Massachusetts: Relief Funds For Nursing Home & Other Long-term Care Facilities Fighting COVID-19
By: Janet Barringer and William Gildea
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced on April 27, 2020 the Commonwealth will allocate $130 Million to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Massachusetts to assist in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. The COVID-19 Nursing Facility and Accountability Support document states “[n]ursing facilities account for more than half of COVID-19 related deaths in the state.” The rapid rate of infection and mortality is driven by the “health status of residents, lack of infection control sophistication and for crisis management, substantial staffing issues (up to 20-40% of call out rates), and difficulty cohorting residents to decrease transmission.”
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should take note of this new assistance offered by the Commonwealth to help the battle against COVID-19. The Press Release provides the following:
- Funding will
support staffing costs, infection control and personal protective equipment
- Funding is
dependent on required COVID-19 testing of all staff and residents, regular
infection control audits, appropriate allocation of funding and the public
release of facility performance and funding use;
must test all staff and residents, and report results to the Commonwealth.
Facilities are also encouraged to identify and pursue testing avenues with area
hospitals, EMS or other providers. The state’s mobile testing program is
available for those facilities unable to set up testing.
- All nursing facilities will be regularly audited
in-person for infection control and accountability, and each will receive a
baseline audit during the first two weeks of May. These clinical
audits will be conducted using a 28-point Infection Control Checklist, based on
DPH, CDC and industry guidance. This checklist includes infection control, PPE
supply and usage, staffing, clinical care, and communication requirements.
- Frequency of audits is dependent upon a variety of
Audit Rating, historically documented infection control issues, staffing levels
based on industry standard hours per patient day of care and call-out rates,
level of COVID-19 infection, and quality rating by the Nursing Facility
- Facilities will be
scored into three ratings: in adherence (green), in adherence but warrants
inspection (yellow) and not in adherence (red).
- The Commonwealth
will offer support for temporary staffing assistance for all nursing homes in
need, including clinical response teams of 120 nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants
deployed in teams of 10 during emergency situations, crisis management support
and deployment of the Massachusetts National Guard;
- All performance
measures and funding use will be publicly reported using a mandatory reporting
template, and the Commonwealth will provide consolidated information in the
testing completion status by facility, COVID-19 case counts and mortality of
staff and residents, and audit results. These reports will be due shortly after
June 30th, and the Commonwealth will then compile and deliver a
- Funding is
directly linked to an audit rating over time and, if qualified, will be
dispersed biweekly over four “pay periods.”
Governor Baker promised to be “aggressive” in assisting long term care facilities impacted by COVID 19. The $130 Million in relief funds and associated steps for protection are examples of the care extended by Massachusetts to those who live and work in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Janet Barringer at [email protected] and William Gildea at [email protected].