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COVID cases, deaths fall in nursing homes in Georgia in February



Many experts point to vaccinations as a major driver of improvement. This is the opinion of the AG Rhodes old people’s homes, which at the end of December were among the first in the state to start receiving the vaccine.

“We are extremely optimistic that vaccination efforts are working,” Kato said. “You can’t deny the connection.”

Take a lookFull coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia

But other factors also help reduce infections. Among them, with the increase in the number of cases after the holidays, the state as a whole saw fewer cases. This makes workers less likely to inadvertently bring the virus into the facilities. However, the number of cases is declining faster among residents of long-term care homes than in the country as a whole. They are down about 74% among long-term care residents in Georgia, compared to about 59% for the state, according to US data.

Another factor is that since the beginning of the pandemic, the virus has grown so much in hospitals that survivors of the disease are likely to remain protected by antibodies acquired from infection, said Ben Lopman, a professor of epidemiology. at Emory University.

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The way hospitals manage the pandemic has also improved significantly, as the first major U.S. outbreak at a nursing home in Washington in February 2020 resulted in dozens of deaths, said Dr. Ted Johnson, chairman of family and preventive medicine in Washington. Emory University.

State and federal governments complement the supply of personal protective equipment. Moreover, virtual training, such as the Zoom classes that Johnson teaches in partnership with Georgia State University for staff in 1

80 state-run nursing homes, has helped facilities improve screening, infection control and treatment plans.

03/04/2021 - Jackson, Georgia - Johnny Simmons, a patient at Westbury Medical Care and Rehab, participates in an external visit with his mother and sisters to Jackson Medical Center, Thursday, March 4, 2021. The visit is outside and patients are on one side of the clear curtain while family and friends visit on the other.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

03/04/2021 – Jackson, Georgia – Johnny Simmons, a patient at Westbury Medical Care and Rehab, participates in an external visit with his mother and sisters to Jackson Medical Center, Thursday, March 4, 2021. The visit is outside and patients are on one side of the clear curtain while family and friends visit on the other. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Still, there were adult care facilities in Georgia that reported an increase in infections in February, according to state data. Some are acceptable to COVID residents from hospitals, said a spokesman for PruittHealth, one of Georgia’s largest providers of nursing homes.

Overall, however, the number of new cases appears to be linked to the time of vaccination. Data at national level show that nursing homes that received their photos for the first time looked at their cases first, Johnson said.

“We are extremely optimistic that vaccination efforts are working. You cannot deny the connection. “

Deke Cateau, CEO of AG Rhodes

Homes for the elderly are the first priority for the vaccine and the first round of home vaccinations for anyone who wants to be vaccinated is completed by 25 January. The vaccines were later released into homes to support life and personal care, with some still awaiting the first photos in February.

Over time, as more residents receive a booster and have more time to build immunity, many expect the trend to improve.

“We see that vaccinations pay off a lot, and we’re doing exactly what we hoped for,” said Ginny Helms, president and CEO of LeadingAge Georgia, a nonprofit and mission-led senior organization. “It will bring their lives back to life.”

Concerns are still looming

The sudden drop in cases in Georgia reflects the national trend of a sharp drop in cases. The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide, have just published a report showing new cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes fell 82 percent since late December.

However, challenges remain to ensure that the picture of COVID-19 continues to improve.

Lopman said a concerted effort is needed to persuade long-term care workers to take the pictures.

While approximately 80% of residents of long-term care homes in Georgia have received the COVID-19 vaccine, only about 40% of staff have been vaccinated, according to Tony Marshall, president and CEO of the Georgia Health Association and the Center for Assisted Living in Georgia.

In some facilities, the percentage of staff is even lower, he said.

Industry leaders have set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 75% of staff by June 30, Marshall said. Providers are conducting more information sessions on the vaccine and offering other benefits such as more PTO days for those vaccinated.

