In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, United States nursing homes (NHs) implemented protocols to protect NH residents from contracting the virus. However, protocol implementation and effectiveness varied across regions. The restrictions included in these protocols, such as stopping visitation and communal activities, resulted in NH resident isolation and disruption of many programs designed to promote healthy aging. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHs had already been struggling with high acuity, limited resources and a uniquely high risk for emerging infections.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic in NHs was further complicated by lack of access to surveillance, strategic data-informed decision-making, limited testing and access to protective personal equipment, asymptomatic transmission by residents and staff, lack of consistent infection prevent and control (IP/IC) and antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) practices, varying local, state and federal guidance. In an effort to support early risk mitigation and emergency preparedness in response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and other emerging infections, JAMDA has posted a letter to the editor urging the Federal Government to consider:
- Providing adequate funding, training and guidance to NHs to develop, implement and adopt robust certified NH health information technology designed for and with NHs
- Invest in Bridge IP/IC and AMS within NHs with technology platforms.
To read more about these recommendations, read the article published by JAMDA. At the end of the day, we have had a year for the record books. 2020 will long be remembered for the challenges, heartbreak and struggles providers endured. But here we are, the vaccine is on the road and we are survivors. Thank you to all you do, let’s see if we can use any recommendations from the experts to hopefully prevent a future catastrophic year! Stay the course, stay strong, stay well, mask up and stay tuned!