Provider Magazine – covers nursing homes – assisted living - memory care – rehab - policy

 

 

Skilled Nursing Facility Occupancy Rates Hit New Low Before Vaccines Took Hold <p>December 2020 occupancy rates for nursing homes fell to 71.7 percent, the lowest level since data have been collected, according to the latest NIC MAP® Data Service (NIC MAP) report, provided by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing &amp; Care (NIC). </p><p>Occupancy declined 13.3 percentage points since February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.</p><p>NIC experts acknowledge that skilled nursing occupancy has been hit hard by COVID-19. However, the latest numbers do not account for recent efforts to vaccinate skilled nursing patients and frontline health care workers, who are at greater risk than the general population of contracting the virus.</p><p>“New COVID-19 cases and mortalities are dropping steadily due to the vaccine’s reach and effectiveness in skilled nursing settings,” said Beth Burnham Mace, NIC’s chief economist. “As vaccination rates rise, occupancy rates are likely to increase in the coming months.”</p><p>According to NIC’s <a href="https&#58;//www.nic.org/snf-covid-tracker">Skilled Nursing COVID-19 Tracker, </a>from Dec. 20, 2020, to Feb. 14, 2021, <a href="https&#58;//blog.nic.org/per-resident-rate-of-covid-19-infections-reaches-pandemic-record-low-point-as-case-counts-continue-to-dip">new weekly confirmed cases of COVID-19 </a>in skilled nursing facilities fell 89 percent, while new cases nationwide declined 59 percent over the same period.</p><p>These numbers are nearly identical to the latest data on COVID cases announced by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), which show that nursing homes have seen an 82 percent decline in new cases among residents since the peak during the week of Dec. 20, 2020, when there were more than 30,000 new resident cases.</p><p>In the same period, community cases in the general population dropped by 46 percent, showcasing that vaccines are having an impact in protecting the elderly population in nursing homes, AHCA/NCAL said.</p><p>Even with vaccinations beginning to bring the crisis in skilled nursing facilities to an end, NIC said it is uncertain if all facilities will be able to sustain their financial well-being without help.</p><p>“Federal government support was essential last year for many skilled nursing facilities to continue to serve patients,” said Bill Kauffman, senior principal at NIC. “Whether all skilled nursing facilities can remain financially sustainable going forward will depend in part on additional governmental support as part of COVID relief and how quickly the bounce back in occupancy will occur.”</p><p>Click <a href="https&#58;//info.nic.org/nic-map-skilled-nursing-data-monthly-report">here </a>to access the latest skilled nursing data.<br></p>2021-03-05T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0620_News3.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;CaregivingPatrick Connole​In the new year, numbers of new COVID cases have dropped steadily in both nursing homes and the general population.
CMS Data Show 82 Percent Drop in Nursing Home COVID Cases<p>A report released on March 2 said nursing homes have seen the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) started tracking back in May 2020, suggesting that the vaccines are working, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).</p><p>Recent CMS data show that nursing homes have seen an 82 percent decline in new COVID cases among residents since the peak during the week of Dec. 20, 2020, when there were more than 30,000 new resident cases.</p><p>In the same period, community cases in the general population dropped by 46 percent, showcasing that vaccines are having an impact in protecting the elderly population in nursing homes, AHCA/NCAL said.</p><p>“We still have a long road ahead, but these numbers are incredibly encouraging and a major morale booster for frontline caregivers who have been working tirelessly every day for a year to protect our residents,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL. </p><p>“These new data showcase just how important it is for nursing homes residents and staff, as well as the general public, to get the vaccine because it is clearly working.”</p><p>The report also said cases have dropped to the lowest level since CMS started tracking weekly COVID cases in nursing homes last May.<br>Along with the lowest number of new cases, COVID-related deaths in nursing homes declined by 63 percent since Dec. 20, 2020.</p><p>“Though this report brings hope, we cannot let our guard down. We must continue to encourage folks to get vaccinated, especially caregivers and staff,” Parkinson said.</p><p>“Public health officials must also continue to ensure that long term care residents and staff remain the highest priority for accessing the vaccine, as the on-site clinics with CVS, Walgreens, and other pharmacy partners are coming to a close.”</p><p>Another top priority, he added, is the AHCA/NCAL call for the Biden administration to review its current guidance to nursing homes on restricting visitors and group activities.</p><p>“With millions of residents and caregivers now fully protected thanks to the vaccines, residents must be able to safely reengage in meaningful activities and be reunited with their loved ones,” Parkinson said.</p><p>In December, AHCA/NCAL launched <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Pages/GetVaccinated.aspx">#GetVaccinated,</a> a nationwide campaign to encourage all long term care residents, families, and staff members to consent to the vaccine as well as provide credible information to help inform their decision. Last week, AHCA/NCAL also <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx">announced</a> the nationwide goal of getting 75 percent of all long term staff vaccinated by June 30.​</p>2021-03-02T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/senior_woman_doc_1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;CaregivingPatrick ConnoleA simultaneous 46 percent drop in local community cases shows that vaccines are having an impact in protecting the nursing home population.
