HFAM Update - Vigilance and Resilience (and Vaccines)
We need you and your lifesaving teams now just as we have throughout the last year.
In February 2020, we learned that residents, patients, and staff in our sector were in the crosshairs of COVID-19 due to the nature of the virus and the chronic medical conditions of those receiving and providing care in our settings. Fighting COVID-19 in healthcare settings is like anti-terrorist work – you can win 99 percent of the time, and bad things still happen when you are wrong just once. Thus, it may be time for state or federal leaders to mandate vaccination among healthcare workers in all settings and to ensure adequate supplies and logistics for that vaccination to occur.
Around this time last year, we learned two significant things about COVID-19:
- It is primarily transmitted asymptomatically.
- There is a correlation between the positivity rate in the community-at-large and the positivity rate in businesses, schools, and healthcare settings in that community.
On March 19, 2021, 57 nursing homes and 48 assisted living campuses had at least one single COVID-19 case. Today those numbers are 77 and 45, respectively. Those numbers are not surprising, but they are alarming and not to be taken for granted. While residents were about 90 percent vaccinated at the end of February, there has been an influx of new residents in need of post-acute care after hospital stays, and most centers are only 70-80 percent vaccinated among residents at this point. In addition, community positivity rates are inching up.
With the federal CVS/Walgreens vaccination program earlier this year, we learned that vaccines slow the spread and reduce illness and deaths associated with COVID-19 in our centers. While a handful of these clinics stretched into early March, most of the federal vaccine clinics in Maryland nursing homes concluded in February. And, the State has been working with us to get second doses to people who got first doses during the federal clinics.
Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines were administered to residents, patients, and staff between December 23, 2020 and the last week of February 2021. Again, nearly 90 percent of residents and patients were vaccinated during this time, and about 50 percent of staff. But since then, new Marylanders in need of quality care have been admitted into our nursing homes and the average nursing home has around 70-80 percent of residents and patients vaccinated.
That said, as we have often shared, long-term care pharmacies and the State have not yet implemented a comprehensive and operational COVID-19 vaccination plan for our sector going forward. Frankly, some pharmacies' reluctance to hit the ground running to vaccinate our sector surprises and disappoints me.
Going forward, the following is more critical than it has been in a while.
- People first, quality counts.
- Be prepared to deploy people and PPE around your organization.
- Our sector MUST double our efforts on infectious disease protocol, staffing, and PPE.
- Train, train, and train teams again on infectious disease protocol.
- Recognize that COVID-19 fatigue is an issue across the county, not just in our sector.
- Overcommunicate with residents, patients, families, staff, and government partners.
- Sound alarms early.
- Work with your hospital partners, and coordinate with local and state regulatory partners.
- Take and document your action; keep a timeline.
CLICK HERE for the Dr. Katz Video, and please see the Donning and Doffing Checklist we have been sharing.
As a recap, here are our recent updates regarding vaccination: