Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare
CMS posted an updated Nursing Home Visitation Frequently Asked Questions on Thursday, January 6, 2022 during the COVID-19 Vaccine and Booster: National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call.
The 5-page FAQ document contains this introductory statement:
Watch for the red ink within this FAQ as that denotes the updated information. Those are #1, #6 and #8.
There are 3 new FAQs with this update:
- #10. With COVID-19 cases spiking due to the Omicron variant, should facilities continue to permit visitation?
- #11. Why can a resident choose to have a visit even when COVID-19 cases are increasing?
- #12. Are there any suggestions for how to conduct visits that reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission? For example, should facilities have different policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors?
I referenced the National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call early in this blog. This 1-hour call featured numerous speakers and was recorded. It should be posted soon on the CMS Podcasts and Transcripts website. You might also check the CMS Current Emergencieswebsite as sometimes those materials are posted there instead of the Podcasts and Transcripts page.
The call spoke to the Omicron variant surge, especially these past 2 weeks. We’re seeing a more than 98% increase in cases compared to the previous week. There has been a 63% increase in hospitalizations this past week as week as a 5% increase in deaths. Omicron is found in 93-97% of these new cases. Omicron is proving to be 2-3 times more transmissible than the Delta variant. There’s also concern that the Omicron variant will have a lower sensitivity to monoclonal antibodies. Almost 30% of Americans have not received the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine yet.
CDC officials reminded the call attendees that the recent guidance for quarantine and isolation were intended ONLY for the general population and NOT healthcare workers or visitors. Evan Shulman (Director of NH Division for CMS) spoke to seeing more staff cases rather than resident cases with the staff increasing the spread of the virus and not visitors to LTCFs. He encouraged LTC staff and visitors to not take risks outside the nursing home in order to keep the virus away from vulnerable residents. He also spoke to visitation within the late December guidelines followed by cleaning after visitation to protect staff and residents.
CDC officials spoke to pre-Christmas changes in interim guidance for staff management and mitigation. The slides and information that was addressed is also found here.
LTCFs were encouraged to work with their local health departments as well as reach out to their QIO organization for technical assistance. https://qioprogram.org/ is that homepage. Once there, you can click on the Locate Your QIO in the upper right of the page or go to https://qioprogram.org/locate-your-qin-qio/ and use the drop-down menu to find your state. There’s a lot of great information on the QIO website.
Questions regarding the January 6, 2022 National NH Stakeholder Call can be directed to: PARTNERSHIP@cms.hhs.gov.