• Staffing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Guide for Nursing Home Leaders (2/21)

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | IHI
    A resource guide, written by and for directors of nursing, administrators, and other nursing home leaders, outlines steps to reduce or eliminate urgent staff shortages, particularly shortages of direct care workers. This guide is from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Project ECHO, a project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
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  • 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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  • 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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  • COVID-19 Testing: CDC Says Repeated Point Prevalence Surveys Can ID Asymptomatic Cases in SNFs (7/20)

    Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | CDC

    Initial and Repeated Point Prevalence Surveys to Inform SARS-CoV-2 Infection Prevention in 26 Skilled Nursing Facilities — Detroit, Michigan, March–May 2020

    Early Release / July 1, 2020 / 69

    Guillermo V. Sanchez, MSHS, MPH1; Caitlin Biedron, MD1; Lauren R. Fink, MPH2; Kelly M. Hatfield, MSPH1; Jordan Micah F. Polistico, MD3,4; Monica P. Meyer, MS, MPH3,4; Rebecca S. Noe, MN, MPH1; Casey E. Copen, PhD1; Amanda K. Lyons, MS1; Gonzalo Gonzalez, DNP2; Keith Kiama2; Mark Lebednick2; Bonnie K. Czander2; Amen Agbonze2; Aimee R. Surma, MS2; Avnish Sandhu, DO3,4; Valerie H. Mika, MS4; Tyler Prentiss, MA5; John Zervos, JD5; Donia A. Dalal2; Amber M. Vasquez, MD1; Sujan C. Reddy, MD1; John Jernigan, MD1; Paul E. Kilgore, MD4; Marcus J. Zervos, MD4,5; Teena Chopra, MD3,4; Carla P. Bezold, ScD2; Najibah K. Rehman, MD2 (View author affiliations)

    View suggested citation

    Summary

    What is already known about this topic?

    Symptom-based screening in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) is inadequate to detect SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Repeated point prevalence surveys (serial testing of all residents and health care personnel at a health care facility irrespective of symptoms) can identify asymptomatic cases during outbreaks.

    What is added by this report?

    Repeated point prevalence surveys at 26 Detroit SNFs identified an attack rate of 44%; within 21 days of diagnosis, 37% of infected patients were hospitalized and 24% died. Among 12 facilities participating in a second survey and receiving on-site infection prevention and control (IPC) support, the percentage of newly identified cases decreased from 35% to 18%.

    What are the implications for public health practice?

    Repeated point prevalence surveys in SNFs can identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, inform cohorting and IPC practices, and guide prioritization of health department resources.

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  • CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Engagement Calls – Week of 5/18/20

    Monday, May 18, 2020 | CMS

    CMS hosts varied recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to the agency’s response to COVID-19. These sessions are open to members of the healthcare community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

    Call details are below. Conference lines are limited so we highly encourage you to join via audio webcast, either on your computer or smartphone web browser. You are welcome to share this invitation with your colleagues and professional networks. 

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  • CMS Finetunes Targeted Infection Control Inspections; Tells SNFs/NFs to Complete Voluntary Self-Assessment With COVID-19 Focused Survey Tool (3/20)

    Monday, March 23, 2020 | CMS

    Memorandum Summary

     

    • On Friday, March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency, which triggers the Secretary’s ability to authorize waivers or modifications of certain requirements pursuant to section 1135 of the Social Security Act (the Act). Under section 1135(b)(5) of the Act, CMS is prioritizing surveys by authorizing modification of timetables and deadlines for the performance of certain required activities, delaying revisit surveys, and generally exercising enforcement discretion for three weeks.
    • During this three-week time frame, only the following types of surveys will be prioritized and conducted:
    • Complaint/facility-reported incident surveys: State survey agencies (SSAs) will conduct surveys related to complaints and facility-reported incidents (FRIs) that are triaged at the Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) level. A streamlined Infection Control review tool will also be utilized during these surveys, regardless of the Immediate Jeopardy allegation.
    • Targeted Infection Control Surveys: Federal CMS and State surveyors will conduct targeted Infection Control surveys of providers identified through collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). They will use a streamlined review checklist to minimize the impact on provider activities, while ensuring providers are implementing actions to protect the health and safety of individuals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Self-assessments: The Infection Control checklist referenced above will also be shared with all providers and suppliers to allow for voluntary self-assessment of their Infection Control plan and protections
    • During the prioritization period, the following surveys will not be authorized: Standard surveys for long term care facilities (nursing homes), hospitals, home health agencies (HHAs), intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IIDs), and hospices. This includes the life safety code and Emergency Preparedness elements of those standard surveys; and revisits that are not associated with IJ.
    • Furthermore, for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), we intend to prioritize immediate jeopardy situations over recertification surveys, and generally intend to use enforcement discretion, unless immediate jeopardy situations arise.
    • Finally, initial certification surveys will continue to be authorized in accordance within current guidance and prioritization.

     Additional Instructions for Nursing Homes

    We are disseminating the Infection Control survey developed by CMS and CDC so facilities can educate themselves on the latest practices and expectations. We expect facilities to use this new process, in conjunction with the latest guidance from CDC, to perform a voluntary self-assessment of their ability to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This document may be requested by surveyors, if an onsite investigation takes place. We also encourage nursing homes to voluntarily share the results of this assessment with their state or local health department Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Program. Contact information for each state’s health departments is identified on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) website at:https://www.cdc.gov/HAI/state-based/index.html.

    Furthermore, we remind facilities that they are required to have a system of surveillance designed to identify possible communicable diseases or infections before they can spread to other persons in the facility, and when and to whom possible incidents of communicable disease or infections should be reported (42 CFR 483.80(a)(2)(i) and (ii)). CDC recommends that nursing homes notify their health department about residents with severe respiratory infection, or a cluster of respiratory illness (e.g., > or = 3 residents or HCP with new-onset respiratory symptoms within 72 hours). Local and state reporting guidelines or requirements may vary. Monitor the CDC website for information and resources to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes (CDC Preparing for COVID-19: Long-term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/prevent-spread-in-long-term-care-facilities.html ).

    We urge providers to review the tools and implement actions to protect the health and safety of individuals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  • CDC Updated List of People at Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness (3/20)

    Monday, March 23, 2020 | CMS

    Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.


    Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

    • People aged 65 years and older
    • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
    • Other high-risk conditions could include:
      • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
      • People who have serious heart conditions
      • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
      • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
    • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

    Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.

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