March 9th, 2020
Dear Rehab Alternatives Clinicians,
Coronavirus is rapidly evolving as a public health concern here in the United States and in NY specifically. There is much unknown, yet it is safe to say when testing becomes more widely available, there may be a significant increase in the number of cases reported. A number of health care related organizations are taking prudent steps to prepare for this as no effective treatment is yet available. Federal and State agencies are ramping up their efforts, and local health systems are developing their own policies and procedures to address these challenges.
In the coming days the hope is that we will glean a greater understanding of what this virus is and how it can affect us and the population we serve.
The general strategies CDC is recommending to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare are the same strategies these facilities use every day to detect and prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza.
Symptoms of respiratory infection, including COVID-19 are as follows: fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. CDC believes at the time that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Healthcare facilities concerned that a resident, visitor, or employee may be a COVID-2019 patient under investigation should contact their local or state health department immediately for consultation and guidance.
Rehab Alternatives is informed on a daily basis of updates from CDC and other health organizations. We remain concerned for everyone’s safety and health during this global health crisis. What has been made abundantly clear to us as a Company is that preventing the introduction of respiratory germs INTO your facility is key.
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the State and Federal Governments, along with Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, as well as other local health organizations, are developing guidance documents to assist skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in key strategies needed for planning, preparation and response actions and initiatives. Rehab Alternatives urges each practitioner to follow Infectious Disease protocols established by your facilities, as outlined in their Infection Prevention and Control Plans, and
any Emergency Communication Plan that has been established.
The following are cooperative efforts being shared amongst our Client facilities that Rehab Alternatives would like to pass along today:
➢ Post signs at the entrance of facilities instructing visitors not to visit if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
➢ Consider limiting visitors, including family members, if appropriate. Family can visit by using Skype, calling, texting or checking in on social media.
➢ Assess residents’ symptoms of respiratory infection upon admission to the facility and implement appropriate infection prevention practices for incoming symptomatic residents.
➢ Follow the same basic procedures used during flu season: handwashing, using alcohol- based hand sanitizers and covering coughs.
In general each of us here at RA are following the most basic protocols which include:
➢ Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
➢ If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. ➢ Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
➢ Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Other information we continue to glean daily is that SNF’s should refer to the CDC guidance on implementing recommended infection prevention practices, which include:
➢ Monitor residents and employees for fever or respiratory symptoms.
➢ Restrict residents with fever or acute respiratory symptoms to their room.
➢ If they must leave the room for medically necessary procedures, have them wear a face mask (if tolerated).
➢ In general, to care for residents with undiagnosed respiratory infection, use Standard,
Contact, and Droplet Precautions with eye protection unless suspected diagnosis
requires Airborne Precautions (e.g., tuberculosis).
➢ CDC has information online specifically for long-term care providers:
Rehab Alternatives remains vigilant during this World Health Crisis. We’re here to answer questions or assist in any way possible. As always, RA appreciates the work that you do every day to provide excellent care to the residents of your facilities.
Thank you and best wishes for continued good health!
Susan Gursky, PT Founder and CEO