— NOTICE PUBLISHED APRIL 7, 2020 —
Aculabs Begins Implementing SARS-CoV-2 Testing for COVID-19:
Aculabs will immediately begin performing COVID-19 screenings via the BioGX SARS-CoV-2 Reagents for BD MAX™ System, a real-time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2. The ability to perform screenings will allow for result reporting within 24 hours, vital to the high-risk populations Aculabs services as the largest diagnostic service provider to long term care and assisted living facilities across the Mid-Atlantic.
The BD MAX™ System also allows for Aculabs to process 24 samples simultaneously and analyze hundreds of samples per day. All testing is to be done at the Aculabs East Brunswick, New Jersey laboratory, where our team has worked diligently to obtain the latest instrumentation for rapid testing and satisfying all stringent state and federal regulations.
The usage of the BioGX SARS-CoV-2 Reagents for BD MAX™ System became available to CLIA-certified laboratories and hospitals across the country when BD and BioGX announced on April 3rd that they were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA for their new diagnostic test for screening for COVID-19.
— NOTICE PUBLISHED APRIL 2, 2020 —
Result TAT & Reporting of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19:
During the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Aculabs understands the stresses placed on healthcare providers and their staff, especially our clients who uniquely deal with geriatric populations that are the most vulnerable to the virus.
All healthcare personnel, especially those on the frontlines, are especially aware of their patients’ conditions during the ongoing pandemic. With this in mind, Aculabs has outlined the expected procedure for our result-reporting for the COVID-19 testing provided through our reference laboratory LabCorp below:
- If a facility receives a call from either the Department of Health or LabCorp regarding a positive, they should consider it positive. LabCorp has developed a live transfer system with the Department of Health to let them know of known positives. This happens prior to Aculabs getting the result.
- The best place to get the most up-to-date information is via our website and web portal. Generation information is on the website, such as collection guides, employee testing forms, latest info regarding tests, etc. Our Aculabs web portal is as up-to-date as possible. Results from our send-out testing are delivered via a live feed from LabCorp’s reporting platform directly to our system.
- LabCorp’s expected turnaround time remains 3-4 days for COVID-19 testing. We ask that facilities please ensure all specimen are appropriately labeled to ensure no delays in result reporting. Aculabs will report any updates or information on TAT directly from LabCorp if changed.
Aculabs is currently in the process of setting up our own Molecular Laboratory while we wait for Boston Dickinson to get final EUA approval for the test we anticipate using. The assay is currently programmed onto the appropriate instrument and will begin validation as soon as possible. Aculabs has already taken the proactive measure to ensure our laboratory can accommodate the appropriate additional equipment needed at this time.
— NOTICE PUBLISHED MARCH 20, 2020 —
HCANJ offers new recommendations on reducing risk of transmission for COVID-19:
The Health Care Association of New Jersey on March 18, 2020, released a new set of actionable steps long term care staff are highly encouraged to take to reduce the risk of transmission and exposure of COVID-19. In addition to the guidance, the HCANJ also encourages staff to follow all current NJ Department of Health and CMS guidance regarding restriction of visitors and non-essential healthcare personnel except in compassionate-care situations.
The HCANJ offers the following guidance:
- Adhere to internal environmental cleaning protocols to ensure appropriate measures are being taken to clean and disinfect where appropriate including high-touch surfaces and all shared medical equipment (e.g., lifts, blood pressure cuffs, medication carts).
- Close the unit to new admissions except as needed to cohort ill individuals or staff
- Consider closure of the facility to new admissions
- Consider implementing universal use of facemask for HCP while in the facility
- Encourage residents to remain in their room. If multiple cases are present restrict residents (to the extent possible) to their rooms except for medically necessary purposes
- Implement active screening of residents and staff for fever and respiratory symptoms.
- Mask all residents (who can tolerate masks) who are symptomatic when providing direct care; if masks are limited or not tolerated use of a tissue to cover the nose and mouth is appropriate.
- Quarantine and monitor exposed contacts including healthcare workers and roommates.
- Stop current communal dining and all group activities such as internal and external group activities
Facilities are also encouraged to continue good hygiene practices and increase the frequency at which they clean their buildings. Read the guidance in full here.
It is also reiterated to healthcare personnel that symptoms of infection may manifest differently in older patients and that other symptomology should also be assessed at minimum, daily. Vital signs should include heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, pain and pulse oximetry. The facility staff should have a heightened awareness for any change in baseline in their residents.
Any new cases or persons suspected of COVID-19 should be reported to NJDOH and LHD.
— NOTICE PUBLISHED MARCH 13, 2020 —
Aculabs to Follow CDC Guidelines at Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities:
In their recommendations for handling the COVID-19 outbreak, the CDC recommends the wearing of a face mask as one of the most effective measures to reduce the exposure one faces when coming in contact with those who potentially have the virus.
According to the CDC, those with prolonged close contact to a patient can ensure they are at “Low-Risk” for exposure by wearing all the appropriately delegated personal protective equipment, including that of a mask worn colored-side out.
Those who remain at a “Low-Risk” level for exposure can continue to work as normal in their assigned tasks and do not have to consider quarantining themselves. Aculabs is routinely surveying all mobile technicians and maintaining that those who experience flu-like symptoms, have recently traveled, or have come into contact with someone diagnosed with the disease are not out in the field in any capacity, but instesad are quarantined at home.
In light of these guidelines, Aculabs is instructing that all mobile technicians who come into contact with nursing home residents must ensure that they wear a face mask the entire time they are in a facility, per CDC guidelines, in addition to other necessary personal protective equipment, to remain at a “Low-Risk” level of exposure. Facilities who may have their own standard procedures and precuations set-up can communicate these to their Customer Service Representative who will communicate such standards to our Phlebotomy Department.
— NOTICE PUBLISHED MARCH 4, 2020 —
Medicare Guidance for Limiting the Transmission of COVID-19 for Nursing Homes:
Click here to read the full March 4, 2020, guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
CMS advises nursing homes and other long term care facilities to monitor and limit visitors through the following criteria:
- International travel within the last 14 days to restricted countries. For updated information on restricted countries, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- Signs or symptons of a respiratory infection, such as a fever, cough, or sore throat.
- Has had contact with someone with or under investigation for COVID-19.
Administrative staff of nursing homes should refer to the CMS guidance to ensure the limiting of transmission to elderly populations. If visitors meet the above criteria, facilities may restrict their entry to the facility. Regulations and guidance related to restricting a resident’s right to visitors can be found at 42 CFR §483.10(f)(4), and at F-tag 563 of Appendix PP of the State Operations Manual.
— NOTICE PUBLISHED MARCH 3, 2020 —
CMS Announces New Codes to Bill for COVID-19:
March 3, 2020 – CMS has announced new HCPCS U codes to bill Medicare for COVID-19.
HCPCS is a standardized coding system that Medicare and other health insurers use to submit claims for services provided to patients. Laboratories may usee the code U0001 to bill Medicare for COVID-19 lab tests that use the CDC kit, as this code is specifically for CDC testing laboratories to who patients for SARS-CoV-2; the code U0002 is for non-CDC laboratories testing for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV (COVID-19) using any technique, multiple types or subtypes (including all targets).
The Medicare claims processing system will be able to accept these codes on April 1, 2020 for dates of service on or after February 4, 2020. Click here to read the full news release from CMS.