COVID-19 Updates


Experts Offer Dementia-Specific Care Approaches For Long-Term Care Providers During Pandemic

In a piece for Provider Magazine (4/27, Schmitz, Sass, Wallace, Thurman, 151K), Courtney Schmitz, MS, CTRS, CDP, Corie Sass, LMHP, LCSW, CDP,, Michelle Wallace, RN-BC, CRRN, CDP, and Mary Ann Thurman, MAM, RDN, LMNT write that COVID-19 regulations for residents and workers in long-term and post-acute care settings “were put in place to help minimize the risk of exposure to elderly residents,” but “much of the guidance…requires residents to be able to self-isolate and be cognitively intact to follow instructions.” Reviewing “organizational and online resources, it is difficult to locate COVID-19 guidance specific to individuals with dementia in the LTC setting,” therefore, “being well-versed in dementia-specific care approaches, the writers pooled their expertise and established the following suggestions for implementation of COVID-19 restrictions in residents with dementia.” Among their numerous suggestions, their authors recommend utilizing music daily, encourage residents to be “outside as much as possible,” and incorporation of “doorway” restorative therapy.


Despite Pleas, Majority Of Long-Term Care Providers Lack Sufficient PPE

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (4/27, Brown) reports that “a vast majority of health care providers are still struggling to find adequate personal protective equipment for workers during the coronavirus crisis.” AHCA/NCAL recently noted that “more than 70% of providers have been unable to find sufficient PPE supplies, like masks, gowns and face shields for health care workers,” which “syncs directly with the latest McKnight’s Flash Survey (released April 15), which found that 71% of respondents said they were experiencing PPE shortages.” AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a statement, “The reality is that many long term care providers are facing an unprecedented situation that has left them begging for testing, PPE and staffing resources. Just like hospitals, we have called for help. In our case, nobody has listened.”

Parkinson Profiled As Part Of McKnight’s “40 For 40”

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (4/27, Berklan) profiles Mark Parkinson as part of its “40 for 40” recognition of “40 notable newsmakers.” McKnight’s says, “Already considered perhaps the best leader long-term care has had before the pandemic, [Parkinson] has been out front relentlessly as the voice and face of long-term care, meeting with leaders in Washington, appearing on national media broadcasts and advocating for providers wherever he can.” According to McKnight’s, “A former Midwestern state legislator and governor, the affable debate champion is a unifier who held office as a member of both major political parties.”

McKnight’s Senior Living (4/27) also publishes the profile.

AHCA/NCAL Affiliates Continue To Address Needs Of Residents, Staff During Pandemic

For instance, KSNW-TV Wichita, KS (4/24, 19K) reports Kansas Health Care Association president and CEO Linda MowBray said, “Our staff is pushed to the limit, they don’t have the right protective equipment and the amount that they need. … We need help and we’re reaching out to say, ‘Don’t forget about us.’” The Association joined other groups to issue a statement that said, in part, “Our society often places a lower value on the lives of older people. That has never been more apparent than in this pandemic. The same can be said for long-term care workers who endure the same risks as other health care workers, but with less applause, less pay, and even less hope of protective masks.”

Lane Report (4/27) reports “Betsy Johnson, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, the long-term-care industry’s trade group, said her association’s main focus has been to secure PPE and testing for members and residents.” Johnson said, “It’s not been easy…and I wouldn’t say we’ve had a great deal of success.” She added, “In order to protect our residents, we have to prioritize testing for skilled nursing facilities – all residents, all staff, all the time – to ensure that we know what is going on in that building.”

The Quincy (MA) Patriot Ledger (4/26, DiFazio, 86K) reports the “Massachusetts Senior Care Association has estimated that as many as 40 percent of staffing positions are open at nursing homes due to the crisis.” Tara Gregorio, the association’s president, “has called for additional funding from the state to flow to long-term care facilities, which would include double-time pay for workers.” Gregorio said in a statement, “We believe it is critical to protect and support our front line staff so that they can do the work they love, which is providing direct care and companionship to their residents. … We believe it is critically important for the state to provide the resources necessary to ensure that nursing facilities have the necessary personal protective equipment and to fund a premium hero wage to our brave deserving workers.”

WXMI-TV Grand Rapids, MI (4/25, 201K) reports Health Care Association of Michigan President Melissa Samuel said, “They’re sick individuals so you have a virus that, unfortunately is going to impact this population no matter all of the protocols and guidance and precautions that we’ve put in place at the direction of the state and federal government. It’s impossible to just somehow say that it’s not going to get into these facilities.” The organization “is calling for more personal protective equipment and testing for workers at long term care facilities, both of which Samuel believes can help slow the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable.” Samuel added, “I think that nursing facilities are doing an amazing job in the face of an incredibly difficult situation. They care deeply about their residents and staff.”

