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Skilled Nursing News: Leaders Urge Texas to Allocate $400M to Bolster SNF Staffing as 30% of Facilities Have Restricted Admissions

The Texas Health Care Association (THCA), in a joint proposal with aging services organization LeadingAge Texas, this week requested $400 million in funding to help providers staff buildings amid the skilled nursing workforce shortage.

That’s less than 3% of the total federal aid funding allocated to the state, THCA said in a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — the state received approximately $16.7 billion for pandemic purposes from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Federal dollars can’t come soon enough, with more than 30% of facilities in the state having to restrict admissions due to staffing shortages, according to a member survey conducted by the association; about 70% of surveyed members are unable to hire enough nurses.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Focused Post Acute Care Partners has been operating with 60% of its workforce, and conservatively expects to lose 40% more to the federal vaccination mandate.

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New West 9: Vaccine Mandate Could Make Nursing Home Staff Shortage Worse

MIDLAND, Texas — President Biden’s new plan requires vaccinations for over 17 million healthcare workers that have some involvement with Medicare and Medicaid

That includes nursing homes. Some facilities worry that the vaccine mandate will drive away employees.

 

“We still remain very concerned about the vaccine mandate and in particular the staffing challenges that already exist,” said Kevin Warren, the President and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association.

Last month, President Biden announced that nursing home employees must get vaccinated if they want to continue to receive funding.

 

In a statement from Focused Care, a local care facility, they noted “Long term care providers have been justifiably concerned that singling out nursing home staff for required vaccinations could exacerbate an already untenable workforce shortage should those who choose not to be vaccinated leave skilled nursing care for other health care settings.”

When it comes to the new mandate for a wider range of health care workers, those working for long-term facilities believe mandates still might not be the answer.

“Focused Care encourages the administration to add mandatory testing as an option to this regulation to provide another choice to those who oppose vaccination,” stated Focused Care.

There is no official word on when these mandates will go into effect, but the White House will likely get out that message out soon.

 

“It will be really interesting to see what impact this mandate ultimately has on the greater collective spread of folks getting vaccinated, its just hard to tell at this point,” said Warren.

Read this Article on News West 9 and watch the Coverage Video Here

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Focused Care at Lamesa Thanks Local Businesses for their Support of Fundraiser for Lamesa Senior Citizen Center

Focused Care at Lamesa, a long term care community providing skilled nursing care and short term rehab to the town’s seniors hosted a fundraiser last week that raised $1655 for the local chapter of Meals on Wheels which is run by the Lamesa Senior Citizen Center.  A hamburger lunch for sale brought in the proceeds by attendees who were able to also participate in a raffle.

“We are so pleased the local business community came out with such a big presence to support the Lamesa Senior Citizen Center and its work for Meals on Wheels,” said Alice Gonzalez, executive director of operations for Focused Care at Lamesa. “Lamesa’s history and tight-knit community are to be celebrated and our fundraiser is a perfect example of how we come together to help each other as neighbors and friends.”

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News West 9: Nursing homes deciding next steps after federally-mandated staff vaccination rules

A new announcement from the president is making waves in West Texas.

Nursing home employees must get a vaccine or there will be no federal funding in Medicare and Medicaid for them.

Manor Park’s CEO and the spokesperson for Focused Care Odessa both say they saw this coming and they’re not surprised.

Now, every nursing home in Midland and Odessa is scrambling to meet and decide their next steps.

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Texas Tribune: COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in Texas nursing homes, and nearly half of workers are unvaccinated

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The Banner Bulletin: U.S. nursing homes currently safest place for vulnerable seniors

Yes, according to an analysis by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) of data produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the chief regulator of our nation’s nursing homes, COVID case counts within skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are down 98% since December 20 of last year and by mid-May 2021 account for about 0.3% of our country’s cases.

That is beyond encouraging news for seniors requiring skilled nursing care and their family members, long term care providers and their loved ones and communities across the nation. The federal government data in alignment with statistics from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) point to the vaccination rollout and those who have been inoculated as the initial knockout punch to the raging spread of COVID – though as any boxer knows, a knockout is typically not a fatal blow. Most of us understand the virus is here to stay in one mutation or another and that new variants are making their way back into our lives at an alarming pace.

Given these statistics, it is important that communities, elected officials and media view this progress through a pragmatic lens. If we think back to the height of the pandemic – when direct care providers went to work every day with fear of being infected, when asymptomatic individuals were not yet pegged as the majority of people who actually contract and unknowingly spread the virus, and critical supplies for health care workers were in dire shortage, there was no time for optimism. We now know with accurate scientific information, access to resources and availability of vaccines, we were able to save lives and we did.

While that last sentence may sound simple, living through it wasn’t.

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Skilled Nursing News: Monitoring Technology is on the Rise — SNFs Decide if it Helps or Hinders

By Amy Stulick | July 11, 2021

As nursing home operators introduce more sophisticated monitoring technology to their facilities, the benefits of such tools sit on a knife’s edge.

