Long-Term Care Professionals & Providers

COVID-19 Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Help, Hotlines, and Guidelines

Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus Call Center

  • 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

Washington State Department of Health Web Resources

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Applicable to federally certified programs such as nursing facilities and ICF/IIDs

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Washington State Coronavirus Response Website

DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration

Safe Start for Long-Term Care

Safe Start for Long-Term Care

On Aug. 6, Governor Inslee announced the Safe Start for Long-Term Care plan. Effective Aug. 12, the plan establishes criteria for long-term care facilities to safely conduct visitation. The plan also prescribes policy related to trips outside the facility, communal dining and group activities, testing and screening, source control and PPE, and staffing.

A summary is available here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do LTC Phases work?

LTC Phase status is based upon the general Safe Start plan, but takes additional factors into account.

Those additional factors include local virus activity, facility access to testing and personal protective equipment, and virus activity within the facility.

Facilities will be held to LTC Phase 1 if the local COVID case rate per 100,000 residents exceeds 75.

To reach LTC Phase 2, the local COVID case rate threshold is 25-75 per 100,000 residents. 28 days must have passed since the last positive or suspected client was identified within the facility. A plan for responding to new infections must be prepared. Adequate staffing, PPE, cleaning supplies, local hospital capacity are also required.

To reach LTC Phase 3, the local COVID case rate threshold is 10-25 per 100,000 residents. 28 days must have passed since the last positive or suspected client was identified within the facility. A plan for responding to new infections must be prepared. Adequate staffing, PPE, cleaning supplies, local hospital capacity are also required.

To reach LTC Phase 4, the local COVID case rate must not exceed 10 per 100,000 residents. 28 days must have passed since the last positive or suspected client was identified within the facility. A plan for responding to new infections must be prepared. Adequate staffing, PPE, cleaning supplies, local hospital capacity are also required.

Facilities may not move beyond their county's Safe Start Phase.

Do residents that leave facilities for community visits need to be quarantined?

Facilities will complete an exposure risk assessment for each resident who leaves the facility for community visits. The risk assessment will inform how the facility manages residents upon their return. Residents that leave the facility, as well as those accompanying them (family members, etc.), should be educated on infection prevention. "Low-risk" resident activity will prompt a safety briefing and screening. "Medium-risk" resident activity prompts a 14-day refrain from group activity. "High-risk" resident activity should be quarantined for 14 days. The facility will work with the Local Health Jurisdiction (LHJ) in determining the best approach after completing the exposure risk assessment.

How are "end-of-life" and "psychosocial need" circumstances defined for early LTC Phase visits?

"End-of-life" circumstances are generally considered to be defined by a sharp decline in health status.

"Psychosocial need" circumstances are generally considered to encompass situations of acute distress or trauma. Examples include the death of a friend or loved one or distress over sudden lifestyle changes.

All compassionate care circumstances are considered by facilities on a case-by-cases basis. In Phases 1 and 2, these visits are to be conducted sparingly.

COVID-19 Guidance

Mandatory Reporting of Suspected COVID-19 Cases

Immediate Reporting of Suspected Cases

You must report suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the following parties (see list of notifiable conditions)

Semiweekly Status Reporting

ALTSA requests that all long-term care facilities report COVID status twice per week. (See Instructions)

THE SEMIWEEKLY REPORTING DOES NOT REPLACE CRU REPORTING FOR FACILITIES AND AGENCIES

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Pay close attention to our "Provider/Administrator Letters" for the latest guidance. Refer procedural questions to your local health department.

Conservation and Re-Use of PPE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published strategies for the conservation of PPE. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a checklist specific to the conservation of N95 respirators. This ALTSA Flyer discusses the conservation of PPE, re-use of PPE and alternatives when facing a shortage.

Use of Cloth Face Coverings - Residents and Clients

The CDC recommends the adoption of cloth face coverings by long-term care residents when in the presence of others, even if no symptoms are present. The effectiveness of cloth face coverings relies upon the proper use and sanitation of the covering. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) further recommend that clients cover the nose and mouth when caretakers or staff enter the room, whether by mask or tissue.

Protocol for Donning (Putting On) and Doffing (Taking Off) PPE

The effectiveness of PPE depends on its proper use. Putting on or removing PPE inappropriately can negate its protective properties. Adhere to CDC guidelines for use of PPE and refer to CDC instructions for properly donning (video) and doffing (video) PPE.

How to Acquire PPE

All long-term care facilities are instructed to purchase necessary personal protective equipment. In the event of an urgent shortage, facilities should notify their local emergency management agency (EMA) or local health jurisdiction (LHJ). If these backup sources cannot fulfill the request, facilities may notify DSHS and request an emergency 7-day supply.

Individual Providers and Adult Family Homes are eligible to receive a one-time, 31-day supply of PPE from the state.

COVID-19 Testing

On May 28, the Washington State Department of Health issued Order 20-02, requiring widespread testing within long-term care facilities. All residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities will be tested by June 12. All residents and staff in assisted living facilities with memory care units will be tested by June 26. 

