The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new recommendations to SNFs, as well as state and local governments. According to a CMS press release, these recommendations were developed as CMS “worked hand-in-hand with the CDC.”
During an initial wave of surveys conducted the week of March 30, CMS found that 36% of facilities did not follow proper hand washing guidelines and 25% failed to demonstrate proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These guidelines are not new to SNFs. CMS also note:
CMS is continuing to conduct targeted infection control inspections to ensure nursing homes are prepared to confront COVID-19 and keep their residents safe. Finally, Medicare is now covering COVID-19 testing when furnished to eligible beneficiaries by certified laboratories. These laboratories may also choose to enter facilities to conduct COVID-19 testing.
The recommendations announced today include:
- Nursing homes should immediately ensure that they are complying with all CMS and CDC guidance related to infection control.
- Nursing homes should immediately implement symptom screening for all staff, residents, and visitors – including temperature checks.
- Nursing homes should ensure all staff are using appropriate PPE when they are interacting with patients and residents, to the extent PPE is available and per CDC guidance on conservation of PPE.
- To avoid transmission within nursing homes, facilities should use separate staffing teams for residents to the best of their ability, and, as President Trump announced at the White House today, the administration urges nursing homes to work with state and local leaders to designate separate facilities or units within a facility to separate COVID-19 negative residents from COVID-19 positive residents and individuals with unknown COVID-19 status.
As part of the recommendations, CMS and the CDC urged state and local leaders to consider the needs of long term care facilities with respect to supplies of PPE and COVID-19 tests.