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.


COVID-19 status report

By Patti Cullen, CAE and Doug Beardsley  |  March 6, 2020  |  All members

This past week you received multiple messages from Care Providers of Minnesota, your national association American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), and even the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) about preparations for a possible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Minnesota. We want to be certain our members are prepared, and in the event of an outbreak, have the tools needed to manage through. Let’s start with the most important items—bookmark these websites and check them regularly for the latest information on COVID-19 prevention strategies, testing guidance and recommendations for healthcare workers:
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” webpage
The Minnesota Department of Health “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” webpage 

While there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Minnesota yet, we are already taking extraordinary measures to help our communities ensure the health and safety of those they serve and employ by working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Human Services (DHS). We are discussing scenarios with both MDH and DHS in the event of a Minnesota outbreak—and planning for both caregiving needs as well as flexibility for payment and oversight for those facilities that may be impacted. 

We know we must work collaboratively during difficult times and we are hopeful that we will have the support of the departments and the state legislature if additional regulatory and payment flexibility are needed. For example, when impacted facilities are short of direct care staff, they need to be able to bring in temporary nursing staff from other states and have “ready” payments to cover those increased costs. We also expect that hospitals and other facilities may need to use available beds for COVID-19 patients, which may require temporary changes in reimbursement procedures and rates.

On March 4, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) held the first long-term care provider conference call to discuss COVID-19 with nursing facilities and home care providers in housing with services/assisted living settings. During the call, the following new information was shared:
MDH intends to conduct weekly COVID-19 calls with long-term care providers—watch for a schedule to be published
MDH intends to introduce “enhanced respiratory surveillance” for long-term care providers, with more details being released in a week or so
Long-term care providers are being asked to contact MDH (651-201-5414) if they experience two or more respiratory outbreaks that are not influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) within a 72-hour period on a unit or ward—this includes both residents and staff; MDH will provide directions of next steps during the call, as this does not necessarily create a suspicion of COVID-19
Providers are encouraged to educate staff regarding infection control best-practices, and to not come into work if they are ill (MDH will be soon launching a tracking tool for staff illnesses); audit proper hand hygiene and PPE utilization
At this point in time, a resident with COVID-19 would not be recommended to be treated in a long-term care facility due to the facility’s inability to provide CDC-best practices for infection control and containment
Watch for more information, direction, and tools from MDH soon!

If your facility experiences a COVID-19 outbreak, it is recommended you begin to log, on a daily basis, any additional expenses that you occur as a result of the outbreak. There may be opportunities to recoup some of those expenses if a disaster is declared. 

In addition to the agency websites linked above, both Care Providers of Minnesota and AHCA/NCAL have multiple resources on their websites, including webinar recordings, sample letters for employees and resident/families, and latest links to regional health contacts.

We know there is a lot of information out there—don’t hesitate to email or call Care Providers of Minnesota staff with your questions, or email AHCA/NCAL with any additional questions regarding this virus. 

Patti Cullen, CAE  |  President/CEO  |  |  952-851-2487
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.

Learn more

Become a Member

As a member of Care Providers of Minnesota, you will join with fellow professionals across the state who understand the importance of working together to the benefit of the entire long-term care profession. The strength of our membership has established our place as one of the state’s leading trade associations.

Learn more