Archive September 2021

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PRF Phase 4 & Rural Distribution Application Open

The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 and Rural Distributions application webpage is now live. It offers an array of guidance and new educational opportunities including additional webinar dates in October. Notable materials are:  The application will close on October 26, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Applications must undergo a number of validation checks before financial information is submitted.

Providers are encouraged to begin their application as soon as possible to ensure they are able to meet the deadline. Information on the documents and information needed to apply can be found in the resources following.

In order to streamline the application process and minimize administrative burdens, providers will apply for both programs in a single application. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) will also use existing Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, and Medicare claims data in calculating portions of these payments.

Other HRSA resources include: 
HRSA also updated its searchable FAQs and the FAQ Document in PDF adding Phase 4 and Rural Distribution eligibility ad application FAQs as well as new PRF Reporting FAQs.

AHCA/NCAL has included the new FAQs on Phase 4 and Rural Distributions and updated Reporting FAQs which can be found here.

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New to the Fall Conference this year: Facilitated listening sessions

Never has the need to connect been more crucial than it has been during the Covid-19 pandemic. The opportunity for long term providers to share common experiences, struggles, and solutions through conversations with peers is a key benefit to attending the MHCA Fall Conference. When this year's event transitioned to a virtual one, MHCA staff placed high priority on affording attendees the opportunity to connect, even in a virtual space. We are pleased to share that each day of the conference MHCA staff will facilitate a listening session, open to all attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. These sessions have themed topics each week and will take place from 12:00-12:45 PM on October 20, 27, and November 3. The listening schedule themes are as below:

October 20: Vaccine Attitudes and Perceptions Sponsored by: MAS Medical Staffing
October 27: Resident and Family Engagement Sponsored by: Healthcare Services Group 
November 3: Healthcare Worker Self-Care Sponsored by: Acadia Benefits 

We hope you will choose join us for the MHCA Fall Conference and these important discussions. For conference information and link to register, please click here. Please feel free to contact me in the association office with any questions. 

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FDA Authorizes Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Booster - What’s Next?

The FDA amended the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccination to allow the use of a single booster dose only to those who received the Pfizer vaccine and be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series in: 
  • Individuals 65 years of age and older 
  • Individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19
  • Individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19. 
Individuals in these groups who were vaccinated with the Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine are not recommended to receive a booster shot at this time. The CDC and FDA will be reviewing data on these vaccines to determine the need for a booster shot in the coming weeks. 
The CDC recommends the following groups receive a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their primary series:  
  • People 65 years and older 
  • Residents in long-term care settings  
  • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions  
  • People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot based on their individual benefits and risks 
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting (e.g., health care workers) may receive a booster shot based on their individual benefits and risks  
While the FDA and CDC recommendations differ slightly, the two agencies agree that long term care residents and staff who completed their Pfizer primary series at least six months ago should receive a booster dose. 
The Federal CDC has created a webpage to help long term care providers access the booster dose. Providers should work with their long term care pharmacies to gain access to the booster dose.  
MHCA recently met with representatives of Maine CDC to plan for booster shot rollout in Maine’s long term care facilities. MHCA thanks members for completing the Association’s survey, as well as the State’s version. MHCA recommends that you contact your pharmacy representative as soon as possible to schedule booster shots for residents who had Pfizer, as well as any staff who may want the booster if six months have passed since primary dose. Please note – the third shot is not included in the Maine CDC definition of “fully vaccinated” for the purpose of the state health care worker mandate. 
Given the frailty of our long term care population and the storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine, in-house clinics provided by pharmacies are preferable, but members should discuss the options with their pharmacy providers. If your pharmacy is unable to provide a clinic, please contact Nadine Grosso at MHCA, or 207-623-1146 so we may work with CDC on options. 
As a reminder, the CDC and ACIP have noted that the COVID-19 vaccine and the influenza vaccination can be co-administered in cases where an individual is eligible for both vaccinations.  
Please visit AHCA’s #GetVaccinated for resources on increasing vaccine confidence.

MHCA and LTCOP announce Excellence in Long Term Care Award winners

The Maine Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and the Maine Health Care Association are proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 Excellence in Long Term Care AwardUnprecedented times call for unprecedented action and that’s exactly what this year’s judging panel did when they decided to honor all 33 nominees with this award. Citing the courage and commitment of long term care employees during the pandemic, the panel felt strongly that each and every nominee has earned the award this year. 

We thank this year's judges for their time and expertise. They are: 
  • Leo Delicata, Esq., Legal Services for the Elderly 
  • Trinity Baker, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program 

