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Section of Residential Licensing & the Background Check Programs 


2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)


DHSS is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. Learn more about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect your facility.
 
COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive in Alaska
Questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? Visit Alaska DHSS Vaccine Status Updates page, email covid19vaccine@alaska.gov, or call (833) 751-4212 (health care providers only) or (907) 646-3322 (general public).    
 

Residential Care Facility Admissions
Please refer to COVID-19 Guidance for Long-Term Care, Assisted Living, and Residential Facilities and other resources for residential care facilities available at COVID-19: Specific Groups.
  • New icon 2/18 - State of Alaska’s Declaration of Public Health Disaster Emergency Expired 02/14/2021
    As of February 14, 2021, the State of Alaska’s Declaration of Public Health Disaster Emergency (DD), which was in place to manage its response to COVID-19, expired. While certain authorities under the DD have expired, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is making every effort to minimize potential disruption to interactions between Alaskans and DHSS as we transition out of the DD.

    Accordingly, until further instructed by the Governor or the Alaska Legislature:
    1. DHSS will continue to operate its COVID-19 response under the same guidance and direction that had previously been provided, which includes all prior waived or suspended statutes and regulations.
    2. DHSS will continue to manage its Medicaid program under the federal authorities outlined in the federal blanket waivers, the 1135 Waiver, and the Appendix K approvals, since those authorities are tied to the federal public health emergency and are not dependent on a state declaration.
    3. DHSS will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure a smooth transition for vaccinations, therapeutics, and other critical services that DHSS had been managing under the Declaration.
    4. All mitigation efforts for the health and safety of state employees will remain in effect. 
    The end of this disaster declaration does not mean the virus is gone and we can stop taking measures to keep ourselves and others healthy and safe. DHSS’ primary concern remains the health and safety of all Alaskans, and we will continue to consider that paramount concern in our decisions as we navigate the next phase of the state’s response to COVID-19.

  • 2/16 - DHSS Conducting Outreach to Offer Assistance with COVID Vaccinations
    Beginning Wednesday, February 17, 2021, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) will begin calling Alaskans who are eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 to ask if assistance is needed. Calls will originate from (907) 290-7933 or (907) 646-3322, and callers will identify themselves as representatives of DHSS. Calls offering assistance with COVID vaccinations that are from any other phone numbers may be fraudulent. Questions about vaccine eligibility or making an appointment? Call DHSS at (907) 646-3322.

  • 2/4 - Reporting of All Residential Congregate Setting Staff and Resident COVID-19 Positive Test Results Now Required
    As part of continued efforts to ensure the safety of residents and staff of Alaska’s residential congregate settings, DHSS has created a central reporting process for COVID-19 cases. Residential congregate settings are now required to report all positive staff and resident cases. Visit How to Report an Outbreak in a Residential Congregate Setting for instructions and the reporting form. Contact kim.spink@alaska.gov for questions regarding completion of this form.

  • 1/27 - Updated COVID-19 Recommended Guidance for Congregate Residential Settings

  • 1/26 - Updated Visitation Guidelines for Residential Congregate Facilities

  • 1/15 - New Emergency Declaration
    A new COVID-19 public health disaster emergency declaration is in effect through 12:00a.m., 02/14/2021.

  • 1/12 - Steps to Take When a Staff Member or Resident Tests Positive for COVID-19

  • 12/15 - DSP Hire Assists Providers with filling Vacant Positions
    Organizations and agencies that hire direct support professionals can now post available jobs at DSP Hire. The resource is available at no cost to providers and applicants. Questions? Contact kim@champneyconsulting.com.

  • 11/30 - Dr. Jay Butler to Address Alaska Healthcare Stakeholders about COVID-19 Vaccine
    On 12/02/2020 at 7:00 a.m., AKST, Dr. Jay Butler, former DHSS Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer and now the Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at the CDC, will provide an update on COVID-19 vaccine development, distribution, and clinical use. This one-hour webinar is intended for Alaska’s medical providers and healthcare stakeholders, especially providers of congregate residential care and services. Register today, as space is limited.

