AL Industry News

AHCA/NCAL Convention and COVID 19 Updates



AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention Reset For 24-Day Virtual Event This October

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/12, Berklan) reported, “The nation’s largest nursing home association has announced its modified plans for its annual conference. Oct. 8-31 will be the span when events will take place online, according to the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.” AHCA/NCAL’s “71st annual conference was originally supposed to take place during a typical Sunday-through-Wednesday span in Austin, TX, before COVID-19 conditions took hold.” Organizers said “registration for the newly designed event will begin in July.”


Organizations Respond To Defective, Missing PPE

ABC News (6/13, Pecorin, Mosk, Romero, Freger, 2.97M) reported, “Federal shipments of protective gear touted by Vice President Mike Pence as part of an effort to provide vital support to the nation’s nursing homes beleaguered by COVID-19 have at times included” supplies described by nursing home officials as being “difficult to use” or failing to serve their “intended purpose, such as masks with snapped elastic straps and gowns with no holes for arms or heads.” American Health Care Association senior vice president of public affairs, Beth Martino, “said her group also has been hearing complaints about the federal shipments, which she noted were insufficient to help most facilities for any sustained period of time.” Martino added, “We hope that those issues can be addressed.”

Colorado Public Radio (6/12, Navarro, 3K) reported Colorado Health Care Association president Doug Farmer said, “A nursing home is a lot different than a hospital. … In that in normal times, a nursing home might have three days worth of PPE on hand.” While “some counties have been able to share PPE quickly with nursing homes…Farmer said others don’t have access to anything.”


State Organizations Express Concerns Over COVID-19 Testing

As LTC facilities test residents, staff for the coronavirus, AHCA/NCAL members express some concerns. For instance, KQED-FM San Francisco (6/12, 60K) reported on coronavirus testing in California nursing homes. California Association of Health Facilities spokeswoman Deborah Pacyna said the guidance from California is “complicated and all over the map.”

The Dallas Morning News (6/14, Martin, 946K) reports that in Texas, “Gov. Greg Abbott ordered widespread testing at all nursing homes last month and sent mobile test teams to places with few of their own medical resources.” However, “delays arose in early May, when the state said it collected more samples than its labs had the capacity to process,” and “even though the state brought on nine more laboratories to handle the workload, they’re only now beginning to catch up, said Seth Christensen, spokesman for the Texas Division of Emergency Management.” Texas Health Care Association president and CEO Keith Warren said, “We can’t have these kinds of delays that continue to go on if we are going to be, as we should be, reopening nursing facilities to families and the community again.”




Shortage Of PPE, Testing Across US Has Led To Patchwork COVID-19 Response

Skilled Nursing News (6/11, Flynn) reported, in a video briefing Thursday, “the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis heard testimony from a range of witnesses on the effect of the pandemic on nursing homes in the U.S., including a certified nursing assistant (CNA) from Chicago, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and the family member of a resident who passed away due to COVID-19.” Although “nursing homes face an array of challenges in combatting COVID-19, including a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and must improve their practices in communication and benefits for workers, the need to improve the infrastructure of the long-term care system was a common theme among the witnesses.” For instance, “numerous reports of shortages of testing and PPE across the country have led to a patchwork response, with containment strategies for COVID-19 varying from state to state,” and “that has led to devastation for nursing homes across the U.S., according to Dr. David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School.”


CMS Alerts Providers That Seizing Resident Stimulus Checks Is Prohibited

Skilled Nursing News (6/11, Spanko) reported, “The federal government on Thursday addressed anecdotal reports that nursing homes have seized stimulus checks that residents received as part of the CARES Act coronavirus relief package, warning operators that such actions are illegal.” In an alert to providers, the CMS said, “This practice is prohibited, and nursing homes that seize these payments from residents could be subject to federal enforcement actions, including potential termination from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”


Verma Hints At Extending Telehealth Waivers Following The Pandemic

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/11, Brown) reported, “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma hinted Tuesday that waivers permitting broader telehealth coverage will be extended after the coronavirus pandemic.” During a live event with STAT News, held virtually, Verma said, “People recognize the value of this, so it seems like it would not be a good thing to force our beneficiaries to go back to in-person visits.” Earlier in the “month, the agency confirmed it was considering extending waivers on telehealth coverage beyond the coronavirus crisis,” although “CMS…noted that an extension of the relaxed Medicare restrictions for telehealth coverage would require approval from Congress.”


Almost 50% Of Medical Orders, Treatments For Elders Who Are Incapacitated, Hospitalized Conflict With Surrogates’ Wishes, Study Indicates

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/12, Lasek) reported, “Nearly half of the medical treatments and orders for incapacitated, hospitalized elders do not match up with their surrogate decision-makers’ wishes, according to a recent study.” Specifically, “the most common dispute involves aggressive care when a surrogate prefers comfort measures only or intermediate care, the researchers reported.” The research was published in JAMA Network Open.


Senate Committee Focuses On Effects Of Social Isolation, Loneliness On Older Adults

McKnight’s Senior Living (6/12, Bonvissuto) reported, “Although social distancing has become a ‘core tool in our effort to save lives and help flatten the curve of COVID-19, social isolation cannot become the new normal, especially for our older adults population,’ Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Thursday during a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, of which she is chairman.” This “hearing, titled ‘Combating Social Isolation and Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic,’ focused a spotlight on the adverse health effects prolonged social isolation and loneliness can have on older adults, including those who live in senior living communities.” Ranking committee member Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said, “It is interaction with our loved ones that sustains all of us.”


More LTC Respondents Report Occupancy Increases Compared To Prior Month, Survey Shows

McKnight’s Senior Living (6/12, Novotney) reported, “The share of organizations reporting an increase in occupancy from the prior month increased to its highest level since early April last week, according to data from the most recent Executive Survey results from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.” In the latest survey, “from May 27 to June 7, 25% of operators reported an increase in skilled nursing bed occupancy.” Moreover, “a greater share of respondents with independent living, assisted living and memory care segment units also reported slightly higher shares of improving occupancy rates compared with a week ago.”

Senior Housing News (6/11, Sudo) reported, “With states across the country gradually lifting [COVID-19] shelter-in-place restrictions, a majority of senior housing operators expect to resume move-ins within the next 30 days, and move-ins are accelerating at the best rate since the pandemic started.” Specifically, the survey showed that “three months into the pandemic, 67% of respondents indicated that they are preparing to lift move-in restrictions within the next month. Another 9% expect to resume move-ins within two months, and 23% had no timetable to re-open.” Furthermore, “move-outs, meanwhile, appear to have stabilized after a chaotic April.”