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Talking about New regulations

Nursing Homes, Communication, and COVID-19

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wisely revise their reporting rules every so often based on current healthcare needs and new information. It’s no surprise to those who must follow those rules that this year’s pending revisions regard COVID-19. 

Nursing homes were the most well-known early and tragic hotspots during the pandemic, suffering high rates of infection but also a higher rate of death than other healthcare facilities. 

As a leading mass notification platform, Regroup is helping our clients learn about the pending regulations and how best to use communication tools in order to comply. Care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding were already required to have emergency preparedness plans in place, including ways to communicate internally and with residents’ representatives about emergencies. With an easy-to-use and scalable solution, nursing homes and assisted care facilities can very easily contact care providers, staff, patients and their family members or other representatives about any outbreaks, suspected cases, or data surrounding the virus. 

The impending CMS rule will impose new requirements for COVID-19 reporting to residents and their representatives: Nursing homes will have to keep their residents and residents’ representatives (including designated family or caretakers) informed in a timely manner of the facilities’ status and mitigation efforts surrounding COVID-19. In fact, they may have only 12 hours to inform residents and their representatives not only of confirmed cases, but the onset of known symptoms. Which means preparation in advance to share timely information is key. 

Outside of the regulatory mandates, notifying loved ones and other caregivers that homes are closing to visitors, or informing them specifically about those homes’ mitigation efforts is critical, compassionate, and a way to avoid needless confusion or strife. A messaging platform can make that much easier than traditional approaches like email or phone trees. Mass notification systems can send SMS/text messages, push notifications, emails, and voice messages to any device. 

Other changes the pending rule brings: It will require nursing homes to report their data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Nursing homes that fail to report confirmed cases of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 cases among either residents or staff could face repercussions. 

While the rule has not been published yet, the CMS has strongly recommended that nursing homes start using the guidelines now. 

For more detailed information about the regulations surrounding CMS and COVID-19, explore the CMS COVID-19 toolkit

Additional resources: 

CMS Rules and Emergency Preparedness

Regroup For Healthcare