COVID-19 UPDATE #134
February 4, 2021
DOH PROVIDES CORRECTED MESSAGE RELATED TO NURSING ASSISTANT WAIVERS
Due to the extended state of emergency as a result of COVID-19, the Department of Health has emphasized that caregivers in home and community-based care settings (including assisted living centers) who have not yet completed home care aide or nursing assistant training or certification may apply for and obtain a nursing assistant registered (NAR) credential and successfully complete the self-study nurse delegation class(es) to perform nurse delegated duties. If you have questions, please email Vicki McNealley.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER ANNOUNCES COVID-19 PROCLAMATIONS EXTENDED
In a Dear Administrator letter dated January 28, 2021, all providers were notified that the Legislature filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402 (SCR 8402) to extend orders issued by Governor Inslee in response to the COVID-19 state of emergency. SCR 8402 extends the proclamations listed below until the end of the state of emergency or until the proclamations are rescinded by either Governor Inslee or the Legislature.

Proclamations extended under SCR 8402:
  • 20-32 DOH Health Care Worker Licensing
  •  20-36 DOH Health Care Facilities and Hand Sanitizer
  • 20-44 NH Transfer or Discharge/Cohorting Residents
  • 20-52 COVID-19 Statewide Proclamation Relating to Long-Term Care
  • 20-65 COVID-19: Long-Term Care – Workers, Facilities, and Resources
  • 20-66 COVID-19: Long-Term Care – Operations and Visitation

The letter explains that while there is no way to know when the emergency will end, Residential Care Services (RCS) staff believes the proclamations will be in place at least until July 1, 2021. However, they could end sooner or be in place longer depending on the progress of vaccination and the status of the COVID-19 epidemic. To see SCR 8402 and related legislative action, use this link.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER PROVIDES UPDATED INFORMATION ON ADMISSION INCENTIVE PAYMENTS FOR SNFs
A Dear Administrator letter dated January 28, 2021, amends the letter dated January 21, 2021, and informs skilled nursing providers of the extension of the Nursing Facility Admission Incentives to March 15, 2021. The letter explains that beginning in January, DSHS, Home and Community Services (HCS) Division, received approval to continue to offer incentives to SNFs who accept admissions from acute care hospitals.

DSHS is approving the following actions:
  • Home and Community Services will immediately implement a SNF admission incentive for transitions from acute care hospitals.
  • Individuals with both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible) newly admitting to nursing facilities from acute care hospitals during this period will receive a $100 add-on to the Medicaid nursing facility rate for a period not to exceed six months when:
  1. A client specific approval letter is requested and approved by Home and Community Services prior to admission.
  2. The Individual admits on or before March 15, 2021.
  3. The Department receives a Nursing Facility Notice of Action confirming Admission date.
  4. The Department has confirmed that this is a new Nursing Facility admission. Readmissions and Nursing Facility transfers are not eligible for this incentive.

All nursing home admission, transfer, and discharge rules continue to apply. If you have any questions, please email Julie Cope or call her at (360) 725-2529.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER PROVIDES INFORMATION ON TB TESTING AND COVID-19 VACCINE FOR SNFs
In a Dear Administrator letter dated January 26, 2021, skilled nursing providers are informed the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) filed emergency rules (WSR 21-04- 020) related to tuberculosis (TB) testing in nursing homes. The rules are effective January 25, 2021, and expire May 25, 2021. DSHS amended the rules in response to recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about coadministration of TB testing products and the COVID-19 vaccine.

The letter outlines the rules that are amended. The letter also explains that adoption of the rules allows facilities to adhere to CDC COVID-19 vaccination and complete TB testing. Please see Dear Nursing Home Administrator letter 021-002 for more information. The CDC COVID-19 vaccine recommendations are here. If providers have questions, they can email Lisa Herke or call her at (509) 209-3088.
DID YOU KNOW? EMPLOYEES THAT ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR TIGHT-FITTING RESPIRATORS MUST SUBMIT TO FIT TESTING PRIOR TO RESPIRATOR USE
Do you need assistance with implementing a fit testing program in your facility? Beginning in January 2021, facilities and agencies in all counties in Washington State are eligible for no-cost fit testing through funding provided by the Department of Health.

Eligible facility and agency types are:
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities/Nursing Homes
  • Adult Family Homes       
  • Supported Living Agencies
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice Agencies

Each county has been assigned a fit testing provider who is participating in the DOH N-95 Fit Testing Project. Appointments for fit testing with these providers will begin after February 1. To access this program, facilities should contact directly the fit testing provider assigned to their county. You do not need to contact DOH to qualify; please contact directly the fit testing provider for your area.

Click here to find the provider assigned to your county. If your county isn’t listed, please contact DOH (carolyn.ham@doh.wa.gov) to find out who your fit testing provider will be. Please note, if you need online medical evaluations ONLY (do NOT need mobile fit testing), you can contact DOH at carolyn.ham@doh.wa.gov.
BD REQUESTS FEEDBACK FOR SURVEY ON LTC PROVIDER TESTING
BD is seeking feedback from long term care providers on their experiences with COVID-19 testing through this brief survey. They ask that you take five minutes to answer the survey about your current approaches to testing staff and residents, as well as any barriers you have been encountering.  
The survey is available here. BD appreciates your feedback!​
WEBINAR: REPOPENING DINING: ARE WE THERE YET?
On Thursday, February 11, at 11 AM PST, AHCA/NCAL will host a webinar around dining services in long term care. The CMS QSO memo in September discussed guidelines for reopening communities to visitors and communal dining services. As the vaccine is distributed to long term care, residents and staff have long been ready to get back to normal. With the pandemic still in our midst, this session will discuss best practices for dining services, including lessons learned from COVID-19. Speakers include Anna de Jesus, MBA, RDN, President Nutrition Alliance, LLC, and Candace S. Johnson, RDN, FAND, Fellow in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and President, CS Johnson and Associates, Inc. 
 
Webinar learning objectives include:
  • Discuss current CMS guidance on communal dining
  • Identify conditions and steps to gradually open dining services
  • Discuss best practices used in various dining settings

This webinar is open to AHCA/NCAL members. Members will need to login with their AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords to register for the webinar here. If you do not have AHCA/NCAL credentials, please email AHCA/NCAL to request them.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
WHCA continues to post resources and information as it becomes available on our website. If you have questions or need additional information, please call the WHCA office at (800) 562-6170.