Home Nurse Facilities Skilled nursing facilities keep residents safe

Skilled nursing facilities keep residents safe


MIDDLETOWN – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of many people, causing fear, loss and anxiety. Yet amid its impact, a ray of hope has shone through healthcare heroes everywhere, whose tireless efforts have helped keep us safe.

Although severely impacted by this pandemic, the nursing home industry and our healthcare heroes remain ever vigilant, employing a number of safety measures to ensure the well-being of those in our care.

Below are some of the steps our industry has taken to keep you or your loved ones safe in skilled nursing facilities:

• Skilled nursing facilities have adopted thorough infection control and hygiene procedures such as hand washing, cough etiquette, proper wearing of personal protective equipment, environmental cleaning and disinfection and reprocessing of medical equipment.

• Many skilled nursing facilities, including Water’s Edge Center for Health & Rehabilitation, have adopted technological solutions to communicate with resident families and responsible parties, including virtual visits about the health status of their loved one using apps like Facetime and web conferencing tools.

• In May, all nursing homes in Connecticut performed point prevalence testing on all of their residents. The tests involved taking a swab from every patient in the nursing home at that particular time. Once the results came back, this helped identify non-symptomatic positive residents and place them in the appropriate area of ​​the facility. Once we were able to identify infected people in the facility and use proper placement and precautions, it became much more possible to get rid of the virus.

• In May, the Public Health Department announced the obligation for all nursing homes to set up an observation unit for new admissions. All new patients admitted to an SNF are placed in a private room with appropriate precautions and treated as suspected COVID-19 for 14 days, even if they never had symptoms or tested positive. After the 14 days, the patient found to be COVID-19 negative may be transferred to another unit if staying in the facility long-term or move to a unit reserved for virus-negative patients.

• SNFs continue to designate COVID positive units, COVID negative units and “unknown” or observation units to prevent the spread of the virus. Each unit requires staff to follow specific PPE guidelines, including the type of face masks, face shields and gowns used.

• Weekly staff testing was launched in June by DPH, which assigned multiple lab partners for weekly staff testing of all nursing home and assisted living residence employees. This weekly testing continues until there are no more resident cases at the facility and no employee tests positive for two consecutive weeks. If a positive case is newly confirmed, weekly testing restarts.

• Technology has helped facilitate medical visits to patients, but just as important — family visits. As an industry, we’ve used iPads, cell phones, and apps to connect families with loved ones. There are exceptions for certain situations for in-person visits such as end-of-life care.

• In May, DPH provided advice regarding visits. COVID-negative patients may have socially distanced window visits or outdoor visits with family members. COVID-positive patients and patients suspected of having the virus will continue virtual visits with their families until they have fully recovered from the virus. Patients under their 14-day observation may make window visits if their room location allows for appropriate access.

• All patients and residents continue to be screened and monitored for symptoms of COVID-19. Any change in status is documented and reported to the appropriate governing body.

• Staff continue to receive services and training on infection control, latest DPHs, and guidance and monitoring of the situation by CDC.

You or a family member may need the level of care offered by a qualified nursing facility that cannot be provided at home. We hope this reassures you about what we are doing to protect you or your loved one as much as possible. Our goal is always to provide the best care and service to all of our residents, patients and families.

If you have questions specific to some of the Public Health Department’s guidance, visit portal.ct.gov. Those with questions about what national health facilities, such as Water’s Edge, are doing regarding COVID-19, check watersedgerehab.com or call 860-335-7526.