CMS-certified nursing homes will have access to a staff training program on infection control and prevention, the agency said Tuesday.
CMS' training is meant to help control the spread of COVID-19, and will be available to staff in the country's 15,400 Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes. It uses findings from agency nursing home inspections, epidemiological experts working with facilities and strike team members to teach infection control, screening and other guidelines, according to a news release.
"CMS is taking unprecedented action to ensure that nursing homes are doubling down on efforts to prevent the spread of the virus," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a prepared statement.
The five-module online staff training focuses on hand hygiene and PPE; screening and surveillance; cleaning the nursing home; cohorting; and caring for residents with dementia during a pandemic.
A 10-module training for management covers the same five topics as the staff training and adds in basic infection control; emergency preparedness and surge capacity; addressing the emotional health of residents and staff; telehealth for nursing homes; and preparing a vaccine delivery system.
In addition to the new training programs, CMS also will host bi-weekly virtual Q&As at 4 p.m. ET Aug. 27 through Jan. 7.
There have been 188,954 confirmed cases of COVID-19, another 115,158 suspected cases and 48,215 COVID-19-related deaths in U.S. nursing homes, according to CMS data. Nationwide, there have been 5,715,567 total cases and 176, 617 total deaths, according to the CDC; however, nursing home data lags behind national data.
After falling through June, by July 26, weekly new cases in nursing homes climbed to 9,715, up 3% from May 31's peak. Deaths were 45% lower than the end of May, at 1,511 nationwide, according to the data.
CMS earlier this month announced it would resume routine inspections of nursing homes. The agency put inspections on hold March 23 so it could focus on infection control and help prevent the spread of the virus. The agency has fined nursing homes $15 million for not complying with infection control requirements and for not reporting COVID-19 data.
Yet one in five nursing homes hit by COVID-19 continues to be short on PPE and staff, according to a study by academic researchers at the University of Rochester in New York, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.