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:

CMS Updates Guidance for Emergency Preparedness Regulations

Today, CMS posted a Quality, Safety, and Oversight Group (QSO) memo updating the State Operations Manual (SOM) Appendix Z that outlines emergency preparedness (EP) requirements. The SOM has been updated to reflect the revisions made within the 2019 final rule Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency, and Burden Reduction (CoPs) (CMS 3346-F). CMS has also added new guidance related to Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) outbreaks, including best practices, lessons learned, and general recommendations for planning and preparedness.
This guidance is effective immediately. CMS is currently working on relevant updates to the Emergency Preparedness Basic Surveyor Training Course which will be available at a later date.
The changes are extensive, and members are encouraged to review the complete QSO memo​ in full. AHCA/NCAL has also provided a high-level summar​y​ of the memo.

 

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.

Information to arm you against vaccine hesitancy among older adults

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out to assisted living and independent living communities — having not reached some of those communities yet — two new surveys shed some light on feelings about vaccination among older adults, messages that motivate them to get vaccinated, and the people and places to which they expect to turn when making a decision.

Although this research was not restricted to senior living residents, findings still may prove helpful to those working in the industry, and those they serve.

Find out more at https://bit.ly/3oLQAaS

Get Vaccinated Toolkit

AHCA/NCAL’s #GetVaccinated campaign encourages long term care staff and residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Providers and state affiliates may use the materials below to help communicate about the importance of vaccination as well as highlight progress. This digital toolkit includes a checklist of ideas, template letters to use with stakeholders, sample social media, and media prep material.

Find out more at https://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Pages/GetVaccinated.aspx

CMS Issues New Nursing Facility COVID Testing FAQs

CMS has released FAQs related to new guidance on testing in nursing facilities. The FAQs address long-standing questions posed from providers. The questions address various issues including false negatives with point of care antigen tests, triggering of outbreak status, testing of emergency medical personnel and clarification on turnaround time for tests. The FAQs can be found here