Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing home residents and the staff who care for them have been in the eye of the storm. In New Jersey, more than 4,000 of the residents have died from the virus. Nationwide, the number is more than 61,000 individuals, which is over a quarter of all COVID deaths in the nation.
The tragedy has prompted some needed action. One example is the AHRQ ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network, a program created to support nursing homes during this pandemic and beyond. Rutgers Project ECHO is launching the program in New Jersey. The Quality Institute is working with Rutgers Project ECHO in partnership with the state Department of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center.
Together, we want to support our nursing homes and do what we can to avoid a repeat of those dark days this past spring. That is why I am asking for your help in getting the word out. Please share this blog, reach out to as many nursing home leaders you know, and encourage them to enroll their organization in the training program. We want 100 percent of the 364 Medicare-and-Medicaid certified New Jersey nursing homes to participate. The deadline to register is November 16th. Learn more about the program and registration details here. So far, about 200 nursing homes have signed up.
The 16-week interactive course collaboratively advances preparedness, safety, and infection control — and is offered to all CMS-certified nursing homes in New Jersey. The virtual learning community will enable nursing home staff to learn from experts, and each other, to expand the use of proven best practices that can be implemented immediately.
Program participants can expect a high level of expertise from this essential program, which is supported by the Institute for Health Care Improvement. Topics addressed each week include:
- Preventing COVID-19 from entering nursing homes.
- Preventing greater spread if the virus enters a facility.
- How to best provide care for residents who test positive.
- Advance Care Planning.
- Enabling dying residents to safely receive visitors.
We are also recruiting subject matter experts to help lead the 16-week program. If anyone in your organization would like to work with us on this program, please reach out to me or Kathy Dodsworth, Executive Director at Rutgers Project ECHO, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the Director of our Medicaid Policy Center, Matt D’Oria, will be participating. Part of the curriculum focuses on the state’s regulatory guidance on topics such as infection control, visitation requirements, and use of PPE. Payers use many of these requirements to evaluate quality of care and to determine whether the facility will qualify for performance-based incentive payments. I know Matt’s insight on these topics will be valuable to all participants.
Rutgers Project ECHO is working in partnership with the ECHO Institute at University of New Mexico Health Services Center and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).
After the initial 16-week program, Rutgers Project ECHO, in partnership with the Quality Institute and the other partners, will continue to offer a yearlong program of quality improvement. This learning collaborative has the potential to substantially improve the quality of care and experience of all those living in nursing homes.
I leave you with this short video message from New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli urging every eligible nursing home to participate and calling for 100 percent participation. Please help us get all nursing homes enrolled by November 16th.