Facing COVID With Creativity,  Connections, and Resilience

​After a devastating storm, the signs of life—children going to school, lights coming on after days of power outages, neighbors talking and laughing—are powerful reminders of people’s resilience and the importance of their connections to each other. Even though the pandemic isn’t completely over, it has led to some changes, innovations, and inspiring stories that should be embraced and remembered moving forward.

One impact of COVID-19 has been a bit of a double-edged sword. The pandemic has shown a spotlight on nursing homes and other long term care facilities. While this has brought some negative and often unfair media coverage, it also presents opportunities.

As James Wright, MD, CMD, a multifacility medical director in Virginia, says, “For a brief period of time, the public was more interested than ever in what goes on in nursing homes, especially with staffing. If we take this interest and harness it into legislative and regulatory changes, we can translate this into better funding and staffing.”

Read more at https://bit.ly/3IUH1RY

Booster Shots for Residents and Staff.

Making sure our residents and staff receive the booster dose against COVID-19 remains the best way to combat the continued spread of the Delta variant and protect one against the eventual spread of the Omicron variant. Each week, more scientific evidence becomes available showing vaccinated people experience waning immunity and we are see increasing breakthrough cases among our residents who have not received the booster. The vaccines and booster are shown to be safe and highly effective, as they dramatically decrease the risk of developing serious illness, hospitalization or death should you have a breakthrough case. ​​
Also, as reminder CMS QSO memo 21-19-NH requires that “all residents and staff be offered each resident and staff member is offered the COVID-19 vaccine unless the immunization is medically contraindicated or the resident or staff member has already been immunized” and before the end of the year will publicly post the rate of booster shots administered in each skilled nursing facility.
Resources to help with resident and staff boosters are available at AHCA/NCAL’s https://getvaccinated.us/

Long COVID: An Emerging Threat

Long COVID—symptoms that drag on long after someone gets ill with the coronavirus—has many in long term and post-acute care experiencing déjà vu. Diagnostic challenges, questions about treatments, and a limited body of research—these are the same issues they faced at the start of the pandemic over a year ago.

However, while there are still questions, providers have learned much from the pandemic that will help centers navigate the challenges of long COVID and implement and sustain standards, processes, protocols, and interventions that maximize outcomes and quality of life for residents with this condition.

Read more by going to https://bit.ly/3lRAwoq

Pandemic Takes its Toll on Sleep

During the pandemic, sleep was in short order for many people. In one survey, 56 percent of U.S. adults said they have experienced more sleep disturbances—ranging from problems falling or staying asleep to having disturbing dreams or nightmares—in the past year and a half. In fact, this has been so common, the phenomenon has been given a name—COVID-somnia.

Pandemic-related sleep issues haven’t discriminated. Young and old people alike report some sleep-related problem. Long term and post-acute care centers not only need to identify and address sleep disturbances in their residents but in their staff as well.

See the full article at https://bit.ly/3DWPXE1

Vaccinations, Visitation, and Vigilance During the Delta Surge

The Delta variant is now the most common variant in the US, making up over 85% of cases, and is two to three times as contagious as prior variants. This is causing a surge in cases in communities across the US, which puts long term care facilities at risk of outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges healthcare workers to stay vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus and protect staff and residents in long term care facilities.
The CDC recommends staff and visitors take the following steps:
  • Get vaccinated as soon as possible
  • Wear a mask even if you are vaccinated
  • Stay home if you feel ill
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms

To maintain compliance with CMS’ QSO memo on visitation 20-39-NH Revised, while ensuring the safety of residents and staff, AHCA/NCAL recommends that nursing homes enact policies that “strongly encourage” (but not require) all visitors to:

  • Be vaccinated;
  • Always wear a mask during the visit; and
  • Have a negative COVID-19 test if the community spread of COVID-19 is moderate to high OR obtain a negative Point of Care test the day of or day before visitation.
Providers may also consider asking residents if they want visitors given the surge in the Delta variant and if they want any unvaccinated visitors or visitors that have not been tested. Residents can put such a requirement in place under their resident rights.
Providers should also continue to strongly encourage vaccinations among staff, using the resources provided through the #GetVaccinated campaign. AHCA/NCAL also hosted a webinar on boosting staff vaccination rates, which is now available on demand.
The CDC also provides the following web resources to help inform and educate about COVID-19, the Delta variant, and vaccination:

Request Smart Devices for Your LTC Facility

​​​LTC facilities may request two free smart devices from COVID Tech Connect, while supplies last. Founded with a mission to connect critically ill COVID-19 patients with their loved ones, COVID Tech Connect donates smart devices to hospitals and care facilities across the country. Priority will be given to those in greatest need.
Providers can also request access to use their free app, TeleHome​ a video conferencing solution for calls on any device, anywhere.

Is your facility prepared for returning families?

If all goes well, over the next few weeks there will be an increasing number of family members visiting their loved ones in the nursing home, many for the first time in a year. Along with the joy and relief of these reunions, we can expect to observe a great deal of sadness over time lost with elders. Here are some tips on how to prepare.

https://bit.ly/2NXt6De

AHCA/NCAL Updates Medicare 3-Day Stay and Benefit Period Waivers Fact Sheet and FAQs

AHCA/NCAL recently updated the COVID-19-related 3-Day Stay and Benefit-Period Waivers for Medicare Part A SNF PPS fact sheet and frequently asked questions (FAQ) resource. Key updates to the file consist of a notification that the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), which can be extended in 90-day increments, was recently extended through at least April 21, 2021. Additionally, a link to an AHCA/NCAL 45-minute webinar on these waivers and 11 new AHCA/NCAL-developed FAQs providing additional clarifications on common waiver-related questions submitted are included.
Examples of topics covered in the updated fact sheet and new FAQs include:
  • ​Will Medicare Part A cover asymptomatic beneficiaries that have a positive COVID-19 test result or have received the COVID-19 vaccine and have had a reaction?
  • Various waiver-related coverage and billing scenarios.
Providers are encouraged to review these updates and share with applicable clinical and billing staff.