Some States Order Long-Term Care Facilities To Accept Coronavirus Patients Discharged From Hospitals

NBC News (4/25, 6.14M) reported, “Three states hit hard by the pandemic – New York, New Jersey and California – have ordered nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals,” which “has prompted sharp criticism from the nursing home industry, staff members and concerned families, as well as some leading public health experts.” Specifically, “on March 25, New York became the first state to issue a blanket rule prohibiting nursing homes from denying admission or readmission to residents because they are infected with COVID-19, and banned the facilities from testing patients for the disease before they are admitted.” AHCA said, “The bottom line is that nursing homes are not a priority in the public health system and this policy reflects that.”

The New York Times (4/24, Barker, Harris, 18.61M) reported “Beth Martino, spokeswoman for the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, said her association had heard that a number of states were considering measures similar to those in California, New Jersey and New York. But many others haven’t offered any guidance on the matter.”

Some Governors Have Issued Executive Orders To Shield Facilities From Civil Liability During Pandemic

Bloomberg BNA (4/24, Wheeler, Bauman, 4K) reported, “Governors in at least six states – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, and Arizona – have issued executive orders protecting nursing homes and other health-care facilities from being held civilly liable for the injury or death of [COVID-19] patients in their care.” AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said in an emailed statement, “Long term care workers and centers are on the frontline of this pandemic response and it is critical that states provide the necessary liability protection staff and providers need to provide care during this difficult time without fear of reprisal.”

MarketWatch (4/24, Arends, 1.67M) reported that Parkinson told MarketWatch in a statement, “More needs to be done to afford appropriate legal protection to those that are working hard to prevent and contain this virus from spreading. … We encourage every state to extend sovereign immunity provisions to the long term care providers and other health care sectors associated with care provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living “says it’s insulting to criticize the front-line staff for how the industry has handled the crisis, rather than, say, the executives or stockholders.” Spokeswoman Beth Martino said, “This type of criticism is a disservice to the brave heroes of this fight, who leave their families every day to care for others.” Martino also said, “We desperately need help with more personal protective equipment (PPE), priority and regular testing, and additional staff support…It’s time for America to rally around our long term care residents and caregivers so we can get the help we need.”


CMS Halts COVID-19 Medicare Advance Payment Program

Skilled Nursing News (4/26, Spanko) reports, “Citing the steady release of grant money from the dedicated health care stimulus fund, the federal government on Sunday announced the immediate suspension of a program that provided advances of Medicare Part A and B reimbursements.” According to SNN, CMS “halted the Advance Payment Program and indicated its intention to ‘reevaluate’ the amounts of money paid out through the Accelerated Payment Program.” The payment-advance program was initially rolled out at the end of March, framed “as a way for providers to fill in any financial gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Prior to “closing off the funding source on Sunday, CMS doled out $59.6 billion to Medicare Part A providers and $40.4 billion to Part B suppliers, according to the government.”


CDC Expands List Of Possible Coronavirus Symptoms

The New York Times (4/27, Belluck, 18.61M) reports the CDC “has expanded its list of possible symptoms of the coronavirus, a step that reflects the broad variation and unpredictability in the way the illness can affect individual patients.” The agency’s website now mentions “possible indicators of [COVID-19], the infection caused by the coronavirus,” may include “chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.” Previously, it “listed just three symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath.”

Among other outlets also reporting are: CBS News (4/27, McNamara, 3.68M) and The Washington Post (4/27, Fritz, Judkis, 14.2M).

Regular Screening Of Long-Term Care Workers May Reduce COVID-19 Spread, Research Indicates

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (4/26, Lasek) reports, “Weekly screening of health care workers and other at-risk groups could have a significant impact on COVID-19 transmission, according to a World Health Organization-affiliated study.” The researchers “found that testing health care and nursing home workers regularly – regardless of symptoms and using quick-result, point-of-care tests – would reduce their contribution to transmission by about 25%.” In a statement last week, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said, “Without access to more testing, long term care providers are at a severe disadvantage in identifying … asymptomatic residents and staff.”

Most Economists Polled Believe Federal Reserve’s Near-Zero Interest Rates Will Last Until 2022 Or 2023, Survey Demonstrates

McKnight’s Senior Living (4/27, Novotney) reports that “more than half of economists polled by Bloomberg last week said they thought the Federal Reserve would leave its benchmark interest rate at financial crisis-era lows – near zero – until at least 2023.” An additional “22% said they don’t expect rate hikes until 2022.” According to McKnight’s, “The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to meet this week, but 90% of the 31 economists polled in the survey said they don’t expect any substantial forecasts at the meeting on how long the Fed will maintain its policy course.”