It’s crucial for providers to be able to document and demonstrate their emergency preparedness and how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic as survey activities resume across the country, according to one expert. 

Lisa Thomson

“We know the resumption of survey activities [is] here,” said Lisa Thomson, chief strategy officer for Pathway Health. “We want to be able to take credit for all of the hard work that we have done, show the surveyors the great response, and how we prepared for and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Thomson’s comments came during a virtual session Thursday at LeadingAge’s annual Meeting & Expo. She stressed the importance of providers now aligning their emergency preparedness and infection control plans as a result of the public health crisis, while also discussing key strategies they can use to prepare for future surveys and additional waves of the disease.

Developing action report

Developing a COVID-19 pandemic after action report was among the key strategies detailed by Thomson. She noted that in order for providers to receive acknowledgement from the federal government they properly responded to the crisis. 

The action review report should include an overview of their response, the duration of the public health emergency, a sequence of events, and details on what went right for the facilities along with areas for improvement. 

“It really is a written documentation, a synopsis of the overall event. Granted, we’re still going through COVID-19, but you can talk about what your immediate responses were and what your ongoing responses are going to be,” Thomson said. 

“You can do a compilation of how you and your team together responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and used your good foundational infection control policies and procedures, as well as the competency, knowledge, skills and ability of your staff in order to respond to COVID-19 and reduce the potential negative outcomes,” she added. 

Exercises and revisions

Providers also should be conducting additional exercises on their emergency preparedness and responses plans to address any new lessons learned or opportunities to get better, according to Thomson. She added “now is the time” for providers to review and revise their plans ahead of potential resurgence of COVID-19 in their surrounding communities. Findings from the reviews should also be incorporated into the Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement (QAPI) process. 

“Now is the time also for you to update your infection control plan as we know that we have new F-tags that we need to incorporate into our infection control plans,” she said. “Remember, the facility assessment interpretive guidance says [it] needs to align with the overall emergency preparedness plan and that also means it has to align with then your infection prevention and control plan.” 

Additionally, Thomson emphasized using available resource tools to help providers prepare for COVID-19-focused surveys and conducting regular surveillance audits of their plans. 

“Our emergency preparedness and infection control plans are really key processes for us to really show how we effectively respond to COVID-19 and other potential emergencies,” she said. 

“Now is the time to review our plans, make the necessary adjustments as we head into the influenza season, as well as the winter months and upcoming new year,” she added.