Nursing Home Restrictions Due to Coronavirus
In response to the growing health threat of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, and other long-term care facilities across the country are announcing visitor restrictions and new staffing procedures.
The health risks posed by coronavirus infection are most severe among the elderly who are suffering from age-related and other underlying medical conditions. Therefore, nursing home restrictions for coronavirus prevention and containment are vital to protect the health of seniors as well as the staff working at these long-term health care facilities.
Screening of Staff
Many states have issued orders and are taking Coronavirus precautions that healthcare workers working at state-run nursing home facilities should go through medical screening prior to their shifts to ensure that they are not sick. The authorities in these states are also asking private nursing homes to match the state-imposed guidelines.
As the situation continues to develop rapidly, more states and cities are expected to come up with guidelines and restrictions for nursing home staff members to minimize the potential spread of coronavirus at the facilities. These restrictions may be increased, depending on how the situation changes in the coming days and weeks.
Nursing home restrictions due to coronavirus are being imposed in various states in order to limit the risk of exposure to infection. Some nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have put in place “No Visitor” policies for a temporary period as they implement a measured and prudent response based upon the available data. While it is important to combat any sense of coronavirus panic with available science, it is clear that extreme measures are underway across the country to contain the virus.
States are discouraging family members, particularly those who are below 18, from visiting their loved ones at nursing homes. Some nursing homes are implementing visitor restrictions case by case. For instance, in an end-of-life situation, where the interdisciplinary team determines that a family member’s visit is essential for the emotional well-being of the patient, an exception might be made.
Federal Government and Industry Groups Encourage Restrictions
The federal government and leading industry groups related to health care have recommended that family and friends should avoid visiting nursing homes, life care centers, or assisted living centers in the wake of the quickly-spreading coronavirus. The key risk is that younger people may not show early symptoms of COVID-19 infection and can pose a risk to the health of the elderly and sick who are more susceptible to this infection.
The National Center for Assisted Living and the American Health Care Association, both based in Washington DC, have highlighted the dangers of COVID-19 for the elderly. They recommend that no outsiders should be allowed into nursing homes unless it is absolutely essential. This not only includes family and friends of the elderly resident, but also government officials, contractors, and other visitors.
CANHR (California Advocates for Nursing Home Reforms) has stated that nursing homes have more to fear from visitors rather than the other way around.
Do not Move Patients
Making the wrong choices in a panicky situation can do more harm than good. The CDC is advising people against the decision to move seniors who are residents of long term health care facilities with an aim to protect them from the risk of coronavirus infection. The residents need professional care and assistance, and it would be a bad idea to move them home in the current situation, which is changing by the hour.
Similarly, patients residing in skilled nursing facilities should avoid leaving the facility for any reason whatsoever if possible. This includes patients who may be suffering from wounds developed within the facility. The best course of action is for facilities to work with physicians who specialize in wound care. Vohra recently announced that its wound care physicians are permitted to diagnose and treat patients via telemedicine, across the twenty-seven states it serves, to both improve patient outcomes and further protect seniors from infection with COVID-19. Access restrictions should not and not mean loss of access to healthcare and physician support.
A New York City based organization, John A. Hartford Foundation, which is focused on improving elderly care, has suggested that nursing home restrictions on coronavirus do not have to mean restrictions on communication. Families and friends should use phones, email, Skype, Facetime, and so on to keep in touch with their loved ones in long term care facilities and check on their health periodically.