March 24, 2021
With the coming of spring and the number of COVID cases on the decline in long term care facilities/communities, now is the time to begin to prepare for the re-start of full surveys/inspections. In a meeting with Residential Care Services (RCS) on Monday,
March 22, it was indicated that RCS plans to launch full inspections/surveys sometime around the second week of April. This will be a slow start. A Dear Provider letter is imminent. RCS staff will be undergoing a refresher of survey/inspection processes, expectations, and positive communication training the first week of April.

At this point, RCS does not plan to initiate a full inspection in a facility with a known COVID outbreak. These inspections will continue to be managed through the complaint investigation/infection control survey processes. If an outbreak is identified once a survey has been initiated, it will be handled on a case-by-case basis and could result in the survey being aborted or completed, depending on the situation. The survey process for both skilled nursing and assisted living will be managed through a hybrid of onsite and offsite work. As more information becomes available, WHCA will ensure you are informed through our COVID-19 Updates. If you have questions, please email Vicki McNealley or Elena Madrid.
The Department of Health (DOH) is hosting a webinar to provide education on the transition from clinic-based status for COVID vaccinations to maintenance for new residents and staff. The webinar will be hosted on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, beginning at 10:00 AM. Attendees will learn about the current status of vaccines in Washington and then review the new road map, guidance tools, and pharmacy partnerships. In addition, DOH will provide some tools and resources on vaccination education, and the webinar will include a final segment of Q&A. Click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) unveiled its COVID-19 Honors program for long term care staff. This program was created for facilities to recognize their incredible staff who demonstrated strength and courage in the face of COVID-19. There are three categories in the program:
  • Individuals who work in a long term care facility where there was a COVID outbreak can receive a pin and letter of recognition.
  • COVID survivors may receive a medal and letter of recognition.
  • Staff members who passed away from COVID-19 may be honored with a medal and US flag flown over the US Capitol that can be presented to their families.

When a facility purchases materials, they will also receive a communications packet that includes a ceremony guide, a media advisory template announcing the ceremony, press release template (post ceremony), and template letters to staff and family of staff who passed away. Honors materials are available on a rolling basis, so there is no deadline to purchase. You can order items via the AHCA/NCAL Bookstore beginning today. Items will ship in mid-April. All merchandise is priced at AHCA/NCAL’s cost.
You are invited to join American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) for a webinar on March 30 at 9:30 AM PST to discuss the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure employees in high-hazard industries are protected from contracting COVID-19. 

On March 12, 2021, OSHA implemented the NEP to ensure employees in high-hazard industries are protected from contracting COVID-19. OSHA will prioritize COVID-19-related inspections involving deaths or multiple hospitalizations due to occupational exposures to COVID-19. In addition, this NEP will focus on protecting workers from retaliation. The NEP includes: skilled nursing facilities, residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities, continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities. This webinar will review the NEP and what it means for AHCA/NCAL members. Register here.
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.