Amid Chronic Problems Throughout New York State, Stefanik Successfully Requests Trump Administration Deploys Task Force Strike Team To Assist Upstate Nursing Home Battling COVID-19

September 14, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is announcing that the Trump Administration is deploying a Task Force Strike Team to assist Upstate New York nursing homes, like the Essex Center, currently battling COVID-19 outbreaks.

Following advocacy from Congresswoman Stefanik, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is deploying a federal Task Force Strike Team to the Essex Center nursing home in Elizabethtown, New York, to provide onsite assistance to the facility that has seen resident fatalities due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Strike Team will help staff and management at the hard-hit facility in creating a plan to reduce further transmission among residents. Task Force Strike Teams have deployed to 60 facilities in 16 states to-date.

“Gov. Cuomo’s fatal nursing home policy has cost thousands of New Yorkers their lives,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Throughout the course of this pandemic Governor Cuomo has abandoned our most vulnerable and turned his back on the North Country; whether threatening to take our ventilators by force, refusing to follow critical guidance from CDC, or failing to adequately respond to ongoing nursing home outbreaks, he has left us less safe.

  “While we are still awaiting the results of the DOJ investigation into Governor Cuomo’s response, critical work remains to protect our nursing home residents. I applaud the Trump Administration’s responsiveness to my requests regarding our community's needs. Immediately following the outbreak at Essex Center, at my request, CMS sent Tier 1 QIO teams to help assess critical needs. In response to identifying testing as a serious issue, I highlighted the need for rapid tests and HHS sent hundreds of rapid tests to the facility. After my conversations with Administrator Verma today’s announcement of a Strike Team being sent to Essex Center is an important continuation of this response and I thank President Trump and Administrator Verma for their assistance,” concluded Stefanik.

 The Task Force Strike Teams, comprised of clinicians and public health service officials from CMS, the CDC and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), focus on four key areas during their visits: 1) keeping COVID-19 out of facilities; 2) detecting COVID-19 cases quickly; 3) preventing transmission; and 4) managing staff.  State and local health authorities are also invited to participate in the visits.

 The full list of CMS public health action for nursing homes on COVID-19 to date is below:

 CMS Public Health Action for Nursing Homes on COVID-19 as of September 14, 2020

February 6, 2020

CMS took action to prepare the nation’s healthcare facilities for the COVID-19 threat.

March 4, 2020

CMS issued new guidance related to the screening of entrants into nursing homes.

March 10, 2020

CMS issued guidance related to the use of PPE.

March 13, 2020

CMS issued guidance on the restriction of nonessential medical staff and all visitors except in certain limited situations.

March 23, 2020

CMS announced a suspension of routine inspections, and an exclusive focus on immediate jeopardy situations and infection control inspections.

March 30, 2020

CMS announced that hospitals, laboratories, and other entities can perform tests for COVID-19 on people at home and in other community-based settings outside of the hospital – including nursing homes.

April 2, 2020

CMS issued a call to action for nursing homes and state and local governments reinforcing infection control responsibilities and urging leaders to work closely with nursing homes on access to testing and PPE. 

April 15, 2020

CMS announced the agency will nearly double payment for certain lab tests that use high-throughput technologies to rapidly diagnose large numbers of COVID-19 cases.

April 19, 2020

CMS announced it will require nursing homes to report cases of COVID-19 to all residents and their families, as well as directly to the CDC. On May 1, CMS published the proposed policy in an Interim Final Rule. The rule became effective on May 8.

April 30, 2020

CMS announced the formation of an independent commission by a contractor that will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to COVID-19.

May 6, 2020

CMS released a memorandum to State Survey Agency directors providing more details on the new reporting requirements of the May 8, 2020, Interim Final Rule.

May 13, 2020

CMS published a new informational toolkit comprising recommendations and best practices from a variety of front line health care providers, governors’ COVID-19 task forces, associations and other organizations and experts that is intended to serve as a catalogue of resources dedicated to addressing the specific challenges facing nursing homes as they combat COVID-19. Toolkit is found here: Toolkit

May 18, 2020

CMS issued guidance for state and local officials on the reopening of nursing homes.

June 1, 2020

CMS issued guidance to states on COVID-19 survey activities, CARES Act funding, enhanced enforcement for infection control deficiencies, and quality improvement activities in nursing homes. CMS also issued a letter to Governors.

June 4, 2020

CMS posted the first set of underlying COVID-19 nursing home data and results from targeted inspections conducted by the agency since March 4, 2020, linked on Nursing Home Compare

June 19, 2020

CMS announced membership of Independent Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in nursing homes

June 23, 2020

CMS released FAQs on nursing home visitation.  

June 25, 2020

CMS released a memo announcing the end of the emergency blanket waiver for the nursing home staffing data submission requirement.

July 10, 2020

CMS announced it will deploy Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) across the country to provide immediate assistance to nursing homes in hotspot areas. 

July 14, 2020

HHS and CMS announced an initiative for rapid point-of-care diagnostic devices and tests in nursing homes. 

July 22, 2020

CMS announced several new initiatives designed to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19, including new funding, enhanced testing and additional technical assistance and support.

August 7, 2020

HHS announced the distribution of $5 billion in Provider Relief Funds, consistent with the Administration’s announcement in late July, which will be used to protect residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities from the impact of COVID-19.

August 14, 2020

CMS released nursing home enforcement actions during pandemic. 

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