Nursing homes lag completing government COVID-19 training, CMS says

Only 12.5% of the country’s one million nursing home staff has completed government COVID-19 training, according to CMS.

So far, 125,506 people at 7,313 nursing homes have taken the training, which was announced Aug. 25, CMS said Tuesday. There are 1,092 nursing homes at which 50% or more of staff have completed the training. The agency made the names of those nursing homes publicly available.

“Ultimately, the ownership and management of every nursing must take it on themselves to ensure their staff is fully equipped to keep residents safe. With coronavirus cases increasing across the country and infection control identified as a major issue, we encourage all nursing homes to take advantage of this no-cost opportunity to train their staff,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

The training covers infection control, screening and surveillance, personal protective equipment usage, disinfection of the nursing home, cohorting and caring for individuals with dementia during a pandemic.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said there are multiple infection control training options for long-term care staff, which have been used by tens of thousands of workers.

“Research has shown that even with perfect infection control and extensive training, it’s nearly impossible to prevent this virus from impacting our long term care residents and staff when there is rampant community spread. We must focus on a multi-faceted approach that includes reinforcing infection control best practices as well as slowing the spread in the community and ensuring nursing homes have the resources they need to fend off the virus,” AHCA/NCAL said in a statement.

Cases at nursing homes have been rising steadily as COVID-19 cases increase across the country. There have been 294,438 cases, 156,929 suspected cases and 65,446 deaths among nursing home residents, according to the latest CMS data.

Of the new cases in nursing homes, 47% were from Midwest states with surges in community spread, AHCA/NCAL said. The Midwest alone has seen a 200% increase in COVID-19 cases in nursing homes since mid-September.

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