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CMS Releases New Podcast Series for Frontline Staff of Nursing Homes to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

Written by: Alex Battey, Esq. and Laura Hall Cartner, Esq.

In early 2019, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services created a podcast entitled “CMS Beyond the Policy,” describing podcasts as a “modern, user-friendly” method of keeping their audience informed about Agency developments. Past episodes are available on iTunes and at https://www.cms.gov/podcast. Some past topics include Evaluation and Management Coding, Health Care Price Transparency, and Strengthening Oversight.

On November 19, 2020, CMS Beyond the Policy released the first episode in a series developed for nursing home frontline staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This episode, entitled “Key Actions for Nursing Homes to Implement Now,” is hosted by Dr. Shari Ling, practicing geriatrician and Deputy Chief Medical Office for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In it, Dr. Ling features David Wright, Director of the Quality, Safety and Oversight Group.

The episode acknowledges the critical role staff play in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, and outlines practices these frontline workers can employ to combat the spread, including:

  • Controlling the spread of infection through consistent and proper use of facemasks and all personal protective equipment;
  • Properly executing hand hygiene measures including hand washing with soap and water for at least 30 seconds, as well as using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content; and
  • Screening of staff and residents, excluding staff who test positive from working, and placing COVID positive residents on transmission based precautions.

Further, Mr. Wright offered specific measures to maximize the efficacy of PPE in preventing the spread of COVID. These include appropriately donning/doffing PPE in accordance with CDC recommendations in the available infection prevention and control resources.   Proper placement of facemasks and respirators are also key to prevent contamination and spread of the virus.  When running low on PPE and other supplies, providers are encouraged to reach out to public health authorities regarding availability to optimize their current supply. Staff members should also assist one another by encouraging colleagues to adhere to proper PPE protocol.

We will provide updates as additional episodes are released.

The podcast is available here: https://www.cms.gov/nursing-homes