How Local Nursing Homes Are Protecting Residents, Staff During COVID-19 Pandemic

by Ashley Lopez

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we know that one of the most vulnerable places is a nursing home and/or long-term health facility. We’ve learned that COVID-19 affects the elderly and those with underlying health issues much more severely than it affects a young, healthy person.

So, how are nursing homes trying to prevent COVID-19?

How are they planning to contain it if it gets into their facility?

We reached out to local nursing homes and long-term health facilities to learn what sort of protocols and strategies they have in place to help combat a potential COVID-19 outbreak, both for their residents, as well as their staff.

Mandy, the administrator from Twin City Healthcare in Gas city said,

Upon notification of the potential of COVID-19 to affect our residents, we immediately initiated additional precautions to heighten awareness of how the virus is spread and of how to preventthat spread, as possible. Our facility has a plan as to how to respond should a resident test positive at some point in the future. We carefully assess any resident desiring to be admitted or re-admitted to our facility from the hospital or a home setting, in an effort to safeguard all residents currently residing at our facility from exposure. We, as are all facilities,  utilizing our PPE in a responsible manner to prevent cross contamination and to maintain a sufficient supply due to the uncertainty of the length of the pandemic.

We also reached out to Wesleyan Health and Rehab and spoke with Administrator Rich Orrell to get an understanding of their protocols.

Here is our interview with Orrell in its entirety:

What protocols have been implemented to help prevent COVID-19 into your facility. 

We took measures immediately, once we were aware and we are following all county, state, and Federal directives. We’re in touch on a daily basis and we even have Incident Command teams.

If/when a patient or employee tests positive for COVID-19, how does the protocol change at that point in time. 

Right now, we don’t have any positive cases, but we are being extra cautious during this time. We have a separate wing called the COVID-19 isolation wing if anyone were to test positive.

Do you have a specific wing/area for positive cases to be isolated at? 

Yes. The COVID-19 isolation wing has it’s own air ventilation system and holds up to 16 rooms. Also, all residents within the facility are self isolated as well during this time to help make sure they are protected if they have to leave their room.

Do you have a certain medical team to work solely with those patients who may test positive? If so, what would their shift be? (And would they stay at the facility as well? Or go home after their shift?) 

We have an Incident strike force team, which is group of clinicians, nurses, and doctors ready to go. They would shower after a 12-hour shift. Completely sanitize.

Are you accepting new patients from home and/or the hospital at this time? If so, what are the intake protocols? 

Any new addition from the hospital is put in isolation for 5 days before moving them into the populated area within facility. We are not currently accepting new additions from home at this time.

Are you adequately supplied with PPE?

Yes. We utilized PPE prior to this pandemic and we do have an adequate supply.

Is there anything else you would like to add at this time? 

We screen all employees when entering and exiting the facility. We have also limited all vendors coming into the building. The ambulance still takes patients for essential appointments, such as dialysis. However, we are not allowing elective surgery at this time.

In a time when we hear of the COVID-19 catastrophes taking place in nursing homes and long-term health facilities across the country, it’s comforting to know our local organizations are doing their best to protect our high-risk loved ones and the dedicated professionals who treat them every day.

We at Channel 27 News are grateful for their hard work, and we say thank you to the nurses, doctors, aids, kitchen staff, and janitorial workers who put their lives on the line every day to keep our most vulnerable populations both safe and healthy.

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