• Oct. 23 and Oct. 29 AHRQ National Nursing Home Network Pre-Launch Webinars on Key COVID-19 Issues: Register Now

    Monday, October 19, 2020 | AHRQ/Project ECHO

    Oct. 23 Webinar, Strategies to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

    The first segment of this presentation will address key important and realistic approaches, consistent with current guidance, that health care workers can implement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for long-term care professionals.

    The second segment will cover the multiple actions necessary for organizations to consider around PPE from planning, inventory, policies and procedures, types of PPE to use consistent with current guidelines, education, optimization, process surveillance, and follow up.

    Friday, October 23, 2020

    1:00-2:30 p.m. MT / 3 – 4:30 p.m. ET

     

    Oct. 29 Webinar, COVID-19: Realistic and Quality Approach to Cohorting, Cleaning and Disinfection

    The first segment of this presentation will discuss the guidance, planning, education, and prompt action approach to the very important mitigation step of cohorting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second section will provide key strategies in both cleaning and disinfection to include the process, products, PPE, necessary and education of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Thursday, October 29, 2020

    10:30 a.m.-Noon MT / 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET

     

     


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  • Pharmacy Partnership for LTC Program Opt-in Now Available Via NHSN LTCF COVID-19 Module

    Monday, October 19, 2020 | CMS/CDC

    The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program provides complete management of the COVID-19 vaccination process. This means LTCF residents and staff across the country will be able to safely and efficiently get vaccinated once vaccines are available and recommended for them, if they have not been previously vaccinated. It will also minimize the burden on LTCF sites and jurisdictional health departments of vaccine handling, administration, and fulfilling reporting requirements.   

    “Protecting the vulnerable has been the number one priority of the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19, and that commitment will continue through distributing a safe and effective vaccine earliest to those who need it most,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Our unprecedented public-private partnership with CVS and Walgreens will provide convenient and free vaccination to residents of nursing homes across America, another historic achievement in our efforts to get a safe and effective vaccine to Americans as fast as possible.”

    “Today’s historic pharmacy partnership will truly help jurisdictions solve a logistical hurdle and decrease the burden of distributing, administering, and reporting COVID-19 vaccination for both states and long-term care facilities,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “CDC is proud to be a part of this public-private partnership that is advancing care for the Nation’s most vulnerable.”

    “The pandemic has inflicted a devastating toll on America’s nursing home residents,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. “That’s why the Trump Administration has taken unprecedented action to protect them in every possible way.  This effort will ensure they are at the front of the line for the COVID vaccine and will bring their grueling trial to a close as swiftly as possible.”

    The program is:

    • Free of charge to facilities.
    • Available for residents in all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities (SNF), nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care homes, and adult family homes.
    • Available to all remaining LTCF staff members who have not been previously vaccinated for COVID-19 (e.g., through satellite, temporary, or off-site clinics).
    • · Available in most rural areas that may not have an easily accessible pharmacy.

    HHS is using multiple authorities to ensure appropriate reimbursement for these services and that no American being vaccinated for COVID-19 will have to pay out-of-pocket.

    CVS and Walgreens will schedule and coordinate on-site clinic date(s) directly with each facility. It is anticipated that three total visits over approximately two months are likely to be needed to administer both doses of vaccine (if indicated) to residents and staff.  The pharmacies will also:


    • Receive and manage vaccines and associated supplies (e.g., syringes, needles, and personal protective equipment).
    • Ensure cold chain management for vaccine.
    • Provide on-site administration of vaccine.
    • Report required vaccination data (including who was vaccinated, with what vaccine, and where) to the state, local, or territorial, and federal public health authorities within 72 hours of administering each dose.
    • Adhere to all applicable Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements for COVID-19 testing for LTCF staff.

    “Ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among our most vulnerable populations, will be critical to saving lives and helping our nation recover from the pandemic,” said John Standley, Walgreens president. “Since the onset of the pandemic, Walgreens has worked closely with the CDC, HHS and the Administration to help accelerate the availability of COVID tests, ensure access to essential medicines and products and serve as a safe and trusted source of information in our communities. We are proud of how our pharmacists have continued to serve our patients and look forward to leveraging our nationwide footprint, community presence and pharmacist expertise to help administer COVID-19 vaccines, once they become available.”

