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11/19/2020

Today's COVID-19 Report: Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Friday, November 20 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Today's Report

  • You asked... We answered
  • CMS releases nursing home COVID-19 training data with urgent Call to Action
  • November 23 deadline to sign up for Project ECHO
  • Ohio's daily cases exclude antigen tests
  • EIDC contact information: Immediate action may be needed
  • Care Compare Quarterly Refresh – November 2020
  • LeadingAge Ohio issues press release with holiday suggestions for families with older adult loved ones
  • LeadingAge Need to Know

You asked... We answered

You asked:

When a facility is required to move from weekly to twice-weekly testing, how can it access additional supplies from the state to support this?

We answered:

The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) has structured their testing plan to guarantee providers have access to testing supplies sufficient to meet the requirements for CMS “red” counties, or once-weekly testing. ODA will provide nursing homes one of the following, based on the facility’s selection:

  • Option One: Alternating PCR & Antigen
    - 2-rounds PCR for staff;
    - 2-rounds rapid antigen for staff;
    - Rapid antigen reserve to be utilized for staff and/or residents testing due to positivity or outbreak testing needs

  • Option Two: Antigen Test Only
    - 2-rounds rapid antigen for staff;
    - Rapid antigen reserve to be utilized for staff and/or resident testing due to positivity or outbreak testing needs

  • Option Three: PCR Test Only
    - 2-rounds PCR for staff

As noted previously, it is important that providers "dust off" POC machines and ensure adequate testing supplies on hand for outbreaks. If facilities' needs exceed their supply, they are encouraged to email CCURT@odh.ohio.gov and put "OUTBREAK TESTING SUPPLIES NEEDED" in all caps.

CMS releases nursing home COVID-19 training data with urgent Call to Action

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly recognized the 1,092 nursing homes where 50% or more of staff have completed CMS training designed to help staff combat the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. CMS applauds these facilities for taking this critical step to equip their staff with the latest information regarding infection control, vaccine distribution, and other topics.

The CMS training includes multiple modules, with emphases on topics such as infection control, screening and surveillance, personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, disinfection of the nursing home, co-horting and caring for individuals with dementia during a pandemic. CMS developed this training in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and expert stakeholders. The training is free to access on a public CMS website; instructions on how to create an account and take the training are available here.

A list of nursing homes at which 50% or more of staff have completed CMS COVID-19 training is available by clicking here. Approximately 120 Ohio nursing homes, including a number of LeadingAge Ohio members, are on the list.

November 23 deadline to sign up for Project ECHO

The deadline to sign up for the AHRQ ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network is Monday, November 23. The initiative is a collaboration between the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Project ECHO and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to advance improvements in COVID-19 preparedness, safety and infection control in nursing homes.

IPRO and LeadingAge Ohio will be your training center.  We will serve as a virtual community of practice for nursing home staff to engage with experts and their peers and share cases for real-time discussion and advice.

Any Medicare or Medicaid-certified nursing home is eligible to participate at no cost. Nursing homes that actively participate in the Network will receive $6,000 in compensation in recognition of the staff time involved. This reimbursement is available to those eligible to receive funding from the Provider Relive Fund and that have agreed to its terms and conditions. BELTSS CEU credits will also be available . 

Broadly, the Network aims to address the following goals:

  • Keep the virus from entering nursing homes where it has not entered
  • Identify residents and staff who have been infected with the virus early
  • Prevent the spread of the virus between staff, residents and visitors
  • Provide safe and appropriate care to residents wth mild and asymptomatic cases
  • Ensure staff have the knowledge, skills and confidence to implement best-practice safety measures to protect residents and themselves
  • Reduce social isolation for residents, families, and staff during these difficult times

Network sessions will run for 16 weeks and use the ECHO model – an “all teach, all learn” methodology developed around case-based learning and active engagement. ECHO’s virtual guided practice approach has gained significant traction both nationally and globally as a core learning strategy for education and training in healthcare. 

Interested nursing homes will need to send an email to Stephanie DeWees at sdewees@leadingageohio.org to get registered. 

Ohio's daily cases exclude antigen tests

On the weekly Thursday press conference, Governor DeWine shared a grave outlook for Ohio, as its first county (Franklin) became “purple,” the highest rating for the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, with no Ohio counties now rated as “yellow,” the lowest-severity rating.  

