Addressing COVID-19 in Nursing Homes
Medline and President of American Health Care Association provide virus-related supplies update and discuss clinical precautions
By Medline Newsroom Staff | March 22, 2020
In an impromptu webinar hosted by Medline on March 18, Medline and Governor Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), provided long-term care providers with an update on COVID-19, supply availability and best clinical practices to implement at this time.
“Healthcare providers, their patients and community members are certainly frustrated and everyone is uncertain on the overall impact the virus will have on our healthcare system,” says Jim Boyle, executive vice president of sales for Medline. “Now more than ever, transparency is key. We want to make sure we’re having open and honest conversations to help those that are protecting and treating those in their care.”
Addressing supply needs
Nursing home residents are at high risk and as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to spread quickly through nursing homes, Parkinson and his AHCA/NCAL team are working tirelessly with government officials to ensure the long-term care sector is a top priority for obtaining equipment.
As a manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, Medline recognizes the urgent need to address their supply chain needs. A majority of personal protective equipment (PPE) is manufactured in the Hubei Province and after almost two months of a manufacturing hiatus, China re-opened manufacturing operations in the Hubei Province on March 10 as hoped.
“We do expect ramp-up at these factories to be slow, leading to reduction in capacity and delayed shipments from factories,” Boyle added. “We have put in place inventory management programs and allocations to protect as much inventory as possible for our customers. Additionally, we are working cohesively with government officials to try and get necessary products into the states as soon as possible to distribute to our customers.”
Ramping up test kits
Webinar hosts acknowledged that there is certainly a shortage in test kits and the inability to tests residents and staff has caused tremendous frustration. As a result, providers are urged to operate under the assumption that everyone has COVID-19. This is an unprecedented time for the country and with more firm restrictions being enforced state-to-state, it has the potential to paralyze the economy, practically bringing it to a standstill. A nation-wide shutdown has never happened before, therefore its potential impact remains unknown. If restrictions tighten further, it may lead to an even greater ask of those in healthcare. Governor Parkinson did express hope that as test kit production is ramped up, the industry should be turning the corner soon on test kits so we can test asymptomatic patients and staff.
Remaining focused on the basics of infection prevention
One thing certain about COVID-19 is that experts learn something new about it every day, causing the CDC is update recommendations constantly. Dr. Rosie D. Lyles, MHA, MSc, an infectious disease expert and director of clinical affairs at Medline, reminded everyone that basic infection control strategies can have a significant impact in containing the spread of the virus.
“It is important to not treat infection prevention with a one size fits all mentality, but providers also need to avoid becoming complacent with basic strategies such as hand hygiene and environmental cleaning,” Lyles explained. “No matter how the virus continues to evolve, these two precautions will remain critical components for protecting staff and patients.”
For additional resources, please visit the COVID-19 toolkit Medline has assembled with links to helpful instructions, literature, and posters from the CDC, AHCA, and other key partner organizations.
Thank you, healthcare workers
Through all the uncertainty and unknowns of COVID-19, healthcare workers are truly the heroes in the fight to isolate and contain the spread of the virus. With every patient and challenge thrown their way, it is important to recognize their hard work and dedication. Trade associations like AHCA/NCAL are on their side and will continue to fight to protect caregivers, patients and their families so they have the resources they need to continue saving lives.