For COVID-19 Testing to Succeed in Nursing Homes, Lab Access is Critical — But Capacity Hard to Define

Test. Test. Test. That has been the mantra since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flashpoint of criticism over the early efforts of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the call from multiple skilled nursing operators and experts. To contain the pandemic and stem its impact on nursing homes across the […]

House Briefing: COVID-19 in Nursing Homes ‘Blasted the Doors Open of a System that Was Already Failing’

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the nursing home sector and exposed endemic flaws in the long-term care system in the U.S., several witnesses testified before members of the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee in a video briefing held Thursday. The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis heard testimony from a range of witnesses on the […]

Nursing Homes Face Fines, Lawsuits Unless They Test for COVID-19 — But Access Often Out of Their Hands

As increasing numbers of states recommend so-called “universal testing” for nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the wake of the impact of COVID-19, skilled nursing facilities need to ensure they follow the applicable guidelines — a significant challenge given how varied that guidance could be. And depending where a SNF is located, testing capacity […]

Home Health Steps Up to Fill Staffing Gaps in Nursing Homes Amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic struck the Northeast with particular force, with skilled nursing facilities sitting on the front lines. One of the pressures stemming from the pandemic came on the workforce front, as frontline caregivers such as nurses and certified nursing assistants fell ill with COVID-19. And as the spread of the virus accelerated in New […]

During a Pandemic, Boosting Infection-Control Fines on Nursing Homes May Do More Harm Than Good

The federal government announced on Monday that it would be cracking down on infection control violations in nursing homes, with fines increasing for facilities with a history of deficiencies in this area — a move that came alongside the announcement that almost 26,000 skilled nursing residents died from COVID-19 across the country. But two researchers […]

Regulatory Roundup: OSHA Hands Out First COVID-19 Citation to a Nursing Home, Azar Promises Investigation in PA

A nursing home in Georgia operated by Winder Nursing was the recipient of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) first citation related to COVID-19. The nursing home delayed reporting the work-related hospitalization of six workers who were infected, according to a May 18 citation first covered by ABC News. The hospitalizations occurred as early […]

Skilled Nursing Occupancy Hit Record Low in March, ‘Mainly’ Due to Post-Acute Admission Decline

New data reveals significant skilled nursing occupancy declines in amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, primarily driven by a drop in admissions to the post-acute setting, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). Skilled nursing occupancy dropped 132 basis points from February to 83.4% in March, pushing the national census to […]

HHS Strategic COVID-19 Testing Plan Includes Federal Support, But States Have to Execute

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Sunday released its “COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan” to Congress, and argued that a targeted testing strategy “based on diagnosis, contact tracing, and smart surveillance” is the best solution to allow the country to emerge from pandemic-inducted lockdowns. The report, which was released as part of requirements […]

How Nursing Homes Can Bolster Infection Control — for COVID-19 and Beyond

Amid the national emergency caused by COVID-19, infection control in skilled nursing facilities has come under intense scrutiny, with past violations examined under the media microscope — and surveys from the government focused solely on the issue. That scrutiny is only likely to increase due to the challenge nursing homes face trying to contain COVID-19 […]

Without Funding and Resources, CMS’s New Nursing Home Testing Guidance ‘Hollow’

Without the funds and the resources needed to meet COVID-19 testing recommendations, the federal government’s guidance on reopening nursing homes could create more confusion for skilled nursing facilities — and more challenges on top of the considerable strain they already face in combating the spread of the illness. “At a high level, I really think […]

CMS Issues Guidance to States on Reopening Nursing Homes: Universal Testing Needed to Lift Visitation Ban

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidelines on reopening nursing homes on Monday, with parameters around testing requirements and visitation — while emphasizing that nursing facilities will be among the last institutions that can safely reopen as the U.S. takes tentative steps toward moving out of COVID-19-induced lockdowns. CMS announced that states […]

Inside an Ambulance Company’s Plan to Redeploy EMTs as Nursing Home CNAs — During COVID and Beyond

Staffing shortages were a problem for skilled nursing facilities well before the current national emergency, but COVID-19’s behavior has exacerbated the challenges. Asymptomatic workers who moved from facility to facility — and who, by nature of their work, from patient to patient — were a major part of the reason the Life Care Center of […]

Fitch Ratings Drops Welltower’s Outlook to Negative Amid COVID-19 Pressures

Fitch Ratings on Wednesday revised its rating outlook for Welltower Inc. (NYSE: WELL) to “Negative,” down from “Stable,” while affirming the rating at “BBB+.” The Toledo, Ohio-based Welltower has a portfolio in which senior housing facilities accounted for 62% of net operating income as of March 31, while skilled nursing facilities account for about 15% […]

Aid Bill Would Pause MFAR Medicaid Crackdown During COVID-19, Boost Federal Match by 14%

House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a major aid package with a provision that would indefinitely delay the implementation of a controversial rule that imperiled billions in Medicaid funding for skilled nursing facilities. The bill also would boost the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), or Washington’s share of state Medicaid rates, by 14% — up from […]