Coronavirus Update #228
HFAM Update, Updated P4P Transmittal, HHS Update,
Mask Fit Training, Upcoming Webinar, Vaccination Reminders
HFAM Update


Please CLICK HERE for a TV story HFAM brought to WBAL that we did with my colleague Allison Ciborowski from LeadingAge Maryland. The story highlights challenges with the vaccine rollout in independent living communities. We have been advocating with the Maryland Department of Health, CVS/Walgreens, and local and federal leaders on various aspects of the rollout over the last month. We very much appreciate and value that collaboration. That said, one example of a challenge is that on the campus of Charles E. Smith Life Communities hundreds of residents, patients, and staff in the skilled nursing and rehabilitation center and hundreds of staff and residents in assisted living are this week receiving second and first vaccine doses, respectively. Yet, no one will step forward to vaccinate the seniors who reside in independent living on the same campus. We will continue to push on this issue of vaccine public policy and others.


Please CLICK HERE for a Public Radio piece I did on the vaccine a few weeks back. The interview is informative regarding the current rollout of the vaccine in three important areas:

  • Employee vaccination has hovered around 55 percent on average, and with your education and outreach is improving in the second CVS/Walgreens clinics that are now occurring.

  • Over the last month we have been partnering with and pressing the Maryland Department of Health for vaccination plans for nursing homes after the federal clinics. While we are not aware of a current state plan, we know from our work with AHCA/NCAL that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working on guidance that will likely make the vaccine available to the trade pharmacies in our space (Remedi and Omnicare for example) as well as retail pharmacies.

  • In the near-term, I am worried about adequate supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. Public demand and expectations are increasing, planners are looking at first clinic data in our setting, and some local judications are not getting enough. I actually think Baltimore County is doing an exceptional job with their vaccine rollout, and Baltimore City is doing an effective job in partnering as well.

NOTE: I am seeing more employees taking the vaccines in second clinics. I think it will get harder in the near term to meet vaccine demand. Now more than ever, it is critical that residents, patients, and staff take the vaccine. We will continue to press the urgency and special circumstances on this front with media and with our partner leaders.

Additionally, if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is rolled out, it will be a game changer – one dose, no cold storage needed.


Most of the skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers and hundreds of the larger assisted living campuses that are required to test and report in Maryland continue have small (1-10 cases) outbreaks of COVID-19; most people are recovering. Interestingly, many of the cases in our setting are actually known COVID-19 positive cases of people being transferred from a hospital to our setting knowingly with the virus. 

While we don’t yet have data, testing for the new COVID-19 variant has not become standard, and I suspect it will find its way across healthcare settings in Maryland, including ours. The variants are more contagious and spread faster. Thus a setting moving from an isolated outbreak to a hotspot could be indicative of the variant virus. In any event our sector will continue to work with physicians on this and other key clinical fronts.

As always:
  • 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 have been sharing.


Among the top priorities of AHCA/NCAL is to continue being a resource for members of Congress, to position the organization and its members as a resource to the Biden Administration on important issues of public policy as we continue to navigate this pandemic, and to continue offering tangible member value and public affairs social impact. Perhaps more than ever before, it is incredibly valuable for HFAM and our members to be part of AHCA/NCAL. Specifically, AHCA/NCAL is:

  • Engaged with CVS/Walgreens, the CDC, and other federal agencies on the vaccine rollout.

  • Working with federal agencies CARES Act and incentive payments (nursing homes began receiving November 2020 incentive payments yesterday); due in no small part to AHCA/NCAL leadership.

  • Communicating and advocating with the CDC on the CVS/Walgreens vaccination rollout in our sector.

  • Playing a leadership role in pushing for the much needed stimulus package for state and local governments, workers, other industries, and our sector.

NOTE: Realistically, it looks like it may take months for Congress to pass the next COVID-19 stimulus package. That package is critical to state and local governments, as well as workers. Together we will keep pushing.

Maryland General Assembly

I am thankful, amazed, and not surprised by the leadership, resilience, and dedication of the Maryland General Assembly as they meet for the first-time ever in a completely virtual session. Thank you and appreciation goes out to all the Senators, Delegates, staff, and workers behind the scenes, for all they are doing for Maryland.  Please, please remember that job #1 is to steer clear of COVID-19. Remember, stay positive, test negative! Even at this point, on the 14th day of the Session, the HFAM extended team has reviewed hundreds of pieces of important legislation. Going forward, we will review hundreds more, and we will testify on dozens more. 


