Archive May 2022

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Remember ME awards program on June 1, 2022 will be livestreamed

MHCA is looking forward to next week’s 2022 Remember ME recognition ceremony that will be live on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at 10:00 am at the Augusta Civic Center.
We are preparing for the festivities in traditional fashion with flowers, music, balloons and resident exhibits, however; COVID-19 safety protocols will be observed to include screening, masking, social distancing and limiting the number of guests. Accordingly, we did not invite the full membership, media or legislators to this year’s program.

At the same time, we are honoring resident choice by lives streaming the event for those unable to join us. All residents’ biographies will be read during the ceremony, which can be viewed here:

We encourage members to access the event and share the link with others who may wish to watch as well. Thank you.

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Governor Mills tours MaineGeneral Health’s Alzheimer’s Care Center, Promotes new respite program

Governor Janet Mills toured MaineGeneral Health’s Alzheimer’s Care Center in Gardiner yesterday. The Governor applauded the Center’s extraordinary work in providing first-class care and promoted her Administration’s forthcoming grant program – Respite Care for ME – that will help caregivers afford respite care for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 29,000 people aged 65 and older in Maine were living with Alzheimer’s in 2020. It is estimated that 35,000 Mainers aged 65 and older will be living with the disease by 2025, representing an increase of more than 20 percent.

Through the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the Mills Administration is partnering with Maine’s five Area Agencies on Aging to launch Respite for ME this fall. The program will provide up to $2,000 in grant funding to support family caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, helping them to access respite care, like those services provided at the Alzheimer’s Care Center in Gardiner.

MaineGeneral Health’s Alzheimer’s Care Center is delivering outstanding and compassionate care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – and that is in large part thanks to their dedicated, caring staff. With more people expected to need dementia-related services in the coming years, places like the Alzheimer’s Care Center in Gardiner are only going to become more important,” said Governor Janet Mills. “My Administration is working hard to ensure that caregivers across Maine – who dedicate their time and energy to take care of people they love – are able to afford respite care. Later this year, we will stand up a new grant program from my Jobs Plan that will deliver grants to folks to help them access and afford these important services.”

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Surgeon General issues advisory on health care worker burnout and resignation

The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a new Surgeon General’s Advisory highlighting the urgent need to address the health worker burnout crisis across the country. According to a press statement released during Mental Health Awareness Month, “the Surgeon General’s Advisory Addressing Health Worker Burnout lays out recommendations that the whole-of-society can take to address the factors underpinning burnout, improve health worker well-being, and strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure.” The statement also notes that? there is a projected shortage of more than 3 million essential low-wage health workers in the next five years.

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Infection Prevention Reminders: Outbreak Definitions, HCW Isolation/RTW, and Testing Reporting

A friendly reminder of current guidance regarding COVID-19 infection prevention and control practices for LTC providers:

Outbreak Definition

Maine CDC now defines a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak as “5 or more people who have been in-person at a facility with confirmed or probable COVID-19 within a 14-day period.”
  • Confirmed: At least 5 total positive cases (resident [healthcare onset] + staff) in 14 days, with at least one PCR positive in mix, PER UNIT/DEPARTMENT.
  • Probable: At least 5 total positive cases (resident [healthcare onset] + staff) in 14 days, all cases are results based on antigen testing, no PCR results available, PER UNIT/DEPARTMENT.
Regardless of outbreak status, at the identification of a positive case a facility should continue with their internal response of an exposure investigation with close contact identification, testing, instituting quarantine of patients or work restrictions of HCWs when indicated.

Reporting requirements for Maine

Any facility conducting point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 testing shall report data for all testing completed, for each individual tested, within 24 hours of results being known or determined, on a daily basis to the state, per HHS CARES Act. 
  • For CMS-certified long-term care facilities (skilled nursing and/or nursing facilities), the CDC-and CMS-preferred pathway is to submit data via CDC’s NHSN.
  • Test data submitted to NHSN will be reported to the state health department. If a facility is reporting aggregate data ONLY into NHSN they must also report data into REDCap.
(Note: This is in addition to the CMS reporting requirement for aggregate reporting [at least weekly] of the total number of positive staff and the total number of positive residents, etc.)
  • Other types of LTC facilities should fulfill the HHS CARES Act reporting requirement using REDCap.
Reporting positive cases of a HCW or resident

Facilities should report to Maine CDC by calling 1-800-821-5821 at the identification of 5 total positive cases (resident [healthcare onset] + staff). As resources allow, an outbreak investigator will be assigned for review.

At the identification of a positive case facilities should continue with their internal response of an exposure investigation with close contact identification, testing, instituting quarantine of patients or work restrictions of HCWs when indicated. 

HCW Isolation following positive case with symptoms:
Following the first day of positive test:
If HCW tests positive on day 5, 6, or 7, and is symptomatic continue isolation until a full 10 days have elapsed since symptoms first appeared.
If no testing is performed

If HCW tests negative, remain in isolation until 7 full days since symptoms first appeared On Day 10: Can be released from isolation today if HCW meets all of the following criteria on day 7 Tested negative within 48 hrs. of planned return to work. At least 24 hours have passed since their last fever without the use of fever reducing medication. Their symptoms have improved.   
HCW Isolation following positive case without symptoms:

If HCW tests positive on day 5, 6, or 7, continue isolation until a full 10 days have elapsed since symptoms first appeared.

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Last Call for Nominations for Future Leaders Program

Maine Health Care Association is accepting nominations for individuals interested in the AHCA/NCAL Future Leaders of Long Term Care in American Program. The nominations deadline is June 1st.

