This week, the Reno County Health Department (RCHD) is reporting a decrease in the number of positive cases in our county and this is very good news. Our local health system and hospital have plenty of capacity and for the time being at least, we are on the right track as a community. RCHD has advised senior communities to remain in their current phases of reopening until the impact on positive case numbers school starting may have is realized over the next few weeks. On the federal level, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, released 208 pages of new regulations on the nursing home industry this week and made them effective immediately. Along with the regulations were notices of increased fines and penalties for perceived noncompliance with these new regulations as well as with the 800+ pages of regulation we already had to navigate every day. The irony of this is the announcement of the new regulations and penalties was made literally the day following the CMS administrator saying on a call to providers that now is not the time for new penalties, but rather a time for support. Such is life when dealing with CMS. The new regulations are mostly related to mandatory routine testing of residents and employees and we’ll send out more information for affected residents as interpretations roll out from CMS. At this point, the new rules are only applicable to residents and staff in Thorne Care Center. We are anticipating the Kansas regulatory agencies will likely adopt these same testing requirements for assisted living and residential care licensure categories. If this occurs, they would then be applied to Hester Care Center and Collier Assisted Living. We’ll pass along more information as it is made available.
Please continue to call residents, send cards, and participate in virtual visits whenever possible. Thank you and please take every precaution to stay healthy!