The December 2020 issue of Alliant Quality Cares & Shares: A monthly newsletter highlighting events and resources for those caring for Medicare Beneficiaries Email not displaying correctly?
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CMS-CDC Fundamentals of COVID-19 Prevention for Nursing Home Management
With COVID cases rising, preparing to keep residents and staff safe is critical. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering flexible, on-demand infection control training. Live Q&A Sessions are also held twice a month on Thursdays at 4 p.m. ET. Learn More and Register

COVID-19 Preparedness for Fall and Winter 2020
CMS is also offering targeted trainings to help nursing homes prepare for the fall and winter months of the pandemic. A series of scenario-based trainings are available to help meet the urgent and ongoing needs of nursing home managers and frontline staff. These free learning intensives are hosted on the CMS Quality, Safety & Education Portal (QESP). Learn More

COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Bookmark this page for the latest information CMS about the COVID-19 vaccine: COVID-19 Vaccine Information

CMS Takes Steps to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Have Wide Access to COVID-19 Antibody Treatment: Coverage Available at No Cost
CMS announced that Medicare beneficiaries can receive coverage of monoclonal antibodies to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with no cost-sharing during the public health emergency (PHE). CMS’ coverage of monoclonal antibody infusions applies to bamlanivimab, which received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Learn More

CMS Nursing Home COVID-19 Toolkit
Need guidance on COVID-19 reporting for nursing homes? The Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes catalogs the many innovative solutions designed at the state level to protect our nation’s nursing home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and is updated twice a month. Access Toolkit

Notice: Original Compare Tools Retired December 1
The original Compare Tools were retired on December 1st. They have been streamlined and are available on’s Care Compare. The new tool gives you, patients, and caregivers one user-friendly place to find cost, quality of care, service volume, and other CMS quality data to help make informed health care decisions. Access Now

Flu Vaccine Partner Toolkit
CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients from the flu virus in the wake of the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. CMS has developed this toolkit to help you stay informed on CMS, CDC, and HHS materials available on the importance of the flu vaccine. Please share these materials, bookmark the page, and check back often for the most up-to-date information. Access Toolkit

Nursing Home Series for Front Line Clinicians and Staff

CMS is airing the first episode in a series of short podcasts for frontline nursing home staff. The series, “CMS Beyond the Policy: Nursing Home Series for Frontline Clinicians and Staff,” is designed to reinforce training and infection control practices in nursing homes to help combat the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Listen Now



2020 has certainly been full of challenges. Through them all, our team looked for the silver lining whenever possible. As we reach the end of the year, we’ve put together a word cloud highlighting what we’re been grateful for. 

Leadership Lessons ~ Words of advice from leaders on the front lines.

This month’s leadership lesson is from JoVonn Givens, MPH, Task Order Director at Alliant Quality, the quality improvement group of Alliant Health Solutions, the QIN-QIO for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Finding Grace & Peace in Troubled Times, Taking Care of Yourself & Caring for Others
I’ve been thinking a lot about my friends and colleagues working tirelessly during this pandemic to safely care for residents and also care for themselves and their family and friends. I think putting yourself ahead of others feels almost selfish when you work in healthcare, but we know from perhaps the more “super woo” in the field of neuroscience that the mindset and approach of loving oneself improves both perception of self and ability to care for others. Self-compassion or giving yourself a little grace is a gift that keeps on giving, the more you find to acknowledge, the more solid and loved you feel. Read More

Best Practice Corner

Each month Alliant Quality collects exemplar practices from organizations across the seven-state region. Thank you for your leadership, creativity, and perseverance...
  • 3… 2… 1… Flu Shot Lift Off! The Brevard County Health Coalition has started a flu campaign to increase immunization rates in their county. In less than a month, they created a publicity campaign and identified multiple partners and data sources. Watch PSA
  • #FluVaxJax is a community-wide campaign, led by the Duval County Medical Society (DCMS) Foundation, aimed at raising the flu vaccination rate in Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns Counties. The campaign is also providing no-cost flu shots to the uninsured. Those in need can visit and click “Get a Vaccine.”
  • Kudos to Kaplan Health Center in Louisiana for their use of private rooms for individuals under observation for COVID-19, since these residents are the ultimate unknown with regards to possible infectious spread.
Do you have a promising practice to share? Please reply to this email and we will feature you in an upcoming issue.

