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April 7, 2020

In this Issue:

  • COVID-19 Updates
    • CMS Issues Emergency Rule Waivers
    • New Guidance from CMS and CDC
    • Senators Request Release of List of Nursing Homes with COVID-19
  • Other COVID-19 Resources
    • National Council on Aging Overview of Remote Video Communications Options
    • Webinars on Managing Volunteer Programs and Outreach During COVID-19
    • New Resource: COVID-19 & LGBTQ Older People
    • Webinar Materials Available: COVID-19 and Advance Care Planning

COVID-19 Updates

CMS Issues Emergency Rule Waivers

CMS has issued blanket waivers for certain federal requirements it believes will free up nursing home providers to focus on containing the spread of COVID-19.  Several of the regulations are waived only in COVID-19 related situations, while others apply in general.  Regulatory areas impacted include transfer/discharges; nurse aide training and certification; care planning; physical environment; and more.  For detailed information, see Consumer Voice’s summary and read the CMS publication.
 
New Guidance from CMS and CDC

On April 2, CMS and CDC issued a new set of recommendations after learning from on-site surveys that more needs to be done to prevent further spread of COVID-19.  Major highlights of this guidance are presented below. Advocates are urged to read the full guidance. Read the full Consumer Voice summary here.

  • Nursing homes should ensure they are complying with all CMS and CDC guidance about infection control, with a particular focus on hand hygiene.
  • State and local leaders should work together to help address nursing home needs for PPE and tests.
  • Facilities should screen every single person entering the facility (with the exception of EMS personnel responding to an emergency).
  • PPE should be used to a greater extent.
  • Residents with COVID-19 and those with suspected COVID-19 should be separated from residents who don’t have it or who have unknown status.
  • COVID-19 units/facilities must be capable of strict infection control practices and testing protocols.

 
Senators Request Release of List of Nursing Homes with COVID-19
 
Senators Casey and Wyden sent a letter dated April 2 to CMS and CDC requesting release of a list of nursing homes that have had a resident or staff member with a positive COVID-19 test. The request was made after the Senators learned that the agencies are maintaining a list of facilities with documented cases of COVID-19, but are refusing to release the information.  The Senators also requested information on how CMS intends to spend $100 million provided to the agency to limit the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes as part of the recently passed CARES Act.

For more information about COVID-19 and issues pertaining to nursing homes, residents, and families, visit our website »

Other COVID-19 Resources

National Council on Aging Overview of Remote Video Communication Options

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has developed a detailed overview of remote video communications options titled, Tools for Reaching a Remote Audience. NCOA provides pros and cons for each tool, including Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Zoom and several others. Links to additional information are included in the document. This resource is a convenient first stop for people wanting to connect to each other remotely and also includes information about tools that can be used for meetings and presentations.

Webinars on Managing Volunteer Programs and Outreach During COVID-19

The SMP National Resource Center, the SHIP National Technical Assistance Center, and the Center for Benefits Access (aka the MIPPA center) have been working with the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to offer a series of webinars to help grantees manage their volunteer programs and outreach efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.

New Resource: COVID-19 & LGBTQ Older People

The Human Rights Campaign and Services for LGBT Elders (SAGE) have released a new resource, COVID-19 & LGBTQ Older People, that explains the reasons why LGBTQ older adults are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 health crisis, and helps to ensure they are getting the care they need.

Webinar Materials Available: COVID-19 and Advance Care Planning

Materials are available from the April 2nd and April 3rd webinars from the Center for Practical Bioethics, AD Vault, and the National Nursing Home Social Work Network - The Impact of the Coronavirus Crisis and Pandemic on Advance Care Planning and Re-setting Goals of Care in Nursing Homes.

Members of Congress Send Letter to HHS OIG Requesting Examination of Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Nursing Homes

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) of the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) jointly submitted a request to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG).  The letter requested that the inspector general perform a general review of the use of psychotropic and antipsychotic drugs in nursing facilities across the United States. The request rises out of decades-old concerns that there are insufficient safeguards in place to protect against the unnecessary or inappropriate prescription of these drugs.

Read the letter »

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