McKnight’s allowed CMS to defend themselves against nursing home industry attacks. They included the following:
In March 2019, CMS updated training in infection prevention for nursing homes.
In November 2019, CMS reminded nursing homes of the infection prevention requirements, and disseminated an infection control self-assessment tool.
Then, on February 6, 2020 in preparation for COVID-19 spread in the U.S., CMS reissued long-standing infection control guidance. Following our Feb. 6, 2020, guidance, we called for screening of staff and visitors, followed soon thereafter by a complete restriction of nonessential visitors and staff. All of this guidance, created in coordination with the CDC and based on the latest information, helped approximately 80% of nursing homes prevent the spread of COVID-19.
CMS also provided nursing homes with infection control training for frontline staff.
The infection control practices CMS reemphasized for nursing homes were not new; they have been part of CMS’s regulatory expectations for years. In fact, two years ago, CMS urgently alerted the nursing home industry that they “have to do better on infection control,” a message that was carried in this very periodical. Infection control — including basic violations like a lack of handwashing — was the number one violation.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS has kept up a steady drumbeat of guidance and recommendations to nursing homes and other kinds of healthcare providers based on CDC and CMS COVID-19 investigations and surveys.
At the same time, we also know that when nursing homes have a history of infection control violations, they are at higher risk of the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. Therefore, we’ve decided to hold nursing homes more accountable for the kinds of infection control violations that can help infectious diseases like COVID-19 spread. Given that these requirements are longstanding, there is simply no excuse for continued noncompliance.