Filtered by author: Barbara Hulz Clear Filter

Has COVID Become Like Influenza?

I believe that many of our staff and families are hoping this is true. We are now living in the post-pandemic era and have seen the benefits of natural and vaccine immunity with people still acquiring COVID, but for the most part not getting as sick, with most self-managing their illness and often not reporting it, or not even testing. We know that both are transmitted by the aerosolized modality and that new cases occur without an obvious source. The vaccine for both flu and COVID has waning illness prevention protection after about 6 months. The protection of both vaccines from infection in elders is imperfect and may only be in the 40-70% range. Flu has been most prevalent in the winter months in part due to people living in more crowded indoor conditions at that time of the year, but this is not true for COVID. Outbreaks have occurred in the Spring, Summer, and Fall and seem to correlate with the prevalence of a new variant of concern. The mortality this past flu season has also been quite different with COVID having almost 10 times the mortality of influenza with most of the mortality occurring in those aged over 60 or in younger persons who are high-risk for serious illness. 

Read More

In Memoriam: Steve Levenson, MD, CMD

Steve Levenson never had any qualms telling things as they were. It’s what I loved the most about him. Remarkably, his analysis of all things related to geriatrics and long-term care medicine were almost always spot on.  He was an encyclopedia of knowledge and a laser focused repository of institutional memory. What I will miss the most about Steve is that I no longer have someone to call to get an unvarnished and incredibly well-informed answer to almost any question related to the art, science and policies surrounding nursing home care.  We have lost a once in a lifetime voice that I worry might be impossible to replace.

Read More
1 Comments

Responding to Medical Errors

About 5 years ago, I wrote an article for the WAVE on this subject based on a patient of mine who experienced a serious medical error while under my care at a SNF.  As I reflect on that case, I  recall that I immediately sought advice from the referring colleague and from a trusted colleague.  I then reported the error to the administration and was relieved that they supported full disclosure.  I disclosed the serious medication error to the patient and his wife with sensitivity, but the experience was emotionally traumatic for them and those involved with their care.  In retrospect, our response was reactive and done without the support of HR, clinical psychologist, risk management, or the counsel of our liability carriers.  

Read More

Things That Keep Us Up at Night…

CALTCM has a robust public policy committee (officially the Policy & Professional Services Committee [PPSC]) with interdisciplinary members who have more than a century of combined post-acute and long-term care experience.  The group meets once a month on a zoom call to discuss major concerns and outline steps to address serious issues.

Read More

Access to Medical Aid in Dying

California’s End of Life Option Act began in June of 2016 and was modified in 2022 to allow a shorter minimum interval (48 hours rather than 15 days) between the two verbal requests and required providers to make clear to their patients whether they participate—and for those who do not participate, they are required to record the timing of an initial request so that the time from request to receiving MAID (Medical Aid in Dying) was not delayed. Since this change, there has been a slight uptick in requests for MAID (Medical Aid In Dying) in 2022 as opposed to prior years. The required data are reported by CDPH every July with the most recent report of July 2023 available online, click here.

Read More

Should You Have a Digitalized Patient Education Library?

In a recent IDT meeting for a Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), we discussed the advantages of self-monitoring of BP in the home setting. We now have guidelines from multiple organizations that recommend home BP measurements as superior to those done in clinics or institutional settings. The SPRINT trial of 2014 and now multiple other studies have confirmed that reliable BP measurements require:

Read More
1 Comments

Happiness and Social Connection

What makes a good life? This age-old question has many facets depending on who you ask. For some, happiness and joy come from having a successful career. For others, it means having financial wealth and security. And for some, it means having loving family and friends. According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest running study of 75 years, led by psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger, the answer to having a good life is about having good relationships.
 
He posits three life lessons from his ongoing research:

Read More

Hospitalists Should Join CALTCM!

At a recent meeting of a local hospital with its SNF partners, a hospitalist made an appeal for SNFs to remove peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC) lines and Foley catheters when they were no longer necessary, since hospitalists were seeing this as a potential cause of readmissions.  After the meeting, we chatted and I discovered he was a Medical Director of a SNF, a member of CALTCM, and had signed up for the AMDA Foundation’s “Futures” program that will meet in San Antonio in March 2024.  I wish that I could have “bottled” his passion for high-quality medical care in SNFs.

