LTC providers should be taking active steps right now to Plan, Educate and Prevent in response to the potential threats posed by the coronavirus.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been in the forefront of the news, and with the first death in the US happening at a nursing home, it certainly should be taken seriously by all long-term care providers. We have identified below some basic steps that we believe that all LTC providers should be taking now.
E D U C A T E
Designate a Point Person
LTC providers should create a team or designate a point person to keep abreast of the latest developments that arise with regard to the spread, prevention and response to COVID-19.
Avoid “Fake News”
Beware that scammers are using websites and social media to spread misinformation about the threat of the virus that causes COVID-19 and to ask for money to donate to alleged victims. Thus, providers need to be vigilant to rely on reputable sources of information. In this regard, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state departments of health would be good choices for providers.
Some links that may be of use to LTC providers include:
P R E V E N T
Currently, the CDC is recommending that health care providers ensure current universal precautions and hand washing protocols are implemented, as well as contact/airborne precautions, when indicated, and that health care facilities have appropriate personal protective equipment on hand should someone need to go in isolation.
From a preventative and risk management perspective, LTC providers should consider:
- Conducting inservice education for its staff
- Outreach for its residents and families/visitors
- Hanging signs in employee break rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.
- Installing and/or placing additional hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility
- Sending communications to all affected parties periodically
- Contacting the local health department to seek guidance on preventive measures it would expect to be taken
- Documenting the efforts that they have taken to ensure universal precautions
P L A N
Nursing facility Emergency Preparedness (EP) plans are required to address “emerging infections”. NFs should take the opportunity now to validate that they have at least a basic plan in place for emerging infections and then have their QAPI / EP team(s) review the latest guidance available from the CDC to make sure they are comfortable with existing education and resources, and update as needed.
Existing requirements of participation governing infection control practices also require that nursing facilities know how to recognize and contain infectious outbreaks, such as the flu, and ensure staff are not working with communicable diseases. Therefore, NFs should take the opportunity to ensure that they have systems in place for prompt recognition, diagnosis and management of communicable respiratory illnesses in residents, staff and visitors. As part of this review, providers should:
- Review their contact isolation procedures and make sure staff follow them consistently
- Review plans for cohorting residents in the same room or wing who become sick to prevent the spread to other residents and staff, should the outbreak continue to grow
To engage ROLF to assist your organization in addressing issues raised by the coronavirus, please contact the firm at (866) 495-5608 or call or email Michele Conroy, Margaret Chamberlain, Christopher Tost, Heather Baird or Robert Pivonka.
Please note that this post is intended to be informational only, and is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as guaranteeing any results. Rolf Goffman Martin Lang LLP will not be responsible for any actions taken or arrangements structured based upon this post. The receipt or review of this post by an organization that is not a current client of Rolf Goffman Martin Lang LLP does not create an attorney-client relationship between the recipient and the law firm.
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