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Long-term care facilities focus of May 15 COVID-19 briefing

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

At his daily coronavirus briefing on May 15, Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted the State’s work to support long-term care (LTC) facilities during the pandemic.  He previewed a new tool being developed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to help LTC facilities assess and improve their preparedness planning.

Becky Wisell, Interim Deputy Director of Health Licensure and Environmental Health for the Division of Public Health at DHHS, joined the Governor.  She detailed the State’s ongoing efforts to assist LTC facilities in mitigating the spread of the virus.

Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska

We continue to encourage people to take the TestNebraska.com assessment.

As a reminder, Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, and Lexington are testing today.

More mobile testing sites will be announced in the near future.

Again, I want to remind people, scheduling for testing has been filling up quickly.

More testing slots will be opening up, so we encourage people to be patient.

Test Nebraska testing is by appointment only.  Don’t just show up to the testing site.

You need to take the assessment at TestNebraska.com and then work to schedule a time.

Gov. Ricketts: Long-Term Care Facilities

Our seniors are one of our most vulnerable populations, and they have been hit especially hard during the pandemic.

We have been asking Nebraskans not to visit long-term care facilities at this time.

As we work to get back to a more normal life, we are partnering with long-term care facilities to develop plans to protect their residents.

Similar to meat processing facilities, Shelly Schwedhelm and her team from UNMC are touring LTC facilities to help improve their social mitigation efforts.

The State will be asking every LTC facility to submit a plan to protect their residents and keep their facility running.  We are in the process of developing a template to help facilities create their plan.

We expect to deliver this template to LTC facilities in the next week or so.

Becky Wisell: Long-Term Care Facilities

Care for residents in LTC facilities is a top priority for DHHS.

We’ve been working closely with LTC facilities, Local Health Departments, and other partners so that they can continue to provide quality care to residents in their communities.

Our role is as a resource to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

DHHS has developed a long-term care COVID-19 response planning tool.

This is a tool to assist nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the development of a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan.

The tool covers key areas that facilities should consider in their planning, such as:

Rapid identification and management of ill residents.

Visitation policies.

Supplies and resources.

Infection control and disinfection protocols.

Surge capacity for staffing.

The tool also includes helpful information such as:

Mental health resources for residents and staff.

Guidance on how to request personal protective equipment (PPE) from the State.

Additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The tool can be used to self-assess strengths and weaknesses of current preparedness efforts.

It can also provide guidance for circumstances that may not yet have occurred at every facility.

Every facility is expected to complete a plan.  Once the plan is completed, facilities should send an email notification with the facility’s name and license number to DHHS.HealthCareFacilities@nebraska.gov.

The State will send out the long-term care COVID-19 response planning tool to LTC facilities in the near future.