The June 2021 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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A monthly newsletter highlighting events and resources for Nursing Homes & Community Coalitions

In This Issue:
The Latest News from CMS
CMS Updates Nursing Home Guidance with Revised Visitation Recommendations
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued updated guidance for nursing homes to safely expand visitation options during the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency (PHE).  Learn More  |  Read Fact Sheet

COVID-19 Essentials​​

Our team is collecting and curating the essential trainings, events, resources, and vaccine updates about COVID-19 on our website so you can visit one page to find the information you need. We've also outlined the essentials below. 
View All COVID-19 News & Resources

Training & Resources

Vaccine Updates
Uber and Lyft Giving Free Rides to Vaccination Sites
To encourage more Americans to get their COVID-19 vaccination, anyone needing a ride to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot can get a free trip from Uber and Lyft from now until July 4. Both companies are offering a “ride code” to cover up to $15 to or from a vaccination site. Read More from NPR | Read More from National Council on Aging

CDC and FDA Issue New Recommendations for Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
After months of usage and millions of doses given, the CDC and FDA have approved and made new recommendations for the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC and FDA removed the recommendation for a two-week pre/post barrier from other vaccines, and storage recommendations are also being modified. These changes will better accommodate smaller clinics and immunizers and will assist in reversing the alarming trend in deferred childhood immunization rates. Read More About the New FDA Emergency Use Authorization: EUA amendment | Read the Fact Sheet

Largest CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Study in Health Workers Shows mRNA Vaccines 94% Effective
A new CDC Study shows that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines reduced the risk of getting sick with COVID-19 by 94% among fully vaccinated health care workers. View the Article  

CDC's New Webpage Reviews Info and Training on How to Enroll as a COVID-19 Vaccinator
CDC posted a new web page, How to Enroll as a Healthcare Provider, for providers seeking to become COVID-19 vaccinators. The web page contains information on how to become a COVID-19 vaccinator and the training and resources available to prepare for that role. Only healthcare professionals enrolled directly through a health practice or organization as a vaccination provider can legally store, handle, and administer COVID-19 vaccines in the United States Healthcare personnel can play a critical role in helping to end the pandemic. Learn how you can be a part of COVID-19 vaccination efforts even without being enrolled as a COVID-19 vaccination provider. How to Enroll 


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

This month’s leadership lesson is from Elizabeth “Libby” Bickers, Behavioral Health Aim Lead at Alliant Quality.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health

Americans have been affected by COVID-19 in numerous ways. Many people experienced an adverse impact on their mental health due to financial implications, social isolation, serious illness or death of loved ones, and overall uncertainties. There have also been reports of increased alcohol and substance use, worsening of chronic conditions, increased anxieties, decreased care from primary care physicians and specialty providers, and increased suicidal ideations.

In addition, job loss, housing instability, food insecurity and other risk factors leading to poor outcomes have disproportionately hit minority communities. Racial and ethnic minority populations, who often experience mental health and substance misuse disparities, are believed to have significantly felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children and adolescents are not exempt from COVID-19's impact on mental health. The switch to online schooling led to lost routines, decreased social contact and limited access to supportive services. Anxiety and depressive episodes worsened with the overall increased stress in the home. Studies indicate that child abuse increased during the pandemic as well.
The full impact of COVID-19 on older American’s mental health is not yet known. Multiple factors contributed to psychological distress among the elderly, including: ​​​​​​

  • Social isolation (visits not permitted or visits strongly advised against), which can exacerbate dementia and other neurological conditions. 
  • Greater risk of contracting COVID-19
  • Greater risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19
  • Difficulty accessing services/activities
  • Loneliness or decreased stimulation
  • Higher potential for medication disruption or misuse

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. 

New COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)
ADPH compiled new COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance from CMS and the CDC for healthcare employees. Together we can stop the spread and continue to heal our communities through COVID-19 infection control. Read More

Kentucky Governor Announces New Vaccine Finder Website and Updated Eligibility Guidelines for Children
Gov. Andy Beshear announced that state vaccinates sites could administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 12 to 15 starting May 13. Also, Gov. Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, announced the state’s transition to a federal website,, which allows Kentuckians to search for nearby vaccination sites and filter the search by vaccine brand: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. Read More
NCDHHS Announces the “Bringing Summer Back” Get-Out-the-Vaccine
The “Bringing Summer Back” Campaign aims to engage community organizations across the state to fully vaccinate as many people as possible by summer. The campaign will run for two weeks in June (June 6–12 and June 20–26), during which organizations across the state will rally together to promote vaccination. Registered partners will receive an introductory toolkit of resources and materials—from flyers to stickers—to help the people in your community bring summer back. Access a detailed guide for ways to participate and download the toolkit as well. Learn More

Do you have a promising practice to share? Please reply to this email and we will feature you in an upcoming issue.

Podcast: AHSCAST - Making Health Care Better

graphic of AHScast logo and recent episodes Everyone deserves quality health care.
Tune into the Alliant Health Solutions Making Health Care Better podcast every other Thursday as they interview guests committed to making health care better. If you are a health care consumer, provider, insurer, system, or consultant, this is the podcast for you. View All Podcast Episodes


Upcoming Learning & Action Network (LAN) Events
  • Nursing Homes: Developing a Sustainable Water Management Plan in Nursing Homes         
    Tuesday, June 15 at 2:00 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT (30 min call)
    Register Now
  • Community Coalitions: YTBD Reduce Readmissions Using Hospital Decisions Tool
    Thursday, June 24 at 12:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. CT (30 min call)
    Register Now
Register for Upcoming LAN Events​​​

Last Month's Learning & Action Network (LAN) Events
  • Nursing Homes: A Deeper Dive into Diabetic Agent and Anticoagulation Medication Adverse Drug Events
    Recorded on May 18, 2021
    View Recording | View Slides
  • Community Coalitions: Powerful Partnerships – Area Offices on Aging & Community Coalitions
    Recorded on May 27, 2021
    View Recording | View Slides

We want your feedback

Were You Able to "Use Tomorrow" What You Heard During the LAN Events? 
If Yes, Click Below. 

Nursing Homes LAN Attendees: Click here
Community Coalition LAN Attendees: Click here


​​​​​​Upcoming COVID-19 Events
  • Alliant Quality Special Event: QII Increasing Vaccinations Webinar Series – Featuring the CDC on Vaccinating with Confidence
    Wednesday, June 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. CT (45 min call)
    ​​​​​Register Now​​​​​
Last Month's COVID-19 Events
  • Alliant Quality Special Event: COVID-19 Vaccination Update  “Been There, Done That” – Shifting Our Focus from Planning to Perseverance
    Recorded on May 26, 2021
    View RecordingView Slides

Upcoming Infection Prevention Shop Talks
View Previous Shop Talks

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.
View Step-By-Step Guide


Previous Partner Events
  • Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day​​​​​​
    Recorded on May 6, 2021 (full day event)
    National Council on Aging (NCOA) hosted the 4th annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium. Recordings and resources are now available on how to best meet the mental health needs of older adults.

    View Recordings



Behavioral Health​​​​​​

Opioid Prescribing for Older Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD)
Potential inappropriate opioid prescribing may be more common among patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) than among patients without ADRD in community, hospital or nursing home settings. Further studies aimed at understanding the factors and effects associated with opioid prescribing patterns that deviate from guidelines are warranted. Drug combinations can raise the risk of dangerous side effects, and in some cases, hasten cognitive decline. Read More

Reports of Increases in Opioid- and Other Drug-related Overdose and Other Concerns During COVID-19 Pandemic
In addition to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the nation’s opioid epidemic has grown into a much more complicated and deadly drug overdose epidemic. The American Medical Association is greatly concerned that nearly every state has reported an outbreak or sustained increase in opioid- and other drug-related mortality—particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. The media and other reports below cite data from multiple and varied sources, including national, state and local public health agencies, law enforcement, emergency medical services, hospitals, treatment centers, research journals and others. Read More

