DPH Orders Nursing Home Staff to Receive COVID Boosters

On December 22, 2021, CDPH Director Tomas Aragón issued public health orders, one that includes nursing homes, and another that includes assisted living facilities, requiring all care staff persons that have received COVID-19 vaccines to also receive boosters by February 1, 2022.

Only 21% of CA Nursing Homes Comply with Staff Vaccination Mandate

Despite a statewide mandate that requires nursing home staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by September 30, 2021, 861 nursing homes still have vaccination rates below 100%, with another 68 nursing homes failing to report their staff vaccination rates altogether.  Only 250 (21%) of the 1,179 nursing homes reporting to CMS (as of November 28, 2021 per CMS) reported full compliance with the mandate.  One-hundred and seventy-one nursing homes have less than 90% of their staff vaccinated, two months after the deadline for compliance.California’s pervasive non-compliance with the nursing home staff vaccination mandates is particularly worrisome after a recent New England Journal of Medicine study was published showing a relationship between staff vaccination rates and the transmission of COVID-19 and deaths among nursing home residents.  The study found that COVID-19 death rates in nursing homes with lower staff vaccination were 195% higher than predicted outcomes if the facilities had had higher vaccination rates.It is unknown whether the California Department of Health (CDPH) has taken any steps to enforce the statewide mandate.  CDPH’s counterpart in Connecticut has issued over $19 million in fines against long term care facilities that failed to certify compliance with a similar state mandate for staff vaccinations.

CANHR and Partners Issue Recommendations to Reform California’s Nursing Home Payment System

On November 22, 2021, CANHR and 13 partner organizations submitted a letter and recommendations to the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) on reforming California’s $5 billion-a-year Medi-Cal payment system for skilled nursing facilities, which is scheduled to sunset next year.

Assisted Living Residents’ Rights to Control Calls and Visits Vindicated by DSS

The Department of Social Services has released a new Provider Information Notice reminding Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) that all residents have control over their visits, calls, and outings unless a court has authorized the curtailment of their rights.  RCFE residents often have their access to visits, calls, and outings limited by family members or other third parties who lack the legal authority to do so.  While many of these surrogate decision makers are well-meaning, residents’ legal rights can only be taken away by a judge.