The article below is a top story from this week's ACTION newsletter—Care Providers of Minnesota's weekly newsletter for members. The newsletter focuses on current legislative issues, regulations, long-term care trends, and other Association news. Each Thursday evening, it is delivered to your inbox. To sign up for ACTION, contact Lisa Foss Olson (952-851-2483). To learn more about membership, visit our Become a Member page.


2019 Novel Coronavirus Illness outbreak

Doug Beardsley
By Doug Beardsley  |  February 14, 2020  |  All providers

Care Providers of Minnesota has been participating on weekly update calls with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Hospital Association on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Illness (2019-nCoV) outbreak for the past few weeks out of an abundance of caution for our members. While there is clearly minimal risk of exposure at this point in time, we want to be sure you have the most up-to-date information that has been verified knowing there are lots of rumors flying around about this particular virus. It is a rapidly moving situation, so we encourage members to use the links below where agencies have been keeping the information as current as possible.

Both MDH and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have been monitoring this outbreak closely. The CDC website includes the latest travel advisories and precautions advice for healthcare workers, as well as action steps to take if there are any symptoms presenting themselves.

On February 7, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued CMS QSO 20-09-ALL to all state survey agencies, including MDH. The memo, focusing on 2019-nCoV, highlighting the need for nursing facility staff and surveyors to comply with basic infection control procedures, particularly proper handwashing protocols. In addition, CMS is advising surveyors to review the use and availability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at facilities during a survey, including gloves, gowns, respirators (N-95), and eye protection.

On February 10, 2020, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) issued an update on the coronavirus to their State Affiliate Network: “Coronavirus—Protecting Staff, Residents, and the Community—What you need to know!” The communication highlights the importance of facilities staying alert for individuals who have traveled to China AND have symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing/shortness of breath), as well as reporting such individuals to their local or state health department. While the vast majority of Americans have a low risk of exposure to the virus, long-term and post-acute care facilities should act now to help reduce the potential for spread, which will also help with influenza and other circulating viruses that can impact residents and clients.

Currently there is no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus infection. The CDC is currently recommending Standard, Contact, and Airborne Precautions, including the use of eye protection when providing care for patients with confirmed or suspected 2019-nCoV. Review CDC’s interim infection prevention and control guidelines for 2019-nCoV. Everyday actions can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including proper hand hygiene practices and/or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, avoid touching the face, avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. In addition, facilities should consider educating families and visitors on signs and symptoms of respiratory illness and encourage them to visit with loved ones through alternative means when they are ill, such as telephone, Skype, or wearing a mask during visits. 

Facilities should ensure that they have a properly trained infection preventionist who can take the lead on facility risk assessment for this and other infections. Through the Infection Prevention Control Officer (IPCO) training course, individuals will be specially trained to effectively implement and manage an infection prevention and control program in their nursing center or assisted living community. It addresses both clinical and organizational systems, processes and cultural aspects of infection prevention and control which are fundamental to effectively leading and administering a center’s infection prevention and control program.

Doug Beardsley  |  Vice President of Member Services  |  |  952-851-2489


About Care Providers of Minnesota

Care Providers of Minnesota is a non-profit membership association with the mission to Empower Members to Performance Excellence. Our 900+ members across Minnesota represent non-profit and for-profit organizations providing services along the full spectrum of post-acute care and long-term services and support. We are the state affiliate for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, and with our national partners we provide solutions for quality care.

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