COVID-19 UPDATE #142
March 11, 2021
WHCA IS ACTIVELY WORKING ON REVISION OF THE SAFE START LTC REOPENING PLANS FOR AL AND SNF IN RESPONSE TO THE CDC AND CMS UPDATED GUIDANCE AND REVISED VISITATION RECOMMENDATIONS
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, CMS released revisions to QSO memo on visitation (20-39-NH), incorporating vaccination status. The memo improves the ability for nursing home residents to receive visitors. CMS emphasizes the importance of maintaining infection prevention practices, given the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission. The CMS changes were based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both skilled nursing and assisted living providers are strongly encouraged to review the revised guidance.

WHCA met Wednesday afternoon with DSHS/RCS and urged a quick and immediate response to this new guidance. As a result, RCS released the following information late yesterday.

Residential Care Services received CDC Updated Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations in Response to COVID-19 Vaccination as well as CMS Updated Nursing Home Guidance with Revised Visitation Recommendations. We understand that residents and their families are all looking forward to a time when they can be together again and this will move us in that direction.

RCS is in the process of updating the Safe Start for LTC Recommendations and Requirements in accordance with this guidance and the Governor will be issuing a revised proclamation addressing reopening within the next few days (hopefully). We do not anticipate this will be a long process. At this juncture, reopening protocols currently under consideration will apply to both SNF and ALF communities. 

In the interim, it is important that providers continue to follow their current Safe Start Plan. We will communicate with you again as soon as the Governor’s Proclamation is in place and provide you with updated information.

WHCA and other stakeholders have been actively engaged today with DSHS/RCS and the Department of Health in drastic recommended revisions to both the SNF and AL Safe Start Plans. We anticipate the revised guidance being submitted to the Governor’s office on Friday, March 12, for approval as soon as possible. WHCA will keep you updated regarding the status and any changes. If you have questions, please email Vicki McNealley or Elena Madrid.
DOH CONTINUES TO OFFER FREE N95 RESPIRATOR FIT TEST TRAINING FOR ALL FACILITIES
Beginning in January 2021, the Department of Health (DOH) created a program to provide no-cost N95 respirator fit testing. Assisted living and skilled nursing facilities are eligible to participate. If you need support or help with fit testing in your community, you can contact DOH to engage in this program. Click here for additional information about this program.
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.