While the head of public health in Pennsylvania warns of a second wave of the spread of the covid-19 community, nursing homes are preparing for a potential correlative wave of outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes.
Operators and staff of nursing homes are also seeking protection, testing assistance and other assistance to ensure that subsequent outbreaks of long-term living facilities are not as deadly and unusual as in spring and early summer.
About a quarter of Pennsylvania̵
Last week, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties registered the largest number of new cases of covid-19 since July. Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said nationwide data signaled a “resurgence of the fall” and experts could not predict when they would peak.
“We are definitely looking after our long-term care and our nursing homes,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, Allegheni County Health Director. “As we have seen in the past, the cases in old people’s homes usually lag behind the cases we see in the communities. So if we see an increase in cases in the community, a few weeks later, we will see an increase in cases of nursing homes. ”
“No guarantees” in interfering with covid
With about 66 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants, the death rate in nursing homes in Pennsylvania ranks eighth in the country.
That’s a lower rate than Massachusetts, New Jersey and Mississippi, but higher than in Texas, Arizona and Alabama, according to data released by the Medicare & Medicaid Service Centers.
Facilities that stopped widespread outbreaks in the spring remain vulnerable to the virus, as seen by several developing outbreaks in western Pennsylvania.
Among them is the Westmoreland mansion, where more than a third of residents – at least 117 – tested positive for covid-19, and three residents have died since late September. Thirty-four employees became infected. In late September, officials called on the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist the facility, run by Westmoreland County, with ongoing tests of residents and staff. The members of the guard, after a two-week stay, left the mansion last weekend.
After months of reporting zero cases, an outbreak at the Kane County community center in Scott, Allegheny County, has climbed to 150 residents and staff and 13 deaths. Kane Center director Denis Biondo said 71 actively infected people had been isolated or quarantined since Friday. None of the other three centers in Kane County have active residents, as Glen Hazel’s site overcame an outbreak that killed 16 people by mid-May.
In places where most residents have contracted and recovered from covid-19, risks remain for staff and new recipients, and asymptomatic carriers working in nursing homes may pose a risk to their families and other people outside the workplace. their places.
The SeniorCare Presbyterian Network – which operates facilities in 10 counties, including long-term care facilities in Oakmont and Washington – reported 33 covid-19 cases out of nearly 600 residents, according to government figures. Lisa Fischetti, senior director of communications at the network, said nursing home operators were “cautiously optimistic” about navigation in the next round of the disease.
“We know there are no guarantees,” she said. “Despite all the precautions you can take, it’s a highly contagious virus.”
In the United States, more than 28,000 residents of nursing homes 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 report said. prepared by AARP with the Scripps Center at Miami University in Ohio.
Bill Sweeney, AARP’s senior vice president for government, called the findings of permanent staff and supply shortages “deeply disappointing.”
“This is a national crisis and no country is doing a good job,” Sweeney said. “Although the pandemic was unexpected for all of us, the main control of the infection had to be carried out in old people’s homes for a long time.
“These are places where people are vulnerable to infection, whether apparent or something else, so that these facilities still do not have basic PPE, even now, with a deadly virus in the air, is scandalous and unacceptable.”
A group helps the facilities to obtain PPE
Bogen said the creation of a state working group tasked with monitoring nursing homes has helped make the facilities better prepared than in the spring.
Among the state-funded efforts is the Regional Health Cooperation Program. The state has allocated $ 175 million to several long-term care support groups in different parts of the state by procuring supplies, evaluating infection control programs and offering personal and virtual counseling, and a 24-hour hotline for nursing home operators, seeking guidance.
In southwestern and parts of northwestern Pennsylvania, work is done by UPMC Community Provider Services, which submits the application to the group on behalf of UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, the Jewish Health Foundation, and the Western Pennsylvania Health Council. The group received $ 38.9 million from the state.
Program member Emily Xhafe, geriatrician and medical director of the Allegheny Health Network for post-acute care and HM Home and Community Services, described the regional team as “the best healthcare collaboration I’ve seen in my career.”
The members of the regional group started working together on education and promotion in early April. He distributed the first sets of protective equipment and other consumables in early August.
Coronavirus Local | Regional Top stories