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Category: COVID-19 News

CMS Updates Nursing Home Infection Control Survey Tools

CMS last week posted updates to several nursing home survey tools and documents:

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Updated Quarantine Guidance

Information is circulating that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating its quarantine guidance to say quarantine can be shortened to 7 days if the individual is asymptomatic and has a COVID negative test.

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Not too late! Register for the Pharmacy Provider Program (PPP) by Dec. 4

Long-term care providers were asked to sign up with a pharmacy partner to administer vaccines to residents when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. The PPP program sign-up deadline has passed and LeadingAge Minnesota recently received several questions about what to do if an organization was unable to sign up for the PPP program within previous deadline.

If you have not signed up with a pharmacy vaccine partner and would still like to, please email MDH at health.covid.vaccine@state.mn.us as soon as possible.  MDH and CDC would like this finalized by the end of day on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.

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Billing Guidance for Care Center Staff Testing

Due to the overlapping mandates for testing of staff and residents during outbreaks and of staff based on the positivity rate in the county, the Long-term Care Imperative has been working with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) on clarifying how staff testing should be billed when both requirements apply.

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MDH Updates Guidance on Return to Work by Healthcare Personnel Exposed to COVID-19

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shared updated information this week on the issue of whether a healthcare worker who experiences a high risk exposure to COVID-19, but who is asymptomatic and has not tested positive for the virus, may return to work prior to the end of his or her 14-day quarantine if staffing needs are acute. The information is consistent with prior guidance from MDH, but we want to be sure members have access to the latest published standards on this and on the related issue of asymptomatic staff who have tested positive.

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Building Team Resilience: Catching Ourselves Doing Well

Our focus this week is on “Recognizing Wins” via complimenting and expressing appreciation. During a time when the “right” course is often illusive even when working hard to avoid making mistakes, people need to be reminded when they are doing well. More importantly, people need to hear they are a valuable member of your team. This helps us all keep going despite the significant stress.

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MDH Data Shows Impact of Recent Community Spread on Long-Term Care

The recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has had a significant impact on long-term care, after many months of reduced cases and deaths after the spring wave. The new wave has created unprecedented staffing challenges for providers due to infected and exposed staff needing to miss work, and the impact is being felt throughout the state as opposed to the mostly Twin Cities-based outbreaks in the spring. Deaths in long-term care have risen in recent months after being at very low levels for months.

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CMS, CDC and QIOs Proactively Calling Nursing Homes

Minnesota nursing homes may be receiving calls with questions and offers of assistance from CMS, CDC, or Superior Health, the Medicare Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) serving Minnesota. The LeadingAge national team recently passed along this information from CMS about non-regulatory outreach currently underway:

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Governor Walz Takes Creative Approach to Long-Term Care Staffing Shortages

In recognition of severe staffing shortages facing assisted living providers and nursing homes in Minnesota, the Chief of Staff to Governor Walz yesterday sent a message to 36,000 state employees, asking them to consider volunteering for a potential redeployment to help long-term care residents and facilities at some point in the future. “We could need assistance in communities across the state, particularly in Greater Minnesota,” the message noted. “Facilities could make use of any RNs, LPNs, or Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). No prior experience is required. If needed, we will provide CNA training prior to deployment.”

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DHS Waives Physician Signature Requirement for Single Room Payment

Late yesterday, DHS released a memo that suspends the physician signature requirement for the single room rate differential. It also allows the charging of a differential to private pay without advance notice. The waiver applies only for the fourteen day quarantine period for new admissions or residents returning from leave, and it is in place through the end of the state public health emergency.

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Quarantine and Isolation Timing in Long-Term Care

There have been many questions regarding quarantine periods in long-term care communities over the past several weeks. In order to clarify, here is information about the quarantine period for staff in various circumstances:

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COVID-19 Resource Round-Up: Three New Resources

Compilations of lessons learned from the early months of the pandemic were launched recently from LeadingAge and from CMS.

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COVID-19 Resilience Tips: Leading your Best in the Worst of Times

Guest contributor Alyson VanAhn, PhD, Associated Clinic of Psychology

The COVID-19 era has made life exponentially more challenging for all of us. This may be particularly true for those of you who are charged with keeping others at their best in a workplace that brings chronic stress. Today’s focus is on resilience-building/stress-reducing strategies for leaders who want to build up their teams and themselves—even when not feeling at their best. This is the first in a series of articles that will focus on resilience strategies leaders can share with their teams to improve quality of work life despite the ongoing pandemic and the stressors that come with it.

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CMS Urges Nursing Homes to Use COVID-19 Staff Training

In a Nov. 17 news release CMS urges nursing homes to take advantage of targeted COVID-19 training and highlights facilities that have already done so. This is the free course available on QSEP that offers modules for both front-line staff and management staff (access training here); it is separate from the longer QIO training offerings and from Project ECHO.

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Community Spread Drives Huge Increase in Test Positivity Rate; Governor Announces New Statewide Restrictions

For those tracking the COVID-19 test positivity rate by county, particularly care centers using that data to determine their staff testing protocol, the accelerated community spread in the last few weeks has had a huge impact. CMS test data for the two weeks ended 9/30 showed Minnesota with 35 green counties (positivity less than 5%), 46 yellow counties (5-10%) and 6 red counties (over 10%). In the most recent data, for the two weeks ended 11/11, virtually all MN counties are now red, with only four rural counties (Cook, Fillmore, Lake and Lake of the Woods) with yellow status and none in green.

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COVID-19 Resilience Tips & Resources in New Pandemic Playbook

As a sign of hope in the battle with COVID-19, the new multi-media Pandemic Playbook: Moving From Fear to Action from LeadingAge features a 10-minute video documenting a New Jersey nursing home’s victory over COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic.

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Additional NHSN Training on POC Test Reporting Tool

CDC has announced two more training session opportunities on the new point-of-care testing tool on NHSN. Trainings will be held this week on Thursday, November 12 at 2:00 PM Central Time and Friday, November 13 at 11:00 AM Central Time. Register for these training sessions here. The slides have been posted here. CDC has promised to post a recording of the training session in the future.

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State PPE Support Remains Available for Providers in Need

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the state, many providers are again experiencing PPE shortages – especially with gloves – and we thought it would be helpful to remind members of the process for requesting supplies from the State.

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Take-Aways from Updated MDH 5-Point LTC COVID-19 Battle Plan

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health released its Long-term Care COVID-19 Response: November 2020 Update and provided some updates regarding benchmarks with respect to how COVID-19 is impacting senior care providers and the people they serve.

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COVID-19 Resource Round-Up: Planning for Winter Holidays

As staff, residents, and families plan for the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC has published winter holiday guidance and recommendations for COVID-19 safe practices. Members may want to link to this page on your organization’s website and post it in your employee publications in the coming weeks. This guidance includes tips for hosting gatherings, attending events, and traveling safely if necessary.

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