​Lightning-speed changes to regulations and an even greater concentration on infection control and management spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic has put a new spin on quality efforts across the long term care setting. The uncertainty over the long-term fate of CMS waivers on quality measurement and staffing reports has added to a confusing turn of events for providers, reports Contributing Editor Joanne Kaldy in the August cover story. Clinicians say that until these issues become clearer, providers must document everything they are doing to isolate infected patients, including their efforts to secure personal protective equipment.

A senior CMS surveyor puts hand hygiene at the top of the list of infection control areas needing improvement, says Alexis Roam, RN-BC, at AADNS. In Focus on Caregiving, she proposes a hand hygiene surveillance program in which the infection preventionist performs unannounced observations of health care workers who interact with residents. The data collected can then be used to track how well staff members are complying with handwashing and in setting goals for enhanced hygiene.

In a feature called “Lessons Learned From the Front Lines,” author Richard Juman, PsyD of TeamHealth, a group of physicians who provide medical services for skilled nursing facilities, reports how the company prepared its physicians to help 20 facilities in the Spokane, Wash., area, early in the coronavirus crisis. Partnerships were formed between the SNFs and local hospitals, and the clinicians were supplied with best practices, daily updates, and new strategies around infection control to keep everyone working in sync.

In an upbeat Technology in Health Care column, Joel Landau of the New York City Allure Group, reminds readers of the silver linings that came from past tragedies. In this case he points to how the pandemic has led providers to fast-tracking tech solutions such as telemedicine and remote contact-free monitoring systems. He speculates that COVID-19 may even force innovators to solve the EHR interoperability problem.