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On Friday, May 21st, the CDC announced new requirements for long-term care (LTC) facilities regarding administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. They state that LTC facilities must:
These requirements ensure that all residents and staff at LTC facilities are given access to the vaccine. While the requirements are already in effect, penalties for non-complying LTC facilities begin on Monday, June 14th. Noncompliance will be penalized $1,000 and will increase with continued violations. Currently, the CDC’s mandate only applies to nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and intellectual disability facilities. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) is looking to expand to other Medicare/Medicaid facilities in the near future. In effect, this mandate creates a new surge in demand for vaccines that LTC facilities can’t meet alone.
In November 2020, the CDC created the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which relied on chains like CVS, Walgreens, and MHA to provide vaccines to LTC facilities. However, the failure of these chains to effectively administer vaccines — as seen in the nearly 200,000 doses that were wasted from January to March — creates a space for independents to fill in the gaps. With the new CDC guidelines in place, independent pharmacies now have a unique opportunity to provide on-demand vaccinations to LTC facilities. As they do so, they can protect vulnerable populations and help to bring the pandemic to a close. Here’s how:
First, in accordance with the CDC requirements, pharmacies can help to educate LTC facility staff and residents about the vaccine. They can provide science-backed data, answer questions, and address any concerns that LTC facility members may have. The CDC provides vaccination information specifically designed for these facilities, and pharmacists can help to explain and break down the specifics face-to-face. This ensures that all parties are up-to-date with the benefits, risks, and potential side effects of the vaccine — so that they can make an informed decision about it.
Second, pharmacies can supply and administer vaccines to LTC facilities on-site. By bringing the vaccine to staff and residents directly, pharmacies can ensure greater peace of mind in their patients. Plus, onsite vaccines give pharmacists the opportunity to get into their communities and create personal connections while also bringing in additional streams of revenue. Both on the professional and personal fronts, on-site vaccinations provide ample opportunity for growth.
Third, pharmacies can form long-term partnerships with LTC facilities that go beyond vaccinations. By establishing a sense of trust as they administer the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacists can then create a bridge for LTC patients to get future vaccines, clinical services, or prescriptions. This creates a more open, dynamic pharmacy system — and healthcare system — altogether. Organizations like NCPA’s LTC Division can provide additional information and resources on partnerships.
To form a partnership, pharmacies should start out by reaching out to LTC staff directly. They should identify the specific needs of the LTC facility, explain how their services can help meet those needs, and then collaborate with staff on how to fill in the gaps of patient care. For a wider reach, they can advertise online and on social media to spread the word in their community. In any case, independent pharmacies should capitalize on their willingness and effectiveness in taking charge of vaccinations.
After all, the benefits of a partnership go both ways. For the LTC facility, a partnership allows staff to adhere to CDC guidelines, avoid penalties, and provide better service to their residents. For the independent pharmacy, it creates greater revenue via reimbursements, sparks new patient relationships, and expands business connections within the community. In this case, partnering is a win-win.
PioneerRx supports and enables partnerships within our pharmacy software. For LTC facilities, features like our customizable Electronic Medication Administration Records (eMARs) input make providing and documenting LTC patient care easy. We facilitate collaboration between pharmacies and LTC facilities in many ways, from tracking physician orders and managing cycle fills, to organizing separate LTC inventory and coordinating facility billing. For vaccines, we designed a Bulk Patient Process feature that makes uploading patient vaccine information faster and more efficient. By using the PioneerRx software, pharmacists can spend more time working alongside patients and less time working at the computer.
As the pandemic continues, CDC requirements are constantly changing and evolving in order to better protect our communities. With the most recent LTC facility update, independent pharmacies have been given the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people at risk. By making the first step to partner with LTC facilities via the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacies can play their part in providing comprehensive patient care — serving and protecting the people in their own backyard.