COVID-19 Updates

Provider Daily- Top Stories

March 18, 2020

AHCA’s Parkinson Appeals For PPE Conservation, Donation

Provider Magazine (3/17, Connole, 151K) reports that “of all the challenges long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) providers are facing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) like masks and gowns is right near the top, said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) on Tuesday in an exclusive talk with Provider.” Parkinson “appealed to other provider groups for donations as they review if they can share their own PPE to send to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. … LT/PAC providers, Parkinson notes, also must conserve what supplies they have.” Another “part of the PPE challenge will be for LT/PAC providers to “dramatically” conserve supplies,” and Parkinson said the association has heard from members who are doing things like limiting “the number of staff in contact with residents or entering the resident’s room necessitating the use of gowns and masks;” performing “as many care and services as possible at the same time to reduce the frequency of donning/doffing PPE;” and ensuring “all needed items are available/gathered” before entering an isolation/precaution room “to reduce unnecessary disposal of PPE by multiple entries to room.”

Survey Finds 30% Of Nursing Homes Lacking N95 Masks, 68% Have Limited Access To More. Becker’s Hospital Review (3/16, Bean, 81K) reports that “senior living facilities are struggling to access personal protective equipment and other necessary supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey from Premier,” which “polled 179 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities nationwide with more than 267,000 beds from March 6-15.” Becker’s lists the findings from the survey, including 30% “of senior living facilities did not have N95 masks in their inventory, while 68 percent said they had limited or no ability to access more masks.”

Washington State Facilities Face Shortage Of PPE. KUOW-FM Seattle (3/17, 27K) reports that “health care facilities in Washington state continue to worry if they’ll have enough masks and other equipment to protect their employees.” Leader of the Washington Health Care Association Robin Dale told KUOW’s Anna Boiko-Weyrauch “his group is getting constant requests for supplies for personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. In particular masks – especially N95 masks – protective gowns and face shields,” which “is to protect workers in long-term care and assisted living facilities.” According to Boiko-Weyrauch, “Dale said that ‘They have a COVID-19 patient in their facility and they’re asking for PPE so that they can protect their workers and other residents and it’s frustrating that there’s such a short supply.’”

AHCA/NCAL in the News

AHCA Addresses Therapy Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

Skilled Nursing News (3/16) reports that “when the federal government prohibited all non-essential visits to nursing homes on Friday, in-house therapy teams and third-party companies were left wondering exactly who counted as ‘essential’ – and whether they were part of the exempted health care workers that can continue to enter facilities.” Therapy care plans need to “still be followed, [the American Health Care Association] noted, although some may be modified or suspended depending on the ‘current situation’ at the facility.” AHCA said in a statement, “If specialized rehabilitative services (including those furnished by physical and occupational therapists and assistants, as well as speech-language pathologists) are required in a resident’s comprehensive care plan, the facility must provide the required services,” adding, “As direct care staff, therapy professionals in a SNF should anticipate being asked to provide additional public health support activities within the center.”

CMS Waives Three-Day Stay Requirement For SNFs Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (3/17, Brown) reports, “the federal government is waiving its three-day stay requirement for Medicare skilled nursing facility coverage as it works to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States.” President Trump’s “emergency declaration now means that CMS will provide temporary emergency coverage of SNF services – without a qualifying hospital stay – for people who need to be transferred as a result of COVID-19,” and “for those who have executed their SNF benefits, the declaration also authorizes the renewed SNF coverage without first having to start a new benefit period.” In an emailed statement, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living told McKnight’s, “This will greatly help our nation’s providers to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet their needs.”

Skilled Nursing News (3/16, Spanko) reports that “in explaining the reasons behind those changes, CMS administrator Seema Verma said that the waiver could allow nursing homes to accept overflow from hospitals as the number of coronavirus cases presumably spikes over the coming days and weeks.” However, the plan many not actually work, one expert said, as “the need to separate residents with COVID-19 from those without the infection may pose too much of a challenge in most scenarios, particularly given the potential for deadly outbreaks.” The article lists “multiple scenarios that governments and operators could potentially pursue over the coming days,” including having SNFs set up separate COVID-19 containment areas in separate buildings or units.