    Westbury Medical Care and Rehab staff, from left to right, Jennifer Vasil, Octeria Odom, Tiffany Covington and Laura Barber pose outside the Jackson facility.  Barber is the assistant director of nursing and infection prevention at the medical facility and has helped spread COVID-19 to the facility under control.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Westbury Medical Care and Rehab staff, from left to right, Jennifer Vasil, Octeria Odom, Tiffany Covington and Laura Barber pose outside the Jackson facility. Barber is assistant director of nursing and infection prevention at the medical facility and has helped spread COVID-19 to the facility under control. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Even if these efforts are successful, long-term care facilities will need to remain vigilant about how vulnerable their residents are. The populations within them are also transient. New residents move in frequently and staff turnover can be frequent.

Now that the national pharmacy vaccination clinics in long-term care facilities are being liquidated, nursing homes will either have to get staff to administer the vaccine, or find providers who can return often to vaccinate new residents, as they do now. . with influenza vaccines.

“This will be difficult to do,” said Amber Schmidke, a public health researcher and former professor at Mercer University, who follows the Georgia epidemic in her widely read blog.

Take a lookThe report reveals tests without hand soap during a deadly outbreak in a nursing home in Georgia

Another concern is that the number of new cases in Georgia as a whole has decreased since mid-February, with the seven-day moving average of new confirmed and suspected cases remaining around 3,000 per day.

Nationally, cases have started to increase in some countries and the moving average has leveled off nationally, amid warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that new, more infectious coronavirus trains are taking over.

New booster photos will probably need to be developed to correct them as the virus replicates and changes its own defenses, experts say.

“Weight lifted”

Haunted by the brutal victims of the pandemic, long-term care facilities in Georgia admit that it is too early for anyone to leave their guards. But administrators say that in light of the significant drop in cases and deaths, they will move as cautiously as possible to ease restrictions, allow some visits and more general activities, such as group exercise programs and cooking classes.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the nightmare is over, but I feel much better and very relieved,” said Kato of AG Rhodes. “But we can’t get off the pedal when it comes to vaccinations and safety measures – social distancing, wearing masks and infection control measures. We want this trend to continue, and not just for a short period. “

Gwen Hardy, chief operating officer of Presbyterian Homes in Georgia, which includes six residential communities for the elderly, including an independent apartment, said isolation was as much of a challenge for older facilities as the virus.

“As for the visit, our cognitively impaired residents do not understand why their family does not visit them and this introduces further confusion. And for those who are alert and oriented, they feel sad about them and although the staff does everything possible to fill the gaps, there is still a void when the family cannot attend … This is heartbreaking for our staff and heartbreaking. for our inhabitants during this time of isolation. “

Albert Maslaa, a resident of the William Bremen Jewish Home, is looking forward to seeing his family face to face soon.

Albert Maslaa, a resident of the William Bremen Jewish Home, is looking forward to seeing his family face to face soon. “We’re having conference calls, but it’s not the same,” he said. “I can’t feel anything.” I can’t see the lines on their faces. Let’s just say it’s not that hot. He’s about to drive me crazy. ”(Contribution)

Meanwhile, Albert Maslia, a resident of the William Bremen Jewish Home, said that for him, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine “means freedom.” The 90-year-old has not left the building since moving in last August. His wife, Isabel, lives on the same campus in an independent living community separated by a breeze. Eight long, difficult eight months have passed.

He often contacts his wife and children by phone or tablet, especially on Friday night Sabbath meals, which include a hall, traditional Jewish bread, and wine blessed before meals.

“We have conference calls, but it’s not the same. I don’t feel anything. I can’t see the lines on their faces. Let’s just say it’s not that hot. He’s about to drive me crazy. ”

But during a recent phone call, Maslia said she hopes to see her family face to face soon.

“It makes me keep going,” he said.

Harley Tabak, president and CEO of the Jewish House of Life, which includes the Jewish House of William Bremen, shares Maslia’s optimism.

“We feel like we’re on a new day,” Tabak said. “When it comes to getting the vaccine, the real weight has been lifted and we haven’t felt that way in over a year.”

The current number of active cases of COVID-19 at the William Bremen Jewish Home: zero.




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