 540-A:3. 


Emergency Order 5 (March 2020)   – Individuals who are unable to work or who have reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have immediate access to unemployment benefits. Anyone in the following situations will bow be eligible for state unemployment. 


If this applies to your client refer them to the State of New Hampshire’s Workforce Connect. 

https://wfc.nhes.nh.gov/auth/sso/login?execution=e1s1

DHHS Information

https://www.nh.gov/covid19/index.htm

DHHS is regularly updating their webpage dedicated to COVID-19. Within this webpage information can be found regarding Child Care, Medicaid, SNAP, TANF and other valuable information for you and your clients. This webpage offers extensive information to residents, healthcare providers, businesses, schools/parents, other guidance, and volunteers. 

DHHS COVID-19 Quick Links 

Up to date changes on Temporary Eligibility and Program changes 

Up to date changes and support for providers

NH Medicaid Telehealth Informational Bulletin on COVID-19 Preparedness for providers

NH Attorney General’s advice on scam watch for those unemployed and trying to access benefits.


Resources for CWA members during pandemic

POPULATION SPECIFIC MEASURES 

Community Action Programs in New Hampshire are committed to continuing to provide critical services to the most vulnerable residents of New Hampshire in the midst of this health crisis in our communities.  Below is some information on the status of agency operations and information on how each agency can be contacted.

Each Agency has updated information on services being offered, hours of operation, how to access emergency assistance, etc. on their website:


Community Action Program, Belknap-Merrimack Counties

Community Action Partnership of Strafford County

Southern New Hampshire Services

Southwestern Community Services

Tri-County Community Action Program

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

You can find community planning, webinars, and helpful site-specific emergency operations information here gathered from the CDC, HUD, National Health Care for the Homeless Council and more for service providers. 


Clients Facing Food Insecurity

The NH Food Bank is providing resources during COVID-19 to increase access to services. The website includes information on their partner agencies and SNAP Coordinator information. 

The NH Food Access Map can help you navigate local resources for your clients.

Childcare Aware of NH

Provides information for children and families, additional resources, and provider webinars. 


NH Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence Webpage dedicated to providing information for survivors and their families during COVID-19. Webpage also includes NH Specific Resources for important legal information and more. 



Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration (SAMHSA) has an updated webpage with information on emergency grants, considerations for care in treatment settings, use of telemedicine for MAT, and other important guidance.

Virtual Recovery Resources 

SAMHSA has provided an in-depth document with information on all recovery virtual programs. 

NAMI-NH also has a webpage offering information and updates on programing as well as support group information.

Granite Pathways NH provides information for addiction recovery support information amid COVID-19 temporary closure of their clubhouses.

Nurturing Relationships Online 

The Search Institute provides information on utilizing social media to stay connected in this time.


Self-Care

Take care of yourselves during these times andremember the Self-Care Wheel when you need to check in. We are thankful for all of the hard work you and your clients are doing!

Volunteer Opportunities 

Do you have any additional time on your hands?

UNH’s MSW online program is looking for temporary distance MSW supervision for their students who are unable to start their placements. These students will require one hour of weekly supervision as well as your expertise on remote activities, reviewing process recordings and general support! Please contact Kelsey Boucher if you are interested. Kelsey.Boucher@unh.edu