WRC Weekly COVID-19 Update
We’re sharing our weekly update to keep WRC employees, residents, and families informed of changing regulations and policies at the national and state level, as well as within the WRC continuum. Thank you to all WRC essential workers!
- PA Secretary of Health released a letter yesterday to outline a COVID-19 testing strategy. The letter outlines the Wolf Administrations’ testing strategy which focuses on three pillars: ensuring testing is accessible for all Pennsylvanians with symptoms of COVID-19; available by increasing supply and building community capacity and adaptable to the evolving landscape of the virus and data. Additionally, the letter asks that all long-term care and nursing facilities complete a survey, so that the administration can understand the testing environment in residential facilities, including those that have already done a test-based strategy or are pursuing one.
- Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance for re-opening nursing homes to allow visitation. Continuing to restrict visitation is understandably challenging for families, but is necessary in order to protect residents from possible transmission of the virus. CMS recommends that nursing homes should continue to restrict visitation in general based upon the following guidelines. The CMS plan outlines 3 phases for re-opening:
- Phase One: Visitation is generally prohibited, except for compassionate care and end-of-life situations. In those limited situations, visitors are screened and additional precautions are taken, including social distancing, and hand hygiene (e.g., use alcohol-based hand rub upon entry). All visitors wear a cloth face covering or facemask for the duration of their visit.
- Phase Two: Due to the elevated risk COVID-19 poses to the health of nursing home residents, visitation is still generally prohibited, except for compassionate care and end-of-life situations. In those limited situations, visitors are screened and additional precautions are taken, including social distancing, and hand hygiene (e.g., use alcohol-based hand rub upon entry). All visitors wear a cloth face covering or facemask for the duration of their visit.
- Phase Three: Visitation allowed with screening and additional precautions including ensuring social distancing and hand hygiene (e.g., use alcohol-based hand rub upon entry). All visitors must a cloth face covering or facemask for the duration of their visit.
- CMS also released guidelines for relaxing restrictions in long-term care settings. The guidance suggests that factors to inform decisions about relaxing restrictions should include: case status in the community, case status in the nursing home, adequate staffing, access to adequate testing, universal source control, access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and the local hospital capacity. Read more here.
- Under the direction of President Trump, CMS released a new toolkit developed to aid nursing homes, Governors, states, departments of health, and other agencies who provide oversight and assistance to these facilities, with additional resources to aid in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic within nursing homes. The toolkit builds upon previous actions taken by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which provide a wide range of tools and guidance to states, healthcare providers and others during the public health emergency. The toolkit is comprised of best practices from a variety of front line health care providers, Governors’ COVID-19 task forces, associations and other organizations, and experts, and is intended to serve as a catalog of resources dedicated to addressing the specific challenges facing nursing homes as they combat COVID-19. Find the toolkit here.
*CMS has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about reopening, visitation, and testing requirements here.