COVID-19 UPDATE #143
March 12, 2021
UPDATE ON THE REVISION OF THE SAFE START LTC REOPENING PLANS FOR SNF AND AL IN RESPONSE TO THE CDC AND CMS UPDATED GUIDANCE AND REVISED VISITATION RECOMMENDATIONS
After two days of hurried workgroup meetings with DSHS, DOH, the LTC Ombuds Office, and other stakeholders, DRAFT revised Safe Start LTC Reopening plans for assisted living and skilled nursing facilities are near completion. These first drafts are an initial swipe at interpreting the recently released CMS and CDC guidance on visitation. On Wednesday, March 10, CMS released revisions to QSO memo on visitation (20-39-NH), incorporating vaccination status. The QSO 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.

It has been a 24 hour push to get the priority issues of visitation, quarantine, and community tours revised and to the Governor’s Office today for review and hopeful approval. The issues of communal dining and activities for fully vaccinated residents still need to be addressed in the next iteration of the Safe Start LTC plans. These unaddressed issues will be reviewed next week and added to the Safe Start plan as soon as possible. Please bear with us as we work with the state through this process.

THE DOCUMENTS LINKED ABOVE ARE IN DRAFT FORM AND HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR ADOPTED BY WASHINGTON STATE. WHCA is providing these draft documents to you related to the upcoming changes in visitation for facilities to promptly begin to revise needed policies and procedures, provide necessary training to staff, and share information as known with residents/families. 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. Initial indications are that the Governor will not make a decision before Monday; if this changes, we will let you know.
 
If you have questions, please contact Vicki McNealley or Elena Madrid.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER UPDATES PROVIDERS ON RAPID RESPONSE SHORT-TERM CRISIS STAFFING
In a Dear Administrator letter amended March 11, 2021, providers are given an update on rapid response short-term crisis staffing. The letter is amended to remind providers that there are still Rapid Response Short-Term Staffing teams ready and available to assist with staffing needs and direct care. All facility types may request support from Rapid Response Teams for any challenges associated with staffing or impacts from COVID. The Department of Social and Health Services Aging and Long-Term Support Administration has contracted with temporary nurse staffing agencies to provide Rapid Response Staffing teams located in multiple geographic areas across the state. The intent of establishing these Rapid Response teams is to quickly provide short-term staffing support to supplement long term care and developmental disability facilities and agencies experiencing challenges in caring for residents and clients.

The letter also states there will be no charge to the facilities or agencies for use of short-term nursing staff support through this program. The Rapid Response teams are spread throughout the state and can relocate based on demand If providers have questions, they are encouraged to email Kristin Ferrell or call her at (253) 234-6089.
LTC PROVIDERS PUSH TO REMAIN A PRIORITY FOR
COVID-19 VACCINES
In an article published this week in Provider Magazine, we read the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) sent letters this week to White House Senior Advisor Andy Slavitt, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity Cameron Webb, MD, and the National Governors Association requesting that long term care facilities remain a priority for the COVID-19 vaccines as the next phase of distribution begins.

As of March 11, more than 85 percent of nursing homes and nearly one-third of assisted living and other senior living communities have completed their third and final clinic through the Pharmacy Partnership Program for Long-Term Care. The article provides additional insight as to how providers continue to push to remain a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.
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.