    “CVS Health has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, working across the health care spectrum in all the communities we serve and that will continue to be the case when we have a vaccine to dispense,” said Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health.

    Starting October 19, 2020, LTCFs will be able to opt in and indicate which pharmacy partner their facility prefers to have on-site. LTCFs are not mandated to participate in this program and can request to use their current pharmacy contracts to support COVID-19 vaccination. Nursing homes can sign up via the National Healthcare Safety Network and assisted living facilities can sign up via an online survey they will receive.  An alert has been incorporated into the NHSN LTC COVID-19 module to guide users to the form.

    When completing the form, facilities will need to indicate participation in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program and their preferred retail provider (CVS or Walgreens).  If opting to not participate in the program, facilities must indicate their alternate plan for securing vaccine supply and vaccinating residents. 

    The form will remain open for two weeks, this decision is not binding and can be changed during these two weeks. Once the forms close, a facility must coordinate directly with the selected pharmacy provider to change any requested vaccination supplies and services.  

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  • SARS-COV-2 Point-of-Care Testing Toolkit (10/20)

    Sunday, October 18, 2020 | CMS

    The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), recently announced plans to provide nursing homes with a Point of Care (POC) rapid response testing instrument to bolster each facility’s ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The data collected through the NHSN system directly supports this initiative by helping to prioritize the nursing homes with testing needs and an increasing number of cases. 

    CMS offers:

    • toolkit for nursing homes using point of care devices for SARS-CoV-2 testing as a quick reference guide to important information about testing.
    • The methodology describing how facilities are prioritized, and a listing of the facilities
    • A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a recorded webinar
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  • COVID-19 Testing Guidelines for Nursing Homes (10/20)

    Friday, October 16, 2020 | CDC

    Testing Guidelines for Nursing Homes FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2020

    Revisions were made on October 16, 2020, to reflect the following:

    Updated link to Testing Resources for Nursing Homes one-pager for nursing home personnel with link to Guidance for SARS-CoV-2 Point-of-Care Testing.

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  • COVID-19: Considerations, Strategies, and Resources for Crisis Standards of Care in Post-Acute and Long-Term Care (PALTC) Facilities (9/20)

    Monday, September 28, 2020 | ASPR TRACIE
    COVID-19: Considerations, Strategies, and Resources for Crisis Standards of Care in Post-Acute and Long-Term Care (PALTC) Facilities is a compilation of considerations for long-term care facilities based on lessons learned during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic accompanied by resources to inform planning and response efforts. This ASPR TRACIE toolkit includes an overview of general considerations, potential strategies, and existing resources that they may use to inform changes to their operations and care processes. It is intended to complement, not replace, existing state and/or local guidance and plans for implementing crisis standards of care. Similarly, sample tools and resources are provided for illustrative purposes only and should be modified to locally adopted protocols as appropriate. 
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  • CMS COVID-19 Nursing Homes Best Practices Toolkit and New QIN-QIO Virtual Assistance UPDATED (9/20)

    Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | CMS

    New tool provides innovative solutions for states and facilities to protect our nation’s vulnerable nursing home residents during emergency

    CMS has released a new toolkit (updated 9/22/20) developed to aid nursing homes, Governors, states, departments of health, and other agencies who provide oversight and assistance to these facilities, with additional resources to aid in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic within nursing homes. The toolkit builds upon previous actions taken by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which provide a wide range of tools and guidance to states, healthcare providers and others during the public health emergency. The toolkit is comprised of best practices from a variety of front line health care providers, Governors’ COVID-19 task forces, associations and other organizations, and experts, and is intended to serve as a catalogue of resources dedicated to addressing the specific challenges facing nursing homes as they combat COVID-19.

    “The coronavirus presents a unique challenge for nursing homes. CMS is using every tool at our disposal to protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and aid the facilities that care for them. This toolkit will support state, local leaders and nursing homes in identifying best practices to protect our vulnerable elderly in nursing homes” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.  

    The toolkit provides detailed resources and direction for quality improvement assistance and can help in the creation and implementation of strategies and interventions intended to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within nursing homes. The toolkit outlines best practices for a variety of subjects ranging from infection control to workforce and staffing. It also provides contact information for organizations who stand ready to assist with the unique challenges posed by caring for individuals in long-term care settings. Each state was involved in the creation of this toolkit, resulting in a robust resource that may be leveraged by a variety of entities serving this vulnerable population.

