Nursing homes – including the Kirkland, Washington facility that’s been linked to 35 deaths – are vulnerable to the spread of the Covid-19 virus because staff members work while displaying symptoms, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inadequate equipment and poor infection control play a role as well, as did failing to recognize an infection and change of condition, according to the agency’s “morbidity and mortality” report. The findings may shed light on how long-term care facilities should respond to infections that pose a threat to their residents.
In addition to symptomatic workers, the agency cited four other factors that “likely contributed to the vulnerability of these facilities”:
* staff members who worked in more than one facility;
* inadequate training and adherence to standard, droplet, and contact precautions and eye protection recommendations;
* challenges to implementing infection-control practices including inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment and items such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
* delayed recognition of cases because of low index of suspicion, limited testing availability, and difficulty identifying persons with Covid-19 based on signs and symptoms alone.
Long-term care advocates and infectious disease experts state that federal regulators and state inspectors have failed to hold nursing homes to safe standards of infection control – and often failed to exact meaningful penalties for violations.