COVID-19 Updates

Assisted Living Providers Largely Ignored In Terms Of COVID-19 Priority For PPE, Testing, Funding, Tittle Says plus AHCA/NCAL’s Algorithm For Resident Testing, Cohorting


AHCA/NCAL Releases Algorithm For Resident Testing, Cohorting

Provider Magazine (5/29, Connole, 151K) reported, “The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said it has created an algorithm for testing and cohorting nursing home residents that incorporates the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the coronavirus (COVID-19).” This “algorithm walks through three primary entry points for testing prior to deciding on who and how to cohort individuals.” According to the association, “The entry points include testing residents who develop symptoms, testing all residents simultaneously, and testing new admissions. The algorithm also walks through how to cohort if the person(s) tested are in a single-person room or with roommates.”

Assisted Living Providers Largely Ignored In Terms Of COVID-19 Priority For PPE, Testing, Funding, Tittle Says

Barron’s (5/29, Kapadia, 1.07M) reported on the effects of coronavirus on the LTC sector, and potential changes that may result in the future. In terms of COVID-19 and assisted living providers, National Center for Assisted Living executive director Scott Tittle said, “We are on the front lines of the battle, but assisted living has largely been left out of priority for key components of personal protective equipment, testing, and funding.” NCAL “has called on governors to make long-term care facilities a priority for PPE and testing and letting nurses and other medical professionals cross state lines to assist with staffing shortages.” Approximately “75% of operators of independent living, assisted living, memory care, and CCRCs surveyed in April by McKnight’s Senior Living reported shortages of PPE.”

Calls For Increased LTC Funding Continue

Skilled Nursing News (5/28, Flynn) reported Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) “is calling for increased funding to help long-term care facilities and nursing homes better cohort patients with the virus, while also managing the costs of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).” The proposed “legislation would ‘provide $20 billion in emergency funding to States, Territories and Indian Tribes to support nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and psychiatric hospitals with cohorting based on COVID-19 status, namely to support costs related to staffing, testing, PPE and other essential needs,’ according to a summary of the bill.” In addition to Casey, “AHCA and other industry advocates have called on the government to provide substantially more funding for long-term care facilities as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, with AHCA in particular requesting $10 billion.”

        In a separate article, Skilled Nursing News (5/31, Spanko) reports, “Senior housing and care leaders again called on the federal government to more aggressively bankroll COVID-19 testing in the nation’s nursing homes, arguing that the burden will be ongoing – especially since an already expensive one-time testing strategy may not be an instant cure-all.” Assuming there will be “universal access to test kits and lab space – neither of which is guaranteed in many parts of the country – the costs alone are staggering, with the American Health Care Association (AHCA) pegging the one-time expense of testing every nursing home resident and employee at $440 million,” and once assisted living facilities are added in, “the number balloons to $672 million.” Last week, “the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released $4.9 billion in CARES Act aid to nursing homes…but leaders have classified that funding as only a start given the looming testing bill – among other expenses.”

        Bloomberg Law (5/29, Pugh, Subscription Publication, 4K) reported, “Regular [COVID-19] testing for nursing home staff and residents is the only way to contain the spread of the respiratory disease that wreaks havoc on older people.” However, “lack of funds and access to testing supplies are hampering that goal, nursing home executives say.” The American Health Care Association “wants public and private sector help to make the testing happen.” The organization “has called on states to provide more funding ‘especially with the $11 billion in federal assistance they have received from the Administration,’ the AHCA said in its statement to Bloomberg Law.”

LTC Facilities Staffed By Unsung Heroes, Leaders Say

In a piece for the Hampton Roads (VA) Virginian-Pilot (5/31, 227K), Virginia Health Care Association/Virginia Center for Assisted Living president and CEO Keith Hare, and others, wrote, “Virginia’s long-term care facilities…are staffed by unsung heroes who care for tens of thousands of Virginia’s seniors.” They added, “It goes without saying that the individuals who work in long-term care are amazing examples of heroes who are doing all they can to help the most vulnerable during this pandemic.” They also said, “We’re proud of our role in fighting, and in many cases, beating this insidious virus. Our caregivers will not stop fighting it to protect our residents.”


Telehealth Grants From FCC May Be Senior Living Industry “Game Changer,” Operator Says

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (5/30, Lasek) reported, “Eldercare and senior living operators are among the latest beneficiaries in a federal program to support connected care services during the coronavirus pandemic.” Towards the end of “March, the Federal Communications Commission approved $200 million in congressional funds to help health care providers to offer remote care options such as telehealth during the emergency period,” and “the latest in its series of rolling awards were announced Thursday.” One awardee in New Jersey “plans to use its nearly $910,000 grant to fund a remote patient monitoring platform and telehealth software licenses,” technology which “will enable skilled nursing facility staff to prevent falls and other dangerous conditions ‘without requiring excessive in-person monitoring,’” according to the organization’s president and CEO. He stated, “This funding may very well be a game changer…for the senior living industry.”


Significant Number Of NYC Nursing Home Inspections Post-COVID Find No Infection Control Deficiencies

Skilled Nursing News (5/28, Spanko) reported “a significant portion of infection control surveys conducted after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic found no deficiencies at New York City nursing homes – even those with substantial coronavirus death tolls, according to a new report.” The “local news publication The City analyzed 35 inspection reports from surveys performed under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) new coronavirus-focused inspection strategy, instituted in March.” Just “10 had violations, with the remaining 25 – including facilities with more than 60 reported COVID-19 fatalities – were found to be in total compliance with infection control guidelines.”

Experts Provide Recommendations To Support Residents Who May Be Suffering From Strain Of Coronavirus Lockdown

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (5/28, Lasek) reported, “A tendency toward resilience is common in seniors, but the strain of continued coronavirus lockdown in eldercare communities is beginning to show, say providers.” Although “some seniors may be habituated to having most of their contact with staff, the longer social isolation continues, the greater the toll, a Florida continuing care community psychiatrist told Kaiser Health News.” In an interview with KHN, experts provided a variety of “suggestions for supporting residents who may be negatively affected,” including to “offer a sense of companionship,” and “ask for a referral to a psychologist or social worker, especially when a resident is recovering from COVID-19 hospitalization.”

Survey Finds 40% Of Senior Living Providers Beginning To Ease Restrictions

McKnight’s Senior Living (5/29, Bonvissuto) reported that “virtually all senior living providers have been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a Ziegler CFO Hotline survey released Thursday.” In the survey, “four out of 10 providers indicated they were beginning to ease some restrictions or would be doing so within a week, including opening beauty salons, dining areas and access to common areas.” Meanwhile, “the remaining 60% indicated that they have no immediate plans to loosen these restrictions.”

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