This professional training and mentorship program begins September 13-15th with a symposium in Washington DC. Nominees for the 2022/2023 class should be owners and operators who are up and coming leaders. Future leaders are expected to:
  • Attend a three-day training session, which will be held in Washington, DC  on September 13 - 15;
  • Complete any assigned reading – typically 4 or 5 books during the year – and be prepared to discuss on conference calls;
  • Participate in most of the scheduled quarterly conference calls and activities, including a graduation event hosted by AHCA/NCAL leadership at the AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo, which will be held October 1 - 4, 2023 in Denver, CO; 
  • Demonstrate an interest in working on LTC issues at the national level, which may include participating on AHCA/NCAL workgroups or committees; and
  • Consider active participation in the AHCA PAC and promoting its importance to other members.
Any MHCA member interested in being considered for this program should submit a letter of interest and a copy of your resume/CV to Angela Westhoff, President/ CEO no later than June 1, 2022. MHCA will nominate one individual to participate in this leadership program.

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AHCA Releases New Report Highlighting Impact of Ongoing Economic Crisis in Nursing Homes

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) released a new report that dives deeper into the economic crisis faced by nursing homes across the country. Conducted by accounting and consulting firm CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP), the report assesses the potential impact on access to care and health equity, especially among racial and ethnic minority groups, as thousands of nursing homes may be considered “at financial risk” (operating with a margin of negative 7.5 percent or lower) in 2022 if cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are implemented and nursing costs continue to increase.  
Key findings from CLA in the report include: 
  • Potential Impacts on Access to Care: Assuming a Medicare cut and loss of public health emergency funding in 2022, the percentage of residents in financially at-risk nursing homes jumps from 16 percent in 2019 to 47 percent in 2022. This represents approximately 417,000 residents who may be displaced should their nursing home be forced to close.  
  • Increased Fixed Costs Escalate Risk of Closure: General inflation for nursing home goods and services increased to 8.5 percent between March 2021 and March 2022. Between February 2022 and March 2022 alone, inflation increased by 1.3 percent. Economists expect continuing increases, but as nursing homes are almost entirely reliant on government payers with fixed rates, these increasing costs will put more nursing homes at financial risk. 
  • Soaring Labor Costs Due to Increasing Wages and Contracted Nurses: Hourly wages for all nurses (certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses) have increased by 28 to 34 percent from 2020 to 2022. Other jumps in labor costs include the use of temporary or contracted nurses, which has more than doubled among all nursing categories in the same time frame.  
  • Disproportionate Impact on Minorities and More Clinically Complex Residents: Nursing homes considered financially at-risk tend to reside in counties that serve a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minority populations (20.4 percent) compared to nursing homes in counties not at financial risk (13.7 percent). Additionally, nursing home residents in counties home to financially at-risk facilities have a somewhat higher average clinical risk score (2.71) than residents in counties with no facilities at financial risk (2.52).  
The full CLA report is available here

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Maine DHHS Releases Template for 125% Minimum Wage Payment Calculation for Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities (PNMI-Cs)

Part AAAA-5 of the budget enacted last summer (Public Law 2021 Chapter 398) requires that the rates in the 7/1/22 rate letters “enable providers to cover labor costs for essential support workers…to equal at least 125% of the minimum wage […including…] related taxes and benefits [...]”
The Department has developed this template to collect employee-level data from the facilities, in order to calculate the payment necessary to each facility to bring reimbursement for workers under 125% of minimum wage up to 125% of minimum wage.
The template is due no later than COB on Thursday, June 24, 2022.  The Department will then use the resulting data to calculate the total amount for each facility for Part AAAA which will be incorporated in the FY 2023 rates.  Any delay in receiving the template may result in delays with the issuance of the rate letters. 
Instructions are included in the template.  If you have questions, please contact
MHCA encourages members to submit their data in a timely manner.
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OSHA training for long term healthcare facilities

SafetyWorks! is hosting a free 6 hour training on June 15th on Infectious Diseases (COVID-19) and OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard. This training is specifically for long-term healthcare facilities.
Topics Cover:
•Introduction to OSHA and your rights as an employee
•Infectious diseases and the current COVID-19 pandemic
•Infectious Disease Prevention Strategies
•Applicable Infectious Disease OSHA Standards
•The COVID-19 National Emphasis Program and Previous Emergency Temporary Standards
•Managing Stress, Grief and Bereavement
•Where to Find Additional Resources

For more information, see the flyer here. Please contact Jean Martin with any questions at or 207- 623-7914.

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Final opportunity to register for upcoming NHA Preceptor program

This Board-Approved Preceptor Training was created for licensed Nursing Home Administrators or Multi-Level Facility Administrators (in Maine) who would like to serve as a Preceptor for an Administrator-In-Training (AIT). Among other things, it includes a review of the current long-term care State regulations. For details about who can serve as a Preceptor, please refer to the NHA Licensing Board Rules.

This training will be hosted in-person at the MHCA office, in Augusta, on June 8, 2022 from 1:00PM to 3:00PM. For more information – including prerequisites (for new Preceptors), registration information, and more – we encourage you to visit the event page on our website.
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Maine Medical Center Research Institute Survey Participants Needed

Maine Medical Center Research Institute is conducting a study to better understand the communities' knowledge of and attitudes towards health research. The Acute Care Research and Rural Disparities Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (AC-COBRE) Community Engagement, Bioethics and Outreach Core (CEBO) hope to use the results of this study to inform community engagement practices and activities that are equitable, responsive, and representative of our communities.

To participate please use this

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