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Archive March 2022

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CDC releases nursing home communication toolkit

The CDC recently released a Nursing Home Communication toolkit to help nursing home health care professionals better communicate with residents and families on antibiotic treatment expectations. Pressure from family members to prescribe antibiotics to nursing home residents when they may not be needed has been identified as an opportunity for providers to engage in discussion around appropriate antibiotic use.

The toolkit reviews a four-part communication strategy which has been effective in improving antibiotic prescribing in outpatient settings. Two nursing home-specific scenarios applying these principles are also provided.

Staff contact: ngrosso@mehca.org

USCIS announces new actions to reduce legal immigration backlogs

This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a variety of efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the overall legal immigration system. USCIS will set new agency-wide backlog reduction goals, expand premium processing to additional form types, and work to improve timely access to employment authorization documents. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resource constraints, there are a significant number of pending cases and increased processing times. Through this announcement, USCIS is acting to reduce these caseloads and processing times. 
Areas that are being focused on include: 
  • Reduced processing backlogs
  • Expanded premium processing
  • Improved access to employment authorization documents ?
A full list of prior actions USCIS has taken to reduce processing times and the agency’s pending caseload is available on UCIS’ website

Last fall, a long term care (LTC) coalition led by AHCA/NCAL, focused on the workforce crisis, sent a letter to the State Department offering solutions to help address the crisis. AHCA/NCAL has heard from providers that the immigrant visa processing is incredibly backlogged due to COVID-19 and reduced staffing at U.S. embassies and consulates. Many of the health care professionals with offers from U.S. LTC facilities with approved immigrant petitions have been waiting for many months, in some cases more than a year, for a visa interview appointment. In the letter, the LTC coalition urged the State Department to swiftly take a variety of measures to expedite the interview process so international nurses can enter the country and help LTC providers deliver quality care for the most vulnerable Americans.?

Staff contact: ngrosso@mehca.org 

Legislative Update

MHCA continues to advocate for additional funding in the Supplemental Budget, LD 1995, An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023.

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has held several work sessions this week to review various sections of the LD 1995, the Supplemental budget. The $25 million in COVID-19 one-time funding for add-on payments for nursing facilities and residential care facilities was unanimously voted into the Supplemental budget in Wednesday’s straw poll. Straw polling is a process used by Committees to gauge support or opposition in advance of a formal vote. MHCA continues to advocate for increased funding to support 125% of minimum wage for direct care workers in long term care facilities. We will continue to provide updates.

Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

Join us for Assisted Housing Infection Control best practices, policies, tools & resources

We have great news! There are seats available in the upcoming webinar series, The New Normal for Infection Control in Assisted Housing. This series, and the corresponding toolkit (including infection prevention policy templates), has become an excellent resource for many assisted housing providers.
 
The content aligns with CMS infection prevention practices as well as CDC guidance on outbreaks and surveillance and infection prevention best practices. Topics include infection control and reducing risk, standard/other type precautions, PPE, department-specific procedures, COVID-19 policies and procedures, rule changes, and more.
 
MHCA will offer this two part webinar series online (via Zoom) on June 22 & 23, from 9:00-11:30AM. For more details and to register, please visit the event page on our website.
 
Staff Contact: aellis@mehca.org

Free Employment Listing for LTC Providers & Marketing Campaign

Maine Health Care Association members are invited to participate in an effort to raise awareness of employment opportunities in Maine’s health care section.

DHHS has teamed up with Live and Work in Maine (liveandworkinmaine.com)

Live + Work in Maine, the Department of Health and Human Services, and several associations including MHCA, Maine Hospital Association, and the Maine Primary Care Association are partnering together to develop a variety of FREE resources to assist with recruitment and retention marketing efforts for health care workers. 

One of the first steps is to create a central job board that a targeted marketing campaign will direct young people interested in health care careers to. This is a free resource for you to participate in - and will be marketed with significant resources. Please complete this short questionnaire to help us collect your job listing information. 

Please note: We are looking to collect your job listing web address (URL) where all of your open positions are listed. If you use another vendor like Indeed.com please be sure to include your company profile URL (not a link to a single job).

Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

Free StrengthenME educational workshops begin next week - all are welcome

MHCA is pleased to share that we have partnered with Strengthen ME, the State of Maine's behavioral health and resiliency response to the Covid-19 pandemic to bring a 6-week series of 30-minute wellness workshops to our members. Wellness workshops are modeled after “Lunch and Learns” that focus on mental and emotional wellness using practical tips and mindfulness to explore a variety of topics. Participants may attend any or all of the sessions and there is no cost to participate. We encourage members to share this opportunity with your staff, all are welcome. A printable flyer can be found here.

