To help long-term care facilities build resilience to sustain quality care as the population ages, the Department of Health (DOH) announced plans to distribute approximately $11.7 million in federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding.
Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said in a statement the investments will contribute to the long-range success of facilities that care for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents.
“These funds will be invested in key areas including workforce development, staff retention, and infrastructure developments that support infection prevention control and emergency preparedness.”
The “Long-Term Care Quality Investment Pilot Request for Applications (RFA)” is open to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), personal care homes (PCHs), assisted living facilities (ALFs), and intermediate care facilities (ICFs). Facilities must be enrolled by Dec. 9 in the state’s LCT RISE program’s quality improvement work initiative to be eligible to receive funding.
Philadelphia facilities are not eligible for this funding, as the Philadelphia Department of Public Health received its own funding. The application deadline is 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2022. Funds are anticipated to be awarded in the second quarter of 2023.
To help long-term care facilities provide quality care as the population ages, the Department of Health (DOH) announced plans Tuesday to distribute approximately $11.7 million in federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The “Long-Term Care Quality Investment Pilot RFA” Request for Applications is open to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), personal care homes (PCHs), assisted living facilities (ALFs), and intermediate care facilities (ICFs).
“We want to make investments that will contribute to the long-range success of facilities that care for some of our most vulnerable residents,” Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “These funds will be invested in key areas including workforce development, staff retention and infrastructure developments that support infection prevention control and emergency preparedness.”
Facilities must be enrolled by Dec. 9 in the state’s LTC RISE program’s quality improvement work initiative to be considered eligible to receive funding. The funding deadline is 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2022. Funds are anticipated to be awarded in the second quarter of 2023.
A booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available for certain adults who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago, including residents in long-term care settings.
The state Department of Health announced on Monday that it will immediately make the booster available for eligible Pennsylvanians after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for certain adults.
The CDC currently recommends the booster for people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings, anyone over the age of 18 with underlying medical conditions and anyone at risk for COVID-19 exposure.
“Vaccine providers in Pennsylvania are ready to administer a booster dose of Pfizer to folks who are eligible and already fully vaccinated with Pfizer,” said Alison Beam, acting Secretary of Health. “While COVID-19 cases are increasing across the commonwealth, it is vitally important that individuals understand that the vaccine continues to be highly effective against severe illness from the COVID-19 virus – including the highly transmissive Delta variant. People who are eligible to receive a booster dose of Pfizer will benefit from additional protection.”
Last week, Beam signed an order to ensure that vaccine providers were prepared to start scheduling COVID-19 booster shots following CDC’s authorization.
“Please await further public health guidance regarding booster doses for individuals who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines for their primary series,” Beam said. “In addition to being ready for boosters, providers continue to administer first and second vaccinations to Pennsylvanians every day. Being fully vaccinated provides the best protection against COVID-19 for you, your loved ones and your neighbors.”
Nursing homes, personal care homes and other long-term care providers in the green phase of the state’s reopening plan will continue to have ongoing restrictions for at least 28 days after transitioning to green, according to the Pennsylvania departments of Health and human Services.
The Wolf Administration announced on Friday that it will continue to enforce visitation restrictions on long-term and congregate care facilities to help prevent further outbreaks among Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations.
The Department of Health initially issued COVID-19 guidance to facilities on March 18, which included regulations related to visitor limitations and personnel restrictions.
While hospitals in green counties may begin to allow limited visitations, the state plans to continue to enforce regulations at senior care facilities for what could be longer than the initial 28 days announced on Friday, said Teresa Miller, secretary of the Department of Human Services (DOH).
“We must remain vigilant and be deliberate about our actions even as we begin to reopen,” Miller said. “Green does not mean all clear for anyone, and COVID-19 is still a threat, especially for those who are medically fragile and vulnerable. This virus is not gone, and mitigation efforts are still necessary to keep people safe.”
Miller added that that the DOH understands how difficult and isolating the restrictions can be for residents of long-term care facilities and their families and have issued a number of recommendations for families trying to keep in touch with their loved ones.
The department asks facilities to promote that their residents arrange meetings with family and friends through a window or glass door, use software like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom meetings and Facebook Messenger and communicate through phone calls, emails and virtual assistant technology like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
A statewide order compelling employers to require all employees and customers to wear masks in their facilities will not be postponed despite a lack of available supplies.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed the order on April 15. The requirement goes into effect on Sunday. Failure to comply could result in fines and citations.
It is unclear how aggressively the state’s departments will enforce the order. In a phone call with press on Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf referred to the order as a set of guidelines when asked if the order would be enforced by the Pennsylvania State Police.
“Businesses are responsible for ensuring that customers abide by the protocols pertaining to customers, and the appropriate enforcement agencies are responsible for ensuring that employers abide by the protocols pertaining to employers and employees,” said Elizabeth Rementer, deputy press secretary for the Office of the Governor. “Law enforcement has been tasked with ensuring that businesses are aware that the order exists and notifying businesses that a complaint of noncompliance was received.”
During a press conference on Thursday, Levine said she would not delay the start date past April 19 for any industry.
“We recommend that if someone comes to a retailer or a grocery store and doesn’t have a mask, that they be asked to go back home and get a mask,” Levine said. “If the store has extra masks they can certainly give one and that would be great.”
The Department of Health has since released further guidance on the order, noting that masks can be obtained or made by employers or employees but must be approved by the employer in accordance with department guidelines.
Masks can be non-medical-grade and when masks aren’t available, the department also recommends using a scarf or bandana.
Levine’s order also specifies that if an employee contracts COVID-19, businesses must implement temperature screenings before employees can enter the business prior. When asked what a business should do if they purchase no-contact thermometers that cannot be delivered before Sunday, Levine said they can reach out to the department for support.