COVID-19 Updates

AL Communities At “Significant Disadvantage” In Fighting COVID-19 Without Government Assistance

Assisted Living Communities At “Significant Disadvantage” In Fighting COVID-19 Without Government Assistance, Tittle Says
Provider Magazine (6/22, Connole, 151K) reports on the findings of NCAL’s recent survey which discovered “more than half of assisted living communities possess less than a two-week supply of specific personal protective equipment.” Since the pandemic started, NCAL executive director Scott “Tittle emphasized that assisted living providers have faced similar challenges as other health care and congregate settings in acquiring this equipment, due to its high demand and world supply chain issues.” Tittle said, “Our organization has requested $5 billion in emergency funding from the Department of Health & Human Services to help pay for PPE supplies as well as expanded testing and additional staffing. Without assistance from federal and state governments, our communities are at a significant disadvantage in protecting our residents and staff from this deadly virus.”

The Wichita Falls (TX) Times Record News (6/22, Kowalick, 64K) reports, “NCAL said more than 70 percent of these communities have requested help from state and local health agencies, but many are coming up short on PPE, causing workers to reuse PPE or rely on homemade items.” Other survey findings show that “some [suppliers] are requiring large minimum orders and some smaller companies lack the ability to make such a large purchase.” Moreover, “more than half of respondents said some suppliers are limiting orders on all items,” and “about a third of respondents said they are having trouble finding suppliers with N95 masks in stock.”

States Announce Funding To Support LTC COVID-19 Response
Throughout the US, various states have announced funding to help LTC facilities respond to the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, McKnight’s Senior Living (6/22, Bowers) reports, “Assisted living communities in Virginia will receive $20 million from the state to support their responses to COVID-19, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday.” Keith Hare, “Virginia Health Care Association–Virginia Center for Assisted Living President and CEO…said the organization appreciates the state’s recognition of the financial needs of assisted living communities and nursing facilities as they try to prevent future outbreaks.” Hare said, “As Virginia moves forward with reopening, continued state and federal funding is going to be critical to ensure the safety of residents and care providers at Virginia’s nursing and assisted living facilities, which are already struggling to absorb skyrocketing costs that have come with dealing with COVID-19.”

Spotlight PA (6/18, Moss, Wolman) reports, “Pennsylvania will soon dole out $175 million to health systems across the state to lead the COVID-19 response inside nursing and personal care homes, many of which have been ravaged by the coronavirus.” Pennsylvania Health Care Association president and CEO Zach Shamberg “said he’s pleased with the plan, but added that he’s still asking for many of the same items he sought when the pandemic started.” Shamberg “said he continues to push for better collaboration with state government, the prioritization of personal protective equipment, and access to testing supplies.”

New Partnership Offers Nebraska LTCs Assistance In Responding To COVID-19
Provider Magazine (6/22, Mendoza, 151K) reports, “Long term care providers in Nebraska are getting a helping hand in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.” An award of $250,000 has been given to the Nebraska Health Care Foundation “from the Donald E. Nielsen Foundation to enhance COVID-19 pandemic response via mentors in facilities.” These “funds are designated for the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Partners in Preparedness Mentor Project,” and “long term care facilities and critical access hospitals that opt into the service will be provided with an individual mentor who will connect with the facility designee on a daily basis.”

Lower Rates Of COVID-19 Deaths Seen In Nursing Facilities With More RN Coverage, Study Demonstrates
Skilled Nursing News (6/21, Spanko) reports, “Nursing facilities with more registered nursing coverage had lower rates of COVID-19 deaths, a new study has found, while a better federal quality rating correlates with a smaller outbreak size.” The research indicates that “among facilities that had at least one confirmed positive COVID-19 case, every additional 20 minutes of RN coverage correlated with a 22% decline in confirmed cases.” In addition, “for facilities with at least one death, the extra 20 minutes of RN staffing was associated with 26% fewer deaths due to COVID-19.” The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Verma Says COVID-19 Patterns Support Rapid Transition To Value-Based System
Skilled Nursing News (6/22, Spanko) reports, “Early research into the impact of COVID-19 on seniors – both among the general population, and in nursing homes – has revealed endemic connections among race, income, and the likelihood of infection and death.” These “patterns, reinforced by a new set of data probing COVID-19’s impact on Medicare beneficiaries, should prompt a more rapid move toward value-based care, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma argued Monday.” In a statement, Verma said, “The transition to a value-based system has never been so urgent.”

