The November 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

High-Quality Care for Medicare Beneficiaries Continues as Medicare Health and Drug Plans Receive Star Ratings

In October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare beneficiaries will continue to have access to high-quality Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans in 2021. Read Announcement

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

New Listserv Topic for Rural Populations
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has a new rural health care listserv dedicated to sharing information about programs, policies, and resources to help ensure rural populations have access to quality health care. Subscribe Here

CMS Releases Toolkit to Accelerate State Efforts to Rebalance Long-term Care Systems and Enhance Home and Community-Based Services for Eligible Medicaid Beneficiaries
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new toolkit to help beneficiaries return home from institutional settings without sacrificing safety or quality of care. The Long-Term Services and Supports Rebalancing Toolkit supports efforts to expand and enhance home and community-based services (HCBS) and to rebalance, or recalibrate, LTSS from institutional to community-based systems. View Toolkit

Flu Vaccine Partner Toolkit
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (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


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

Each month, Alliant Quality shares tips and advice from leaders in healthcare. This month’s issue is courtesy of Carolyn Kazdan, Aim Lead at Alliant Quality: 

COVID-19 has probably added more meetings to your already meeting-packed days: Emergency preparedness meetings, pandemic response meetings, and virtual meetings to stay connected with staff working remotely. "The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters” by Priya Parker offers tips and strategies for making meetings productive and purposeful. 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...
  • North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination plan includes five principles that guide the planning and distribution of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the state. Read Plan
  • The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have updated guidance to allow indoor visitation at nursing homes that have gone 14 days without a COVID-19 case. Learn More
  • Patterson Health Care in Patterson, Louisiana utilized a resident to spread reminders to adopt best practices. The resident – a former radio announcer – recorded 2-4-minute messages that play overhead a few times each day to remind staff to choose best practices like appropriate PPE, wash hands, and remain socially distanced.  
  • The Alabama Nursing Home Association created a toolkit that can assist with emergency preparedness and disaster planning for specialized health care populations served by long-term care facilities. View Toolkit
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: Preventing and Managing C. difficile
    Tuesday, November 17 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT
    Register Now

  • Community Coalition: How Medication Reconciliation can Reduce Hospital Utilization and Readmissions
    Thursday, November 19 at 12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. CT
    Register Now

Access the recordings from prior LAN events and bite size learnings on Alliant Quality's YouTube channel.
  • 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
  • Providing Telehealth Services in Nursing Homes
  • Aging, the Opioid Epidemic, and Care Considerations
  • 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
  • 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

​​​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: Nov 3, 10, 17 & 24 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

Preventing Deaths of Despair: Mental Health in COVID-19
Deaths of despair, deaths due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide have been on the rise for the last decade, and in the context of COVID-19, deaths of despair can be viewed as the epidemic within the pandemic. Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. Read More About Preventing This Impending Crisis

7 Tips For Managers Addressing Burnout
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many employers have undergone unprecedented change by closing their office doors and requiring most – if not all – employees to work from home. While all employees must adapt to new routines and workplace tools, managers face the additional challenge of maintaining morale and supporting their employees during the transition. With fewer opportunities to interact candidly in-person, it may be especially difficult for managers to tell when an employee is feeling burnt out. Read More

Assessing Opioid Withdrawal
The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) is an 11-item scale designed to be administered by a clinician. This tool can be used in both inpatient and outpatient settings to reproducibly rate common signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal and monitor these symptoms over time. Access Tool ​​​​​
Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Stacy Hull

COVID-19 Vaccine Pharmacy Partnerships
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) announced agreements with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs. Nursing homes can sign up via the National Healthcare Safety Network and assisted living facilities can sign up via an online survey they will receive. Sign Up via NHSN

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 put staff data in the new POCT module? ​​​​
  • 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

Decrease Sepsis Mortality by up to 50%
Sepsis has been a persistent problem within health care for years, affecting 1.7 million Americans and resulting in nearly 270,000 deaths each year. The Center for Transforming Healthcare’s most recent Targeted Solutions Tool (TST®), Reducing Sepsis Mortality, equips leaders with the tools and resources needed to target sepsis and drive sustainable improvements in their organization that lead to better patient outcomes and is shown to decrease sepsis mortality by up to 50% in some cases. Access Tool

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!

