There is no question of what the massive impact COVID-19 has had on the most vulnerable populations. In early 2020, Seattle became the epicenter of the coronavirus as several cases emerged at a skilled nursing facility (SNF) where both residents and staff fell ill. The unforeseen and severe effects of the virus shed light on the limited clinical support the facility had in the event of a major crisis and the need for improved communications and collaboration among healthcare organizations locally and nationally. So how has the healthcare industry responded to ensure they have the right protocols and safeguards in place?
A Phased Approach to Long-Term and Post-Acute Care
In response to what was happening in Seattle, a three-phased approach was developed by The University of Washington Medicine’s Post-Acute Care Network and implemented within the SNF network. Their approach was to address the following:
- Help SNFs slow the spread of the disease
- Support local area SNFs from becoming overwhelmed when inundated with COVID-19 cases or persons under investigation
- Help decrease the burden on area hospitals, clinics, and emergency medical services
The phases outlined below were implemented at various times as COVID-19 impacted each facility at different times.
- Initial Phase
This phase was designed to (1) optimize communication, (2) review infection control practices, and (3) create a centralized process to track and test the target population.
- Delayed Phase
The goals of the Delayed Phase were to slow the spread of the disease once it was present in the SNF by providing consistent education and reinforcing infection prevention and control practices to all staff.
- Surge Phase
This phase aimed to prepare facilities in response to an outbreak by deploying a “Drop Team” within 24 hours to the facility to expeditiously test patients and exposed employees, triage symptomatic patients, and coordinate care and supplies with local public health authorities.
Addressing the needs of SNFs was a critical measure that had to be taken and now, the COVID-19 Three-Phase Response Plan provides a standardized approach that other healthcare systems can adopt. With the focus on the senior population at the early stages of coronavirus, additional measures were taken by other healthcare service organizations to expand on a phased approach for patients requiring post-acute care as a result of the COVID-19 surge across the country.
A vaccine was anticipated and recommendations on the distribution and administration of vaccinations were to be managed by post-acute care providers. Additional strategies were developed to deliver non-COVID-19 related medical care and to transition to the post-COVID-19 landscape. It was determined that health advisory entities needed to be created to review the post-acute sector’s response, identify opportunities to improve performance and develop a pandemic response plan for post-acute care providers.
Support & Guidance for Immunizations and COVID-19 Vaccine
While healthcare service providers have developed and implemented COVID-19 protocols and safety measures, it has been equally important for them to modify how they operate so they can continue to provide essential services to patients. Making sure that preventative health measures are available for individuals and communities is important to protect them against diseases and outbreaks, such as the common flu.
It takes a very large number of healthcare professionals to support the COVID-19 vaccination efforts nationwide. It is important these healthcare professionals receive the training needed to effectively meet the demands of their roles. Training must be on-going as new COVID-19 vaccines become available and as vaccine recommendations evolve as we learn more about the vaccines and how to improve the vaccination process.
The CDC provides support for vaccination providers who participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. However, there are strict requirements and recommendations that provide guidance to ensure the well-being and safety of their communities.
Healthcare workers play a critical role in the proper storage, handling, preparation, and administration of the vaccine and they must be prepared to respond to recipients’ questions and concerns.
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South Coast Post Acute ensures the highest standard of care to each patient as we provide exceptional quality service by highly trained medical professionals. That’s why we have taken the necessary measures to implement four vaccination clinics with nearly ninety percent of our staff vaccinated and approximately ninety-five percent of our patients as well. Contact us today and learn why we’re the recovery center of choice in Southern California.