The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) has updated the Iowa Guidance on Phased Easing of Restrictions for Long-Term Care Facilities (Guidelines). They have also issued an accompanying FAQ document which clarifies the guidance as it applies to long-term care facilities, and answers some questions related to assisted living facilities.
The following summarizes the updates to the Guidelines:
Phase 1 and 2
- Screening: Clarifies that residents must be evaluated at least twice in a 24-hour period.
Phase 2 and 3
- Communal Dining: Removed the limit of no more than two people per table.
- Testing Guidance: Added that weekly testing will be offered to a cohort in a facility experiencing an outbreak.
Appendix B (New)
- Testing Supplies & PPE: Provides contact information for securing testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Appendix C (New)
- Guidance for Long Term Care Facilities to Access COVID-19 Testing at the State Hygienic Laboratory: Provides information on how to order tests and testing supplies, access resident and staff test results, and request courier service through the State Hygienic Lab.
The FAQ Document answers 20 questions related to the Guidelines for long-term care facilities and nine questions related to the impact of the Guidance on assisted living facilities. Importantly, the FAQ document states that the 14 day clock to begin Phase one of the Guidelines began on June 4, when the Guidelines were first issued. Other issues addressed by the FAQ Document include testing protocols, protocols for if a resident or staff member refuses testing, risk assessments, face mask requirements, phase regression, and resident cohorts.
Regarding assisted living facilities, the FAQ Document clarified that those facilities may develop and implement their own plan that incorporates public health mitigation strategies as there is not currently a model plan that assisted living facilities are required to follow. Questions about complaints and adverse action by DIA are also answered in the FAQ Document.
Long-term care and assisted living facilities should thoroughly review all guidance from IDPH and IDA as well as proclamations from the Governor’s Office to ensure full compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
If you have any questions about how this guidance affects and/or should be applied to your long term care facility, please do not hesitate to contact one of the BrownWinick Health Law attorneys.