Wednesday, April 15, 2020

New Guidance and Additional Resources on COVID-19

Notification Guidelines for Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

AHCA/NCAL released new guidance and a press statement on notifying public health officials and stakeholders about confirmed cases of COVID-19 in long term care facilities. This guidance reinforces much of what long term care providers are already doing and are currently required to do in their states. Our guidance suggests that long term care providers should also report to the state survey agency, if you are not already, so that CMS and other federal agencies have another way to gather national information.

Collaborating with Hospice

AHCA/NCAL worked with National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization to develop joint guidance on the important role hospice plays during the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and assisted living. Hospice is an integral part of the resident's care team. As COVID-19 spreads, hospice may become even more important, including helping with grief counseling for not only families and residents, but for staff as well.

Action Brief on Infection Control Focused SNF Surveys 

March 23, 2020, CMS announced federal and state surveyors will conduct targeted infection control surveys of providers. They will base the survey on the abbreviated infection and prevention survey tool. AHCA developed an action brief to help centers navigate the focused surveys, including implementation and preparation strategies. Centers are strongly encouraged to enact peer monitoring, by all staff, to ensure just-in-time teaching practices that reflect appropriate infection control procedures.

New CMS Cohorting Guidance

On April 13, CMS released detailed guidance on long term care facility transfers. This matches the cohorting guidance that AHCA/NCAL shared previously.

All nursing homes and assisted living communities should make plans for cohorting residents even before COVID-19 enters the building. Cohorting is imperative to help control the spread of the virus. If possible, nursing homes and assisted living communities should also begin preparing wings, units or floors as “isolation units”. Isolation unit should be a separate, well-ventilated area, ideally with a separate entrance.

Recommendations for When a Resident Wants to Leave the Building 

AHCA/NCAL has developed recommendations to help you address when a resident wants to leave the building to go into the surround community and then return. This could introduce COVID-19 into the building and endanger others. Our recommendations include communicating with the resident and family, requiring isolation, and contacting the ombudsman and the local health department.

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