  • 11/24 - DEADLINE EXTENDED: DHSS CARES Act Funding to Support Residential Congregate Care Facilities
    The deadline for residential congregate care facilities to apply for CARES Act funding and submit a signed attestation has been extended to 5:00 p.m., December 11, 2020. See the original (November 7, 2020) announcement for more information. Questions? Contact Jana Atonio at (907) 782-5267 or (907) 269-7380.

  • 11/20 - New Report on Characteristics of COVID-19 in Assisted Living Facilities
    On 11/20/2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report on the characteristics of COVID-19 infection in Assisted Living Facilities across 39 states. The serves as a reminder of the importance of continued vigilance to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 disease in facilities. Providers of congregate residential services are encouraged to read and follow the guidance contained in this report.

    Questions? Contact covidquestions@alaska.gov.

  • 11/20 - COVID Vaccination Planning for Staff of Long-Term Care Services Providers
    Alaska is preparing for the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments to arrive by the end of 2020. Because long-term care facility staff may be recommended for early vaccination, particularly in facilities serving seniors, it is important that you and your staff are prepared and have a plan in place.

    As of November 4, 2020, four vaccines had begun the last of three stages of clinical trials in the U.S. to test safety and effectiveness. After the FDA approves a vaccine, based on based on the results of clinical trials, the CDC will recommend which populations should receive the vaccine first. These recommendations are guided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

    Because long-term care facility staff may be recommended to receive the vaccine first, the State of Alaska COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force is asking staff in these facilities to be prepared to receive the vaccine once it arrives in Alaska.
    • There is no State of Alaska requirement for anyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine; staff can decide whether they want to receive it.
    • The initial vaccination locations will be select pharmacies and Community Health Centers.
    • Once vaccines are available, you will be sent a calendar of dates, times and locations where the vaccination will be available.
    • You must pre-register and schedule an appointment; vaccines will not be available on a walk-in basis.
    • Depending on the vaccine, two appointments may be required – one for the 1st dose and one for the 2nd dose three or four weeks later.
    When more details are available, you will receive information about registration and vaccination via RA message. Visit DHSS COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Alaska Medicaid Health Enterprise for the latest updates.

  • 11/17 - New Emergency Declaration and Suspended Regulations
    A new disaster declaration and public health emergency is in effect through 12/15/2020, new health orders are effective 11/16/2020, and an updated Order of Suspension of state regulations was issued 11/15/2020. This new order includes new regulation suspensions, in addition to all that were previously suspended.

  • 11/7 - DHSS Distributing CARES Act Funding to Support Residential Congregate Care Facilities

    On 11/06/2020, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) issued a press release announcing the upcoming distribution of approximately $4 million in CARES Act funds to residential congregate care facilities to help address additional expenses incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Assisted living homes, skilled nursing facilities and other residential congregate facilities approved by DHSS will be eligible to receive a one-time flat rate payment to help offset expenses related to COVID-19.

    To receive funds, providers must submit a signed attestation agreeing to use funds for approved purposes only. The attestation must be emailed to residentialcares@alaska.gov no later than 5:00 p.m., November 20, 2020.

    Questions? Contact Jana Atonio at (907) 782-5267 or (907) 269-7380.

  • 10/21 -New Website to Help Address Health Care Workforce Shortages and Improve Care
    The Alaska Division of Senior and Disabilities Services, ADvancing States and Centene Corporation, in a unique public-private partnership, have developed and launched ConnectToCareJobs, a website designed to help address health care workforce shortages during the COVID-19 public health emergency and beyond. ConnectToCareJobs links residential facilities (e.g. skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities) that need employees with health care professionals who need jobs. The initial launch is focused on residential care facilities, however the site may be expanded  to include hospitals and home care agencies in subsequent phases.

  • 10/14 - Immediate Assistance Needed
    HSS Residential Licensing and SDS are working with an assisting an assisted living home in Anchorage that has five residents, three of which are COVID-positive and the other two have tested negative, but need to quarantine. The home unable to fully staff this home and residents are at risk of being placed in the hospital if caregivers are not found to keep them safely in their own home.

