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!
- The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has released updated guidance on determining risk of exposures and potential exposures, including how to decide if the exposures warrant work restriction for healthcare workers. The definition of “prolonged exposure” was extended to refer to a time period of 15 or more minutes of close contact (within 6 feet). Additionally, the DOH recommended that contact tracing should resume in areas where spread of COVID-19 in the community has decreased.
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that under the leadership of President Trump, CMS will be enhancing enforcement for nursing homes with violations of longstanding infection control practices. The enhanced and targeted accountability measures are based on early trends in the most recent data regarding incidence of COVID-19 in nursing homes, as well as data regarding the results of the agency’s targeted infection control inspections. CMS is increasing enforcement (e.g., civil money penalties (CMPs)) for facilities with persistent infection control violations, and imposing enforcement actions on lower level infection control deficiencies to ensure they are addressed with increased gravity.
- The Pennsylvania DOH also released updated guidance on testing for COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Updates to the guidance bring a renewed focus on:
- Keeping COVID-19 out of the facility by conducting baseline testing of all staff and residents
- Detecting cases quickly with facility-wide testing upon detection of a new case in a resident or healthcare personnel
- Stopping transmission by continuing weekly testing of all residents and staff through at least 14 days since most recent positive result
- DOH also suggests that facilities performing universal testing must have a plan for testing that includes: Access to testing with a rapid turnaround-time as well as resident cohorting and staffing plan.
- CMS announced that in addition to the enhanced enforcement for nursing homes with infection control practice violations, they will focus on equipping facilities with nursing home guidance documents, technical assistance webinars, weekly calls with nursing homes, and many other outreach efforts. However, State survey agencies will be required to complete infection control surveys in 100% of nursing homes by July 31, 2020.