Texas nursing homes must routinely test staff for COVID-19 or face fines

AUSTIN – Nursing homes in almost half of all Texas counties, including Dallas and Tarrant, must start testing their staff twice a week for COVID-19 or face potential fines.

The sweeping new rules from the federal government are aimed at reducing spread in nursing homes, where the virus has cut a deadly path. Families and advocates hope the rules will open the door to more visitation, which has been restricted for months.

But nursing homes leaders warn a lack of testing supplies right now could undermine the government’s efforts and strain resources over the long-term.

“Regular testing is a good policy because it helps providers to identify the virus,” said Kevin Warren, president and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association, which represents senior care facilities in the state. “But given the limited supply availability, these providers are not going to be in compliance overnight.”

The rules, announced last week

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Hospitals, Nursing Homes Fail to Separate COVID Patients, Putting Others at Risk

Nurses at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center were on edge as early as March when patients with COVID-19 began to show up in areas of the hospital that were not set aside to care for them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised hospitals to isolate COVID patients to limit staff exposure and help conserve high-level personal protective equipment that’s been in short supply.

Yet COVID patients continued to be scattered through the Oakland hospital, according to complaints to California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The concerns included the sixth-floor medical unit where veteran nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder worked.

COVID patients on that floor were not

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EGYM and Kolter Homes Partner to Bring Innovative Smart Fitness Technology to Cresswind 55+ Communities | News

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — EGYM, a global fitness technology leader, and Kolter Homes, a leader in developing next-generation, highly-amenitized, master-planned active adult communities, today announced a strategic partnership to integrate EGYM’s intelligent hardware and software solutions throughout Kolter’s upcoming Cresswind 55+ communities. Built to make fitness more accessible for all, EGYM’s Smart Strength training equipment and digital platform will allow Cresswind residents to take control of their fitness and, ultimately, improve their overall well being.

EGYM aims to make the gym work for everyone, and this focus firmly supports Kolter Homes’ mission to establish and foster active adult communities that help residents “Live Better, Longer.” This partnership provides digital resident onboarding, engagement, motivation, and progress tracking, and in turn supports and empowers Cresswind residents with personalized and real-time fitness training. EGYM’s comprehensive Smart Strength training solution will be integrated into new Cresswind clubhouse fitness centers in

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Nursing homes eye early warning system

Nursing homes want an early warning system to alert them to localised outbreaks so they can take additional precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus spreading from clusters in the community.

The recommendation comes as the number of Covid-19 cases rises while public health measures including serial testing have managed to prevent the spread of infection in nursing homes.

There was just one new outbreak in a nursing home and eight new cases linked to nursing homes reported in the past week, bringing to 279 the number of clusters in nursing homes as of last Sunday.

Nursing Homes Ireland, the representative body for private nursing homes that make up four out of every five care homes, said an early warning system for localised outbreaks could avoid more severe restrictions.

“Rather than the blunt instrument of national restrictions, it might be better to consider a more localised approach that would not lead to

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Opinion | Could Many Coronavirus Deaths in Nursing Homes Have Been Avoided?

Jose Velasquez, a 79-year-old father from Bexar County, Texas, tested positive for the coronavirus on March 26 and died on April 17. During those weeks, the staff at the nursing home where he lived assured his family that he showed no symptoms of Covid-19 and, according to a lawsuit filed by his children, failed to ensure that he received proper medical care. The staff did not transfer him to a hospital as he deteriorated or even warn his family that he was sick, according to the suit. Mr. Velasquez’s family says that just hours before he died, the staff at the home reported he was “doing fine.”

The facility had a bad safety record, according to the lawsuit, was chronically understaffed, had received citations for failing to carry out basic infection-control programs and, in the months after the coronavirus erupted, its operators did not heed state guidelines for keeping the

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N.S. threatens to pull funding from some nursing homes if beds aren’t filled

a sign in front of a building: The Northwood long-term care facility is pictured in April. Nova Scotia's Department of Health has sent letters to nursing homes imploring them to fill almost all of the beds they have kept empty throughout the first wave of COVID-19.

© Robert Short/CBC
The Northwood long-term care facility is pictured in April. Nova Scotia’s Department of Health has sent letters to nursing homes imploring them to fill almost all of the beds they have kept empty throughout the first wave of COVID-19.

Nova Scotia’s Department of Health has sent letters to nursing homes across the province imploring them to fill almost all of the beds they have kept empty throughout the first wave of COVID-19 infections.

The letters, including one from Deputy Minister Dr. Kevin Orrell sent last week, informed nursing home administrators that they would no longer be allowed to keep more than three per cent of their beds empty.

Beds that remained unfilled over that limit would no longer receive the province’s per-day funding rate.

There are 133 licensed long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia with a total of about about 8,000 beds.

According to Health Department spokesperson 

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Tennessee to ease COVID-19 restrictions on nursing homes

a person sitting on a chair: File photo

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Tennessee officials announced they will ease restrictions on nursing homes and long-term care facilities after reports revealed a decline in COVID-19 cases.

The new regulations put in place by the Tennessee Department of Health will take effect on Oct. 1. Each set of new rules will be based on each facility’s COVID-19 transmission rate.

“The health and safety of vulnerable Tennesseans, especially our Tennesseans, especially our long-term care residents, remains our top priority, and our comprehensive and persistent efforts to protect this population from COVID-19 have saved lives,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said.

Facilities that have reported no new COVID-19 cases among residents and staff within a 14 day period may allow outdoor visitations and limited indoor visitation in common areas while social distancing.

The visitations will be limited to 45 minutes with up to two adult

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Kansas nursing homes waiting on coronavirus testing gear

Nursing homes that don’t have the machines and kits need to send their samples to private labs, but some say the prices are impossible to afford long-term.

Phillips County Retirement Center got a coronavirus testing machine this month from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But it will run out of the sample-collecting kits that came with the device on Monday, just one week after turning it on, the Kansas News Service reports.

Twenty miles away, the county’s other nursing home is still waiting for its machine.

“It’s been a really big struggle just to even try to find out who knows where it is,” said Teresa McComb, who runs Logan Manor Community Health Services.

A new federal rule promises to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19 by requiring all workers to undergo testing up to twice a week. Homes should either use machines sent by HHS or

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US nursing homes are given go-ahead to welcome back visitors

a man sitting in a chair talking on a cell phone: MailOnline logo

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Residents in nursing homes across the country will now be allowed to welcome visitors for the first time in six months. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a ban on family members visiting nursing facilities back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Exceptions were made only for critical care and end-of-life situations. 

But on Friday, the ban was lifted, effective immediately, following widespread complaints that nursing home patients were suffering from anxiety and depression without visits from loved ones. 

All nursing homes across the United States must now allow outdoor visits or risk potential sanctions if they refuse to do so. 

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Outdoor visits allowed at Michigan nursing homes starting today: What to know

LANSING, Mich.Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Michigan can start seeing visitors outdoors Tuesday as a new order goes into effect.

An order signed last week by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will allow an exception to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restriction on visits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The new order, which goes into effect Tuesday (Sept. 15), will allow outdoor visitation as long as certain COVID-19 safety guidelines are followed.

“Limiting visitation has saved lives,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said. “Seeing loved ones in person is important for mental health. Allowing outdoor visits — with proper procedures such as requiring social distancing and masks — is good for residents and can keep everyone safe.”

The flattening of the COVID-19 curve and feedback about how the burden of restrictions has grown over time were both factors in the decision, officials said.

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