The Quality, Safety, and Oversight Group of CMS revised a memo addressing guidance for infection control and prevention concerning COVID-19 in home health agencies (HHAs) and religious nonmedical healthcare institutions (RNHIs). The memo was originally released on March 10, 2020 and was revised April 23, 2020. Even though it is titled for home health agencies and RNHIs, there is valuable information about CMS waivers and regulations, CDC guidance for optimizing personal protective equipment and return to work criteria for healthcare personnel with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Hospices may find this memo of interest, as it includes recommendations for visitation in residential facilities not certified by Medicare. NAHC understands more guidance is coming from CMS that is specific to hospices, but that information has not yet been released.

“Regarding HHA access to residents in assisted living and independent living facilities, CMS states the following:

CMS does not regulate these facilities, as they are subject to state jurisdiction. HHAs are encouraged to coordinate with assisted living/independent living facilities to assure services related to direct clinical care can be provided in an appropriate and safe manner. HHAs serve an important role in providing essential healthcare services in a variety of community-based settings, including assisted and independent living facilities. However, if the HHA staff are appropriately wearing PPE, and do not meet criteria for restricted access, they should be allowed to enter and provide services to the patient. Visit CMS guidance at: . HHA personnel should participate in any screening activity that the facility requires. If access is restricted, HHAs should communicate with the facility administration, including the state or local health department when indicated, on the nature of the restriction and timing for gaining access to HHA patients. This communication is essential for maintaining surveillance and preventing the spread of infection while also ensuring access of patients to essential home care services. HHAs should ensure they follow the CDC guidelines for restricting access for health care workers found at, and engage in discussions with facility administration regarding adherence to CDC guidance when restrictions are imposed absent a directive from the State or Local health department that is specific for that facility.”

Click here to read the memo.


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