Trump Administration Waived Training Requirements For Nursing Home Employees As Pandemic Hit.
Politico (7/15, Severns) reports that “shortly after the first coronavirus outbreak ravaged a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., the Trump administration moved to fulfill a longstanding industry goal – waiving the requirement that nurse’s aides receive 75 hours of training and allowing people who study only eight hours online to become caregivers during the pandemic.” The nursing home “industry had been fighting for years to reduce training requirements, saying they make it harder to recruit staff.” However, “after more than 55,000 nursing home residents and workers across the country have died from the coronavirus, advocates for older adults and families of residents say they fear the change was premature, and contributed to the spread of the disease.”
Trump Administration To Offer “Point Of Care” Coronavirus Testing At Nursing Homes, Verma Says.
Bloomberg Law (7/14, Shankar, Subscription Publication) reports, “The Trump administration plans to offer ‘point of care [coronavirus] testing’ at nursing homes across the country, Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, [said] during a press conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.” A “‘rapid on the spot, 20 tests per hour’ device will initially be given to 2,000 nursing homes, says Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department.”
Nursing Home Groups Warn Governors About PPE Shortages, Coronavirus Spikes Across Country.
The Boston Herald (7/14, Cohan) reports “National nursing home organizations are warning governors that major coronavirus spikes taking place across the United States, coupled with a lack of personal protective equipment could lead to more outbreaks at long-term care facilities.” A letter from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living sent to the National Governors Association said, “Nursing homes and assisted living communities cannot stop the virus by ourselves – not without testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), staff support and funding, and not without support from the public health sector.” The groups call “for a series of requests from governors as concerns surrounding more outbreaks among vulnerable communities at nursing homes looms and case counts rise nationwide.”
Experts Blast New York Report Absolving Gov. Cuomo Of Blame For Nursing Home Deaths.
The AP (7/14, Mustian, Condon) says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is “facing blistering criticism over an internal report that found a controversial state directive that sent thousands of recovering coronavirus patients into nursing homes was ‘not a significant factor’ in some of the nation’s deadliest nursing home outbreaks.” According to the AP, “Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report released last week for flawed methodology and selective stats that sidestepped the actual impact of the March 25 order, which by the state’s own count ushered more than 6,300 recovering virus patients into nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.” The AP adds that “some accused the state of using the veneer of a scientific study to absolve the Democratic governor by reaching the same conclusion he had been floating for weeks – that unknowingly infected nursing home employees were the major drivers of the outbreaks.”
Universal COVID-19 Testing In Maryland Long-Term Care Facilities Found Over Half Of Residents With Coronavirus Were Asymptomatic, Research Suggests.
U.S. News & World Report (7/14, Galvin) reports, “Universal coronavirus testing in a handful of long-term care facilities in Maryland found that more than half of residents who tested positive showed no symptoms, new research from Johns Hopkins University shows.” Overall, “about 55% of infected residents had no symptoms when they tested positive through the universal screening initiative, according to the research, which began in late March and was published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.” Some long-term care facility “residents who didn’t have symptoms when their infections were detected quickly developed serious illnesses.”
Almost Every Resident At Montana Facility That Cares For People With Memory Problems Contracts Coronavirus After Facility Refuses Free Testing.
The AP (7/14, Brown, Hanson) reports, “Montana officials offered free” coronavirus “testing in May for staff and residents at assisted living and long-term care facilities.” However, “not all of them followed through, according to state data, including a facility in Billings, Montana’s largest city, that cares for people with dementia and other memory problems.” The coronavirus “has infected almost every resident there and killed eight since July 6, accounting for almost a quarter of Montana’s 34 confirmed deaths. Thirty-six employees also have tested positive.”
Trump Administration’s Targeting Of Nursing Home Regulations Will Make Conditions For Residents Worse In Pandemic Era, Advocates Say.
Vox (7/14, Matthews) reports that “since well before the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration has been targeting regulations in the nursing home industry, pushing a deregulatory agenda that advocates say has worsened conditions for residents and will make them worse still in the pandemic era.” COVID-19 “is a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis that is catching almost all institutions...ill-prepared.” However, “there is no question that the administration, at the prodding of industry, has enacted and proposed moves aimed at easing regulations on nursing homes – moves that patient advocates have said were increasing health risks for residents well before Covid-19 came to the US.” Vox adds that “under the Obama Administration,” CMS “issued a rule requiring all facilities to employ a dedicated ‘infection prevention specialist’ at least part time. CMS Administrator Seema Verma has proposed rolling back that rule and only requiring such specialists to serve as consultants, potentially covering many different nursing facilities.”
States Begin Rolling Back Policies That Restricted Visitors At Nursing Homes.
Kaiser Health News (7/13, Graham) reports states are starting “to roll back heart-wrenching policies instituted when the coronavirus pandemic began and allow in-person visits at nursing homes and assisted living centers, offering relief to frustrated families.” Kaiser Health News adds, “As of July 7, 26 states and the District of Columbia had given the go-ahead to nursing home visits under these circumstances, according to LeadingAge,” and “two weeks earlier, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services clarified federal guidance on reopening nursing homes to visitors.”
CEO Takes Job As A Dishwasher At An Assisted-Living Facility To See Her Husband.
The Washington Post (7/13, Page) reports Mary Daniel, the chief executive of a small company that helps patients with healthcare bills, has taken a part-time job on the cleaning crew at RoseCastle in Deerwood so “she could have a few stolen hours a week with her husband, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and is a resident there.” Daniel had not seen her husband for more than three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and visitor restrictions. She said, “It didn’t matter what I had to do to get there. ... I was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill my promise that I was going to be there for him every step of the way.”
Commentary: Nursing Homes Should Consider Reopening To Visitors For Health Of Residents.
In commentary for the Washington Post (7/13), Perelman School of Medicine professor Jason Karlawish, Harvard Medical School professor David C. Grabowski, and University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School professor Allison K. Hoffman call on nursing homes to consider reopening their doors to visitors. They say that while closing doors for visitors made sense as an early containment strategy during the pandemic, keeping their doors shut permanently “is harmful to the health of residents” and “good policy demands more nuanced thinking about how some visitors contribute to their safety.”