COVID-19 UPDATE #96
November 6, 2020
NEW COVID-19 TESTING ALERT FOR SNFs
Washington State Department of Health has recently released Interim Supplemental Guidance for Nursing Home COVID-19 Antigen Testing. These recommendations are intended to help guide infection prevention activities associated with SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing in nursing homes. Please note that this guidance departs slightly from similar CDC guidance and is considered interim. As circumstances evolve, this guidance may be updated. Nursing homes should continue to test and report results according to CMS QSO-20-38-NH.
FUNDS RELATED TO COVID-19 TESTING GUIDELINES
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided interim guidance (CMS-3401-IFC) for COVID-19 testing requirements in nursing homes. This guidance requires nursing homes to test all staff and residents every 3-7 days until no new cases are found for 14 days. Due to this guidance, Washington State Nursing Facilities will be receiving a one-time payment of approximately $680 per licensed bed to help pay for increased testing, as required by CMS. Licensed bed days as of November 2, 2020, were used for this calculation. This payment will be made through the ProviderOne system if that is an option for your facility. You do not need to do anything special to receive this money. If your facility does not have a ProviderOne account ALTSA will work with you directly.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER PROVIDES INFORMATION ON EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER HEALTH PRACTITIONER BACKGROUND CHECKS
A Dear Administrator letter to all providers dated November 6, 2020, serves as a reminder and supplements information for providers regarding potential staffing resources available, as issued in a provider letter dated April 9, 2020, concerning the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, Chapter 70.15 RCW and procedures for background checks related to these volunteer health practitioners.

A few highlights include:
  • Individual health practitioner applicants now register online, instead of using a paper application.
  • New information for health care facilities, including long term care facilities:
  • Facilities who want to request approved volunteers, or want to request to activate specific staff under this program as part of their own surge planning, need to complete a health care facilities request form. This information is necessary to quickly support each request.
  • The Department of Health currently has more than 700 approved volunteers who are eligible to be placed.
  • Facilities requesting to activate specific volunteers should complete the spreadsheet. Please be sure all fields are complete, as they are all required to complete the process. Please do not include any additional fields beyond information on additional licenses held by a volunteer. 

If you have any questions regarding background checks, please email Antonietta Lettieri-Parkin, Policy Program Manager, or call her at (509) 363-3549.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER TO SNFs SHARES INFO ON EMERGENCY RULE EXTENSION AND PROPOSAL FOR PERMANENT RULES AMENDMENT
In a Dear Administrator letter dated November 2, 2020, skilled nursing providers are informed that on October 20, 2020, RCS filed a CR-103E (WSR 20-21-086) to extend the amended rule. The extension was effective October 21, 2020, and the rule expires on February 18, 2021.
  • Current nursing home rules require periodic fire drills, as well as staff training about how to respond to a fire. WAC 388-97-1740 was amended to remove the requirement for periodic fire drills. Training on responding to a fire is still required.
  • Amendment of WAC 388-97-1760 reduced the scope of quality assurance activities. Facilities must continue to review adverse events and infection control.
  • Current nursing home rules require a transparent glass window in each resident room. Amendment of WAC 388-97-2400 waives the requirement for a transparent glass window. This will increase the ability for facilities to increase capacity temporarily by utilizing windowless space for resident rooms.

The adoption of the emergency rule helps to align state rules with rules the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have waived or amended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, RCS filed a CR-101 (WSR 20-21-034) on October 12, 2020, to begin permanent rule making on the above WACs and other related rules. If you have any questions, please email Lisa Herke, Nursing Home Policy Program Manager, or call her at (509) 209-3088
NHSN LTC USERS GROUP CALL | NOVEMBER 10 | 11 AM
The next monthly NHSN LTC User Group call is scheduled for November 10 from 11:00 – 12:00 noon. NHSN users include skilled nursing, assisted living, and long term care for the developmentally disabled who are eligible to report to NHSN.

The goal of the user group is to share and review updates to LTCF Module, new features, updated and new resources and guides, issues with data entry, FAQs, and any questions you may have or wish to discuss. Next week, the group will review the new POC laboratory test reporting pathway and the enhanced data security (aka upgrade to SAMS Level 3) that is needed to access POC test reporting. If you have any specific questions ahead of time, please email them to Paula Parsons, Health Services Consultant for Department of Health.
HALF HOUR HOT TOPICS SUPPORTING HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Comagine Health has created a library of half-hour hot topic webinars that support healthcare workers. Two in particular focus on Boosting Your Mental Health During a Crisis (June 19) and Recharging Compassion and Minimizing Burnout (July 17) and are available here.

Comagine Health also created a resource page dedicated to healthcare worker safety and well-being. Each section—Prepare and Plan, Manage During Peak, Recover and Learn—has a tip sheet that might be useful regarding strategies to support the well-being of staff (and their families). 
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.