One of the well-known facts about COVID 19 is that elderly persons, persons with other underlying medical conditions, and people living in communal settings are all at higher risk. People living in long term care facilities and skilled nursing facilities tick all three of those boxes and face this reality daily.
Nationwide, over 140,000 nursing home staff and residents have the virus or had the virus and almost one third of the COVID 19 related deaths (over 25,000) have been among the long-term care facilities population. The state of Idaho has over 45 long term care and skill nursing facilities spread across the state, and unsurprisingly have not avoided the impacts of the pandemic.
How Long Term Care Center Residents are Impacted by COVID 19
The community living setting of a high-risk population prompted long term care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities across the nation to shut their doors to visitors in order to help mitigate the risk of bringing COVID 19 into a setting where it could easily spread.
As a result, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has been advocating with government officials to take measures to ensure nursing homes facilitate virtual visitation through online platforms. The AARP is also supporting the federal ACCESS Act (Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors) which aims to provide grant funding for the facilities to purchase the technology required to facilitate virtual visitation.
We've seen some heartwarming and inspiring pictures and stories as people share on social media how they are finding ways to connect with family members on the opposing sides of these closed facility doors. The Idaho State Veterans Home has a Facebook social media account and has posted some videos connecting their residents with the community that have many shares and comments. This story of a man sitting outside the window of his father's room in a lawn chair every day, is another favorite. Boise State University broadcasting students connecting virtually with residents through the Good Samaritan Society is another example.
Long-Term Care Facilities May Be the Last to Reopen
Because of their higher risk qualifier, experts recommend that these facilities not hurry to reopen their doors even as their communities in states across the nation begin phasing out of stay-at-home orders. Idaho Rebounds, is what the state has termed the plan to phase out of the stay at home quarantine. It is already in progress; however, it is cautious and the dates assigned to the phases are subject to reevaluation.
Currently Idaho is in phase or stage two of rebounding. Per phase two of the order:
"Visits to senior living facilities and congregate facilities (e.g. jails and corrections) are prohibited and those employees and providers who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene and infection prevention."
Long Term Care Facilities Face Challenges
Looking forward, long term care facilities and skilled nursing facilities will face challenges as they attempt to find a new normal for their residents. They'll have to find a balance that doesn't feel so isolating, yet will adhere to the inevitable new regulations and standards for infectious disease control. Number of beds available in these facilities may change if decisions are made about the viability of shared rooms which in turn will impact revenue.
Twin Falls Manor Doing Something Different
However, one nursing home in Idaho, is doing something very new and needed. In the midst of all of the COVID 19 crisis, a facility in Twin Falls decided to provide a service to meet a new need. Not every single one of Idaho's nursing homes have confirmed COVID cases, but at least 16 facilities have confirmed cases with a total of more than 200 and no less than 30 deaths.
The state of Idaho is not releasing to the media the names of the facilities with confirmed outbreaks, but you can expect the name Twin Falls Manor to be unabashedly on the list. The Pennant Group decided to open a facility dedicated specifically to treating people recovering from COVID 19 and residents from long term care facilities in the geographic region from Boise to Pocatello who have COVID 19 or symptoms and suspected exposure to the virus.
Twin Falls Manor is the first of such facilities in the entire state of Idaho, and is relatively novel but necessary as hospitals are ready to discharge COVID patients who are recovering but not yet able to take care of themselves in their homes. The idea came to fruition rather quickly. Reportedly the discussions of the idea started in mid-April and everything was in place including fast tracked licensing for them to open their doors by the end of April. Twin Falls Manor will transition from treating exclusively COVID patients to non-COVID patients when the need is no longer present.
Idaho's DHW Division of Licensing and Certification Make a Change
The state of Idaho's department of Health and Wellness Division of Licensing and Certification typical operations include inspections of long term care facilities. However, during the pandemic crisis while the long term care homes are struggling to manage the crisis, the DHW Division of Licensing and Certification has adjusted their priorities and are currently focusing on supporting and helping these facilities find solutions to prioritize resident safety.
Employment Opportunities with Nursa™ in Idaho
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