TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Laura Howard announced the agency will contract with Kathy Greenlee, former Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and former Secretary of the Kansas Department on Aging. Ms. Greenlee will work on a half-time basis as the Kansas COVID-19 Long-Term Supports and Services (LTSS) Liaison as part of the administration’s continued focus on nursing facilities and LTSS.
“It’s important to highlight that Ms. Greenlee’s role will not be to do the things that are currently being done today in our state agencies related to long-term care, but to lend her expertise and utilize her national connections to enhance our work here in Kansas,” Kelly said.
Since leaving her seven-year tenure with HHS in Washington, D.C., Ms. Greenlee has continued her work at the national and regional levels as President and Chief Executive Officer of Greenlee Global, LLC. She served as Secretary of the Kansas Department on Aging from 2006-2009.
The role of the LTSS Liaison is designed to be a cross-agency partnership with KDADS, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The proposed scope of work will include, but not be limited to:
- LTSS technical assistance for local public health and emergency management, including education on the characteristics and needs of LTSS providers like facility and community-based providers
- Facilitating cross-agency partnership between state and local organizations, including review and reporting at the state level on best practices
- Identifying future priority issues and preparedness needs for LTSS consumers and providers
- Serving as an additional channel of communication between state and local officials and stakeholders
“Kathy Greenlee brings an extensive experience advancing reforms aimed at improving the lives of seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Howard said. “That experience will serve all three agencies very well. We look forward to the wealth of knowledge she can immediately offer to further our efforts and advance best practices across our facilities and community-based providers.
In Kansas, there are currently 22 COVID-19 clusters in long-term care facilities. These have resulted in 540 positive cases, including 85 deaths.
“Preparedness of long-term care facilities is critical in responding to infectious disease pandemics like COVID-19. Ms. Greenlee’s extensive background and expertise will serve us well as we work to protect the health of Kansans,” KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said.
Creation of this COVID-19 Long-term Supports and Services Liaison position is the latest effort in Kansas’ focus on vulnerable populations such as those Kansans residing in long-term care facilities.
Long- term care facilities are an essential component of America’s healthcare delivery system. These facilities are unique, as they serve as both healthcare providers and as full-time homes for some of Kansas’ most vulnerable citizens.
The state has prioritized efforts towards these facilities, including:
- In an effort to minimize the impact of outbreaks in these facilities, once a case is detected in either a resident or staff, KDHE and the state laboratory provide resources to test all asymptomatic and symptomatic residents and staff and work with facilities and local health departments on plans to cohort positive cases and staff. This quick detection of any cases, even in asymptomatic people, in combination of proper cohorting reduces the spread of illness within the facility.
- Between April 9 and April 22, Governor Kelly issued three Executive Orders that eased the burden on the healthcare workers critical to our state’s response capabilities. These orders help facilities to maintain critical staffing levels and provide the flexibility for them to seek temporary licensing changes to support targeted COVID-19 preparation efforts at their facilities
- Executive Order No. 20-26, providing temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements governing the provision of medical services.
- Executive Order No. 20-23, related to licensure, certification and registration for person sand licensure of “Adult Care Homes” during public health emergency.
- Executive Order No. 20-19, extending professional and occupational licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Under authority granted by Executive Order No. 20-23, KDADS has responded to submissions from more than 50 facilities to create designated units, stand up alternate care sites, or otherwise change practices to ensure isolation of possible COVID-19 patients.
- KDADS is conducting surveys at facilities previously cited by CMS for infection control deficiencies in 2019 or 2020. Approximately 40 infection control inspections have been completed to date. Abuse, neglect or exploitation related complaints continue uninterrupted.
- To address social isolation in response to the restrictions placed on visitors in nursing homes to reduce the spread of OVID-19, KDADS is taking part in a CMS program that makes federally certified nursing homes eligible to receive up to $3,000 in Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds to purchase electronic devices to enable residents to visit with family and friends in a virtual setting and participate in telehealth visits. Details about this funding opportunity can be found on the KDADS website at https://www.kdads.ks.gov/funding-opportunities.
- KDEM, at the request of the counties, provided medical professionals from the 190th Air Refueling Wing to assist with N95 protective mask fittings at more than a dozen nursing facilities.