MLTCOP to Resume In-Person Visits
The Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (MLTCOP) and the Aging and Adult Services Agency (AASA) have developed a guide for Michigan's long term care ombudsmen to resume in-person visits in response to the MDHHS Epidemic Order issued on June 30, 2020 which excludes long term care ombudsman from visitation restrictions.
Salli Pung, State Long Term Care Ombudsman shared a memo to providers today sharing that long term care ombudsmen will resume conducting in-person visits and the precautions utilized for these visits. In addition, Pung shared the MLTCOP Long Term Care Ombudsman Guide for Resuming In-Person Visits.
These guidelines identify ombudsmen will be utilizing virtual, window, outdoor or in-person visits based upon the Michigan Safe Start Plan Phase designation for the specific area. Ombudsmen will not visit more than one facility in a given day and will follow all facility screening protocols prior to entrance. In addition, ombudsmen will be reaching out to facilities to familiarize themselves with facility protocols & policies related to COVID-19. Likewise, ombudsman visits will be coordinated in advance with facilities throughout the pandemic.
Connect to Care Jobs Portal Launches
The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) in conjunction with ADvancing States has launched the Connect to Care Jobs portal, linking job candidates with employers. MDHHS recently shared the following message to providers, giving instructions on how to register. For questions or additional assistance, contact Jen Hunt at email@example.com.
As you know, Michigan is facing a shortage of direct care workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing shortage and presented significant staffing demands for licensed long-term care facilities throughout Michigan. While we recognize there are often staffing challenges within long-term care facilities, we know that support is needed now more than ever.
To help address this ongoing need, the Aging and Adult Services Administration (AASA) within MDHHS has partnered with ADvancing States, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers, to deploy a new job portal, called Connect to Care Jobs.
This portal is available at no cost, and allows for both long and short-term hiring, including hiring for specific shifts. Please visit the Connect to Care Jobs portal About Us page for more information on how the platform operates. MDHHS is actively recruiting job seekers interested in working in long-term care facilities, so we encourage you to register on this site to be quickly matched with individuals in your area who meet your required skill sets.
You may have already received notification from the Connect to Care Jobs portal through ADvancing States with additional information on how to register your organization. However, you can also complete registration by following the directions below:
- Sign up by creating an account on the Connect to Care Jobs portal and agree to the terms.
- Verify your account by entering the code emailed to you.
- Sign in using your registered email.
- Click on the "Tell us about your needs" button.
- Fill out the form explaining what types of positions your employer needs, and the dates and times that they are needed.
- Click on the submit your form button.
- After you have submitted your form explaining your needs, click on the "See job matches for your location" button to see if any workers match your needs.
- If you see a worker that matches your needs, contact them to arrange an interview.
- Once you have filled your vacancies, please update your profile.
National Guard Assisted COVID Testing Transitioning
Recently the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) contracted with an outside company, Honu Management Services, to expand COVID-19 testing resources. Honu has already started to transition into the work previously performed by the Michigan National Guard and will further expand to support nursing facilities in both on-site testing and drop-off of supplies. Honu is slated to begin providing service to those facilities currently utilizing the National Guard testing support. In addition, other providers may request support for the COVID019 testing needs by emailing MDHHS-LTCRequests@michigan.gov.
Honu offers alternative testing methodologies including saliva testing and nasal pharyngeal swabs, and offer direct test result delivery as well. Honu is reimbursed directly by MDHHS for testing, eliminating the need for providers to work through MDHHS's testing reimbursement system.
CDC Releases Interim Guidance on the Use of Antigen Testing
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new interim guidance on rapid antigen testing for COVID-19. The key to be aware of include:
- The two rapid antigen tests on the market (BD Veritor and Quidel Sofia2) are currently intended for use in diagnostic testing of symptomatic patients within five days of symptom onset.
- Through this new guidance, CDC expands use of these rapid antigen tests to include use as screening tool in congregate settings (such as a nursing home) for staff and residents.
Although CDC has approved this use, it is important to note that currently Michigan does NOT approve rapid antigen tests for routine, required screening of staff and residents. The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) has identified the point of care antigen testing is appropriate to rapidly test suspected affected individuals who are displaying signs & symptoms of COVID or have had close contact with a known COVID affected individual.
- Evaluating the test results must be done in context with the person's symptoms and how likely COVID-19 is in the group of people getting the tests, which is usually similar to the community's rate of COVID-19.
- Providers who are utilizing these antigen test devices must undergo proper training and be able to demonstrate competency and completion.
It's very important that providers who are utilizing the point of care antigen test device understand this new CDC guidance. AHCA/NCAL has developed a more comprehensive summary that members can utilize. This summary also includes information on how to access training for both antigen devices (BD Veritor and Quidel Sofia2) being distributed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
LSC Temporary Waivers
With the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) begins incorporating revisit surveys to close citations outstanding prior to the suspension of survey, the Life Safety Code (LSC) Division shared clarification on temporary waivers with HCAM. Per Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), temporary waivers are valid only for the issued 6-month period and are not eligible for renewal. Facilities who have an existing temporary waiver are being contacted individually to determine if the work was able to be completed prior to the suspension of survey activity, or remains pending. For those who have pending work, the LSC staff will work with the provider to identify the delays and provide an opportunity to have the work completed once the current visitation restrictions are lifted, without added or extended enforcement actions.
HCAM Shares Financial Impact of COVID-19 with Legislature
Click HERE to find a brochure detailing the financial impact on Michigan's nursing facilities of the COVID-19 response.
This brochure was shared with the legislature ahead of the legislature's work on the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget that should begin next week. The information emphasizes that support for nursing facilities is critical to protect the state's most vulnerable population. With the state facing a significant budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, it is essential that the legislature and administration prioritize health care providers, and especially nursing facilities.
FEMA Procures N95 Decontamination Devices
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) procured sixty decontamination devices from Battelle Labs, an Ohio based company, for various states across the nation. Michigan received a Battelle device on April 24 which includes four decontamination units housed at the TCF Center in Detroit, Michigan. The decontamination system is approved to process N95 respirators only.
Battelle's device can decontaminate thousands of N95 respirators using concentrated, vapor phase hydrogen peroxide. This service is offered at no charge to health care providers. Battelle's Fact Sheet for Healthcare Personnel offers guidance and answers questions regarding their process.
Battelle also offers weekly webinars for providers for which you can register. Instructions on how to utilize this service are included in Battelle's CCDS Presentation.
AHCA/NCAL Media Campaign
AHCA/NCAL has shared an update on the status of the national and DC media campaigns, including details about the ongoing work on the campaign, metrics and next steps. The campaign is targeted to increase consumer confidence, increase the long term care industry reputation with influencers, and improve advocacy among policy makers. The information included in the update is current as of August 10,2020.
For questions or concerns please contact Cathy Sunlin at CathySunlin@HCAM.org.
Aug. 20, 2020