NHSC FAQ: COVID-19 Impact on Your Sites & Clinicians

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As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, HRSA is actively working to address issues that affect our National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps participants and approved sites. Our goal is to offer flexibility in our program requirements so participants and sites can focus on facing this public health emergency. Updates will be posted on our FAQs webpage.

If your NHSC and Nurse Corps service site is directly affected by COVID-19, contact a program analyst via the Customer Service Portal with questions on how to ensure program participants at your site remain compliant with their service obligation requirements or login any time to ask a question during this upcoming event: 

COVID-19 FAQs for NHSC & Nurse Corps
Thursday, April 2
2:00 – 5:00 PM ET
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HRSA is providing the following program flexibilities to support program participants and service sites directly impacted by COVID-19. As a site Point of Contact (POC), you are responsible for accurately completing In-Service Verifications (ISV) and Employment Verification Forms (EVF) to ensure accountability for program compliance and reporting days away. 

Below are examples of scenarios NHSC and Nurse Corps participants might face:

Currently employed NHSC and Nurse Corps clinicians:

If a clinician becomes sick, is self-quarantined, self-isolated, or is caring for an affected family member.

  • Participants who exceed or expect to exceed their allotted 7 weeks (35 workdays) of leave may request a suspension of their NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). This will allow participants to remain compliant, while extending their obligation end date by a timeframe equal to the approved suspension period. 

If a clinician’s employment status is affected (reduced hours, working offsite, changed to telehealth/telemedicine).

  • At the direction of their approved NHSC or Nurse Corps site, participants may request via the Customer Service Portal (*updated link):

1.   Approval of clinical service via telehealth/telemedicine to accommodate infection control, social distancing, or other appropriate measure to assist in meeting recommended outbreak reduction/control measures. NHSC providers may provide virtual check in services furnished through several communication technology modalities, such as telephone, audio/video, secure text messaging, email, or use of a patient portal;

2.   Temporary expansion of the maximum hours allowed for providing patient care in an approved alternative setting from eight to 40 hours (throughout the duration of the national emergency declaration). Alternative settings are required to be located in or on behalf of a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) for Nurse Corps; or

3.   Permission to receive NHSC service credit for clinical care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at temporary locations.

  • Participants who are unable to meet the minimum clinical hour requirements for their full or half-time contracts due to reduced hours at their approved NHSC or Nurse Corps service site must utilize one of the options above to remain compliant. Otherwise, participants may account for the time not meeting their minimum hourly requirement as missed days (up to 35 workdays per service year) on their In-Service Verification or request a suspension of their NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). Requesting a suspension will allow participants to remain compliant, while extending their obligation end date by a timeframe equal to the approved suspension period.

NHSC or Nurse Corps clinicians who become unemployed:

If a clinician is laid-off or furloughed due to a permanent or temporary site closure:

  • Participants who wish to provide services in support of this public health emergency may be allowed to voluntarily, or on a temporary basis provide primary care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at a temporary location. Emergency locations would require approval by HRSA and a site Administrator/Point of Contact would be required to verify clinical service hour requirements are met. 
  • Participants who are unable to meet minimum clinical hour requirements and anticipate exceeding their allotted 7 weeks (35 workdays per service year) of leave may request a suspension of their NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). This will allow participants to remain compliant, while extending their obligation end date by a timeframe equal to the approved suspension period. 

The flexibilities noted above are temporary/limited in time and specific to assisting in the COVID-19 response (i.e. not permanent, and not for something other than COVID-19 response). We will continue to update you on any additional provisions relating to participants who may be serving at your sites. Thank you for your commitment to providing care to the nation’s underserved communities.

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