COVID-19 Updates


AHCA/NCAL Provides Four New Resources Related To PPE, Applicable To All Long-Term Care Providers

Provider Magazine (4/14, Connole, 151K) reports that “in an update on COVID-19 released on Monday, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) supplied four new resources on guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on critically low or unavailable personal protective equipment (PPE).” AHCA/NCAL “stressed that these new resources are applicable to all long term care providers.” The resources include: “A form letter providers can fill in when responding to OSHA inquiries due to complaints regarding limited or unavailable PPE;” a document related to “OSHA guidance when PPE is critically low or unavailable, including steps providers can follow;” an explanation of CDC and OSHA “guidance on N95 respirators that are critically low or unavailable;” and “a document with updated guidance from OSHA on employer recording and reporting requirements for COVID-19.”


Further Guidance Provided For Critically Low, Unavailable PPE

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (4/15, Brown) reports “the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued guidance on steps providers can take when dealing with ‘critically low or unavailable’ PPE, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.” If PPE is not available, “providers should take several steps to eliminate or reduce exposure to COVID-19, such as: isolating areas with coronavirus patients, cleaning and disinfecting the facility more, increasing the frequency of hand sanitizing and excluding health care personnel at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 from contact with residents.” AHCA/NCAL explained, “After implementing available engineering, administrative, or work practice controls to eliminate or reduce exposures to COVID-19, consider use of other forms of PPE that may not be as effective as N95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves, and gowns, but could provide some protection.”

Expert Offers Insight Into Stimulus Distribution To Medicaid Providers

Skilled Nursing News (4/14) reports “on a Tuesday webinar hosted by Society for Health care Organization Procurement Professionals (SHOPP),” which included a discussion about the first stimulus distribution from CMS. However, “the second wave of that $100 billion will include Medicaid providers, and that money should be distributed some time early next week, Clifton Porter, senior vice president for government relations at the nursing home group American Health Care Association (AHCA), said on the webinar.” Porter also said, “The focus there is on Medicaid providers – and I don’t say this in order, I say this in general, the three categories that the focus of this second tranche is on: Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, and what they’re considering COVID hotspots.” He “projected it would be similar to the approach taken on the Medicare fee-for-service side for SNFs, in which the percentage of an institution’s overall Medicaid revenue is considered – though he did note that the algorithms and calculations being used have not been released, and that it’s not certain.”

AHCA/NCAL, Member Organizations Work To Respond To Coronavirus Throughout US

As the coronavirus pandemic continues its spread throughout the country, AHCA/NCAL and its member organizations continue to address the pandemic. HealthDay (4/14, 17K) reports AHCA/NCAL said in a statement, “We desperately need more PPE in nursing homes and assisted living communities, priority testing for our health care workers and residents, and the ability to quickly recruit and hire more staff.” The group added, “Long-term care facilities acted early on in this pandemic on those things we can control, such as limiting visitation ahead of social distancing containment measures implemented in many states. We are doing everything we can with the resources we’ve been given to slow the acceleration of the virus for our residents who are the most vulnerable, but without PPE, tests and [a] healthy workforce, beating this virus will be very difficult.”

KUSA-TV Denver (4/14, 475K) reports that Colorado Health Care Association president Doug Farmer said, “And so I think it’s not surprising to see that in areas where you have larger concentrations of people that are older than 80 years and also have a multitude of underlying health conditions, that there’s a disproportionate number of deaths.”

WMEA-FM Portland, ME (4/13, Wight) reports President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association Rick Erb said, “Everyone is on edge. There is no doubt about that.” Erb also “says [these outbreaks] have occurred despite efforts to stop the spread of the virus.” Erb added, “It’s very difficult to keep it out. We have taken steps to keep the number of visitors down in facilities, we have done screening of staff as they have come and go.”

The Detroit News (4/14, 825K) reports Health Care Association of Michigan president and CEO Melissa Samuel “says…they might need more than $100 million in emergency assistance from the state to cope with the financial side effects of COVID-19.” Samuel also said, “We’re expending significant dollars to do this and without some relief at some point, it would be incredibly challenging,. … We operate on fairly thin margins. At worst-case scenario, are we able to bring all of our staff back on? Are we facing layoffs? Are we facing wage cuts at some point? Are you facing closures at some point?”

WBNS-TV Columbus, OH (4/13, 312K) reports, Pete Van Runkle with the Ohio Health Care Association said, “The bigger thing is we got to get more testing going on. So that we can figure out ‘ok you’ve got a case so you’ve got a case’ but how far has that spread or not spreading as the case may be. To really save lives we really got to know who has been affected.”


CMS Releases Updated Guidance Allowing Nursing Homes To Transfer, Discharge Residents Without Approval In Certain Circumstances During COVID-19 Pandemic

Skilled Nursing News (4/13, Spanko) reports, “The federal government on Monday released updated guidance indicating that nursing homes do not need any additional approval before transferring or discharging residents for the purposes of creating separate spaces for residents with COVID-19 and those without the infection.” Moreover, “operators can also send residents to certain emergency care sites staffed by federal and state employees as directed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) without any additional approval ‘as long as transfer is not inconsistent with a state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan, or as directed by the local or state health department.’” In a “memo to state survey agencies (SSAs), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) official David Wright emphasized that the raft of waivers issued over the last month ensures that long-term care operators can discharge or transfer residents to other licensed properties without further approval.”

Long-Term Care Operators Offer Variety Of Incentives To Health Care Workers During Pandemic

McKnight’s Senior Living (4/14, Brown) reports that “as fears of coronavirus infections spread, many senior living workers are opting to stay home or quit altogether,” so “operators are dangling sweeteners as never before in an attempt to make sure their employees keep punching in.” Some “emerging perks include hefty bonuses, help with groceries and even on-premises day care, just to name a few.” For example, one provider in New York gave part-time and full-time workers $250 and $500 bonuses, respectively, and also provided “complementary food to workers on duty and relaxed dress code requirements.”

Senior Living Industry Continues To Maintain Operations In Face Of COVID-19 Challenges, Report Finds

McKnight’s Senior Living (4/14, Novotney) reports, “The senior living industry may be one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, yet with operators well suited to manage infectious diseases, and the strength of the seniors housing market before the virus, the industry has continued to maintain operations despite numerous COVID-19 challenges, according to a report released last week by Marcus & Millichap.” The authors said independent living communities may be least exposed to disruption, and memory care communities “may be best positioned to withstand an economic downturn, due to the specialized care they offer, according to the report.” According to the authors, strong investor sentiment will likely help those in the sector survive challenges related to the pandemic.

Expert Offers Tips To Help With Insomnia Among Caregivers

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (4/15, Lasek) reports, “Stress-related insomnia troubled more than a third of medical caregivers during peak periods of coronavirus activity in China, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry.” According to one expert, certain “evidence-based actions” may help to prevent or alleviate sleeplessness. These include things such as maintaining “a dark environment” and avoiding “electronic devices before bedtime,” and attempting “to refocus pre-sleep thoughts to emotionally neutral thought processes (away from worry, problem solving, planning, rehashing).”