Everyone can remember that teacher. That really tough one. 

The one who made you work for your grade. Intimidated you, especially if you hadn’t done your homework, for whatever stupid, self-inflicted reason.

He or she also was probably the one who gave you exhaustive study lists and review sheets before the big tests. Might have even given you chances to earn extra credit to lift your grade. But you had to work for that, too.

This describes exactly what nursing home operators are facing from their toughest “grader” in this anxious pandemic era.

With infection control matters under all-time high scrutiny thanks to COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has raised the stakes on surveys. It recently suspended all normal survey activity to focus almost exclusively on infection control practices.

To help providers get ready for the extra scrutiny, the agency distributed a memo, with a detailed voluntary self-survey within,  called the “COVID-19 Focused Survey for Nursing Homes.” Or as you might have called it in high school, the pretest packet. Use it at your own discretion, ignore it at your own peril.

As one expert recently put it,  it’s voluntary, but ridiculous to ponder: Why not take advantage of it? It uses the same pathways surveyors will use.

Or to put it another way, it’s like getting the answers to the test ahead of time — in a legal and ethical manner.

The nine-page checklist will take some time to complete. But the issues should be no surprise: hand hygiene, general standard precautions, procedures and policies, emergency preparedness and so on. The better shape you’re in, the quicker your completion of this pretest will go. By the same token, the slower it goes, the quicker you know what you need to improve.

And the slower you are to fix things, the quicker you’re likely to be strung up by surveyors. Any excuse for not taking advantage of the focused survey document now won’t stack up later against the potential consequences of not doing so.

Besides, as one industry veteran who has been on both sides of the surveyor’s clipboard puts it, there’s no sense irritating a surveyor. Especially if he or she has given you the answers to the big test before ever entering the door.