Community Coalition Leadership & Organizing

Telehealth 101 - A Tip Sheet for Patients
This one-page flyer from Alliant Quality outlines the key tips for patients to help prepare for telehealth visits. Download Tip Sheet

Virtual Meeting Tips & Tricks
Virtual meetings are an effective and efficient way to keep moving ahead on community coalition initiatives when face-to-face meetings are not possible. This document from Alliant Quality summarizes tips about how to establish a virtual meeting forum, plan for the meeting, and a checklist you can use to successfully engage participants virtually.  Download Tool

Community Coalition Assessment Tool
It's recommended that community coalitions complete an assessment at least annually to evaluate effectiveness of interventions and goals and guide the identification of opportunities for further growth and sustainability. Download Tool

Podcast: AHSCAST - Making Health Care Better

Quality health care should be provided to all. Every other Thursday, join Alliant Health Solutions as they interview guests committed to making health care better. If you are a health care consumer, clinician or physician, healthcare insurer, system, provider or consultant, this is the podcast for you. Listen Now

Learning & Action Network Events

Please join us for the following Learning and Action Network events. Each month, Alliant Quality invites experts in the field to discuss top-of-mind topics for Medicare Beneficiaries and the Nursing Homes & Communities that care for them.

  • Nursing Home: Investigation of an Acute Outbreak in the Long Term Care Setting
    ​​​​​Tuesday, December 15 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT
    Register Now

  • Community Coalition: Gear up for the New Year! Positioning your Organization to Gather, Track, and Use Data in 2021
    Thursday, December 17 at 12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. CT
    Register Now

Watch previous LAN Events and Bite-Size Learnings on Alliant Quality's YouTube channel.
  • Preventing and Managing C. difficile
  • Effective Medication Reconciliation Practices Can Reduce Hospital Utilization and Readmissions
  • Tis the Season: Using QAPI for Flu and Pneumonia Vaccination Success
  • High Risk Medication Use and Quality Practices to Prevent ADE
  • Critical Vaccines in a Critical Time: Tools and Tips for Increasing Immunization Rates in Your Community
  • Using SBIRT for Effective Screening and Referral to Treatment
  • How to Create a Trauma Responsive Environment: Covid-19 Protective Factors and Responses
  • This Changes Everything: Grief in the Time of COVID-19
  • Assessing and Reducing Opioid Prescribing in Long Term Care
  • Essential Communication Strategies for Cross Continuum Infection Control
  • COVID-19 in LTCF: Keeping it out & Keeping it Together
  • Telehealth Service in our Communities
  • Alliant Quality Bite Size Learning: Telehealth Implementation - Workflows
  • Alliant Quality Bite Size Learning: C. Diff Reporting and Reduction
  • Alliant Quality Bite Size Learning: Immunization for Staff​​​
  • Alliant Quality Bite Size Learning: Meet My Loved One
  • Providing Telehealth Services in Nursing Homes
  • Aging, the Opioid Epidemic, and Care Considerations
  • QII Webinar: Root Cause Analysis: Creating a Good Project Foundation
  • The Power of Engaging Local Government in Community Coalitions: Chattanooga-Hamilton County COVID-19 Community Task Force Successes and Lessons Learned
  • Self Care for Health Care Providers
  • Million Hearts Initiative 2020
  • Understanding the Quality Measures & Quality Measure STAR Rating
  • Engaging Community-based Organizations
  • Alliant Quality Recruitment Webinar: Getting to know your QIO
Partner Events

Morehouse School of Medicine National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN)
The goal of the Morehouse School of Medicine National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) is to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities, rural communities, and others that are disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). They are starting by engaging organizations who are on the ground in communities every day, who hear the concerns of their communities first-hand, and who monitor the evolving landscape of COVID-10 in states, territories, and tribes to understand where there is the greatest need. Learn More and Subscribe for Updates

AHRQ ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network

Supported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Project ECHO is launching a National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network. Nursing homes and training centers around the country are being actively recruited to join this interactive community of practice to collaboratively advance improvements in COVID-19 preparedness, safety, and infection control. Sign Up Now

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: Dec 8, 15, and 22 at 10 a.m. ET

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds were launched to create peer-to-peer learning networks where clinicians who have more experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes with clinicians across the U.S. and around the world. Each session includes brief presentations from experienced expert clinicians; the presentations have included representatives from Bellevue Hospital in New York City, Emory University, University of Minnesota, University of Washington, and Nebraska Medicine, among others. Representatives from more than 15 relevant national professional organizations round out the panel of expert discussants. The majority of each session is spent in discussion related to Q&A generated by the participants. Register Now

