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01/05/2021

Today's COVID-19 Report: Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Wednesday, January 6, 2021 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Wishing a blessed and happy new year to all! 


A REMINDER TO ALL MEMBERS

Check LeadingAge's FAQs and Resources on COVID-19 Vaccines and Issues Surrounding Vaccinations frequently. The most recent update includes Q&A on implications of mandating the vaccine for staff.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has released a preliminary toolkit that has been developed with talking points, language tips, social media language, and trusted resources to help you better communicate about the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines that have arrived in Ohio.

In Today's Report

  • LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Call today at 3:30PM - Special guests Dr. Robin Jump and Allison Salopeck to join
  • CVS responds to LeadingAge members’ requests for answers
  • EIDC contact information reminder from ODH
  • ODH shares vaccine progress: 51% complete in nursing homes
  • CMS adds five (5) new focused infection control survey triggers
  • All-member Q & A webinar - January 12 at 11:30AM
  • Adult Day Service and Senior Center provider relief deadline extended
  • Vaccine toolkit for affordable housing providers; Town hall for seniors housing and assisted living
  • Housing Happenings calls continue throughout 2021: Topic ideas encouraged
  • LeadingAge Need to Know

LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Call today at 3:30PM - Special guests Dr. Robin Jump and Allison Salopeck to join

Today at 3:30PM, Dr. Robin Jump, an Infectious Diseases physician at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, will discuss ways to address staff vaccine hesitancy, potential side effects, and the new UK strain and its interaction with vaccines. Allison Salopeck, CEO of Jennings Center for Older Adults & LeadingAge Ohio Board member, will also join the call to discuss the vaccine clinic experience in a large multiservice organization.

If you haven’t signed up for these calls, please do so by clicking here.

CVS responds to LeadingAge members’ requests for answers

On Monday's LeadingAge call, CVS/Omnicare leader Derek Darling told members that CVS is taking two steps to address provider concerns. First, they are assigning a CVS point of contact to every one of the 40,000 participating providers. Second, they are setting up “office hours” where providers can talk to a “real person” three days a week. LeadingAge asked additional questions that have come up from members, and a summary of those answers can be found here.

EIDC contact information reminder from ODH

Once again the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is asking LeadingAge Ohio members to ensure Enhanced Information Dissemination and Communication (EIDC) information is up to date. Every nursing home and assisted living community in Ohio should be receiving these EIDC alerts, as they are typically time sensitive and, in the midst of a public health emergency, especially critical. It is critical that contact information contained within the system is current. If the appropriate contact within a facility is NOT receiving EIDC alerts, immediately update the information on the ODH Gateway.

Upon investigation, ODH noted that on occasion a provider might ONLY input contact information for "incident notifications". To receive important updates, the correct email address must be entered for BOTH “General notifications” and incident-related notifications. 

ODH shares vaccine progress: 51% complete in nursing homes

On its monthly call with stakeholders yesterday, Ohio Department of Health (ODH) leadership shared that the first round of vaccinations in nursing homes was 51 percent complete, and anticipates finishing nursing homes in the next week to ten days. For a small number of facilities that had significant absences or outbreaks, the pharmacy partners will return for an additional vaccination clinic, but they are working to stay as close to the three-week window between doses as possible.

Administration leadership noted that 70-90 percent of residents are accepting the vaccine, while only 30-40 percent of staff received vaccines in the initial round. The Administration is holding roundtable discussions this week in hopes that staff who are on the fence about the vaccine will be able to have their vaccine-related questions answered by Ohio’s leading clinical experts.

The Administration is actively discussing what types of incentives it may offer to providers who achieve a high vaccination rate. A clinical advisory group is considering steps like reducing testing frequency for individuals who have received the vaccine. Other conversations related to the wind-down of COVID restrictions, including how visitation and access will be reopened as vaccine rates continue to increase in facilities and the community at large.  

While assisted living is slated for the next phase of vaccines, many assisted living facilities already have their first clinic dates.

CMS adds five (5) new focused infection control survey triggers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a revised memo QSO-20-31-ALL-REVISED on Monday (January 4) that includes new triggers for focused infection control (FIC) surveys. Effective immediately, there are five additional scenarios that will trigger FIC surveys:

  • Multiple weeks with new COVID-19 cases;
  • Low staffing;
  • Selection as a Special Focus Facility;
  • Concerns related to conducting outbreak testing per CMS requirements; or
  • Allegations or complaints that pose a risk of harm or immediate jeopardy to the health or safety of that are related to certain areas such as abuse or quality of care (e.g., pressure ulcers, weight loss, depression, decline in functioning).

