Information from April 29th, 2021 CMS National NH Stakeholder Call

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

Yesterday’s CMS National Stakeholder Call was a good one.  At the end of the call, CMS stated that the recording and transcript of the call would be posted today on their Podcasts and Transcripts webpage, but as of mid-day, it is not found there.  Podcasts and transcripts from previous calls are there.  I’ll keep looking for those items – you may want to check for them later as well.  Look for the April 29, 2021 call.

I did locate the LeadingAge post CDC Guidance Updates: Interview with Kara Jacobs-Slifka April 29, 2021.  Dr. Jacobs-Sliftka’s comments to LeadingAge mirrored her remarks during the National Stakeholder call so take a look at that for her latest guidance.

Evan Shulman of CMS spoke to recent guidances in the form of QSO-20-38-NH and QSO-20-39-NH.  In both blogs, I provide the hyperlink to each QSO memorandum.  I’ve also excerpted the updated verbiage in each memorandum for your quick reference.  You need to review both with your team and respond accordingly.  These are significant updates that impact required staff and resident testing, visitation and communal dining, to name a few.  One such example I call out is that vaccinated staff no longer need to be included in required testing, based on your county positivity rate, unless that staff member becomes symptomatic or the facility experiences an outbreak.  Masking and distancing measures are covered based on the vaccination status of the individuals present is another example.  That includes communal dining, activity programs and staff meal/break times.  Again, assemble your team and review both QSO memorandums.

It was stressed several times that these updates apply to both residents and staff equally, particularly when referencing vaccinated vs. unvaccinated status.  Mr. Shulman noted that visitors must be allowed to visit their loved ones and LTCFs need to make such accommodations in the absence of a facility outbreak.  If the outbreak occurs and can be isolated to a specific area of the facility, visitation can be facilitated for the non-affected areas and visitors. 

Survey teams will not actively “seek out” vaccinated vs. unvaccinated individuals but will be checking closely with any outbreak to determine what lead to the outbreak – did the facility follow the CMS guidelines. 

CMS also stated that there will be another National Stakeholder Call soon.  As soon as that information is posted, I’ll post it in a blog so you can join that call.  

If you have questions about either QSO memorandum, submit them to: DNH_TriageTeam@cms.hhs.gov

I also encourage you to review this blog on updated CDC guidelines if you didn’t see it early this week.