To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: Updated FAQs on Baseline and Surveillance Testing and OIG Updates Workplans to Include Covid-19 in Nursing Homes
Date: July 29, 2020
EOHHS Releases Updated FAQs on Baseline and Surveillance Testing
EOHHS has released updated FAQs related to baseline and surveillance testing of staff. FAQ #20 relates specifically to the surveillance testing schedule facilities should use if there are delays in baseline staff testing results.
Mass Senior Care has been notified by several members of unannounced visits from staff from the Boston office of the OIG. Mass Senior Care’s understanding is that these visits are part of a nationwide OIG “outreach” effort. The OIG developed a list of approximately 1,000 nursing homes and other facilities (including EMS providers) nationwide to visit, including dozens in New England. There is no underlying complaint. The purpose of the visit is to leave information for employees related to filing a complaint or concern related to fraud, abuse, neglect and mistreatment. Mass Senior Care will continue to monitor the OIG’s visits and will keep members updated.
In addition, the OIG has updated its workplan to include COVID 19 work in Nursing Homes. The work related to nursing homes includes:
Meeting the Challenges Presented by COVID-19: Nursing Homes
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for nursing homes. These challenges include procuring critical supplies, testing residents and staff, isolating high numbers of contagious residents, caring for those afflicted, and protecting staff on a scale never before experienced in this country. This nationwide, two-part study on nursing homes will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nursing homes. The first part will describe the characteristics of the nursing homes that were hardest hit by the pandemic (i.e. homes with high numbers of residents who had COVID-19 or had died). The second part will describe the strategies nursing homes have used to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on their residents and staff in the face of these unique circumstances.
Audit of Nursing Homes' Reporting of COVID-19 Information Under CMS's New Requirements
In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, CMS added requirements to an existing regulation that requires nursing homes to report to State and local health departments communicable diseases, health care-associated infections, and potential outbreaks. Under one requirement, these facilities must now report COVID-19 data (such as information on suspected and confirmed infections, and deaths among residents and staff) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its National Healthcare Safety Network system. The data must be reported in a standardized format at least weekly. We will assess nursing homes' reporting of CMS-required information related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Specifically, we will determine whether the data reported by nursing homes were complete, accurate, and reliable.