The schedule of topics is as follows:
  • APRIL 6- LETTING GO OF WHAT WE CAN'T CONTROL: Holding on to things we can't control can cause us a great deal of stress and unhappiness. It also keeps us stuck in the past and keeps us from growing and living our lives freely. This workshop explores strategies for letting go.
  • APRIL 13- HOW TO HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS: No one likes having a difficult conversation. Whether at work, at home or with a close friend, a difficult conversation is something many of us try to avoid. This workshop explores why difficult conversations are necessary and how to approach them.
  • APRIL 20- ASKING FOR HELP : It isn't always easy to ask for help, particularly when you're used to being the helper. This workshop explores common barriers to seeing help and offers strategies to effectively and mindfully ask for and receive the help you need.
  • APRIL 27- MAXIMIZING FOCUS AT WORK : Do you have trouble focusing at work, or frequently get distracted and struggle to regain your concentration? You're not alone. This workshop explores strategies for maximizing your focus at work.
  • MAY 4- MAKING AMENDS: How to apologize and why it's important : In this workshop, we'll explore the essentials of a true apology, why this is important in and out of the workplace, and how to avoid the common mistakes when apologizing.
  • MAY 11- STAYING GROUNDED WHILE OTHERS ARE ESCALATING : Now, more than ever, our ability to stay calm is being put to the test. In this workshop, we'll explore strategies for deescalating ourselves and others, putting our mind ahead of our emotions in order to succeed, as individuals and as part of a larger community.
To access these sessions, please use the following link: https://emhs.zoom.us/j/94269289015

Staff Contact: aellis@mehca.org 

CDC Updates Guidance for COVID Vaccine Boosters

Yesterday March 30, 2022 the CDC updated the Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID Vaccines in the United States to include guidance that says individuals 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and adults 50 years and older who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised “may choose to receive” a second mRNA booster 4 months after their first booster dose.

The updated guidance also states that people 18-49 who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised who received the Janssen vaccine for both primary and booster doses “may receive” a second mRNA booster dose 4 months after the first Janssen booster. Please see below for a summary of all the updates in the clinical considerations: 
  • Added guidance that people ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may choose to receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months after the first booster dose
  • Added guidance that adults ages 50 years and older who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised may choose to receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months after the first booster dose
  • Added guidance that people ages 18–49 years who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised and who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine as both their primary series dose and booster dose may receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months after the first Janssen booster dose
  • Further clarification of safety issues including those related to multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and adults (MIS-A) and myocarditis
  • Updated information on the availability of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine supplied in a vial with a red cap (0.25 mL dosage volume) and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine supplied in a vial with a blue cap (0.5 mL dosage volume) for administration of a 50 µg booster dose.
Staff Contact: dwatford@mehca.org

Be in the KNOW: Subscribe to CMS QSO listservs and never miss an update

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers updates on the various topics affecting different provider groups including LTC, Skilled Nursing and Home Health/Hospice. If you are interested in subscribing you can do so by visiting this link and by entering your email address and checking the boxes of most interest. You can also unsubscribe by un-checking the same boxes. If you are a new subscriber you will be brought to a registration page and then you are able to select the ‘listserv’ you want to get updates from.

We suggest the follow subscription lists:
  • CMS News Releases (Medicare, Medicaid, Fact Sheets) & Press Releases
  • Post Acute Care Quality Reporting Programs
  • MLN Connects Newsletter
  • Open Door Forum: LTCSS and Skilled Nursing Home
Staff Contact: dwatford@mehca.org

MHCA Provides Feedback to US Government Accountability Office (GAO)

In response to a request from US Senator Grassley, the GAO is examining CMS’s Five-Star Rating System and its nursing home Care Compare website (formerly the Nursing Home Compare site). During this review the GAO will be reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the rating system in identifying high and low performing nursing homes and the extent to which the website contains accurate and meaningful data with which the public can compare nursing homes’ quality of care and safety.

Last week, members of MHCA staff participated in an interview with the GAO to provide feedback on behalf of our nursing home members. We appreciate the opportunity to provide such feedback and we will continue to strongly advocate for our members at the state and national level. 

Staff Contact: dwatford@mehca.org

FREE Listening Session – Older Adults from Maine’s LGBTQ+ Community

FREE Listening Session – Older Adults from Maine’s LGBTQ+ Community
March 30, 2022 4:00-5:00 pm

Maine Council on Aging’s Equity & Healthy Aging Initiative sponsors a ZOOM Listening Session with older adult members of Maine’s LGBTQ+ Community.

Many people who led the movement toward greater acceptance of members of the LGBTQ+ community face difficult decisions as they age even to the point of considering going back in the closet to escape discrimination. Even though Maine has not enacted ‘don’t say gay’ laws at this point, bias against LGBTQ+ community members, especially older adults, is still present here in Maine.

Come hear from LGBTQ+ older adults about the challenges they face in navigating the issues of aging, share resources, and explore how service providers and community members can better understand and support LGBTQ+ older adults.

Staff Contact: dwatford@mehca.org
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