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!
- Emerging research from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as universities such as Brown University and University of Chicago, are beginning to shed light on COVID-19 cases in long-term care settings. LeadingAge has reviewed this research, and highlights that:
- Medicare data indicates that people who are covered by both Medicaid and Medicare are four times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are Medicare-only beneficiaries.
- Many major studies correlated widespread COVID-19 infection in the surrounding community with greater likelihood of COVID-19 in the nursing homes.
- Most studies found no correlation between Five-Star Ratings and likelihood of COVID-19 infections/outbreaks in nursing homes, although two state-specific studies did find that four and five star homes were likely to have fewer cases of COVID-19.
- One study found higher rates of COVID in for profit nursing homes compared to not for profit and government-operated nursing homes.
- Two major researchers concluded: “COVID-19 has exposed long-standing issues in how nursing home services are structured and financed.” And they conclude that, “Nursing homes are in crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities need immediate support from policy makers and clinicians including testing, PPE, and support for staff. When nursing homes are able to reopen, this need for clinical support will not end.”
Read the entire article here.
- Following the order from PA Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, all nursing homes must implement universal testing by July 24, 2020. The CDC has also updated its guidance to recommend universal testing in congregate care settings. This test will serve as a baseline for all residents and staff. The PA DOH has outlined the following requirements for all lab testing: the lab must have a current Pennsylvania laboratory permit, be CLIA certified, be approved to perform COVID-19 testing using and FDA viral test, and commit to reporting all results, as mandated, into PA-NEDSS via electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) or manual entry. The list of approved labs is updated weekly on the DOH website.
- WRC is currently working to arrange universal testing starting at McKinley Health Center by the July 24th deadline, and will be utilizing the less-invasive nasal swab specimen collection, versus the nasopharyngeal (NP) technique. The nasal swab is a less invasive and gentler approach, and is an accepted format for specimen collection under Secretary Levine’s Order.
- The White House has started a new Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. The new commission’s mission is to review nursing homes’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and come up with recommendations for new regulations and procedures for future emergency situations. “The  commission members are leaders who bring decades of experience in nursing home management as well as safety and quality,” said Jay J. Schnitzer, MITRE’s chief medical and technology officer, who will serve as the moderator of the commission. “This diverse group will act quickly to identify and communicate best practices for protecting nursing home residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”
- LeadingAge is launching an “Act for Older Adults” Campaign as Congress prepares another COVID relief package, to demand that it include comprehensive relief measures to safeguard older adults and care workers. “80,000 people over 65 have died in just a few months, and the coronavirus is spiking in more than 20 states,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “More patchwork fixes and half-measures will cost thousands more lives. It’s time to end this national nightmare, with real leadership from the federal government and real relief from Congress.” Learn more about the campaign in the video below.
- WRC continues to require viral surveillance screening of all employees, including a temperature scan, before being allowed access into any of our facilities. After reviewing the screening, employees exhibiting symptoms would be asked to return home and refrain from work until they have received a negative COVID-19 test. Employees are still required to wear face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with CDC and DOH guidelines while at work.