Continued Coronavirus Measures Taken By Governments, AHCA State Organizations

AHCA state organizations continue to respond to the spread of coronavirus throughout the US. For example, The Daily Memphian (TN) (3/16) reports the Tennessee Health Care Association “branch is following guidelines published by the American Health Care Association.”

VTDigger (VT) (3/17, 4K) reports “Laura Pelosi, a spokesperson for the Vermont Health Care Association that connects elder care facilities, said nursing facilities are dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic in the face of an already acute workforce shortage and insufficient reimbursement rates.” She said in an email statement, “The Vermont Health care Association is currently working with legislators on emergency measures that may provide some relief with respect to financial and workforce pressures as the situation evolves.”.

In terms of responses from state governments, KNWA-TV Fayetteville, AR (3/16, Higgs) reports “The Arkansas Department of Health has prohibited all visitation to long-term care facilities for the next 30 days unless it’s medically necessary.” These facilities “include nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, and any other facility that provides long-term medical or personal care.” During the time “visitation is prohibited, all facilities will offer some form of communication for people who would otherwise visit,” with visitation to “resume April 13 unless extended by the ADH.”

Medicaid News

During COVID-19, Florida Is First State To Receive Emergency Medicaid Waiver

Skilled Nursing News (3/17, Spanko) reports, “Florida became the first state to land an emergency Medicaid waiver amid the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus, granting nursing homes in the Sunshine State a variety of exceptions intended to help providers weather the crisis — and more states could soon follow suit.” According to “the Section 1135 waiver approved this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), nursing facility operators in Florida will not have to perform certain pre-admission screenings for 30 days, while providers can also continue to receive Medicaid reimbursements for services if they must evacuate residents to a building not licensed for nursing home care.” Under the “waiver, all pre-authorization requirements will be waived, while nursing homes will also receive a 30-day freeze on pre-admission screening and annual resident review Level I and II assessments.”

Profession News

Analysis: About 85% Of US Coronavirus Fatalities Were Older Than 60

The Washington Post (3/17, Thebault, Hauslohner, Dupree, 14.2M) reports it “has tracked every known U.S. death and has analyzed data provided by state and local health officials, families of the victims and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Of the “first 100 reported fatalities, many people appear to have had underlying health conditions, making it harder for their bodies to fight off covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.” Nearly “all – about 85 percent – were older than 60, and about 45 percent were older than 80.”

Health Care Workers, Elderly Given Priority Access To New Fast-Track Coronavirus Testing

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (3/17, Lasek) reports, “Health care workers, first responders and the elderly were granted top priority status as new coronavirus testing sites were slated to open this week.” The testing rankings “are part of a larger effort to expand nationwide access and ease pressure on the health care system, federal health officials announced on Sunday.” The article says that “health care and first responders will have priority access to the new, fast-tracked testing, authorities said,” followed by “people age 65 and older who have respiratory symptoms and/or a fever above 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Health Care Workers Affected By COVID-19 As Coronavirus Spreads

The Washington Post (3/17, Bernstein, Boburg, Sacchetti, Brown, 14.2M) reports, “Dozens of health-care workers have fallen ill with covid-19, and more are quarantined after exposure to the virus, an expected but worrisome development as the U.S. health system girds for an anticipated surge in infections.” From clusters, “such as the Kirkland, Wash., nursing home where nearly four dozen staffers tested positive for the coronavirus, to outbreaks in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California and elsewhere, the virus is picking off doctors, nurses and others needed in the rapidly expanding crisis.”

Provider Daily is a daily compilation of state and national news designed to keep Provider subscribers abreast of developments impacting long term care professionals.

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