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
The holidays can be filled with both joy and stress. This year especially, we will all be impacted in unique and challenging ways. For those that may find the holidays wrought with stress, depression, and anxiety, The Mayo Clinic offers tips to help cope and safe gathering guidelines. View Coping Tips | View Safe Gathering Guidelines ​​
Pandemic's Mental Health Toll Grows
According to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), considerable increases in mental health disorders demonstrate the need for specific screening tools to detect pandemic-related trauma and stress. Of the 5,470 U.S. adults surveyed, 41 percent reported adverse behavioral or mental health symptoms during the pandemic. Survey responses showed:
  • One-third reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with prevalence three to four times higher than during the second quarter 2019
  • One in four reported symptoms of trauma or stress, with 13.3 percent reporting increased substance use
  • More than 1 in 10 reported suicidal ideation, with rates highest among unpaid caregivers
Learn More From the CDC

Tips for Healthcare Workers: Coping with Stress and Compassion Fatigue
Healthcare professionals are facing unusual conditions on the job due to COVID 19. Long shifts, competing responsibilities, and witnessing or hearing about difficult patient experiences can all lead to compassion fatigue. This tip sheet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies ways to cope and enhance resilience, along with resources for more information and support. Download Tip Sheet

How to Help Someone With Anxiety or Depression During COVID-19
A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one in four older adults report episodes of anxiety and depression amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Mental Health First Aid curriculum offers tips that can help individuals who may be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed. Learn More  

Alcohol and Other Substances
Increased stress can lead to increases in alcohol and substance use. If you or someone you care about is starting to use alcohol or other substances or is increasing their use during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has a few suggestions that may help. Learn More
Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Stacy Hull

Handwashing Awareness Week: December 6-12
Proper handwashing is more important than ever. Our FROG poster reminds residents and staff about the basics: friction rubs out germs! You can also find a Spanish language version on our website. Download Poster

NEW! Shoptalk Shorts
Only have a few minutes? We’re creating 2-3 minute videos with answers to FAQs about getting access to NHSN. New videos will be added periodically -- topics include: 

  • How to change your email address in NHSN
  • How to upgrade to level-3 access in NHSN 
  • I am new and no one at my facility has access to NHSN. How do I get access?
  • How do I add users and rights to our NHSN account?
  • I am leaving the facility. How do I reassign the facility administrator?
  • How do I find my facility NHSN data on the CMS website and check to see if it passed quality assurance?

And more! Watch Shoptalk Shorts Now

SNF QRP October Refresh 2020
The October 2020 refresh of SNF QRP data is now available on Nursing Home Compare (NHC), as well as the Nursing homes including rehab services web pages within Care Compare (CCXP) and Provider Data Catalog (PDC).
The data are based on quality assessment data submitted by SNFs to CMS from Quarter 1 2019 through Quarter 4 2019 (01/01/2019 –12/31/2019); and the annual update of the claims-based measures data from Quarter 4 2017 – Quarter 3 2019 (10/01/2017 – 9/30/2019).​​​ Access Data via Nursing Home Compare

One-Stop Nursing Home Resource Center Assists Health Care Providers, Caregivers, Residents
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the new Nursing Home Resource Center, a one-stop source to locate all the latest information, guidance and resources available to nursing homes. The agency noted that people seeking nursing home-specific information previously had to navigate several web pages looking for answers. With the Resource Center, providers and caregivers can “spend less time searching for critical answers and more time caring for residents,” according to the news release. Facility inspection reports and data, including information from the COVID-19 pandemic, are available through the Resource Center. Learn More

NHSN Hygiene: Reminder to Report on Time!
Add users to keep your facility reporting on time and avoid costly fines.

Alliant Quality has many resources to help you navigate NHSN!

  • It's time to join the Alliant Quality NHSN Group! Joining the group and conferring rights to Alliant Quality to view NHSN data allows for seamless support and technical assistance. Click here for a step-by-step guide.  
  • New to your facility? Click here to gain access. Have your 5 digit NHSN OrgID and previous NHSN user’s email to complete the form.
  • Leaving and need to reassign access to your facility? Click here for  instructions. 
  • Data submission for Point of Care Testing began November 20th. Click here for training slides.
  • Click here for instructions on Adding Users to your NHSN account.
  • Attend an upcoming Infection Prevention "Surveillance, Tracking and Reporting" (STAR) Facilities Shop Talk webinar session!