    If your agency has staff willing to assist this home to provide temporary care for 7 to 10 days, or you have community placement options available for these individuals, please contact Craig Baxter with Residential Licensing at (907) 632-3348 as soon as possible.

    As more of our assisted living homes experience positive cases it will be essential to come together as a community and work on solving staffing shortages together.  Please communicate with us if you have ideas for how to assist with staffing during this public health emergency.  Thank you for your attention and service.

  • 9/3 - Governor's Office Issues Updated COVID-19 FAQs
    The Governor's Office has updated its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions. Updates include information for those who, because of a disability, cannot safely wear a mask.

  • 8/7 - Clarification on Recent Notices to Providers from Visit Healthcare
    Providers throughout Anchorage have reported receiving notices from a company called Visit Healthcare that states “Alaska has hired Visit to assist with COVID testing across Anchorage” and that that Visit Healthcare would soon begin testing of staff and residents of Assisted Living Homes.

    Visit Healthcare has a contract with the Municipality of Anchorage (MoA) to do COVID testing.   Visit Healthcare has not been hired by DHSS nor any State of Alaska department or office. COVID-19 testing conducted by Visit Healthcare is not required by or reimbursable by the State of Alaska. The State of Alaska supports the MoA’s efforts to provide access to additional testing options for its residents. If you have questions about COVID-19 testing done by Visit Healthcare, please contact the MoA Health Department at (907) 343-6718 or wwahd@muni.org or visit the Municipality of Anchorage for more COVID-19 testing information.

  • 6/30 - Reopening Guidance for Congregate Residential Settings
    On June 30, 2020, the Department of Health and Social Services released reopening congregate residential settings guidelines for providers to use in making reopening decisions.

  • 5/21 - Health Mandates Remain in Effect


  • 5/1 - Interim Guidance on SARS-CoV-2 Testing for Asymptomatic Residents Being Admitted to Congregate Living Facilities
    The Division of Public Health’s Section of Epidemiology released guidance for administrators and health care providers affiliated with congregate living facilities (e.g., skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, residential treatment facilities) that serve persons who typically remain at the facility for a sustained period of at least 14 days.
  • Please check back frequently for new information and important updates.
     
    Questions?
    Please call your licensing specialist if you have any questions.

The mission of Certification and Licensing is to protect and reduce the risk to the health, safety, and exploitation of Alaska's most vulnerable citizens being served, and to ensure that there is public confidence in the health care and community service delivery systems through regulatory, enforcement, and educational activities. This is accomplished by:

  • conducting inspections of adult and children's residential facilities to ensure compliance with state licensing requirements;
  • receiving and investigating complaints involving resident physical, mental, and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and safety/sanitation concerns;
  • providing facilities with a notice of violation, when necessary, and take appropriate action when facilities fail to come into compliance with state or federal law;
  • ensuring a process where all service providers with direct client access have a background check.
ALERT:  BEWARE OF SCAM IN SWABBING CHEEKS OF SENIORS FOR DNA CANCER CHECKS

The Consumer Protection Unit of the Alaska Attorney General’s Office warns Alaskans that a new health care scam is on the rise and may be coming to Alaska. The Division of Insurance has received reports of groups going to senior living communities, assisted living facilities, senior centers and RV/trailer parks offering to swab the cheeks of seniors for genetic material. The scammers are saying the swabs are to perform tests of DNA for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

If a non-cancer patient provides material for genetic testing under the pretense that the test would be covered by Medicare, this may be a scam or fraud. Be alert if anyone asking to swab your cheeks requests that you agree to be billed for services in the event Medicare does not pay.

Medicare has different guidelines regarding the testing of genetic material in patients depending on whether or not they have been diagnosed with cancer. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements must be met in order for such testing to be paid for by Medicare. Disreputable, roving “testers” may be committing Medicare fraud or trying to rip you off if Medicare does not pay.

Do not give your Medicare number to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly. Theft of your Medicare number is a common form of identity theft and it may be used to commit fraud. Guard your Medicare number as you would your social security number.

If there are any questions, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit Staff at (907) 269-5208 or contact cynthia.franklin@alaska.gov.
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