CMS announces new initiatives to help nursing homes protect residents from COVID-19

Nancy Leveille and Lisa Volk in Clinical & Quality

CMS announces new initiatives to help nursing homes protect residents from COVID-19, July 22

New Funding

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will devote $5 billion of the Provider Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to Medicare-certified long term care facilities and state veterans’ homes, to build nursing home skills and enhance nursing homes’ response to COVID-19, including enhanced infection control.

This funding could be used to address critical needs in nursing homes including hiring additional staff, implementing infection control “mentorship” programs with subject matter experts, increasing testing, and providing additional services, such as technology so residents can connect with their families if they are not able to visit.

Nursing homes must participate in the Nursing Home COVID-19 Training (described below) to be qualified to receive this funding.

Nursing Home COVID-19 Training

CMS, in partnership with the CDC, is rolling out an online, self-paced, on-demand Nursing Home COVID-19 Training focused on infection control and best practices. The training being offered has 23 educational modules and scenario-based learning modules that include materials on cohorting strategies and using telehealth in nursing homes to assist facilities as they continue to work to mitigate the virus spread in their facilities. This program supplements training already underway to better equip nursing homes to contain and stop the spread of COVID-19. The training is a requirement for nursing homes to receive the additional funding from the Provider Relief Fund Program.

The training will be available to all 15,400 nursing homes nationwide along with specialized technical assistance to nursing homes who have been found to have infection prevention deficiencies in their most recent CMS inspection and had recent COVID-19 cases based upon their data submissions to CDC. A certificate of completion is offered and recognition badges can be downloaded for nursing homes to display on their website.

Enhanced Testing

CMS will begin requiring, rather than recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5% positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week. This new staff testing requirement will enhance efforts to keep the virus from entering and spreading through nursing homes by identifying asymptomatic carriers.

More than 15,000 testing devices will be deployed over the next few months to help support this mandate, with over 600 devices shipping this week. Funds from the Provider Relief Fund can also be used to pay for additional testing of visitors.

Read the Full Press Release

 

NYSHFA/NYSCAL CONTACTS:

Nancy Leveille, RN, MS
Director, Special Projects and Educational Development
518-462-4800 x20

Lisa Volk, RN, B.P.S., LNHA
Director, Clinical & Quality Services
518-462-4800 x15