Monitoring platforms may help caregivers do more with less during a pandemic-exacerbated staffing crisis. It’s also possible that operators can open themselves up to potential litigation, depending on if they have the staff and education to utilize such tech properly.

“In my experience, it can cut both ways,” said Bill Wilson, founding partner and litigation attorney at Wilson Getty in San Diego, Calif. “I’ve had cases where … there was an inadequate response to an event, and when we were able to pull cameras in the common area hallways, it clearly shows staff responding within 10 seconds of an event.”

Wilson represents long-term care facilities, as well as other types of health care providers.

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Community Impact: Bay Area health care workers ‘accept, adapt and overcome’ to adjust to challenges amid COVID-19

For southeast Houston’s nurses and nursing educators, change has been the only constant while delivering care and instruction during the pandemic.

Kelsea Heiman, an emergency room nurse at Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital, said nurses have felt a lot of extra weight on their shoulders while treating patients as COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve. This has led to a sense of exhaustion for the nurses putting aside their own fears to provide patient care, she said.

“COVID[-19] has caused a lot of burnout,” she said. “People are starting to evaluate [their] work-life balance.”

Educators at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and San Jacinto College also described a change in classrooms during the pandemic as both schools trained registered nurses in their RN-to-BSN programs. Working RNs can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing at both universities, so UHCL and San Jac students have been coping with the realities of COVID-19 in the field while doing coursework.

These realities have led to the exacerbation of an already-present nursing shortage across the Texas Gulf Coast region, which includes Houston, local and regional experts said.

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Journal Sun: Focused Care maintains 5-star rating

Focused Care at Linden announced today that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for rating the quality of care provided by the nation’s skilled nursing facilities, awarded the long term care community a 5-star rating for Quality Measures – the category that focuses on direct resident care. Focused Care at Linden earned a 5-star for resident care in 2019 – during the last rating period.

“I know our culture of patient-centered care is driven by commitment and compassion for the seniors we are responsible for,” said Christine Donald, Executive Director of Operations for Focused Care at Linden.  “To achieve the highest rating for quality care following a raging pandemic, an unrelenting winter weather system and a comprehensive vaccination process, fills me with appreciation for my wonderful team members at Focused Care at Linden and their dedication in the most trying and challenging time of our century.

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The Banner-Press: Caring for the Vulnerable During Global Pandemic

May 11, 2021

For a while there it felt as though we were trying to get our sea legs in the midst of a Tsunami. The whole world was navigating unchartered waters and when a life raft was tossed out, it was frequently pulled back and another, slightly different one floated our way. Regulations, policies and guidelines on how skilled nursing communities must operate under COVID-19 came down from the Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC) and the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and changed daily – sometimes in minutes. We had to re-educate, retrain and modify communications to our team members. It’s understandable – these conditions were unprecedented – but it was challenging and created a lingering sense of uncertainty.

This was the year of the Coronavirus.

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Caller Times: Forum: A year look back on caring for seniors during a global pandemic

May 7, 2021

We will forever be bonded together as a band of frontline care providers for the most vulnerable population during a sweeping pandemic. The frightening, invisible enemy that can be in us with some exhibiting no symptoms and others being brought to their last days made its way through our Corpus Christi community, our state and the world.

Skilled nursing communities were initially vilified at the outbreak of COVID-19 as if the virus started in our buildings – not as if it walked through our front doors – which is of course, what happened. Heroes have emerged from this war on our public health. I work with many of them.

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Fort Stockton Pioneer: Dignity during the worst of the storm

May 5, 2021

Karri Geiling - LBSW, LNFA, CTT

As a ray of light is appearing through what has seemed like a very long, dark winter, I’ve learned through challenges and hardships that we can emerge with dignity and new knowledge about what we can endure and how we can triumph.

Many of us may not feel as though the last very trying year and ensuing months are at all worth celebrating. In fact, through our exhaustion, our grief, our life adjustments, and our determination, we may look at each day a bit differently than we did before. We may notice something new in a face we see every day, or feel a deeper appreciation for simple pleasures.

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Houston Chronicle Article: ‘Look at what the virus did’: Alief nursing home that lost 24 residents to COVID kept fighting

November 19, 2020

This fight through COVID it has been hard not only on residents and their families but also team members. Read this Houston Chronical article and see how our Westwood Community is working through everything.

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NY Times Article: Joy, Love, Grief: How It Looks When Families Reunite

The New York Times captured the long awaited reunions of nursing home residents and their family members in this beautiful article posted today.  Some of our families at Focused Care at Fort Stockton were kind enough to allow a photographer to be present at these intimate moments and memorialize their love and relief.  Thank you to our families and our residents for showing the world your dedication to each other.

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Texas Tribune Article: COVID-19 ravaged Texas nursing homes. Here are the stories behind the numbers.

April 15, 2021

This past year has been one of the hardest years many of us have experienced, being separated from family and friends for so long has not been easy. The Texas Tribune has done an amazing job showing the struggles that our Communities have faced across the state, the small victories that we have won along the way and the hope that we have as we begin the process to get back to hugging our loved ones.

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