• Emergency Preparedness Report: Identifying and Overcoming Healthcare Communications Vulnerabilities (2/21)

    Monday, February 22, 2021 | ASPR TRACIE

    ASPR TRACIE Emergency Preparedness Report: Identifying and Overcoming Healthcare Communications Vulnerabilities: Nashville, TN

    While the Christmas morning recreational vehicle blast outside the AT&T transmission facility in Nashville did not cause a mass fatality incident, it significantly impacted healthcare communications throughout the region. This article describes the impacts, lessons learned, strengths, and challenges faced by two professionals with different perspectives of the Nashville healthcare system.

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  • Emergency Preparedness: Healthcare Cybersecurity Readiness and Response (2/21)

    Sunday, February 21, 2021 | ASPR TRACIE
    As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthcare facilities large and small must be proactive and move quickly to protect themselves from cyberattacks that could directly impact the health and safety of patients and the community at large. According to medical health experts experienced in cybersecurity preparedness, cyberattacks are identified as the top threat in many healthcare systems’ annual Hazard Vulnerable Analyses (HVA).  Healthcare System Cybersecurity: Readiness and Response Considerations addresses this threat.
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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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  • 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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  • Emergency Preparedness Rule FAQs and Other Resources (11/16)

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 | CMS
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Survey and Certification Group is providing general information regarding the implementation plans for the new Emergency Preparedness Rule. The information addresses the implementation date for providers and suppliers, the development of Interpretive Guidelines (IGs), surveyor training and resources available to assist in the implementation of this regulation.
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