The rapid worldwide spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is obviously of great concern to long-term care facilities—at least one expert has referred to it as a “disaster” for nursing facilities, and a New York Times piece has observed that nursing homes are “starkly vulnerable.”
Many of the cases currently in the U.S. have been traced back to a single nursing facility in Washington State.
As with most things, however, preparation is preferable to panic, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have released new guidance that should help with these efforts.
The new 4-page guidance provides practical recommendations for senior care centers, including the following:
- Screen (and, as appropriate, limit) visitors.
- Screen staff members and have any with symptoms self-isolate at home.
- Contact your local health department if you suspect a resident may be infected. He or she may need to be transferred to a hospital.
- Determine whether you can accept from a hospital a resident who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (CMS provides guidelines).
- Review existing CDC guidance on Coronavirus and COVID-19.
- Increase the availability of hand sanitizer, face masks, tissues, and no-touch disposal receptacles.
- Increase signage relating to vigilant infection protection.
- Properly clean, disinfect, and limit sharing of medical equipment.
- Provide additional supplies (such as pens, pads, etc.) to limit sharing among staff, and disinfect work stations often.
CMS has also announced that it is suspending all non-emergency inspections around the country for the time being.
IASC will have more Coronavirus coverage as the situation develops—stay tuned.