Chronic Pain Explained: Experts on What You Need to Know
The CDC reports that chronic pain is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care. And the pain itself isn’t the only problem. Chronic pain is linked to anxiety, depression, a reduced quality of life and an increased risk of opioid addiction in the United States – not to mention other mental stresses that can lead to insomnia and chronic fatigue. Read More

Individuals with Behavioral Health Issues & the COVID-19 Vaccine
Those with behavioral health issues, especially those with other health equity challenges, are more in need of support in receiving care and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This video is a great way to remind behavioral health professionals to offer those additional supports. Watch Video
Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Libby Bickers

AQ Nursing Home Staff and Visitor Screening & Audit Toolkit
The Alliant Quality Screening Toolkit is a one-stop-shop to ensure your screening processes for staff and visitors are thorough and being performed as designed. Download Toolkit (PDF) | Download Excel Version
Updated Infection Control Training Opportunities for Nursing Homes 
Check out these educational opportunities for nursing home leadership, infection preventionists, and staff. Details including continuing education credits, and time required are listed on the handout. Learn More​​​​​


Essential Resources to Help You Navigate NHSN
Below is a quick summary of the benefits and some resources related to COVID-19 reporting in NHSN.

Benefits to reporting COVID-19 Vaccine data in NHSN:

  • NHSN module for weekly vaccine tracking of both resident and staff
  • Consistent reporting over time within single facility
  • Comparable across facilities
  • Allows for targeted improvement efforts
  • Easily generate reports to inform visitation plans and to understand motives for declination/contraindication for vaccines
Resources: Watch Our NHSN Shop Talk Shorts Series!​​​
​​​​​We know you're busy. Our new video series answers the most common questions we receive regarding navigating NHSN in a brief way.

This month, Marilee and Amy have selected their favorite video’s from the Playlist based on the questions you all have been asking.

Marilee’s favorite video: "My administrator added me as a user to our facility's NHSN account, but I can't login"

Amy’s favorite video: "How do I Join the Alliant Quality NHSN Group?"

View NHSN Shop Talk Video Series

Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Melody Brown

New Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Prevention and Awareness Resources
Help spread awareness to encourage improved screening of high-risk patients for chronic kidney disease (CKD). We have customized primary care/provider awareness flyers for each state with data on screening beneficiaries with diabetes and hypertension in each state and resources to identify, test and stage for CKD. View CKD Webpage | Download New CKD Screening Awareness Flyers

Chronic Kidney Disease Awareness Screening Focus
In 2020, Emergency Department and physician office visits dropped as low as 25%. Individuals with chronic conditions fell out of care or met with physicians via telehealth. Of the "excess deaths," up to 25% were attributed to non-COVID-related illnesses, primarily heart attacks and strokes. A CMS goal has been to increase the screening/identification/treatment of CKD in people with diabetes and hypertension by 5% over a five-year period. The first year, CKD screening went down between one and eight percent in the Alliant Quality states. We are encouraging all care facilities and practices to screen all COVID patients for acute kidney injury, which has been associated with a history of COVID infection; screen all diabetic and hypertensive patients, regardless of the reason for the visit; and to start identifying and calling high-risk patients in for wellness visits and routine screening, and include screenings for CKD. Alliant Quality has developed an awareness flyer for each state to share with physicians; a beneficiary piece is in development. A webpage with information and resources for health care providers, beneficiaries and other community partners to share and encourage individuals to talk to their health care provider about screening is now active. It includes change packages, a screening tool link for beneficiaries and links to staging/diagnostics resources through the National Kidney Foundation. Learn More

Diabetes Online Risk Assessment – Prevent Type 2 Diabetes From Home
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have put many of your plans on hold, your goal to prevent type 2 diabetes doesn't have to wait! Research shows that participating in a structured lifestyle change program can help people with prediabetes prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by 58% (and 71% in those over the age of 60). Take this one-minute, online risk test to see if you may have prediabetes. Take the Test

You can make preventing type 2 diabetes easier than ever by joining the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) right from your home. The National DPP's lifestyle change program is available online, via distance learning, or in person.

