In April 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a rare display of empathy with the freezing of the Five-Star Quality Rating Health Inspection Domain. As the healthcare system started working to distribute vaccines and move forward from this pandemic, we knew this action would not last forever.
Starting in January 2021, CMS began updating survey and quality sections of the five-star rating, therefore unfreezing data. While annual surveys were also put on hold in 2020, we will see these return as communities’ positivity rates decline.
It may seem like there is a discrepancy between unfreezing the survey portion of the rating and actually having the surveys. Have no fear! CMS has replaced the survey portion of the score with the infection control focused surveys that have been done throughout 2020. So, any deficiencies that were found during these infection control surveys will be treated like complaint deficiencies, affecting a survey score for the immediate 12 months after the citation.
While COVID is still taking up most of our focus, we cannot forget about the normal operations of running a community. We must figure out a way to reintroduce regular practices such as survey preparedness in order to be ready for more changes as the pandemic cycles through and the year goes on.