COVID-19 Update #257
HFAM Update 

Thank you for all you do to provide quality care to Marylanders in need. You and your teams are saving lives, and you continue to be a priceless resource to people in their hour of need. In all healthcare settings, we all continue to operate during the most dramatic pandemic in over a hundred years. More than a year into COVID-19, we still need each other and our partnerships more than ever. While we’ve made great strides in the fight against this virus and the vaccines are a game-changer, we must remain vigilant.
So many times over the last year, we have Zoomed, spoke, emailed, and updated on the changing landscape of our fight against COVID-19. Essential themes in those discussions:
  • Focus on what is in your control and not what is out of your control.
  • Overcommunicate.
  • Adapt and innovate.
  • Rely on your partnerships.
  • Speak up when you need help.
  • Double efforts on infectious disease protocols, training, and operations.
With the pause in J&J vaccine deployment, we are at a critical point to remind ourselves again to focus on what is in our control and not what is out of our control. On that front:
  • The State of Maryland, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and the National Guard have updated their schedules to bring vaccines back into our centers. They will begin bringing Moderna and Pfizer to us starting April 26, perhaps sooner.

  • Maryland LTC institutional pharmacies do have allocations and supplies of vaccine.

  • Many Maryland hospitals, not all, are routinely vaccinating patients in the hospital before sending them to skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers.

  • Local health offices continue to have some supply of the vaccine.
NOTE: Of course, the J&J pause presents real challenges, but we can use this time to seek other solutions. Importantly, we must work together to message that the J&J pause is proof that in the US, we are in an abundance of caution ALL OVER SAFETY.
Finally, two things:
  • In the spirit of always looking for solutions, I want to specifically thank my association colleague leaders Bob Atlas (MHA), Kevin Heffner (LifeSpan Network), and Allison Ciborowski (LeadingAge Maryland) for our partnership, friendship, and the problem solving we bring together.

  • I want to thank the hospital supply people who, on this day a year ago when no one in the private sector or government could provide emergency gowns in real-time, allowed me to steal 30 gowns to deliver to my friend Rene.


  • People first, quality counts.
  • Be prepared to deploy people and PPE around your organization.
  • Our sector MUST double our efforts on infectious disease protocol, staffing, and PPE.
  • Train, train, and train teams again on infectious disease protocol.
  • Recognize that COVID-19 fatigue is an issue across the county, not just in our sector.
  • Overcommunicate with residents, patients, families, staff, and government partners.
  • Sound alarms early.
  • Work with your hospital partners, and coordinate with local and state regulatory partners.
  • Take and document your action; keep a timeline.
  • CLICK HERE for the Dr. Katz Video, and please see the Donning and Doffing Checklist we have been sharing.
Joe DeMattos
President and CEO
MDH Webinar Recap

Yesterday, the Maryland Department of Health held a webinar call to update the long-term care sector on COVID-19 developments and best practices. The call was recorded, in case you were unable to join or would like to review the topics discussed, which included:

  • COVID-19 Epi Summary
  • Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Updates-Dr. Monique Duwell
  • Congregate Care, Bridging Team, and Vaccine Updates-Dr. Melissa Welch
  • A Fungus Among Us: C. aurisin MD
  • Lab Web Portal Training (Part 1)-LioreKlein
  • FAQs
  • Q&A

You can also view the webinar's PowerPoint presentation here and the chat box here.

Additional Information from the webinar:

  • For anyone who wants request specimens to possibly receive COVID sequencing, please complete the redcap survey using the following link - and ensure your lab holds the specimens until they are contacted by an epidemiologist from the Maryland Department of Health. 

If you have any questions, please email
What They Are Saying: COVID-19 Vaccines Are A Turning Point For Long Term Care Residents And Staff, But The Fight Is Not Over 

Millions of long term care residents and staff have received their COVID-19 vaccine, and now, they finally have a renewed sense of hope. Due to the success of the initial vaccines distributed to long term care facilities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revised guidelines to allow for increased indoor visitation in nursing homes, enabling residents to reunite with their loved ones and resume daily social activities.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) released a new video showcasing the long-awaited reunions between residents and their loved ones, and underscoring how important the vaccines are in keeping residents and their families together.
These reunions are good news, but the pandemic is not over yet. COVID cases across the country are rising fast and the long term industry worries it may cause a correlating spike of new cases in nursing homes. Throughout the pandemic, independent researchers found that community spread is a primary factor in the likelihood of an outbreak in a nursing home. Members of the public must do their part to help reduce community spread by wearing a mask, avoiding large groups, practicing social distancing and getting vaccinated as soon as they can.

In addition to preventing community spread, it is critical for residents and staff to continue to be prioritized for vaccines. This is especially important in light of the news that use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused. AHCA/NCAL has asked federal and state leaders ensure that long term care residents and staff remain at the front of the line and have rapid access to the vaccines, as facilities receive new residents and hire new staff. AHCA/NCAL remains committed to ensuring as many residents and staff as possible get vaccinated. Their ongoing #GetVaccinated campaign provides educational resources to help residents, staff and families make informed decisions.

We have come a long way in our fight against COVID-19, but it is not over. If we continue to rally around our most vulnerable citizens and our heroic caregivers, we can end this pandemic once and for all.
The 2021 HFAM Conference “Together We Re-Imagine” will be held in person October 4 – 7, 2021 at the Maryland Live Hotel and Casino in Hanover, Maryland. Hundreds of long-term care leaders will connect, share best practices and discuss actionable insights on how we can reflect, reform, rebuild, and revolutionize quality care. You and your teams will not want to miss this opportunity as we come together again.

Visit the conference website to learn more and register.
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