2021 Recipients:

Emily Abbott, Activity Coordinator/CNA, Cove's Edge 
Amy Adams, LPN, Barron Center 
Scott Babb, Housekeeper, St. Andre Health Care 
Jessica Berker, CNA, Freeport Place 
Jody Brackett, CRMA, Norway Center for Health & Rehabilitation 
Diane Brophy, CNA, Island Nursing Home 
Emily Curry, CRMA, Foreside Harbor 
Jennie Edwards, CNA 3, Maine Veterans’ Homes - South Paris 
Rachel Gamache, Program Director, The Landing at Saco Bay 
Jessica Gray, CNA-M, Staffing Specialist, MaineGeneral Rehab and LTC at Glenridge 
Cathy Honey, Dietary Aid, Independence Advocates of Maine 
Barbara Hooper, Dietary/Nutritional Services Manager, Maine Veterans' Home - South Paris 
Michele Hutchins, Director of Nurses, Pinnacle Health & Rehab - Canton 
Kasey Iwaniszek, Director of Laundry/Housekeeping, Ross Manor 
Heather Jackson, Dietary Director, Norway Center for Health & Rehabilitation 
Shelly Katula-Blais, Director of Therapeutic Recreation, St. Mary’s d'Youville Pavilion 
Susan Kenny, Activity Assistant, Westgate Center for Rehabilitation and Alzheimer’s Care 
Aurele Laferierre, Activities/Transporter, Forest Hill 
Stacey Leland, CNA, Independence Advocates of Maine 
Sandra Maines, Store Clerk, 75 State Street/Avesta 
Peter Masterman, Maintenance Technician, Market Square Health Care Center 
Sheila McAlister, CNA, Market Square Health Care Center 
Lori Morey, Human Resources Director, Island Nursing Home 
Reggie Murray, Infection Preventionist, Forest Hill 
Anne 'Denise' Parker, LPN/Charge Nurse, St. Andre Health Care 
Laura Phillips, Activities Supervisor, MaineGeneral Rehab and LTC at Glenridge 
Melissa Phillips, RN, Nurse Manager, Hibbard's Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation 
Margaret Quinn, RN Hospice Case Manager, Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice  
Danielle Rand, RN-Charge Nurse, Maine Veterans’ Home - Bangor 
Tarsha Rodrigue, Associate Dir. of Skilled & LTC, MaineGeneral Rehab and Nursing Care at Gray Birch 
Jane Small, Medical Technician, Ross Manor 
Katherine Tredeau, CRMA, Activity Assistant, Alzheimer's Care Center 
Bobbie Jo Welch, Activities Department Supervisor, MaineGeneral Rehab & Nursing Care at Gray Birch 

Emotional PPE: A Free Resource for Staff: No Cost. No Insurance. Just a Trained Professional to Talk To

The Emotional PPE Project connects healthcare workers in need with licensed mental health professionals who can help. No cost. No insurance. Just a trained professional to talk to.

Emotional PPE Project has served as a free resource for long term care providers. This volunteer-run organization provides a public online directory of volunteer licensed mental health clinicians. Any U.S. worker in a health care-related field, including long term care, that is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is welcome to directly contact the therapists listed in the directory for teletherapy. There is no cost, no insurance required, and completely confidential. 
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DHHS Round 1 of Supplemental Payments Issued Last Week

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has begun distribution of the first round of supplemental payments for nursing facilities (NFs), PNMI Appendix C (residential care facilities), and adult family care homes (AFCHs). Payments to facilities will be issued in two lump sum amounts- the first was sent out last week and the second payment is anticipated for mid-October.
DHHS will send another notice with more specific details of the second payment. As a reminder, any NFs, PNMI- Cs or AFCHs enrolled with MaineCare that provided services during FY21 or FY22, and that were still active as of September 1, 2021, are eligible to receive supplemental payments.
MHCA has been working with Department on a number of questions that we received from providers. We anticipate a FAQ document to be issued in the future in response to the questions we have submitted.
For more information about provider eligibility, use of funds, and more, please reference the DHHS September 10th e-message.  Please contact DHHS provider relations specialist, Tammy Usher, with any questions.
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AHCA/ NCAL Issues Statement IN Support of the SKILLS Act

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) have released the following statement in support of the Strengthening Knowledge, Improving Learning, and Livelihoods (SKILLS) Act, introduced by Congressman Fred Keller (R-Pa.).

Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer at AHCA noted, “We thank Congressman Keller for introducing this important legislation. Today, nearly every nursing home and assisted living community is facing a workforce crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A new survey of our members found that 86 percent of nursing homes and 77 percent of assisted living providers say their workforce situation has gotten worse over the last three months. Providers nationwide are struggling to fill vacant roles, and a lack of qualified candidates is one of the biggest obstacles in hiring workers.

“The SKILLS Act will help create a pipeline of essential workers for the long term care sector. Strengthening our workforce is critical to providing quality care for the millions of seniors in our nursing homes and assisted living communities, but we need federal resources to accomplish this.
“We appreciate Congressman Keller making the long term care workforce a priority, and we look forward to working with him to help pass this bill.”?

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Maine DLC Releases Revised Guidance Documents

Last week the Maine Division of Licensing and Certification (“DLC”) distributed revised guidance for facilities regarding a progression of options and things to consider as part of each facility’s emergency staffing plans. As this pandemic continues and the availability of staffing resources and assistance becomes more challenging, we are revising the December 8, 2020 staffing guidance. This Revised Crisis Staffing Guidance (“Guidance”) clarifies the expectations and process for the extreme option of allowing COVID-19 positive units to be staffed by COVID-19 positive, asymptomatic, staff. DLC has noted that they are again urging facilities to implement mutual aid mechanisms to address these extreme staff shortages.
 Additionally DLC released a
memorandum to clarify: the applicability of the surveillance and outbreak testing requirements in the revised QSO-20-38-NH, updated by CMS on September 10, 2021; its applicability to visitation; facility admissions expectations. This included notification that the Department will no longer be reimbursing facilities for surveillance testing of unvaccinated staff once the staff vaccination requirement is being enforced.

We urge our members to closely review these two documents. MHCA will be working on a simplified summation in the days to follow. 

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Resource Links from Maine CDC/DHHS

Please find the PPT reviewed by Carrie Rice on the 09/21/21 MD call below, along with several other links mentioned during this most recent CDC/DHHS MD call:
  • Link to order Binax Rapid Ag tests from ME DHHS:

The next MD Call will be on Tues, Oct 5 at 11AM (1st & 3rd Tues’s).

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Maine College of Health Professions Open House

The Maine College of Health Professions (MCHP) invites you to its Open House on Thursday, October 7, 2021 from 4-6 pm to learn more about its nursing programs and tour the school. You may recall MHCA worked in partnership with the MCHP to reinvigorate its LPN program. Long term care has been well represented in these courses over the past several years. Please download the attached flyer to share with your staff. 

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