To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: August Update for Surveillance Testing Guidance; Changes to REDCap Portal; DPH Updates Visitation Guidance; Important Reports to Review
Date: August 17, 2020
August Update for Surveillance Testing Guidelines in LTC
Facilities - Retesting of Previous Positive Individuals
The Department of Public Health’s (DPH) has provided clarification on COVID-19 Surveillance testing related to the management of individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The updated guidance is recommending individuals previously diagnosed with COVID-19 be retested under the following circumstances:
i. Individuals who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19, and who develop clinically compatible symptoms, should be retested if they are more than 6 weeks past their release from isolation. If viral RNA is detected by PCR testing, the patient should be isolated and considered to be re-infected.
ii. Individuals who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case should be retested and subject to quarantine if they are more than 90 days from their release from isolation.
New Link and Changes to REDCap Portal
Due to the ongoing technical difficulties, the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Chapter 93 portal will be moving as of Monday, August 17, 2020. The new portal can be accessed here: https://redcap.link/Chapter93.V3. With this new portal, facilities will no longer be required to sign in, but will instead select your facility name from a drop-down menu. Facilities will still be required to report every COVID-19 case and death among both residents and staff, as well as hospitalizations among residents with COVID-19. There is need to re-submit data that you previously submitted. An updated user guide has been released as well. DPH understands that persistent technical difficulties in the REDCap system have presented an obstacle to reporting data in a timely manner. These technical issues were largely due to the complex structure of the underlying database. To alleviate technical difficulties in the new portal, facilities will not be able to see submitted data. DPH plans to create a report that will be shared with facilities on a regular basis so that facilities can verify that submitted data is up to date and complete. If you encounter further issues or have questions about reporting data in the REDCap system, please address follow-up questions to: DPH.BHCSQ@MassMail.State.MA.US.
DPH Updates Visitation Guidance
The Department of Public Health’s (DPH) is providing long-term care facilities with updated visitors guidance to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of residents, facility personnel, and visitors. The updated guidance permits indoor visitation for parents and guardians of residents who are 22 years old and younger and who are unable to participate in an outdoor visitation. Parents and guardians of residents must be screened upon entry into the facility and must wear a face covering or mask at all times while in the facility. Additionally, facilities may allow family members or caregivers to participate in discharge education and training in order to safely learn how to care for their loved one at home. A family member or caregiver must be screened upon entry into the facility and must wear a face covering or mask at all times while in the facility. Discharge education and training should include only necessary participants who must remain at least six feet apart when not engaging in activities such as demonstrating resident transfers.
Important Reports to Review Weekly
Mass Senior Care would like to remind members to review the weekly publicly available data from both the federal NHSN and state REDCap reporting systems for accuracy. The weekly NHSN reports are reviewed by DPH and may trigger infection control surveys and by CMS which may impact future payment. Both the NHSN and the REDCap reports are publicly available to consumers and the media. The links to the reports are below:
- NHSN - https://data.cms.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-Nursing-Home-Data/bkwz-xpvg (the report must be downloaded to review)
- REDCap - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting (from the main page go to the “Additional COVID-19 data” section)
For information on correcting data entry errors on these reports, please contact:
- NHSN – Dawn Hobill, Healthcentric Advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org
- REDCap – The Department of Public Health at DPH.BHCSQ@MassMail.State.MA.US
Guidance Clarifies Allowable R.I. Trips Without Quarantine
After Gov. Charlie Baker's latest travel restrictions prompted questions about what was permissible for residents who live along the Rhode Island border, the state has published updated guidance that includes exemptions for activities like grocery shopping, visiting a doctor or attending to the needs of a family member. The new travel rules put in place by Gov. Charlie Baker required that as of Aug. 1 anyone entering Massachusetts from another state not on a safe list would have to either quarantine for 14 days, or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours. That safe list currently exempts visitors from New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York, and New Jersey, and initially included Rhode Island until some key metrics worsened and the state was added to the quarantine list. The new guidance posted online by Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel clarifies the types of day-trip activities that can take place between states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts without triggering the quarantine order. That list includes grocery shopping, visits to pharmacies, attending appointments physicians, dentists and mental health care providers, visiting people receiving treatment in hospitals or residing in congregate care homes, attending religious services, funerals or memorial services, or caring for a family member. The clarified rules make clear that people can enter Massachusetts to attend a judicial hearing or other official proceeding or to adhere to child custody arrangements without having to quarantine. The new information posted online also includes answers to commonly asked questions about permissible activities.