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Nursing Home protocol when a resident tests positive for COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 10:18 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Centers for Disease Control has three priorities when it comes to COVID-19 testing. Right now, residents in nursing homes—those age 65 and older—are considered priority number two. The Alabama Nursing Home Association says they believe they should be priority number one.

“The benefits of us being priority number one is greater availability of the test kits that are available. Then when those test kits arrive at the lab, they receive priority for testing so we can get results back sooner,” says John Matson with the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

A nursing home must first contact the public health department in order to get a test kit. Those in the priority one category include health care workers and symptomatic patients who have been hospitalized. That means their test kits are processed before anyone else’s. Matson says nursing home residents should be included in that first category since they are more vulnerable to the virus.

Matson says as soon as a resident shows symptoms, they implement isolation procedures.

“You make sure that person doesn’t intermingle with the non-symptomatic and the COVID-19 negative individuals inside the nursing home. And you also make sure you have staff assigned just to work with those who are showing symptoms or have tested positive.”

They’ve also put an end to communal dining, with each resident now eating in their own rooms. And when a resident does test positive, the facility is only allowed to notify the family member listed as the resident’s sponsor.

“Certain health privacy laws, you know, you have to have proper documentation to be able to share that health information with that family member or that sponsor. So that’s the one individual is authorized to receive information on that resident’s behalf.”

He says it’s that family member’s responsibility to share that information with the rest of the family. And he stresses the importance of reaching out to your loved ones in nursing homes since they are more isolated now than ever.

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