In announcing an additional $5B for nursing facilities through the Provider Relief Fund, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicated that $2.5B of the $5B would be tied to nursing facilities participating in a training initiative. HHS has since announced that the $2.5B will be linked to voluntarily participation in Project ECHO. AHCA/NCAL has provided the following details on this partnership based on a recent call, and we will provide additional confirmed details as soon as they are available:
- The ECHO team has partnered with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to create 150 “hubs” that are based at academic universities or medical centers with geriatric or infectious disease faculty to run each hub. The ECHO team has 25 hubs so far in its existing network. We do not know which hubs are already in the network.
- The ECHO team plans to launch this program on September 8, 2020, which will allow nursing facilities to receive the $2.5B to support additional PPE, staffing and testing resources. The exact amount per nursing facility is to be determined.
- The ECHO team has told all of the potential universities and medical centers to start recruiting nursing facilities starting August 18, 2020.
- Nursing facilities must participate in 90 minute zoom calls on a weekly basis for a minimum of 16 weeks in order to receive the HHS voluntary payment amount. Each hub will contain 100 nursing facilities, and each session will be limited to 34 nursing facilities to allow for exchange and discussion. Accordingly, each hub will need to run three (3) concurrent sessions per week.
- The first eight (8) weeks of the training will serve as a “boot camp” for COVID-related infection control practices, and the second eight (8) weeks will discuss implementation science with QAPI to “build long term infrastructure and systems for quality.” Nursing facilities may continue with optional weekly sessions for the next 36 weeks. Each nursing facility will need to conduct a quality improvement project based on areas they need to make changes.
- Each nursing facility must have four (4) people participate: The medical director, two (2) nurses, and one (1) other staff member. Each Medical director will receive $200 per session, each nurse will receive $100 per session, and the other staff member will receive $50 per session. The payment methodology is to be determined. The ECHO team did not mention if there will be any additional payment to nursing facilities. AHCA/NCAL was told by HHS staff that it may be in the range of $10,000 per nursing facility that participates but is not sure if that is in addition to the payment to the staff participating in the weekly sessions.