CMS Offers Strategies for Mitigating Behavioral Health Challenges During a Pandemic

By A.J. Plunkett

Trying to get everyone to wear a mask can be difficult during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining infection control measures in a behavior health setting is even more challenging.

But you still have to. Given that reality, CMS has put together a 12-page list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help.

The Quality, Safety & Oversight Group (QSO) memo QSO-21-07-Psych Hospital, PRTF & ICF/IID, “COVID-19 Infection Control for Psychiatric and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs/IID),” was sent to CMS regional offices and state agencies on December 17, 2020.

According to the memo, the FAQs “are intended to provide guidance in the following areas:

  • Promising practices, measurement, and mitigation strategies for infection control during the PHE
  • Use of isolation, cohorting and PPE
  • Intervention, mitigation, and training strategies
  • Transition and discharge during the PHE
  • Engaging family, caregiver, support personnel, and community resources
  • Available local, State and Federal resource guides and web links”

The FAQs are divided into several sections, such as “Addressing Refusal or Reluctance to COVID-19 Modifications” and “Challenging Behaviors, and Seclusion and Restraint.”

There are also several links to other resources.

The memo can be found here: