Guess what happened to home care regulations? They changed again, shocker.
On December 15, 2021, the State Board of Health adopted two significant regulation changes that impact Class A & B home care agencies:
Chapter 2 - Permanent rules established for COVID-19 Immunization of Employees, Direct Contractors and Support Staff
Chapter 26 - 10 year review and revision of Chapter 26 regulations for Class A & B home care agencies was approved
Today I'm talking about the COVID-19 regulation changes. Plus, I have a ready-to-use P&Ps package that you can implement at your agency today (scroll to the bottom of this email for P&Ps).
Stay tuned, later this week I'll be sending out an email about Chapter 26 updates.
So, what changed for COVID-19 regs?
The biggest change is that emergency rules that were created in August 2021, were revised and are now permanent regulations. The permanent rules can be found in Chapter 2, Part 12 - COVID-19 Immunization of Employees, Direct Contractors and Support Staff.
Here's a link right to the regs
How did these regulations come to be?
On August 17, 2021, Governor Polis sent a letter to the State Board of Health requesting emergency rule-making for COVID-19 vaccination requirements for healthcare workers in Colorado. Emergency rules were adopted by the State Board of Health on August 30, 2021. Since that time, CDPHE worked with stakeholders in the health care industry to propose revisions and updates to these emergency rules. Additionally, the rules needed to be adapted to a CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Servcies) state licensing mandate, which was released on November 4, 2021.
The proposed revisions and updates were reviewed and voted on by the State Board of Health on December 15, 2021. The proposed revisions were approved and became regulations for all health care entities in Colorado, effective December 15, 2021.
You may have seen the emergency rules added to Chapter 2 the last few months, but this final version had even more revisions. Here are some of the changes that made it into the permanent regulations:
- An exclusion was created for live-in caregivers, who are now not subject to the regulation, except for unvaccinated staff needing to wear appropriate PPE. Live-in caregivers are employed by a home care agency to provide care to one or more clients residing in the same household as the live-in caregiver.
- Healthcare entities no longer need to apply to CDPHE for a waiver related to a religious exemption request to COVID-19 vaccination.
- Medical and religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination are treated the same. Employees need to apply for an exemption and the agency determines if approved.
- Agencies must have a plan to encourage staff to get vaccinated and get a booster when eligible.
- Staff who were recently diagnosed with COVID-19 or received COVID-19 treatments (i.e. monoclonal antibodies) should request a medical exemption and obtain a practitioner's note.
- Clarification of a category of individuals who are not subject to COVID-19 vaccination - those who perform telehealth services and/or duties exclusively outside of the agency and cannot have any direct contact with clients or staff.
- Specific measures that must be taken to protect clients from unvaccinated staff members.
- Agencies need to report two times a month on the COHFI portal to CDPHE the vaccination status for staff between the 1st and 15th and then again between the 16th and end of the month.
Great, so what do we do now?
Healthcare companies of all types (home care, hospice, hospitals, etc.) continue to struggle to keep up with the latest guidance and regulations. These COVID-19 updates are part of that and don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
In talking with numerous home care companies, one of the best approaches I've heard is to have an Immunization (Flu & COVID) or COVID specific binder. Just one binder that contains your policy and all supporting documents for COVID-19 regulations.
Here's what I would suggest including in your COVID-19 binder:
Staff Medical or Religious Exemption Application
Medical or Religious Approvals/Denials
Staff Vaccination Tracking
CDPHE Reporting Tracking
You know I wouldn't leave you hanging just with that! I'm now offering an all inclusive COVID-19 policies and procedures package.
COVID-19 Staff Vaccination and Agency Reporting Requirements - Policies & Procedures Package
Class A & B Home Care Agencies
This P&Ps Package has everything you need to be in compliance with the updated Chapter 2, Part 12 for COVID-19 regulations. This package is instantly downloadable and customizable for your agency. It has the latest and greatest guidance included and will have your agency in compliance quickly.
Here are the included documents:
COVID-19 Immunization of Employees, Direct Contractors and Support Staff Policy
Purpose, Scope and Policy
Medical or Religious Exemptions
Protectives Measures Taken By Unvaccinated Staff
Measures Taken to Encourage Initial and Ongoing Vaccination
Maintaining Agency COVID-19 Immunization Documentation
COVID-19 Reporting Requirements
Home Care Agency COVID-19 Staff Education
Agency COVID-19 Mandatory Immunization Religious or Medical Exemption Form
COVID-19 Immunization Staff Tracking and CDPHE Reporting Tool
COVID-19 Information and Education Resources
Have questions about the updated COVID-19 regs? Shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Keep rocking Home Care Superstars!!!