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03/18/2020

Today's COVID-19 Report: Exception Reviews on Hold, Nonessential Surgeries Canceled

Today's COVID-19 Report: Exception Reviews on Hold, Nonessential Surgeries Canceled

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Wednesday, March 18 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

All Member Call - Friday, March 20

LeadingAge Ohio is holding an all-member COVID-19 update call this Friday, March 20 at 10:30 a.m. Call in registration is as follows:

Register here.

For best call quality, we encourage using your computer audio.

Dial in information:

iPhone one-tap: US: +13126266799,,149026734# 

Telephone Dial-in: US: +1 312-626-6799 
Webinar ID: 149026734

 

ODM - Exception Reviews on Hold

The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) relayed this morning that they have made the decision to put exception reviews on hold until further notice. This is in response to COVID-19 and keeping with Governor DeWine’s recent decision to limit visitors at nursing facilities.

 

ODM Finalizes Assisted Living Waiver, PASSPORT, ECL Rate Increases

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Medicaid pushed through final rule filings which would implement the 3.25% increase to Ohio’s nursing home level of care waivers, including Assisted Living Waiver and PASSPORT. The rate increases are set to take effect March 23.

ODJFS Implements Emergency Child Care Measures 

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Kim Hall announced emergency action yesterday to provide child care to families where parents work in the health, safety, and essential service fields during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency will issue temporary pandemic child care licenses to ensure communities have access to child care.

New temporary pandemic child care centers will operate under reduced regulations focused solely on the health and safety of children. Pandemic child care center licenses can be granted to already existing child care centers or new child care centers that may be created in response to community needs.

The new child care centers will be available only to health care workers, first responders, and those working to provide Ohioans with essential services, such as grocery and pharmacy employees. These measures will be in force for the duration of the pandemic. In addition, ODJFS is offering financial assistance to eligible parents to help them with child care costs while they engage in work, education or job training.                      

DeWine also noted that hospitals have requested permission to set up their own childcare centers, and that he would be making an announcement related to that in the near future.


Hospice Visits Should be Allowed

In a re-issued letter from the Director of Health, ODH again clarified that “necessary personnel” that should be permitted to enter the building should include “contracted healthcare providers like hospice workers who may need to provide care to a resident multiple times daily.” And further, it stated, “It is important that the healthcare needs of your residents  continue to be met during this critical time.”

 

Hospital capacity

Hospitals have been ordered to postpone any elective surgeries that are scheduled. The order is consistent with understandings around elective surgeries so that personnel, beds, and PPE can be preserved for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases and social distancing is respected. 

Dr. Mike Abrams of the Ohio Hospital Association shared that the state’s hospitals have created shared guidelines on approaches to COVID-19. Today, hospitals are at about 75% capacity, which means they can absorb a certain amount of surge without interruptions in care. 

Discussions were had regarding where nursing homes could accept a certain amount of non-infectious patients to free up space in the area’s hospitals. Other hospitals have reached out to local hotels for similar reasons, and have identified off-site locations where they can conduct testing. In order to be prepared for this possibility, please contact COVID19@LeadingAgeOhio.org if your organization is positioned to receive patients from hospitals. 

Dr. Andy Thomas of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center represented the medical advisory group advising the Governor on COVID-19, and shared those procedures that can be safely delayed by 4-8 weeks, so that they can dedicate hospital capacity to COVID-19.

Non-elective procedures that will continue include any which:

  • Are lifesaving;
  • Preserve the function of an organ or limb;
  • Reduce the risk of metastasis for cancer, or
  • Reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms.

Dr. Thomas noted that fewer people coming into waiting rooms will create social distance and less cases. 

 

LeadingAge Ohio, OHCA Send Letter on Behalf of Hospice, Home Health

Yesterday, LeadingAge Ohio co-authored a letter to the DeWine Adminstration with the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA) outlining specific asks related to home- and community-based care settings, including requests for waiver of licensure renewal requirements, payment for authorized services and waiving Medicaid telehealth rules.

 

Ohio COVID-19 Update

Per the most recently released information as of the writing of this update, there are 67 cases in Ohio, with onset of illness between February 7 and March 16. Cases have an age range from 14 to 86 years; median age of 48. These cases have resulted in 17 hospitalizations, many of which are ICU hospitalizations. 16 counties in Ohio have confirmed cases, but some of the county cases include individuals from rural and suburban counties that have been treated in urban counties.

Dr. Acton, Director of Health, shared that the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) would be compiling previous information about the COVID-19 pandemic, to help educate and inform the public. She cited a study out of the Imperial College of London, which projected 2.2 million Americans dying if no actions are taken. She noted that every step they take will save lives. “There is no scenario now by which we won’t have a surge,” she cautioned, but also noted that the steps  currently being taken can cut hospital use by two-thirds, and cut deaths in half. The peak was initially projected in late-April to mid-May. 

“This is the big one,” she said, and called the two-week lead that Ohio has on the rest of the world is a “blessing.” “We want to be St. Louis,” she shared, citing the city’s rapid response to the 1918 flu pandemic.

 

PPE Donations

Veterinarians and dentists have been providing PPE and restaurant/food services have been providing glove supplies to emergency management agencies (EMAs). 

Tamara McBride, Chief of the Bureau of Health Preparedness (BHP), noted that PPE is being conserved to protect healthcare providers that are in need in the future. All of the related industries that are now delaying surgeries are encouraged to reach out to their local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to turn over those supplies to protect the healthcare professionals who provide care. All long-term care providers should have taken measures to have PPE secured.  

It was noted that when the national stockpile was opened up, 25% was allocated to states. The state is aware that the numbers allocated are short of what will be needed.

 

Unemployment

Lieutenant Governor Husted directed Ohioans to the online unemployment compensation portal as they’re able and reminded employers to send their employees home who are ill or showing signs of illness. Ill Ohioans without sick leave are eligible for unemployment benefits at this point in time.

Some employers are also hiring, noting that Amazon is hiring 4,600 new staff in Ohio alone. LeadingAge Ohio is working with state and private partners to note that positions are available in aging services and post-acute care.

 

New COVID-19 Group on My LeadingAge Member Community

In response to the ever-growing public health crisis, LeadingAge created a new group in the My LeadingAge Member Community: COVID-19.  This group is a place for members to share and discuss everyday practices related to the Coronavirus.  We encourage members to join the group, promote member-to-member connections, and see what’s happening across the nation in response to COVID-19.   Don’t have an account yet with our national affiliate, LeadingAge?  Click here to learn how to create a My LeadingAge account, manage e-mail communications, and join groups in the Member Community including the COVID-19 community.  

 

Election Update

Governor DeWine began yesterday's press conference on COVID-19 by addressing the Primary Election cancellation, noting that the decision to close polling locations had been made for health and safety reasons. He noted that many poll workers are aged 65 and older, and that given the virus’s ability to spread before symptoms occur, the election was not safe. Keeping the polls open would have been a “disaster.”

DeWine noted that either the General Assembly or the courts will order steps for the election to take place, but given that Ohio is entering a time when many individuals will be ill, they should spread out the time that Ohioans have to vote and consider voting by mail. 

 

LeadingAge Ohio Facebook Working Group

LeadingAge Ohio has created a Facebook group to provide a forum for members to share questions, strategies, resources, and news related to COVID-19. LeadingAge Ohio staff will also post content to the group. 

The group can be accessed by all members, but will remain a private page. LeadingAge Ohio staff will be responding to access requests daily

 

Questions

Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org.

 

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.