Administration Releasing COVID-19 Testing, Reporting Rules For Nursing Homes.
The New York Post (8/24, Nelson) report, “The Trump administration will unveil mandatory coronavirus testing and reporting rules for nursing homes this week to prevent a recurrence of the tragic death toll in New York, The Post has learned.” The “rules require that nursing homes offer tests to patients if anyone in the facility contracts COVID-19 or exhibits symptoms. And in most cases, the nursing homes will be required to publicly report test results.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “These new rules represent a dramatic ramp-up in our efforts to track and control the spread of COVID-19, especially in nursing homes.”
Federal Nursing Home Commission To Seek Strong Response To Coronavirus Spread, Sources Say.
In an exclusive, the Wall Street Journal (8/21, Mathews, Subscription Publication) reported sources say the Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes on Sept. 1 will give recommendations to the CMS that call for the Administration to take a more aggressive approach to combatting the spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes nationwide.
The Washington Post (8/21, Mikhail, Rosenzweig-Ziff) reported the commission “has met for weeks behind closed doors, providing limited opportunities for public input, records and interviews show.” Nursing home reform advocates “say they fear that the group...will suggest the government scale back oversight of the industry and relax some long-standing federal standards meant to protect the well-being of residents.” The Post added that in April, CMS Administrator Seema Verma “announced the new, high-profile commission would quickly find ways to better protect ‘the most vulnerable and fragile citizens’ during the spiraling health crisis and beyond.”
A Daughter’s Choice: Her Mom Didn’t Have Covid-19. But Isolation Seemed To Be Killing Her. (Washington Post, 8/21, Rachel Chason)
Fox Business (8/21, Mathews) reported that in addition, HHS “is sending rapid-testing platforms to nursing homes, and 3,594 facilities were supposed to have received the equipment by the end of this week, according to” Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir. Giroir “said Wednesday that the federal government aims to get testing equipment to eligible nursing homes by the end of September.”
Americans Confront Isolation, Other Challenges Facing Family Members In Nursing Homes.
On its front page, the Wall Street Journal (8/21, A1, Mathews, Subscription Publication) profiled a 93-year-old man who moved into the Hillcrest Convalescent Center in Durham, North Carolina to be with his 91-year-old wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The Journal said he has not left her room in about five months due to restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post (8/21, A1, Chason) reported on its front page, “For approximately 2.5 million elderly Americans in long-term care, the threats posed by the coronavirus are twofold: rampant deaths and an unprecedented era of isolation.” The bans on visitors at long-term care facilities helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but “medical experts say they proved devastating for the mental and physical health of residents.” Additionally, preventing families and the local ombudsmen from visiting removes the “most important watchdogs” against abuse and problems at the facilities. The Post focused on Dena Ducane, who removed her mother from a memory-care facility to care for her at home. Ducane has had to mostly stop working, and she and her live-in significant other have less time together, have “far less privacy,” and during what time they do have, Dena is exhausted from constantly watching her mother.
Only 12 Texas Nursing Homes Meet State’s Requirements To Allow Visiting Hours For Residents.
The Dallas Morning News (8/21, Steele, Jones) reported that approximately 12 nursing homes in Texas “have met the state’s criteria to slowly begin letting visitors back in to see their loved ones.” According to records obtained by The Dallas Morning News, “fewer than 30 nursing homes – out of more than 1,200 statewide – applied to allow visitors as of Aug. 20.” Half of such requests “were denied or are still awaiting an answer from the state on that date.” While these facilities have worked on providing weekly coronavirus diagnostic tests, “facilities say they are facing several other challenges.”
Illinois Investigating Delay In Response To Complaints Of Abuse, Neglect At Long-Term Care Facilities.
The AP (8/21) reported, “The state of Illinois said it’s investigating a delay in responding to abuse and neglect complaints at long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.” According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, “the state’s Bureau of Long-Term Care didn’t properly process complaints from March 15 to June 30.”
