The Advocate - March 2021

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March 2021


Note from the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

This month marks one long year since long-term care facilities imposed visitation restrictions that resulted in residents/tenants of long-term care being separated from their loved ones in the community.


In this past year, the world has learned something about how to better manage the COVID-19 virus. The administration of the COVID-19 vaccines have allowed for a glimmer of hope that the COVID-19 virus will no longer rain down illness and death on the residents and staff of long-term care facilities. However, another threat, some would argue nearly as deadly, has gained a foothold while the battle was being waged against COVID-19. That threat is the devastating impact of the social isolation experienced by those living under the lockdown conditions of the COVID-19 visitation restrictions. Unfortunately, something as convenient as a vaccine will not repair the harm that has been experienced by long-term care residents due to social isolation. Under the current CMS guidance issued in September 2020, when the county COVID-19 positivity rate moves to 10%, or lower, visitation restrictions can begin to be eased with indoor visitation beginning to occur adhering to the core principles of COVID-19 infection and prevention and facility policies.


Reuniting residents/tenants with their loved ones in the community needs to be accommodated in all ways available to long-term care facilities, as soon as that can occur. The internet abounds with examples of ways that facilities have successfully accommodated reuniting residents and loved ones. Look to these examples or find new ways to reunite residents/tenants and loved ones. If you are willing to share those reunions we would be happy to post that good news in future editions of the Advocate. Now that the physical threat of COVID-19 seems to be better addressed in the United States, the unintended consequences of social isolation caused by the visitation restrictions needs to be addressed as soon as humanly possible.

News & Resources


The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) launched This website provides locator tools and information about priority populations that are eligible to receive the vaccine. IDPH also partnered with 211 to schedule those vaccines beginning March 8. 


The Office of Inspector General warns if consumers are asked to purchase a COVID-19 vaccination card that is a scam in this tweet on Twitter.


Senator Grassley sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking the Comptroller General to assess the new CMS website that has replaced Nursing Home Compare.


Provider Magazine's, Looking Ahead article states five positives to come out of the national pandemic: stronger relationships, acknowledgment of long-term care facilities as key players in health care, greater interest in advance care planning, strengthened teamwork and spotlight on mental health.

Resident/Tenant Rights

Access 2 Independence received funds for a Transitions and Diversions program for those living in long-term care facilities to discharge out into the community. This program is mirroring the MFP program and is funded by CARES Act dollars. This program will serve those living in Johnson, Washington, Cedar, Linn, Iowa, Benton, Henry and Jones counties. The funding lasts through September 2021. This informational flyer has additional information.


COVID-19 has changed our world in many ways. Among them is how to choose a long-term care setting. In the past consumers have been able to take onsite tours and talk with the people living in those settings to receive feedback about their experience. Since visitation is on hold, having information at consumers’ fingertips has never been so important! This is a tip sheet developed by Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Pam Railsback to follow when seeking long-term care for yourself or a loved one.

Resident_Tenant Health Safety Welfare


Some long-term care facilities are starting to open up for visitation. It has been a long year or restricted visitation and here are three of the stories of facilities opening up in Iowa. Midwest Health operates Homestead assisted living programs in Iowa, and will allow social distanced visits, Cedar Manor Nursing Home in Tipton held a special birthday in-person visit, and Oaknoll Retirement Residence a nursing facility in Iowa City allows families to hug in this video.


Be aware of N95 mask scams. AHCA and NCAL issued a notice that the government is investigating reports of fraudulent masks. This notice gives tips (strategies) 3M states to review prior to making N95 mask purchases.


Prairie Hills in Ottumwa has recorded tenants reading books and have an online library so that third grade students may listen to the tenants read in this article.


Woodlands Retirement Community in Clive received outdoor snow creations by Cub Scout Pack number 181 in this article.


Green Country Village Senior Living in Oklahoma showed off their drum class on Facebook video


The Pioneer Network has issued Artifacts for Culture Change 2.0 with self assessment checks for nursing facilities and assisted living programs.

Managed Care Ombudsman Program

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) are delayed for assisted living programs until July 1, 2021 in this DHS informational letter.

Volunteer Ombudsman Program or 515-971-6294 "We are your Voice for Choice-Iowa Volunteer Ombudsman Program"


VOP Statewide Conference Call

This month's statewide call will be held on Wednesday, March 10 at 12:00 pm and will be presented by Donna Richard-Langer, Volunteer Ombudsman discussing Friend vs Advocate: Maintaining Professional Boundaries. If you do view a recording of a previously recorded statewide conference call be sure to email to receive one hour of continuing education credit.

Some of the Volunteer Ombudsman peer groups have discussed 25 Common Nursing Home Problems—& How to Resolve Them. Please find this updated guide. If you have not been to a peer group meeting connect with Lisa to find out contact information of the closest peer group to you.

Volunteer Ombudsman Judy Avritt delivers valentines to residents with special friends, Bonnie and Connie.

(Permission given to use image by father of the girls.) 

  Volunteer Ombudsman Delivers Valentines with Special Helpers

Events & Educational Opportunities


Family Caregiving, Residents' Rights and Visitation Guidance

Not VOP CEU eligible

March 10 (6 pm)

More Information | Register


A Virtual Rally to Lift the Lockdown

Not VOP CEU eligible

March 12 (11 am)
More Information | Register


Neglect Leading to Bodily Injury and Death of 300 LTC Residents

VOP CEU eligible

March 16 (12 pm)

More Information | Register


The Impact of Social Isolation on Nursing Home Residents During COVID-19
VOP CEU eligible


Life in a Nursing Home During COVID-19 - Videos from Residents

VOP CEU eligible

Video & Essay