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Strategy for Skilled Nursing Facilities: Infection Prevention Education

The need for infection control management and mitigation support in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) is critical to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center for Health Care Quality (CHCQ) utilized Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) strike teams at hospitals, primarily focused on infection control mitigation activities. Those strike teams have since been expanded to SNFs with a similar focus, and have proven critical to assist facilities in monitoring COVID-19 infections, preventing spread, and improving quality of care for California's most vulnerable populations. In addition, approximately 600 CHCQ Health Facility Evaluator Nurses have provided infection prevention consultation, assessment, and enforcement in SNFs during the annual state and federal survey process.

The image includes a photo of nurses in PPE gear

CHCQ has taken proactive steps to assist SNFs with infection control to improve safety and quality of care in the following ways:

• Recruited additional HAI strike team nurses in January 2020, provided training in specialized infectious disease prevention and control guidance, and expanded the HAI strike team focus to congregate setting-based facilities;

• Redirected 600 Health Facility Evaluator Nurses since February 2020, to provide more comprehensive infection control education, in addition to ongoing monitoring and enforcement, through increased onsite visits to support SNFs on their infection control plans and implementation;

• Provided specialized, competency-based infectious disease prevention and control guidance training to all Health Facility Evaluator Nurses, which complements the comprehensive infection prevention training provided as part of their initial year-long onboarding.

This specialized training focused on COVID-19-specific infection prevention and control guidance, and equipped Health Facility Evaluator Nurses with additional evidence-based tools and knowledge to perform more robust infection prevention assessment and consultation in SNFs. This 32-hour training consisted of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online course and HAI program self-study curriculum, interactive webinars, and a competency assessment. Health Facility Evaluator Nurses were and remain required to complete each component, and the COVID-19-specific scenario-based assessment to successfully pass the infectious disease training.

CHCQ is measuring training outcomes through participant tracking, competency assessments, and post-survey training feedback. All CHCQ Health Facility Evaluator Nurses have been fully trained as of August 2020.

To further CHCQ's efforts in providing regular updates and critical information about infection prevention, weekly webinars are held every Wednesday, as well as phone conferences every Tuesday for all health facilities, and every Thursday for SNFs, to allow providers, local health departments, and any other interested parties to learn about the steps necessary to protect patients, residents, and staff.

Webinar information is posted on the Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG) website. Please check the HSAG website weekly for WebEx registration information, and please register in advance for each webinar as space is limited. A recording link will be available the day following the webinar on the HSAG website.

  • Time: Wednesdays, 3:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M., PST

Webinar question and answer opportunities will only be available via a chat box tool in the WebEx webinar platform. If there are more questions in the chat box than time allows, those questions will carry over to weekly phone conferences held every Tuesday and Thursday. To call in to a weekly phone conference, please see the information below.

  • Weekly Healthcare Facility COVID-19 Update
    • Time: Tuesdays, 8 a.m. - 9 a.m., PST
    • Dial-in:  1-844-721-7239
    • Access Code: 7993227
  • Weekly SNF Infection Prevention Update
    • Time: Thursdays, 12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.M., PST
    • Dial-in: 1-877-226-8163
    • Access Code: 513711

Contact :

COVID-19 Healthcare Asociated Infections program

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