The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in consultation with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued new guidance Thursday to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
Long-term care facilities are now advising:
- To immediately start screening staff for symptoms and start temperature checks. Every resident should also have their temperature checked every day.
- Patients and residents who are entering the facilities should also be screened for Covid-19.
- Staff should wear a face mask inside the facility.
- If there is a Covid-19 case in the facility, health care personnel should wear full personal protective equipment for the care of all residents, regardless of a resident’s diagnosis or symptoms.
- Residents are encouraged to cover their noses and mouths when staff are in their room. “Residents can use tissues for this,” the guidance said. “They could also use cloth, non-medical masks when those are available.”
- Facilities should use the same staff for the same patients, regardless of symptoms or Covid-19 status. The goal is to decrease the number of different staff interacting with patients and residents, and the number of times staff interact with patients. The hope is a staff member who works with the same resident would be able to detect symptoms early, if the patient or resident gets infected.
- Facilities are encouraged to separate infected patients and residents from those who are not sick.
The CDC said Tuesday that around 400 long-term care facilities have at least one Covid-19 patient. The elderly and people with underlying health conditions face greater risks of complications if they contract the virus.