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Temporary Nursing Aides Face October Deadline to Finish Training

April 28, 2022, 12:38 AM

Temporary nursing aides who’ve worked at nursing homes during the pandemic have until Oct. 7 to complete their mandatory 75-hour training and pass a state evaluation test, a Biden administration official said Wednesday.

To ensure sufficient staffing levels and provide greater flexibility at nursing homes early in the pandemic, the Trump administration waived a rule that limited employment for uncertified nursing aides to just 4 months. The Biden administration reinstated that rule, effective June 7.

Nursing aides hired after June 7 will have four months from their date of hire to meet the reinstated training requirements, said Evan Shulman, director of the division of nursing homes at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“These aides provide a valuable service,” Shulman said during a CMS webinar with industry representatives. “Through the pandemic they helped facilities to maintain staffing and obtain staff. But now we need to make sure that those staff are appropriately trained to meet each resident’s needs.”

The reinstated employment limit and training requirements are part of the CMS’s broader goal to restore pre-pandemic care with an eye toward eventually lifting the Covid-19 public health emergency.

The CMS on May 7 will also terminate a waiver that allows physicians and other practitioners to use remote telemedicine services to conduct required patient visits with nursing home residents, Shulman said. Beginning on May 7, those visits—that are required every 30 or 60 days—must be done in-person, he said.

About 88% of nursing home residents and 87% staff are fully vaccinated, Shulman said. And while 79% of residents have received booster shots, only 48% of staff have gotten them. “We’d like to see those staff booster dose rates go up,” Shulman said.

Currently, about 1,500 to 2,500 new Covid infections are logged each week among nursing home residents and staff, compared to an average of about 9,000 to 10,000 new cases per week throughout the pandemic, Shulman said.

“However we are watching this very closely because it does appear the cases are rising. This means that we have to continue to be vigilant,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Pugh in Washington at tpugh@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com