Coronavirus In Nursing Homes: What You Should Know
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across our nation, one of the hardest hit areas is nursing homes and long-term care facilities for the elderly. Already with compromised immunity, our senior citizens are more vulnerable and are at a significantly higher risk of contracting the virus. Although our government is working on taking steps to protect all of us, those with family in nursing homes should be mindful of how their loved ones are doing and how they are being treated.
Coronavirus Risks for Older Adults
With 966 nursing homes in the state of Ohio, there are so many people that will need care, regardless of COVID-19. Because of close quarters, compromised immune systems and just having more frail systems, the geriatric population is primed for a tough hit with the COVID-19 virus. Already we have seen devastating impacts in some states like Washington and West Virginia.
As we age, our immune systems weaken which can cause heightened risk factors for developing COVID-19 and other viruses and infections. Anyone over the age of 60 is considered an older adult, and the CDC has certain regulations for those over the age of 65. If you are at a nursing home, you are at an even greater risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.
Older adults have been cautioned to self isolate and eliminate any travel or activities that could put them at risk. Simple things like grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy or even going to see their families are not recommended at this time. People in that age range- especially those with underlaying medical conditions- are cautioned to self isolate and remain at their homes and away from large groups of people where they have a greater potential for getting infected.
Is My Loved Ones Nursing Home Taking The Proper Steps To Ensure They Are Healthy?
The CDC recommends that all long-term care facilities and nursing homes prepare for the spread of coronavirus. The symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath and spreads quickly throughout nursing homes where many are immune compromised.
Here are some steps that the CDC recommends care facilities take to ready themselves. [Taken from CDC.gov website]
- Restrict all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life situations
- Restrict all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel (HCP), including non-essential healthcare personnel (eg., barbers)
- Cancel all group activities and communal dining
- Implement active screening of residents and HCP for fever and respiratory symptoms
The CDC also is asking nursing homes and long-term care facilities to assume that COVID-19 could already be in their communities and to move and restrict all visitors and unnecessary health care professionals from their facilities.
Things Nursing Homes Should Do Now
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities should be educating both their residents, personnel and any visitors allowed the latest information about COVID-19. Personnel like podiatrists, barbers, wound care professionals and the like could provide care in multiple facilities and could be exposed and transmit the virus to other facilities.
Also, families of nursing home residents should be given information about COVID-19 and educated about the actions that the facility is taking to protect loved ones. That sometimes means social distancing during these uncertain times, which can be difficult. But taking the proper steps is so important to reduce the spread of this virus.
What Do I Do If My Loved One Is Diagnosed?
Facilities are asked to closely monitor their residents for symptoms of respiratory infection. They ask them to report if they feel feverish or have any other symptoms. If your loved one has COVID-19, the CDC recommends that they be placed in a private room with their own bathroom. If there are multiple residents with COVID-19, they can be placed together as roommates until they are free of symptoms.
Unfortunately, it will take some time before this virus runs its course. And it can be difficult if your family member is isolated in a nursing home. But taking the proper steps like social distancing, frequent hand washing and self isolation can help stop the spread.
Amourgis & Associates Is Here To Help
Amid a global pandemic, such as this one, it can be confusing and very stressful for the residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, their families and the staff. If your loved one has developed a serious infectious disease, like COVID-19 or a complication resulting from neglect or abuse at a long-term care facility or nursing home, you should reach out to an attorney familiar with nursing home abuse. At Amourgis & Associates, we are here to help you navigate this confusing time and are ready to help. Give us a call, send us an email, reach out to us on social media, or chat with us online on our website. Amid the shutdown, we can still help you in the same capacity as before- both on and offline.