Nursing Homes Unveil New Goal to Have 75 Percent of Staff Vaccinated by June 30<p>With evidence COVID-19 vaccinations are helping to drive down infections in nursing homes and other long term care settings, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge are upping the ante by announcing a new nationwide goal of getting 75 percent of the approximately 1.5 million nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30.</p><p>Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the industry leaders said now is the time to act even bolder on staff vaccinations.</p><p>“With COVID-19 vaccinations being distributed across long term care facilities over the past two months, we have already seen a decline in cases in nursing homes, indicating that the vaccines are working,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of AHCA. </p><p>“Many of our staff continue to be excited about the vaccines and the hope they represent, but some caregivers still have questions,” he said. “We are continuing to inform our staff about the credibility and safety of the vaccines through our #GetVaccinated campaign, and we hope this goal will further encourage more of our staff members to get the vaccine.” </p><p>In December, AHCA said it launched <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Pages/GetVaccinated.aspx">#GetVaccinated ,</a> a national campaign aimed at encouraging all long term care residents, families, and staff members to consent to the vaccine as well as provide credible information to help inform their decision. </p><p>“Achieving a high rate of staff vaccinations will be a game changer for nursing homes. Real progress has been made in vaccinating nursing home residents. Now we must also achieve high rates of staff vaccinations,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. </p><p>“It’s critical to acknowledge the reasons for vaccine hesitancy are real and varied, and staff concerns must be understood and thoughtfully addressed as we work toward this goal. LeadingAge is committed to doing all we can with our partners and the [Biden] administration to ensure staff at our mission-driven members—at nursing homes and other care settings—have the information, conversations, and support they need to get vaccinated.” </p><p>LeadingAge, in partnership with the <a href="https&#58;//blackcoalitionagainstcovid.org/">Black Coalition Against COVID </a>(BCAC), is sponsoring a national town hall on March 4 to address concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine among all levels of staff working in aging services communities. </p><p>The association also regularly <a href="https&#58;//leadingage.org/covid-19-vaccine-information-and-resources">shares important vaccine resources </a>and hosts special webinars to connect members with experts on vaccine education. </p><p>According to a preliminary <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Data-and-Research/Center-for-HPE/Documents/CHPE-Report-Vaccine-Effectiveness-Feb2021.pdf">analysis, </a>COVID cases decreased at a faster rate among nursing homes that had completed their first vaccine clinic, compared to those nearby that had not yet administered the vaccine in the first month of the vaccine rollout. Recent Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) data show cases and deaths in nursing homes are declining rapidly, which indicates the vaccines are reducing the spread of the virus, according to AHCA. </p><p>“We look forward to working with President Biden’s administration and the CDC to make this goal happen,” Parkinson said. </p><p>“We cannot chance slowing the positive progress we have already made. Long term care facilities have been at the forefront of the pandemic since the beginning, and our staff care for some of the most susceptible to the virus, making it even more imperative that their caregivers get vaccinated,” he said.</p><p>“The sooner we can get more of our staff vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to defeat this deadly virus.”​</p>2021-02-25T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/mask_4.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;CaregivingPatrick ConnoleCMS data show cases and deaths in nursing homes are declining rapidly, which indicates the vaccines are helping drive down infections.
Data Show Drastic Drop in COVID Cases in Long Term Care Facilities<p>COVID-19 cases in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other long term care settings have dropped dramatically over the past two months, and new evidence shows the positive turn of events is directly related to the widespread vaccinations of residents and staff.</p><p>Recent data from the COVID Tracking Project, which includes residents in nursing homes, assisted living, and related settings, combined with nursing home-specific information from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), depict a virus in retreat. </p><p>For example, the Tracking Project numbers show that for the Feb. 18 week, U.S. long term care providers had 9,674 cases of coronavirus in their buildings. This number compares with 19,814 cases for the week of Feb. 11, 28,642 cases for the week of Feb. 4, and 50,131 cases the week of Jan. 28.</p><p>A December 2020 peak saw more than 72,000 cases reported in long term care, the data show.</p><p>As for the number of buildings experiencing an outbreak, for the week of Feb. 18, the Tracking Project said 139 facilities saw new COVID outbreaks. This compares to early and mid-January levels of more than 1,100 to 1,400 facilities recording new infections.</p><p>National media have noticed the trend, with a report in Axios on Feb. 23 noting that the large declines in long term care infections are tied to the vaccination program spearheaded by the federal government that has seen some 4.5 million residents or staff of nursing homes get at least one vaccination dose thus far. </p><p>As for weekly deaths from COVID, Tracking Project data show 4,239 lives lost in long term care facilities for the week of Feb. 18 (including new deaths from Indiana and Ohio that were not previously recorded from long term care) versus late January when nearly 11,000 deaths per week were seen.</p><p>For nursing homes only, AHCA/NCAL’s Dashboard, which updates COVID cases and trends, shows that for the most recent week of complete data (Jan. 31) new resident cases have declined by 67 percent since their high point from a month ago (Dec. 20) from more than 30,000 new resident cases to 11,000 cases. Deaths have also declined by 47 percent in the same time frame.</p><p>Added to these new statistics is a report from Scotland that the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduced COVID-related hospitalizations among the elderly by 85 percent. Further, the study said the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine cut seniors' hospitalizations by 94 percent. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not yet available in the United States.</p><p>According to Axios, Scottish researchers analyzed a broader data set covering the entire Scottish population of 5.4 million, of which 1.1 million people have received a first dose of the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines. Then, they compared the vaccinated with unvaccinated, “and they saw strong evidence of protection,” the report said.</p><p>From December until mid-February, around 8,000 people ended up in the hospital with COVID in Scotland, but only 58 of those individuals came from the vaccinated group.</p><p>See the COVID Tracking Project data at <a href="https&#58;//covidtracking.com/nursing-homes-long-term-care-facilities?utm_source=newsletter&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosvitals&amp;stream=top">https&#58;//covidtracking.com/nursing-homes-long-term-care-facilities?utm_source=newsletter&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosvitals&amp;stream=top </a>and AHCA/NCAL Dashboard at <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Data-and-Research/Pages/default.aspx#covid-dashboard">https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Data-and-Research/Pages/default.aspx#covid-dashboard.</a></p>2021-02-23T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0220_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;CaregivingPatrick ConnoleNew evidence shows the positive turn of events is directly related to widespread vaccinations of residents and staff.