Learn how to:

  • Eat healthy without giving up all the foods you love.
  • Add physical activity to your life, even if you don't think you have time.​​
  • Deal with stress.
  • Cope with challenges that can derail your hard work—like how to choose healthy food when eating out.
  • Get back on track if you stray from your plan—AND MORE! Learn More
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Resources
The American Heart Association has updated and upgraded their Rise Above Heart Failure Resources into a webpage toolkit. There are a number of resources for Healthcare Professionals and their patients. Learn More​​​

Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Libby Massiah

New Sepsis Zone Tool ​​​​​​
Download this material to identify, evaluate, and control common symptoms of sepsis, a serious and life-threatening condition and as such should be treated seriously with the utmost care and prevention practices found in this one-pager.
Download Material

Go to The Hospital Or Stay Here? A Decision Guide for Residents, Families, Friends and Caregivers
With support from CMS and backing from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) a team from Florida Atlantic University developed a decision guide to help residents and families understand the reasons to stay in the nursing home or go to the hospital when an acute change in condition occurs.  More than 270 interviews with residents, families and providers were conducted to ensure the guide is inclusive of resident and family perspectives and concerns.  One SNF using the guide shared “The Decision Guide tools and resources have really helped us think differently on how we can prepare our Residents and Families for changes in condition and to let them know, WE take care of them in our Nursing Facility”. To learn more about using Hospital Decision Guides to reduce readmissions, join our June Learning & Action Network (LAN) Event.

New Readmissions - Key Strategies - Coaching One-Pager ​​​​​
This quality improvement tool assists providers with identifying key strategies and developing actionable plans associated with improving readmissions. Download Material

​​National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) ​​​​​
Alliant Health Solutions is partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) on a national initiative to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. As an NCRN community partner, we invite everyone to join, engage, and subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates and information. It will take a collaborative effort to combat the negative impact of this pandemic. Subscribe Now​​​​​​
​​​​​ Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Carolyn Kazdan

Force Field Analysis - Material & Explainer Video
Force field analysis is a structured decision-making technique that works to assist with improving the assessment of opportunities for improvement and the decision-making process. The link below offers a video to help you explore what it is and how you can use it. Additionally, Alliant Quality has created a resource to help guide you. Download Material | Watch Video 
New Training Available! Cognitive & Mood Assessment Four-Course Training Series for Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Providers
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering web-based training that provides an overview of the general and key clinical considerations important for conducting standardized cognitive and mood assessments. This four-course series is designed for providers in the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) setting. The courses contained within this training are:
Just Released: Two New CMS COVID-19 Vaccination Resources For Nursing Homes and Health Care Providers
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released two new resources for long-term care facility care teams and other health care providers to support COVID-19 vaccinations. One provides information about how to acquire COVID-19 vaccination resources for nursing home residents and staff. The other offers providers key strategies, sample messages and links to resources to help increase vaccine confidence and education. Considerations for LTC Facilities on Acquiring COVID-19 Vaccination Resources | Optimizing Vaccine Recipient Education
  Access FREE expert guidance on this topic: Contact Pauline Kinney

Members of the Beneficiary & Family Advisory Council are our partners in making healthcare better. To join us in this important work, contact Mel Brown or submit this referral form.

Browse resources our council has worked on below: 

Stay Healthy Around Pets
Many people have adopted new pets during the past year to help with the isolation that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are tips to consider in order to stay healthy, which includes hand hygiene so you and your family can enjoy your new pet family members. Read More

Before You Travel Safety Tips
Before you travel, there are tips from CDC to assure you have safe trip. Read More
Contact members of the BFAC via Melody Brown

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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.
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