TALA In the News

COVID-19 News– TALA, March 25, 2020

HHSC Waivers

The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Long-term Care Regulatory (LTCR) has issued a Provider Letter for assisted living communities and related professions.

PL 2020-23 Guidance on COVID-19 Response in Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) Note: Replaces PL 20-13
PL 2020-21 Suspension of Certain LTCR Requirements during COVID-19 Outbreak

Restrictive Visitor Policies

Long-term care communities are under new direction to significantly limit visitors to their communities and any potential outings by residents. Assisted Living Providers received Provider Letter PL 20-23, and Governor Greg Abbott mentioned similar restrictions in his March 19th Executive Order #3. The provider letter invokes Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 247, Section 247.064(d), which says that a resident’s right to visitation can be restricted in order to protect the health and safety of residents.

If a resident leaves the community for any reason and then returns, the resident must be screened and temperature checked. If the resident fails any portion of the screen, the resident may be allowed to return but should be kept in isolation per the CDC’s protocol.

Requesting Personal Protective Equipment

Responding to COVID-19 has put an enormous strain on the country’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks, gloves and gowns. Because of the national shortage and prioritization of PPE to acute care settings, long-term care facilities are feeling the pinch. HHSC has an informative website (https://hhs.texas.gov/about-hhs/communications-events/news/2020/03/resources-ltc-providers-request-ppe) specifically for long-term care providers. All communities must attempt to purchase necessary PPE through private distributors. Save copies of emails and responses, because the documentation will be necessary for requesting any PPE from the strategic national stockpile.

The Department of State Health Services is utilizing the state’s 22 Regional Advisory Councils to manage PPE shortages. Assisted Living Communities may request PPEs from their local RACs (find contact information here: https://dshs.texas.gov/emstraumasystems/etrarac.shtm). Long-term care providers need to use the State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR) process, and prioritization for PPE distribution.

The Center for Disease Control put out advice for medical providers regarding the conservation of PPE. Find that information here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/index.html

Changes for Nurses

Governor Greg Abbott has announced several initiatives to increase the pool of nurses able to respond to COVID-19. The Texas Board of Nursing has a webpage dedicated to the changes (https://www.bon.texas.gov/COVID-19.asp).

AARP report on assisted living response to Hurricane Harvey is 'misleading and unfair,' groups say

(McKnight's Senior Living - August 8, 2018)

A new report that is critical of Texas assisted living operators' preparedness and response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017 is misleading to the public and insulting to industry workers, according to associations representing assisted living operators in the Lone Star State. [read more]

Reaching the wrong conclusions after Hurricane Harvey

(Trib Talk -  September 5, 2018)

When Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Gulf Coast last year, we saw how Texans from all walks of life came together. The efforts throughout the state to take care of those who needed it most reinforced our faith in humanity and the role we can play in helping one another. [read more]