December 2021 Community Update


New CMS Visitation Guidance

On November 12, CMS issued a revision to QSO 20-39 regarding nursing home visitation, Epworth Villa’s visitation policies have been updated to include these changes:

  • Visitation is now allowed for all residents at all times.
  • Visitors who are COVID positive or currently meet the criteria for quarantine should not enter the facility.
  • Facilities must allow indoor visitation but can no longer limit the frequency, length of visits, number of visitors, or require advance scheduling of visits.
  • Visitors must still be allowed in the facility during an outbreak investigation.
  • Visitors are encouraged to be tested on their own before coming to the facility and the facility can encourage testing of visitors in counties with substantial or high levels of community transmission.
  • Compassionate care visits are always allowed.
  • Facilities must permit residents to leave the facility as they choose.

Please note that all COVID infection control strategies remain in place including:

  • Screening for COVID related symptoms and exposure prior to entry into health care areas. Visitation is prohibited for those who have had COVID exposure or currently have potential symptoms. Note: Please use our automated Advance Entry screening at multiple entrances in our community prior to entry to health care areas.
  • Masks are always required in health care areas; masks are strongly encouraged in resident’s room but not mandatory. Note: Health Care areas include all of Health Service
  • Visits to occur in resident’s room, outdoors or a designated area.
  • Space 6-10’ from staff and other residents.
  • Abstain from visits or entry in dining areas, kitchen, laundry.
  • If other residents are present during a visit, spacing and masks must be worn.

Employee Vaccine Mandate

09/12/2021 President Biden announced the “Path out of the Pandemic” and a 6-pronged approach which included mandatory vaccinations for all health care employees in facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs. The rules were accepted into the Federal Register on 11/05/2021. Epworth Villa’s employee COVID policies have been updated to include these changes:

  • Our Employee COVID-19 Protocols were revised to reflect the new rules and exemption forms.
  • Full vaccination of all eligible employees in health care areas is mandatory by 01/04/2021.
  • Exemptions from mandatory COVID-19 vaccination are based on specific medical or religious reasons. Employees have been given a deadline of 12/03/2021 to complete their vaccine consent or exemption.
  • Epworth Villa’s current employee vaccination rate as of 11/24/2021 is 70%. The national average is 60%.

Community Transmission and Staff Testing

  • Currently the Centers for Disease Control publishes weekly the county positivity rates for COVID as well as vaccination. These are available publicly via: CDC COVID Data Tracker
  • The CDC determines the level of risk for community transmission and provides a color coding which indicates the frequency of testing requirements.
    • High (red) or substantial (orange) community transmission: test 2 times per week.
    • Moderate (yellow) community transmission: test 1 time per week.
    • Low (blue) community transmission: routine testing is not recommended.

Routine testing frequencies for non-vaccinated staff are mandated for nursing facilities by CMS and are discussed in CMS COVID-19 testing memo, QSO-20-38-NH (Revised 9/10/21).

The CMS memo states:

  • If the level of community transmission increases, begin testing staff at the frequency shown above as soon as the criteria are met.
  • If the level of community transmission decreases, the facility should continue testing staff at the higher frequency level until the level of community transmission has remained at the lower activity level for at least two weeks.

Epworth Villa resides in Oklahoma County and our risk level has been at high/substantial for several months now.

Thank you for helping us keep everyone as safe as possible.