• Center for Medicare Advocacy Offers Nursing Home COVID-19 Lessons Learned and Policy Recommendations (2/21)

    Monday, February 22, 2021 | CMA

    The Center for Medicare Advocacy released a new report – Geography Is Not Destiny: Protecting Nursing Home Residents from the Next Pandemic – which explores facilities’ responses to the coronavirus crisis and examines how residents’ deaths were not “inevitable”, as some have claimed. The report contends that COVID-19 exploited and exacerbated long-standing issues, such as staffing, infection control, and management problems, that existed for decades in the long-term care industry.

    As our nation’s nursing homes continue to reel from the unprecedented toll that COVID-19 has taken, questions remain about how many deaths could have been avoided, and – crucially – what can be done to save lives moving forward to prevent a similar catastrophe in the future. Nationwide, 36% of COVID-related deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities (and in some states that figure jumps to over 60%). These statistics are even more shocking considering that less than 1% of the nation’s population live in these facilities.

     “The wrath of COVID-19 in our nursing homes was felt, in large part, because we as a nation have not prioritized fixing these issues,” states Cinnamon St. John, the report’s author – who is also the Center’s Health and Aging Policy Fellow and Associate Director of NYU Rory Meyers’ Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing. “COVID-19 will very likely not be the last pandemic we experience in our lifetimes. If we don’t address these issues now, will see these mass casualties again. The good news is that we know more now. The lessons are clear. But we must act. The currency is lives – lives lost, or lives saved,” she added

    The report:

    ·         Analyzes and challenges the assertion that “Geography is Destiny” as the prevailing theory of nursing home transmission (concluding “a facility’s location does not equate to a facility’s fate”)

    ·         Identifies lessons learned for nursing homes

    ·         Provides specific policy recommendations for change

    The report also examines both the challenges and successes of nursing home administrators who have been combatting COVID-19 on a daily basis. “You can either panic during the pandemic or you can be prepared during the pandemic. It’s better to be prepared,” says Reverend Derrick DeWitt, Director and CFO of the Maryland Baptist Aged Home. His nursing home, with about a 90% Medicaid resident population, has remarkably remained COVID-free to this day.

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  • Nursing Home COVID-19 Testing FAQs From CMS (12/20)

    Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | CMS

    These Frequently Asked Questions cover the following topics:

    1.      Q: CMS posts county positivity rates for staff testing. What if my state or county also posts rates of COVID-19 positivity for each county?

    2.      Q: Should nursing homes use the percent positivity rate or the color-coded positivity classification to determine their frequency for routine testing (i.e., twice a week, weekly, or monthly)?

    3.      Q: Given CMS’ modifications to the methodology for test positivity to include two weeks of data, do I still have to wait two weeks to reduce testing frequency?

    4.      Q: Should facilities always perform outbreak testing for all residents and staff when a new COVID-19 infection is identified

    5.      Q: Can staff be tested by a different entity than the nursing home?

    6.      Q: Some staff or care providers do not come into the facility each week; do I have to test them at the same frequency as all staff? For example, do they need to come into the facility just to be tested?

    7.      Q: What is a false positive Point of Care antigen test result and what should we do if we potentially have one?

    8.      Q: What steps can be taken to reduce the potential for false-positive antigen tests?

    9.      Q: What if a facility is trying to comply with the testing requirements, but is unable due to factors outside of its control?

    10.  Q: Do individuals providing emergency medical services (EMS) need to be tested?

    11.  Q: What does the 48-hour turn-around time mean?

    12.  Q: When a facility admits a new resident with COVID-19, does that trigger outbreak testing?

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  • CMS Urgent Call to Action: Staff, Managers Should Complete QSEP Nursing Home COVID-19 Training (11/20)

    Tuesday, November 17, 2020 | CMS

    Agency thanks nursing homes whose staff have completed free CMS training, but urges remaining homes to take advantage of this resource

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is publicly recognizing the 1,092 nursing homes at which 50% or more of their staff have completed CMS training designed to help staff combat the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in nursing homes. CMS applauds these facilities for taking this critical step to equip their staff with the latest information regarding infection control, vaccine distribution, and other topics.

    There are 125,506 individuals from 7,313 nursing homes who have completed the training. This represents approximately 12.5% of the approximately one million nursing home staff in the country. With today’s announcement, CMS is calling on nursing homes to take action, urging them to require their staff to take this free training, as part of the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to keep nursing home residents safe.

    “We’ve provided nursing homes with $20 billion in federal funding, millions of pieces of PPE, free testing machines and supplies, and significant technical assistance and on-the-ground support,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Ultimately, the ownership and management of every nursing must take it on themselves to ensure their staff is fully equipped to keep residents safe. With coronavirus cases increasing across the country and infection control identified as a major issue, we encourage all nursing homes to take advantage of this no-cost opportunity to train their staff.”