New York Long Term Care Facilities Must Prove They Have Two Months’ Worth Of PPE By September 30.
The New York Post (8/21, Hogan) reported New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration “has directed nursing homes to collect a mandatory 60-day supply of PPE heading into the fall fearing a potential second wave of coronavirus.” According to the mandate, “nursing homes and other long term care facilities must be able to prove they have at least two months worth of personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, gowns and the like by Sept. 30.” Facilities who have trouble meeting “that deadline,...can ask the DOH for an extension through Oct. 30.”
Public Health Order Mandates Staff Members At Ohio Assisted Living Facilities Undergo Coronavirus Testing.
The AP (8/21) reported, “Staff members at all Ohio assisted living facilities must undergo coronavirus testing under a public health order issued Friday that expands testing already being done in nursing homes.” This new “order, signed by interim Health Director Lance Himes, requires staff in such facilities to be tested and any residents who wish it. Ohio licenses 771 assisted living facilities statewide.”
Number Of Abuse Probes At Long-Term Care Facilities In New Mexico Declined During Coronavirus Shutdown.
Santa Fe New Mexican (8/21, Gould) reported “the number of investigations into suspected abuse and neglect of adults at New Mexico long-term care facilities fell sharply amid the COVID-19 outbreak as nursing homes were closed to in-person visitation.” After “the restrictions were tightened – and even now with limited visitation – long-term care officials have had to change how they conduct investigations, speaking by phone or online with more residents and staff.” Furthermore, “the lack of visitation has affected the ability of family members to understand the medical condition of their loved ones, and the department didn’t realize this” soon enough, officials said.
DCist (August 21)
In early May, a health inspector paid a surprise visit to Annandale Healthcare Center to observe the nursing home’s infection control practices at work during the pandemic. The center was home to one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in a nursing home in Virginia. The inspector found the first issue even before stepping foot in the door. Early that morning, there was no one at the front desk to oversee screening staff for COVID-19 symptoms — a process that includes taking and recording staff temperatures and asking basic screening questions.
MedPage Today (August 20)
One or two cases in a home can spread to half of its residents in a "matter of hours," CMS chief says.
WBFO (August 19)
New York state nursing homes have long been plagued by understaffing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Despite this, the state Department of Health opposes a bill that would mandate minimum staffing level standards in nursing homes.
The Hill (August 18)
Coronavirus case numbers spiked in nursing homes across the country by nearly 80 percent in the early part of the summer, largely driven by spread across the South and West, the Associated Press (AP) reports. Based on new data compiled in a situation report, nursing homes continue to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks, both due to its older population and congregate setting.
KPBS (August 18)
When the ominous beep of an emergency alert roused Mark and Kathy Allen out of bed in Sebastopol on Oct. 9, 2017, the Tubbs Fire was heading toward Santa Rosa.
So the Allens did too. They knew the assisted living facility where Mark’s mother lived was in the path of fast-moving flames. They sped toward the facility, called Villa Capri, the air smoky, the care home dark at two in the morning.
The building had no power. Almost all of the 62 elderly residents were still in their rooms. The Allens found the few overnight staff still left in the building.
“We asked them if they had an evacuation plan, and they said ‘No,’” Kathy remembers.
The couple hunted for residents, using cellphones as flashlights. Without power for the elevator, they bumped people in wheelchairs down stairs, through thickening smoke.
Reuters (August 17)
No place seems safe for Elonda English, not even her car. Just after sunrise on a recent Wednesday she emerged from an overnight shift at the Lake Mary Health and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home about 30 minutes north of Orlando, wearing a surgical mask and a condensation-fogged face shield.
WGBH (August 17)
Jean is one of more than 7,000 long-term care workers in Massachusetts who got COVID. At least 26 of those workers died, according to federal and state data obtained by WGBH News. Nationwide, the number of long-term care worker deaths from COVID tops 700 — on pace to make caregiving the nation's deadliest occupation, more dangerous than logging or commercial fishing, according to research released last month by experts at Harvard and the University of Rochester.