Risk Management Tips for Nursing Homes in the Time of Coronavirus

By John E. Garber, Jr., SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Over the past two months, our country has been consumed with information relating to COVID-19 as we together witness and experience an historic, still unfolding event. Our vocabulary has undergone a major update with such terms as COVID-19, social distancing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and quarantine. These are terms we would never have imagined using as frequently as we have in the past few months. This experience will have an impact across multiple generations.

The nursing home industry has recently become an area of concern due to the inherently high-risk population of the elderly. In response to these events, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has responded by issuing a regulatory framework toward addressing events associated with COVID-19. Nursing homes will need to update and implement appropriate policies, procedures, and controls to help this vulnerable population as well as staff who have a critical role in safeguarding their health and safety. CMS has provided guidance on addressing long term care reporting of COVID-19 cases within facilities to the CDC to better track and mitigate occurrences. (https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-26-nh.pdf).

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has established a website for facilities to obtain information and resources to provide the necessary tools and resources for nursing homes to address COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases within the workplace. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/long-term-care.html )

Facilities should also take time to review their risk management policies and procedures as part of a comprehensive self-audit. A well-educated and competent staff is necessary to effectively address existing and emerging strategies as part of a comprehensive risk management framework. The following key items should be addressed:

  1. Assessing existing policies, procedures and controls for addressing facility risk, staff training and compliance;
  2. Evaluating staff development programs to ensure they support new and evolving policies and procedures designed for safeguarding staff and residents; and
  3. Adopting necessary changes to ensure effective policy implementation.

These are extraordinary times. It is important to remain vigilant to identify and control risk within our healthcare facilities. Have a proactive and robust strategy toward emerging issues. Do not tunnel vision focusing solely on COVID-19. This an unprecedented time for healthcare organizations. It is critical management formulate and execute a comprehensive strategy toward developing and implementing policies and practices to safeguard residents and staff. Take time to complete a multi-disciplinary review of your policies, procedures and compliance programs directed at safeguarding residents and staff.

Contact us for our support. We have developed the tools and resources to assist you in the growth of your plan and infrastructure so your organization will develop and become stronger when we all return to normal.

Contact us below to discuss this topic with our Human Capital Practice Leader or to have KMRD review policies and procedures for your aging services organization.

John Garber is Managing Director and Practice Leader at KMRD Partners, Inc., an award winning risk management and human capital solutions firm.

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Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from a KMRD risk professional before taking any action.



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