FIC Surveys will still be trigger for any nursing home with three (3) or more new COVID-19 confirmed cases since the last National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 report, or one (1) confirmed resident case in a facility that was previously COVID-free.

Facilities that meet the criteria above to trigger an FIC survey do not need to be resurveyed if an FIC survey was conducted (as a stand-alone FIC survey or as part of a recertification survey) within the previous three weeks. CMS has instructed surveyors when conducting FIC surveys to be alert to and investigate any concerns related to residents who have had a significant decline in their condition (e.g., weight loss, mobility) during the public health emergency. CMS received questions from stakeholders as well as Federal and State Surveyors related to the resumption of survey activities. The revised QSO-20-31-ALL-REVISED memo includes FAQs addressing questions on LTC facility Health surveys, Emergency Preparedness surveys and Life Safety Code surveys (for all provider types), along with a Guide to Waived F-Tags and K-Tags for clarification.

A reminder to all members:  LeadingAge Ohio is here to support you with your surveys. Please reach out to Stephanie DeWees at any time during your survey, or if you have questions about surveys, by emailing her at sdewees@leadingageohio.org or call 614.545.9034.

All-member Q & A webinar - January 12 at 11:30AM

LeadingAge Ohio will host its bi-monthly all-member webinar focused entirely on member questions and answers on Tuesday, January 12 at 11:30AM.

During the unscripted, 30-minute webinar, LeadingAge Ohio policy and regulatory experts Stephanie DeWees, Anne Shelley, Kathryn Brod and Susan Wallace will field YOUR questions on the vaccine and all things compliance, including infection control, testing, surveys, reporting requirements, and other fast-moving topics.

Members still have time to send questions in advance to the COVID-19 mailbox. Alternately, members will be able to chat in questions during the webinar. Registration is required, but there is no fee to participate.

Adult Day Service and Senior Center provider relief deadline extended

One concern shared across providers is the challenge of expending all coronavirus relief payments by December 31, 2020, and the uncertainty of additional payments as the pandemic continues. One much-needed change included in the recent federal relief bill extended the deadline both for expending funds as well as reporting requirements.  

On December 27, 2020, the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 was signed into law which extends the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) expenditure deadline. Due to this extension, the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) has extended the deadline to use these funds from December 30, 2020 to March 31, 2021. 

The covered period to expend these funds is now March 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. All other requirements remain unchanged except for the final reporting requirements, which have also been amended as follows:

  • Interim financial activity reports are still due within the Grants Portal on or before January 6, 2021.
  • Final financial activity reports will now be due within the Grants Portal on or before April 9, 2021; previously February 10, 2021.

If you have remaining questions, please feel free to contact Marty Lay at mlay@age.ohio.gov.

Vaccine toolkit for affordable housing providers; Town hall for seniors housing and assisted living

LeadingAge has compiled a Vaccine toolkit for Affordable Housing Providers that includes communication tips and tools for residents and valuable resources regarding the vaccine roll out. CVS, one of the pharmacy partners in the vaccine distribution, compiled a white paper on understanding and addressing hesitancy to the vaccine.

A Town Hall is scheduled for Tuesday, January 12 from 12:00PM - 1:00PM with LeadingAge, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Public Health and more for assisted living and senior housing administrators, managers, and staff. The event will feature panelist updates and an audience Q&A to address the science behind vaccines, vaccination distribution, messaging strategies, infection prevention, and other vaccine updates. The event will feature Ruth Link-Gelles from the CDC’s vaccine distribution Pharmacy Partnership program and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein from JHU, among others. Register here for the town hall. 

Housing Happenings calls continue throughout 2021: Topic ideas encouraged

Housing Happenings calls, an opportunity for seniors housing providers of all types to connect on topics of interest, will continue weekly on Wednesdays at 9:00AM with plans to continue highlighting a special topic on the third Wednesday of the month throughout the year. Topics anticipated for the monthly highlights include health and wellness, community engagement, technology in affordable housing and more. Registration details for future calls will be shared with members as soon as it is available. If you have a topic idea for future calls, please contact Jennifer Taylor at jtaylor@leadingageohio.org.

LeadingAge Need to Know: COVID-19 – January 6, 2021

LeadingAge shares the latest coronavirus news and resources with members twice each weekday. This morning's update featured information on a Vaccine Town Hall for assisted living and senior housing providers taking place next Tuesday, January 12.

Check out the full report here.


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Questions

Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices. LeadingAge is continuing its daily calls for all members.  To participate in these daily online updates, members should register here.  

LeadingAge Ohio is working to ensure that the information in our daily alerts, on our website, and all coronavirus-related communications is as accurate as possible. However, LeadingAge Ohio makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the information. 

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.