How COVID-19 Affects Nursing Homes
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, a few coronaviruses are likely to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to much more severe diseases such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrom) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
How is COVID-19 transmitted?
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was initially associated with a seafood market that sold live animals in Wuhan, China, most patients had worked or visited this market which was subsequently closed for disinfection. However, as the outbreak progressed, person-to-person became the main way of transmission. The most common way it is spread is through respiratory droplets, which are microscopic liquid droplets that shoot out from coughing or sneezing. COVID-19 can also be spread by touching a surface that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on. It appears it is possible to infect other people even if the already infected patient has not established symptoms. This becomes an issue when we see that so far, the mortality rate of this disease is a threat to the elderly population. So, how do you keep your elders safe during this outbreak when they are attending a nursing home?
Strategies Nursing Homes Should be Using:
- Screen visitors for international travel within the last 14 days; signs of respiratory infection, such as a fever, cough, and sore throat.
- Screen nursing home staff using the same questions as above, and do not allow them to work if they are positive to the screening questions.
- For suspected COVID-19 infections, notify the local health department.
- Increase the availability of medical safety supplies such as hand-sanitizer, face masks, and tissues.
- hand-washing rules;
- preventing sick staff from infecting residents;
- preventing sick residents from infecting other residents through isolation;
- preventing visitors from infecting residents.
As you have no doubt heard, the elderly are the most likely to have a fatal experience if they are to get infected by COVID-19. When we put our loved ones in an assisted living facility we trust others to help take care of the people we hold dear to our hearts. We hope that this information was useful and that it can help provide some light in this unprecedented and confusing time.