Details about the new process nursing homes will have to use to report COVID-19 infections and deaths directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began flowing Wednesday.

The first training sessions on how to report will begin today, with a national conference call introducing the new module starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. Another session on the reporting mechanisms will take place at 1:30 p.m. ET Friday. Session call-in information and other details about the new LTCF COVID-19 Module can be found here. Sessions will be repeated, officials said.

The module, which CDC alerted providers to for the first time Tuesday night, consists of four pathways within the National Healthcare Safety Network’s long-term care safety component. They are: 

  • Resident Impact and Facility Capacity
  • Staff and Personnel Impact
  • Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment
  • Ventilator Capacity and Supplies

The extra layer of reporting, intended to create a national tracking database of nursing home COVID infections for the first time, was announced amid controversy last week. Some providers criticized the prospect of having to report COVID-19 details to two or more governmental agencies, and in multiple formats, which could invite errors or misinterpretations, they argued.

Registration and reporting requirements would be streamlined and simplified, CDC officials emphasized during a weekly CDC/Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services COVID-19 conference call Wednesday afternoon.

Full CMS rulemaking has yet to be issued, noted LeadingAge nursing home policy director Jodi Eyigor during the association’s daily coronavirus call earlier Wednesday afternoon. But she urged providers to preview the reporting module and set up enrollment as soon as they could.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said last week that the new program would ease through an orientation phase to make sure processes were working as intended before penalties would start to be handed down.  Operators will be obligated to report the presence of COVID-related infections within 12 hours of learning about them or face weekly fines of $1,000 or more, Verma said last week.

Eyigor said LeadingAge is pressing officials for more answers.

“We want to know more about those enforcement actions. We’re very concerned about that,” Eyigor said. “Above all, we are advocating to CMS and to Congress for one universal reporting system. We know, depending on the state you’re in you might, at a minimum, be reporting two different times because you’ll be reporting to CDC and to your local health department.

“But some states are having to report similar data in four different places. We want to make sure that information is available and that we are following the requirements but we are not taking valuable time away from patient care to do so.”