It seems we have an acronym for everything- CMS, DPH, MDS, IDT to name a few. It’s a surprise to no one that the world of LTC is a big bowl of alphabet soup. And now the dreaded COVID-19 joins the list of names and acronyms that we have to address.
Its been a rough and tragic time for our industry with much illness, death, negative media, and severe lack of supplies and staffing. Under this level of attention and scrutiny, our facilities are faced with an ever-increasing list of metrics to track and manage.
I expect that in the wake of COVID-19 , tracking our numbers and using them to take calculated action will be essential to our survival as an industry.
But, what data do we need to know and track in this new COVID world?
If you’ve never heard of line listing before COVID, you sure are intimate with the concept now.
The CDC defines it as “one type of epidemiologic database and is organized like a spreadsheet with rows and columns. Typically, each row is called a record or observation and represents one person or cause of disease.” I define it as my COVID Survival Document. It is the basis of tracking the disease in your facility and a template for completing the many documents that have to be submitted to the State, County, and CDC on sometimes a daily basis. The data in this spreadsheet needs to be accurate and consistent and this can be a tedious task.
According to a CMS Memorandum of May 19, 2020 COVID “all nursing home staff (including volunteers and vendors who are in the facility on a weekly basis) to receive a single baseline COVID-19 test, with re-testing of all staff continuing every week.” While there is an ability for state or local leaders to adjust the requirements- there will be requirements. This tracking will become a very difficult job for the already overtaxed HR departments.
Temperatures and Oxygen Saturation
Anyone who has attempted to buy a thermometer lately knows they are in high demand. In fact, let me know where you find one!
As providers, we are scrambling to find a data set that gives us an early warning. This early warning is the key to reducing the risk of infection. We are looking for data insights that we can trust and will inform our actions. Many facilities are now routinely tracking temperatures of residents and staff and carefully looking at resident oxygen saturations. Make sure you create the policies and the processes to track this information in a way that is easy to access, both for data input and data analysis.
Having worked in LTC for most of my professional career, I cannot recall a time where tracking of Staffing and Personal Protection Equipment has been more critical. We are carefully tracking these precious supplies and calculating utilization and need on a daily if not hourly basis. Looking forward, I think it will be essential to have a clear “story” of what supplies were available and what we did regarding shortage- both for staff and PPE.
Looking into the not so distant future, I anticipate we will see an increase in lawsuits and serious DPH findings with expensive fines and penalties. It’s critical to also track all the things WE HAVE DONE RIGHT. We should keep a careful dateline of all the things that were done by the facility and how we responded at every step of the way.
The time is NOW to start considering how you are tracking these new data points and concerns. Work with forward-thinking vendors, like SNF Metrics to ensure you stay ahead of the curve. We are operating in a new world where we are expected to be hypervigilant in tracking and trending in order to prevent the spread of illness in our buildings.