As Pennsylvania’s public health chief warns of another wave of proliferation of covid-19 communities, nursing homes are caring for a possible correlative wave of disease outbreaks and deaths.
Nursing home operators and staff are looking for more protective equipment, testing assistance and other assistance to ensure that the next outbreaks in long-term care facilities are not as deadly and violent as they were in the spring and early summer.
About a quarter of Pennsylvania̵
Last week, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties logged their highest number of new covid-19 cases since July. Pennsylvania’s health secretary, dr. Rachel Levine, said data across the state is signaling a “fall resurgence,” and experts cannot predict when they will peak.
“We are definitely keeping an eye on our long-term care facilities and our nursing homes,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, Health Director of Allegheny County. “As we have seen before, the cases in nursing homes tend to follow the cases we see in society. So if we see an increase in community affairs, a few weeks later, we will see an increase in the case of nursing homes. ”
‘No guarantees’ to counter covid
With about 66 deaths per. With 1,000 residents, Pennsylvania’s nursing home death rate ranks eighth in the country.
It’s a lower rate than in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Mississippi, but it’s higher than in Texas, Arizona and Alabama, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Facilities that hosted widespread outbreaks in the spring remain vulnerable to the virus, as evidenced by several development outbreaks in western Pennsylvania.
Among them is one at Westmoreland Manor, where more than a third of residents – at least 117 – have tested positive for covid-19, and three residents have died since late September. Thirty-four employees were infected. Officials called the Pennsylvania National Guard in late September to assist Westmoreland County-run facilities with ongoing testing of residents and staff. Guard members left the mansion after a two-week stay last weekend.
After months of reporting zero cases, an outbreak at Allegheny County’s Kane Community Living Center in Scott has risen to 150 cases among residents and staff and 13 deaths from residents. Kane Center director Dennis Biondo said the 71 actively infected people as of Friday have been isolated or quarantined. None of the county’s other three Kane centers have any active cases as the Glen Hazel site overcame an eruption that killed 16 residents in mid-May.
In places where most residents have been contracted and recovered from covid-19, there remains a risk of staffing and new admissions, and asymptomatic carriers working in nursing homes may pose a risk to their families and other people outside their workplace. .
The Presbyterian SeniorCare Network – which operates facilities in 10 counties, including long-term care facilities in Oakmont and Washington – has reported 33 cases covid-19 out of nearly 600 residents, according to state data. Lisa Fischetti, network director for communications, said nursing home operators are “cautiously optimistic” about navigating the next round of disease spread.
“We know there are no guarantees,” she said. “Despite all the precautions you can take, it is a highly contagious virus.”
Across the United States, more than 28,000 nursing home residents tested positive for covid-19, and 5,200 died between late August and September, “showing that the virus is still raging in nursing homes,” the AARP report with the Scripps Center at the University of Miami said. in Ohio.
Bill Sweeney, AARP’s senior vice president of government affairs, called the results related to persistent staffing and lack of supply “deeply disappointing.”
“This is a nationwide crisis and no state is doing a good job,” Sweeney said. “While the pandemic has been unexpected for all of us, basic infection control should have been going on in nursing homes for a long time.
“These are places where people are vulnerable to infection, whether covid or something else, so for these facilities it is still outrageous and unacceptable that these facilities still do not have basic PPE, even now with a deadly virus in the air. . ”
Group helps facilities get PPE
The book said the creation of a state task force overseeing nursing homes has helped facilities become better prepared than they were in the spring.
Among the ongoing state-funded efforts is the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program. The state distributed $ 175 million to several groups to help long-term care facilities in various parts of the state by providing supplies, assessing infection control programs, and offering personal and virtual consultations and a 24/7 hotline for nursing home caregivers seeking guidance.
In southwestern and parts of northwestern Pennsylvania, the work is carried out by UPMC Community Provider Services, which submitted the group’s application on behalf of UPMC, the Allegheny Health Network, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and the Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania. The group received $ 38.9 million from the state.
Program member Emily Jaffe, a geriatrician and Allegheny Health Network’s medical director for post-acute care and HM Home and Community Services, described the regional team as “the best collaboration in health care I have seen in my career.”
Members of the regional group began working together on education and outreach in early April. It distributed the first sets of protective equipment and other supplies in early August.
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