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What COVID-19 Standards of Care for Vulnerable Populations Means for Families

In response to input received from Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), the Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Department of Medicaid collaborated to create this guidance about standards of care for vulnerable populations in hospital settings.

Guidance: COVID-19 Standards of Care for Vulnerable Populations

Families of loved ones with intellectual or developmental disabilities can expect:

  • the responsibility to contact medical facilities and hospitals first to ask about their specific patient visitation policies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • to be notified of their rights and be included in decision making about care.
    • Current standards of care and resource allocation rules will be transparent, accessible, and made available.
    • Materials will be easy to read and accessible to the people served (i.e., multilingual, plain language, Braille, etc.).
  • that health systems and medical professionals will not use disability status, pre-existing medical conditions, race, ethnicity, age, or quality of life perceptions to determine, or deprioritize, treatment or use of resources for medical care.
  • that decisions about care and use of resources will be based on the person's clinical assessment and survivability from COVID-19, and will be made following the rules made by the hospital’s ethics committee.
  • that at least one family member or caregiver (i.e., patient care assistant, direct support professional, etc.) will be allowed bedside access for patients who normally require assistance with activities of daily living.
    • In situations when this is entirely not possible, alternate arrangements must be made by health care providers to meet the patient’s unique needs. 
    • Medical providers will understand and appreciate that the caregiver’s active role is essential to their patient’s health outcomes.
    • Families expect to have additional rules they must follow when remaining bedside, which may include remaining in a loved one’s room and/or building, without relief, for an extended period of time without the chance to "come and go" as needed. Additional policies, as enforced by hospitals, would also need to be followed.
  • that health systems and medical professionals will follow the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; the Age Discrimination Act; and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.
    • Each of these, enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, makes sure that people with disabilities will not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on having disabilities or older age.
    • Decisions of care will be guided by an individualized assessment of the patient and his or her circumstances, based on the best available objective medical evidence.