July 8, 2020
DSHS cancelled webinars schedule for July 9 that were to focus on the reopening plan for long term care in Washington State and were supposed to address visitation, dining, activities, and other aspects of current limitations in our settings. It was explained to WHCA yesterday that a select number of stakeholders did not have an opportunity for input into the reopening plan, and additional time was necessary to fine-tune the plan and allow for the Governor’s team to write a proclamation surrounding the effort. We at WHCA understand how frustrating this delay has been for your staff, residents, and their families. We continue to work to push the issue with all involved agencies to finally attain an opportunity for residents and their families to once again visit one another in-person. WHCA will notify members via email as soon as this plan is firm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has mailed personal protective equipment (PPE) to every skilled nursing facility in the country. Some have received gowns that do not meet infection control standards; these gowns are plastic-type material that require the wearer to slip the garment over the head. This does not allow for proper doffing/removal of the gown that will allow the worker to maintain proper infection control. DSHS and DOH recommend not using these gowns. FEMA has been made aware of this issue.
In a recent blog Bill Ulrich, President and CEO of Consolidated Billing Services Inc. (CBSI), explains the massive underfunding of nursing homes in Washington State and provides insight on the impacts that underfunding has on the war against COVID-19. Nursing homes have been the hardest hit in this fight, and they have not been sufficiently equipped and financially supported to achieve victory. Read the blog here. Many thanks to Bill Ulrich, President and CEO of CBSI, for sharing this blog with us. 
After learning about L&I’s Temporary Enforcement Guidance regarding fit testing for masks in long term care, WHCA has worked to provide resources to help providers obtain necessary products and services to ensure compliance. We have added a free webinar covering fit testing to our COVID-19 resource page as well as a list of consultants that serve Washington who can help with fit testing. An earlier list of potential suppliers was provided to help secure fit testing supplies. Many suppliers are struggling with supply chain issues, but they are working to get supplies to providers as quickly as possible. We continue to encourage providers to ensure they have a written Respiratory Program and that you document all efforts to secure proper fit testing, medical evaluations, and all other efforts being made to maintain compliance. If you have questions or need additional information, please email Diana Hitchings or call her at (800) 562-6170, extension 116.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated their guidance on testing individuals in nursing homes. While much of the guidance remains consistent, some key changes include new language highlighting the importance of facilities having a testing plan in place, following state and local guidance, as well as CMS’ recommended reopening process
  • When conducting repeat viral testing in response to an outbreak (defined as one or more confirmed cases), facilities should repeat testing for all previously negative residents between 3 to 7 days, until testing identifies no new cases among residents or HCP for at least 14 days.
  • The CDC does not recommend testing the same individual more than once in a 24-hour period.
  • New guidance around contact tracing has been included. 
  • The CDC highlights that state and local officials may decrease frequency of testing in areas with minimal to no community transmission. 
  • Clinicians are encouraged to consider testing for other causes of respiratory illness, such as influenza.
  • Per the CDC, this guidance can also apply to other long-term care facilities, including assisted living.  
Read more about the CDC website updates 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.