Read More
1 Comments

When Should Brexpiprazole Be Used for Agitation in a SNF Resident?

Brexpiprazole (Rexulti) was recently approved by the FDA for treatment of agitation in Alzheimer Dementia based on the now published phase 3 study found in JAMA Neurology, November 6, 2023. In this 12-week study of the efficacy of this medication at the 2 and 3 mg daily dose compared to placebo, a statistically significant improvement in agitation was noted vs placebo. This medication was generally well tolerated without significant safety adverse events.  Agitation was defined as 1. excessive motor activity, 2. verbal aggression, or 3. physical aggression which caused excess distress or disability and could not be safely attributed to a suboptimal care environment or another disorder.  This is a small short-term study across multiple sites and countries.  This medication should be used for this indication with great caution until further studies confirm these results and better define those who might benefit, the degree of the benefit, and if significant long term adverse events occur with more prolonged use.   This medicine has common drug interactions that warrant dose adjustment in many circumstances.  This link has the details.

Read More

Transforming Nursing Home Care Together (TNT) Program

1st Place - 2023 Poster Session Winner

Read More

Podcasts That Support Cutting-Edge Care

At a recent Sutter Hospital meeting with their SNF partners, we were informed that our next meeting would focus on their new initiative to provide optimal transitions for patients with heart failure hospitalizations.  Many of those in attendance were perplexed by this development, since they thought they were already doing that.  

Read More

Policy Update: November 2023

CALTCM’s Public Policy Committee (Policy & Professional Services Committee) has been very busy!  

Read More

Importance of Behavioral Health Services in PALTC

PALTC is a complex setting and as medical directors, clinicians, and team leaders we are often pulled in multiple directions.  The issue of antipsychotic use is just the tip of the iceberg for Behavioral Health.  Antipsychotic use continues to grab headlines due to changes in regulations and public concerns.  There were several presentations at the CALTCM Summit of Excellence, November 2-4, 2023, on Behavioral Health. For clarity, the difference between mental health vs. behavioral health is that behavioral health includes mental health and substance use disorders. 

Read More

Prioritizing Self-Care

Support your OWN well-being while you learn to enhance others’ at this year’s 2023 CALTCM Summit for Excellence

Read More

Do You Want to Write for the WAVE?

No, would have been my answer 20 years ago.  I had “Doctor’s” handwriting hardwired before I finished elementary school.  Writing in college was painful with so many typing errors to erase.  As a physician, I was too busy taking care of patients and attending hospital meetings. However, over time, I began writing short articles for patient education on various topics, since more of our best outcomes occur when we empower our patients to better self-care.  

Read More

Call for Patient and Community Education

At a recent Town Hall meeting for a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community), I encouraged the residents to read a well-done flier from Front Porch and another one from the CDC on what they could do to reduce their fall risk.  Though these documents had been posted in their facility, most were unaware of them.  At that point, I stated that falls were the greatest risk to my future health and life expectancy.  That may have seemed like an out of place comment, but it certainly got their attention.  The administrator agreed to send both documents to their mail boxes (see attached flyers).

Read More

Cutting Edge Trainings for Improved Dementia Care

Several years ago, the California Partnership for Improved Dementia Care concluded that the pandemic associated SNF staff shortages, would create a need for dementia education for the many new hires, as well as updates for continuing staff.

Read More

Improve Your Serious Illness Conversations

I recently opened a hospice case for a person with end-stage heart failure who said, “I don’t like my cardiologist.”  This person felt abandoned and left without hope.  Serious illness conversations may be difficult not only for the patient, but also for the provider.  This cardiologist didn’t avoid the conversation, but could he have more effectively communicated this bad news and the potential benefits of hospice care? 

Read More

Invest in the Pursuit of Excellence

Join Us at the 2023 CALTCM Summit for Excellence! 

Read More

President’s Corner: September 2023

Happy Fall to everyone – CALTCM is moving strongly forward in amazing ways. It has been a very busy, exciting year. The grant team we formed managed to obtain a CDPH grant to educate one- and two-star nursing facilities on leadership from an infection prevention perspective. I’m very proud and want to express my sincere gratitude to all the faculty and administration for stepping up and creating a fabulous experience for these 3 cohorts, totaling 30+ facilities in need of guidance. Mike Wasserman and Barbara Hulz have gone above and beyond in preparing for these trainings. Thank you to all involved. 

Read More