Archive November 2023

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A Message from the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine's Workforce

The Alfond Center is happy to announce that it will be moving to a new registration system that will make it easier to track your workforce development training requests, register your trainees, and other new features.  
During the system upgrade, the center will have a blackout period from Monday, December 4 - Sunday, December 17, to change over to our new system. During this time, they will not be able to accept any funding requests, process registrations, or process completions.
To ensure your funding needs are met, the Alfond Center urges you to submit any training requests for December as soon as possible. Your prompt action will allow us to accommodate your requests efficiently without disruption to funding.

Staff contact: Open Enrollment Toolkit

Maine's Office of Health Insurance Marketplace added new resources to to promote open enrollment for health and dental plans under Partner Resources. The new content includes social media posts, a digital screensaver, newsletter copy and printable flyers, posters. They will be adding a multi-language piece shortly.

The deadline to enroll for coverage that begins January 1, 2024 is December 15th. January 16th is the last day to enroll for plan year 2024 coverage which would begin on February 1st.  
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Staffing Transition Announcement

Karen Michaud, MHCA Director of Education, has announced that she will be leaving the Association in early 2024 as she has decided to relocate out of state. After nearly eighteen years of working for the association, Karen is moving back to Florida to be with her family. Karen previously resigned in 2021 but returned to her position in January of 2023. For the last year, she has developed a significant number of outstanding educational programs, including a very successful Fall Conference and Expo. Karen also has the first quarter of 2024 already booked with exciting programming and expert speakers. She will continue in her position remotely until a candidate search is completed and a new director is hired and fully oriented. Karen has been a tremendous asset to the association, and we will deeply miss her.
Karen notes, “I have truly enjoyed being part of MHCA, again, over this past year. After 18 years in this position, I have come to appreciate so many of the people I’ve met along the way. Carrying you close to my heart as I step into a new season and embrace the opportunities that come my way. I am cheering you on as you fulfill your mission, delivering high quality care and supporting Maine’s most vulnerable citizens. May you always remember the faces of residents in your care and do your very best to ensure their health and well-being.”
Please join with me in thanking Karen for her many years of dedicated service and wishing her all the best in her future endeavors.
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Maine CDC issues Public Health Advisory: Increase in TB

During 2018–2022, Maine had an average of 16 new cases of TB disease per year. As of November 28, 2023, Maine has identified 24 new cases, representing a 41% increase in cases compared to 2022. Twelve of these new cases have been diagnosed since September 2023, and may have exposed people in schools, churches, shelters, health care settings, and other facilities.
TB is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) and can cause disease in any part of the body, including the spine, brain, and lymph nodes, but most commonly in the lungs, causing pulmonary disease. Patients infected with M. tuberculosis can have LTBI or TB disease.
Individuals with LTBI are asymptomatic and noninfectious. Bacteria are present within the lungs but are contained and unable to spread to others. Left untreated, approximately 5-10% of individuals with LTBI will progress to TB disease during their lifetime.
Individuals with TB disease are symptomatic and infectious until treated. TB disease can be fatal if not recognized and treated.
 An individual with LTBI may be infected for weeks, or more commonly months or years, before developing TB disease. Some never develop TB disease. Prolonged exposure is normally necessary for people to become infected with M. tuberculosis, such as to family members, coworkers, colleagues, or friends.
 More details about LTBI and TB disease can be found in a recent Maine CDC health advisory Think. Test. Treat Tuberculosis (TB) in Maine (March 24, 2023) and on U.S. CDC’s website.
 Maine CDC will host a special one-hour webinar on December 4, 2023 at 12 noon.  Click here to see the Health Alert Network (HAN) System notice as well as the webinar registration information.  
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CDC Updates Guidance for Nursing Home Residents with Respiratory Illness Symptoms

With several respiratory viral illnesses in circulation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated recommendations for the testing and management of nursing home residents showing symptoms of acute respiratory illness.

