National Nursing Home COVID Action Network

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

The National Nursing Home COVID Action Network – a partnership between AHRQ, the University of New Mexico’s ECHO Institute and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) – provides free training and mentorship to nursing homes across the country to increase the implementation of evidence-based infection prevention and safety practices to protect residents and staff.

As of Fall 2020, nearly one-quarter of the known COVID-19 deaths in the United States have been nursing home residents and staff. Advanced age, underlying frailty, and communal living conditions make nursing home residents especially vulnerable, and their reliance on nursing home staff members put these essential workers at high risk.

The new National Nursing Home COVID Action Network was created under an AHRQ contract worth up to $237 million that is part of the nearly $5 billion Provider Relief Fund authorized in 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The Network will provide free training and mentorship to U.S. nursing homes to enhance evidence-based safety practices to protect residents and staff.

Goals:

  1. Prevent SARS-COV-2 from entering nursing homes where it has not been detected.
  2. Identify residents and staff who have been infected with SARS-COV-2.
  3. Prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2 between staff, residents, and visitors.
  4. Provide safe and appropriate care to residents with mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
  5. Ensure staff members have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to implement best-practice safety measures to protect residents and themselves.
  6. Reduce social isolation for residents, families, and staff during these difficult times.

To achieve these goals, over 15,000 nursing homes that are certified to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be able to participate in a 16-week training program using a standardized curriculum developed by the IHI. Training and mentorship will be provided through the Project ECHO model of telementoring. Nursing home teams that would like to participate may sign-up on the Project ECHO website.

Project ECHO has built a community of over 250 training centers (referred to as Hubs) across the United States, comprising leading academic medical centers and large healthcare delivery systems in nearly every State. The project will recruit over 100 existing and new Hubs for this nursing home training effort, which will use a standardized curriculum developed by IHI as a foundation.