The Coronavirus has to lead to a surge of patients requiring post-acute care. The increase in cases has overwhelmed acute care hospitals reducing the bed supply for patients. As cases in facilities escalate we must learn from the experiences of those presently coping by successfully implementing stringent strategies in containing COVID-19.
Setting Standard Precautions for Containing Viruses
More than three-quarters of all outpatient operations in the United States are performed in settings outside of the hospital. Therefore, a guideline to responsible prevention should be a core practice for all skilled nursing facilities. Regardless of the healthcare setting or level provided, infection prevention must remain a priority and communities must observe standard precautions.
One tool available to all healthcare providers is the Infection Control Assessment and Response (ICAR) tool developed by the CDC. This document is detailed to educate long-term and skilled nursing homes to assess and improve preparedness response to COVID-19 cases. Addressing these gaps in internal procedure leads to supportive strategies and better overall patient care.
Requirements to Minimize Risk
Firstly, post acute residents are at high risk of being affected by respiratory pathogens like COVID-19 and other multidrug-resistant organisms. Therefore, aggressive infection prevention and control (IPC) plans are critical to protecting patients and staff.
Facilities preparing for COVID-19 should assign individuals with training in IPC to provide management on-site for virus prevention. Individuals responsible are tasked with developing policies and procedures that monitor infection surveillance and provide competency-based training. Here, regular auditing should be conducted and adherence to IPC practices will help limit the risk of exposure.
Mandating Adequate Supplies
As a healthcare facility, sustaining proper levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), or ventilators if necessary, is a priority and concern. Each healthcare facility must work with community partners to acquire N95 masks, gloves, and face shields to protect physicians, assistants, and patients for containing viruses.
Extensive daily use of PPE in a healthcare setting has increased in order to properly care for residents while preventing the spread of any infectious diseases. Finding creative solutions to modify existing space to house PPE and expand capacity is important to prepare and contain any outbreaks. In short, effective communication of supply levels from healthcare staff is essential to maintain adequate supplies.
Developing a Response Plan
Medical care facilities that conduct regular drills and exercises to prepare for emergency situations are ahead of the game. After all, if an adverse situation of COVID-19 exposure does arise, teams that have protocols to follow will be prepared in containing it in advance to limit risk. Taking aggressive actions to exercise regulatory procedures and identifying infections early to contain the spread of any virus empowers staff to provide exceptional care. Post-acute care communities that test these procedures in real-time focus on increased patient and facility health and safety. Healthcare assistants that are prepared for these situations increase their responsive rates driving down and containing threats to patient care.
Managing and Containing Illness
Proper education and training for physicians and healthcare staff are required to help stop the spread of any infectious disease in a community. Identifying and managing severe illness in residents early on will help limit exposure of COVID-19 in a healthcare setting. Core practices to put into place are reporting COVID-19 cases immediately. With this in mind, educate residents, personnel, and visitors about COVID-19 of the current precautions being taken by the facility.
Further, reinforce sick leave policies for healthcare personnel and remind them not to report to work when ill. Adherence to standard health and safety measures including hand hygiene, the use of PPE, and actions to take to limit any spread should be regularly posted.
Guidance for Post Acute Care
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance for nursing home reopenings for state and local officials. Namely, this guide outlines criteria to determine when restrictions to visitation and group activities could be relaxed. Presently, post acute care settings should take note and review the same recommendations.
As a premier post acute care center in Santa Ana, we have a strong commitment to our work and a dedicated spirit of caring within our skilled nursing care community. Additionally, we’re the recovery center of choice for patients, providers, and caregivers. In a time where health concerns are at an all-time high, our knowledge of medicine and tools can make a difference.
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