Nursing homes increase capacity to care for residents after COVID-19 hospitalization

June 23, 2020

Older adults are among the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting for eight out of 10 deaths from the virus in the United States, according to the CDC.

Nursing homes, in particular, have experienced a high burden of COVID-19, with as many as 1 in 4 cases in the U.S. stemming from nursing home residents, according to a recent analysis of CMS data conducted by the Associated Press.

In May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that called for hospitals to stop releasing patients to nursing homes unless they test negative for the virus.

Healio Primary Care spoke with Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation, and Swati Gaur, MD, CMD, MBA, a medical director and founder of the Palliative Care Program at Northeast Georgia Health System and a member and chair of the Infection Advisory Committee at the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, to learn more about where nursing home residents should go after COVID-19 hospitalization, and what steps facilities can take to prevent the spread of the virus.

After COVID-19 hospitalization

Fulmer said moving frail, older patients with COVID-19 from the hospital to a nursing home or alternative care facility can be safe, but should be determined on a case-by-case basis by the clinical care team.

If a nursing home resident is able to leave the hospital but unable to immediately return to the nursing home, Fulmer said “the patient and family can refuse to be discharged from hospital in the first place, until an appropriate plan is developed.”