Department of Health Order 20-02 - Mandated Testing Within Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities with Memory Care Units

All testing conducted pursuant to DOH Order 20-02 will be funded by the state. Administration of testing will comply with applicable law - residents have a right to be informed of, consent to, or refuse proposed medical treatment (including this testing). More information on testing instruction, reimbursement, submission of samples, and reporting of positive tests can be found in the "Dear Provider" letters above.                          

Further Testing Guidance

The Washington State Department of Health recommends prompt testing for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19. If a resident, client, or staff member at a long-term care facility tests positive for COVID-19, contact your local health jurisdiction for immediate instruction on wider testing.   

Training Staff to Administer COVID-19 Testing

The Department of Health and local health jurisdictions are leading the training of facility staff in performing COVID-19 testing. Contact your local health jurisdiction to inquire about training for viral testing, specimen collection, and reporting.

Long-Term Care Advisory Group

An advisory group has been formed to address pandemic-related issues affecting long-term care providers. The group is comprised of members of state government, industry representatives, labor representatives, and other stakeholders.

Advisory Group Purpose Statement

The purpose of this Long-Term Care Facilities COVID-19 Advisory Group is to:

  • Communicate across agencies and across advisory group representation what is needed to fully support residents, families, providers and facility staff in response to the COVID-19. 
  • Share information that has been captured from other groups and sources with the goal of coordinating the many channels of information that are occurring as a result of COVID-19 response.
  • Advise agencies and local jurisdictions on policy decisions and practices related to COVID-19 response in long-term care facilities and home and community-based programs.
  • The activities of this group are specific to COVID-19 related needs.  Unless the group decides to adjourn earlier, once the threat of the pandemic is past, activities of this advisory group will terminate.
Represented long-term care facilities include adult family homes, skilled nursing facilities, supported living agencies, and assisted living facilities.

Meeting Agendas:

Meeting Minutes:

Infection Control and Prevention

COVID-19 Guidance for Home Care Workers

This document details important safety measures for home care workers to protect themselves and their clients. It is also available in a variety of languages:

Amharic

Arabic

Cambodian

Chinese

English

Spanish

Korean

Laotian

Russian

Samoan

Somali

Tagalog

Ukrainian

Vietnamese

 

Home and Community Services (HCS) - Hospital Surge Guidance

HCS has issued a statewide plan to surge activities at acute care hospitals to determine eligibility, plan services, and find viable community alternatives.

Appendix K Waivers

Appendix K waivers have been filed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These waivers temporarily modify some processes of care, provider qualifications, service limitations, and other guidelines. Providers should stay current with these waivers to optimally respond to COVID-19.

Provider Rate Enhancements

The outbreak of COVID-19 has burdened providers with increased costs. Emergency rate enhancements have been extended to providers to offset some of these increased expenses.

Home and Community Services (HCS) Rate Enhancements

Home Care Agencies will receive a 20% rate increase for May and June. HCAs that serve clients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 will receive an additional $1 per hour.

Individual Providers will receive an additional $3 per hour for hours worked during May and June. They will also receive a one-time $100 stipend, per client, for cleaning supplies. DSHS will make additional contributions towards health benefits and increased training sessions to support social distancing within classrooms.

  • H20-047 details rate enhancements for Home Care Agencies.
  • H20-037 details a rate add-on for Home Care Agencies committed to serving clients suspected or confirmed of COVID-19 infection.
  • H20-043 details rate enhancements for Individual Providers.

Residential Care Services (RCS) Rate Enhancements

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have increased Federal Match Assistance Percentages (FMAP), resulting in an effective 12-15% rate increase for facilities.

Admitting nursing home facilities will receive an exceptional rate of $100 per client per day atop regular rates for admitting a hospitalized client who transitions to their facility during the surge period.

DSHS has also begun establishing contracts with providers that can establish buildings or wings that can provide services dedicated to COVID+ residents. These COVID+ facilities will receive an enhanced daily rate of $450/day.

ALTSA issued a “Dear Provider” letter on May 4 that details rate increases for Assisted Living Facilities and Adult Family Homes.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Webinar Questions and Answers

ALTSA holds routine webinars to share important guidance and collect questions. Review these documents for answers to common questions.

  • April 16, 2020 Webinar Q&A - FMAP, PPE, training and certification requirements, COVID-19 testing requirements, nurse delegation.
  • May 15, 2020 Webinar Q&A - COVID-19 testing, cohorting, visitation restrictions, clarification of "end-of-life" circumstances.
Additional Guidance for Providers

Guidance for Individual Providers

The work performed by Individual Providers is considered essential under the Governors Proclamation 20-25. Your clients may need you more than ever during this outbreak, but we encourage steps to reduce close contact and require that you contact your client and case manager in the event you feel ill yourself. See our Guide for Individual Providers for more information.

ALTSA Response to COVID-19

The Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) has reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak by securing federal waivers to afford providers much-needed flexibility in care delivery, and by delivering timely guidance to providers and facilities. Our guidance consolidates input from Governor Jay Inslee, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and other authoritative bodies.