Member Q&A: Am I an “Essential Business”?

Published in Member Communities on March 25, 2020

Answer: On March 19th, the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued guidance at a Federal level regarding which business types are considered essential. It is important to note that in that memo, they clarify that “We recognize that State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role… Accordingly, this list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.” Because of this, we strongly recommend that you contact, and stay in contact with, your LOCAL public health officials regarding which businesses are considered essential from their perspective. 

The memo goes on to list roughly 14 broad categories of essential industries, and one of those categories is healthcare/public health. Within that category, it goes on to list several specific personnel and business types. For the DMEPOS industry, while the guidance does not specifically include the words durable medical equipment provider or orthotic/prosthetic practitioner, it does list: 

  • Distributors of medical equipment, PPE, medical gases
  • Manufacturers
  • Caregivers
  • Hospital and lab personnel/other medical facilities
  • Warehouse operators
  • Pharmacies

We know of several instances where DMEPOS suppliers have reached out to their state or city officials who have issued lockdowns or shelter-in-place orders, and we don’t know of any who have categorized a DMEPOS supplier as non-essential and asked them to fully close or cease operations. In every instance we are aware of right now, DMEPOS providers have been categorized as essential and may continue to operate, though it may make sense for them to change or scale back their operations temporarily, prioritizing what has to be done now and what can wait.

Based on the information above, VGM feels comfortable stating that you, the companies who provide DMEPOS related products and services, are indeed essential during this COVID-19 pandemic. We would encourage you to have your employees carry their employment badges with them if they are out in the community throughout the day, or perhaps a letter from you, the employer, explaining why they are required to be out during a lockdown or shelter-in-place order.

VGM also reached out to Jeff Baird at Brown and Fortunato, who summarized this topic concisely with the following statement: “Federal, state and local governments are defining “Essential Services,” “Essential Personnel” and “Health Care” very broadly. The CISA memo is a good place to look for guidance and appears to have been utilized in executive orders issued by state governors. Although there is no guaranty that a governmental agency will not conclude otherwise, it is my opinion that DMEPOS suppliers can credibly take the position that they fall within the “Essential Services” category.”

The full CISA memo from the Dept. of Homeland Security can be found here. An updated memo can be found here. Feel free to check the CISA website for more recent updates.


comments powered by Disqus

From Our Experts

Congratulations to Dan Casper, the 2020 VGM Sales Associate of the Year thumbnail Congratulations to Dan Casper, the 2020 VGM Sales Associate of the Year VGM & Associates is excited to announce that Dan Casper has won the VGM Sales Associate of the Year for 2020. Member Spotlight: Tim Van Antwerp, Owner, Van's Medical Equipment of Lakeland thumbnail Member Spotlight: Tim Van Antwerp, Owner, Van's Medical Equipment of Lakeland Tim Van Antwerp has been a VGM member since 2008, but his story goes back a long way. Cybersecurity Outlook for 2021 thumbnail Cybersecurity Outlook for 2021 Jeremy Kauten, CIO and Senior VP of IT for VGM Group, Inc., discusses the cybersecurity outlook in 2021. VGM Announces New Date for Heartland Conference thumbnail VGM Announces New Date for Heartland Conference VGM's annual Heartland Conference has shifted from June 14–16 to Sept. 13–15, 2021. All networking and educational events will remain the same, including tracks in respiratory; accessibility; rehab; leadership; operations; billing and reimbursement; and sales, marketing, and retail and more. An Inside Look with Clint, Episode 5: VGM Wound Care thumbnail An Inside Look with Clint, Episode 5: VGM Wound Care Clint recently sat down with director of VGM Wound Care, Heather Trumm BSN, RN, CWON to discuss the VGM Wound Care program and all of its offerings that VGM members can take advantage of to grow their wound care business, including an upcoming Diabetic Program. 5 of the Biggest Workforce Trends for 2021 thumbnail 5 of the Biggest Workforce Trends for 2021 The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our entire world. Some of that change is here to stay. Sara Laures, Chief People Officer of VGM Group, Inc. recently wrote about five things you should know as you embark on a new year with your employees. Let's Talk About CPAP Fittings and Inventory Management with Philips Respironics and VGM Fulfillment thumbnail Let's Talk About CPAP Fittings and Inventory Management with Philips Respironics and VGM Fulfillment Dave Lyman, VP of Sales for VGM & Associates, talks with Business Marketing Managers from Philips Respironics and the President of VGM Fulfillment about different options for fitting patients for CPAP masks as well as inventory management. VGM Wound Care Launches New Program Guide thumbnail VGM Wound Care Launches New Program Guide The Wound Care Program Guide is your resource on how to determine if a wound care program is right for your business, how to get started, developing your program, and provides resources and contacts.