4/20 EQRS April News

EQRS has published their April News letter, featuring articles on

  • Continuing the January 29, 2021 advice to suspend entry of Clinical Data, ICH CAHPS Attestation, and Depression Screening/Follow-Up into EQRS until further notice. Find details at https://mycrownweb.org/2021/01/eqrs-system-announcement-jan-2021/.
  • Overview of KCER’s participation in the March 2021 EQRS Town Hall.
  • Emergency Preparedness Checklist.
  • A note on how EQRS data supports CMS and the ESRD NCC.
  • A reminder that Clinical Data submissions have been suspended.
  • Notice of New User Training on April 20, 2021.

And the usual comprehensive list of relevant resources. Find the News at https://mycrownweb.org/2021/03/april-2021-newsletter/.

Notify Network of Service Disruptions

The National Weather Service is warning people in North-Central Montana that the far-below-zero weather there, expected to continue through at least 13 February, can frostbite exposed skin in as little as five minutes. For details and more accurate location information, click HERE.

NWS is also warning about relatively heavy snow in the Puget Sound region through at least 13 February, making travel “very difficult to impossible.” For details about the North and Central Sound, click HERE, and for details about the South Sound, Hoods Canal, and the Chehalis Basin, click HERE. Weather conditions seem to be improving in Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon, but snow, and ice-storms in the usual locations, have been making travel “challenging” and are still possible; click HERE for details. Click HERE for details about the area around Salem.

CMS requires ESRD Networks to track the status of facility operations and patient access to treatment during emergency events at all facilities, including disruptions due to wildfire, excessive heat or cold, water pollution, stormy weather, or any other natural or man-made event that interrupts your normal schedules. If the operations of your facility, or ability for patients to have access to dialysis, are impacted by emergency events, please let your Network know right away.

For Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska (Network 16), call Brianna Smith at 206-923-0714 or email BSmith2@Comagine.org. We also ask that you fill out and submit the Network Disaster Reporting Form at http://www.esrdnetwork18.org/machform/view.php?id=44393. (Network 18 will forward the completed form back to Network 16.)

In Southern California (Network 18), call Brianna Smith at 206-923-0714 or email BSmith2@Comagine.org, and fill out the form at http://www.esrdnetwork18.org/machform/embed.php?id=16298.

Never put PHI or PII in an email or online form. Examples include patient name or initials, birthdate, SSN, and other identifying information.

CMS QIP Wildfire Exceptions

CMS is granting exceptions under Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs to renal dialysis facilities located in areas affected by the Oregon Wildfires and designated as emergency disaster areas by FEMA, including Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill Counties.

Impacted facilities in other areas may request exceptions for CMS review on a case-by-case basis.

Request exceptions using the Extraordinary Circumstances Exception (ECE) form at https://qualitynet.cms.gov/files/5d0d36e1764be766b0100cad?filename=HQR_ECE_Req_FormFeb2019.pdf. The ECE form must be signed by the dialysis facility CEO or designee and be submitted via email to the ESRD QIP Mailbox at esrdqip@cms.hhs.gov. This form and corresponding evidence must be submitted within 90 days of the Extraordinary Circumstances event for the ESRD QIP. For further assistance contact the CMS ESRD QIP at esrdqip@cms.hhs.gov.

10/21 NECP Webinar on Funding Emergency Communications

The DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s National Emergency Communications Plan will present an October 21, 2020 webinar on Money Talks: Funding Your Emergency Communications Capabilities. The webinar will help facilities find grant guidance and opportunities, partners to help prioritize needs and coordinate applications for assistance, and diverse funding sources to sustain emergency communications. Find details and register at https://www.cisa.gov/necp-webinars.

Emergency Exercise Exemptions

CMS has updated the Emergency Preparedness Testing Exercise Requirements to accommodate industry impacts from COVID-19, exempting a facility that activates its emergency plan to deal with a real emergency (such as COVID-19) from having to complete the subsequent full-scale community-based exercise or individual facility-based functional exercise. To qualify for the exemption, a facility must complete written documentation of their emergency plan activation. CMS and State Survey Agencies can request a copy of this documentation during survey and certification reviews. Facilities can provide this documentation by completing an After-Action Report (AAR) following the actual emergency.

Information on how to create an AAR can be found in the Network LMS Emergency Preparedness Resource Book or at https://www.kcercoalition.com/en/events/2020/july-2020/dialysis-facilities-the-basics-of-preparing-an-after-action-report-for-an-incident-or-disaster/ .

Find an AAR template at https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nwrn.org/files/LMS-O/KCER_Dialysis+Facility+Incident+AAR_FINAL.pdf .

The updated Emergency Preparedness Testing Exercise Requirements can be found at https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-41-all.pdf .

If you have any questions or need assistance completing the requirements for the exemption, contact your Network.

NW16/OR Medicare Wildfire Assistance

CMS has prepared a press release summarizing the steps that Medicare has taken in Oregon to help make health care available to wildfire victims, including opening special enrollment periods to allow out-of-season initiations or changes to Medicare coverage, various kinds of assistance to healthcare facilities, and help to displaced dialysis patients.  Find the press release at https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-offers-comprehensive-support-oregon-due-wildfires.

CDC Evacuation Advice

CDC has launched a new web page on Natural Disasters, Severe Weather, and COVID-19, to provide information on how people can stay safe during and after natural disasters during the COVID-19 response.  The page and a few of its useful links follow:

Understand that your planning and preparation may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Give Yourself Time: Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies.  Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies, but it may not be an option for everyone.  If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect your and other’s health when running essential errands.

Pack Your Go Kit: If you need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency.  Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, bar or liquid soap, disinfectant wipes (if available), and two masks for each person.  Masks should not be used by children under the age of 2.  They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Keep Your Distance: When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

Read more about COVID-19 specific key disaster messages in Hurricane Key Messages: COVID-19 Annex (Spanish), in addition to the Preparedness and Safety Messaging for Hurricanes, Flooding, and Similar Disasters (Spanish).

9/20 ANNA 503 Virtual Fall Workshop

ANNA Chapter 503 will present their 2020 Fall Workshop via Zoom on September 20, 2020 from 10am till noon PDT.  The Workshop will feature Nephrologists Sarah Struthers, MD sharing her experience of working in New Orleans during the coronavirus surge, and Kate Butler, MD sharing her research focus on ethical allocation of limited resources during a pandemic.  Cost is $20 for ANNA members & students, and $35 for non-members.  The course has been approved by the California State Board of Nursing for 2.0 CE’s.  Register, before 11:30 pm PDT September 18, at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anna-503-virtual-fall-workshop-2020-tickets-114236426226.  Full details follow:

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19

A recent CDC announcement comments on wildfire smoke:

“Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that cause COVID-19.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for wildfires might be a little different this year.  Know how wildfire smoke can affect you and your loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to protect yourselves.”

The rest of the announcement details what you can do about it.  Find it at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/covid-19/wildfire_smoke_covid-19.html.

NCC COVID-19 Mental Health Handbook

The ESRD National Coordinating Center has published a new 17-page booklet called The COVID-19 Mental Health Toolkit: Helping Renal Professionals Support the Well-Being of the ESRD Community.  It was developed by Network professionals and patient volunteers to serve as a guide for renal healthcare staff to help patients manage their well-being, and includes sections on taking action, increasing awareness, building community capacity, incorporating telemedicine, and getting ahead of the issues.  Find a copy at https://esrdncc.org/contentassets/abe8671eadac49c691c0f40eef52ef18/covid19mhtoolkit07312020508.pdf.