COVID-19 Response: Important Updates for the Healthcare Industry: Long-Term/ Skilled Nursing Care, Healthcare Providers, and Dialysis Centers
New CMS Guidance for Nursing Home & Long-Term Care Residents
San Diego, Calif. (March 23, 2020) - On March 13, 2020, the federal Centers for Medical & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new guidance to further protect Nursing Home and Long-term care Residents from COVID-19. The guidance supersedes previously issued guidance and is based on the newest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The changes include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
a. Compassionate care exception visitors will be equipped with personal protective equipment (e.g. masks), and the visit will be limited to a specific room only.
- Restricting all volunteers and nonessential healthcare personnel and other personnel (e.g. barbers);
- Cancelling all group activities and communal dining; and
- Implementing active screening of residents and healthcare personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms.
Click the links below for more information from the CMS and CDC.
- CMS Announces New Measure to Protect Nursing Home Residents from COVID-19, press release, March 13, 2020
- Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nursing Homes (REVISED), CMS memo, March 13, 2020
- Preparing for COVID-19: Long-term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes, latest CDC guidance
CDC Guidance for Healthcare Providers and Facilities
In addition to interim guidance for healthcare facilities to prepare for community transmission of COVID-19 in the United States, the CDC and CMS announced on March 18, 2020 that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The delay is anticipated to help preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and make additional healthcare workforce available to care for patients who are the most in need. In addition, the CDC requests that the following events be delayed:
- elective ambulatory provider visits,
- elective and non-urgent admissions, and
- routine dental and eye care visits.
Additional information from the CDC and CMS can be found at the links below.
- CDC’s Resources for Clinics and Healthcare Facilities, CDC.gov
- Interim Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Community Transmission of COVID-19 in the United States, CDC.gov
- CMS Releases Recommendations on Adult Elective Surgeries, Non-Essential Medical, Surgical, and Dental Procedures During COVID-19 Response, CMS press release, March 18, 2020
- CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations, CMS.gov
CDC Guidance for Dialysis Facilities
On March 10, 2020, the CDC issued additional guidelines for dialysis facilities. The guidelines are to be used with prior general guidance issued by the CDC for “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations … in healthcare settings.” In the dialysis-specific guidelines, the CDC recommends:
- Early recognition of individuals with respiratory infection.
- Patients should be placed at least 6 feet apart or in their car while waiting for treatment.
- Patients receiving treatment should be placed at least 6 feet apart.
- Personal protective equipment should be used by healthcare providers.
- If a dialysis patient is suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19 then:
a. The health department should be notified about the patient,
b. "Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations … in healthcare settings" should be followed.
Additional information is available at the links below.
- Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings, CDC.gov
- Interim Additional Guidance for Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 in Outpatient Hemodialysis Facilities, CDC.gov, March 10, 2020
State and Local Guidance
Facilities should also check with their state and local departments of public health to assure that state and local guidance is being followed as well. State and local guidance is typically more restrictive than federal guidelines. These issues are evolving quickly, and we will post updates as needed.
Lewis Brisbois has formed a COVID-19 Attorney Response Team to help your business with the myriad legal issues arising from the outbreak. Visit our COVID-19 Response Resource Center to find an attorney in your area.
Katherine Weadock, Partner
- COVID-19 Response Resource Center
- Long-Term Care & Elder Law
- Healthcare Regulatory & Compliance
- COVID-19: Healthcare/Long-Term Care/Regulatory