The COVID-19 pandemic has run some nursing homes, particularly hard—including in the hotspot state of Michigan. Hundreds of deaths of citizens in homes from Seattle to Boston have increased their attention to how well facilities are defending the 1.3 million older Americans who live in them. Those companies have proposed new federal and state claims about testing and clarity.
New data recommend that nursing homes that returned to a survey at least in Michigan were far better equipped for this pandemic than they were for the last one.
The research covers 130 nursing homes’ acknowledgments to a survey conducted during the week that the state announced its first documented evidence of COVID-19, which shows that nearly all had a pandemic plan in place. That is associated with just over half of the 280 nursing homes that said the same survey in 2007. Almost all stated they now have at least one staff member in charge of pandemic preparation.
Nursing Homes Epidemic Preventions
The conclusions are published in the American Geriatrics Society by a team from the University of Michigan that has investigated and worked to increase nursing home epidemic prevention for years.
Members of the team have any other recent news with a direct or implied connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes putting forth support for nursing homes and other housing means for older adults to use in planning how they will react to epidemics such as COVID-19.
“Our healing homes house some of the most helpless in our community,” stated Lona Mody, MD, MSc, a geriatrician at Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center, and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, who is the senior author of both of the data.
The Survey Data
“This virus, sadly, is very harmful. The illness it causes has incredibly poor results in older adults with comorbidities, and healing homes are communal settings with shared spaces and resource constraints. This creates a perfect storm of sorts. Being a novel, we learn as we go and have to learn fast.”
The latest survey data show Michigan’s nursing homes have done a lot to make for pandemics since the last time the U-M team completed the survey. That earlier survey was taken before the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009. However, after the H5N1 outbreak of 2005, the national awareness of pandemic preparedness increased, and Dr. Mody and colleagues published pandemic preparation administration for nursing homes.
In mid-March, 85% of nursing homes announced they had stockpiled stocks before COVID-19 hit, associated with 57% after the H5N1 pandemic. Most of those that had stockpiled stores had concentrated on surgical masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
Personal Protective Gear
Less than half had stockpiled N95 respirator masks supported by national and global health professionals for healthcare workers making certain types of care on a COVID-19 sufferer.
Furthermore, 42% of the nursing homes that said a question about COVID-19-specific companies said they were concerned about running short of personal protective gear (PPE).
“Although the size and hardness of COVID-19 fit in some nursing homes have taken everyone by astonishment, just as so much about this pandemic has, in common, nursing homes knew precisely what their calls were going to be in a pandemic—PPE shortages, staff shortages, and worries that they could not care for COVID sufferers after their clinic stay.”
Approximately all now announced they had reduced staff on how their facility would respond in a pandemic, up from 42% in 2007. Although only one-third had conducted a pandemic drill. And Dr. Mody recorded that nursing homes have a much higher rate of staff turnover than hospitals, which means that training on disease arrest and the pandemic response has to be offered whenever a new person joins the system.
Michigan’s nursing homes appear to have gotten better than the broader healthcare system in the past decade, with significantly more stating that they now have communication lines established with local hospitals and public health authorities.
They also announced they were drawing COVID-19 leadership not just from the CDC, but also from state and local health authorities. Half also accepted advice from their home’s corporate parent. Half of the nursing homes surveyed this year said they expected significant staff deficiencies due to COVID-19; most of them stated they had a plan to deal with that. Most designed to ask existing clinical staff to work more hours and to redeploy nonclinical staff. Two-thirds assumed they would need to challenge the team to work overtime.