As President of CALTCM, I want to thank our Board of Directors and our members, many of whom have “stepped up” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am so proud of our organization, the efforts we’ve made, and our accomplishments.  Our membership is composed of many interdisciplinary experts in geriatrics and long-term care medicine.  We have been making a difference during this crisis.  I want to share some of what’s happened over the past few months.

On February 29, many of us read with alarm about the outbreak of COVID-19 in a nursing home in Washington State.  CALTCM immediately went into action and began considering how we could help prepare nursing homes in California for what was about to happen.  On March 5, we reached out to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) with a proposal to provide Leadership and Management training to facilities focused on infection prevention.  They asked instead that we develop webinars.  On March 9, CALTCM initiated our COVID-19 Webinar series.  Shortly thereafter, the Governor of California asked nursing homes to prepare to accept COVID patients from hospitals without regard to whether the facilities had any known COVID or even whether they had sufficient staff or PPE.  Our Board of Directors quickly went into action and put out a resolution strongly disagreeing with such a plan, and several leaders made public statements in the media.  The following day we put out another resolution recommending that the Governor of California mandate that infection preventionists be made full-time in their facilities.  While it ultimately took 2½ months, the state finally made a full-time IP part of their mitigation plan requirement.  

On April 17, CALTCM posted the Long Term Care Quadruple Aim for COVID-19 Response, which has been featured in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS’) Nursing Home toolkit.  We also posted our White Paper entitled, “A Plan to Protect Our Nursing Home Residents.”  Our webinars have been very well attended and have been a great resource for our members and nursing homes throughout the state of California.  On May 7, CDPH initiated a weekly phone call in collaboration with HSAG and CALTCM for infection preventionists across the state.  These calls have been very well received and have resulted in a lot of outreach to CALTCM from counties across the state. 

Our White Paper, “A Plan to Protect Our Nursing Home Residents” was also posted on our website on April 17.  It provided a plan for creating COVID-19 Positive facilities, but more importantly provides a construct to support all nursing homes during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The White Paper also proposed the development of expert “Delphi Groups,” two of which we formed in April.  The first group has just published a paper, “Diagnostic Testing for SARS-Coronavirus-2 in the Nursing Facility: Recommendations of a Delphi Panel of Long-Term Care Clinicians” in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.  The findings in this paper were shared, prior to publication, with state and federal officials, hopefully influencing the policy changes that have occurred regarding testing over the past couple of weeks.

COVID-19 has brought a lot of attention to long-term care, and we have been interacting with journalists and reporters around the country.  Our number one mission has been one of education. The spotlight being shined on the nursing home industry is an opportunity for us to share the value of our expertise.  We have had similar success in developing relationships with various elected officials and their staff.  We encourage all of our members to engage with your local government officials.  While COVID-19 has been devastating in relation to its impact on the residents and staff in nursing homes across the country, it’s also provided an opportunity for CALTCM and its members to demonstrate our value and to increase our credibility and visibility.  AMDA and other State chapters have had similar experiences.  #WeArePALTC has become an important hashtag on Twitter.  I’m proud to be a member of this organization and proud to represent all of us who provide care for vulnerable older adults across the continuum of care. 

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