New York Updates Nursing Home Laws, With Focus On Future Pandemic Planning
Skilled Nursing News (6/22, Spanko) reports, “The state of New York, an early epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care facilities, implemented the first set of permanent legal updates to its nursing home laws in the wake of the pandemic – with a particular focus on future pandemic planning.” Nursing homes in the state “have 90 days to develop a pandemic preparation plan – which must be updated annually afterward – that covers a range of topics such as updating families of the status inside each facility and no-cost access to teleconferencing services to keep in touch with loved ones.” According to “the new requirements, pandemic plans must be made available to the general public on each facility’s website, and include a detailed strategy for communicating with residents’ family members at least once per week.”

Governors Of New York, New Jersey Refuse Request To Explain Nursing Home Policies During Pandemic. McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/22, Brown) reports, “Govs. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Phil Murphy (D-NJ) have both refused a request from House GOP members asking them to explain their policies for nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.” Last week, “Republican lawmakers of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent letters…to the governors of New York, New Jersey, Michigan California and Pennsylvania seeking answers regarding policies that forced nursing homes to take in COVID-19 residents.” The “lawmakers want information on their state-issued guidance regarding hospital discharges to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as the total number of COVID-19 related nursing home deaths, positive cases and confirmed or suspected cases.”

Adults In US Concerned About Retirement, Surveys Show
McKnight’s Senior Living (6/22, Bonvissuto) reports, “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. adults are feeling regret over their lack of emergency and retirement savings and are concerned about their retirement, according to two recent surveys of older adults.” A survey by Bankrate “found that older adults see paying down debt as a top priority going forward.” Meanwhile, “a survey from American Advisors Group indicated seniors are open to alternative solutions to bump up their retirement portfolios.”

Letter To CDC Says LTC Residents Should Be Exempt From Federal Opioid Guidelines
McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/22, O’Connor) reports, “Given their unique characteristics, long-term care residents should be exempt from new federal opioid guidelines, according to a letter from the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition.” This “correspondence was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” noting “the exclusion should apply to residents in skilled care and assisted living communities.” The letter also indicated that “strict packaging and delivery requirements strongly discourage abuse among this cohort. In addition, long-term care pharmacies must meet extensive and extended clinical requirements.”

Since Pandemic, Providers Have Found New, Creative Ways To Integrate Tech Into Workplaces, Lives Of Staff, Residents
In a piece for McKnight’s Senior Living (6/22), Lois Bowers writes, “Someday, when we look back on 2020, we might well say it was the year of technology in senior living.” Bowers says, “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, of course, all types of technology ranging in price, size and scope helped providers keep residents safe and healthy and helped them keep track of their efforts toward these ends.” However, according to Bowers, “Since coronavirus became a part of our everyday vocabulary…operators have found new and creative ways to integrate technology into their workplaces and into the lives of staff members and residents – whether it’s using desktops, laptops or tablets to help residents connect with their loved ones; commissioning robots to keep residents engaged and connected; embracing telehealth to ensure that residents get the care they need; or something else.” To recognize such efforts, providers may submit entries for the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards.

Compartmentalization Is Key Factor In Design Of Older Adult Communities Following COVID-19, Expert Says
In a piece for McKnight’s Senior Living (6/22), Jami Mohlenkamp, principal and head of the senior living practice area at Denver-based OZ Architecture, writes, “The future of design in older adult communities should seek to evoke feelings of home and foster connection while also adding functionality to limit the spread of disease to keep residents and staff members healthier.” Mohlenkamp says, “New design challenges…have arrived with the spread of a pandemic, which has shown that the older adult population can be highly susceptible to disease and infection spread in common living communities.” According to Mohlenkamp, “The ability to compartmentalize – to design spaces that allow for both community and containment – will be a key factor in the design of older adult communities post-COVID.”