NSHN Up to Date Vaccination Status: Surveillance Definition Change for LTC Facilities

The CDC held a webinar recently regarding up to date vaccination status. The definition of up to date was updated in September 2022 to indicate:
  • Individuals are considered up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines during the surveillance period of September 26, 2022 – December 25, 2022 (Quarter 4) for the purpose of NHSN surveillance if they meet ONE the following criteria: ​
    • Received their last booster dose less than 2 months ago, or
    • Completed their primary series less than 2 months ago
  • This definition is the same regardless of immunocompromised status

See the full article at https://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/NSHN-Up-to-Date-Vaccination-Status-Surveillance-Definition-Change-for-LTC-Facilities.aspx

CDC Program Expands Free COVID-19 Testing to Assisted Living, SNFs, and ICFs

Skilled Nursing Facilities, intermediate care facilities (ICFs) and assisted living centers can access free COVID-19 testing for staff and residents through December 31, 2022. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Operation Expanded Testing (OpET) program expanded access to free testing nationwide to now include skilled nursing facilities, ICFs and assisted living communities, which previously targeted schools, shelters, and correctional facilities.​

Read more at https://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/CDC-Program-Expands-Free-COVID-19-Testing-to-Assisted-Living-SNFs-and-ICFs.aspx

High blood pressure plus COVID doubles risk of hospital stay.

Even after three COVID-19 vaccine doses, high blood pressure more than doubles the risk for hospitalization with an omicron variant infection.

That’s according to a new study of 912 patients from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The researchers analyzed healthsystem data for patients who became infected after receiving three shots. Of the participants, 145 — or nearly 16% — were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Read more at  https://www.mcknights.com/news/clinical-news/high-blood-pressure-plus-covid-doubles-risk-of-hospital-stay-study/

Stay Current on Resident and Staff COVID-19 Vaccinations

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout the country, it’s important that long term care facilities and communities encourage staff and residents to stay up to date on their vaccination status. The CDC defines up to date as having received all doses in the primary series and all boosters recommended, when eligible. Most recently, people over 50 are recommended to receive a second booster of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after their first booster.

Find out more by going to https://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/Stay-Current-on-Resident-and-Staff-COVID-19-Vaccinations-.aspx

CMS Releases Revised Guidance on Vaccine Mandate IFR

CMS has released revised interpretive guidance for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate interim final rule (IFR). Three memoranda have been updated, including QSO-22-07-ALL-Revised, QSO-22-09-ALL-Revised, and QSO-22-11-ALL-Revised.
The revisions were made to clarify the expectations for assessing compliance with the requirement to ensure all staff are vaccinated. AHCA/NCAL has highlighted key revisions below, but providers are encouraged to review the Long-Term Care and Skilled Nursing Facility Attachment A-Revised, as well as the applicable memo listed above, for detailed changes.

OSHA Announces COVID-19 Focused Inspection Initiative in Health Care

The Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA) announced a time-limited enforcement effort for focused inspections in hospitals, nursing facilities, and assisted living communities treating COVID-19 patients. The intent of this initiative is to magnify OSHA’s presence in health care facilities over a three-month period (March 9- June 9, 2022) to encourage employers in these industry sectors to take the necessary steps to protect their workers against the hazards of COVID-19.

Inspections will be limited to organizations with prior COVID-19-related citations or complaints. Inspections will focus on correction of prior citations and compliance with existing OSHA standards. More detailed information can be found on the OSHA website. ​​​

Vaccination Tracking and Reporting Tools for Nursing Homes

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) wants to make it easy for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities to track and report COVID-19 vaccination information. You can find free, one-page forms to record vaccinations and boosters for nursing home residents and staff along with a vaccination tracking tool and a user-guide with step-by-step instructions for using the tracking tool. Facilities reporting data to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) can use a pre-programmed Excel workbook. Detailed instructions explain how to enter the data electronically or as a paper tool at the time of injection. Use these tools to update your electronic medical records, respond to potential vaccine data requests from local health departments or other regulatory agencies, and plan based on the vaccination administration status and rates of both residents and staff. These tools are part of AHRQ’s ever-growing Nursing Home COVID-19 Resource Collection.

CMS Issues Letter on the Importance of COVID-19 Staff Vaccinations

​Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure issued a letter to health care facility administrators on the importance of COVID-19 staff vaccinations and the current CMS requirements. CMS recommends that facilities review the vaccine rule guidance released on December 28, 2021January 14, 2022​; and January 20, ​2022 for additional information.

https://www.cms.gov/files/document/health-care-facility-administrator-covid-19-vaccine-letter.pdf

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/