  • Contact Marilee Johnson for support


Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Melody Brown

CMS Approves Telehealth Cardiac Rehab During COVID-19 Pandemic
The referral to and use of Cardiac Rehabilitation following a heart incident has not been robust in the US, even before the public health emergency. The service has also decreased due to a requirement for in-person visits for billing purposes. As a result, CMS has now included Cardiac Rehab as a billable under the temporary telehealth approved services. The services will be billable through 2021, at the least. Read More from The American College of Cardiology

National Influenza Vaccination Week: December 6-12
Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Flu vaccination is especially important for adults 65 years and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from flu and from COVID-19. CMS has developed this toolkit to help you stay informed on CMS, CDC, and HHS materials available on the importance of the flu vaccine. Please share these materials, bookmark the page, and check back often for the most up-to-date information. Access Toolkit

Validated Blood Pressure Cuff List
With so many choices for over-the-counter blood pressure cuffs, deciding which to use can be overwhelming, and some are simply not as good at accurate measurements. We’ve put together a list of validated and accurate choices to help. View List

Chronic Kidney Disease Surveillance System 
1 in 3 American adults are at risk for Chronic kidney disease (CKD), yet awareness is still low. The CDC CKD Surveillance System houses various resources and probability tools that can be shared with primary care providers and patients to encourage screening for kidney disease early. Access Tool

Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Libby Massiah

My Care Transitions Plan
COVID-19 related visitor restrictions have exacerbated the challenges associated with ensuring patients, families, and care partners fully understand current plans of care, as well as the information needed to ensure a safe transition to home or the next level of care. The My Care Transitions Plan is designed to help patients and families document and keep track of questions to ask caregivers before discharge. The tool also helps providers proactively implement care plan interventions in areas that have the potential to raise the risk of readmission. Originally designed as a brochure for printing, the tool is now also available in a full-page format for electronic distribution, and both files are editable PDF forms. View Brochure | View Full-Page Layout

Medication Reconciliation Tool
Medication reconciliation is a known driver of readmissions from post-acute care to hospital.  This interactive Excel sheet allows providers to track and trend medication discrepancies for ongoing quality improvement. Download Tool

Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Carolyn Kazdan 

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources: 
  • Information From CMS
    Bookmark this page for the latest information from the Centers from Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about the COVID-19 vaccine: Bookmark CMS COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage
  • CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
    The CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit has been updated with an addendum to address proper storage, handling, transport, and emergency handling of COVID-19 vaccines. The addendum will be updated as new COVID-19 vaccine products are approved. Bookmark the page and check back regularly for the most current version of the toolkit: Bookmark CDC Vaccine Storage Webpage
  • Immunization Action Coalition Newsletter
    The Immunization Action Coalition Newsletter is released weekly and will contain the latest news from trusted resources about the vaccine. Subscribe Today

Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Pauline Kinney

My Care Transitions Plan
COVID-19 related visitor restrictions have exacerbated the challenges associated with ensuring patients, families, and care partners fully understand current plans of care, as well as the information needed to ensure a safe transition to home or the next level of care. The My Care Transitions Plan is designed to help patients and families document and keep track of questions to ask caregivers before discharge. The tool also helps providers proactively implement care plan interventions in areas that have the potential to raise the risk of readmission. Originally designed as a brochure for printing, the tool is now also available in a full-page format for electronic distribution, and both files are editable PDF forms. View Brochure | View Full-Page Layout

Telehealth Tip Sheet
The BFAC worked with Alliant Quality subject matter experts to develop this one-page flyer outlining the key tips for patients to help prepare for telehealth visits. Download Tip Sheet

Person-Centered Care During a Pandemic: Meet My Loved One
Alliant Quality's Carolyn Kazdan invited Drs. Rodney Tucker & Sylvia Huang from University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Center for Palliative and Supportive Care to record a bite-size learning on the Meet My Loved One program. The doctors generously shared the Meet My Loved One tool, strategies for implementation, and the positive feedback they have received from providers to help the bedside care team deliver person-centered compassionate care during COVD-19. The BFAC provided guidance for the framing for the customized tool developed by Alliant Quality. Watch Video | Download Instructions for Tool | Download Tool 

When it comes to designing quality care, the experiences and perspectives of patients and families is invaluable. Quality care should be centered on the person -- not just the disease. Members of the Beneficiary & Family Advisory Council are our partners in making healthcare better. To join us in this important work, contact Mel Brown.

Contact members of the BFAC via Melody Brown

For Archived issues: Visit the News & Announcements section of the Alliant Quality website.


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This material was prepared by Alliant Quality, the quality improvement group of Alliant Health Solutions (AHS), the Medicare Quality Innovation Network - Quality Improvement Organization for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee, under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents presented do not necessarily reflect CMS policy. Publication No. 12SOW-AHSQIN-QIO-TO1-20-395
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