Nursing home providers may see tougher infection-control standards thanks to provisions of a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus congressional deal formed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Federal lawmakers agreed to the rescue package Wednesday morning, with senators voting to pass the bill late Wednesday night. The bipartisan deal is an expansion of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,” which was introduced last week. The package includes $200 million for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in facilities.

Nursing homes have come under an intense spotlight since the first U.S. outbreak of COVID-19 was discovered at a Seattle-area nursing facility.

On Wednesday, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, said stimulus package funds are expected to help every nursing home and assisted living facility in the country. Last week, he expressed hope that funding would be included to “hire and retain the workers that we need to beat down this virus.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 54,400 total coronavirus cases, leading to 737 deaths and thousands of hospitalizations thus far.

Nursing home with 46 cases says COVID halted

An Illinois nursing home that made headlines last week with 33 residents and 13 staff testing positive for coronavirus says it has stopped the infection’s spread.

There have been no new cases reported, and reports of supply and staff shortages are false, said Ron Nunziato, CEO of Extended Care Living LLC, which manages the Chateau Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, IL.

He said he was “shocked” to hear the shortage claims. “I took pictures of our supply of gloves and masks and gowns and goggles and face shields and hand sanitizers, and there is no shortage,” Nunziato told the Chicago Tribune.

“We continue to work with staff from agencies in different support facilities that have offered to help us. We’re providing care to the residents and trying to make sure everyone is safe and healthy and symptom-free,” he added. 

A former employee, who recently left the facility, told the news agency that she quit because of its alleged lack of protective gear and appropriate cleaning supplies. 

Operator, union reach ‘model’ deal for industry

A nursing home operator reached a deal with an employee union that pledges to provide additional protections for workers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Avamere Family Companies, who operates 18 nursing homes in Oregon, pledged to pay workers who can’t report because of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and plans to communicate with employees about their potential risk or exposure to the disease under the agreement, according to a local report. The company also promised to create a pool of paid time off for employees to use before they exhausted their own leave.

“Employers have a responsibility to quickly make policies that protect the health and financial stability of both employees and residents. I hope every other home in Oregon follows our lead,” Avamere founder Rick Miller told local media.

•  Operators and community members continue to come up with creative ways to cope with no-visitor and isolation policies. This Mississippi nursing home started a “Smile Where You Are” campaign to promote social distancing.

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