To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: Video Conferencing Reminder; MassHealth Clinical Audits; Clarification on PPE Guidance
Date: May 29, 2020
Nursing facilities are required to provide all residents access to regular video conferencing by May 31, 2020, for the purpose of enabling live video communications with family members. It is recommended that facilities have, at a minimum, a sufficient supply of facility-owned video communication devices, a policy for residents and their families to request/schedule virtual visits, and a department overseeing the program. Infection Control Auditors will be assessing compliance with the 28-Infection Control Competency Checklist AND will inquire about the facility's video conferencing policy.
The purchase of tablet computers or similar technology is considered a permissible use of these supplemental payments and we encourage all facilities to review their current technology capacity to ensure that all residents have access to video conferencing on a regularly scheduled basis. Please keep in mind that infection control protocols must be adhered to when staff are assisting residents with these virtual visits.
MassHealth Clinical Audits – Impact on Isolation Space Program Eligibility
MassHealth Nursing Facility Bulletin 145 establishes a list of 28 infection control competencies for nursing facilities to implement as well as an audit policy to promote continued compliance and improvement. Each nursing facility will receive an infection control adherence score and determination after each audit. MassHealth has indicated that, if a facility is determined to be "Not in Adherence" on its Infection Control Audit, that facility is not qualified to operate an isolation space in accordance with the requirements of Nursing Facility Bulletin 144 (“Isolated Spaces for Nursing Facility Residents with a Positive Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Diagnosis”) and will be determined to have ceased to operate any existing isolation space as of the date of the audit. However, if a facility is determined to be "In Adherence" on a subsequent Infection Control Audit, they may resubmit the attestation required to operate an isolation space in accordance with Nursing Facility Bulletin 144. EOHHS will review such submissions and, if EOHHS accepts the new attestation, the facility will be eligible for the supplemental payment under Administrative Bulletin 20-37 as of the date of submission of the new attestation to MassHealth.
Important Clarification on PPE Guidance & Reminders
Mass Senior Care again urges facilities to NOT change their PPE policies based on the May 21st DPH Comprehensive PPE Guidance. EOHHS has clarified that this PPE Guidance is directed widely across the care continuum and does not change guidance or expectations for nursing facilities on the Infection Control Competency Checklist. In addition. it is important that front-line clinical leadership continue to model appropriate PPE use for clinical and non-clinical staff. All staff members and ancillary service providers from any department entering a resident unit should be trained on PPE policies and follow the appropriate protocols related to PPE. For the most recent EOHHS FAQs related to member questions please click here.