Legal Alerts

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Restricting all volunteers and nonessential healthcare personnel and other personnel (e.g. barbers);
  3. Cancelling all group activities and communal dining; and
  4. 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.

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:

  1. elective ambulatory provider visits,
  2. elective and non-urgent admissions, and
  3. routine dental and eye care visits.

Additional information from the CDC and CMS can be found at the links below.

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:

  1. Early recognition of individuals with respiratory infection.
  2. Patients should be placed at least 6 feet apart or in their car while waiting for treatment.
  3. Patients receiving treatment should be placed at least 6 feet apart.
  4. Personal protective equipment should be used by healthcare providers.
  5. 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.

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

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