COVID-19 UPDATE #59
July 24, 2020
CMS RELEASES LIST OF SNFs PRIORITIZED FOR POC TESTING INSTRUMENT AND FAQ DOCUMENT
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced  that it will begin providing nursing homes with a Point of Care (POC) rapid response testing instrument to bolster each facility’s ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The data collected through the NHSN system directly supports this initiative by helping to prioritize those nursing homes with testing needs and an increasing number of cases. CMS has also provided information about their methodology for prioritizing facilities and a listing of facilities , as well as a list of frequently asked questions .

Washington facilities are not included on the initial list, but they will be receiving testing instruments after areas considered hot spots have been accommodated. We encourage providers to review the frequently asked questions so you are prepared when testing instruments begin arriving in Washington. The following information will also help you prepare:
  • If nursing homes have a medical testing CLIA license, they can fill out a test menu change form to add COVID testing to their existing license.
  • If they do not have a medical testing CLIA license, they will need to fill out an application.
  • The federal government will send out Sophia and Sophia 2 diagnostic test equipment to nursing homes with CLIA medical testing licenses.
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY EXTENDED
On July 23, the Department of Health and Human Services formally extended  the COVID-19 pandemic Public Health Emergency for another 90 days. The extension ensures that the COVID-19 related regulatory and reimbursement blanket waivers are extended. This includes waivers of staff training requirements, the 3-day stay and spell of illness.
HHS FAQ UPDATES ON AUDITING AND FUNDS TRANSFERS
On July 23, the Department of Human Health Services (HHS) added FAQs  further defining which funds may be moved among TINs and lines of care as well as providing preliminary information on Provider Relief Fund audits. Please review the document for the updated information. Read more
PEARSON VUE TO RESUME NURSE AIDE SKILLS TESTING IN ALL COUNTIES IN PHASE 2 OR HIGHER
Pearson VUE will be resuming Nurse Aide skills testing in all Washington counties that are in Phase 2 or higher the week of August 10. Additionally, they will be migrating the written portion of the Washington Nurse Aide exam to computer-based testing (CBT) at Pearson VUE third-party test centers in Washington in late August or early September. 

Because of the significant changes being made to move to computer-based testing, Pearson VUE must cancel all examinations that are currently in their system.  Pearson VUE is communicating with all individuals regarding the refund of payments and how to begin rescheduling beginning July 29.

The move to computer-based testing also means that the written exam and the skills exam will no longer be delivered at the same locations. Individuals will take a written (or oral) exam at one of Pearson VUE’s third-party computer testing centers and will take skills exams in an RTS or INF location in a scheduled time window. This change allows more testing sessions throughout the day and limits the amount of time that you must wait at the center to have an exam administered.

Additionally, please note that you will be required to bring your own face mask to wear during both the skills and written exams. Additional details can be found here .
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.