Community HealthChoices: Recap Third Thursday Webinar (May 21, 2020)

On May 21, 2020, during the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) “Third Thursday Webinar,” DHS discussed COVID-19 updates and the Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Program (ESCCP).


COVID-19 Updates

The Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL)

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) has established priorities that are aligned with helping providers and direct care workers (DCWs). These priorities were developed to make sure that providers and participants are implementing safe practices, to the best of their ability, to help stop the spread of the COVID-19. To review these priorities, read our “Community HealthChoices: Recap Third Thursday Webinar (April 16, 2020)” blog article.

PPE Distribution Updates

The OLTL has been collaborating with Public Partnerships, LLC; limited liability companies; the Community HealthChoices Managed Care Organizations (CHC-MCO) and other stakeholders to acquire and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE).

As of the May 21, 2020 “Third Thursday Webinar,” 17, 385 PPE packets have been mailed to DCWs. The packets include 2-3 masks, handouts and instructions for maintaining the masks, and universal precautions. The OLTL is continuing to work to make PPE available for distribution to DCWs.

CHC-MCO Priorities

The CHC-MCOs have been monitoring the incidence of COVID-19 diagnoses in member populations. Their greater focus has been community-based services and making sure these services are being delivered and that there are no risks of interruptions. This includes conducting ongoing check-in calls with participants to verify back-up plans, identify unmet needs, and ensure participants have access to essential protective health and safety items for the home.

Counties Transitioning from Red to Yellow

Now that counties in Pennsylvania have started to move into the yellow phase of reopening, it is important to note that none of the guidance issued by OLTL or the CHC-MCOs are changing. This includes the guidance for changes of services and visitations.

Communicative Technology

With current visitor restrictions in place, have received approval to use funds from Civil Money Penalties (CMPs) for technology that allows nursing facility residents to engage in virtual social and telehealth visits. The funds can be used for communicative technology that will help to ease the minds of families and residents.

If your facility is interested in this opportunity, follow the instructions in this listserv email.

All new communications will be distributed through the OLTL listservs. All previous communications can be found on the Department of Human Services (DHS) Coronavirus (COVID-19) website page.

Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Program (ESCCP)

The OLTL has been working with seven health systems to develop the Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Program (ESCCP). The program is designed to provide clinical and educational support to providers. The OLTL is also working to establish a Learning Network—a centralized area where resources can be accessed.

What does ESCCP provide?

  • Clinical consultation by Infection Control Practitioners to prepare personal care homes (PCHs) and assisted livings (ALs) on current and future pandemic(s).
  • Assessment and strategic planning for safe patient management, policy development and infection mitigation.
  • Assessment of proper PPE needs for staff and resident safety, education to facility staff for proper PPE donning/doffing and escalation of critical PPE needs to Department of Health (DOH) and DHS.
  • Access to testing and real-time testing results for facility staff and residents.
  • Real-time support for telehealth clinical consultation.
  • Support and intervention to facility leadership for the management of staffing issues related to mental and physical illness.
  • State-wide collaborative efforts to reduce widespread infection, increase education and future infection preparedness.

The OLTL developed a tracking tool to track activities, outreach, and issues such as concerns, PPE, testing and staffing level issues. The tool was used to make sure all health systems conducted outreach to each of their facilities. Frequent calls were made with the ESCCP team and long-term care facilities to share updates on progress and areas of concerns.

There are 14 webinars on the Learning Network and over 1,900 participants.

What are ESCCP best practices?

  • Monitoring and reinforcing guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain facility COVID-19 safety precautions.
  • Familiarize advisor with facility layout and current set up of critical areas related to both residents and staff.
  • Observation of adherence and quality of donning/doffing PPE, hand hygiene, cleaning practices of staff, and issues related to resident compliance with isolation masks.
  • Create action plan based on assessment with timely routine follow up on action items.

What areas does the ESCCP support?

  • Communication and language differences
  • Time, technology, and human capacity
  • Culture of fear, perceived low performance and distrust escalated by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Staffing, PPE, testing and physical facility constraints
  • Intensified responsibilities to patients, families, and hospital partners
  • Fragmented care delivery systems and lack of wide scale health information interoperability

The ESCCP will assist providers with onsite testing facilities and will help providers to develop capabilities for onsite assessments at facilities, particularly those with COVID-19 residents. Providers will benefit from receiving further rapid response support including COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, education, testing and management.

Q&A Session

Q. Do all participants need an informal back up support?
A. This is standard practice, but yes, all participants should have back up plan.

Q. Are you looking for more PPE partners?
A. The OLTL is always looking for more partners. If someone is looking or has information, reach out to the OLTL or the CHC-MCO.

Q. Will the Appendix K and 1135 waiver be extended beyond June 2020?
A. This has not been determined but will be reviewed June 1. It does look like it is likely.

Q. Are all nursing facilities required to participate in ESCCP efforts?
It is completely voluntary. The program is not funded by the state and is a collaboration of the state and health systems.


Does your facility need help with Community HealthChoices implementation? Contact Jennifer Matoushek, Senior Consultant by calling 717-213-3130 or email


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Topics: Leadership & Staffing