COVID-19 Updates

Changes to SNF visitation from CMS


CMS Releases QSO That Allows For Additional Outdoor, Indoor Visitors At SNFs

Provider Magazine (9/18, Connole, 151K) reported, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Sept. 17 released a new QSO (Quality, Safety, and Oversight) memo (20-39-NH) that nursing home advocates say greatly improves the ability for residents to receive visitors.” AHCA/NCAL said, “In short, it allows for more outdoor and indoor visits, including parameters where indoor visits are required to be permitted. CMS also announced that they will allow for CMP [Civil Money Penalties] funds to be used to help visitation through the purchase of tents and clear barriers (e.g., Plexiglas).” Additional details are available here.

CMS Seeks Feedback On Proposed Quality, Outcome Measures For HCBS

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/21, Bowers) reports, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is seeking feedback on proposed national quality and outcomes measures for the Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services provided for older adults and others.” On Friday, the agency “released a 40-page request for information about the potential benefits of and challenges that could result from a nationally available set of recommended standards that could be used on a voluntary basis by states, managed care organizations and other entities that administer or deliver HCBS.” AHCA/NCAL “noted that the organization as well as states already have their own quality initiatives,” saying in a statement to McKnight’s, “Since 2012, through the AHCA/NCAL Quality Initiative, we have developed challenging and measurable goals for our assisted living members, and we have supported states with their own quality initiatives as well. We look forward to providing input to CMS based on our expertise and experience.”

Approximately One-Fourth Of SNFs Report False Positive Results From COVID-19 POC Antigen Testing Devices, Study Shows

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/21, Brown) reports, “About 20 to 25% of skilled nursing facilities have received false positive results from their COVID-19 point-of-care antigen testing devices, a joint survey conducted by the American Health Care Association and” another long-term care organization. Providers said the “false positive results were later found to be incorrect after using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.” A large “majority of SNFs also reported that they only had one to three ‘potential false positives,’ while just 3% have experienced more than five potential false positive results.”

Some Maryland Nursing Home Residents Retested Following False Positive Coronavirus Test Results

WBAL-AM Baltimore (9/18, Waldman, 25K) reported, “Dozens of nursing home residents had to be retested for the coronavirus after problems were found with their initial tests, WBAL-TV 11 reports.” Health Facilities Association of Maryland president Joe DeMattos “said the tests were returning false positives.” He also said, “Most skilled nursing and rehab centers in Maryland have had weekly tests that have resulted in one or two positive results. And in last week’s batches, in these nursing homes, they popped 20 to 30 positive results. So that was way out of sorts,” adding that “when facility operators had the results retested, most came back negative.”

The Baltimore Sun (9/18, CohnWood, 1.33M) reported, “DeMattos said the facilities have been conducting weekly tests since May 29 and thought the spate of – including more than 30 at one facility – was unusual, particularly because the majority of people had no symptoms.” He “said the nursing homes alerted the state and his group.”

Virginia Facility Receives Silver Award From AHCA/NCAL

Loudoun (VA) Now (9/18, Styer) reported Leesburg’s Heritage Hall recently earned the Silver Award from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. This “came just one year after the center earned Bronze Award honors, allowing it to apply for the second step in the national quality award program.” Heritage Hall Administrator Mary L. Vorpahl said, “Normally you don’t win it on your first time, but we did. … That has been so uplifting for our staff and our families and or residents.”


Feds Detail Exact Framework For $2B Distribution In Relief Funding To Nursing Homes

Skilled Nursing News (9/18, Spanko) reported, “The federal government this week released its exact framework for distributing $2 billion in relief funding to nursing facilities that can reduce COVID-19 infections and deaths.” HHS will start “sending out payments to qualifying operators next month based on September performance, with three more monthly performance periods through the end of this year.” These payments “will come a month after the close of each performance period, with audits to follow the month after that,” and “the vast majority – 80% – of available cash each month will go toward rewarding operators with positive results on the infection control domain, with the remaining 20% disbursed based on the mortality measure.”


COVID-19 Outbreaks In LTC Facilities May Be Predicted By Location Of Nursing Home Staff Residence, Researchers Say

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/20, Lasek) reports, “Where nursing home staff live is a ‘large and significant predictor’ of which facilities will experience a COVID-19 outbreak in a given county, Harvard researchers say.” In their “paper awaiting peer review, investigators analyzed data on facility COVID deaths and staff neighborhood factors across 18 states.” In “the same county, significantly more deaths due to COVID were found in nursing homes whose staff lived in denser, less-white communities with more public transportation use, reported Karen Shen, a Ph.D. candidate from Harvard’s department of economics.” The “full findings were published in the online preprint server medRxiv.”

During Pandemic, Senior Living Providers Spending More On Tech, Survey Shows

Senior Housing News (9/20, Regan) reports, “Senior living providers are spending much more on technology during [COVID-19], even if many of them are also not sure what they’ll do with it in the future.” These “are among the findings of a new survey conducted by Senior Housing News in partnership with global health technology firm Philips.” The survey found “80% of respondents reported an increase in tech spending this year to help address the [COVID-19] pandemic. And looking ahead, 87% said they expect their organizations to increase their technology budgets in 2021, spending more on items such as resident monitoring, contact tracing, telehealth and virtual tours.”

Bilingualism May Have Neuroprotective Benefits, Research Suggests

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/20, Lasek) reports, “Cognitive decline is delayed in people who speak two languages on a daily basis, according to new research from Spain.” The research “team used a ‘bilingualism gradient’ when measuring cognitive abilities, ranging from people who speak only one language but are passively exposed to another, to individuals who are highly proficient in both and use them indiscriminately on a daily basis.” The researchers “found that a certain degree of bilingualism had neuroprotective benefits.” The findings were published in Neuropsychologia.