In late April, with nursing home residents accounting for more than half of deaths related to COVID-19 in Massachusetts and many workers exposed to the virus, the state formulated a plan to fill staffing gaps in the hardest-hit facilities.

Rapid response teams consisting of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and other health care professionals many from out of state were deployed to provide direct patient care services on a short-term basis.

The rapid response teams were part of the COVID-19 Nursing Facility Accountability and Support initiative. Participating nursing homes also received incentive payments to implement more rigorous infection control practices and test residents and staff for COVID-19.

“The Administration worked closely with long term care providers to ensure they had the necessary resources to keep residents and staff safe, including swiftly implementing an accountability and support initiative that included unprecedented levels of funding, free in-house mobile testing, staffing assistance, PPE, and strong infection control standards,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services for Massachusetts who directed the effort.

Demand for flu shots is up, and organizations that administer them need to take extra precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) offers a compendium of guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources that covers key topics for considerations by those offering flu vaccinations, including:

  • Organizational planning for satellite, temporary, off-site and drive-through clinics;
  • Infection control measures;
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE); and
  • Vaccine transport, storage, and handling.

Collectively, the resources offer guidance and strategies for managing social distancing recommendations, symptom-screening, hand hygiene, adverse event reporting, vaccine temperature and more.

If your organization is looking to translate its commitment to equity into the safety and quality work you do, a team of leaders from New York City Health + Hospitals — the nation’s largest integrated municipal health system — offers both timely advice and examples of a 4-part strategy in action.

  1. Start with a needs assessment, involving input from at least five percent of the workforce to ground the organizational culture shift in data.
  2. Map the work streams associated with all quality and safety activities in the organization and shore up capacity for equity work.
  3. Apply an equity lens to existing quality and safety efforts using iterative Plan-Do-Act-Study cycles.
  4. Use data visualization with transparent milestones and measures.

The team’s strategy is part of a larger effort to address historic racial, ethnic, socio-economic and other inequities in a health system that serves a diverse population of more than 1 million patients. The 4-step approach is described in detail in a blog article published this summer and freely available from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Upcoming events
  • Pilot survey for outpatient diagnostic safety: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality seeks medical practices to test a pilot instrument on diagnostic safety for its Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS) Medical Office Survey this fall. Send an email to with "Pilot test" in the subject line.
  • Sepsis Alliance Summit: Virtual event on September 16 and 17 for health care providers, managers, policymakers, and industry leaders. CE credits available. Click here for more information
  • MACRMI’s annual Communication, Apology, and Resolution (CARe) Forum online Monday, September 21, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. The program is free and offers both CME and nursing credits to qualified attendees. Register here
Patient Safety Beat is published by the Betsy Lehman Center, a state agency that uses communications, research, and data to catalyze the efforts of providers, policymakers, and consumers working toward safer health care in Massachusetts.