April 29, 2020
KHCA/KCAL is committed to providing our members with important updates. Below is a list of the most recent COVID-19 updates. Please visit our website for a list of complete updates.  www.khca.org
Continuing Restrictions on Visitors in LTC
Even as states are beginning to lift their stay at home orders, nursing homes must continue to maintain current restrictions on visitors. As a reminder,  CMS released guidance   on March 13 that required all nursing homes to significantly restrict visitors and nonessential personnel, as well as restrict communal activities. The guidance indicates that individuals other than essential health care staff and visits for end-of-life situations, should no longer enter nursing homes until further notice.

Even though certain states may be lifting their individual stay-at-home orders, nursing homes must continue to follow this directive from CMS until new guidance is received. For help communicating these policies, please see our  sample letter to families on restricting visitors
Assisted living communities must follow any applicable state guidance. If no state guidance is issued, we recommend they follow  AHCA/NCAL guidance  and continue restricting the number of people entering the facility.

For all long term care communities, these restrictions remain critical safeguards to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated their  list of COVID-19 symptoms . The symptoms now include cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing or at least two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. 

With the addition of these symptoms, AHCA/NCAL has updated their relevant resources, including our  screening checklist  for essential personnel and visitors, as well as our  sample daily log for personnel . If you created your own screening tools, you should update to include the additional symptoms. 
CDC Webinar Trainings for LTCF COVID-19 Module: New Mandatory Reporting 
CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network has announced two upcoming webinar trainings for the new  LTCF COVID-19 Module , which is expected to be a new requirement by CMS. The final rule from CMS on this requirement is still pending. However, CDC is making the module available to nursing homes now. 

The training webinars will be recorded and posted to the  LTCF COVID-19 Module webpage  with a PDF of the slide presentation. 
First Topic: COVID-19 Module Overview for Long-term Care Facilities 
Thursday, April 30, 2020
1:30-3:00 PM EDT
Second Topic: COVID-19 Enrollment Guidance for Long-term Care Facilities
Friday, May 1, 2020
1:30-3:00 PM EDT

Learn how to join these webinars on the  CDC website .  

If you have any questions, please email CDC at  NHSN@cdc.gov  and include LTCF COVID-19 in the subject line.
CDC Increases Priority for COVID-19 Testing in Long Term Care Residents
This week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made changes to its  priority classifications for COVID-19 testing . The CDC has now modified its priority classifications into two categories: high priority and priority, and both healthcare facility workers with symptoms and residents in long term care facilities with symptoms are classified as high priority. 

In addition, the CDC states that healthcare workers with contact with a person with known or suspected COVID-19 should be considered for testing. Residents and health care workers in long term care facilities without symptoms may also be prioritized by state or local health departments or clinicians, for reasons including public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals.

Previously, the CDC identified three priority levels for testing. Patients in long term care facilities with symptoms were identified as priority two for testing while healthcare workers with symptoms were identified as priority one and healthcare workers without symptoms as priority three. 

This update represents a positive step in continuing the push for better access to testing for both long term care residents and staff. Providers should use this guidance when seeking testing from hospitals, physicians, labs and local officials and advocating for faster turnaround times.

For more information, please see   AHCA/NCAL’s recent guidance on testing . Facilities can refer to AHCA/NCAL’s list of  vendors  who provide testing in nursing home setting and are FDA-approved.
How Can the Ombudsman Program Help?
The Ombudsman program’s primary focus is to protect and promote the health, safety, welfare and rights of long-term care residents. Ombudsman programs are a community resource and their outreach can help to calm fears by providing information and resources to residents, their families and center staff. The following are just a few examples of how the Ombudsman program can assist center staff. 
  • Answering questions from resident’s family, who may have additional concerns because they are not able to visit their loved one in person;
  • Providing information and assistance to staff regarding individual resident and family concerns related to dementia care and ideas on providing individualized activities. 
  • Serving as a resource to facilitate communications between the facility and other agencies, such as public health, the Aging & Disability Resource Center and Centers for Independent Living to facilitate resident transitions to home; 
  • Assisting with virtual resident and family councils, or similar meetings, when possible;
  • Educating the public through the media on the importance of the work of care providers; reminding in a public way to show gratitude and kindness to staff.

Administrators and/or Directors of Nursing should talk with their Ombudsman Program to identify together what is most helpful for the facility needs during this unprecedented pandemic. 

  • How can I contact the Ombudsman program? To find a program near you, visit this website.
  • Call the Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116
  • More information about the Ombudsman program is available online.
CDC Launches LTC Frontline Staff Training Webinar
CDC has developed resources for frontline staff in long term care facilities. These short webinars are all published on the  Key Strategies to Prepare for COVID-19 in Long-term Care Facilities (LTCFs) webpage   at the bottom under a “Webinar Series” section. These new webinars are intended to be a training tool/resource for frontline long term care staff members. CDC has also listed three “Additional Resources” to this page, which have been updated previously. 

Here are the direct links to each webinar:

And the new additional resources are
Kansas Health Care Association and the Kansas Center for Assisted Living
1100 SW Gage Blvd Topeka, KS 66604
PH: 785-267-6003 FAX: 785-267-0833