Department of Mental Health (DMH) COVID-19 Directives and Bulletins

A directory of DMH Bulletins and Directives pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic

Table of Contents

Commissioner's Directive 20-01

COVID-19 Emergency Directive 20-01: Inpatient Facility Operations.

DMH COVID-19 Licensing Bulletins

Updated November 7, 2022 - Bulletin #22-01R - Clinical Competencies/Operational Standards Related to Infection Control in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) continues to work with our state and local partners to address Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, and we continue to appreciate the essential role you have in responding to this evolving situation. We recognize that providing care for individuals seeking inpatient psychiatric treatment who test positive for COVID-19 may prove to be especially challenging for mental health care practitioners and facilities. In consideration of continued increasing indicators of community transmission including emergence of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2, DMH is issuing this revised bulletin to licensed facilities for admitting and caring for patients with presumed or confirmed COVID-19 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The information in this bulletin is intended to complement each hospital’s internal infection control expertise. 

 

Bulletin #21-01 - COVID Dedicated Units

February 12, 2021 - In light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, this bulletin highlights the potential need for facilities to stand up COVID-19 Dedicated Units for the admission of persons who require inpatient psychiatric treatment and also are in need of an environment able to meet the infection control needs of active COVID-19 infection. Such units are required to support behavioral health patients who are diagnosed with active COVID-19 infection that does not require inpatient medical treatment.

This bulletin announces a process for Tier 2 hospitals and some Tier 1 hospitals (see DMH Licensing Bulletin #20-05R for a full description of Tier 1 and Tier 2 hospitals) to develop COVID-19 Dedicated Units when the need exists for these units.

 

DMH bulletin #20-06 - Resumption of DMH Facility Licensing Surveys

November 4, 2020 - In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this bulletin highlights current regulations and changes to orders extending the expiration dates of DMH Licenses. This bulletin applies to all inpatient Facilities licensed, operated or contracted by the Department of Mental Health (DMH). This bulletin rescinds portions of DMH Licensing Bulletin #20-01 as it relates to Facility Licensing Extensions.

 

     

    DMH Licensing Bulletin #20-04R - COVID-19 Pandemic Guidance

    Updated November 16, 2020 - In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this bulletin highlights current regulations and policies that support behavioral health patients leaving Emergency Departments as soon as possible once it is determined that a psychiatric inpatient level of care is required. In recognition of the vital role of acute psychiatric facilities in providing safe appropriate care for individuals in psychiatric crisis, DMH is highlighting licensed facilities’ obligations to admit and treat patients meeting admission criteria within their license class. The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is also enhancing its capacity to provide assistance through the Expedited Psychiatric Inpatient Admission process (EPIA), so we may all play our role in keeping patients and health care workers safe.

     

    DMH Licensing bulletin #20-03 - Admission and Treatment

    May 1, 2020 - This bulletin concerns the admission and treatment of patients who are confirmed positive for COVID-19, or who are identified as Persons Under Investigation/presumed positive (Patients with COVID-19). It also addresses the use of isolation, seclusion and restraint for Patients with COVID-19 when such interventions are necessary to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. This bulletin applies to all inpatient Facilities licensed, operated or contracted by the Department of Mental Health (DMH).

     

    DMH Licensing Bulletin #20-02 COVID-19 Emergency Guidance Authorizing Independent Practice Registered Nurses

    April 3, 2020 - In an effort to reduce regulatory burden for DMH Licensed Entities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but to assure continued adequacy and safety of Inpatient Facility milieu, we are issuing the following guidance based upon the ORDER OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORIZING INDEPENDENT PRACTICE OF ADVANCED PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSES:

     

    Bulletin #20-01 - COVID-19 Emergency Guidance: Minimum Required Nursing Care Hours, Facility Licensing Extension. 

    March 21, 2020 - In an effort to reduce regulatory burden for DMH Licensed Entities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but to assure continued adequacy and safety of Inpatient Facility milieu, we are issuing the following guidance:

    Additional Resources

    DMH Operated and Contracted Facility Bulletins

    Department of Mental Health Division of Clinical and Professional Services Licensing Division Bulletin - #20-03 DMH Operated Facility Bulletin 20-01. May 1, 2020 - Admission and Treatment of Patients with COVID-19

    This bulletin concerns the admission and treatment of patients who are confirmed positive for COVID-19, or who are identified as Persons Under Investigation/presumed positive (Patients with COVID-19).

    Visitation and Access Policy for Department of Mental Health Hospitals and Residential Facilities

    The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to allow patients at DMH Facilities and the DPH Public Health Public Health Hospital System (PHHS) the opportunity to have visitors on a limited basis during the COVID-19 pandemic while adhering to recommended CDC and DPH guidelines. 

     

    Intensive Residential Treatment Program (IRTP)

    Effective 3/19/21, a revised Pass Agreement with Covid-19 prevention practices included in the form (a link to the form is included below) will be utilized and an updated return from pass with a parent/LAR protocol will be adopted. 

    Residential and Congregate Cate

    EOHHS issued updated guidance for organizations that operate residential congregate care programs, including DMH Group Living Environments (GLEs): EOHHS COVID-19 Guidance for organizations that operate congregate care programs (Updated November 19, 2021)

     

    Residential and Congregate Care Visitation Guidance

    EOHHS Issued Updated Guidance Effective 3/19/2021

    Congregate Care Surveillance Testing Guidance

    Congregate Care Infection Control Resources

    Click here for infection control resources for Congregate Care Settings, developed through a partnership with Commonwealth Medicine, in coordination with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Department of Public Health (DPH) and state agencies.

    Residential and Congregate Care Visitation Guidance

     

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