Nurse with face mask helping senior woman to walk around the nursing home with walker.

Two federal agencies re-emphasized their commitment to nursing home and other healthcare worker safety with actions in the past week, one of which included a request for permanent COVID standards.

Monday, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality asked for public comment about the development of a National Healthcare System Action Alliance to Advance Patient Safety. Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent a permanent rule designed to keep healthcare workers from getting COVID to the White House for review.

The AHRQ alliance in the request for information (RFI) would partner with healthcare systems, patients, families and caregivers, the Department of Health and Human Services.

The RFI wants input on how the alliance can be most effective, as well as comments about “innovative models of care, approaches, promising strategies, and solutions for overcoming some of the common impediments to safety being experienced in healthcare today.”

“The pandemic uncovered weaknesses and inequities in the healthcare delivery system that have negatively affected patient outcomes and our workforce,” the RFI said. “HHS also recognizes that as the US healthcare delivery systems recover, emerge and transform from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many priorities, including, but not limited to, improving equity, addressing staffing shortages, caring for people with long COVID, harnessing the potential of telehealth and data sciences, responding to climate change, expanding access to behavioral healthcare, and supporting the well-being of workers.”

OSHA’s temporary standard for healthcare workers began in June 2021 and ended six months later because it didn’t issue a final version. It’s been controversial. Some healthcare groups opposed it, calling it redundant and burdensome. The proposal sent to the White House last week was not publicly available.The number of employers who require employees to be vaccinated dropped this year from 34% of those surveyed in 2021 to 32%, according to a Mercer survey of more than 700 employers. Only 16% required one booster, while 11% required two.