More than 40% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. To prevent further deaths, the American Medical Directors Association has published recommendations to decrease the spread of the pandemic virus among nursing home residents and staff which were recently published online in Journal of American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA). The recommendations include testing, contact tracing, creating COVID only units with assigned staff, and standard infection controls that should have been done all along.
Recommended protocols for facility staff include COVID-19 testing on a serial basis — three tests one-week apart — to enable identification of newly infected staff. Also recommended is to have staff assigned to specific units to permit easier contact tracing in the event of COVID cases, and to have staff who are assigned to COVID-19 units not work elsewhere in the facility.
“The time has come to consolidate our learnings as a field in terms of caring for at-risky elderly and implement uniform, best practices, especially as we prepare for a potential second wave of infections in the coming months, as well as for future pandemics,” adds Lester, who along with her co-authors serves as a skilled nursing facility (SNF) certified medical director.
Surprisingly, AMDA did not include safe and sufficient staffing as one of the recommendations.