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May 5, 2020

In this Issue:

  1. Additonal Government Action Related to COVID-19
  2. CMS Issues Interim Final Rule of Nursing Home Reporting of COVID-19 Information
  3. Consumer Voice Response to Federal Action
  4. NORC Fact Sheet on Self-Care
  5. Webinar on Friday on Advocating for Nursing Home Residents
  6. Rep. Schakowsky Announces Legislation to Address COVID-19 in Nursing Homes
  7. Materials Available from NORC Webinar for Ombudsman Programs on COVID-19 and Trauma
  8. It's Older Americans Month

Giving Tuesday Now

Please donate today for #GivingTuesdayNow, a special global day of giving and unity.  Consumer Voice is working tirelessly to protect residents of long-term care facilities in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  With your contribution, you are protecting the rights, safety and dignity of long-term care residents.


Additonal Government Action Related to COVID-19 
President Trump held a press conference on April 30 during which he made a number of announcements regarding steps the federal government is taking related to nursing homes and COVID-19.  

  • The Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes will be formed.  Its focus will be to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic and provide independent recommendations to help inform immediate and future responses to COVID-19 in nursing homes.  The Commission will include industry experts, clinicians, medical ethicists, administrators, academicians, infection control and prevention professionals, family members, resident/patient advocates, state and local authorities and others.  Members will be selected through a nomination process. The Commission is expected to start sometime in May.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided guidance regarding the $81 million in supplemental funds provided in the CARES Act for State Survey Agencies.  States should use the money to 1) complete focused infection control surveys of nursing homes by July 2020; 2)  increase complaint surveys; and 3) perform “reopening” surveys of facilities with previous COVID-19 outbreaks to make sure there are Infection Control systems in place if there is another outbreak.  The money can also be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for surveyors.  
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will distribute packages of PPE to all 15,400 nursing homes in the country.  The PPE packages will include masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection for seven days. The amount of PPE provided will be based on each facility’s staffing and PPE usage rates. By July 4, all facilities will receive 2 set of packages, amounting to 14 days’ worth of PPE. Distribution starts next week.
  • CMS has waived additional nursing home Requirements of Participation as part of its stated goal of giving providers more flexibility in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus.  These blanket waivers apply to certain parts of regulations regarding physician visits and services, Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement, in-service training for nurse aides, information sharing for discharge planning, and clinical records.

CMS Issues Interim Final Rule on Nursing Home Reporting of COVID-19 Information
On Friday, May 1, 2020, CMS issued an interim final rule that includes new requirements for nursing homes to report specific information related to COVID-19 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as to residents, their representatives, and families.  The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on May 8, 2020, which is the date the rule will go into effect. The rule will be open for a 60-day comment period beginning with its publication on May 8. 

Facilities will be required to electronically report the following information at least weekly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Healthcare Safety Network:

  • Suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infections among residents and staff
  • Residents previously treated for COVID-19
  • Total deaths and COVID-19 deaths among residents and staff
  • Personal protective equipment and hand hygiene supplies in the facility
  • Ventilator capacity and supplies available in the facility
  • Resident beds and census
  • Access to COVID-19 testing while the resident is in the facility
  • Staffing shortages
  • Other information specified by the CMS Secretary

This data will be used to monitor trends in infection rates and inform public health policy.  The information will be reported to CMS with the intention for CMS to retain and publicly report the information.

Additionally, facilities will be mandated to inform residents, their representatives, and families of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases among residents and staff in their facility.  The facilities must share this information by 5pm the day after an occurrence of either a single confirmed COVID-19 infection, or of three or more residents or staff with new respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours of each other.  Facilities must include information on actions they are taking to mitigate, prevent, or reduce the risk of transmission.  The rule does not require facilities to make individual telephone calls – they can issue paper notification, share the information on listservs, website postings, and/or recorded telephone messages.

Consumer Voice plans to prepare comments on the interim rule and assist advocates with submitting their own comments.
Read the Rule »

Consumer Voice Response to Federal Action
On May 1, the Trump Administration announced a series of actions it is taking to address the rampant spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes. These actions include distribution of 14 days’ worth of PPE to each nursing home, money for State Survey Agencies, a new rule on reporting cases and deaths, and the creation of a special commission on the coronavirus to assess response and make recommendations.

While these are steps in the right direction, they do not sufficiently address the widespread need in nursing homes, where more than 11,000 residents have died in the last two months due to COVID-19.   Needed is a coordinated federal response for immediate action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and provide the necessary resources, assistance, and supplies to the states and front-line workers to get them through this crisis.

Comprehensive and immediate support are needed now to stem the frightening spread of this virus through facilities.
Read Consumer Voice's full response »

NORC Fact Sheet on Self-Care

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an unprecedented pandemic. In our lifetime, we have never been in the situation of dealing with so many variables impacting us, our families, employers, family caregivers, and residents of long-term care facilities. In addition to the general stress of this pandemic, the way Ombudsman programs operate has been significantly impacted due to the temporary in-person visitation restrictions.

The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) has created the "Taking Care of You" self-care fact sheet which covers compassion fatigue, burnout, or individual trauma due to COVID-19.  This resource provides brief information about these reactions, tips for self-care, and program management considerations. 
See the fact sheet »

Webinar on Friday on Advocating for Nursing Home Residents
The landscape of COVID-19 response in nursing homes continues to evolve rapidly at the federal and state levels.  Join the Consumer Voice, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Long Term Care Community Coalition and Justice in Aging for a webinar on Friday, May 8th at 2:00pm ET as we review the latest guidance, rules, and waivers issued by CMS and talk about what they mean for residents.  This is the third in a series of webinars focused on the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care facilities. Register »

Rep. Schakowsky Announces Legislation to Address COVID-19 in Nursing Homes
Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) announced new legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes. The bill, Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents During COVID-19 Act, includes provisions that would better protect both resident and worker safety.  The legislation would require testing of residents and staff on an ongoing basis, ensure workers receive adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), authorize money for strike teams, require remote monitoring by the state survey agency of all facilities with COVID-19 cases, and more. The bill does not yet have a number.  A companion bill is being introduced in the Senate by Senators Booker and Blumenthal. Advocates for both residents and workers provided input and helped in shaping the legislation.

Materials Available from NORC Webinar for Ombudsman Programs on COVID-19 and Trauma
Materials are available from the first webinar in NORC's series - COVID-19 and Ombudsman Programs: Understanding How Trauma Impacts You, Residents, and Your Advocacy.  The first webinar in NORC's four-part series regarding the impact of trauma due to the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care residents and Ombudsman program addressed person-centered, trauma-informed care.  Join NORC for the next webinars in the series which will highlight important themes related to trauma-informed care, person-centered care, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. The series will include case studies, self-reflection activities and exercises, and materials for attendees.

Each webinar will start at 3:00 pm ET. If you register once, you are registered for the entire series. The remaining three webinars will be held on Wednesday, May 20; Wednesday, June 17; and Wednesday, July 29. Register »

It's Older Americans Month
May is Older Americans Month.  This year's theme, "Make Your Mark," highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities.  The Administration for Community Living encourages virtual participation this month by using social media (#OAM2020) to help share this year's theme, sharing stories, and connecting during this time of increased isolation.  Learn more about OAM »
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