National Nursing Home COVID Action Network – Press Release September 29, 2020

Angie Szumlinski
September 30, 2020

The National Nursing Home COVID Action Network, a partnership between AHRQ, the University of New Mexico’s ECHO institute and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), provides free training and mentorship to nursing homes across the country to increase the implementation of evidence-based infection prevention and safety practices to protect residents and staff.

As of Fall 2020, nearly one-quarter of the known COVID-19 deaths in the United States have been nursing home residents and staff. Advanced age, underlying frailty, and communal living conditions make nursing home residents especially vulnerable and their reliance on nursing home staff members put these essential workers at high risk.

The new National Nursing Home COVID Action Network was created under an AHRQ contract worth up to $237 million that is part of the nearly $5 billion Provider Relief Fun authorized in 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Purpose and Goals of the Network

The Network will provide free training and mentorship to U.S. nursing homes to enhance evidence-based safety practices to protect residents and staff.


  1. Prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering nursing homes where it has not been detected.
  2. Identify residents and staff who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2.
  3. Prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 between staff, residents and visitors.
  4. Provide safe and appropriate care to residents with mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
  5. Ensure staff members have the knowledge, skills and confidence to implement best-practice safety measures to protect residents and themselves.
  6. Reduce social isolation for residents, families and staff during these difficult times.

To achieve these goals, over 15,000 nursing homes that are certified to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be able to participate in a 16-week training program using a standardized curriculum developed by the IHI. Training and mentorship will be provided through the Project Echo model of telementoring. Nursing home teams that would like to participate may sign up on the Project ECHO website.

Who/What is ECHO

Project ECHO was launched in 2003 as a healthcare initiative before expanding into other domains. It grew out of one doctor’s vision, Sanjeev Arora, M.D., a liver disease specialist at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, was frustrated that he could serve only a fraction of the hepatitis C patients in the state. He wanted to serve as many patients with hepatitis C as possible, so he created a free, educational model and mentored community providers across New Mexico in how to treat the condition.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hepatitis C care provided by Project ECHO trained community providers was as good as care provided by specialists at a university.

The ECHO model is not traditional “telemedicine” where the specialist assumes care of the patient, but is instead telementoring, a guided practice model where the participating clinician retains responsibility for managing the patient.

Project ECHO has built a community of over 250 training centers (referred to as Hubs) across the United States, comprising leading academic medical centers and large healthcare delivery systems in nearly every state. The project will recruit over 100 existing and new Hubs for this nursing home training effort which will use a standardized curriculum developed by IHI as a foundation.

To register for the informational webinar regarding the 16-week training program please click the link below:

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