    The training includes multiple modules, with emphases on topics such as infection control, screening and surveillance, personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, disinfection of the nursing home, cohorting and caring for individuals with dementia during a pandemic. CMS developed this training in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and expert stakeholders, and announced the training on August 25, 2020. For anyone interested, the training is free to access on a public CMS website; instructions on how to create an account and take the training are available at qsep.cms.gov/welcome.aspx.

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  • OSHA COVID-19 Citations: Lessons Learned (11/20)

    Friday, November 13, 2020 | OSHA

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cites lessons learned from its COVID-19 inspections and citations, as well as noting nursing homes and other companies that have been fined since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

     Lessons Learned: Frequently Cited Standards Related to COVID-19 Inspections.(November 6, 2020).

    Common COVID-19 Citations: Helping Employers Better Protect Workers and Comply with OSHA Regulations. (November 6, 2020).

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  • OSHA Respiratory Protection Guidance for Nursing Homes (11/20)

    Tuesday, November 3, 2020 | Occupational Safety and Health Administration

    Respiratory Protection Guidance for the Employers of Those Working in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Other Long-Term Care Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    This guidance is designed specifically for nursing homes, assisted living, and other long-term care facilities (LTCFs) (e.g., skilled nursing facilities, inpatient hospice, convalescent homes, and group homes with nursing care). While this guidance focuses on protecting workers from occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 disease) by the use of respirators, primary reliance on engineering and administrative controls for controlling exposure is consistent with good industrial hygiene practice and with OSHA’s traditional adherence to a “hierarchy of controls.”

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  • COVID-19 Testing in Nursing Homes: Interim Final Rule Effective 9/02/20, Two QSO Memos With Related Survey Changes, & Algorithm for Interpreting Test Results (8/20)

    Sunday, August 30, 2020 | CMS

    Medicare and Medicaid Programs, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency AGENCY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.

    ACTION: Interim final rule with comment period.

    SUMMARY: This interim final rule with comment period (IFC) revises regulations to strengthen CMS’ ability to enforce compliance with Medicare and Medicaid long-term care (LTC) facility requirements for reporting information related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), establishes a new requirement for LTC facilities for COVID-19 testing of facility residents and staff, establishes new requirements in the hospital and critical access hospital (CAH) Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for tracking the incidence and impact of COVID-19 to assist public health officials in detecting outbreaks and saving lives, and establishes requirements for all CLIA laboratories to report COVID-19 test results to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary)in such form and manner, and at such timing and frequency, as the Secretary may prescribe during the Public Health Emergency (PHE).

    DATES: Effective date: These regulations are effective on 09/02/20.


    QSO-20-38-NH

    Memorandum Summary

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

    • On August 25, 2020, CMS published an interim final rule with comment period (IFC). This rule establishes Long-Term Care (LTC) Facility Testing Requirements for Staff and Residents. Specifically, facilities are required to test residents and staff, including individuals providing services under arrangement and volunteers, for COVID-19 based on parameters set forth by the HHS Secretary. This memorandum provides guidance for facilities to meet the new requirements.

    • Revised COVID-19 Focused Survey Tool - To assess compliance with the new testing requirements, CMS has revised the survey tool for surveyors. We are also adding to the survey process the assessment of compliance with the requirements for facilities to designate one or more individual(s) as the infection preventionist(s) (IPs) who are responsible for the facility's infection prevention and control program (IPCP) at 42 CFR § 483.80(b). In addition, we are making a number of revisions to the survey tool to reflect other COVID-19 guidance updates.

     

    QSO-20-37-CLIA,NH

    Memorandum Summary

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

    • On August 25, 2020, an interim final rule with comment period (IFC) went on display at the Federal Register.

    • CLIA regulations have been updated to require all laboratories to report SARS-CoV-2 test results in a standardized format and at a frequency specified by the Secretary.

    • Failure to report SARS-CoV-2 test results will result in a condition level violation of the CLIA regulation and may result the imposition of a Civil Money Penalty (CMP) as required under §§ 493.1804 and 493.1834.

    • Long-Term Care (LTC) Enforcement requirements at 42 CFR part 488 have been revised to include requirements specific to the imposition of a CMP for nursing homes that fail to report requisite COVID-19 related data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) per §483.80(g)(1) and (2).

    • LTC Facility Testing Requirements for Staff and Residents- Facilities are required to test staff and to offer testing to all nursing home residents.

     

    Considerations for Interpreting Antigen Test Results in Nursing Homes Algorithm pdf icon[PDF – 200 KB]  – August 26, 2020

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