COVID-19 Response for Area Nursing Homes, Long-term Care

Hardin Memorial Health officials are working closely with area nursing homes, assisted living residential areas and long-term health care facilities in the 10-county region to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Facilities across Kentucky have been hard hit by COVID-19 cases for both residents and healthcare workers.

HMH and Lincoln Trail District Health Department (LTDHD) officials, along with community partners, are implementing important precautions to protect the most vulnerable. Work includes:

  • Limited visitation and interaction.
  • Weekly meetings to share information with all community partners.
  • State-led testing of all patients and workers.
  • In-facility response to potential or confirmed COVID-positive patient.

In a recent News-Enterprise article on May 20, 2020, HMH and LTDHD officials outlined COVID-19’s impact on area facilities. HMH is proud to work with community partners to help prevent the virus from entering nursing homes and long-term healthcare facilities. The following is an excerpt from the News-Enterprise article:

John Godfrey, M.D., Hardin Memorial Health vice president and chief medical officer, shared in an article with the News-Enterprise that the Centers for Disease Control has pointed to the elderly “among those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”

Once there has been exposure introduced inside a facility, the virus has the potential to run rampant.

“They also live in close proximity with many other residents, and they are cared for by the same caregivers, so the virus is susceptible to spreading by being in such close proximity to this community of people,” he said. “We have seen this happen nationwide and in Kentucky with very difficult outcomes.”

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services said in a news release “facilities included on this list have responded to the state’s plan and mechanism for communicating regularly with residents, family members, local health departments and other partners, disclosing when someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 has been inside the facility within 14 days prior to the date of the COVID-19 test.”

Facilities closed their doors to family and visitors in March in attempt to thwart the virus.

“By taking every precaution to prevent the virus from entering the nursing homes and long-term health care facilities, we are protecting the most vulnerable,” Godfrey said.

“Every precaution must be taken to prevent the spread of this virus within these facilities,” said Terrie Burgan, health promotion manager and public information officer for the Lincoln Trail District Health Department.

Some areas of the state have been hit particularly hard from the virus being exposed in facilities. For instance, Grayson Nursing and Rehabilitation in Leitchfield has had seven deaths of residents of their 46 confirmed cases among resident. There also has been 16 positive tests for staff.
Sandy Peace, director of nursing with the HMH Nursing Facility, said Hardin Memorial has worked “closely” with nursing homes and long-term health care facilities.

“We continue to have regular standing calls to communicate during the COVID crisis, we offer prioritized COVID-19 testing for residents and staff that are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms and are regularly gauging our ability to respond to a surge of patients in the event that a facility experiences a large number of diagnoses,” she said.

While the ability for families to visit face-to-face has been halted, Sara Prewitt, manager of HMH Nursing Facility, said keeping interaction in other ways with residents is needed and impactful.

“The lack of visitors can be very difficult for residents in nursing homes and long-term healthcare facilities,” she said. “This is compounded for memory-care residents … I encourage the families and friends of these residents to be very intentional about staying connected with their loved ones via technology or creative forms of social distancing. It is difficult, but our precautions can prevent unnecessary tragedy.”

This blog includes content from a May 20, 2020 article in the News-Enterprise by Jeff D’Alessio.