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June 11, 2020 (Cleveland, OH)

Hospitals, Nursing Homes Connect in Next Phase of COVID-19 Response

Nursing HomeCollaboration among hospitals, public health and other community partners has been a key factor in the successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Northeast Ohio. As the state moves to the next phase of managing the pandemic, hospitals are continuing to work closely both with each other and with nursing homes to best manage the care of patients in those facilities.

Experience has demonstrated that residents of nursing homes have a high risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19. Likewise, staff who come into close proximity with a great number of residents have a high risk for contracting and spreading the disease. The communal nature of living in nursing homes, combined with the advanced age and frequent underlying medical conditions of the residents, creates an imperative for nursing homes to prepare for cases of COVID-19 and to take aggressive steps to prevent transmission.

Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Medicaid encouraged the designation of the hospitals in each of Ohio’s three zones to help support congregate living organizations in their service areas by pairing hospitals and nursing homes to support COVID-19 preparation and response.

In Zone 1, which covers roughly the northern third of the state, the pairing was completed in cooperation and coordination between hospital zone leads Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals, as well as The Center for Health Affairs. Established relationships between hospitals and nursing homes along with clinical and laboratory usage were used to assist with pairing. Those facilities without an existing affiliation were designated geographically and approved by each hospital lead. Each nursing home has been connected with a local hospital and a zone hospital for support and to fill in any gaps in the nursing home planning. Hospitals have been called on numerous times to assist local public health with clusters of illness.

This effort to fill gaps that exist within each hospital’s playbook for congregate facilities includes at a minimum:

  1. Complete and effective plans for mitigating the spread of the virus to residents and staff, to include staff training and checklists for preparation.
  2. Access to appropriate personal protective equipment for staff to care for ill patients, including strategies for conservation and re-sterilization options
  3. Testing strategies for obtaining specimens from all residents and staff in compliance with public health guidelines and ODH strategies.
  4. Isolation plans for cohorting ill residents into separate wings or floors, including staffing stabilization,
  5. Escalation plans for responding to a spread of the virus through the facility, affecting residents and causing staffing shortages.

The local hospitals and zone lead hospitals are all working extremely hard in reaching out to their designated nursing homes to assist and support them with their planning and response. Much outreach has crossed regional boundaries to the benefit of congregate facilities not previously affiliated with a Northeast Ohio hospital or system. This full cooperation and coordination all centered on the mission of saving lives during this pandemic has been nothing less than extraordinary by the region’s hospitals.

For more on regional COVID-19 response, contact us.

TWEETABLE: Northeast Ohio hospitals are working collaboratively with nursing homes to manage and respond to COVID-19.