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COVID-19 Updates

April 06, 2020

CMS Waives a Number of Nursing Home Regulations

CMS has issued blanket waivers for certain federal requirements it believes will free up nursing home providers to focus on containing the spread of COVID-19.  Several of the regulations are waived only in COVID-19 related situations, while others apply in general.  Regulatory areas impacted include transfer/discharges; nurse aide training and certification; care planning; physical environment; and more.  For detailed information, see Consumer Voice’s summary and read the CMS publication.
New Guidance from CMS and CDC

On April 2, CMS and CDC issued a new set of recommendations after learning from on-site surveys that more needs to be done to prevent further spread of COVID-19.  Major highlights of this guidance are presented below. Advocates are urged to read the full guidance.

  • Nursing homes should ensure they are complying with all CMS and CDC guidance about infection control, with a particular focus on hand hygiene.
  • State and local leaders should work together to help address nursing home needs for PPE and tests.
  • Facilities should screen every single person entering the facility (with the exception of EMS personnel responding to an emergency).
    • Access points should be limited and have screening stations.
  • PPE should be used to a greater extent.
    • All staff must wear facemasks.
    • Staff must wear full PPE:
      • To care for a resident with COVID-19.
      • To care for all residents when there is COVID-19 transmission in the facility.
    • Residents should wear facemasks:
      • If and when they leave the room regularly for care (e.g. dialysis).
      • If they are COVID-19 positive or assumed to be.
    • Residents should cover their noses and mouth (with tissue) in their rooms when staff are present.
  • Residents with COVID-19 and those with suspected COVID-19 should be separated from residents who don’t have it or who have unknown status.
    • Facilities should use separate staffing teams for COVID-19  residents and exercise consistent assignment for all residents.
    • Facilities should work with state/local leaders to designate separate facilities or units within a facility.
      • State agencies, hospitals, nursing home associations and other entities should coordinate to determine which nursing homes are designated COVID-19 positive and to provide adequate staff and PPE.
  • COVID-19 units/facilities must be capable of strict infection control practices and testing protocols.

Senators Request Release of List of Nursing Homes with COVID-19
Senators Casey and Wyden sent a letter dated April 2 to CMS and CDC requesting release of a list of nursing homes that have had a resident or staff member with a positive COVID-19 test. The request was made after the Senators learned that the agencies are maintaining a list of facilities with documented cases of COVID-19, but are refusing to release the information.  The Senators also requested information on how CMS intends to spend $100 million provided to the agency to limit the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes as part of the recently passed CARES Act.

For more information about COVID-19 and issues pertaining to nursing homes, residents, and families, visit our website.

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