Coronavirus Update #215
HFAM Update


Thank you for all you and your teams are doing in our continued fight against COVID-19. In our battle to stop community spread and prevent major hotspots in our sector, we must remain vigilant. I know at work you and your teams are being vigilant. Thank you. 

As you know, the biggest indicator of COVID-19 entering a healthcare setting is the prevalence of COVID-19 in the surrounding community. Therefore, as COVID-19 spreads in the community, it also spreads in healthcare settings. While there are outbreaks, the long-term care sector is mostly preventing bigger hotspots through testing and improved infection control practices. Today there is an outbreak of at least one COVID-19 case in about 200 of the 227 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers and in about 129 of the several hundred larger assisted living campuses in Maryland.

As Always and Most Important

  • 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, PPE, observation, and testing.
  • 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.
  • Know that WE WILL get through this and that you are saving lives!
  • 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 first distributed several months ago.

The Vaccine

This week is to be celebrated as vaccines begin to be administered to residents, patients, and staff in Maryland skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers as part of the federal CVS/Walgreens program. Prioritizing nursing homes for the vaccine makes eminent sense. We have been on the frontlines fighting COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, and vaccination will reduce tragic deaths going forward. 

That said, due to initial short vaccine supply and potential logistical challenges with the national CVS/Walgreens program, vaccination of everyone will likely take several weeks. Still, because we’ve been on the frontlines fighting this virus, I think the CVS/Walgreens national program will get us the vaccine as expeditiously as possible here in Maryland. While there will be bumps and vaccine distribution will not go perfectly, eventually everyone will get the vaccine. Now is the time to focus on appreciating this new dawn and not expectations of the ideal. Together, we will get through this. 

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

This week, we are continuing to work with the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), other associations, and our commercial pharmacy and infusion partners to pilot getting this treatment to residents and patients in our sector as clinically ordered and directed. Stay tuned for more details as they come. Keep in touch with your Remedi contact now. We will continue to coordinate with Remedi, Omnicare, Advanced PICC, and others in the days and weeks ahead. In the coming weeks, success will be getting this treatment to residents and patients; failure will be having hundreds of unused doses. 

Medicaid Rates

Last week Governor Hogan announced that he was pushing the FY22 four percent rate increase (a provision we fought for in the enacted minimum wage legislation) for Medicaid DD community care providers to January 1, 2021. On Friday it was not clear whether advancing the FY22 four percent applied to all Medicaid providers. Upon our inquiry, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) was kind enough to reach out to state budget officials, and received this message in response: “The Governor's announced rate increase applies to any provider whose rates were set as part of the minimum wage bill. Those rates were supposed to start on July 1, 2021. Now they will start January 1, 2021.” 

So it looks like the pushing forward of DD rates that Governor Hogan announced last week does apply to our rates. This is in addition to the current FY21 four percent increase that went in to effect on July 1 of this year. Thank you Governor Hogan. For context, here are HFAM’s rate letters to Governor Hogan:

Onward together friends, marathon and not sprint. Keep focusing on quality. Celebrate the small wins.

Be well,
Joe DeMattos
President and CEO
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Thank you.

We cannot thank you enough for the dedication and diligence in doing all that you can for the residents in your communities. HFAM continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic with our state and national partners and will do all we can to support you during this time.