Dear AAAASF Surveyors,
Due to the ongoing concerns of COVID-19, AAAASF is working closely with CMS and the CDC to determine the best course of action moving forward regarding the overall safety and emphasis of our survey process. Our goal is to continue with our services in a manner that is safe, both for the facilities and surveyors. At this time, we are asking all surveyors to conduct surveys with an increased emphasis on infection control practices and emergency preparedness, as this is of the utmost importance in light of current events.
As an accrediting organization, we have an important role to play in reducing the spread of infection, including COVID-19, by evaluating the facility’s infection control policies and ensuring all standards are being met. This is our mission and the current circumstances serve as an important reminder of the importance of our collective work. Please focus your survey on identifying any potential gaps or vulnerabilities in facility practices. Requiring facilities to implement immediate corrective actions to help halt the progress of the outbreak.
Here are some important points for your information:
The CDC has stated that older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions (e.g., heart disease, lung disease and diabetes) seem to be at a higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. If you have underlying comorbidities or vulnerabilities that make the COVID-19 virus a higher risk for you, or if your employer would require your isolation after conducting a survey, we encourage you to consider temporarily suspending your survey activities. If you feel that you would like to halt your survey activities for a period of time (without repercussions), please contact Linda Deubel, Manager of Scheduling & Surveyor Relations.
- Impacted Areas:
Domestically, the states of California, New York, and Washington are currently listed as high-priority and have the highest risks. This list is subject to change. We will only schedule surveyors located within these high-priority states for surveys within their respective state. Also, we will not assign surveyors from outside the previously listed states to conduct surveys within these states. We will also follow the same practice with regard to international areas with travel ban advisory levels of 3 and 4.
- Accredited facilities:
- Must have a facility policy manual that includes written infection control policies and procedures that are consistent with current CDC guidelines.
- Must have hand hygiene practices and policy in accordance with current CDC guidelines.
- Must have written emergency preparedness plans along with their community involvement. Look for inclusion of “Pandemic Disease” such as COVID-19 on Risk Assessment and proper protocols in place to deal with such.
- If the facility’s practices are or are likely to be impacted by a shortage of PPE or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, the facility must have an interim policy that addresses it’s practices during the shortage and be based on some demonstrated authority recommendation.
- Must report to AAAASF if the facility has any patients that are known or suspected to have contracted COVID-19, so that the surveyor can take appropriate prophylactic precautions
- Surveyor responsibilities:
- Work directly with the key representatives responsible for the facility’s infection control and emergency preparedness policies and procedures.
- Hold in-depth review and discussion of the facilities written plans and clear direction on how they are addressing infection control, and notify AAAASF immediately if the facility has encountered known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
- Verify the practices they have implemented to identify and reduce the spread of infection. They should demonstrate that policies are consistent with the CDC.
- Verify the emergency preparedness plan is appropriate to the center and includes information on how the facility is integrated into the community’s activities. Look for inclusion of “Pandemic Disease” such as COVID-19 on Risk Assessment and proper protocols in place to deal with such.
- Verify any temporary practices are based on authoritative guidance.
- Take appropriate self-protective measures.
- Notify AAAASF immediately if you or your center have encountered a known or suspected patient with COVID-19.
AAAASF and its regulatory partners continue to be vigilant and employ efforts to help avoid potential harm to surveyors, facility staff, and patients in accordance with CDC guidelines.
We will continue to provide updates regarding any changes that occur due to the COVID-19 virus on the AAAASF web page, COVID-19 Update. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Michon Mayfield, Director of Accreditation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-701-6034.
Resources for Surveyors to provide to facilities:
- CDC resources for healthcare facilities
- CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Risk Assessment and Public Health Management Decision Making handout
- Patient Under Investigation (PUI) form
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary available on the CDC website.
- CMS Information for Healthcare Facilities Concerning 2019 Novel Coronavirus Illness (2019-nCoV) dated February 6th containing information that is useful for non-Medicare facilities as well.
- CMS Infection Prevention, Control and Immunizations Tool
- AORN has ongoing discussions and tool kit about COVID-19 available