CMS Updates Healthcare Facility Inspections Due to COVID-19

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2020 2:26 PM

On Monday, CMS announced that its going to target healthcare facility inspections due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S.  Nursing homes pose a unique risk as they are permanent homes to over 1.3 million people. 

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said this week “unfortunately, infection control and prevention has been a longstanding challenge for nursing homes, and one the Trump Administration has been working to address for quite a while.  Last April, we unveiled a five-part approach to ensuring safety and quality in nursing homes, which we’re implementing with great success. Crucially, these reforms have better prepared us to respond to emerging threats to nursing home resident safety, such as that which the Coronavirus poses.  They’ve helped us to demonstrate a rapid responsiveness to the changing situation on the ground. On March 4, we redoubled our infection control inspections in nursing homes and advised nursing homes to screen visitors. Then, on March 13, we directed nursing homes restrict visitation even further, to only allow entry to essential staff. And we’ve joined the CDC in a Task Force dedicated to nursing home safety, which meets daily.  With the CDC telling us, as of this week, that at least 146 nursing homes across 27 states have confirmed Coronavirus cases, it’s these kinds of aggressive actions that will see us through this crisis. “

A nursing home in Kirkland, Oregon was deemed ground zero for the coronavirus in America.  The CDC reports that 81 residents, 34 staff and 14 visitors became ill.  Of those, 26 lost their lives due to the pandemic.  After a thorough review of that nursing home, it has been cited as a facility that is in “immediate jeopardy”, meaning its patients are in imminent danger.  They found that the nursing home did not identify and manage sick patients, they didn’t notify their state health department about the illness and did not have a plan for when their staff fell ill. 

CMS will be inspecting every nursing home either in person or through a survey tool (in case their inspectors cannot inspect the facility due to an outbreak of the coronavirus) to assess their safety.

Administrator Verma’s remarks can be read in full here.

CMS’s Press Release on Life Care Center Nursing Home in Kirkland, Washington can be read here.

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