    Additionally, CMS has contracted with 12 Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organizations (QIN-QIOs) to work with providers, community partners, beneficiaries and caregivers on data-driven quality improvement initiatives designed to improve the quality of care for beneficiaries across the United States. The QIN-QIOs are reaching out to nursing homes across the country to provide virtual technical assistance for homes that have an opportunity for improvement based on an analysis of previous citations for infection control deficiencies using publicly available data found on Nursing Home Compare.

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  • CMS QSO Memo Offers New Guidance for Nursing Home Visitations During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (9/20)

    Saturday, September 19, 2020 | CMS

    Memorandum Summary

    • CMS is committed to continuing to take critical steps to ensure America’s healthcare facilities are prepared to respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency (PHE).

    • Visitation Guidance: CMS is issuing new guidance for visitation in nursing homes during the COVID-19 PHE. The guidance below provides reasonable ways a nursing home can safely facilitate in-person visitation to address the psychosocial needs of residents.

    • Use of Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Funds: CMS will now approve the use of CMP funds to purchase tents for outdoor visitation and/or clear dividers (e.g., Plexiglas or similar products) to create physical barriers to reduce the risk of transmission during in-person visits.


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  • World Health Organization Healthcare Worker Safety Charter (9/20)

    Thursday, September 17, 2020 | WHO

    Keep health workers safe to keep patients safe: WHO

    17 September 2020 | GENEVA – The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on governments and health care leaders to address persistent threats to the health and safety of health workers and patients.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and safe lives,“ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe. WHO’s Health Worker Safety Charter is a step towards ensuring that health workers have the safe working the conditions, the training, the pay and the respect they deserve.“

    The pandemic has also highlighted the extent to which protecting health workers is key to ensuring a functioning health system and a functioning society.

    The Charter, released today for World Patient Safety Day, calls on governments and those running health services at local levels to take five actions to better protect health workers. These include steps to protect health workers from violence; to improve their mental health; to protect them from physical and biological hazards; to advance national programmes for health worker safety; and to connect health worker safety policies to existing patient safety policies.

    Mounting reports of infections, illness and attacks among health workers fighting COVID-19

    COVID-19 has exposed health workers and their families to unprecedented levels of risk. Although not representative, data from many countries across WHO regions indicate that COVID-19 infections among health workers are far greater than those in the general population.

    While health workers represent less than 3% of the population in the large majority of countries and less than 2% in almost all low- and middle-income countries, around 14% of COVID-19 cases reported to WHO are among health workers. In some countries, the proportion can be as high as 35%.  However, data availability and quality are limited, and it is not possible to establish whether health workers were infected in the work place or in community settings. Thousands of health workers infected with COVID-19 have lost their lives worldwide.

    In addition to physical risks, the pandemic has placed extraordinary levels of psychological stress on health workers exposed to high-demand settings for long hours, living in constant fear of disease exposure while separated from family and facing social stigmatization. Before COVID-19 hit, medical professionals were already at higher risk of suicide in all parts of the world. A recent review of health care professionals found one in four reported depression and anxiety, and one in three suffered insomnia during COVID-19[1].  WHO recently highlighted an alarming rise in reports of verbal harassment, discrimination and physical violence among health workers in the wake of COVID-19.

    5 steps to improve health worker safety and patient safety

    On World Patient Safety Day, WHO reminds governments that they have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of health workers. The Organization’s health worker charter calls on all Member States and relevant stakeholders to take steps to:

    1. Establish synergies between health worker safety and patient safety policies and strategies

    ·         Develop linkages between occupational health and safety, patient safety, quality improvement, and infection prevention and control programmes.

    ·         Include health and safety skills in personal and patient safety into education and training programmes for health workers at all levels.

    ·         Incorporate requirements for health worker and patient safety in health care licensing and accreditation standards.

    ·         Integrate staff safety and patient safety incident reporting and learning systems.

    ·         Develop integrated metrics of patient safety, health worker safety and quality of care indicators, and integrate with health information system.  

    2. Develop and implement national programmes for occupational health and safety of health workers

    ·         Develop and implement national programmes for occupational health for health workers in line with national occupational health and safety policies.