I want to thank Andrea Dwyer from Sagepoint Senor Living in La Plata, Maryland. Sagepoint is not a member of HFAM and Andrea is a friend and trusted colleague. When a family with a relative in Sagepoint’s care and I needed Andrea this weekend, she was there to answer my call immediately and she helped the family immediately. She facilitated connection of her team with the family. In short, when real people were in need Andrea and her team were ROCKSTARS!

Before we knew the role that the community positivity rate played in virus spread to specific settings and before we even had the ability for timely and actionable COVID-19 testing, our centers were somewhat vilified for outbreaks. As we continue to fight COVID-19 and turn our hope to the vaccine, it is more important than ever that we remember to thank Andrea, all of you, and all of your teams, for the work you are doing to win the war against this virus.  Onward together.

Be well,
Joe DeMattos
President and CEO
Pay for Performance Updated Transmittal

The Maryland Department of Health recently released a transmittal regarding P4P scores. Please note that there was an error in the original transmittal and yesterday MDH sent an updated, corrected transmittal. The error pertained only to the information in the transmittal; the scoring, ranking, and awards themselves were not affected.

Update from the Department of Health and Human Services

FYI: Please see this notice from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to Governors that states the Public Health Emergency is likely to last through the remainder of CY 2021.

Per the notice from HHS, "The current public health emergency was renewed effective January 21, 2021, and will be in effect for 90 days. To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we have determined that the PHE will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021, and when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination."
N95 Mask Fit Testing Training

HFAM recently worked with LifeBridge Health to provide N95 Mask Fit Testing "Train the Trainer" programs. We held 6 days of training and taught over 50 individuals from 31 centers across the state.

If you missed one of our training days or need a refresher on how to Mask Fit Test, here is a link to an excellent video. Our mask fit tester trainer, Sarah Cross, RN IP/IC RN Coordinator, LifeBridge Health, provided participants with a step-by-step instruction guide, which she has allowed HFAM to share. Note: it is recommended that you watch the video first.

As part of a Center’s respiratory protection program a person needs to be determined medically eligible to be fit tested. Use this OSHA3789 form for the medical evaluation.

All employees should be test fitted annually, also employees need to be fit tested, when the center changes their supply/brand of mask.  
New HFAM Associate Members to Help You Through COVID-19

Clean Health Environmental, LLC

  • CleanHealth Environmental provides comprehensive infection prevention, industrial hygiene, OSHA training services and consultation services, and offers valuable risk management and compliance solutions.

Diamond Medical Laboratories

  • Providing a wide range of laboratory testing needs for skilled nursing and post-acute care. Diamond addresses the needs of the residents and centers. HFAM has previously recommended Diamond Labs for your employee and resident COVID testing.

Healthcare Business Rep

  • Healthcare Business Rep, (HBR) is a healthcare consulting firm, providing a variety of products and services. HBR is introducing a Sanitizing Contest. HBR will sponsor a monthly raffle to win a no-cost Electrostatic Sanitizing Technology service for your facility. Enter your center by emailing

  • Below is a condensed list of HBR products and services:
  • ACUPATH Laboratory Partner
  • Supplier of PCR Viral and Antibody COVID19 Test Kits
  • Clinical Staffing
  • Professional & Administrative Solutions/Supply Chain Management Operations
  • Healthcare Information Management
  • Electrostatic Sanitizing Technology/EPA Approved Chemicals
  • Supplier of EZ Bleach Sanitizing Tablets/Registered EPA

Paul Davis Restoration & Reconstruction

  • Emerging pathogens, along with viral and bacterial infections will continue to pose a serious threat in today’s world. Being proactive with thorough cleaning and the application of a disinfectant will help eliminate certain hazards. Paul Davis Restoration can help.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 4 PM ET 
Hosted by CMS, CDC, and the Consumer Voice 

AHCA/NCAL #GetVaccinated Toolkit

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has launched a campaign to encourage long term care residents and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

As COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out to skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities across the country, providers are working hard to educate their staff and residents about the safety and benefits of the vaccine. AHCA/NCAL has updated its tactics for effectively communicating with staff to reflect best practices gathered from providers across the country.

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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.