WHCA/WiCAL’s most recent quarterly meeting with the Division of Quality Assurance – What you need to know

WHCA/WiCAL staff recently met with the Department of Health Services, Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) staff for its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting.  Important meeting highlights were:

    • DQA staff brought to our attention several instances where survey teams were surreptitiously video and/or audio taped.  In all instances, it appears that the taping was not done purposely but rather the camera and/or audio device was not disconnected before private surveyor conversations commenced.  Very important:   Please make sure video and/or audio equipment has been disabled in the work space that the survey team is provided in your facility.
    • Workforce:  We were advised that since January 1, 2023, there have been 146 Administrator turnover changes and 176 Director of Nursing turnover changes.  The accelerating exodus of management staff was distressing to everyone.
        • Related data:  In response to WHCA/WiCAL’s Freedom of Information Act request, we are advised that 127 Wisconsin nursing facilities are under a two-year prohibition to have an in-house nurse aide training program using facility staff as faculty.  Two important related items:   If your facility is under the two year prohibition, you can apply to DQA for a waiver to host an in-house program with the faculty provided by a third party such as a technical college.  Contact Jim Stoa, jstoa@whcawical.org , if you need assistance.  Federal legislation has been introduced that would substantially modify this draconian penalty that continues to exacerbate the chronic nurse aide shortage.  The legislation is entitled the Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act, Bill No’s S. 1749/H.R. 3227.  WHCA/WiCAL leadership and staff were in Washington last week and lobbied Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation to not only support the bill but to sign on as a co-sponsor.
    • Survey backlog:  DQA advised that there is no longer a backlog on recertification surveys.  The Division is making progress working down the complaint survey backlog but unfortunately, they are still working on complaints from October 2022.  DQA has renewed the contracts with the third party agencies hired to help with the backlog for at least another six months.
    • Customer Service Work Group:  In late 2022, DQA convened a workgroup that included WHCA/WiCAL members and staff to develop “best practice” customer service curriculum to be presented via in person seminars in at least four regions around Wisconsin.  The Workgroup worked diligently through the start of 2023 and then took a break to allow DQA staff to file a Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) Grant Fund application to fund all of the seminars.  Unfortunately, action on DQA’s funding application stalled because of the many questions that CMS Regional Office staff had.  Recently CMS decided to freeze review of all CMP grant applications including those emanating from state government agencies.  At WHCA/WiCAL’s urging, DQA will be reconvening the Workgroup shortly so that the good work that has been accomplished can continue.
    • Repeal of Staff Mandatory COVID vaccination rule:  DQA confirmed that it would not be enforcing mandatory staff COVID vaccination provision pending promulgation of a rule in early August formally repealing the mandate.  However, facilities must still educate residents and staff about COVID, the importance of being vaccinated and must offer the vaccine to residents and staff.

Please do not hesitate to contact Jim Stoa, jstoa@whcawical.org , or Rick Abrams, rick@whcawical.org , if we can answer any questions that you may have on the above information.