Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Nursing Home
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Yesterday, at the direction of President Trump, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued recommendations to state and local governments, as well as nursing homes, to help mitigate the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in nursing homes.

The recommendations announced today include:

  • Nursing homes should immediately ensure that they are complying with all CMS and CDC guidance related to infection control.
  • As nursing homes are a critical part of the healthcare system, and because of the ease of spread in long term care facilities and the severity of illness that occurs in residents with COVID-19, CMS/CDC urges State and local leaders to consider the needs of long term care facilities with respect to supplies of PPE and COVID-19 tests.
  • Nursing homes should immediately implement symptom screening for all staff, residents, and visitors – including temperature checks.
  • Nursing homes should ensure all staff are using appropriate PPE when they are interacting with patients and residents, to the extent PPE is available and per CDC guidance on conservation of PPE.
  • To avoid transmission within nursing homes, facilities should use separate staffing teams for residents to the best of their ability, and, as President Trump announced at the White House today, the administration urges nursing homes to work with State and local leaders to designate separate facilities or units within a facility to separate COVID-19 negative residents from COVID-19 positive residents and individuals with unknown COVID-19 status.

Use of respiratory PPE in the skilled nursing facility

There are three types of respiratory PPE masks:  

TypeUse Example
Cloth face maskEncouraged for use by the general public or for healthcare professionals (HCP) not working directly with COVID-19 positive patients    
Surgical masksRecommended to be used by HCP working with non-COVID-19 positive patients. It may also be used by HCP working with COVID-19 positive patients where contact with secretions is limited.    
N-95 or similar (fit tested) respiratorsUsed by HCP working with COVID-19 positive patients where contact with secretions is likely.     

In most cases, surgical masks are adequate protection for our therapy staff, but occasionally an N-95 or similar mask may be used. In the majority of ONR’s buildings, PPE is supplied by our customers. ONR is committed to ensuring that our employees have the necessary PPE. 

In the event your facility or community doesn’t have adequate PPE, please let your EDO know immediately.