LOGAN – Procedural changes to cope with the threat of the Coronavirus outbreak are already in place at nursing homes, home health-care services and hospices in Cache Valley.
The biggest of those changes at local nursing homes, according to Bryan Erickson, the chief executive officer of the Sunshine Terrace Foundation, is a prohibition on all visits from non-medical personnel, including family members and friends of facility residents.
Erickson said that restriction is necessary to comply with the most recent guidance for long-term care facilities and nursing homes from state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health-care experts acknowledge that much of that guidance is based on lessons learned from the unfortunate experience of the Life Care Center nursing home in Washington State, where 29 elderly patients have died from the Coronavirus since early February.
On Mar. 16, the CDC updated its guidance to nursing home managers to restrict all visitation to residents (with an exception of end-of-life situations); restrict the access of all volunteers and non-essential staff personnel; cancel all group activities and communal dining; and implement active screening of residents and health-care providers for fever and respiratory symptoms.
CDC experts say those restrictions are necessary since nursing home residents typically fall within the population segment most vulnerable to serious illness as a result of the Coronavirus (defined as “older adults, often with underlying chronic medical conditions”).
In addition to restricting visitors to Sunshine Terrace and the Terrace Grove assisted living center in Logan, Erickson said both facilities are now screening health-care providers for any hint of illness on a daily basis when they arrive for work. Anyone exhibiting respiratory symptoms is directed to return home.
“Naturally, all our medical equipment and personal protective items are routinely sterilized and cleaned,” Erickson added, “but those procedures are now being intensified as an added precaution against infection.”
Erickson also emphasized that care-givers and staff are being mindful of social distancing guidelines from the state that advise that gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided. Center activities are therefore being modified to accommodate that guidance, including the staggering of meal schedules.
Erickson said that the foundation’s home health-care providers are taking similar precautions to avoid the spread of Coronavirus.
Providers delivering health-care service to local residents in their homes are also screened for any symptoms of illness on a daily basis before making their round of visits, Erickson explained. Once they enter those homes, their residents are similarly screen for symptoms. The providers then proceed with their regular duties, while observing the CDC and state guidelines to the maximum degree possible.