Related to Ohio’s tracking of new positive cases, DeWine noted that on Monday, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) began “holding back” test results received from antigen testing, since they are less accurate than PCR test results and are required to be verified with a follow-up PCR test or onset of symptoms. DeWine reported that since this decision, roughly 12,000 cases statewide have been held from the daily case counts, pending verification. This week, daily cases have ranged from 6,000 to 7,500, down from a peak late-last week over 8,000. When asked what the daily case values would be, were the antigen tests included, the Governor affirmed that it would be around 10,000 new cases per day.

Since Ohio nursing homes are heavily relying on antigen tests to support their testing, LeadingAge Ohio has reached out to ODH to inquire whether this has affected the long-term care dashboards, as well. LeadingAge Ohio will share more information as it becomes available.

EIDC contact information: Immediate action may be needed

Every nursing home and assisted living community in Ohio should be receiving Enhanced Information Dissemination and Collection (EIDC) alerts from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).  These alerts are typically time sensitive and, in the midst of a public health emergency, especially critical.  It is critical that contact information contained within the system is current.  If the appropriate contact within a facility is NOT receiving EIDC alerts, immediately update the information on the ODH Gateway.

Care Compare Quarterly Refresh – November 2020

The November 2020 quarterly refresh for the Hospice Quality Reporting Program is now available on Care Compare. Care Compare is the recently launched, streamlined redesign of eight existing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) healthcare compare tools on Medicare.gov, including Hospice Compare.

Please note that public reporting of hospices’ data will freeze after the November 2020 refresh, due to the temporary exemption to the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) data submission requirements in responding to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). This means that following the November 2020 refresh, the data publicly reported will be held constant through the November 2021 refresh. Further, no Provider Preview Reports will be issued for those refreshes that continue to display the constant or frozen data. For additional information on COVID-19 PHE data exemption, please see the Hospice COVID-19 Public Reporting Tip Sheet in the Downloads section of the HQRP Requirements and Best Practices webpage.

LeadingAge Ohio issues press release with holiday suggestions for families with older adult loved ones

With Thanksgiving less than one week away and cases surging in Ohio, LeadingAge Ohio yesterday shared ideas for family gatherings that involve older adult loved ones via a press release, particularly those who require long-term services and supports or reside in a congregate care setting. The recommendations were issued in an open letter to friends and family of older Ohioans, penned by Kathryn Brod and shared with LeadingAge Ohio members earlier in the week.

“The challenges of 2020 have been unprecedented, and there is no doubt that Ohioans are worn down by the repeated obstacles to visiting with older loves ones,” stated Kathryn Brod. “Despite this fatigue, fresh vigilance is required as we approach the holidays with an out-of-control case count. While the temptation is strong to enjoy the holidays as usual, extra precaution and creativity are required as we continue the fight against COVID-19 and care for this most at-risk group of Ohioans.”

The letter urged Ohioans with older adult loved ones, especially those who live in a congregate care setting or suffer from serious illness, to consider finding new ways to celebrate the holidays this year. It also shared that if a family insists on having their loved one come home for the holiday, it is likely the loved one’s long-term care facility will require transmission-based precautions upon their return or other measures to protect both residents and staff.

The full letter and press release can be viewed online. Members should use this information as a tool when communicating with families and residents over the holidays.

LeadingAge Need to Know: COVID-19 – November 20, 2020

LeadingAge shares the latest coronavirus news and resources with members twice each weekday. This morning's update featured the announcement of a new Pandemic Playbook, an interactive collection of insight, wisdom, and best practices for serving older adults during a catastrophic health crisis. Also featured was a critical webinar on how to report on your Provider Relief Funds. This webinar will be Wednesday, December 2 at 2:00PM ET and LeadingAge will detail how members can maximize use of payments received from the Provider Relief Fund while complying with current reporting requirements.

Check out the full report here.


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Questions

Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices. LeadingAge is continuing its daily calls for all members.  To participate in these daily online updates, members should register here.  

LeadingAge Ohio is working to ensure that the information in our daily alerts, on our website, and all coronavirus-related communications is as accurate as possible. However, LeadingAge Ohio makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the information. 

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.