NHSN – What About ALF?

Angie Szumlinski
June 24, 2020
Nurse walking with resident

During this time of fear, anxiety and pain, we are also faced with making decisions that could impact the future of assisted living. We continue to actively focus on caring for our residents who are at high risk for infection while also protecting our staff and providing a safe work environment for them. Most assisted living centers are not prepared or have the clinical assessment skills to provide “skilled” care; however, we often have no other choice.

What is your philosophy on providing higher levels of care.  And at this moment in the coronavirus pandemic, are you reporting data to the CDC/NHSN website? Although there is no requirement for assisted living centers to do so, many have made the decision to voluntarily report their COVID data. Voluntarily reporting this information is a business decision and in the short term could be beneficial. Looking down the road however we may identify challenges related to this data being made public. Remember, ALFs are not required to report as this sector of senior care is not governed by CMS.

A few things to think about as you make your decision regarding voluntary reporting.

  • What value does reporting bring to you and your organization?
  • Will your residents and staff benefit from reporting?
  • Will the information provide you with guidance to better prepare for a second wave?
  • Will you change what you are currently doing based on the reporting process?
  • Are you committed to continue reporting for at least the foreseeable future?
  • Will reporting provide you with assistance/guidance on managing infection control protocols?
  • Could this information lead to federal oversight in the future?
  • Is this information something you want made “public”? Surveyors, plaintiff attorneys, community members and future residents have access
  • This does not replace our responsibility to keep our families and residents informed, being transparent but rather can add another layer of notification to an already full plate of responsibility
  • Who is designated to gather and post the data and how much time does it take?

Is there a “right or wrong” answer? No! Does HealthCap feel strongly either way? No! What HealthCap would like you to do is take a deep dive and determine if reporting is right for your organization. If you determine that it is “right” for your organization consider the following:

  • Maintain a log of all information posted to the site
  • Include the date of each posting, who was responsible for posting
  • Be prepared with a media release, preferably assisted by general counsel
  • Log all contacts made by community members, hospitals, SNFs, etc. including who contacted you and what information they were asking for
  • Put a disclaimer on your website and in your newsletter indicating that you are voluntarily posting the information to be transparent

You have the right to not post this information and HealthCap will support your decision.

Thank you for all you do for senior care, be well, stay tuned!

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