 

 

Protecting Our Staff Has Never Been More Criticalhttps://www.providermagazine.com/Topics/Guest-Columns/Pages/Protecting-Our-Staff-Has-Never-Been-More-Critical.aspxProtecting Our Staff Has Never Been More Critical<p>Our nation’s most vulnerable population has been amongst the hardest hit by the historic COVID-19 pandemic. Since day one, caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities have worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff, but facilities were forced to fight the virus with limited resources. <br><br>Critical resources, essential in fighting the virus, were hard to come by in almost every facility. Specifically, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) was a challenge for many facilities. Worldwide supply chain issues and soaring demand across every industry left long term care providers scrambling to acquire and afford the masks, gowns, and gloves they needed to help keep staff members safe and prevent further spread of the virus.<br><br>Many suppliers delayed or limited the size of providers’ orders, and many providers got taken by scammers pretending to have legitimate PPE.<br><br>The long term care industry made repeated calls to federal and state officials to prioritize these settings for PPE, but shortages remained. Many facilities were forced to reuse items like N-95 masks or use handmade cloth facemasks, all in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to optimize PPE supplies.<br><br>Moreover, early on in the pandemic, public health officials focused on a symptoms-based approach even though we knew the virus was spreading through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers. The CDC did not revise its guidance to nursing home personnel to wear facemasks at all times throughout the facility until June 2020—five months into the pandemic.<br><br>While access to PPE has improved since last year, long term care providers still struggle to afford the high cost of quality equipment, and suppliers anticipate continued strain on items such as gloves. Some believe facilities should be fined or issued citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or other regulators in an effort to enforce use of PPE. But that approach would only make the situation worse. <br><br>The health and safety of long term care staff and the residents they care for is and always should be the top priority. Facilities have taken historic steps to keep the virus out of facilities and limit its spread if it does make its way in. Their efforts have saved lives. Fining a facility for lack of PPE due to global supply shortages would help no one. We need a public and private partnership so that health care settings, including long term care facilities, have the necessary supplies to protect our health care heroes on the frontlines.<br><br>We should all be working together to ensure facilities have the resources they need, not making matters worse with fines that only draw resources away from where they should be focused: on our residents and staff. <br><br><strong><a href="mailto:dgifford@ahca.org">David Gifford, MD, MPH,</a></strong> is chief medical officer and senior vice president, quality and regulatory affairs, of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.<br>​</p>Our nation’s most vulnerable population has been amongst the hardest hit by the historic COVID-19 pandemic. 2021-03-04T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/PublishingImages/Headshots/DavidGifford.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />COVID-19;WorkforceDavid Gifford, MD, MPH

 Take our Poll

 

Provider magazine will curate a series of thought-provoking talks. Known as LED — Lead, Engage, Discover — they are aimed at bringing you topics and ideas that are evocative, inspirational, and sometimes unsettling.