  • Click here for the new Frequently Asked Questions. User instructions can be found on page 11. 
  • ​​​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.
  • Time for an upgrade: Click here for SAMS Grid Card Instructions.  
  • 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

American Diabetes Month
November is American Diabetes Month. Someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with diabetes every 21 seconds. This flyer about managing diabetes has information about coverage and resources for Medicare beneficiaries. Download Flyer

Million Hearts® Innovation Awards Competition
Share your innovative strategies to prevent heart attacks and strokes for a chance to win $20,000! The NACHC Million Hearts® Innovation Competition is looking to identify organizations that propose innovative ideas to help prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2022. Learn more about this competition and how to submit a successful proposal during an informational webinar on Monday, November 9, 2020 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET. Register Now

Georgia: Hypertension Control Champion Initiative
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is launching the 2021 Georgia Hypertension Control Champion Initiative! DPH is seeking to identify and recognize public and private clinicians, practices, and health systems that are successful in working with their patients to achieve hypertension control rates between 65% to 80% over a 12-month period. 

DPH will award $2,500 to $15,000, to up to five Hypertension Control Champions. The Initiative is open through November 20, 2020 to receive applications from health professionals, practices and health systems. If you are interested in applying, please contact Libby Massiah.


Influenza Vaccination Campaign
On October 1, 2020, the CDC and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), along with other public health and medical partners, kicked-off the 2020-2021 flu vaccination season, emphasizing the added importance of vaccination this season. 

Bite Size Learning: Immunization for Staff in Nursing Homes
In this 20-minute video, we review tips and considerations for ensuring staff at nursing homes are up-to-date on their immunization schedules. Watch Video


Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Libby Massiah

National Family Caregivers Month
November is National Family Caregivers Month – a time to recognize and honor family caregivers throughout the country. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has a list of resources to help caregivers support older adults who continue to live in their homes and stay active in their communities. Learn More

Strengthening Family Caregiver Programs and Policies Through Collaboration: Lessons From Six States
Family caregivers represent an overlooked -- but vital -- source of care for older adults. Ensuring they have what they need to support their loved ones is critical, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. recently published a brief highlighting innovative cross-sector work to support caregivers in six states, including Alabama. Alabama found that many agencies were working on caregiver initiatives in silos, and the work shifted towards bringing the parties together to work collaboratively. Read More | View Infographic

Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Carolyn Kazdan 

QAPI Resources
If you missed our October LAN event, the topic was  Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) programs. If you are interested in learning more about QAPI, we have compiled numerous resources to get you started. 
QAPI Performance Improvement Planning Worksheet | QAPI Goal Setting Worksheet | Process Tool Framework | QAPI At a Glance | CMS QAPI Resources | QAPI Written Plan How-To Guide  

JAMA Article: Nursing Homes’ Next Test — Vaccinating Workers Against COVID-19

A key struggle in rolling out coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines could be getting several million initial doses to the nation’s massive and far-flung long-term care workforce. Read More​​​​​​

Brief Interview for Mental Status (BIMS) Video Tutorial

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is releasing a video tutorial to assist providers in Skilled Nursing Facilities with standardized data assessment guidance and assessment strategies for the cognitive assessment known as the Brief Interview for Mental Status (BIMS). This video tutorial is approximately 22 minutes in length and is designed to provide targeted guidance for accurate coding using live-action patient/resident scenarios. Watch Now
Confusion Assessment Method (CAM©) Video Tutorial
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is releasing a video tutorial to assist providers in Skilled Nursing Facilities with standardized data assessment guidance and assessment strategies for the cognitive assessment known as the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM©). This video tutorial is approximately 25 minutes in length and is designed to provide targeted guidance for accurate coding using live-action resident scenarios. Watch Now

CDC COVID-19 Healthcare Quality and Worker Safety Information
The CDC document “COVID-19: Considerations, Strategies, and Resources for Crisis Standards of Care in Post-Acute and Long-term Care (PALTC) Facilities” provides PALTC facilities an overview of general considerations, potential strategies, and existing resources that they may use to inform changes to their operations and care processes. Access Document
Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Pauline Kinney

CMS Survey Data Illustrates Impact of COVID-19 on Medicare Beneficiaries’ Daily Life and Experiences
In October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released data showing that 21% of Medicare beneficiaries report forgoing non-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) care due to the pandemic, and nearly all - 98% - of beneficiaries have taken preventative measures to keep themselves safe from the virus. An infographic with a snapshot of the survey results is available, as well as a link to the public use file detailing the survey results. Access Infographic and Survey Data

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-TO1-20-380
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