A large source of new hospitalizations and the majority of deaths in AZ have been coming from among the folks that are living in Arizona’s skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. 

A key strategy that would prevent some of these deaths and reduce the demand on the hospital systems would be to improve testing and infection control in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities (after all, those are a huge source of hospital admissions). 

The CARES Act provides additional funding to CMS to pass through to states to improve inspections that focus on COVID prevention among skilled nursing facilities.  A total of $80M is available nationally which converts to about $1.6M for Arizona.

States that take the money will be required to use it to perform extra on-site surveys of nursing homes with previous cases and will be required to perform fast on-site surveys of any nursing home with new cases.

A welcome resource indeed, especially in light of the recent Auditor General’s Report that found that the ADHS licensing division didn’t investigate some long-term care facility complaints.  The agency response said they need an additional 44 staff and $3.3M to do timely follow on the 2,500 nursing home complaints that they get each year.

Note: CMS released data on COVID-19 cases and deaths inside AZ’s 150 skilled nursing homes. Nursing homes that take money from Medicare or Medicaid must report COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents and staff to the CDC and CMS. 

The data allows the public to see those statistics for individual nursing homes. The preliminary data shows at least one in three Arizona nursing homes reported a case of COVID-19, and nearly one in five had a death related to the disease. Here is the data which is in the Arizona Republic.