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Is your skilled nursing facility ready to respond to a case of COVID-19?

Skilled nursing facilities across the country have been working tirelessly to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19. At the same time, facilities also should be setting protocol in place to respond to a COVID-19 infection. More than 400 skilled nursing facilities have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and those reports are escalating at dramatic rates.1 Being prepared to deal with infected residents and staff can be the difference between isolated infections and a COVID-19 outbreak that impacts residents and staff on a large scale.

Responding to a COVID-19 infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all skilled nursing facilities have a COVID-19 response plan in place2 as part of their preparedness plans.

According to the CDC, a SNF’s COVID-19 response plan should include:

  • Processes for isolating residents who have or who are suspected of having COVID-19, including assigning staff to care only for those residents, creating a designated triage area and providing infected residents with bedrooms and bathrooms that separate them from the rest of the SNF residents
  • Transmission-Based Prevention protocol for caring for those with COVID-19 or other respiratory infections
  • Identification of spaces within the facility that can be used for COVID-19 response, including triage, isolation and Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIRs) for patients who require aerosol treatments3
  • A process for transporting residents who are infected with, or who are suspected of being infected with, COVID-19
  • Contact procedures for alerting local and state health officials to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19
  • Communication plans for alerting residents, staff and families to the infection and plan for containing the infection
  • Protocol for monitoring residents with respiratory infections
  • Plans for monitoring and applying work restrictions to infected or exposed staff
  • Processes for screening and testing all residents for signs of COVID-19 or respiratory infections

Tracking COVID-19 in your facility

Your COVID-19 response and SNF infection prevention protocol also should include keeping careful track of staff, resident and visitor data. Your facility should be known and suspected infections, as well as respiratory infections with unknown causes, steps taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses and the effects of prevention protocols.

To help track COVID-19 cases, instances of respiratory infection and infection control protocol requirements, ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH provides the tools you need.

 

Sources:

1. Khimm, S., Strickler, L. “Nursing homes overwhelmed by coronavirus: ‘It is impossible for us to stop the spread’.” NBC News. April 1, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nursing-homes-overwhelmed-coronavirus-it-impossible-us-stop-spread-n1174171
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/novel-coronavirus-2019-Nursing-Homes-Preparedness-Checklist_3_13.pdf.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.” Accessed March 24, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html

 

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY®  and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Your skilled nursing facility’s COVID-19 communication plan

The news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak changes rapidly as new cases are detecting, new communities are affected, governments enact preventative measures and the medical community looks for treatments. Within your skilled nursing facility, timely communication with staff and residents, and residents’ families, is critical in helping to stop the spread of the disease and maintain calm. Sharing information effectively and quickly becomes even more important if a case is suspected or confirmed within your facility.

That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that skilled nursing facilities have a communication plan1 in place as part of their COVID-19 preparedness. Your plan should allow you to quickly share up-to-date information on COVID-19 prevention, as well as to rapidly inform residents, staff and families of a COVID-19 infection.

As you evaluate the effectiveness of your COVID-19 communication plan, you should consider:

  • Whether you have the infrastructure in place to quickly share important information about COVID-19 with staff, residents and their families
  • How you can respond to the CDC’s COVID-19 updates and share that information with your SNF community
  • How you can verify that staff and residents have received and understood important information regarding COVID-19
  • The evaluation of your staff’s ability to put COVID-19 safety measures into place after those measures have been communicated
  • How communication fits into your COVID-19 emergency response protocol

The CDC recommends the COVID-19 communication plan for your skilled nursing facility goes beyond simply disseminating printed materials. You want to be sure that your residents, staff and community are receiving and responding to the important information you share. Staff should undergo COVID-19 safety training, residents should be educated on the measures they can take and your facility should have an educational library your residents and staff can turn to as a resource.2

Your skilled nursing facility plays an important role in monitoring and sharing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you have a plan in place that will allow you to effectively share relevant COVID-19 information.

Tracking data related to the COVID-19 infection can help your facility respond to potential cases of the disease. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor infection and infection response data.

 

Sources:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/novel-coronavirus-2019-Nursing-Homes-Preparedness-Checklist_3_13.pdf.

2. Wilkins, D. “Coronavirus: Is your senior living facility prepared for a widespread outbreak?” McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. March 5, 2020.

 

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

CMS issues new COVID-19 reporting requirements for SNFs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has declared skilled nursing facilities “ground zero” in the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to monitor and control the spread of the virus within SNFs, CMS this week released new reporting requirements for COVID-19 infections.

The new infection reporting protocol are based, in part, on recommendations from the American Health Care Association and Leading Age. The two industry groups had called on skilled nursing facilities to report COVID-19 infections in a more timely manner.

Under the guidelines, SNFs must:

• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any positive COVID-19 cases within the facility within 12 hours

• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any instances of 3 or more respiratory illnesses within the facility within 72 hours

• Update residents, as well as their families and representatives, of COVID-19 infections and mitigation efforts weekly

• Report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

• Continue to meet requirements to report infectious diseases to state and local health departments

• Fully cooperate with all CDC efforts to monitor the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 reporting tools

To assist skilled nursing facilities with meeting the new requirements, the CDC will provide SNFs with a reporting tool. According to CMS, the reporting tool will be an important component in collecting national COVID-19 data to monitor the spread of the virus and coordinate infection response. Any COVID-19 data collected through the new reporting program will be made publicly available by CMS.

“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19. [This] action supports CMS’ longstanding commitment to providing transparent and timely information to residents and their families,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system and to efforts to reopen America.”

Improving your infection control program

Skilled nursing facilities can get additional help in monitoring COVID-19 symptoms and control efforts with ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH. This helpful application allows SNFs to enhance their infection control programs while adhering to all CMS requirements. Learn more about how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor COVID-19 prevention efforts.

 

Source: “Trump Administration Announces New Nursing Homes COVID-19 Transparency Effort.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. April 19, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-announces-new-nursing-homes-covid-19-transparency-effort

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.