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COVID-19 Prevention and Control Guidance for Long-term Care Facilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are consistently enforcing new regulations and guidelines to State and local governments as well as long-term care facilities (or nursing homes) to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Healthcare systems should consider tying up with bulk Personal Protective Equipment suppliers to ensure an adequate supply of PPE and other medical supplies to prevent the spread of the infection. Long-term care facilities are a vital component of America’s healthcare system. They are important because they serve as healthcare providers and as full-time nursing homes for some of the most susceptible Americans, especially seniors. Recently, the CDC and CMS, following President Trump’s direction, have worked together to quickly issue recommendations to the long-term care facilities including a general restriction on visitors implemented on March 13, 2020, as well as strict COVID-19 infection control and screening recommendations.

To provide proper guidance for the Nation’s long-term care facilities for the further spread of the coronavirus, here are some of the preventive measures that are needed to be adopted immediately to protect patients and residents against the infection.

1. Nursing homes should make sure that they are familiar and comply with all CMS and CDC guidance associated with infection control.

  • Long-term facilities should perform appropriate hand hygiene as recommended by the CDC.
  • CMS also has issues infection control guidance including a self-assessment checklist that every long-term facility should use to ensure compliance with these essential infection control measures.
  • Nursing homes should consider referring to CDC’s guidance to long-term care facilities on COVID-19 and implementing guidance on conserving personal protective equipment (PPE). The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has made intense pressure on personal protective equipment suppliers in USA and worldwide to produce PPE kits on a large-scale to meet the rapidly growing demand for PPE at healthcare systems. Therefore, long-term care facilities should provide training to nursing staff on the proper use of PPE for reuse and extended use.

2. Given that how easily COVID-19 spreads from direct contact with infected persons or materials, the CMS urges State and local governments to ensure adequate supplies of PPE and extensive COVID-19 tests at long-term care facilities as these are a critical part of the healthcare system.

  • State and local health departments should work together to address the needs of long-term care facilities in terms of PPE supplies and/or COVID-19 tests.
  • Medicare system is now able to cover COVID-19 testing with the support of eligible beneficiaries by certified laboratories. These laboratories can enter care facilities to perform COVID-19 testing.

3. Long-term care facilities must perform COVID-19 symptom screening for all.

  • In compliance with the CMS guidance, every individual, whether a visitor or long-term care professional, should be checked for COVID-19 symptoms, and body temperature. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals who are responsible for addressing urgent medical needs can be exempted from this screening process as they are typically screened separately.
  • Long-term care facilities should limit access points and make sure that all accessible entrances are guarded by a screening station.
  • Also, every resident should be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms and have their body temperature checked daily.
  • Besides, patients and residents who enter facilities should be thoroughly screened for COVID-19 symptoms through testing if available.

4. Long-term care professionals should make use of appropriate PPE when interacting with patients and residents.

As healthcare professionals are working during the pandemic, it’s essential to keep in mind that they are posed to greater risks. Although older people are more vulnerable, young professionals are not immune. According to reports, people who are 20-29 years of age are three times more likely to be infected and die from contracting the virus than seasonal influenza. Below are some of the protective clothing and personal protective accessories that long-term healthcare professionals should wear:

  • Isolation Gowns – This type of medical protective clothing protects healthcare workers against fluid splatter and is one of the most recommended kinds of PPE worn when interacting in close proximity to infected patients. However, before buying isolation gowns, one must consult a professional PPE manufacturing company to buy appropriate and medical-grade PPE.
  • Disposable Scrubs – These are ranked among industry-standard protective clothing and should be used when making wellness checks, administering medication, and other close-quarters interactions with long-term care facility residents.
  • Disposable Gloves – The CDC strongly urges healthcare professionals to wear non-sterile disposable gloves whenever they enter a facility or private residence. Disposable gloves should be completely discarded immediately after use.
  • Disposable Coveralls – Coveralls provide the most comprehensive protection against COVID-19 when used with disposable gloves and masks. Facilities should partner with local bulk PPE suppliers in USA to have a constant supply of PPE accessories for medical personnel, housekeeping, food preparation, and other service providers.
  • N95 Respirators and Masks – The CDC strongly advises healthcare professionals to wear N95 respirators and surgical face masks to be worn at any place of known or suspected COVID-19 infection. Covering the nose and mouth completely is essential to prevent the spread of the pathogen in long-term settings.

5. Limiting the number of visitors at long-term facilities.

Long-term care facilities are advised to limit the number of visitors at a given time.

They should consider implementing the following visitor protocol to control the spread of COVID-19.

  • Visitors should make advanced bookings to meet the patient.
  • The meeting will take place in dedicated “visiting areas” which will be organized by each residence.
  • No visits should be allowed if there’s an active COVID-19 outbreak at the residence.
  • Visits should not be allowed if the visitor or resident is sick or have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Visitors should be screened thoroughly for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before every visit.
  • All visitors must wear face masks.
  • Visitors should perform hand hygiene before and after the visit.
  • Visitors should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.

Long-term care facilities should allow only essential visits.

Health Authority and Facility staff should permit only essential visits by determining at facilities. A few examples of an essential visit include, but are not limited to:

  • Visits that are crucial for the patient/client’s physical care and mental well-being should include:
  • Assistance with personal care or feeding mobility;
  • Assistance by designated representatives for disabled people;
  • Communication assistance
  • Essential visits for supported decision-making
  • Police, correctional and peace officers escorting a patient/client for security purposes.

Healthcare authorities and facility operators shall permit essential visits limited to one visitor per patient/client within the facility at a given time, except in the case of palliative or end-of-life care. A child visitor may be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or family member.

6.Purchasing PPE from a trusted and authorized PPE manufacturing company

Long-term care facilities should also make sure that they purchase PPE accessories from authorized personal protective equipment suppliers. To make sure all the medical devices including PPE are safe and effective, the FDA has set Quality Systems Regulations and Good Manufacturing Practices. Every PPE manufacturing company should use these regulations and practices to maintain the quality of products and guide performance testing to make sure they meet consensus standards. For PPE, these standards may include leak protection, fluid resistance, filtering capacity, and resistance to tears and snags. PPE manufacturing companies complying with these regulations and practices ensure that products are safe and effective.

Also, USA-based healthcare facilities and other facilities should consider tying up with local and authorized bulk PPE suppliers in USA to ensure a continuous supply of necessary PPE accessories in times of crisis.

Conclusion

Curbing the spread of COVID-19 and remaining safe during the global pandemic requires long-term healthcare staff to employ strategies and heightened vigilance to protective clothing, sanitization, disinfection, and availability of PPE accessories.

To suppress the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers and bulk PPE suppliers in USA such as Co-Defend are producing and supplying personal protective equipment at an accelerated rate. Co-Defend is a leading PPE manufacturing company in America that directly connects people with the most trusted personal protective equipment suppliers in Asia supporting healthcare systems and people in the fight against COVID-19. For purchasing bulk quantities of PPE accessories, just get in touch with our PPE experts.

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