COVID-19 UPDATE #91
October 16, 2020
VACCINATION DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM FOR LTC RESIDENTS ANNOUNCED
On Friday, October 16, the White House announced the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care Program—a national vaccine distribution program for long term care residents. 

The COVID-19 vaccine will likely become available in phases over the coming months. To prepare, the federal government has partnered with CVS and Walgreens to distribute and administer the vaccine to residents in long term care facilities. This program is free of charge and covers all of the reporting requirements associated with the vaccine. Vaccination for health care workers will be handled by states, and will likely take place in early phases of distribution. The Friday announcement indicated that the two companies will:
  • Receive and manage vaccines and associated supplies (syringes, needles, and personal protective equipment);
  • Ensure cold chain management for vaccine;
  • Provide on-site administration of vaccine;
  • Report required vaccination data (including who was vaccinated, with what vaccine, and where) to the state, local, or territorial, and federal public health authorities within 72 hours of administering each dose; and,
  • Adhere to all applicable Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements for COVID-19 testing for long term care facility staff.

Operators will not be required to participate in the program and can use their own preferred distribution partners, the federal government noted.

Starting on Monday, October 19, long term care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living communities, ICF/IIDs and other congregate settings for older adults) that want to participate will have two weeks to register with the CDC on how they want to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. Nursing homes will be able to register through the National Healthcare Safety Network website, while assisted living communities and other congregate settings can register through an online survey (see linked overview and FAQs below). 

Long term care facilities should strongly consider participating and registering as soon as the portals open. Facilities that choose not to participate in the Program should be prepared to have resources to address all aspects of COVID-19 vaccination, through state and/or other resources. This is critical to ensuring your vulnerable residents are among the first to receive a vaccine when it becomes available. 

The CDC is offering an overview and FAQs to help further explain the program, and AHCA is also offering an overview. Also, additional information from the CDC in the form of a Partner Package for Assisted Living and a Partner Package for Skilled Nursing have also been made available.

To prepare, we encourage you to review these materials, as well as: 
  • Compile the necessary information for the nursing home and assisted living portals, to inform CDC about your resident population.
  • Register now for one of the AHCA/NCAL “Office Hours” on ahcancalED – there are multiple times over the next two weeks with CDC staff to help answer your questions about this vaccination program.
  • Check the AHCA/NCAL emails and website early next week for the registration links and any additional information.
ADOPTION OF EMERGENCY RULES FOR SKILLED NURSING CONTINUING EDUCATION
The Board of Nursing Home Administrators has adopted emergency rules to allowing continuing education credit for pandemic-related training and experience. The change will, for a limited time, allow nursing home administrators to attest to such training acquired under self-study methods if proof of course completion is not otherwise available. The changes are in effect as of October 12, 2020. Since emergency rules are temporary, the Board plans to file documents to begin the permanent rule making process. 
ALTSA UPDATES SURVEY ON POINT-OF-CARE TESTING IN SNFs
The Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) online survey has been updated to capture data related to the COVID-19 point of care testing equipment that is being used by the facility. This data is helpful to DSHS and DOH in tracking COVID test results using this new technology.

Facilities with point-of-care testing machines to do in-house COVID testing will be prompted to select the brand(s) of equipment in use. These questions are specific to nursing facilities. ALTSA thanks you for your continued commitment to providing care and services to long term care residents and communities.
POINT-OF-CARE LABORATORY REPORTING PATHWAY
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is releasing a new pathway through their National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) LTC COVID-19 Module that will allow providers to report the results of their Point of Care (POC) COVID-19 testing. Providers who are performing POC COVID-19 testing under their CLIA waiver are required to report the results to their local or state health department. This new pathway gives providers an alternative option to meet this requirement.

The CDC is hosting two identical training webinars titled Reporting Results of Point of Care Testing for COVID-19: A New NHSN Pathway on October 22 and 23 to introduce this new module. Both sessions will feature a live Q&A. A recording of the original webinar will also be posted for online viewing. Registration details for each are below:

Important note: Reporting through this module requires updating your Secure Access Management Services (SAMS) access to Level 3. Instructions on updating your access are available here.
HELPING SKILLED NURSING FACILITY RESIDENTS VOTE
With the election less than a month away and a pandemic that uniquely targets the long term care population still rampant, providers have an opportunity to play a larger role in helping residents exercise their right to vote in 2020. As the prevalence of COVID-19 continues to require targeted restrictions and precautions for indoor visiting, previous strategies to facilitate voting for residents, such as making facilities polling places on Election Day, have likely shifted to reduce the risk to residents and staff. Nonetheless, our seniors and other residents have a right to make their voice heard, and providers should make every effort to assist them in doing so. Read more.
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.