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Nursing Homes Hit Hard by COVID-19 Pandemic - Are You Worried About Residents’ Safety?
by Causes
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  • Ingrid
    Voted Yes

    I am a nurse, and work in a Skilled Rehab/Long Term Care facility in Maine. Our facility is one of the newest in Maine, and we have a different design from many older long term care facilities (LTC, aka nursing homes): our semiprivate rooms are all slightly smaller than private rooms but only have one resident per room; they open into a small entry area with an adjoining bathroom that is shared between them. Our private rooms individually have bathrooms directly accessible in the room. All have doors both on the rooms themselves and the bathrooms. This automatically somewhat puts residents into non-shared spaces. I mention this at the start, because it has bearing on preventing spread of illness. We also have a separate but connected Assisted Living facility, with similar construction. Older facilities often had two bed shared rooms and occasionally even larger three person shared rooms, which would make containment of infection spread more difficult for COVID-19. Maine has been fortunate, in that we are a large, mostly rural state, so our cases overall are relatively low. As of 30 May, we have had 2282 cases and 89 deaths total. I don’t know the number of deaths in nursing homes in Maine, but Maine CDC states (as of May 12) that “more than half” have been; haven’t found % of either deaths or total cases, but I do know that the initial cases were in LTC facilities in southern Maine, and the majority of our population is in the that part of the state. Our facility has followed all the CDC recommendation from mid-March, except for testing all residents and staff. Any resident with any symptoms has been tested (like fever), and any skilled resident sent to us from hospital must have s negative test to be accepted by us - there aren’t many of those, because no elective surgeries are being done. Hancock county, where we are located, has had 11 cases total and 1 death, so we are relatively low risk, but we still have a “no visitor” policy (except for end-of-life residents, and then those visitors are screened on entry for symptoms/fever, required to wear masks, and to go only to their resident’s room & straight back out when they leave.). Everyone from maintenance to the Administrator is screened on entry, each time, and has to do hand hygiene and wear mask and face shield when at work. We have designated a group of private rooms at the far end of the skilled section to use as “isolation” should any of our residents become infected, or if it became necessary to take a recovering patient from a hospital, but so far that hasn’t been necessary. If this does become necessary, in addition to full PPE including gowns, etc, we will have staff designated to only cover those rooms, to further isolate them. So: am I concerned about safety in nursing homes? Absolutely!! Not only are older people more susceptible because of waning immune function with age, but also many (if not most) have “pre-existing conditions” that put them at further risk. But with meticulous attention to infection control, residents can certainly be protected, and so can staff, at least at work. Proactive precautions? YES. Paranoia? NO.

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