There has been a considerable amount of information being spread about the novel Coronavirus and the illness it causes, Covid-19. As such, there is also a lot of misinformation out there as well. Here is what Josh Lee suggests his fellow long term acute care (LTAC) specialists understand about this virus:
- It is essential to be as prepared as possible for this virus. It is extremely contagious, and it has been shown that there are instances of community spread in the United States. You essentially can’t be over-prepared. Some of the most important components of the preparedness process are:
- Quick identification and management of any ill residents at LTAC hospitals
- Considerations for staff and visitors
- Sick leave policies and occupational health considerations
- Education and training for staff
- Resources and supplies
- Surge capacity for staffing, supplies and equipment, and postmortem care
There is an excellent preparedness checklist that was shared publicly by the CDC; you can check it out here for use in your facility.
- It is strongly suggested to change the guidance given to LTAC facilities as such:
- Start actively screening residents and healthcare personnel (HCP) for fever and respiratory symptoms
- Restrict all volunteers and non-essential HCP (such as barbers)
- Cancel all communal dining and group activities
- Restrict all visitation except for compassionate care circumstances, such as end of life situations
- Some things to start doing right now if you work in an LTAC hospital:
- Educate residents and families, including information about Covid-19, actions that the facility is taking to protect residents and their loved ones, and things that residents and family members can do to protect themselves while at their facility
- Educate and train HCP, including strict reinforcement of sick leave policies and stringent infection prevention and control measures. Ensure HCP can demonstrate competency using personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Educate all facility personnel so that pathogen transmission is limited as much as possible
- Provide supplies such as hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels, tissues and face masks, respirators, gowns, gloves, and eye protection where appropriate. Ensure trash cans are available and easily accessible for the disposal of these items.
- Keep environmental cleaning and disinfection standards at high levels
- If Covid-19 is present in your community:
- Consider universal use of face masks for HCP while they are in the facility
- Consider additional PPE for all HCP while in the facility
- Encourage residents to remain in their rooms. If there are cases in the facility itself, restrict residents to their rooms unless they must leave for a medically necessary purpose.
These are trying times for us in LTAC, but we should all do our best to work together, continue to educate and train HCP and others wherever possible, remain calm and focus on the care and safety of our patients. Pandemics have come before, and they will probably come again. As an LTAC specialist, it’s important to treat patients and fellow HCPs and others with respect, dignity, patience, and perhaps some encouragement during these difficult times. We are uniquely qualified to help our patients, our fellow HCPs and everyone else around us. Contact Josh Lee at any time if you have any questions or need any assistance with your caseload or patients. Our team is waiting to hear from you.