This article summarizes various federal and state policies enacted across the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As nursing homes house less than 1% of the population in the United States but accounted for more than 40% of COVID-19 related deaths, new policies were necessary. Federally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) responded in four different areas, including relaxing administrative requirements, preventing virus transmission, expanding facilities capacities, and reporting COVID data. Policies regarding preventing virus transmission such as PPE use, active screening, and restriction of non-essential visitors were supported by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. Expanding of facilities allowed for temporary use of non-nursing facilities and resident transfers without formal discharges. Relaxing administrative requirements allowed for documentation and billing requirement relief. At the state level, many states completely banned non-essential visitors from nursing homes. In Arizona, a complete separation of residents based on COVID-19 status was required. Communal dining was cancelled in Michigan and North Carolina.
This article does a great job summarizing and contrasting the initial federal and state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic regarding long-term care and residential facilities. Though expanding facility capacities and easy relocation of residents based on their COVID-19 status may have been beneficial in decreasing the spread of COVID-19, this may have been dangerous from a medication safety standpoint. Failure to actively report the resident’s change in location may have delayed patients receiving their medications. Implementing new policies regarding medication safety and patient relocation may have proven to help ensure adequate patient safety as resident relocation was an appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic led to an influx of new staff and delayed recertification of requirements; therefore, there may have been many new staff members that were not as familiar with site-specific medication policies and procedures, especially as they were often changed in response to new data released pertaining to COVID-19.
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