Support includes infection control and staffing assistance, additional beds
Salem, OR ̶ The Oregon Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority have launched a multi-agency support team to assess the needs of long-term care facilities experiencing increased COVID-19 cases and help them access resources to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to residents and staff.
The new team is built on DHS and OHA’s ongoing efforts and provides for stronger coordination in providing both intervention and support. As part of this work, the state is beginning to contract with facilities to develop additional capacity to safely treat COVID-19 patients.
“COVID-19 already has had a significant impact on Oregonians in long-term care facilities,” said Fariborz Pakseresht, director of DHS. “We are saddened by the tragedies that have occurred, and our thoughts are with all the residents, staff and families who have been affected.”
DHS and OHA entered a new data sharing arrangement that will allow them to better monitor incidences of the virus at long-term care facilities statewide and share status updates with the public. An initial report from this data shows nine long-term care facilities have five confirmed cases or more.
The multi-agency support team will work in collaboration with local public health authorities to help facilities that are reporting rising numbers of residents and staff impacted by the virus. The goal is to ensure these facilities receive the support they require to meet the medical needs of residents with COVID-19 and protect residents who have not acquired the virus.
After a needs assessment, the support team will help facilities access resources, which could include: An infection control assessment and technical assistance from an OHA team along with referrals to specialists and consultants if that is required. Help with staffing agencies to meet temporary care and operational needs. Help identifying resources for personal protection equipment (PPE). Assistance with developing a plan for an alternative placement for residents in addition to logistical help to ensure residents within the facility, who have COVID-19, can be sufficiently quarantined and that all residents’ needs are met as demands for care increase. DHS and OHA also will investigate the sources of infection at these facilities to ensure it has been curbed. This information will be shared to inform other facilities on how to prevent increases in COVID-19 infections.
“By forming a multidisciplinary team, we are able to more quickly provide a longterm care facility with interventions and support to assist them in controlling COVID-19 infections,” said Mike McCormick, interim director of the DHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities. “COVID-19 presents all of us with unique challenges and we are deeply concerned about every long-term care resident, facility staff member, and their families, who have been touched by this virus.” Dawn Jagger, OHA chief of staff, said the partnership with DHS in assembling and deploying a support team of infection control specialists will help the agencies quickly respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, and keep staff and residents safe.
“At OHA, we are doing everything we can to support DHS and our local public health departments in protecting residents of long-term care facilities who are at most risk of serious complications from COVID-19, and the people who care for them,” Jagger said.
Care facilities currently receiving assistance include Healthcare at Foster Creek and Laurelhurst Village; both are nursing facilities in Portland.
In addition to receiving assistance, Laurelhurst Village is contracting with the state to use one of its standalone buildings as an emergency health care center to care for COVID-19 patients. The 47-bed building will be available to other long-term care facilities that are not able to keep COVID-19 patients isolated at their own facilities.
“We are committed to working in partnership with the OHA and DHS to provide specialized care for people afflicted with COVID-19,” said Troy Perry, director at Laurelhurst Village.
As of April 10, 2020, there are 32 long-term care facilities – including nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities as well as adult foster homes – that have reported to the Department of Human Services that either a resident, staff member or both have COVID-19. There are more than 2,200 long-term care facilities in Oregon. Lists of care facilities reporting that residents or staff have COVID-19, along with those reporting residents and staff with tests pending, can be found here.