    ·         Review and upgrade, where necessary, national regulations and laws for occupational health and safety to ensure that all health workers have regulatory protection of their health and safety at work.

    ·         Appoint responsible officers with authority for occupational health and safety for health workers at both the national and facility levels.

    ·         Develop standards, guidelines, and codes of practice on occupational health and safety.

    ·         Strengthen intersectoral collaboration on health worker and patient safety, with appropriate worker and management representation, including gender, diversity and all occupational groups.

    3. Protect health workers from violence in the workplace

    ·         Adopt and implement in accordance with national law, relevant policies and mechanisms to prevent and eliminate violence in the health sector.

    ·         Promote a culture of zero tolerance to violence against health workers

    ·         Review labour laws and other legislation, and where appropriate the introduction of specific legislation, to prevent violence against health workers.

    ·         Ensure that policies and regulations are implemented effectively to prevent violence and protect health workers.

    ·         Establish relevant implementation mechanisms, such ombudspersons and helplines to enable free and confidential reporting and support for any health worker facing violence.

    4. Improve mental health and psychological well-being

    ·         Establish policies to ensure appropriate and fair duration of deployments, working hours, rest break and minimizing the administrative burden on health workers.

    ·         Define and maintain appropriate safe staffing levels within health care facilities.

    ·         Provide indemnity and insurance coverage for work-related risk, especially those working in high-risk areas.

    ·         Establish a ‘blame-free’ and just working culture through open communication, including legal and administrative protection from punitive action on reporting adverse safety events.

    ·         Provide access to mental well-being and social support services for health workers, including advice on work-life balance and risk assessment and mitigation.

    5. Protect health workers from physical and biological hazards

    ·         Ensure the implementation of minimum patient safety, infection prevention and control, and occupational safety standards in all health care facilities across the health system.

    ·         Ensure availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, as relevant to the roles and tasks performed, in adequate quantity and appropriate fit and of acceptable quality. Ensure an adequate, locally held, buffer stock of PPE. Ensure adequate training on the appropriate use of PPE and safety precautions.

    ·         Ensure adequate environmental services such as water, sanitation and hygiene, disinfection and adequate ventilation at all health care facilities.

    ·         Ensure vaccination of all health workers at risk against all vaccine-preventable infections, including Hepatitis B and seasonal influenza, in accordance with the national immunization policy, and in the context of emergency response, priority access for health workers to newly licenced and available vaccines.

    ·         Provide adequate resources to prevent health workers from injuries, and harmful exposure to chemicals and radiations; provide functioning and ergonomically designed equipment and work stations to minimize musculoskeletal injuries and falls.

    In addition to the Health Worker Safety Charter, WHO has also outlined specific World Patient Safety Day 2020 Goals for health care leaders to invest in, measure, and improve health worker safety over the next year. The goals are intended for health care facilities to address five areas:  preventing sharps injuries; reducing work-related stress and burnout; improving the use of personal protective equipment; promoting zero tolerance to violence against health workers; and analyzing serious safety related incidents. 

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  • Independent Nursing Home COVID-19 Commission Findings (9/20)

    Wednesday, September 16, 2020 | CMS
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) received the final report from the independent Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes (Commission), which was facilitated by MITRE.  CMS also released an overview of the robust public health actions the agency has taken to date to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in nursing homes. The Commission’s findings align with the actions the Trump Administration and CMS have taken to contain the spread of the virus and to safeguard nursing home residents from the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement delivers on the Administration’s commitments to keeping nursing home residents safe and to transparency for the American people in the face of this unprecedented pandemic.

    Nursing homes and other shared or congregate living facilities have been severely affected by COVID-19, as these facilities often house older individuals who suffer from multiple medical conditions, making them particularly susceptible to complications from the virus. To help CMS inform immediate and future actions as well as identify opportunities for improvement, the Commission was created to conduct an independent review and comprehensive assessments of confronting COVID-19. The Commission’s report contains best practices that emphasize and reinforce CMS strategies and initiatives to ensure nursing home residents are protected from COVID-19.

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  • COVID-19 Testing and Reporting Requirements: Summary Slide Deck (9/20)

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 | CMS

    CMS slide deck summarizing resident and staff testing  and reporting requirements, considerations for using and interpreting antigen tests, and educational resources and training available to nursing homes.

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