The CDC advises the following practices:
  • Isolate symptomatic residents in Transmission-Based Precautions, utilizing the full complement of recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) for suspected SARS-CoV-2 infections.
  • Test all residents displaying symptoms of either COVID-19 or influenza for both viruses.
  • Collect respiratory samples for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2 testing.
  • Maintain communication with the healthcare-associated infection program within your state health department and adhere to local health department notification requirements.
  • Notify local public health and state health departments of any suspected or confirmed influenza or SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks within long-term care facilities, particularly if a resident develops influenza symptoms while on or after receiving antiviral chemoprophylaxis.
Furthermore, the CDC guidance delineates placement decisions for residents with confirmed co-infection of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, those with influenza infection alone, or those exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory illness without either infection. Additionally, the CDC emphasizes the importance of keeping residents and healthcare professionals informed about the recommended COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.
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Date Change for "Beyond Active Listening" Series!

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have reschedules the upcoming Beyond Active Listening webinar series to January 15, 16 & 17, 2024. All registered attendees were sent an email earlier this week to inform them of the change. Unless we receive an email to the contrary, registrations will be automatically transferred to the new program dates. 
The good news is, there's still plenty of time to register you and your team.  If your care center could use support overcoming communication hurdles, we encourage you to click here for more details about the series. 


COVID-19 Up to Date

As a reminder, with the approval of the newest COVID-19 Vaccines there is a change in the definition of “up to date” with the vaccine.  An individual is now considered “up to day” with their COVID-19 vaccines if they meet one of the following criteria: 
1.         Received a 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 vaccine OR
2.         Received a bivalent* COVID-19 vaccine within the last two months.
                        *Note that the bivalent vaccines are no longer authorized as of 9/12/2023
Please be sure to review the latest NHSN Vaccination Modules.
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Updated CMS Surveyor Resources

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have recently made several updates to resources available to surveyors, which can be accessed within the Survey Resources folder on their website. These modifications are primarily technical in nature and seem to be aimed at eliminating outdated information that is no longer relevant.
The revisions encompass the following changes:
  • The removal of the requirement to submit the CMS-672 on the Entrance Conference Worksheet. This change aligns with CMS's previous directive indicating their discontinuation of the use of this form.
  • Adjustments to several Survey Pathways, instructing surveyors to obtain information from Section GG instead of Section G of the Minimum Data Set (MDS). This modification is in response to MDS changes that took effect on October 1, 2023.
  • On the CMS-802 form, CMS has eliminated the request for information regarding "worsened pressure ulcers at any stage." Instead, CMS now requests facilities to provide information about all residents with pressure ulcers that were not present upon admission.
  • Additional updates specific to surveyor procedures, both during the offsite portion of the survey and throughout an extended survey process, have also been implemented.
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Pulse Oximeters Safety Advisory Reminder

As we are now in respiratory illness season, it is a good time to review the 2021 FDA Safety Communication.   The FDA issued this important safety advisory aimed at both patients and healthcare providers. This advisory emphasizes the valuable role of pulse oximetry in estimating blood oxygen levels, while also highlighting the inherent limitations and potential inaccuracies associated with pulse oximeters under specific circumstances.
It is crucial to recognize that numerous factors can influence the precision of pulse oximeter readings. These factors include issues like impaired circulation, variations in skin pigmentation, differences in skin thickness, variations in skin temperature, concurrent tobacco use, and the application of fingernail polish.
Guidelines for Healthcare Providers
  • Acknowledge the multifactorial nature of factors affecting pulse oximeter accuracy, such as poor circulation, skin characteristics, tobacco use, and nail polish application.
  • Consult the device's labeling or the manufacturer's website to gain insight into the accuracy of a specific brand of pulse oximeter and its sensor. Understand that different brands and sensor types (e.g., finger clip versus adhesive) may offer varying levels of accuracy. Note that pulse oximeters are less precise when oxygen saturation falls below 80%.
  • Consider accuracy limitations when using the pulse oximeter to assist in diagnosis and treatment decisions.
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Webinar: Best Practices for Attracting & Best Practices for Attracting & Keeping Direct Care Workers

Maine’s Essential Care & Support Workforce Partnership presents a webinar on Best Practices for Attracting & Best Practices for Attracting & Keeping Direct Care Workers.

Tuesday, December 12 from 1:30pm - 3pm

Using PHI’s 5 Pillars of Direct Care Job Quality, this webinar will feature a national expert on direct care work alongside providers in Maine who are already implementing some of these strategies to grow and retain a quality workforce.

Click here to register.

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