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Across the country, home health nurses and therapists continue to struggle with restrictions around seeing their patients in nursing homes, assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities.
Unfortunately, those restrictions aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, especially when it comes to facilities located in Sun Belt states.
According to a new report from the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), the nursing home sector is currently in the midst of a major spike of new COVID-19 cases — one that surpasses the previous peak level set at the end of May.
Washington, D.C.-based AHCA and NCAL represent more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities nationwide.
The latest spike is a direct result of spikes in the general population.
“With the recent major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we were very concerned this trend would lead to an increase in cases in nursing homes — and unfortunately it has,” AHCA and NCAL President Mark Parkinson said in a statement. “This is especially troubling since many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are still unable to acquire the personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing they need to fully combat this virus.”
Long-term care facilities began limiting in-person visits from outside home health agencies very early on in the public health emergency. In doing so, operators believed they could better control and screen for the coronavirus in their buildings, keeping their residents safer in the process.
Yet many assisted living and nursing home residents have critical home health needs. Limiting residents’ access to home health services could unintentionally cause their health status to worsen, providers argue, ultimately leading to a trip to the hospital or emergency room.